Eating Disorders don’t take a Summer Vacation

“It takes a little patience, takes a little time. A little perseverance and a little uphill climb.” – Dear Evan Hansen

It has been a hot second since my last blog post, so I figured I’d catch everyone up on what I’ve been up to this summer. I have been channeling my inner old lady working at Joann Fabrics, helping my best friend plan her wedding, I took a trip to Chicago, and I’ve had some of the sweetest reunions with friends from treatment. I go back to school in a week (!!!), so it’s the perfect time for a summer reflection! I love lists just as much as I love reflecting, so here are a few of the things I have learned this summer.

1: Leaving your hometown is scary, but worth it
I am going into my 3rd year of college, so I have lived away from home, but I always have gone back to my hometown for summer breaks. I decided this summer I was ready for a change. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I decided to go for it. I found a friend to live with in Columbia and within the first few days, I knew I made the right choice. Having the freedom to make my own schedule has been so good for me. This is also the first time I have lived in a town bigger than 3,500 people. There is so much more outside of my hometown and thanks to moving away this summer, I have started to realize how great it is to explore! Besides, living within 15 minutes of Target and Chick Fil A has been life changing.

2: Planning ahead quiets ED Voice
Yes, I am in recovery, but that doesn’t mean the eating disorder is gone. I have hopes that someday that voice will be nonexistent, but that takes time. A lot more time than 4 months. I didn’t go a lot of places this summer, but when I did, I had to do lots of planning. I went on a week long choir trip right after school got out, and then a few weeks ago I went to Chicago. As much as I’d love to leave ED voice at home, that’s not how it works. When I did take a trip, it felt like 50% of my bag was full of snacks. I had to plan ahead with my dietician for every day I would be away. We looked ahead at restaurant menus to find meals that met all my meal plan requirements, we made a list of snacks to bring that didn’t have to be refrigerated, and talked through any situation that could be triggering. Even though ED voice had to come with me on vacations, planning ahead made it much quieter so I could enjoy the trip!

3: Spend time doing what you love
This summer I have worked at Joann Fabrics and have LOVED IT! It seemed like the most likely job to be free of food, weight, and body talk. I never imagined to love it as much as I have! I did some sewing in high school, but haven’t done much in college. Since working at Joann, I dove back into hobbies I enjoyed pre-eating disorder: scrapbooking and sewing. Spending my free time sewing, instead of on Netflix, has improved my overall mood. This summer really taught me how important (and how therapeutic) it can be to do things I really enjoy! Self care is not a waste of time.

4: It’s ok to need help
As much as I have loved living on my own, there have been a lot of new challenges that come with that. While I am in school, I have a meal plan through the dining hall, so I don’t have to cook for myself. There is no dining hall in the summer. I have had to grocery shop, meal plan, and attempt to cook (Even if it’s just the microwave.) These are normal “adulting” things that everyone has to deal with. But for someone who is recovering from anorexia and has never been on her own, it’s a lot more challenging. But I don’t have to do it alone! Whether that’s someone to go to the store with me, my dietician helping me make a grocery list, or friends making dinner with me, it’s ok to ask for help. I am very excited to be back at school and have all my meals made for me, but I am also very thankful for another opportunity to take down ED voice, one Aldi trip at a time.

5: Community is everything
As I have mentioned before, the friends I made at Timberline Knolls have been some of the biggest blessings in my life. This summer I have been able to text, FaceTime, and even meet up with a few of them! Nothing has made my heart happier than continuing to do life with these girls by my side. It is so important to have people in your life that truly understand what you’re going through. We all have been to treatment together, we all struggle, and we all support each other. Besides TK friends, keeping up with my treatment team has been so important. No matter how much I am struggling or no matter how much I want to just quit recovery, my treatment team is behind me 100%. Even on the days when I want to skip appointments or just give up, they are there to help. I owe so much of my success this summer to them.

6: Keep going.
Recovery is a long, hard process. But it’s just that, a process. Recovery has really tested me a few times this summer and I have wanted to give up. But I keep reminding myself that recovery is worth it and it will get easier. If something isn’t working, change it! Giving up and giving in just gives ED voice more power. Every time I choose a recovery action instead of an ED action, it quiets that voice a little more. The best things in life aren’t easy. It’s ok to be tired, frustrated, or irritated. As long as you keep going, keep fighting, keep choosing harmony. You got this.

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