I wrote my bulimia-confession post as a disclaimer to allow me to ethically continue blogging about food. I had no idea it would go more viral than anything I’ve ever done – over 9,000 views to date.
Within hours of posting, readers flooded my Facebook inbox, blog and cell phone with supportive messages, and confessions of their own struggles. It was as if a sheet of social fabric – that protective sheet we cast over inappropriate and vulnerable matters – was rippling in the wind, exposing glimpses of the guts of society. Alcoholism. Depression. Anxiety. Sexual assault. And many more battles with food.
One Halifax musician I was talking to put it perfectly – “Everyone has their own shit. Everyone is dealing with something. But no one talks about it.”
After three weeks of feeling like a beetle under a microscope, I will continue.
* * *
The eating disorder clinic I go to is located on the fourth floor of the mental health building at the hospital. Past a glass door enshrined with the words “Eat For Life”, a few padded chairs, ED-information pamphlets and psychology magazines sit by a grey secretary’s desk.
Down a hall, broad windows light a dining area and spacious kitchen, recently renovated with two fridges and glossy appliances.
Two carpeted therapy rooms marked by dim corner lamps and tall chairs meant for long sittings. The remaining doors lead to private offices of an in-house dietitian, lead psychiatrist and several psychologists.
The treatment program is run like school. Patients customize personal schedules based on the clinic’s fixed weekly schedule of meals and themed therapy groups.
My current schedule has me going to clinic three days a week.
On Mondays, I attend a goal-setting group that provides a practical foundation to recovery. For this group I complete and submit detailed weekly food journals, and set weekly goals towards normal eating.
Tuesdays, I do two meals with recreational therapy in between. Rec therapy sounded lame at first, but it lets me put energy into arts and crafts and leisure – a starkly refreshing change from food, exercise and escapist habits.
On Thursdays I do breakfast and an emotional management group where we learn techniques to undermine the compulsive behaviour central to eating disorders.
As I looked down at my schedule at clinic a couple weeks ago, I felt a cold rock of fear in my belly. I guess my self-destructive habits have existed so long they are normal, and change is scary. I don’t know my recovered self, and I fear for her vulnerability. If there is anything worse than rock bottom, it’s the fall.
As I pictured clinic hours eating into my sacred disordered space, instinct urged me to turn and run. (Two years ago, I did.) Instead, something remarkable happened. I felt support.
I am walking up a steep hill to recovery, and as I lean back in reluctance, people’s words of support press against my back, like little hands, holding me up. Words of relating and acceptance and encouragement, offers for phone calls and coffee dates and hugs. So many hands.
Support is a palpable thing.