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This morning I went into the eating disorder clinic to say my goodbyes. I finished the program.

I won’t say I’m recovered, because I’m not. I still have a list of scary foods to challenge, and am constantly renegotiating my body image from the grips of media-fueled perfectionist ideals. I’d also like to exercise more than I currently do, but am working on finding activities that don’t trigger eating disorder thoughts and behaviours.

When I entered treatment in November, I was binging and purging most days, obsessed over weight-loss, ate a pathetically restrictive diet of fruits, veggies and sprouted grains, and felt miserable. I entered treatment for the third time in my life, totally defeated and pessimistic about my chances of recovery.

Today, 29 weeks later, I enjoy a varied diet of fruits and veggies, all grains, meats and fish, dairy, nuts, fats and sweets. Pasta, pizza and bagels are recent favourites as I continue to challenge and conquer anxieties around a shrinking list of “scary” foods.

Four helpful strategies in my recovery thus far:

1. Openness about my illness, to ward against secretive withdrawal from the program. I started this recovery blog, and discussed bulimia with friends, family and strangers.

2. Reliance on a close circle of trusted confidants. Having a few people keep tabs on the challenges and progress of treatment gave me the confidence and security to keep going.

3. Honesty with bandmates, friends and staff at the clinic was imperative in overcoming particular obstacles in my recovery, especially around ordering at restaurants (a sometimes terrifying ordeal), planning for parties and road trips, and dealing with scary foods.

4. Purgatory one-on-one sessions with my long-time therapist at the clinic in order to gain insight into the emotional roots of my eating disorder, and plan alternate coping strategies for things like anger, shame and loneliness. (Talk to friends! Talk talk talk!)

Looking ahead, I have to knock down my biggest food fears, which lie mostly around deep-fryers and desserts. I’m also trying to find an exercise plan that keeps me happy and healthy without relapse. And, lastly, I will continue to work on my body image by relaxing, treating myself, and deconstructing the torrents of unreal ideals thrown at me through Pinterest and the rest of the fashion industry.

Much love!

Rachel

PS – I celebrated with a delish lunch of blackforest ham, hard white cheese, lettuce, tomato and dijon on a toasted sesame bagel with local kettle chips and orange juice.

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