Wednesday, January 13, 2010

group, part II

Hm, I don't know where to start. It was totally different than i thought it would be.

I guess I will start with the pre-group trying-on of clothing and mini-meltdown fat attack. Say that three times fast. Well, maybeI won't go there. I think you all have been through it and know what I mean. In the end, I wore something warm, comfortable, and age appropriate. So i guess I did ok with that.

Chris and I got there a few minutes early and we were the only ones there, besides the facilitator. The group only meets once a month (lame) and the facilitator said sometimes they have as few as 2 people and sometimes as many as 12 or so. Right at 7 a teenage-looking girl came in with her parents. They told us that it was their first time at the meeting, too. Nobody else showed up, so we started.

The girl was pretty quiet and nervous and her parents didn't really know what to say, so I started off by telling my story briefly and sharing where I am at now. You know, trying to stay in recovery, motivated but struggling really hard with body image and old behavior patterns, trying to build a life outside the ED. The parents were really desperate to help their daughter any way they could and asked me lots of questions about things that had helped me in the past and I was able to relate alot of my experiences and regrets and successes. They kept saying how glad they were that I was there because it really helped them understand more about EDs so that made me feel pretty good. Chris suprised me by talking quite a bit (for him) about things he has learned as a support person and things that have helped us cope.

I talked directly to the girl a little bit. It seemed like she really did want to get better but was having a hard time getting past the discomfort of eating and gaining weight. I told her about what I know about people who have really recovered in the long term. That recovery is uncomfortable, and the only way through is to eat the food, and not purge, and sit with the feelings, whatever it takes. And then do it all again in a few hours. That really, if you are uncomfortable, you are probably moving in the right direction. But the good news is that over time it becomes easier, until you really are free, and everyone I know who has recovered is glad they did and would never go back.

I also told her that is was important to build a life outside of your eating disorder. Develop hobbies, intrests, things that you get excited about that have nothing to do with food or weight, or even recovery. Be careful to not take on the identity of "eating disorder patient".

I felt like my experience was helpful to this family and that made me feel good. But I left the meeting in a severely depressed state, and this is why:

Because it was just me (31 years old, been doing this 19 years) and her (18 years old, just starting out), I felt like i was basically an illustration of all the things that could go wrong and where her life could end up if she continued in the eating disorder. All the wasted years, the hospitalizations, the failures, the time I can't get back. It all kind of felt like a weight in my chest that over the two hours sort of sank until it sat in my stomach and made me feel sick and nauseated and I just wanted to run home and curl up in my bed.

I wanted to be her. Just starting out. And I could make different choices.

I could have had a LIFE, dammit!

I don't know if i will see them again. I don't know if I will go to the group next month. It may be a completely different experience, depending on who is there.

On a quick side note, the facilitator told us she was from Iowa City and was on staff in the ED program there. You know, the one that I love so much that i refer to it as "evil prison". Well I am proud to say that i was nice and polite and only said "hm, I have been there a few times" and held back the tide of angry bitter negative comments that was rising in my brain.
Score one for resolve and maturity.


Alexandra Rising said...

This whole entry made me smile :)
I know that feeling of wanting to go back to the beginning of the disorder and trying to change things.
I'm glad you got to talk and help someone else...that's always a very good feeling.

Eating Alone said...

Ummm... 27-41,,, 40 before I admit a problem. I'm right there with you.

Please don't be depressed about it. Think how you can help others with it. And you did live, it might not be what you wanted but you are alive and have kids and a wonderful husband. That's saying something.

I Hate to Weight said...

you have a life, lisa.

i just brought the same thing up with my therapist yesterday. i'm 45 and just starting out after years of ED, drug and alcohol issues. still, i'll take it.

there's hope. lots of hope. i have great faith.

Jenn said...

I think that is wonderful that you were able to reach out to this girl and help her!

I know that experience was difficult for you, and I can relate (I am 29 and have been suffering since I was 14). It's tough for me whenever I see girls who are young and are still fairly new to the ed struggle. It makes me angry and I think "why me? why couldn't I have gotten rid of this stupid thing earlier??"

But the point is - we can't. We can't look back, we can only move forward. I know it's tough but try to use your experiences to help others as much as you can! I know that will help YOUR recovery too! And try to be a little nicer to yourself, because you deserve to be happy and free of this illness! you do!

I am totally rambling, but I just wanted to let you know that even though we can't change the past - we CAN change the future. And maybe there is a reason why you have struggled as long as you have, maybe there are people out there waiting to hear your story and your experience to help them in their own recovery.

Take care, stay positive, and keep on fighting girly!!!

Maeve said...

I'm sorry it was less of a group and more of a duo...

I get how hard it is to look at someone who is early in their eating disorder and wish they could realize what they're losing. Luckily for that girl, you were there. Chris was there. You two helped her, and her parents, understand what things can be like.

Remember: you're never to old to have an awesome future!

brie said...

hey, this was awesome. you gave that girl advice, and you gave me some, too. :)

Sarah said...

The thing is at 19 or 31 years of age, dealing and living with the eating disorder is never a choice. The disorder in no way defines us, but we have it and are susceptible to relapse at any time. If we feel we struggle more often than not, it can feel much like we are a failure all together and have not gotten anywhere, but we have. The fact we blog, support, go to groups, therapy, etc speaks a lot. I am more than sure that just you being there will impact her life more than you think =)

Telstaar said...

*hugs* I don't have much energy to write right now, but I do understand and empathise. I used to be involved in online moderated chat sessions and there were clearly us that were older and had been doing this for quite some time, and the younger ones that sometimes you wanted to shake and go, "Leave, leave now before you're in too deep!" and yet they often seemed to revel in the whole concept, very sad. I'm glad that you were able to help that young lady and hopefully plant some seeds to help her out, that is awesome and a testimony to YOUR maturity and wisdom. I'm sorry though that YOU didn't get the support and encouragement that you need right now.

*gentle hugs*

Love Telly xoxo

Anonymous said...

helping younger girls through this ED... i''d love to do it, if only i could just kick the damn thing myself! It probably doesn't mean much, but i see you as having so much going... yes you have an ED but you have a husband who loves you and 2 gorgeous girls. i feel like the ed keeps me from romantic relationships. how do you cope with both and juggle them?