The end of summer.

Tonight is he last night of summer for me. I have a myriad of emotions regarding this, and over how I spent my summer as a whole. I want to take some time to reflect on this summer, namely my treatment experiences and what I’ve learned from it.

By the numbers:

  • 33 days in residential
  • 27 days of PHP
  • 10 days of IOP
  • 2 months away from home
  • 1,058 hours spent in treatment
  • 70 total days in treatment/110 days of summer = 64% of summer days

It’s hard to believe that so much of my summer has been taken up by treatment. I never would have wanted this for myself. I honestly didn’t expect my break from school to play out this way at all. I thought that I was handling the eating disorder and school perfectly, and that it would continue seamlessly into summer. That quickly fell apart and residential became the only option. I remember mourning my loss of “freedom” (when I clearly wasn’t very free). At the time, I thought 4-6 weeks and then I would be healed and could return to just outpatient. Every option for a slower stepdown was taken and my last day of IOP was this past Tuesday, only 8-9 weeks later than I originally thought. This time that I once felt was so important now seems trivial. I spent 64% of my 110 days of break in treatment and I wouldn’t have had it any other way, given the circumstances.

I had much guilt and worry surrounding my return to residential. I wondered if I would even be able to accomplish anything this time around. These thoughts continued as I began stepping down. Here’s the crazy thing: I grew just as much, if not more, than last time. I want to share some different things I’ve taken away from this time.

  1. Treatment is scary, no matter how much you prepare for it. I felt this strange confidence about returning. I had done so well before. All I had to do was follow the rules enough to deal with it, right? WRONG. It was much more complicated than that. I wasn’t some pro at treatment who could zoom through the process. I wouldn’t say every single step was near terrifying, but treatment as a whole was. It makes sense, given the goal is to eradicate this thing that’s been controlling me for so long.
  2. Knowing how to put my needs above: other people’s, what I “should” be doing, etc. I could have been away at treatment 4.5 weeks and then IOP for a month. I was not at all planning on PHP, especially not one that involved being away from home. Towards the end of residential, it became increasingly clear that home wasn’t a good option. My therapist and I both had many concerns about returning to that environment. Sure, I had a month of growth under my belt, but that didn’t mean I was 100% ready for the real world. I felt strongly that I needed a better option. I decided this the very last week I was at CFD. Once I was at ERC, I once again put my needs first and stayed an extra week there. I added a month away, one that was absolutely needed. Some people were not so happy with that decision, but it doesn’t really matter. What does is that I stuck up for myself and gained immensely by doing so.
  3. I didn’t truly “miss out” this summer. Sure, I wasn’t able to have the “normal” experience. I do/did regret that; however, I gained so much more. I had many fun adventures during all 3 forms of treatment (and pictures to show of parts!). My time in treatment brought inside jokes, exploring cities, laughs, tears, growth, and more. It was so, so hard at times. Overall, though, I wouldn’t trade it. My version of summer is a lot different than others but that doesn’t mean it was bad or wrong.
  4. I am stronger than I ever thought. I’ve been through countless trials this summer: losing my grandpa while at CFD, a specific weekend where every bite was a struggle and Boost was involved, dealing with family, living in a new city and having to navigate that, losing another family member while in Chicago, choosing to stay longer in treatment, financial issues. Through all of it, I have survived, even thrived.
  5.  I am more than capable of recovering. I have done some hard stuff this summer. I was in treatment a majority of the most trying times, bu it doesn’t discount my progress. I had to choose recovery, no matter what, and I did. Even with struggling a bit being home, I am still fighting because I do believe in recovery. Another reason I have this hope in from being lucky enough to hear Jenni Schaefer speak to us at ERC.

I am so thankful for all that has made this summer one of healing. I know I can continue this and have a better semester than ever before. Tomorrow is a new beginning!

(So many) tears of happiness

Last Thursday, I happy-cried the entire 50 minute drive to my school before IOP. I could stop for no more than a minute, then I would get thinking and waterworks started over. It seems pretty weird, right? What’s so amazing about a quick errand to school before going to eating disorder treatment for the day? The answer: everything because today, I picked up my scrubs and equipment for nursing.

If you would have looked at me a year and a half ago, as I dropped out of my first semester of school, there’s no way you could have seen this day coming. A year after that, I once again had to take time off school, this time just a J-term. Then came the absolute worst semester possible. Looking just at my academic performance and participation in school spring term, no one would think I could be allowed into the nursing program. Here I am anyways.

The first couple weeks at residential were brutal for many reasons, a main one being that I didn’t have my final grades in yet. I was accepted into the nursing program, but I had no clue if that was jeopardized or not. I was not proud of the semester and this kept me up at night. I was a wreck. I went over every moment, every mistake from the previous 4 months. The day I logged in and saw my GPA was one of the happiest since receiving my acceptance letter. I had hung on, but only by around a tenth of a point.

I am not ashamed. I never thought I would be saying that; however, I cannot keep focusing on what I’ve done wrong. I’ll admit, I’ve been a terrible student for a good chunk of my time at Calvin. That isn’t all on me though, because I wasn’t really there. Instead, my eating disorder was in control. I have spent too many years trying to live with the eating disorder when I only end up barely surviving.

I am proud of myself. I am proud of my recovery. Without this hard work I’m putting in now, there’s no way I would be starting classes in 3 weeks. I don’t know where I’d be. What I do know is that I’ve spent too many years trying to live with this disease. Now is my chance to change that, and treatment this summer is only the beginning.

I am going to become a nurse. It still feels surreal, and probably will for a while yet. I thank God everyday for all that has gotten me to this point. I know this is my calling. I almost lost the opportunity, but I am never going to stop fighting to make my dream come true.