Thursday, January 29, 2009

stop, drop and roll.

If (god forbid a million times) I were caught in a burning building, I know the rules: stop, drop and roll. I got it. It sits, stashed away in the back of my mind. But, should the alarm sound, I know all the right steps to take.

All through treatment, we are told that "relapses happen" and to always be prepared. They can be sneaky little bastards and hit you between the eyes before you even know what's happening. I have fallen victim to this many times, as have many people I know. It's too easy to miss all the red flags if you don't know to look for them (and, even more so, if you don't want to look for them..).
Learning the red flags (i.e. smoke) and knowing what to do when you see it coming (i.e. drop it like it's hot) is extremely important. However, I feel that treatment all too often enforces that it stays at the front of our mind at all times. I strongly believe that this is the reason I continued to lapse and relapse. When you constantly think about it and "know" it's going to come, it will. I didn't start to really recover until I thought it was possible that I could live the rest of my life without another relapse.
I used to get into slightly intense "debates," if you will, with one of the Walden counselors (M). One day, she was asking me about how I was holding it together so well. I told her that it wasn't really something I think about anymore since I let go of the assumption that I'll eventually crash-and-burn. She voiced her concern about me not being prepared if I'm not always ready for a relapse. See, I don't think that's true.

Don't get me wrong; this takes a lot of time and work. You do need to know that it can happen and it takes a long time to really recognize a red flag and what to do when you see one coming. It should certainly stay in the front of your mind until it becomes almost an instinct.. the same as being mindful of meal times until your body learns - on its own - that it is hungry/satiated. No, it's not as cut and dry as "stop, drop and roll," like we learn when we're three. This is something that needs to be learned, internalized, continuously repeated so that it's ingrained in our out-of-our-own-control-ed minds. There is a lot of emotional work behind this.
However, you have to also know that full recovery is obtainable. If you prepare yourself to have an eating disorder for the rest of your life, no matter how hard you fight, then you're probably going to have an eating disorder for the rest of your life. I had to let that idea go and realize that I could, in fact, go on to live completely free of a disordered life before I really began to move towards it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. When I started doing really well with abstaining from behaviors, I freaked out about every ed thought. I would think "I can't think this, or I'll never recover." It wasn't until I stopped seeing every single ed thought as the end of the world that they started to go away.