This point leads on nicely to the first piece of advice I am going to give you below...the aim of this post today being to offer a little advice to anyone who may be, or will be, making that same transition which I myself did, on that day in March. or rather, this advice can in a way be relevant for anyone in any stage of recovery. I also thought I would tell you a little about my own personal experience of leaving the secluded inpatient setting of the hospital, and the fears, anxieties and challenges I faced.
When my key worker first mentioned to me that discharge was being negotiated amongst my care team, I experienced a rush of different emotions. This was it. This was the moment I had been waiting for…for so, so long, But alongside the relief and the shock and the soaring, incomparable feeling of joy that pulsed through my body…this is it, this is finally, finally it. After nine long, hard weeks, I am finally going home…
There was something else, too…something which I had never, not for the whole time I was in hospital, anticipated. I was afraid, very, very afraid. Because I knew once I stepped out through those sliding doors at the front of the hospital…that Iwas on my own, in a way. It was up to me to keep my eating disorder at bay…my life and recovery was essentially now in my own hands.
ut this is something very, very important to bear in mind in recovery. Many eating disorder sufferers, including me, are filled with fear and apprehension at the thought of change. They avoid it if they can and take steps to minimise any sort of changes in their life. but what is important to realise here is that change is an unavoidable and essentially fundamental part of the human existence, and that we will all have to face up to and accept the various different changes that crop up during our lifetime.
Anyway, my point here is that it is important not to get "stuck" at any stage of recovery because you are too afraid of the enormous, seemingly overwhelming change that awaits you, if you dare to step out of your comfort zone. But I can't stress enough how important it is that you do this. Take me for example...before I went into hospital I was absolutely terrified of the unfamiliarity and rigidness of the environment that awaited me, as well as the drastic changes I knew I would have to make in my own life. But I put myself out there and made those changes, and here I am now. I breathe, I think, I open my eyes and see the world in a whole new different light than I did before...and I am still fighting. Making that change didn't kill me. It only made me stronger. And so it was when I left hospital, too. I had, in many respects, bbecome "settled" into that safe, warm, but essentially unrealistic environment. Butmy care team knew it was time for me to move on, and spread my wings a bit. I needed to make that change, as the world of the hospital was not my home and neither did it provide an adequate representation of the real world, either. And the true test really does come when you go out into the real world and start working on creating yourself a world of your own, a world and a life free and uncontaminated by an eating disorder...
Keep track of everything that is proving difficult for you. Self-monitoring is absolutely CRUCIAL. As is having support and someone to talk to. Whatever you do, DON't bottle in your true feelings. Look out for the early warning signs of a relapse. I might do a more detailed post on this, but some of the ones to look out for are:
- Secrecy/deceitfulness around food, what you are eating and how much, exercise etc
- Not being able to relax and feeling very restless and guilty for sitting down.
- cheating on your meal plan
- Not finishing what you should be having even though you think you might have room for it
- Throwing away food, in a way which is secretive and you fear getting caught doing it
- Being defensive or angry if your loved ones pick up on an old habbit you've taken up again
- telling yourself it's "okay" to skip something