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Learning to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way

1485106_688427067865539_1941319349_nA frequent question I asked myself during my journey to full recovery was, “What am I, Amy, really feeling?” Eating disorders are NEVER about the food, and honestly, when Chaundra first told me this almost a year ago I had no clue if she was being serious or just playing around. At that time, everything seemed to be about the food. My obsessive food thoughts dictated my every action. I didn’t even realize that my emotions were so far buried, deep down in what seemed like a never-ending hole.

My journey to recovery was a little backwards and unusual. I couldn’t afford inpatient treatment, so when we moved to Wilmington two months after I reached out to my husband for help, I began seeing a therapist. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out with her, but she did recommend me to see a nutritionist named Chaundra and that’s when I became a regular at the Chrysalis Center. I started seeing my nutritionist Chaundra April 5th, 2013 and it wasn’t until August that I started seeing a regular therapist. Backwards, right?

Chaundra and I did a lot of hard work together; she motivated me and challenged me with food. I diversified my food choices, completed food challenges, faced fear foods repetitively, and challenged my negative thoughts around food. With her, I was able to go from daily restricting, and bingeing and purging multiple times everyday down to very minimal restricting (if much at all), and my bingeing and purging habits went down to two to three days a week. But I couldn’t get past this point. I still clung to Anamia; however, I wanted FULL recovery so bad.

It gets worse before it gets better…

This is what Chandra told me my first session with her…It gets worse before it gets better. This made no sense to me because from the day I started working with her things got better! My life was finally changing. Until I hit a wall. I was missing something. I needed the therapy aspect of recovery.

Chaundra asked me session after session to see a therapist at Chrysalis. There was one obstacle blocking my way: insurance and cost. Unfortunately, Chrysalis didn’t take my insurance. I tried a few therapist outside of the Chrysalis Center that were covered under my insurance, but I wasn’t able to build a strong relationship like I had built with Chaundra. I thought I was just bad at therapy (side note, funny story: I asked Chaundra one session if I was bad at therapy. Lol how can someone be bad at therapy?!).

My biggest obstacle to receiving the treatment I needed was finances, but I wanted recovery so bad I was determined to make something happen. Moving out at 18, married at 19, moving across country at 20, and then moving three more times within a year and a half, we did not have the means to pay for treatment. Colin and I were on our own at a young age. And let me tell you, it was hard! They need to teach this kind of stuff in high school, like how to do your taxes, getting your first apartment, how to fix your dishwasher, setting up a budget, interview skills…just saying.

Colin and I were finally able to make it work with help (help that we are so grateful for, I can’t begin to thank those people enough). In August I started seeing Ashley, and boy did it get worse. Not a lot worse, but enough to be frustrating.

It’s gets worse before it gets better.

Ashley and I dove right into my control and abandonment issues. She helped me realize it was okay to be angry at my dad for what he did. I could be sad, and I didn’t even have to have a reason. I could be frustrated with the situation I was in. I could feel lonely and that didn’t mean I had to go to Anamia.

During this time, though, I clung to Anamia more. Feeling emotions I hadn’t truly felt in years, maybe ever, was terrifying. I threw fits and cried and yelled and screamed and shut down several times because I couldn’t say what I was really feeling. It was like I was learning to walk or ride a bike for the first time; frustrating and scary, but also exciting.

The more practice I had the better I got, and the more distant Anamia became. I learned that I didn’t need her to block out my feelings anymore. I WANTED to feel. I wanted to feel sad and angry and happy and excited. I wanted to experience what lonely was and what true passion felt like. I reveled in the fact that I could feel! I remember being really upset one afternoon and just crying my eyes out, but in the back of my mind that was one of that happiest moments of my life. I was letting Amy feel. It is incredible.

The more and more I used my words to tell Colin how I felt the easier it became to find out what was really wrong. When I would have a negative food thought the first question I’d ask myself is, “What am I really feeling?” A lot of the time I was just tired (which made perfect sense as my body was healing after nine years of damage that had been done). So guess what, when I was tired took a nap. I learned to take care of my body and become more mindful of my thoughts.

Today, my understanding, compassion, and love for myself is out of this world. I didn’t realize how much of a stranger I was to Amy during my eating disorder. One of the best things about recovery is getting to know that amazingly beautiful and unique person that does exist underneath. And I promise, recovery is worth it.

xo
Live free and heal.

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2 comments on “Learning to Deal with Emotions in a Healthy Way

  1. minakujund
    April 13, 2014

    Reblogged this on Elu koos söömishäirega.

  2. Becki
    May 11, 2014

    This is a great, inspiring, brave post! I used food as a coping mechanism for years (over eater) and ate away my feelings until I was 360 pounds. I finally found a good therapist and went through almost 6 years of therapy to get things sorted out. About 4 1/2 years into it, I learned to deal with my feelings and problems and not hide them in cake. I ended up having lap-band surgery and the only reason I’ve been successful at losing so much weight is because I dealt with my eating disorder first. I know a lot of people who have had the same surgery as me or the gastric bypass and have gained all the weight back because they never dealt with their main issue – the reason they ate. Finding the cause of eating disorders, addictions, harmful behavior, whatever it is, is the only way to truly stop it and begin to heal. Kudos to you for the work you’ve done and for finding the strength you had inside you all along!

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This entry was posted on April 1, 2014 by in Lifestyle, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , .

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