Life is good. Lauren has an excellent summer job in her college town doing what she loves – working with children. There are other fun activities to participate in – birthday parties, dancing, book group, sorority conference, camping, rafting, and hiking mountains. This is the stuff 21-year olds are supposed to be doing. Outwardly, everything seems normal. But is it?
What I didn’t know at the start of this journey was how very long it would take. This is not what a parent in Stage 1 of Maudsley would want to necessarily know or think about. As difficult as the beginning phases are as a substitute for inpatient care, Stage 3 seems to be the wild card. The outcome of re-feeding is pretty predictable - increasing calories increases weight, and physical health is restored. Rewards and coercion can work well in Stage 2, which focuses on independent eating and weight maintenance. But what about the future for a young adult who is in the final stage? This is where the hard work takes place to ensure lasting recovery. Exploration of the underlying issues, learning strategies to counteract distorted or negative thoughts, building resilience, focusing on wellness not weight, enhancing self-esteem, and so the list goes on. This takes time and tenacity. It means reaching out to others for support, going to therapy and groups, delving into self-help books, journaling, reflecting, and continuing to add pieces to one’s unique recovery puzzle to create a deeper level of understanding and awareness.
Recovery is not linear and the road is bumpy, with the continuous threat of falling off a cliff. It is exhausting and demoralizing. That’s what an ED does – wears you down until you feel like throwing in the towel. Why bother? Because full recovery is possible if one can stay the course. This is not a lofty dream. It’s tough climbing the recovery sand dune and takes incredible perseverance. But they say the view from the top is beautiful.
“So long as there is breath in me, that long I will persist. For now I know one of the greatest principles of success; if I persist long enough I will win.”