Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

complaining about needing treatment when you *want* recovery

So, after seeing several different status updates on Facebook (I do seem to have a vendetta against FB updates), here was my update:

here’s the thing. Don’t complain that no one gets it or that no one is helping you and then bitch about needing treatment. Take the help that is there, as it is offered. It’s a way to start healing. It may not be your ideal way, but if we always knew what was best for us, we wouldn’t need help in the first place.

Seriously.  I’ll see a series of updates from one person about how their treatment team just isn’t doing the right things or they aren’t helping enough or they’re not listening, but the second that treatment team suggests more intensive treatment-either in the form of more therapy sessions or closer monitoring via labwork or a much needed trip to the ER or going inpatient or partial program, I see the same person complain about how unfair it is.  I could maybe understand these contradictory comments from someone who didn’t want to get better, who was very much stuck in his or her eating disorder and had no intention of giving it up, but from someone who says he or she wants recovery?  What’s the deal?

To me, your treatment team is doing exactly what needs to be done in order to help you the most.  Sometimes we need someone to step in and help us know what is best for us.  This is called keeping you alive.  Oh, but that’s so dramatic you might respond.  And I’ll reply that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.  That’s right, highest mortality rate. Not so dramatic anymore.  At least not to someone who has known over 10 people face-to-face who have died from an eating disorder, and then add that to the numerous FB friends I’ve *known.*

And yes, if we knew what was best for us and knew how to implement that knowledge, we wouldn’t need a treatment team in the first place.  The last time I was *made* to go into treatment, I was unhappy and angry–but not at my treatment team.  I was angry that I had relapsed again.  This most recent time, no one told me to go inpatient.  I knew I needed help, more help than was available outpatient, and I recognized this a lot sooner than I had ever recognized it in the past.  And yes, there were certain aspects of the program I didn’t like, and there were two days I was tempted to just leave and go home.  But I knew I had made the correct decision in going in the first place and was able to see my desire to leave as my fear of changing.

If you really want to recover, take what is offered.  You may not be in the best treatment facility in the world–but I’ve now been to a treatment center whose treatment philosophy is a polar opposite to all places I had been in the past and *gasp* both have been successful–but you are somewhere, and there is always always always something to be learned, no matter where you are.  But that requires opening your mind a little and being willing to listen and being willing to try something that might be a little foreign to you.

Recovery is foreign ground to many of us.  There are many different paths to get there, but you never will get there if you don’t let go of the eating disorder.  And that is a choice that only you can make.


February 22, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, recovery, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Well said and I entirely agree!!! I’m not sure people see how hypocritical they sound and how hard it is for others who work their butts off to make it, recover, save their lives. Yes, we all get frustrated, angry, rebellious but it does come down to choices and if you want it in the end the choice will be recovery focused. I know for me I’ve gotten so upset with those helping me but it was because I knew they were right and it was hard to hear the straight up truth. But in the end I could see and more and more have made the choices to live my life, not the life of the ED. Not easy but I couldn’t be more greatful for those, my treatment team, and friends who have been by my side through the ups and downs, and not given up on me when I felt like giving up. I am greatful I can realize what I do have and how amazing it is. I have a far way to go with things but its ok b/c I’m moving in the right direction.

    Keep working hard girl, thanks for always being real! Your awesome.

    Comment by Kim | February 22, 2010 | Reply

  2. I was like that at first. I want help, but I don’t want any alterations to my life. Just fix this little bit so I can function, forget about the rest. She told me it didn’t work that way. Crap! Oh well I’m glad she did what I needed not what I wanted. I still stuggle with recovery, binged today but it was only one time. I’ll not restrict to make up for it.

    It just seem’s like yesterday I was thinking recovered. Now I’m like, not so much.

    Keep up the good fight.

    Comment by david | February 23, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t think that having an off day means you aren’t recovered. If you binged one day and then decided to continue with that full force, that’s another thing. But you said that it was only one time and that you’re not restricting to make up for it.

      I used to have this definition of “Recovered” that was an all or nothing type of definition. But we make mistakes. we’re human. I made some mistakes, but I got help to stop the progression of them. I don’t feel less recovered now. I’m in a period when I will have to be more conscious of choices I am making, but I know where I stand. Does that make sense?

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  3. Okay. I have to do a DBT intervention. I just can’t help myself! lol

    Here’s the thing, it’s often (if not usually) not a clear cut line between “I want recovery” and “I’m stuck in my eating disorder.” It’s not necessarily so black-and-white. I know for me, there have been a lot of times when I feel like I want recovery AND I don’t. Or, I want recovery AND I’m scared shitless of what it could mean for me. Or, I want recovery AND I’m not sure I’m capable. Or, I want recovery AND I’m scared that I’ll just relapse again, etc., etc. The wanting recovery never faltered; it just co-existed with being very unsure or afraid.

    There’s a lot of ambivalence in recovery (for many people, anyway), so it doesn’t surprise me that people might be struggling with this or confused about what they want/need and that’s reflected in their facebook statuses. For me, one of the most beneficial things that my current treatment team has done has been to “hold” that ambivalence and understand it as part of the process. That way I could lean on them when I was feeling particularly unsure. I could also say, “Yes, I need you to step in, AND I’m really scared of what will happen if you do.” Being able to express that allowed us to work collaboratively reset goals when need be (and when appropriate) and work through the fear/ambivalence together.

    I know too many people who have had their ambivalence taken as a sign by their treatment team that they don’t “really” want recovery, and that just doesn’t seem helpful. (My last therapist was in this camp.) And I can see how it would confuse people in recovery even more.

    Comment by Sayhealth | February 24, 2010 | Reply

    • I fully realize that there in the early stages of recovery there is no clear cut line between wanting recovery and being scared of letting go of the eating disorder. They go hand-in-hand. As I’ve stated more than once here.

      BUT there does come a point where you have to decide whether or not you want to get better and that you no longer want the eating disorder. The fear and ambivalence is a natural part of recovery.

      The individuals I was talking about are ones who are not working with their treatment teams to reassess goals, nor are they listening to any suggestions that may help them in the long run. They will say that they are passionate about recovery but will not take any steps toward recovery except when forced in an effort to keep them alive.

      There’s a difference between being scared and willing and being scared and willful.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  4. Personally, I think of it more like – there’s a difference between being scared and ready and being scared and not ready. And, especially in early recovery (though I do think it can happen in later recovery too), there can be A LOT of bouncing back and forth between these. And, from the outside, it can be infuriating to watch. There’s one woman at my treatment center who reminds me A LOT of the people you mention, and sometimes I just want to shake her and scream, “If you say you’re going to do it, f-ing do it! Follow through. And stop pretending you’re doing it when you’re not!” But, let’s face it, that wouldn’t be productive. And I practice non-violence. So, I encourage her whenever she does make positive steps in recovery, and I back away, for my own health, when she’s not.

    And I think it’s easy to say, “But a lot of people aren’t READY for recovery and they do it anyway!” And of course there’s an element of truth to that – a lot of people choose treatment/recovery before they’re really sure they’re ready to follow through or before they’re sure that it’s what they want. A lot of people force themselves into recovery intitially. But they’re still ready to make(force) that leap, even if it’s not what they want, even if they don’t know if they’re ready to carry it through. Something – maybe it’s health scares, maybe is deteriorating relationships, maybe it’s being exhausted of the illness, maybe the e.d. has stopped “working” – has helped them to be ready to at least make or force that leap. Some people just aren’t there. Or they’re only there for brief moments. But, I think that the willingness to engage with a team (even if they don’t listen consistently at first), to talk about recovery, to talk about the e.d. as something other than positive is a step the in right direction and a sign of hope.

    Comment by Sayhealth | February 26, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t think we are talking about the same group of people in your first paragraph. I don’t mention people who are in a treatment facility and say they are going to do something and don’t. I think that’s a whole other issue and is a normal part of taking steps toward recovery.

      The people I’m talking about are the ones who say they want to get better but then complain when given that opportunity–not about having a rough time adjusting to the program or having a hard time adjusting to a new way of life but about having that opportunity itself. Let’s face it, everyone, including myself, complains on the rough days about how hard it is.

      As for your second paragraph, I think we’re saying the same thing, just in different words.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | February 26, 2010 | Reply

  5. I think some people SAY they want to recover even if they actually don’t want to – not necessarily to be deceptive and lie to others, though, but to lie to themselves. There were times when I thought that if I said that I wanted to recover enough times, I would believe it. I said it b/c that was what I was supposed to say. And I was too scared to be honest with myself and actually admit that at the time I was so depressed and hopeless that I didn’t want to recover.

    Comment by anon | February 26, 2010 | Reply

  6. I want recovery from trauma and my ED. I don’t want to go where my therapist wants me to go though all the way to Michigan from NY. She says because they cover both problems, but I really don’t like it there. Know of anything closer. Don’t know that I’m ready to make that leap and go, but it can’t be much worse than where I am now. Your website is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I’d love to make a web site but computers aren’t my forte.

    Comment by Cindy Galuppo | March 4, 2010 | Reply

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