"It gets better"

The "It Gets Better" campaign is geared at gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning young people who might be struggling with the issues surrounding coming out to friends and family.  It was started in the wake of horrifically common bullying and rejection that these teens face, to let them know that life does eventually get better.  It's a wonderful campaign and a wonderful message.

If there was only one thing I could tell my readers who are struggling with ED and recovery, it would be that it gets better.  It really does.

I didn't know that I would ever be able to look forward to a meal with friends, or buy a pair of pants without a major meltdown in the dressing room.  I didn't know that I would ever be able to exercise without being obsessive and compulsive, or put butter on my bread.  I didn't believe that I could get through a meal without wanting to jump off the roof because the anxiety and guilt were so horrific.

It took far longer for the pain to ease than I thought it would.  I had stopped believing that things would get better.  But eventually, with more work than I thought possible and the healing hand of time, things did start to get better.

The waiting was the worst part.  The waiting and the not knowing if it would get better.  It was something I had to tell myself, over and over and over again.  Recovery is terrifying, and I had been so battered by the eating disorder that I didn't think I would make it through recovery. 

But then I got to the day where I realized recovery was almost a default.  Eating wasn't scary, it wasn't an effort to haul myself off the treadmill.  My life was my life, and I had an existence that honestly had nothing at all to do with my eating disorder.  It took me a long time to realize that this "getting better" wasn't going away.  The hard work had finally, finally paid off.

18 comments:

EmilyH said...

I can not imagine putting butter on my bread, so naturally and calmly like people do. I do dream of it. I long to have the confidence to butter my bread, to declare with a spread that I enjoy food and that I am confident in my deservedness to do so.

Although I doubt it on some days, I do intrinsically believe that I will be happier when I am able to eat real food. I don't really know where to start, but thank you for assuring me that there is light on the other side of this.

-Emily

Jess said...

Thank you so much for this post!!!!! It gives me hope and motivation. You should be so proud of yourself for all that you have achieved in recovery!

Butterfly said...

Thank you ... I hope it does - I admit I'm in the recovery phase of will this ever really be any better ... but I live in hope. It sure takes forever! I'm weight recovered but far from ED recovered which makes each day painful as I toy with returning to the old way so at least I feel better and calm and the weight would drop again. But I want health too, so thats the choice and I choose it! xxx

Fellow OCD Sufferer said...

As usual I think the same thing goes for OCD. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the child version of myself, when I was struggling with some of my worst and most emotionally difficult episodes of OCD and say, "Hang in there. Life gets better!! It won't always be so difficult!" Even now I think I need a reminder of why I should continue working hard in treatment - because as much as I think it can't get better at times, that life is better as it is, the past proves that life with less OCD always better. And like you said, waiting to see if things get better is the worst part. It's terrifying to go against your instincts and just trust that you can do something that feels so wrong and will end up better because of it. I need a reminder of that now and then. So thanks for helping me remember that it does, in fact, get better!

hm said...

Promise??? For EVERYONE???

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much this post means right now! I've wondered if it's worth it. Everything in general. Just trying to fight through...and following your blog has helped me to see that there must be light at the end of this tunnel. That there is something worth fighting for. So thank you for this...and good luck presenting this weekend in NY! You will be your usual fabulous self, I'm sure.

happinessiswithinblog.com said...

It does get better!!!

There are SO SO SO many things I never thought I would be able to do and I can now! :)

Dana xo

Cate said...

okay, that post made me cry...

The_Timekeeper said...

I believe in "it *does* get better," and I have experienced that space at two distinct periods of remission. I also have experienced the creep, then rush of anorexia "coming back."

The first remission was seven years, and I believe it was sustained by a steely outward focus: a busy, successful career; child-bearing and child-rearing; an active civic and community life.

During those years, I thought to myself and said aloud to others that I couldn't imagine ever going back. It felt like a surreal and distant part of my history.

Although I didn't indulge ED thoughts or behaviors (nor did I even have them, really), it *was* in the back of my mind that this "grace period" could go away at anytime. I felt the vulnerability of knowing that when anorexia first came, it wasn't necessarily consciously bidden, and though I had had plenty of treatment and had personal insight and behavioral and disease awareness, I also knew mmy only real control was in walking the walk and talking the talk to stay on a path of recovery.

I can look back and see plenty of factors that built a powerful case for relapse potential, but hindsight is always more clear.

Some say it's easier to recover a relapse, but my experience is that it's more difficult. My message, I guess, is that it does get better, but it also brings more vigilance for longer than your confidence might believe. Probably a forever vigilance for the propensity. It gets better, but getting worse again is oh-so-terribly easy, very much like riding a bike.

I personally wish I could find my way back to a steady place, and I'm happy for those who are there.

What I see over a lifetime of hospital admissions (20+ years) and treatment experiences is that most patients have been in a place where they were OK, thought they would remain OK, esp. because they had external goals to complete school; relationships to tend; marriages and families to begin; jobs to protect.

But, sometimes, somewhere ... it can very easily all fall apart, especially if your relapse prevention plan and your "signs" of trouble were developed during one phase of your life that has since evolved.

You don't realize, sometimes, there were new signs until you're mucking around in them. Not trying to be a downer, just saying ... I don't think anyone can take recovery or remission from an ED for granted.

The_Timekeeper said...

I believe in "it *does* get better," and I have experienced that space at two distinct periods of remission. I also have experienced the creep, then rush of anorexia "coming back."

The first remission was seven years, and I believe it was sustained by a steely outward focus: a busy, successful career; child-bearing and child-rearing; an active civic and community life.

During those years, I thought to myself and said aloud to others that I couldn't imagine ever going back. It felt like a surreal and distant part of my history.

Although I didn't indulge ED thoughts or behaviors (nor did I even have them, really), it *was* in the back of my mind that this "grace period" could go away at anytime. I felt the vulnerability of knowing that when anorexia first came, it wasn't necessarily consciously bidden, and though I had had plenty of treatment and had personal insight and behavioral and disease awareness, I also knew mmy only real control was in walking the walk and talking the talk to stay on a path of recovery.

I can look back and see plenty of factors that built a powerful case for relapse potential, but hindsight is always more clear.

Some say it's easier to recover a relapse, but my experience is that it's more difficult. My message, I guess, is that it does get better, but it also brings more vigilance for longer than your confidence might believe. Probably a forever vigilance for the propensity. It gets better, but getting worse again is oh-so-terribly easy, very much like riding a bike.

I personally wish I could find my way back to a steady place, and I'm happy for those who are there.

What I see over a lifetime of hospital admissions (20+ years) and treatment experiences is that most patients have been in a place where they were OK, thought they would remain OK, esp. because they had external goals to complete school; relationships to tend; marriages and families to begin; jobs to protect.

But, sometimes, somewhere ... it can very easily all fall apart, especially if your relapse prevention plan and your "signs" of trouble were developed during one phase of your life that has since evolved.

You don't realize, sometimes, there were new signs until you're mucking around in them. Not trying to be a downer, just saying ... I don't think anyone can take recovery or remission from an ED for granted.

From Here to There. In Purple. said...

When I'm at my worst. When I feel loss of hope and motivation, I remind myself "it gets better". bc I've seen the success and pay-off of sticking to it. and I want that, bc I deserve it. WE deserve it.

thank you

Danielle said...

Thanks you so much for this post! You should be so glad that you got rid of the ED monster once and for all. I hope one day i can do that like you.

runnerbee2c said...

I had become resolved to living w/ this. I have an amazing husband and beautiful 4 yr old, great bonding w/ both. Not to mention a fulfilling and challenging career. I thought, hey this is just part of who I am. The terror of gaining an ounce unravels me every single day of my life. And this is the 2nd time around for me. The stakes are higher, pain more acute, consequences more obvious. Yet I step into this w/open arms each day.
So your words mean something. Intellectualy I know recovery is possible. Emotionally, it's harder to let go.
I function, but want more. Thanks for continuing to flicker your light. Many of us are stretching for that beacon.
xoxo - m

Charlotte UK said...

I just love you, my friend.

I am so sorry that I can't get to NY but am going to make sure that you get some big hugs from me via the ATDT fans.

This is just lovely and you have made me cry.

xx

Charlotte

Shannon said...

I am so happy to hear this. I needed to hear this today...

Lucy Sparrow said...

My goal for Christmas is to have two slices of toast (at once) with real butter on them. It will be the first time in as long as I can remember! These days I have margarine, if I'm feeling confident.
Your post has given me more motivation, thank you :)

Anonymous said...

It's good to hear that it does get better.
But, I think it is also important to remember, as TimeKeeper points out, that it CAN get worse.

For me, it has been when it's gotten so much better that i no longer feel anxious around food that i relapse. A year ago, I was so free of anorexia, I thought i would never succumb to the disorder again.

Now, I am. Wish i had stayed in therapy, even after it got better so that i didn't relapse

Harriet said...

Great post. Because you know what? It really does get better. Promise. You are all brave women and men.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote



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