**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
By Cathrine Pace-Davis
I became willing to take a look at my life seriously in 2013 when I found the PHP program at The Center for Balanced Living (now The Emily Program – Columbus). Prior to this, as is the case for many of us, I had already been in and out of the eating disorder recovery realm for many years. I would begin treatment with a zest for life and a willingness to get up every day and actively participate; however, at some point I would start ruminating over my physical body and begin negatively appraising myself. My zeal would fizzle out. Waking up in the morning became grueling, and I would find myself looking for ways to be alone so that I could sneakily go back to engaging in behaviors. And just like that, I’d be sitting in treatment, longing for the day when I could freely engage in behaviors once more. I began to lose heart as the obsession of the mind grew more rampant the more I gave in to it, all the while I sat in group taking notes, participating in activities, and learning how to live life one day without my eating disorder. My time at CBL was not for nothing, though; I had an arsenal of skills and tools at my disposal just waiting to be used.
It took me a while to hit a bottom miserable enough to become honest, open, willing, and consistent with recovery. At some point the behaviors and rituals became a chore I dreaded having to endure, and I began fearing the inevitable if I did not stop. However, as a result of my biological dependence on ED, I was going to need a higher level of care, no matter how “done” with it I had become. I had experienced residential treatment centers before, many of which felt very hospital-like and restrictive, causing me to have a lot of apathy toward the process. I also had some food intolerances I knew about, as well as ones I was not aware of, causing me to need a residential program that allowed me to avoid the foods I knew I could not tolerate, rather than giving a finite number of foods on a “does not eat” list. I promised myself that, should I find a residential place that took into consideration my individual needs and proclivities, I would give it my all and recover for good.