I‘ve never been very good at opening up – but I was desperate.
Heart racing, fingers hurriedly typing away. After what seems like an eternity, I read over the novel-length text I’m about to send. Deep breath
This is it.
I was sad, broken and torn apart… I was on the verge of a relapse. And I knew it. I couldn’t meet expectations or reach my goals.
Always falling short. Always feeling like a failure.
I was at the end of my rope – disgusted with myself and my performances. And the worst part? I was bottling it up. Every single bit of it.
I was done pretending.
I had enough of crying. I had enough of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. There was no way I was going to let myself go through another relapse after my freshman year of college. Being stubborn and not asking for help was no longer an option.
Finally, I decided to let it all out. I talked about my disappointment in myself and admitted to hating myself. I said over and over just how incredibly unhappy I was.
In every way, shape, and form I was waving a big “RELAPSE!” red flag.
Within seconds my phone buzzed back. I grabbed it immediately, hoping for the encouraging words I desperately needed to shake me out of this ridiculous and dangerous mindset. When I opened it, my heart sank and I could feel the tears welling up instantly.
“Go to a doctor.”
Wait… what? Speechless. Hurt. Angry.
The thoughts came rushing in: “How could they say that? They know my past struggles. They walked through this with me once before… and now they can’t even show an ounce of compassion?”
I had a hard time wrapping my head around this situation. During recovery, we are told repeatedly how vital it is to open up to others and share our feelings (as we should!).
But what happens when it doesn’t go as planned? What happens when it backfires?
3 things to do when you reach out for support and don’t get the response you hoped for:
1. Breathe. (yes, breathe)
Calm yourself down. Chances are, you were already a little shaken up before trying to reach out to someone. So the sudden shock of an unexpected reply can really throw you in a whirl.
While all your instincts may be pointing to give up, throw in the towel, or even retaliate with a rude comment: close your eyes and take a deep breath.
2. Know that this reaction doesn’t define you
Remember that one person’s reaction or opinion does not define your recovery. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it was crucial for me to keep reminding myself of.
Your recovery is just that… yours.
Support is a fantastic and incredible tool during recovery – but sometimes you may not always receive it the way you’d like to. You are the one putting in the hard work and you are the one who ultimately controls your actions towards recovery.
Please don’t let one single moment of discouragement put a halt on your progress.
3. Try again
Just like you shouldn’t let one person control your effort on recovery, you also shouldn’t let one bad experience cut you off completely.
I’ve said it before and I will say it a million more times: support is so essential in recovery and it can make a huge difference! Quite honestly, support from my family and friends got me through some of the toughest moments during my recovery.
Tackling an eating disorder with a solid support team will always be easier than fighting the battle alone.
So keep reaching out. Don’t be so afraid of negative responses that it pushes you to never want to reach out for support or help again.
Never give up
So, I didn’t get the supportive response I was hoping for… so what? That didn’t change where I was at in my recovery.
It didn’t mean I was destined to relapse. And it didn’t mean I had to put up walls and never open up again.
As a matter of fact, it led me to reach out further.
Instead of secluding myself, I surrounded myself with even more support. I called a few more friends and shared my feelings, I invited someone over for dinner, I Face-timed my brother, and everything was fine.
In hindsight, I can’t believe I let a single text message make me so distraught. But then again, I can.
Recovery is hard and scary. Sometimes all it takes is one moment of discouraging words to make you feel hopelessly alone.
But all of those thoughts are lies. The fear, the insecurity, the feeling of failure: lies.
So keep your head up, Warrior. We all hit speed bumps along this road of recovery, but they never stop us completely.