Image: @brookecagleHaving an eating disorder is hard. Not only does it affect the person who has the disorder, but it affects every person and aspect in the disordered person’s life. I have experienced this first hand. When I was faced with the decision to go to treatment, I had to accept the reality that not only my life would be affected by my leave of absence, but my family, friends, job, and finances would be, as well. With all of the apprehensions and fears that come along with making the profound and brave decision to get better, I was now faced with feeling like a burden and blaming it on my disorder. This misdirected blame can be the reason people do not seek help: money, time, and feelings- they can make you feel like a burden, but in reality, you are just a human.
Yes- seeking treatment can be expensive. It can be a burden on a family that does not have the up-front means to pay for the help, but there is one thing that is more important than the burden of debt- your life. I am a school teacher and so is my husband; we have bills that come at a cost to our everyday living without a bump in the road. My decision to go to treatment put our family in a financial bind. Before I committed to get the help I needed, I got in the “We can’t afford for me to get help” mindset, it made my ED tell me that I was not worthy of the money it would cost to save my life. But that was just it- it was my life on the line. When my father-in-law asked me straight up what amount of money my life was worth, I could not give him an answer. He hugged me and said, “I can tell you this, it is worth way more than $20,000.
Oh the age old enemy – time. When I was faced with a 45 day minimum inpatient treatment stay, my heart sank. I could not leave my husband, my kids, my job for that amount of time! I had never even left my kids for a weekend, much less 6 weeks! As my ED tried to come up with every excuse in the book on why my life, my job, my family could not make it 6 weeks without me, my husband made a profound and truthful statement. “Brooke, time is going to pass regardless. You have to think of this as 45 days for 45 years of a free and healthy life.” Living free- that was a foreign concept to me. When I was deep in my disorder, I had no concept of time. My time revolved around my ED thoughts and behaviors. The time I spent in treatment was worth every second I have gained back in recovery. I use to be a bystander in my life- unable to connect and enjoy any moment or situation. Now, after giving my all in the recovery process, I will be able to live free and enjoy my time in the present- healthy and free.
When I was deep in my disorder, I had no concept of time. My time revolved around my ED thoughts and behaviors. The time I spent in treatment was worth every second I have gained back in recovery.
Feelings can be a burden, 100%. My feelings about my body, my fitness, my food intake, my self-worth- they were for sure a burden for a long time. They plagued my life on every level, held me back from connections and relationships, and also made me feel as though I was not good enough to pursue my dreams. I’d beat myself up on a daily basis for “ruining everything” with my disordered thoughts and feelings until one day I received a card. The card simply stated: You are not a burden, you are a human. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes because this one statement summed up all the insecurities that I had felt for years- through my childhood, through my disorder, through my need for treatment… that one statement gave me the grace I needed to move forward and receive the help I needed. I am forever grateful for that card, and now I want to give it to you:
You are not a burden. You are a human.
You deserve to live free, so do what it takes to get that freedom. You are worth it!