How to Win the War of Recovery

War of Recovery by Angie Viets

Dear Warrior,
If you’re going to engage fully in the work of recovery you need to know the truth: You’re going to war. Recovery could very well be the hardest thing you’ll EVER do in your whole life; you need a full fledged fucking army. Your army needs to train for war – The War of Recovery!

In an intake session with a new client, I explain the process of what it’s going to take for them to recover: “The most effective treatment for eating disorders is called a multidisciplinary treatment approach.” I break it down: “What this means for you, is that you’ll need a treatment team including myself (therapist specialized in eating disorders), a psychiatrist for medication management, a primary care physician to ensure medical stability, a registered dietician to assist with nutritional needs, and people to support you in this process.”  

Initially, this can feel rather overwhelming.  Be reassured in knowing that the therapist you choose will help guide the development and communication of your team; you’re no longer alone in this mission.

Truth be told, I don’t know much about the military hierarchy, but I imagine it’s sort of like team sports:

Head & Assistant Coaches = Sergeants

A Team = Active Troop

B Team = Reserve Troop

Your sergeants are the professionals who you enlist to provide guidance and strategy for the war. We’re experts, based not only on our degrees and ongoing education on best practices but also our years of experience helping others train and win similar wars.

Some of us, like myself, consider ourselves war heroes because we’ve been to battle and won the War of Recovery. We offer all of our knowledge, the plays that work to win the game, and how to fight until the bitter end.

As your sergeants, we stand by your side and ask that you place your trust in us, but most importantly, advise you to lean on your troops. The reality is we don’t go onto the actual battlefield in real time with you. Imperative is the understanding that once you’ve won the war, you’ll no longer need us actively; this is the goal!

The troops (active and reserves) serve different purposes but are equal in significance. The active troops, or your A team, are on the court almost the full game. So who is your first line of defense? Is it your parents, siblings, best friends, or spouse? Is it a higher power or nature?  

The reserves, or B team, have a valuable role as well. The reality is your A team will need relief and the ability to sit on the bench to refuel before they head back in, this is the beauty of the reserves. Who are the reserves you want to be on deck and ready to go? Maybe it’s a neighbor, cousin, or old friend from back in the day that you need to reconnect with, or maybe it’s someone you met in treatment. The B team can also be anything that aligns you with your treatment goals: self-care, your dog, a recovery podcast, a book, blog, or favorite gentle yoga class.

Here is my request, my soldier, get out your favorite journal and pen this week and strategize. Make some lists (we all love a good list)! Write, at the top of the page, The War of Recovery, and begin devising your sergeants and troops by active and reserves.

Please breathe deeply if you are brand new to this work and your page is completely blank. That’s ok!! We’ve all had a blank page initially. Maybe, for now, you could just write down the professionals I’ve mentioned above that you’ll need, then five troop members for both the active and reserve troops. Even if there are no actual names, believe that there will be in time. Nobody has this completely figured out in the beginning, so don’t you dare use this as an excuse not to start!!

My best advice is to start with finding a kick-ass therapist who understands how to fight The War of Recovery.  (Maybe enlist your first troop member to help you with this important endeavor.)

A word to the weary soldier. If you’ve been fighting for a long time, please know that some wars seem endless, until one day they’re won! We never know how long a war will take when we’re deployed. Sit with your list of sergeants and troops and review what’s working and what isn’t. Consider whether your current attack plan needs to be revised and make changes accordingly. View this as an ongoing process of reevaluation.

Please know that no matter where you sit today, there are armies of us who’ve fought and won similar wars and we believe in YOUR ability to win The War of Recovery!

Love + Light,

Angie

(former Soldier, current Sergeant & War Hero)

Image Source: Flickr

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