I never thought I'd be here again. That, in my first year of graduate school after working so hard to get here, I would relapse. I never thought I would be in a position where I had multiple clinical professionals concerned for my health, urging me to get more help for months on end. I never thought this would be my 3rd time in a higher level of care for my eating disorder.
But... this is exactly what happened and this is where I am. This is my life right now.
In the therapy world, there's this thing called DBT, which stands for dialectical behavior therapy, and it focuses on skill building, and is often used for eating disorder recovery. There's a concept called "radical acceptance" which really means accepting things as they are, or yourself and your situation as it is. It doesn't mean you have to be thrilled about it, or that you have to have any sort of feelings about it. You just have to accept it, as is, without judgement.
This is where I am right now, and that's okay. It is what it is.
Today, I was catching up with my best friend, and in telling her about treatment, I typed, "I'm eating again. So that's good." Then I felt highly judgmental towards myself for getting to a place again where that would be a thing I would be proud about.
But... this is where I am today. That is a real accomplishment, and one that I don't need to diminish or put myself down for. Just because I didn't expect to be here again doesn't make it bad, or something to be ashamed of. It is simply what it is.
The truth is, I have an eating disorder that sometimes requires that I get more support than at other times. And, at least right now, that means accepting that this means taking on less classes and fewer responsibilities. It means that I'm learning how to balance being in treatment 5 days a week with taking biostatistics. It means learning to balance self-care and healing with being a grad student and learning research methods.
Radical acceptance means that I can't change the situation that I'm in right now, but I can accept it. It means that I can and will heal and I don't have to like it all the time. It means reflecting on where I am right now, and acknowledging that this is where I need to be. And for me, it means speaking up so that I can use my voice and my experience for something more positive. I'm having this experience whether I like it or not (and a lot of the time I don't). But if I am here, I may as well use my experience for good. I may as well use the pain and the days where nothing feels possible, and the hope and the days where the clouds start to lift, for something beneficial.
So, here I am. I'm sitting in the waiting room of my treatment center waiting for dinner. My intention will be radical acceptance. It may suck, but it is what it is in that moment only. And if I can channel the feelings I'm having today, tomorrow, and the next day into something positive, that's worth it. If it helps me heal, it's worth it. If it makes my story stronger so I can be a better public health professional with mental health? Hell yes, that's so worth it.
Hi, I'm Charlotte! I'm a 24 year old navigating life in NYC and mental health recovery. I am passionate about public health and eliminating stigma.