Blog: Articles on Psychological Wellbeing, Relationships, Brain Health, Counselling and Neurofeedback
Welcome to the blog of Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback. Articles posted here are written by our clinical staff and relate to services we offer or conditions we address. We hope they will be helpful to you in some way, whether you're considering counselling for yourself or someone else, gathering information on a mental health related issue, or just want to find out more about who we are and what we do.
My Journey Towards Eating Disorder Recovery
posted: Jul. 15, 2021.
I’m writing this piece, voluntarily, after almost 7 years of being on a recovery journey from an eating disorder and the myriad of mental health struggles that I have discovered along the way. I only hope that by writing my story, someone who reads it can become curious about recovery and give themselves the permission to ask for help. I didn’t know what recovery would look like for me and I don’t know what it will look like for anyone else. I do know that I underestimated the beauty of counselling in not only my recovery journey but also in my journey of rediscovering who I am.
Progress is Not Linear
Unfortunately and realistically, my recovery journey has been nothing resembling a linear trajectory towards health. I’ve had days in which I feel free and happy and I’ve had days in which I feel too exhausted with life. The first 3 years were filled with more of the latter. Family meetings, supervised meals, limitations on activities, weekly counselling, anxiety attacks, and tears. Lots of tears.
Fast forward to a time when my life began to resemble the life of a healthy woman in her late 20’s. I returned to school. I was in a romantic, committed, relationship. I was hanging out with friends and I was eating at restaurants. I felt I was achieving what recovery was suppose to be. I focused on school in hopes of changing the pain and concern of my family into pride and relief that my life was finally back on track.
Then, the life I was rebuilding became too much and I was experiencing daily panic attacks, anxiety attacks, feeling exhausted with life, and noticing old eating disorder thoughts and behaviours resurfacing. I used all the skills I had learned in the first 3 years of recovery, each as a last resort to try and hang onto what I had built. I was fortunate to be able to begin seeing my therapist from my first eating disorder recovery program again. I had built a relationship with her that allowed me to jump back into counselling even after some time away. She knew of my history and provided me the space to explore beyond what was my identity for so long: a girl with an eating disorder. I trusted her to hold hope for more of my authentic self to grow when I could only think about meeting my expectations and the assumed expectations of others.
The anxiety and panic attacks were becoming intolerable and affecting every aspect of my life but being stubborn about working hard and completing anything I start, it took a period of six months for me to make some difficult decisions including starting medication again for depression and anxiety, and taking a leave from school. The medication seemed to slow the ruminating thoughts and brought me up over the cliff’s edge that I was barely hanging onto. It was the continued and consistent work with my therapist that inspired life beyond recovery. My therapist knew before I did that I was more than my eating disorder. She never forced this idea on me. She has never said it in so many words but the work we have done and continue to do together helps me know and feel that there is more to be discovered and developed in me. She helped me to begin to see potential and to have interest in my true self, things I had never imagined at the start of my eating disorder recovery.
Recovery is More than Healthy Eating and Body Image
Seven years ago, recovery meant being able to eat ‘normally’. I thought my therapist would help me stop obsessing about food and my body. I didn't know that she could guide me to uncover and learn about my authentic self. I didn't know counselling could offer the opportunity to see beauty in myself and life. I thought therapy was for fixing, for providing me an outlet, for giving me advice on how to recover. But I also didn’t know what it meant to be me. The work I do now with my therapist extends outside the counselling office and beyond eating disorder recovery. I’m learning to experience and exercise my freedom, my autonomy, my creativity, my curiosity, and my confidence. My recovery journey has been long and I finally truly feel I can stand on my own two feet, on solid ground with an army of support at my side. Now, the counselling sessions are my intentional space and time I have with my therapist to ground myself and become stronger as I jump back into life.
Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback serves Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including Surrey, Langley, White Rock, Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, and New Westminster.