This right here is a hat I received at the NEDA Walk in Chicago today. This hat is now a symbol of a day full of gratitude.
I captained a team of about 30 people and our team raised over $3,500 towards NEDA. I have gone to this walk for 4 years and captained 3 years, and this year was the very first year that I didn’t go there with a heavy heart and fake smile.
I went genuinely happy, hopeful, encouraged, and (dare I say it?) confident. I have only ever gone to the walk and realized how sick and hurt and angry I was. But, and I can’t say this enough, this year I went and boasted in recovery and gratitude. I saw some of the ERC staff members who changed my life, I saw friends, and I even brought my mom.
I also had a very overwhelming sense of peace. I promise you I do not say this to sound condescending, I just couldn’t get past this feeling of knowing where I’m at in my recovery and knowing that I’m on the path forward. I know people struggled to see friends that are still sick, or go out to lunch after, or converse about life in general. And that is 100% valid. I am just at peace knowing that I had those struggles too and I made it. I made it to a point where I ordered a Denver omelette and chose pancakes as a side instead of toast because I friggin love pancakes. Guys, it gives me hope because I hurt to see my friends hurt but now I’ve come to know that recovery is real.
This year’s walk was the first time I’ve celebrated recovery and not the multi-tasking/multi-masked front that I put up.
As the speakers got on stage and walked the crowd through a mindfulness I overheard chatter from people saying “oh goodness, I haven’t done a mindfulness in months!” And I paused. You see, the great Dr. Ellen Fletcher once said in a group, “when people discharge from treatment and come back they tell me mindfulness was the first thing to go.” I’m not sure why, but, I held on to that statement. Well, maybe I do know why… I had returned after being discharged just 3 months prior and, you guessed it, definitely had not even considered mindfulness after I walk out of those doors. Well, I think Dr. Ellen was on to something there. I discharged on July 3rd and it was probably 2 weeks later that I started incorporating mindfulness into my week. Then, somewhere along the line, it became daily. I now do at least one guidedmeditation each day. It’s the self care I never knew I needed.
It was hard today too. I walked in memory of so many people who’ve passed away from this illness. Some of whom I called friends. Before I went into treatment I was obsessed with learning about eating disorders. Probably to find some way to argue that I didn’t have one. I saw all the statistics and that’s all they were. Numbers. But now? Now I know the heartbreaking truth that those numbers have names and faces. I refuse to sit by and see more faces and names build those numbers.
This is not easy. This has been nowhere near easy and it’s painful. I also know that not everyday is this powerful. But I’ve come to the realization that I am powerful enough to conquer those bad days and keep going. You can too, I promise.