I was recently invited to share my eating disorder recovery story on The Emily Program’s podcast “Peace Meal” (it will be posting shortly, so make sure to be on the lookout wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts). I was both nervous and excited. Nervous because I’d not shared my specific story details publicly before. Excited because I wanted other women who may be experiencing disordered eating or an actual eating disorder in mid-life to have an ounce of hope. It would be best if it was more like an overflowing cup of hope and yet, I’d take an ounce.
On the day of the recording, Jillian and Angie both put me at ease from the moment they said hello. It felt like I’d known these ladies since my journey began at The Emily Program some 2 1/2 years earlier, and yet I’d only met Angie a few weeks prior and Jillian earlier in the day when we talked about my ideas around the coaching space for those in eating disorder recovery.
The recording of the podcast could not have gone better. For starters, my pooch did not bark once during the recording! On top of that, I wasn’t nervous or anxious. I was confident. I was excited. I was beyond ready to share and say no to shame. It wasn’t long before, that all of this would have seemed impossible. One of the last questions Jillian asked me before we called it a wrap was what I would tell other women in mid-life who may be struggling and just think they don’t have the time to commit to treatment right now.
Such a beautiful question. I thought about how I wished I had someone like me to share their story with me when I was first diagnosed. I didn’t know anyone or have anyone else who had paved the way before me who was sharing their story with me. Since I like to read and learn from others, I tried to find books and didn’t find much at the time of my diagnosis. I could only take the words of my treatment team. It hit me hard. I remember hearing the intake therapist tell me that I needed to start IOP (Intensive Outpatient Programming) which meant 4 nights a week from 5-8 pm. Say what? You know I have a full time job, a new puppy at home, a husband who works an opposite shift as me, a daughter away at college and a teenage son at home, right? Committing to three hours a night for four nights a week is a lot. It’s like having an extra part time job.
And yet, I decided it was my turn to focus on my health once and for all. I needed it. My health was important enough to me that I was going to do this. I’d spent years focusing on everything else but myself. I took a back-burner to my marriage, my parenting, and my career. When I looked in the mirror, I hated the body I saw. My soul was quickly dying and I knew it. I knew I could only keep going on fumes for so much longer before I collapsed from complete exhaustion of maintaining an eating disorder. I knew this was a gift and I needed to accept it as such. In that moment, everything else became minor in comparison. This was what the doctors were ordering for me. If not now, when I thought. I gave in to all the negative emotions going on at the time and all the eating disorder voices to give myself a gift, a gift I had no idea would be as wonderful as it was.
So, for all you middle-aged women out there who are faced with an eating disorder diagnosis at mid-life, I’d tell you that your future self will thank you for prioritizing yourself above everyone and everything else. You will gain so much freedom by prioritizing your health. Your body will finally breathe after the years of shame that had been previously associated with it. Your mental health is as important as your physical health. If you were diagnosed with cancer and your doctor told you chemotherapy once a week for 12 weeks would save your live, would you do it? Treat your mental health no different than your physical health. Treat your eating disorder diagnosis no different. Your future self will thank you profusely. And an added bonus is that you will show up as a better mom, friend, wife/partner, daughter, sister, aunt, and worker because of it. Who doesn’t want that?
This journey will be hard, no doubt. You will uncover things about your past and yourself that might be shameful to admit at first. And yet, it’s the only way towards true freedom. Taking it one step at a time, one day at a time, will all add up in the end. Keep track of your progress in a journal. You’ll be happy you did when you look back in a year or two and celebrate how far you have come (it will also come in handy when you too want to share your story in a podcast or book).
Once you get yourself into a specialized eating disorder treatment program, like The Emily Program, and on a path towards recovery, a compliment to your treatment team of therapists and dietician is a life coach. When I connected with a life coach and focused on my life goals, I saw such tremendous progress in creating a life I wanted to thrive in. Let’s connect for a free complimentary discovery call to talk about your life goals.