Yesterday, the young women of Project Heal came to speak at our program at Penn State. It was truly inspiring. They have recovered from their eating disorders and are now raising money to help sponsor others in need of treatment.
In the past three years, these young women have developed a non-profit corporation and have already helped five other individuals get treatment. They have changed people’s lives. But how did they get to this place? They first worked to change their own lives.
Clearly, their recovery from their own eating disorders was difficult, but their perseverance and strength are amazing. Kristina talked about how when she was in portions of her recovery, she would just go into “autopilot”. She would have to eat meals even though she didn’t want to, even though she didn’t feel hungry, even though eating made her feel guilty, she did it because she had to. That was the way to recovery. After operating on autopilot, the meals became easier. The negative emotions were less intense.
- Journal about the challenging feelings you are having in recovery. Writing about them can help take away some of their power. It can help you look at the thoughts and find ways to counteract them. You won't be able to get rid of all the negative emotions right away. You will have to go on “autopilot” to get through the meals and steps of recovery. But you can write to clarify your feelings and thoughts. You can challenge them on paper. You can put those negative thoughts down and then rip them into shreds if it helps—make some confetti. Put the negative thoughts down and send them away—you can mail to me if you need to! (Penn State Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, 905 W. Governor Road, Suite 250, Hershey, PA 17033). Send me your negative thoughts, if it will help, and I’ll send you a positive thought back.
- What other challenges are you facing? What do you need to do to get through it? Journal so that you can find a way to put yourself in autopilot—here are the tasks and how I need to move ahead. Sometimes journaling in new ways helps, create a spider web—put one word on the paper and then branch out ideas of how to solve it. Create a tree. The trunk can be the main thing that you need to accomplish. It might feel like a wall—but if it is a tree, then the branches can be all the small steps that you need to take to get to the trunk. Break each task down into smaller and smaller branches until you just have a twig. When my kids were little all the writing that I could do was in short bursts. Those were the years that I created a lot of poems. But that helped hone my creative juices. It interested my daughter in writing and poetry. Sometimes even small tasks can have huge payoffs.
Go and Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD