Hi guys, and happy Thursday! I hope you are all having a great first week of the year!
Today, I will be linking up with Amanda for my first thinking out loud post. Also, I guest posted on my lovely friend Emily’s blog if you want to check that out. Emily is such an amazing writer and an incredibly strong and kind girl. You should check out her blog! 🙂
Anyways, lets get started with this post!
Today, I want to share what I did yesterday, as it wasn’t another typical Wednesday for me. I talked about it before in my goals for the year, but in 2016 I really want to help more people struggling with this illness; and one of the ways I want to help (along with this blog) is speak at recovery centers. Yesterday, I was able to do so, which I am so, so blessed for. I went to the Intensive Outpatient Place I was once at, and got to speak to a group of college girls as well as a group of adolescents and their parents. Sharing my story and public speaking in general is something that still brings about some nerves; but I feel like that is completely normal. Being authentic in a room of strangers isn’t easy for anyone. This time I spoke, as compared to last year when I spoke at a residential clinic, I felt far more comfortable and more in touch with what I was saying. And I believe that is because this time I was speaking, I have a whole new mindset on this recovery thing. I consider myself to be fully recovered; and I thank time for that as well as challenging moments in the past year that have allowed me to learn a great deal about myself and grow in so many aspects.
Speaking to a group of college girls yesterday really resonated to home for me, as I am in college right now and i feel like many of them can relate to me. After sharing my story, I got several questions. “How do you handle the dining hall? How do you deal with the anxiety of drinking and liquid calories? Do you have a support system at school?” And some of the questions were more of the typical recovery questions; yet the hardest things to change and let go of during the recovery process. “Do you eat even when you aren’t hungry? I don’t know how to cope with the guilt after eating. What are some of your coping skills?” I got so many insightful questions from this group of college girls, and I was able to speak from the heart. I definitely will be doing a blog post in the future on all of these questions, yet I want to stick to the main focus of this post: that being sharing my experience speaking. These girls were so sweet and it breaks my heart that they have to spend their winter break in treatment; yet I am confident that each and every one of them will beat the demons inside of them that their eating disorder brings. I shared my blog with them after speaking, as well as my Tumblr so they could follow me on it. (My Tumblr) The first speech of the day was an amazing experience and I left with my heart warm and full.
I had about a two hour break before my next speech, so I went to whole foods (typical) and browsed around the store. I ended up buying myself a smoothie and listening to music there before returning. While in the waiting room prior to my second speech, I found this little index card that each patient is required to write when discharged from the program.
This was the index card I wrote as advice for future patients. It’s crazy to look back (almost three years ago) and see how the tides have turned. During my time at this program, I was extremely stubborn and bitter and just ready to leave. I was tired of people telling me what to do and tired of living a life confined in the walls of treatment centers; yet I still did not fully embrace the change that recovery brought along and wanted to stick with old behaviors and old ways. Almost three years later, I am a completely changed person. Speaking and writing about my journey, wanting to help others going through the same thing, and consider myself to be fully recovered from this illness; it is just crazy how time can heal all wounds. Recovery is possible for each and every person struggling, I promise you that.
Speaking to the adolescents and their parents was again an amazing experience. When I was in this program, I was like many of the adolescents there: scared, frustrated, stubborn, not knowing what to expect, wanting to change but also not wanting to rid of the eating disorder. I could relate to all of them, and I could even relate to their parents as knowing all the pain and suffering I put my parents through. During both of my speeches, I didn’t read from what I wrote out for myself. I chose to spoke from the heart, to be fully authentic and real with each and every individual listening because that is what I think connects with people, that is what I think truly reaches people. The adolescents and college girls hear all the time to eat and follow their meal plan and to not engage in behaviors, but they don’t hear about stories in which someone actually did that; they don’t hear about how in the hardest moments when they do choose to eat that snack and they push through their hardest day, they come out 10x stronger in the long run. They don’t hear that there is so many greater things coming their way in the future, that there is a wonderful life full of joy and genuine smiles and laughter after an eating disorder; and while their therapists and parents may tell them this from time to time, I am able to serve as a real life, living example of all the incredible things that recovery can bring. The adolescents had some great questions, as well as their parents and even some of the adolescents siblings. While some of the adolescents didn’t ask anything, I completely understood why, as I was there and I was that girl who didn’t want to talk in the groups and felt lost and aggravated at every thing that was happening to me; so I was not offended at all in the slightest. And I was taken back at the bravery of those girls who did ask questions, those girls who asked me questions about how I was able to get through Intensive Outpatient Program, those girls who asked if I do still have tough days, those girls who asked if I ever felt like throwing in the towel. The respect from everyone at Walden Behavior Care is just so amazing, and to this day I am very blessed that I was able to receive treatment at such a wonderful place with kind and supporting staff. Everyone who listened to my speeches yesterday was so respectful and for that I am so thankful as I know that each and every individual there is going through a very tough time in their life, and listening to someone preach about recovery may not be the easiest thing or something that they want to hear. Overall, it was such a great experience and I hope to be able to speak more this year and in the future.
Now tell me,
Do you get nervous when public speaking?
Have you ever shared your recovery story publicly?
Thank you so much for reading as always. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday!