I Am a Better Human Being for Having Sat On Her Couch: How Therapy Helped Me Heal from My Eating Disorder

Image: @denae_andrew

I believe in therapy, which to those who know me probably does not come as a shock.

Understandably, it is my career. And I certainly have been caught saying to my husband “it sounds like”, “what I hear you saying”, “I’m wondering if you would be willing to try…” and the list goes on and on.

But what I mean when I say, “I believe in therapy” goes much deeper than me sweet talking my husband trying to get my way about something probably very trivial.

Healing power of sharing

I believe in the restoration and healing that takes place when two human beings come together, share a space and speak sincerely and candidly to one another. I don’t think it’s always seamless and structured, in fact in my experience it has always been the opposite.

Therapy has always been messy, complicated, and frustrating. I’ve been fortunate enough to be both the therapist and the patient.

Reaching recovery from an eating disorder is a long journey and finding someone you can share a space with and be unapologetically yourself with can greatly help the process. I think it can be natural when struggling with an eating disorder to want to isolate, but we heal in community not in isolation.

The same whispers to live in secrecy and obsessions that fuel the eating disorder will be the first to convince you therapy won’t work. Don’t listen to them.

We all struggle

And in the same breath, seeing a therapist can be terrifying. I get it. Now that I am a therapist, I sit in my overstuffed chair day after day with my degrees tacked to the wall behind me.

I have the instinct to guard anything remotely personal about myself in order to guard the meaning behind those degrees. Even as my clients shed their vulnerabilities one after the next.

But the truth is, we all struggle regardless of where we are sitting in the room. It doesn’t matter if you are the patient or the therapist. No one is immune to hardship.

In the decade I’ve spent in therapy I’ve never once felt judged or shamed. Rather, I view it as an opportunity and a space to vent. A place to process and to hear a new perspective I wouldn’t have considered myself.

It can be life-changing

I can honestly say with every ounce of my being that my therapist changed my life. Therapy reminded me of my worth when I felt insignificant and hollow. I cannot say with certainty where I would be had I not sat down and shared a common space with my therapist.

It sounds and even feels peaceful as I reminisce on the relationship that was built session after session. However, the truth is, it was not peaceful in the slightest in the early days. I was incredibly self-destructive, chaotic, and resistant.

“You should try deep breathing, or meditation” she would say. Oh, the eye roll. Yet every time I made the conscience decision to show up and be authentic, I felt ever so slightly grounded.

Just keep going

Sometimes what the therapist says sticks. Or it’s the perfect combination of words to cause a revelation. Other times it’s totally off base. Reality is, not every single therapy session has changed my life. Yet, I wouldn’t have had that life changing moment in session 60 had I skipped sessions 1-59.

Show up and be present.

I think for the majority of us struggling, the eating disorder has very little to do with food and everything to do with how we handle hard things in life. But I didn’t know that.

I literally remember in the early sessions of meeting with my therapist saying, “I just don’t like to eat, that’s all there is to it”. Turns out, there’s quite a bit more to it.

Therapy creates a safe space where what’s under the surface can be addressed. It wasn’t ever about food. My eating disorder is a complex cluster of trauma, loss, relationships, family dynamics and everything else that has shaped me.

So, dear warrior:

Find someone who gives you roots and reminds you that you are in fact worthy. May it be it a therapist, a coach, a friend or anybody else. For I know am a better human being for having sat on her couch.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Maddie

    This is so important! Sticking it out in therapy has been very important in my recovery – one thing I learned early on is that it can feel worse before it gets better, and just when I thought I would never see the light, things started to get easier. Recovery has its ups and downs and it is nice to have a therapist to metaphorically hold your hand through it all.

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