Thursday, January 10, 2013

Interview - Jill T.

Healing through the community support of group meetings, the twelve-steps, therapy and treatment centers.

Jill T:

  • How did you know you had an eating disorder?
I was a professional dancer my whole childhood. When I was 18, I moved to New York and that’s when it really began. I was told to watch my weight. I decided to start to diet and lose a couple of pounds and one thing led to another and I stopped eating and started exercising obsessively. I did begin to lose weight and was praised for that, which really fed into my disorder. 

It took me a year and a half to lose 40lbs. The school had told me when I was creeping lower and lower that I could stop, but at the same time, they said only to gain 1 or 2 pounds. I knew I was sick, but wasn’t ready to admit it. They told me that if I got to a certain weight, they would send me home.  It became more of a goal to see how far I could go.  When I went too far, they sent me home.  I was angry but at the same time, I was relieved.

I sought treatment and finally found a program where I learned the tools to manage my disease. I am a yoga teacher now and it is my recovery program.

  • How did your family respond?
They were very concerned and worried. My mom had noticed a year into my disorder. She had approached me about it, but I always had an excuse or reason to push it aside so I didn’t have to deal with it. When I came home though, it was pretty obvious that I was sick.  It was hard to hide.  My kidneys were failing and I was resistant to any kind of help.   I thought I could get better on my own but it was impossible.

  • How do you stay consistent on your path of recovery?
Even with yoga I sometimes find conflict. I use to be really competitive but at some point you just find a place of peace in the practice of it.  I struggle the most in my life when I’m not practicing.  Yoga allows me to be comfortable in my skin.

  • How did the in-patient treatment process work for you?
I went to a psychiatric hospital in New Orleans. I was strictly anorexic. It was a very unhealthy environment. I ate my way out of the hospital, because I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t do any of the work while I was there. When I left, I relapsed.  I went to a therapist but I wasn’t ready to recover.  I got depressed and came to the decision that no one else can make the decision to get better but me.   I told my parents I’m checking myself into treatment and I’ll come home when I’m recovered.  I found a lot of accountability in treatment from group therapy to classes.  It was intense and all day long. I surrendered to the fact that I needed to be there.

  • Do you ever feel like you had a ‘rock-bottom’?
I had a couple of them. One of my roommates tried to commit suicide and that was an eye opening experience. Some of my friends had heart attacks. I just knew that wasn’t in my plan or God’s plan.  I had to decide to get better and make the commitment to my recovery and myself.

  • What were the group meetings like?
Scary. I was closed off for the first month. I don’t really remember a lot of it. I remember being resistant, but meeting people week after week who were recovered, made me think, maybe I could do it.  I was hopeful but didn’t think it was possible.  Everyone was very supportive so that made convinced me.

  • In twelve-step programs there is talk of ‘God’ and a higher power.  What are your thoughts on that?  
I’m a Christian, so it didn’t make me uncomfortable. I knew God had a plan for me. I just didn’t know what it was. I felt he was preparing me. 

  • How important are support groups in the recovery process?
I think it’s crucial. It’s a love hate relationship, ‘cause you don’t really want to go, but you know you should. It’s nice to go to a place where others understand what you’re going through.

  • How important is having a sponsor? 

It’s incredibly important. It’s important to find someone that you trust and can open up to. 

  • Do you still go to meetings?
I haven’t gone for several years now.  I feel really grounded in my recovery.  When I started to teaching yoga, it replaced that for me. I knew it was time to ease my way out once I got comfortable with teaching and doing yoga. I knew the resources were close if I needed them again.

  • Was there any step in the twelve-step program that resonated with you the most?
I think different ones at different times, but definitely surrendering to God and saying the serenity prayer when I need it.

  • Were you fearful about coming out and sharing your experience with an eating disorder?   
Most people are very supportive. Once I let go, I was more open to sharing, because my disorder didn’t define me. I wasn’t ashamed to share where I came from. I still struggle. When I get stressed out, the first thing I turn to is food and my body. People aren’t as hard as we are on ourselves.

  • What tools would you like to share for someone who may be struggling?
Try going to a meeting and see what its about. You’ll never know unless you try. That slogan was a big part to my recovery.

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