Imperfect at Not Being Perfect

For the fourth in our five-part guest blog series from one of our Oliver-Pyatt Centers alumna we are sharing a post on the drive for perfection and the realization that imperfection is perfect enough. We are continually inspired by all of our women and are proud to share this post with you, our readers. 

A true perfectionist will always insist that she isn’t a perfectionist… because she isn’t perfect. We all know in theory that perfection is unattainable, nonexistent even, and yet every mistake shoots cortisol through our bodies as if we were being injected with a poison that freezes muscles and makes the blood turn icy cold.

In recovery from an eating disorder, I’ve noticed that the perfectionistic tendencies that I’d previously thrown into calorie counting and watching numbers on a scale get diverted into other things – work, activities, even social interactions. I’ll stay up all night wondering whether I said the right thing, whether my work was good enough, whether I volunteer regularly enough for hospice.

In just the last week, I’ve received both praise and criticism for my work. And I’ve noticed that the praise just bounced off – like a ping pong ball on a brick wall. While the criticism…

It’s hard to let go of the desire to do everything right all the time. What then will make me hold myself accountable for… doing everything right all the time?

I’m far from perfect at being a non-perfectionist. I consider myself “in recovery” from perfectionism, but sometimes just talking about it (indirectly) helps. Yesterday, after spelling a name wrong in an article I freaked out a bit. Then I asked another writer if she sometimes had errors pointed out in already published stories. She laughed and said that it happens all the time. Okay, so that tells me I’m at least normal, not perfect, but human.  

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Treating the Whole Person

We hope you enjoy the final post in our four part series on the treatment of co-occurring disorders and eating disorders at Oliver-Pyatt Centers. Thank you to the Director of Substance Abuse Program Lisa Richberg, LMHC who speaks to treating the whole person. Check here for the first, second, and third posts within the series.

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What is the true nature of the relationship between substance abuse and eating disorders? This is a question that has challenged the community for years. At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we have sought to explain the relationship between these two devastating addictions and to treat them using a whole person, individualized approach.

Both eating disorders and substance abuse serve the same function. They help those suffering from anxiety, depression and hopelessness to cope with these emotions through disconnection. Over the years, I have observed that most of my clients are disconnected from themselves, their loved ones, and their own bodies. The disconnection often eases immediate, intense feelings of pain and anxiety, yet the relief from this manner of coping is short lived. Before long they realize that these methods of disconnection only serve to enhance the negative emotions.

In the development of the substance abuse program at Oliver-Pyatt Centers we have sought to create a model by which we treat the whole person. If clients fail to treat both eating disorder and co-occurring disorder issues at a higher level of care, chances are, when not engaging in one set of behaviors, they will use the other as a comfortable and familiar way of managing distress. Each individual comes to us with a unique set of circumstances and, therefore, we are charged with treating more than eating disorders alone. Working with the whole person we ensure that when clients leave our care they have a deeper understanding of the relationship between their addictions, a better understanding of what triggers urges to use their behaviors, and alternative ways of managing their distress.

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Foundations of Lasting Recovery: One Alumna’s Story

Thank you to the Founder of The Foundation for Continued Treatment Nora Eddings for sharing her story and for creating such an inspiring and helpful non-profit organization committed to raising funds for inpatient eating disorder treatment. The foundation works with select treatment centers to identify individuals who are motivated and currently persevering through treatment, but cannot afford to complete it. To learn more about the Foundation please read on below and visit the website here 

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This summer I’ve been reflecting on the past, the present, and the sense of gratitude that has become an important part of my life. Just over two years ago I entered inpatient treatment at Oliver-Pyatt Centers. When I began my treatment I thought “I’ll be out of here in 6 weeks, flat!” I had no idea that I would spend almost five months at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, or that my life would change so much. It has not been an easy process and has proven to be more difficult than I ever imagined. However, with the therapeutic tools and new coping skills I learned at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, I am able to stay afloat and continue to take care of myself daily.

I experience much more freedom in my current life. I’m now able to let myself fully experience and manage my feelings without restricting my food intake to cope with them. I enjoy going out to brunch or dinner with friends and I’m able to be fully present in the moment. Being free from focusing on food has enabled me to connect deeper with friends, family, and have more meaningful relationships. My sense of self-confidence is also stronger; I can use my voice to ask for help when I need it, and share my opinions with others. I have also reestablished hobbies that were part of my life before my eating disorder. I oil paint on a regular basis and find great joy in making art. These examples are just a few of the many ways in which my life looks different today.

I reflect on each person who has helped during my journey to good health. I’ve had friends and family write letters and send thoughtful gift packages. They have listened to me talk about my struggles for hours. Even though they had no solutions, they sat with me and shared my burdens. People reached out to my husband while I was away at treatment, and that helped relieve the sadness and guilt I felt from leaving him at home while I was away. I’ve had therapists and treatment team members come up with the most creative and thoughtful tactics possible to help when I was feeling like I could not move forward. Friends and family have prayed for and wept with me. They’ve sacrificed their time, energy, and love. I am forever grateful for each of them, and would not be in a strong recovery without their continual support. The unconditional love they gave has led me to cultivate a heart full of gratitude and the deep desire to help others in need.

While at Oliver-Pyatt Centers, I focused mostly on myself: healing my body and mind, and discovering new things about my personality outside of the eating disorder. I worked to reshape my identity, and learned how to live again. This time was focused on taking care of myself because I needed it! It was often messy and difficult, but it was necessary. I am so thankful that I had the time and space to do this work.

While in inpatient treatment, I saw several peers and friends who had to leave early because the cost of treatment became too difficult to bear. I also saw the treatment professionals at Oliver-Pyatt Centers do everything in their power to work with insurance companies and families in order to allow the patients to stay as long as they needed. Despite their great efforts, at times a patient would have to leave. It was heartbreaking for the patient, the treatment team, and the families. Seeing these experiences gave me the desire and determination to help others acquire the finances needed to complete the treatment they deserve.

This spring, I decided to create The Foundation for Continued Treatment. Through financial donations, The Foundation for Continued Treatment funds individuals in this specific area of need so they can build their own foundation for lasting recovery. With help from some loving family members, we’ve started a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to directly pay for inpatient treatment for those who are already persevering through it, when they need to stay in a comprehensive program longer than their insurance and personal funds allow. The foundation will provide a chance for motivated individuals to get the help they otherwise would not be able to afford.

I’ve learned from my own experience how important it is not to rush the treatment process. The work done at the inpatient level is often a long grueling battle, but I firmly believe good treatment is worth it. I’m delighted to finally be at a place in my own recovery where I am able to give back to others. It is both a privilege and a joy!

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please subscribe to our blog, visit our website, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram