Thoughts on Recovery

No matter where you are in your journey, I encourage you to get help. The best decision I made was emailing my mom about everything I was going through. As difficult and scary as it was, it opened communication between us that has created a stronger relationship today as a result. And of course, it helped me to get help sooner, which I think has made the recovery process easier.
I realize how lucky I am to have pulled myself out soon enough. In fact, if I hadn’t gained the weight from bingeing, I don’t think I would have had the guts to admit that I had a bad relationship with food. It took weight gain for me to fess up, because by that point it had become physically dramatic. I had to tell someone–because the thing stuck in my head was taking over my life.

I was lucky to have the support from my parents. The best thing my mom did was ask if I would like professional help. The worst thing I did was tell her “no” at first, thinking I wasn’t “sick enough” and that I was making a bigger deal out of it than I should have.
Everything about this eating disorder was embarrassing to me–but less so when I realized how many others were hiding their fears and bad relationships with food just as I had. I was not so different after all, and that’s what helped me to accept that getting help didn’t need to wait until it was “bad enough.”
Going to a support group for eating disorders (you’ll read it about it when I get the book published) was the first big step. It took me a long time to get there, though – to realize that just because I wasn’t 85 pounds, I still had a problem that needed to be fixed. And I couldn’t fix it myself. That was evident after a summer of “no mom, I don’t need professional help” and realizing how dark and deep I was falling into this eating disorder. No diet was going to save me, but it took me months to figure that out.
As I worked with my therapist and eventually my dietician, I slowly gained more and more power over the relationship food and I had together. We began to understand each other. I didn’t see the changes immediately, and even months into it I wasn’t sure if I was really even getting anywhere, but when we sat down to look at what changes I made, I realized what huge leaps and bounds I had made.
Once I understood my weaknesses better, I had to plan out goals for myself. I worked on a goal per week last summer, actually, as the journey continued. One of the biggest realizations I had was that each meal couldn’t be “perfect,” and that even if one meal hadn’t gone as well as I would have hoped, I still had another chance later to improve things. As long as we keep living, we keep getting second chances.

About Rachael

Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.

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7 Responses to Thoughts on Recovery

  1. Regan Levitte says:

    I’m really glad to see this post–I think that is always good to acknowledge the the recovery process.

    I’m curious to know about how you feel about cooking meals currently–a lot of your posts have to do with getting the most nutritionally. Do you ever think about taste or texture or flavor or complementing colors in meals? I guess I ask this because I love cooking and have always worked in restaurants; I suppose I have a certain reverence for meal-time.

  2. Ryanne James says:

    I really have a deep appreciation on how you capture the idea that people who lack a healthy food relationships have with always having to have ‘the perfect meal’. With this “perfect meal” it must be healthy, but not exceed a certain amount of calories– and what if you can’t burn those calories off today. Also, the shame of not being perfect is a continual thing throughout the piece as you describe the embarrassment you have to over come to ask your mother for help in the first place, and to come to terms with the fact that you desperately need professional help. I would love to read your book on this topic. It is such a relevant topic to so many young people in this country. I really enjoyed this quick, yet moving piece.

  3. Katy Caballeros says:

    I loved the last sentence of the piece: “As long as we keep living, we keep getting second chances.” This fits perfectly with the idea of recovery and rehabilitation; the struggle to obtain perfection will always loom in the background, yet we must strive to silence the negativity and continue on with our lives. It’s overwhelming to imagine feeling the need to obtain perfection in eating, an activity originally linked to survival. The pressure to be the best in even the most trivial activities creates unhealthy standards for us to live up to. I appreciate that your posts are filled with optimism and encouragement. It proves that even the greatest struggles can be overcome with acceptance of oneself and a strong support group. I also love that you encourage people to not be ashamed to seek help. Because we strive for perfection, it’s hard to admit that we can’t self-medicate or improve naturally. I think it is important for people to post about overcoming personal obstacles to inspire others and foster social change.

  4. Justin Reamer says:

    I understand the need for recovery from an eating disorder. It is like depression, where you don’t find much happiness in life because you are always down in the dumps, trying to find some meaning in reality. However, it’s hard to find treatment if you’re afraid to find it or if you’ve lost all hope. An eating disorder can be the same way because it can be an obsession or a habit that one cannot break. It’s hard, and I can understand that. But I think it’s great that you are trying to recover. It’s awesome, and I hope you find your recovery. May you always be blessed, Rachael. Always. :)

  5. Kelli Burns says:

    I really loved the last sentence of the piece, how it not only captures your recovery, but also giving hope to others who may yet have to seek it. I also loved the part about talking to your mom and telling her you don’t need professional help, because you don’t feel “sick enough.” I think a lot of people going through similar circumstances feel the same way. Why should we seek help when others need it more than we do? We don’t like to think of ourselves as needing help, thinking we are strong enough to handle it ourselves. You capture the journey very well.

  6. Taryn Streasick says:

    You have such a powerful voice, and I think you’re touching more lives than you can possibly imagine with this blog. I cannot imagine the courage it must take for you to step forward and document your struggle and recovery, and I think it’s absolutely amazing that you have.

    This posting about your recovery really calls out to others who may be struggling with one thing or another. Although it may be difficult to admit to and face the problem, it is ultimately the best thing to do for yourself, and I think your introduction of this posting by describing the importance of communication in that process is very beautiful. Struggles such as eating disorders may be a rather personal experience, but I think you perfectly illustrate the importance of having a social group with whom you can turn to for help and guidance.

    I am curious about your mother’s thoughts and reactions to your email. She asked on multiple occasions if you wanted to see professional help, but was she concerned or did she suspect you needed some sort of help before you told her about everything?

  7. Joe Slomski says:

    It’s evident that you’ve had a lot to deal with, and the steps you’ve taken to cope, including writing this blog, show your courage. I’m interested to read about the support group!

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