Where is My Chip or Ribbon?
By: Jeff Holton I would like to first start by saying that I do not have an issue with anyone or any group that has representation for their struggles, triumphs, and circumstances. In fact, it has been seeing firsthand the many different people that have been in my life and the joy, encouragement, solace, and unity that each have drawn from their own ribbon or chip, that identifies what they have personally dealt with, and many times still continue to battle through. I greatly admire what each signifies not only for the cause, but as important the individual person.
When I initially decided, or maybe better finally admitted that I needed to enter treatment for ED my thought was that I would be away from work for eight to twelve weeks, gain a certain amount of weight, and come out on the other end as the same person I was prior to ED. In fact I was so sure of this that when people would tell him how happy they were for me, and they would be thinking of me, I still remember telling many that it was no big deal and that I would be gone for a little bit of time and comeback with added and needed weight. It is not easy for me to admit when I am wrong, but this I WAS WRONG! In fact I was not even in the ballpark, zip code, area code, or whatever analogy you like to use. I am still shocked at how much I underestimated the process.
I entered PHP September 6. 2016 and left October 26, 2016. During that time I attended around 35 days of therapy. The total hours ranged between 250 and 280 hours. Safe to say that I underestimated greatly what would be involved while in full time therapy, what would be involved immediately after I left, and what would be involved for the next five to seven years of my life. Since leaving therapy I continue to spend 1.5 hours a week working with my therapy team which includes a dietician and psychologist.
What I failed to realize is that treating ED is not something that has a defined game plan, path, timeline, or basically anything that my structured mind wanted. In fact treating my ED at times feels like getting all four of my kids on the same page for what is for dinner, the movie we will watch that night, and what the movie snack will be. There is always a chance that all four (ages 9 through 3) will agree on everything, but more than likely it will be much like treating ED– a 5 to 7 year process to see success.
I bring this up not for anyone to feel sorry for me and what I am going through. In fact, the opposite. This is process is me and “my team’s” battle, one that we ARE going to win, and I do not want sympathy, only empathy. My point in sharing is that treating ED and getting to a place of recovery, which looks different for each person is a long and winding process over many years.
Battling ED, and yes I view it as a battle, is a process that one breath has you feeling as if you are on top the world, and the next scared of a menu or something on your plate. Then you find yourself contemplating what in the hell to pick for your snack, to not having confidence that you are following your meal plan, to being back on top of the world. This can all happen before lunch, and can happen many times throughout the day for those of us battling ED.
It is a constant process to be mindful, breathe, use your skills, slow down, be present, ask for help, sit with emotions, not be self-critical, and many other things that occur throughout the day while battling ED.
Today there are over 80+ different color ribbons that are designed to create public awareness to health, medical conditions, disability, and other issues. An awareness ribbon is defined as a piece of colored ribbon folded across itself creating a loop shape. Today, awareness ribbons are used globally as a way for wearers of the ribbon(s) to make a statement of support for a particular cause or issue. There are 100’s of different causes, issues, and diseases that are represented and are very much deserved.
I bring all of this up as I know many on the outside of the ED battle tend to think “Hey Jeff went to therapy for a couple of months, gained some weight, looks better, all is fixed and good.” Yes things are MUCH better than they were when I entered treatment, AND I am now only six months into my process AND I know that at the very minimum I still have another twelve months left and in most situations another four or five years. I am comfortable with my process, all I wish is that for myself and everyone else battling ED that we had a ribbon, chip, or some symbol that signified our process, how long we have been in the process, and where we are at. The battle and process are real and there is no definite end date or finish line.
In the grand scheme of things I know that this is a small item, AND I also know that it is something that I want AND I have learned from many great people that it is healthy and necessary to ask for what I need.
About the Author: What does Jeff do on his days off? Well, he has four children under the age of 9, so that keeps him pretty busy at soccer matches, basketball games, baseball games, and acro recitals. In between chasing after kids, Jeff loves watching Ohio State Football and playing golf. He is also quite the connoisseur of craft beer.