In approximately 24 hours I will be in the steel city that is Pittsburgh, because, I'm going back to school! I cannot believe I made it From Here To There, it's been such an incredible journey. From the beginning, my goal and motivation for recovery has been to get back to school in January, and though it didn't come easily, I did it.
Yesterday morning was brutal. My parents and I sat down to have a discussion and execute the final decision about whether or not I could return to school. They persisted that it would be in my best interest to stay home another semester and focus on my health and recovery, especially since my team of doctors strongly felt the same way. The team felt that I was finally on the verge of getting on the 'right track' and progressing. They agreed the risk for relapse is too significant if I stop working with the present team and add the stresses of school back into my life. "We really want to just knock this thing out of you", my mom preached as her eyes began to well with tears. "Statistics show that a full recovery is more likely when one full year is devoted to it". My counter argument was that an eating disorder can not be 'knocked out' of someone. Recovery takes time, personal growth and learning. There is far too much damage to repair from the past 10+ years that can't be undone in 6 months. I cried to my parents, "Contrary to the doctors' beliefs, I genuinely believe if I were to stay home, relapse would surely be inevitable-- loneliness would eat me alive". I have worked diligently, been through hell and back several times and given up a semester of my senior year to get my health back and return to school. I deserve the chance to show my team, my parents and myself that I am ready-- that I have been taught the recovery skills and tools needed to help me through detrimental thoughts, feelings, situations and experiences. It's time to show 'em what I've got. Truth is, I miss being a student, I miss my friends, I miss my independence and I miss the chaos that goes along with college. I am certain the only way I will continue to move forward with recovery is to reincorporate aspects of my life, which is not at home, anymore. At home, too much focus is on ED and recovery which adds stress, pressure and guilt. However, at school, I can concentrate on health while normalizing the rest of my life.
After a morning of blood, sweat and tears (ok, maybe not blood), my parents sat me down a second time. They told me I could return to school under certain (and many) conditions. In fact, we wrote a contract to ensure honesty, trust and my health. Of course I said I would do whatever it took so long I could be at school and put my parents' worries at some sort of ease. Of the long list of obligatory expectations, I must be involved with COPE's intensive outpatient program (IOP). The program provides treatment for patients who require the structure of their evening program to promote recovery. A combination of two group therapy sessions and one meal per day, IOP is offered three evenings per week and requires a nine-hour per week commitment. I have an initial evaluation Monday morning. My only concern is that I won't be accepted, because of low weight. Keeping my fingers crossed.
So am I scared about my return to school? Definitely. The last time I stayed in my apartment was the spring and early summer, when my health took a dramatic turn for the worse. I'm most terrified of old thoughts resurfacing, I can already feel the butterflies forming in the pit of my stomach. Despite my fears, I am excited and certain of the decision. I mustn't be afraid to fail, I should be afraid not to try. I can't hide from life for forever and the only way I'll know I'm making significant progress is if I take a chance and face the unknown. "Forget the risk and take the fall, if it's what you want then it's worth it all." What's the worst possible scenario? I realize I am not ready, withdrawal from the semester and come home. But I want this. I want it bad. And if I can do this, so can you-- that's a promise.
This semester is bound to entail successes, laughs, failures and tears. However, unlike past years, I am capable and ready to conquer all that my future has to offer. As my friends and family have heard many times, I end this post with a phrase I often say: