This month’s Recovery Rockstar story comes from Melanie, who shares her journey with her Eating Disorder, OCD and Trauma. She reminds us, as she has reminded herself during tough times, “It’s not the end.”
My childhood was interesting. We lived in a fancy house in the suburbs and my parents each drove a luxury car. We went on a nice vacation twice a year and I never doubted I would have clean clothes on my body or a roof over my head. On the outside my dad was a successful and well-liked business man, and my mother was the perfect homemaker. On the outside I was the child who got perfect grades, and had a bright future ahead of her. That was our image anyhow. Really, my father was emotionally, psychologically and occasionally physically abusive and my mom was mentally, emotionally and at times physically absent. Although we did have our good times, it seemed my dad’s favorite hobbies were tormenting and teasing me, all while my mom sat silently on the sidelines. He would make me cry and scream in distress, but he also told me how much he loved me. Things were confusing at times, but I never suspected anything was wrong with this.
When I was 12 years old I was molested by a neighbor’s relative and I kept it a secret for 7 long years before telling a single soul. This affected me in ways I could never adequately explain. Overnight I had come to fear not only boys, and social situations, but most physical touch as well. During my preteen years I built up an intense amount of anger inside of me. With a long history of not being “heard” and taken seriously by my parents, I hid every little detail of my life. As the years went by my anger and anxiety worsened and I began struggling with depression and self-injury. Eventually the self-injury got so out of control that the school counselor found out and notified my parents. They did nothing. They assumed I was following some sort of trend or begging for attention. This drove me to be even more secretive and isolated. My junior year I got into a relationship with my abusive ex-boyfriend. I didn’t like him and I was never attracted to him, but after a couple years of his persistent advances, I gave in.
After high school the depression and anxiety hit a point to where I could hardly function. This turned into even more serious self-injury. My abusive ex-boyfriend followed me to college, and now that we were alone, he became increasingly more controlling. I took a lot of my anger out on him and became verbally and psychologically abusive too, it was all I could do to defend myself. As the months went by my life had become entirely consumed with what my therapist called OCD. I couldn’t touch anything anymore- condiments, doorknobs, menus, shopping carts, pens, the bare floor, light switches, handles, pumps, keyboards, desks, money, you name it. I carried latex gloves with me at all times as well as hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, and a paper towel in my pocket. At this point I had also stopped eating almost completely. Not only was it a means for control in my “out of control” life, but was also another way for me to feel clean and self-injure without leaving a scar. I couldn’t control my thoughts, but could control the number on the scale.
I was living in Hell and constantly considering ending my life. After one exceptionally awful day filled with hours of rituals and abuse I attempted to end my life. I landed myself in the psych ward, had to withdraw from college, abandoning my near perfect grades and bounced around from residential treatment center to hospital for a solid 2 years. I finally found the courage to break up with my ex and that improved things greatly. My life changed when I met a wonderful man who told me I was beautiful and worthy and stayed by my side through everything. I had a really good run with recovery, staying self-harm free for almost 3 and a half years, having only the tiniest lapses in my eating disorder, and through lots of work and medication was able to nearly fully recover from the OCD that ran my life.
I got a job working at a gym and threw myself into it, channeling all my perfectionism into being the best employee there ever was. Managing a gym was quite a convenient job for my eating disorder. Weight loss supplements and unlimited gym time were at my disposal and I was praised constantly by members and coworkers for my dedication to fitness and rapidly slimming figure. I absolutely hated people commenting on my body, but it also gave me a secret satisfaction. During this time my boyfriend and I respectfully parted ways. It was sad to lose such a blessing in my life, but now I had so much more energy to spend on self-destruction. I couldn’t hide it forever, and eventually one of my coworkers called HR and told them I was not well. I went on medical leave and yet again, things got worse.
That was when I sought help, and after trying a few different treatment centers, I ended up at Cielo House Moss Beach, where there were definitely still some struggles, but I am doing much better. Through this program I have learned how to feed myself properly, great coping skills for working through tough emotions, and most importantly have gained an unreal amount of healing from my past. I thank Cielo House for saving my life. I have goals now and I can see a future. I want to go back to school for Psychology so I can help, and most importantly understand and empathize with people going through similar situations. I want to help people who are living their own Hell and show them that the sun can still shine. I want to help people who feel hopeless find worth in themselves and their lives, the way that I now have. I know that for any person going through any difficult time, it CAN and WILL get better. Now it’s time for a cheesy quote, “In the end everything will be okay, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”