In The Moment With Mindy
Living in the Hot Pink – by Mindy, EDCare Recovery Advocate
I had the honor of being the guest speaker with Dr. Tamara Pryor at EDCare last month. I shared my story and gave patients as well as their loved ones the opportunity to ask questions about my journey. As I shared my story, I remembered being a patient and sitting in a similar chair.
I thought about what it was like to hear a guest speaker tell me how perfect their recovery is now. I recalled feelings of inadequacy. At times, recovery felt impossible hearing certain speakers’ journeys
When I shared my story and answered questions, there were three things I wanted to emphasize:
- I am so much more than my eating disorder journey or even my recovery. I am an amazing friend. I love others well. I am motivated, a hard worker, and I value my faith. I value connection. I love being in the mountains. While my journey has shaped me, who I am today is much more important.
- My recovery really isn’t perfect or linear. I’m in sustainable recovery and I still have days when I struggle. I have days where I don’t even think about the eating disorder. I have days where old thoughts and behaviors come out of nowhere. I can be in recovery, have slips, and hard days. There is no such thing as perfect recovery.
- Living in the hot pink and doing it differently is what helps me in recovery.
You might be wondering what I mean by “living in the hot pink”. Many of us struggling with eating disorders tend to have all or nothing or black and white thinking. This means life is good or bad and I am either happy or sad. There is no room for anything in between the highs and lows of experiences. I was frustrated in treatment when therapists would encourage me to live in the gray. The gray meaning the in between. Gray seemed boring and uninviting, so I landed on hot pink. I think hot pink is fun and exciting! I am an adventurous person, so changing the color helped me reframe living more in the middle of life and experiences. At the time, my thought about recovery was I would either be in the eating disorder forever or I would be in perfect recovery forever. Living in the hot pink gave me the freedom to be in recovery and still have struggles.
It has been scary, unpredictable, and has taken a great amount of courage, self-compassion, self-love, kindness, and grace to live in the hot pink. The way I find myself in the hot pink is by “doing it differently”. I realized after multiple times in treatment, I kept coming back because I did not do anything different once I got home. I would follow my meal plan for a few weeks or months and then go back to the comfortable, old, and unhealthy ways of coping with my emotions with the eating disorder.
My outpatient treatment team encouraged me with my own words to “do it differently” and “living in the hot pink” to appropriately challenge me to change small things.
It started with goals I came up with, wrote down, and shared with my team and friends for accountability. My goals were around meal plan completion for each day, not weighing myself, and being completely honest with my team and friends. I think it is important to be aware that everyone’s journey of recovery is different. For example, I came up with living in the hot pink in 2010 and now, I am finally seeing changes happening faster. This is meant to encourage you when things don’t happen right away or, like me, having to come back to multiple times to treatment. I experienced shame around coming back and not being able to recover from previous treatments. One time before coming back to EDCare, Dr. Pryor gave me insight and compassion by pointing out that, “sometimes in recovery, we come back to treatment multiple times to do different chunks of work when we are ready”. Today, this is still true of my journey except I have different ways of coping with life and can do my work with an outpatient team.
My challenge for myself every day and sometimes multiple times throughout the day is to live in the hot pink and do it differently, even if it’s driving a different way to work, extending myself grace, compassion, and love for the first time in a new situation, trying a fear food, or letting a friend know I need a shoulder to cry on. Change and recovery shifted in a healthy direction when I did something different.