Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 2 of ED Treatment at Canopy Cove

Day 2 of Treatment at Canopy Cove—
Focus of the Day: (in the morning before heading to the center)

--Be open to new things and give the program a chance

--Don’t let the past dictate my future. Never forget where you have been, but do not dwell on it-- learn from it and become a stronger person.

--Remember, this is not your fault, but I do have the power to change this.

Questions running through my head:

--Can I relate to this program being a guy?

--Will she ever understand my disorder, and will she forgive me for losing myself to my ED? (referring to former fiancé’)

--How can I use this experience to better my future and to possibly help others?

--Can this program really help a broken male athlete?

Random Thoughts—

God only tests those he knows can handle it…right?? Everyone fails; however, this does not make you a failure. Failing is a part of life, and how you react to failure predicts your future.

Day 2:

Spoke with the founder and voiced my concerns about the program. It’s really hard being the only male, and struggling with an eating disorder. At times, I feel like I am the only guy in the world going through this. It seems like this program is more tailored towards females, and not for men. Again, I just don’t see them helping an athlete. All of us here suffer from some type of eating disorder but my issues just seem so completely different. Will I be able to fit in and get the support I need to get healthy?

Overall, it was a pretty good day. Started working on my article I spoke with the group about. This could be my calling, “A Fallen Athlete.” I could move from failing backwards and falling on my face to failing forward. Success is in the eye of the beholder. So I am here to at least Tuesday, (its Saturday) as I told them I would stay a few more days to see how I liked it. We will see what happens…only time will tell right?? My full focus the next few days has to be on my recovery, breaking down the walls, and finding out who I really am. Today needs to be the start of the rest of my new life.

Reflection: (Present)

Lots of good stuff showing up here and its only day 2 of my stay at Canopy Cove. Let me first do a quick recap of the day’s events. It’s so crazy how the mind works, as after reading this post from nearly two years ago, I can remember it like it was just yesterday. So this day was pretty eventful, and it was a beautiful sunny Saturday in Florida. My ED was in full force and the Founder had to make a special weekend visit just to talk me into staying. I was causing quite the stir up and I had only been there less than 48 hrs. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted recovery, but I was just having trouble letting my ED go, and I just thought this place was way too feminine for my taste. After a long talk and a battle with my ED mind, I made the decision to stay until the following Tuesday.

Being that it was a Saturday, we picked up lunch and went to some park close by. (Saturdays were low key and field trip and meal out days) We ate lunch, talked and sat down by the water. I had a great conversation with one of the Team Leaders about sports, which really got my mind off my very unfortunate situation. We also tossed a Frisbee around which also helped me to clear my mind. It was at this point, that I decided I would use my athletic prowess and background to share my story and fight my ED. Somehow I came up with the title “A Fallen Athlete” and well that stuck, as I later poured my heart out in a very lengthy memoir of my life with that title. Here is the link if you care to read it. I have been told it’s quite a good read but for me— it was all about putting my life onto paper so I could uncover who I really was.

So now let’s move onto my comments from my journal and the questions that were frantically running through my mind.

Can I relate to this program being a guy? At this point, I really had no clue as it was so early on in the program. I still was very shutdown and broken. I should have been getting ready to get married but I was in treatment for anorexia. I can say now that I was very sick and confused. It was a blessing that I was there because I had no idea what I needed to save my life. Though this program was more for females, it had everything I needed, and you will learn more about that in later posts as my days in treatment go on.

Will she ever understand my disorder, and will she forgive me for losing myself to my ED? (Referring to former fiancé’) At this point, I was still completely devastated that when I chose to go into treatment, my fiancé’ chose to walk away from the engagement and wedding. I remember thinking that if I got healthy I could win her back and we would live a long and wonderful life together. Yeah, apparently that was some of my crazy ED thinking. I don’t know if she ever really understood my illness, but I do know that while I was suffering, she just sat back and did nothing. I have not spoken to this person whom I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with since I went into treatment. I do hope that she was able to forgive me, and I hope she is happy. I was not healthy when I dated this girl and I thought marriage would save me, wrong! The only way to fight an eating disorder is to reach out and get help! I now know that this girl was not right for me, and that it was a blessing that we never got married. Today, my social life along with dating isn’t the best, but I am more than okay with that because I am happy with myself and living free one day at a time.

How can I use this experience to better my future and to possibly help others? At this early stage, I really had no clue on how to better myself, let alone anyone else’s future. Though anyone that has struggled with an ED knows that we are people pleasers and we will try to fix the world before looking at ourselves. My first step to answering this question was by making the decision to fight, stay in treatment, and to write out my story. I wrote out my story for the sole purpose of finding out who “Patty” was, and it eventually worked. It has also been read and shared all over the U.S. which has been a true blessing. My point here is that we can do anything if we first take care of ourselves. I am nothing to the eating disorder field, to my family, to my friends, and to those still suffering, if I am not first taking care of ME!!! Changing the world starts with changing “YOU.”

Can this program really help a broken male athlete? If I would have answered that question back then, the answer surly would have been NO!!! However, that was my ED personality controlling every aspect of my life. Today, I know that this program was a blessing and it really gave me the foundation to a strong and successful recovery. This program was individualized and it will meet you right where you are, and that’s what it did for me. It took a broken athlete, and uplifted me. I learned to destroy the walls I had built, and to express and share my thoughts and feelings. Guys aren’t very good at this kind of stuff, but this is exactly what I needed. I am happy to say that Canopy Cove now as a Male Residential Program.

Well I am going to end this post because it is getting a bit wordy. Thanks so much for spending the day in treatment with me and I look forward to your comments, thoughts, and support. This was a big day for me, as it marked the beginning of my battle to destroy my Eating Disorder!!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Why did I have to struggle with an Eating Disorder?

Why me….why did I have to struggle with substance abuse and anorexia nervosa?

After having a conversation with a friend in recovery yesterday, she asked me that similar question. “Why do I have to struggle with an Eating Disorder?” My response was simple; “it’s not why me, but why not me.” Of course she was very confused by this response and wanted me to explain further.

Here is my thinking behind this bold and seemingly outrageous statement—“why not me”

I truly believe that anyone who struggles with something as painful as an eating disorder has at some point asked this same question. Why me?? Why was I dealt this terrible hand of having to fight something with such a negative stigma and that is so misunderstood by the world? I have asked this question so many times in my young life that I seemed to have lost count. (I am only 26) Most of you know me now as Patrick, a very loud spoken and passionate eating disorder activist in recovery from a four year battle with anorexia nervosa and substance abuse. Some words associated with me might be; swagger, passion, heart, positivity, faith, hope, courage, etc. No, I am not here to toot my own horn, if anything; I have the complete opposite intentions in mind. I have not always been this caring and passionate person, and I believe by sharing a bit about who I was will back up my statement of “why not me.”

Pre-Eating Disorder

For the majority of my life I was never challenged and well I really didn’t care too much about anything other than myself. The first 21 years of my life to most would be described as “picture perfect!” I grew up in a very loving environment and things just came easy for me. I had great and loving parents, a role model big brother, and an awesome little sister. I was an excellent student and a stand out athlete. I grew up being very popular and well I wasn’t afraid to let others know it. I was very arrogant, cocky, and short-tempered. I thought I was entitled to everything. My life was all about me, and what you could do for me!! I walked over those who weren’t athletes and didn’t associate with those who weren’t in the popular crowd. I was the typical male jock and I was a big follower. I dated the typical attractive popular girls, and the relationships were mostly for show. At certain times in my life, I had several girlfriends. This is something I am not proud of!!

During my high school years, I set many lacrosse, and weight lifting records. I was all about sports, partying, and getting girls. I was that typical guy that you wouldn’t want your daughter dating. Though on the outside, I looked like the perfect gentlemen! I was all EGO and only into myself!! I did later on in high school meet a wonderful girl whom I dated for over 6 years. She was an amazing gift to my life but I just didn’t see it.

Eating Disorder

Moving onto my college years, my reckless and wild behaviors really didn’t change. I was still dating that wonderful girl I mentioned but you really wouldn’t have known it. I was all about partying, playing lacrosse, and just living my life. Eventually that perfect life I had going began to break down. Looking back, it really wasn’t a perfect life at all. Anyways, I will make this short for the sake of time. In my four years of college; I was arrested twice for drinking, lost my lacrosse coach and mentor in a freak surfing accident, abused alcohol, didn’t eat, cheated on my girlfriend, dated two girls at once, and sat the bench my senior year. Talk about four years of chaos. The thing is though; nobody saw my life in a bad light. Guys thought I was cool and girls still thought I was a sweetheart, and well my parents just thought I was a wonderful son. Honestly, this is around the time that I really started to struggle with anorexia and I really had no idea who I really was. I was angry, lost, and just confused.

For the next four years after college I bounced from job to job, drank too much, starved myself, and was in and out of a very destructive relationship with a college girlfriend. Eventually I lost complete control of my life and thought my saving grace would be to get married. So I got engaged and thought my life would change. Yeah, at this point I was pretty sick. Well, I never got married but something wonderful did happen. A month before my wedding day, I found myself lying on the ground crying out for help.

A few days later, I was off to Canopy Cove with the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa purging type. I spent 30 odd days in treatment and it changed my outlook on life. This brings me to the statement I made; “why not me.” So here is my point and it’s pretty simple. A very dear friend told me something very profound;

“God never wastes a suffering”

This simple message was shared to me a few months out of treatment and it really gave me my life back. So yes, when I think about my struggle with alcohol and anorexia, my response is no longer why me, but why not me!! Don’t get me wrong, I would never wish an eating disorder upon anyone, but I do believe that my sufferings have given my life true purpose and meaning. I am not going to waste anymore of this precious life God has blessed me with. I should be dead, and at my bottom, I really didn’t want to live. Yet, God delivered me from the chains of my ED, and gave me life.

I am not going to waste my struggle with anorexia nervosa. I am going to live my life for God and fight to change the world and field of eating disorder recovery. I no longer live for me, but to serve God, and to serve those around me. I am very passionate, caring, loving, and I will fight for anyone struggling with an ED! My struggle as allowed me to grow and become the real Patrick—that’s why I say…why not me!!! I am truly a beautiful child of God!!!

Don’t waste your struggle, fight for recovery, and fight for those beside you. Recovery has been a blessing for me, and I no longer find myself saying; why me, why me!!! No, my life is not perfect, but I am alive and growing every day. I believe every single suffering can change the world for the better. My world has become my community, my facebook group and friends of over 300, my family, every school I speak at, and every support group I attend. My world is having a positive impact on the eating disorder field and those whom I come in contact with. Your world is what you make it, and you have the power to influence and change it.

That’s why I make the statement; “why not me!” I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Though I don’t always like what happens in life, I do know at some point it will all make sense. Yes, recovery can be hard, and so can life. I haven’t really dated since my fiancé’ walked away and my social life really isn’t all that great either. The old me, would just be like why me, why me….Not this time! I try to see everything in a new and positive light. I now have some of the most amazing friends in the world because of my struggles, and I have so many people I can count on. My life has meaning, and I am making a difference, even if it’s a small one.

Eating Disorders are very complex diseases associated with genetics, social and psychological factors. For this reason, it is very hard to answer the question; “why did or do I have to struggle with an ED?” Why does anyone struggle with anything? I don’t really know the answer to that but I do believe that adversity makes us stronger. My struggles are going to save the lives of so many young men and women, and so can yours!!! Why did Lance Armstrong struggle with cancer?? Maybe to help others struggling with cancer. Why did amazing people like Jenni Schaefer and Kathleen MacDonald struggle with ED’s? Maybe to change the face of eating disorder recovery!!!! I don’t really know but I do think it is a lot easier to answer the question; “why not me!” When we have this mindset, we can face our ED and achieve recovery!!!

You are making a difference everyday by fighting for recovery!!!

God Bless