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Recovery blog

Voice of Recovery: Ali G.

By: Ali G., Renfrew Alumna

Posted on January 25, 2021

Ali G headshotYou matter. Whether you're struggling, helping someone else who's struggling or both - keep going. I wouldn't be alive, writing this here today, if I didn't have people who didn't give up on me, even at times I wanted to give up on myself.

At times, I thought I'd never recover; and honestly, at times, I was convinced I didn't want to. But eventually, after multiple treatment stays, relapses, and near-death situations, I realized living with an eating disorder wasn't conducive to me living the life I wanted to live. I wanted to be a daughter, sister and friend. I wanted to help people and inspire others.To be that person, I needed to challenge the eating- disorder-induced notions that I wasn't sick enough, that I didn't deserve treatment. I needed to restructure my childhood beliefs that I had to be perfect and prioritize others before myself, and that feeling certain emotions was wrong or unsafe.

Treatment was f 'in hard. For decades, I sought to control my life and be selfless. I perceived my worth as my accomplishments and self-dependency. By restricting my food intake, over-exercising, demonstrating discipline in my academics and athletics (in everything, really), I thought I'd prove I was enough. My desire for a small body was a metaphor for my desire to take up less space in the world, to consume less oxygen, and give more to others. One of my greatest challenges in treatment was learning I was already enough and that I deserved to live, to fuel.To help others realize their potential and value, I had to learn to value myself.

Renfrew not only helped me recover, but also enabled me to sustain recovery. Their treatment approach emphasizes "leaning into emotions," embracing uncertainty and acknowledging core beliefs. For so long, I had been running away (both literally and metaphorically) from my anxiety, distressing thoughts and uncomfortable sensations.

With support from Renfrew and my incredible, collaborative outpatient team, I've realized learning to tolerate emotions is more helpful than trying to avoid or control them. I have more self-compassion when I struggle or make mistakes. I now believe people when they tell me I matter - and as a recent college graduate, a peer mentor, and aspiring mental health professional, I now have the opportunity to tell people that they matter.

Hope and recovery is absolutely possible - I genuinely, truly mean it. Keep going.

Ali's testimonial is featured as a Voice of Recovery in the fall 2020 issue of Connections, The Renfrew Center's alumni newsletter. Published twice a year, Connections highlights alumni recovery stories, upcoming events, tips and tools to stay in recovery, and much more. To read this issue, please click here.
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