My mental health was spiraling when I decided to go into treatment the first time. After dealing with eating disordered behavior since childhood, I confronted my eating disorder head on. I was sad, empty, and had major brain fog before starting recovery. With my eating disorder, I was looking for something to boost my self-worth or make me happy. I was attacking my body to cope.
I was encouraged by a friend to seek treatment and I also realize that I was sick of being sick, physically and mentally. I found a great therapist and nutritionist that put a lot of effort into my recovery. I worked at recovery for a couple years, going through different levels of care to aid me in getting better. I wasn't as successful as I could have been in recovery at first because I wasn't embracing healthy coping skills.
I decided to go into residential treatment at The Renfrew Center. On my first day, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support and care I received from the staff and my fellow patients. I came to Renfrew very motivated to put all I could into treatment. My therapist used that motivation to push me further in the direction of recovery. Renfrew gave me a safe environment to experience my inner turmoil and work through it.
One of the most helpful things for me was family therapy. Building a healthier relationship with my Mom has helped me learn that there are people in my life who want to help me and want me to be healthy and happy. I learned to lean on my supports. I am not a burden.
For years in recovery, I was very resistant to embracing healthy coping skills. But when I went to Renfrew I decided it was time to embrace new coping skills. I used ARC-ing a lot in Renfrew and still ARC every once in a while. I embrace creativity as well by painting, collaging, and doing other art projects regularly.
The biggest thing that has really helped me through recovery is my mantra "Choose Recovery". To me, "Choose Recovery" means that, although having an eating disorder wasn't a choice, I'm in control of my future. I need to choose recovery every day and I can. The other option is relapse and I don't want to choose to give up the happiness, calmness, and clarity that I have.
Bio: Dorothy McAfee is an alumna of The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia. She works as a data manager in cancer research. In her free time, Dorothy enjoys painting and crocheting. She hopes to raise awareness and be a mental health advocate.