Castlewood Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog

My first week at Castlewood completely exceeded my expectations

"I came to treatment at Castlewood not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t been in treatment before and had no idea what was ahead of me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in a special place. As I underwent the initial process of adjusting to a new environment, I attempted to convince myself that I was not sick enough to warrant help (a denial of my own needs that I later learned played into my eating disorder). I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredibly supportive peers who assured me that I deserved the help I was getting. My first week at Castlewood completely exceeded my expectations; after struggling with my eating disorder for years under the occasional guidance of counselors who largely ignored the subject (with assistance from my own minimization of the issue), I could not believe the progress I made in therapy and groups at Castlewood in just a few days. I began a journey of addressing core beliefs about myself that I had formed as a child. I came to see the perfectionism, self-hate, and over control that drove my restriction not only of food but also of friendships, self-care, and enjoyment. The critical voice of my eating disorder, combined with black-and-white thinking, led me to believe that if I could not be some perfect, non-existent ideal, if I was ever “too easy” on myself, I would inevitably become out of control and my life would descend into chaos. This way of thinking became a self-fulfilling prophecy. After losing control in various areas of my life, I felt that I deserved punishment and the pendulum would swing once again to obsessive self-control fueled by my ever-present anxiety. Only with the help of Castlewood did I begin to truly believe that I could actually live a balanced life. Before coming to Castlewood I thought that I would always exist in one of two extremes, I thought this was just my personality. Although I desired to change, I did not see a way out. My work here has helped me to separate the messages I received from others throughout my life from my true self. I am in the process of re-acquainting myself with my own beliefs, convictions, interests, and goals. The false idea that happiness and satisfaction with myself equals shameful complacency buried my self-compassion. Unearthing this compassion from a massive pile of unhealthy messages is now a constant endeavor for me. Without Castlewood I would have never even thought to start digging. The people at Castlewood understand that my eating disorder was not really about food. They understand that I was using disordered eating as a coping mechanism for my looming feeling of dissatisfaction with myself and my anxiety about being able to fit into the world as a “flawed” individual. They taught me to see that I am indeed not flawed, I had only been led to believe this through different experiences. Eliminating my eating disorder behaviors means having to deal with the underlying feelings and anxiety. My treatment team at Castlewood focused on helping me with my anxiety because they understood that in order to recover I must address the anxiety that had always made my eating disorder behaviors an attractive, self-soothing option. They emphasized new, healthy ways of coping with my emotions. My therapists helped me to be aware of my often scary feelings and understand their temporary rather than everlasting nature. I no longer automatically resort to restricting, bingeing, or over-exercising when strong emotions come up. I appreciate that the staff at Castlewood has put so much care into creating a positive environment for recovery. The clients I have gotten to know at Castlewood have given me insight into my own disorder through their stories and struggles. I have found nothing as powerful as being able to relate to others on a deep level. I feel a strong connection to my peers. They provide understanding, motivation, and encouragement throughout the day and during the hardest times. I know my treatment at Castlewood will continue to benefit me throughout my life; I will always cherish the insight I have gained from self-exploration in such a caring and attentive community. My eating disorder provided me solace only through isolative, maladaptive, and disordered behaviors. I am beyond happy that, because of my time at Castlewood, I now can be present in the moment and enjoy seemingly simple things that used to feel so forced and uncomfortable, such as outings with friends, playing with my dog, and connecting to others."~AA