After recovering from my B.A. program, I found myself in a situation that was uncommon from many young people around me. I was not ecstatic; I did not feel accomplished; I was not full of life. Actually, at this time I was very much broken. I suffered the effects of post traumatic stress disorder that manifested itself in anorexia and major depressive disorder.
After attempting overdose, I realized that it was time for a change and began a partial hospitalization program in my area. When entering, I assumed that I would be surrounded by skeletal figures with an immense fear of food. I did not anticipate that there would be real people who dealt with real and varied familial and personal problems.
I did not go there with the intention of learning or healing. I simply went to fix myself – to bury the things that made me untouchable and abnormal. I did not feel that there was any true alteration of myself that was about to occur. Nor did I feel that there were a number of perspective changes that could and would occur during my time in partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient.
Much to my surprise, during my journey of healing, I encountered many people who allowed me into their lives. One particular person became the physical manifestation of what it was to heal. For the sake of their privacy, I will refer to this person as Jessie.
Jessie, like myself struggled from the reality of an eating disorder as a masking issue. However, unlike many people in treatment, Jessie utilized another dangerous coping mechanism to escaping the eating disorder. Jessie had found that they were heavily addicted to cocaine. This person found that they were experiencing a co-occurring disorder, or a dual diagnosis. Jessie not only struggled with addiction, but their addiction and their eating disorder were both symptoms of a larger issue that was being ignored.
Self Medicating the Stress Away
Thus, Jessie also developed anxiety and depression. According to experts, this was by no means surprising; according to specialists on bhevolution.org, “some of the most common mental health disorders found in chemically dependent people include mood and anxiety disorders.”
Initially, like me, Jessie came to treatment simply to become acceptable again. Within the first few weeks of partial hospitalization they continued engaging in dangerous and unproductive behaviors.
As is consistent with the majority of patients in the milieu at the time, Jessie was unable to conceive that their primary diagnosis of drug addiction and bulimia was a serious as others conceived it to be. During group therapy sessions, Jessie would flippantly mention their weekend escapades of cocaine use. They would grow frustrated when the shocked silence filled the room and would maintain that the occasional use of coke was “no big deal.”
Since the coke use was not a binging or purging episode, Jessie held a sense of triumph in their behavior. They assumed that healing was beginning to truly occur. Jessie began to eliminate overeating struggles through using. If they used, then they restricted. In Jessie’s mind restricting meant the eating disorder was being combated. Therefore, things were improving and the time in treatment would be short lived.
While Jessie initially believed that they needed treatment for their eating disorder, it soon became apparent that the root of the co-occurring disorder needed to be explored in order to allow Jessie the best chance at recovery.
Working Toward Recovery
When Jessie was prepared to look at the negative core believes that they carried about, they were able to gradually begin to recover from drug addiction and a crippling eating disorder. However, this process is not one that Jessie could do alone. When recovering from drug addiction and other severe mental health disorders, it is highly advised to seek treatment in an intensive setting. There are a number of treatment centers, like the ones in Baton Rouge, that provide a wide spectrum of treatment options in order to help patients towards their recovery goals.
These Baton Rouge detox and substance abuse clinic provide a “highly structured intensive outpatient program” for people and families struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. While there are a number of ways that co-occurring disorders can be treated, the recovery centers in Baton Rouge like the center that Jessie and I attended, present a number of effective systems of treatment that tackled our disorders from a variety of angles.
A crucial part of Jessie and me beginning to heal was our acceptance of the deep-rooted problems that manifested in our easily diagnosable surface issues. After a number of days, or perhaps weeks, together in group therapy Jessie and I both began to share our experience with trauma that led to negative beliefs that permeated our ways of thinking. The program ensured that we had exposure to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy so that we might come to recognize the negative cognitions that contributed to our unhealthy behaviors.
While these two therapies frequently go hand in hand, they are distinct in their approach. According to Psychology Today, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is “a form of psycho therapy that encourages patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behavior.” Because CBT helps alter a patient’s way of thinking it is helpful when recovering for substance abuse disorders.
Dialectical Behavioral therapy, like Cognitive Behavior Therapy, is a form of psychotherapy that is useful in treating a variety of mental health disorders. However, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy focuses more specifically on targeting suicidal tendencies. The therapy seeks to help patients utilize forms of radical acceptance in order to recognize the value in life. Through using CBT, DBT, and a variety of other therapeutic forms, Jessie and I were able to recognize our worth and seek healing.
Today Jessie and I still remain in contact. Jessie has been clean now for over a year and I no longer struggle with the will to live. We both encounter difficult days, but we continue to strive to make healthy choices that impact our futures and bring us towards our ultimate goals. While we initially entered treatment as a means to fix our unsightly issues, in the end we found our healing together.