After her diagnosis and once we knew her admission date into residential, my daughter asked one question.
“When can I come home?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how do I get home?”
It took me a moment to come up with a response that didn’t sound patronizing or overly optimistic. When the answer came to me it became the mantra for her entire experience at Veritas Collaborative and beyond.
“Do the work,” is what I told her. “Just do the work. Everything they put in front of you. Every worksheet. Every therapy session. Every meal. Every group. Focus on the task at hand and do the work.”
When she asked on the car ride down to Durham.
Do the work.
When she asked in the moments we had alone before the nurses took her for admission.
Do the work.
When she asked in the common room the next afternoon between programming.
Do the work.
In the days that followed, when I came to visit for family programming, the green folder told me the whole story. Maximum points every day. Worksheets filled out. Good reports from her therapist and dietitian. Making friends and adjusting to life in residential. Completing meals.
She was moving forward despite her eating disorder’s best efforts to stymie her progress.
Soon she was promoted to partial hospitalization (PHP). Then we were doing the work together. Every day. Following meal plans. Participating in programming. Staying on the same page. Managing through bad nights and challenge meals.
By the end of PHP that ragged green folder – overstuffed with papers, covered in doodles, and held together by tape – became the story of her time at Veritas. It was a testament to all the work she put in.
When we got home, I made sure that the folder was in a safe place.
Recovery is real. Recovery is possible. I say that a lot. The truth is that recovery is not real or possible independent of cooperation, hard work and the support of a strong, professional team.
When you focus on the tasks in front of you and you focus on knocking them down, before you know it you’ve piled up a tremendous amount of success and progress. Confidence increases. Work becomes habit. Habit becomes instinct. This applies to patients and caregivers alike. Everyone must be willing to work hard and put in the hours, days, weeks, months, and maybe even years.
Over a year later and my daughter is still working. She’s on a journey deep into recovery that she has earned through commitment, tears, and trust. She knows what she needs to do to stay on that path.
Recovery belongs to everybody. Do the work.
About the Author
The author is the parent of a child in recovery from an eating disorder. After walking with his child through treatment at Veritas Collaborative, he set out on a mission to give a voice and honest perspective to eating disorder recovery. He shares his perspective on Twitter at Dad Versus Eating Disorder (@HopefullDadNC). Follow him for more first-hand thoughts, insights, and resources related to eating disorders recovery.