Eating Disorder Recovery — I survived Christmas in treatment.

Last December I was admitted to a treatment center for eating disorders. I spent the holidays there and was discharged in February. I want to share with you my journal entry for Christmas Day. As an atheist, I don’t give a fuck about Christmas but I do give a fuck about spending time with my family and that just wasn’t possible last year. 

Just a few days before Christmas there was a Covid outbreak at the treatment center and we were quarantined in our apartments just a few blocks away. Our groups and appointments were done virtually. All of our meals and snacks were delivered to us and we ate on camera. 

Christmas was like any other day as far as treatment was concerned. We had groups and supervised meals all day. 

I often took notes in my journal during group therapy sessions and I decided to leave the notes in this entry because I thought they were interesting. We discussed anger and judgment on this day. I wrote down a few quotes that day as well.

Christmas was surprisingly hard.


12/25/21 Day Ten

I am slipping – with my meals and my attitude. I’m feeling hopeless. I fantasize about the day I’m discharged and get to go home with my family but there’s so much work ahead of me to get to that point that I don’t know if I’ll ever get there – or even if I want to.

This morning I’m doing a video call with my family to watch Karly open her gifts but I’m thinking of texting my husband to cancel. I’m already a mess and I don’t want Karly to see me so sad. Christmas should be happy for kids.

I didn’t think Christmas would bother me but this sucks so bad.

I texted my husband and he said the right thing – “Okay if you’re sure. We love you so much!” We’re going to talk later in the day.

I feel bad for feeling hopeless earlier. Time is going fast. I need to put in the work. I sure as hell don’t want to go back to feeling sick all the time. That’s why I’m here. I need to take advantage of this opportunity – even if it isn’t quite what I thought it would be. I know I can try harder.

Do I have too high of expectations for my recovery right now?

I’m still tearing up thinking about not seeing Karly today. This is going to be a long day. Tomorrow isn’t going to be any easier – it’s my wedding anniversary.

“I confuse familiarity with safety.”

If I was with my family on Christmas, I wouldn’t actually be there. This is where I need to be.

“You can feel multiple feelings. They can coexist.”

“Loneliness is an invitation for self-care.”

Can you dip grilled cheese in ranch? I’m afraid to ask. I really wanted the leftover ranch from my carrots. I was going to stick my fingers in it but I didn’t.

Meals have been rough today. An apple and part of a banana for breakfast, pretzels for snack, and grilled cheese for lunch. I gagged and spit the grilled cheese out. I tried so hard and took several bites. Is it okay to just not like things? I’m forcing myself to like things and it doesn’t seem to be working.


Purpose of Emotion Group: Anger

What does anger look like? How do you know you’re angry or that someone else is angry?

Need to get out – visceral feel
See things through a different lens
Smallest thing bothersome
Don’t communicate
Shut down
Harder to use direct communication
Body gets hot
Feel the need to pace/move
Fall asleep, escapism
Crossed arms
Short responses to questions
Affect relationships
Antagonize others
Take it out on myself or others
Core beliefs
All or nothing thinking
Taking sides
Bursting – no longer holding it in
Racing thoughts
Social media, angry scroll/post
Reinforce labels/stereotypes
Red hot anger
Lose control
Feels unheard
Feels invalidated
Scream, trying to be heard
Punish self
Overexplain, need to prove
Tunnel vision
Not responsive, shut down
Sarcasm, using humor
Norms may be different

Anger Iceberg


Emotions you’ve noticed under anger –

Out of control
Low self-worth

Benefits to anger –

Feel powerful
Tell us something, morals and ethics
Shows who/what we care about
A way of taking care of yourself
Social justice movements
Tell a story
Can be empowering
Make changes

Cost to acting on anger – not underlying emotion

Reacting instead of responding
Losing relationships
Increase in depression, SI
May not help situations

How to honor underlying emotions –

Speaking the truth
What is this telling me?
How is this emotion serving me?
Using coping skills
Not masking or bottling up
Being honest with self
Valid feeling, choose how to express it

Anger is a spectrum, not necessarily bad or just one thing.

Anger is a secondary emotion.


Group: Judgment and Nonjudgmental Stance

What does judgment look like?

Criticism (from self and others)
Quick decision
Labeling someone as their actions
“Right way”
Should statements
“No excuses”
Backed by past experiences

Benefits to judging –

Can keep me safe
Reading a room
“Is this okay?”
Brings awareness
Helps me create boundaries
Gathering information
Starting place for insight
Impacts worldview

Costs to judging –

Past can keep us stuck
Might not get to know others, assumptions
No benefit of the doubt
Jumps to conclusions
Increase in insecurity
Increases anxiety
Lack of curiosity

Skills for nonjudgmental stance –

Differentiating between “I did a bad thing” vs. “I am a bad person”
Look at your own biases
How could this be serving me?

It’s easier to have a judgment than to sit with the unknown.

Can be a filtering system


Is it weird that so much of this relates to my relationship with food? Maybe that’s my relationship with myself? Core beliefs?

Maybe that’s ridiculous. I don’t know.

I judge food and my eating habits as well as others’ eating habits.

Food scares me if I’ve never tried it.


I’m having an urge to binge. I had a blueberry muffin and it was fantastic. Now I just want more.

Today has been so hard. I don’t give a fuck about Christmas but I do give a fuck about my family. I’m sitting on my bed letting myself feel my feelings for a minute. I was going to say I’m a mess again, but that’s not fair. I am a mother missing her child and a wife missing her husband.

Tomorrow is going to be hard – it’s our wedding anniversary.

Today is Saturday. I haven’t left the apartment since Tuesday. Everyone keeps saying that it’s quite a bit warmer than usual outside. I wouldn’t know. I keep saying I’ll be good and go for a walk, but I really don’t want to. I thought that was one way I could lose weight while I’m here, but I just can’t get off my lazy ass and do it.

I’ve also had a headache for the past few days. After program, I just want to lay around the apartment.

I really enjoyed the group on anger today. My anxiety often manifests as anger. I get irritable and impulsive, and the underlying emotion is fear.

But sometimes the underlying emotion to my anger is feeling unheard. People know me as quiet but I’m quiet because I feel like I’m never given a space to speak. I feel people view me as childlike and therefore my opinions don’t matter. It hurts. Maybe that’s why I like writing so much – I can say what’s on my mind and no one can stop me or interrupt me. I’m not exactly sure how to fix that. I could try to speak up more but sometimes I think it’s better just to write more.

Feeling unheard makes me feel powerless which feeds my low self-worth. Writing gives me back my power and raises my self-worth. I’m proud of the projects I’ve worked on. I’ve grown as a writer over the past year and that also improves my self-worth.

It has to be me because I feel unheard in many different situations with lots of different people. The anger sits with me and I think my core beliefs come into play –

No one likes me.
I’m not very smart.

Sometimes I feel I am ambitious so I can use my successes to prove that I’m worthy. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone cares or is paying attention.

I looked at everyone’s body here and compared them to mine. I can’t help it. I’m relieved that I’m not the fattest person here. I’m somewhere in the middle. I wish a dress code could be enforced because I’ve been triggered by what some people wear.

God that sounded bitchy.

How is this judgment serving me?

I’m insecure and don’t want to stand out in a negative way. I need reassurance. I want people to like me and think I’m pretty.

For some reason, that’s all important to me.

I shouldn’t want people to see me as pretty. When this is all over I want them to see me as resilient.

Costs of this judgment?

Assumptions, increased insecurities and anxiety. Eventually I think no one likes me and I isolate.

I survived Christmas.

It was an introspective day. I’m fucking up pretty bad with my meal plan but still feeling okay physically.

It’s pretty amazing sitting here by the window twenty-five floors up in downtown Chicago. I can see in the windows of hundreds of apartments. There are lights, people, Christmas trees. It’s just this tiny glimpse into other people’s lives. I don’t know how anyone lives here but I’m still curious.


Staying in Chicago was hard. Being away from my family was even harder. I survived Christmas but shortly after I was moved to a higher level of care. I will share more on that later.

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