Some of the photos I took recently. Flowers, spring, fresh air… natural therapy.
In my opinion, one of the hardest things about “re-learning” how to live life and take care of yourself through recovery is finding balance. For much of the time one is in treatment, the day is simply JUST treatment. But leaving the world of formalized and center-based treatment back into the world of outpatient appointments and mostly free weeks results in a lot to be determined and time to be filled.
It is something I talked about so much with my therapist and my treatment team. It is a vocabulary word that has been a staple in my language for the past 5 months.
What the hell is balance.
I can’t say I have done a perfect job moving from IOP to outpatient and balancing recovery and life from the get-go. But I also didn’t expect that I would.
If I learned ONLY one thing in treatment (which is far from the truth…I learned more than I can communicate), then it would be that I cannot expect perfection because it is realistic, possible, human. I would disappoint myself literally every time if I expected to be perfect. Never in my life have I or will I be perfect. This transition is no different. In fact, the lack of perfection is what makes it so successful.
I have had to sit down and talk to myself. I have had to tell myself that “yes, I can eat that. I will be okay.” I have had to make a conscious decision to order the hard thing that would have been so easy to avoid. I have tried new things. I have internally fought and won. I have internally fought and lost. But I have kept going and corrected and worked my ass off for the recovery that I so want and love.
That is what balance is to me. It is realizing that I am going to have a few bad days…maybe more than a few. But that I can persist anyway. It is relearning what life in the “real world” is like… with the constant daily challenges that I was somewhat sheltered from in treatment. It is picking the hard things because I know I can… and more than that… that I have to. It is realizing the mental difficulties are all worth it because they get smaller and smaller with exposure.
And it is giving myself grace for the days when I have more trouble. For the days when I need some help. And for the moments when I question it all and keep going anyway.
It’s a process.
That is balance.
Have you ever been star tripping?
You look up and spin around in circles and get dizzy and fall down and get your composure and do it all over again.
But you do it because it is fun. You do it because it is beautiful. You do it because it is captivating and unique and changing.
Sometimes you fall down and it takes a bit longer to get up. Maybe you spun around a bit too much and the dizziness overwhelms you. You might scrape your knee or bump into something. So you take a bit longer to pick yourself up and start spinning again–head held high, looking up.
There is nothing wrong with falling. It’s part of the experience.
That is kind of the most wonderful part of it. You never know what is going to happen. You laugh and smile and openly accept that you cannot control where you fall or when. But you know that you do get to pick when you stand back up and how you hold yourself and move on.
You know what’s neat about star tripping? It’s a lot like life.
It’s true that you can view the world through so many different “lenses.” I can name a number that I use on a daily basis. But we often don’t realize that our views can become jaded based on the lens of choice for that moment, situation, day, etc.
One can see the world through a “I hate everything and I don’t want to be here so I am going to be miserable” lens, in which we see nothing good and are consigned to having a horrible time. One can look through the “no” lens, where everything that happens is a no-go and one is snobbish and unfriendly. One can look at the world through a “positive, peppy, I am not gonna show any sadness” lens, which seems good but ultimately makes you cry inside. There are positive lenses, negative lenses, neutral lenses, recovery lenses, destructive lenses… you name it and it’s a lens.
I admit, I’ve put on a ton of lenses in my life-especially through my recovery journey- and not all of them have been positive or happy. But the one I love the most is the lens I look through, literally, when I see the world through my camera.
There is a reason that “art therapy” exists in its many forms. It is freeing, emotional, raw, and often mind-opening. For me, this occurs most often when I am behind a camera.
Looking through the lens, I see the world as it is. I see the angles, lines, grids, elements, colors of the world around. I do not see opinion or personal bias. I cannot see in a jaded view through my camera. I cannot even see myself differently than how I am-though rarely do I take pictures of my own person. For me, this is freeing.
I don’t believe that photography is a “cure-all” for dysmorphia or misperception, but I do think that it can help.
Maybe give it a shot. Look through the lens of your phone camera if it is all that you have. Walk around and look at the world as if you have never seen it before. Let go of the judgements and the preconceived notions. Let go of them and give yourself the grace to let go of the judgements for yourself as well, at least while your eye is behind the camera lens.
Here are some of my photos from various periods of time. I use a Nikon DSLR camera and usually put it on manual. As you can see, I like flowers…