One year ago I called my therapist and made one of the most important decisions of my life. At the time, I was the lowest weight I had been in years, physically and emotionally exhausted beyond belief, and slipping further into anorexia with each passing day. Therapy sessions were full of tears, arguments over how much I should be eating, and anger towards my treatment team. I was so deep in my disorder, but I was also terrified. I felt like I was slipping away and that I was being swallowed up whole by anorexia. So, I made the difficult decision to go to the hospital to get more support.
The week I spent inpatient a year ago was, honestly, hellish. My regular doctor was on leave, and I was stuck with a doctor who could not have been more incompetent if he tried. I try to not speak poorly of others, but he was/is honestly so arrogant while being simultaneously entirely ignorant about eating disorders. Additionally, for most of the time I was there I was the only patient on the unit struggling with an eating disorder. I had to sit alone at a separate table during meals, and it was incredibly isolating. During group therapy, no one else related to what I was going through, and I felt misunderstood a lot of the time.
I remember calling my therapist and begging her to let me leave. She persuaded me to stay to receive more support and supervision for meals, at least for a little while longer. So, I stayed, forcing myself to eat every bite of my meals, desperate to get out and back to my outpatient treatment team. Thankfully, I had the assistance of the dietitian at the hospital, so I was not wholly without support. However, the loneliness of the unit, dealing with an unhelpful doctor and being stuck in the hospital lead to me feeling much more depressed and I ended up leaving because I felt being at the hospital was making me worse.
After leaving the hospital, things were up and down for quite some time. Right before entering the hospital I had begun working with a new dietitian, and I went back to working with her once I left. I remember her telling me how challenging it can be to restore weight on an outpatient level, and that if she was honest, I might not be able to do it, but she was willing to work with me. She met me where I was at, while also gently pushing me, and with her help, I slowly but surely managed to regain the weight. It feels amazing to be able to say that I was able to weight restore on an outpatient level!
This past year has been one of the most transformative times in my life. As awful as that hospital stay was, it was also truly life-changing. Looking back, I could have taken advantage of my doctor not being at the hospital and the ignorance of the doctor covering him. I could have refused to complete meals or decided to leave the hospital instead of staying like my therapist requested. For a long time, I thought that I had only eaten 100% of my meals during my time inpatient in an attempt to get home. It is possible to lie your way out of treatment, but I have come to realize that was not the case a year ago. I was choosing to take control of things and face my fears.
It had also been my choice to go to the hospital in the first place. There had been no ultimatums from my treatment team. Instead, it was my realization and ability to admit that I was in over my head. I had finally recognized that my problem was real and severe and that without help I was going to lose my life. I was not invincible, and I was not untouchable. The decision to go to the hospital a year ago was probably the first time I really made a choice to actively fight for my recovery.
I was tired of being in and out of treatment every few months. I was tired of the life I was living, which honestly was barely even a life, as all my time was full of obsessive thoughts about my weight, calories, and food. I was less than a month away from turning 23, and I realized I wanted my 23rd year to be one full of healing and that 23 was much too young to die.
Now, a year later, I still have days where I struggle. My heart still pounds in my chest every time it is time for my bi-weekly weight check. I still find myself wondering, at times, if I am really supposed to eat my full meal plan because sometimes it still feels like a lot of food. And, I am still further than I ever thought possible. There was a time in my life where I truly, with every fiber of my being, thought that I would never overcome anorexia. These days, I am living a life where 99% of the time I am free from the grips of the debilitating disorder. Urges come and go, but I know how to handle them without self-destructing or falling back on negative behaviors. I now have a full year of evidence under me to show me that I am stronger and more capable than I ever thought possible. Writing this post has honestly been the most challenging because I am unsure of how to fully express just how amazing it feels to get to this point in my recovery. I cannot believe that on the 29th it will be a full year free from needing eating disorder treatment. It is mind-blowing and just plain incredible.
Recovery is not a straight line. It is a jumbled up mess of twists and turns and stumbles and falls. It is literally the most challenging thing I have ever had to do. Years ago, I came across a quote that reads, “And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.” Those words describe exactly how I feel. I do not fully know how I made it through, so for now, I will just be happy that I came this far.
This post is getting really, really, long so I will end it with this –
- Recovery is absolutely possible. 100%. Even if you have relapsed over and over again. Even if you have had to return to treatment over and over again. You can make it through.
- Thank you to everyone who has been there for me through this journey. I could not have done this without all of you and I am so grateful.
- You are all beautiful ❤