the treatment plan...

day one:

after being interviewed and assessed as a person with a serious eating disorder, I was checked into the psych unit/ eating disorder program. why a psych unit? this is where the treatment program lived - inside the four walls of a psychiatric hospital. was this scary? not yet! this was a voluntary check in - this time. not to get too far ahead, but there would be more than one stay in the psych ward/ eating disorder unit.

on the previous highlight reel was information my two bulimic/women friends had shared prior to check in - they let me know i’d lose boatloads of weight while in this very treatment program, as it was nearly impossible to binge there. all the patients food was weighed and measured, and if it wasn’t meal time, it was generally kept locked up. music to my ears.

there wasn’t much known about eating disorders at this time, but because anorexia or bulimia are almost always accompanied by depression, it was a neat and tidy add on to the hospitals psychiatric program - and billable insurance… so as the heavy metal doors clanged and shut behind me, I was soon to meet my merry band of misfits.

this is what I discovered.

people who struggle, who wake each day unhappy with their lives, or their bodies, or themselves, are some of the strongest people in the world. why? because they don’t quit. they wait, sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly, for a miracle.

a miracle can come in many forms.

because I’d landed in this hospital, because I was desperate, and yearning for an end to the unhappiness and sameness I was stuck in, when the nutritionist/dietician, the same nutritionist/dietician i’d previously brushed off, who was barely my age, who was once again seated calmly in front of me, in her very proper work attire, legs crossed, arms cradling my file, told me something - words i’m sure she’d said to others - but that moment, and those words, it cracked the stuck thing inside me. I finally understood why I was doing what I was doing. those words changed my life in that moment, and with them, I found the ability to change.

but that all happened in part 2.

i’ve never been brave

it was weird, incredibly strange and surreal, and yet in another kinder, weird way, it felt safe. you don’t have to think much when you’re in a treatment program. it’s like kindergarten - with a lot more rules - rules to wake up, rules to go to bed, lights on, lights out, meal times, group sessions, and of course, visitation hours. that is, if you’re lucky enough to have someone come visit- someone you actually want to see. let’s face it, most people here were not in the most functional relationships. addiction does that to you. it’s such a downward spiral, it tends to drag everyone down with it, because there’s just no room for anyone else, and so, it becomes all about you, or me, as the case may be.

I kept losing weight because I was in such a controlled environment, until I couldn’t lose anymore. my body rebelled. it knew I was starving to death, and a body wants to take care of you. so every calorie that went in, stayed in.

the scariest part were the drugs. hospital drugs. I didn’t know or understand prior to checking in what a teaching hospital was, or what that meant. this is the place where interns “get their hours,” where they “learn on the job,” and all the patients like me that were in the eating disorder wing, me, and my not too merry band of misfits, whose biggest pranks were smuggling in laxatives and cigarettes, or making it to the bathroom when a nurse was out of earshot- we were the lucky consumers of all the drugs they were testing.

there was just one thing I knew for sure. drugs, for some reason, terrified me.