this week is the 6 year anniversary of me entering inpatient treatment for my eating disorder. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of nursing school. I typically try not to remember this anniversary but I have the app “timehop” and it showed me this picture:
this is the sickest I ever was. I may not be skin and bones like many assume; but my eyes had broken blood vessels, my throat was raw, I had sores on my knuckles, I was pale, I fainted often, I cried everyday, I was severely depressed, and had horrible anxiety. I was throwing up the one meal I ate, and working out at least 3 hours a day.
my family knew I had an eating disorder for about a month. my mom talked to me about it sometimes. no one forced me to talk about it. I think they were scared of making it worse. one day I finally hit rock bottom when I was home alone and hadn’t actually digested a meal in 5 days. I ate a sandwich and threw it up, walked into the living room and woke up on the floor. I had fainted and hit my head on the fireplace brick, inches away from hitting some sharp brass fire tools. I wasn’t really hurt, just scared, and called my parents who didn’t answer, then my older sister and she cried. I finally realized what I was putting my body and my family through. the next day while painting the porch with my Mom, I casually said I was ready to get help and she hugged me and cried. we called Melrose that day.
when I had my assessment for treatment, I had no idea what to expect. they did labs, I filled out some questions on body image, and met with a woman and we talked about my current symptoms. I was shocked that within 5 minutes she was severely concerned about me and didn’t even want me to go back home. she wanted to admit me to the inpatient Eating Disorder floor that minute. I freaked out, called my Dad, and begged for one night to gather my clothes and talk to my parents. I promised to show up in the morning.
I had no idea what I was in for. no cell phone. therapy 3 times a day. nurses watching me pee so I wouldn’t throw up. meals so quiet I could hear the thoughts of other patients. and so so many pills. journaling, crying, gaining, forced eating, weigh-ins, panic attacks, more crying. I thought it would never end. I had to beg them to let me out after 2 weeks so I could go on my yearly family vacation. when I returned it was 4 more weeks of “partial” treatment where I was at Melrose for 8 hours a day. it was exhausting. but it worked. I stopped using symptoms. I returned to school a new, healthy woman.
6 years later and dozens of relapses I still go to Melrose several times a month. eating disorders are hard as hell to get rid of. but I promised myself I will never get back to that place where it controlled my life. I have learned to manage my anxiety better, to reach out more, to be kinder to myself. it’s a work in progress. I hope one day this eating disorder won’t have such a grip on me and let me be free. one day at a time.