I started keeping a journal a little over a month before being admitted to the treatment center. I was seeing a local therapist every other week at the time, but my eating disorder soon became too much for outpatient appointments. There was definitely a point of no return where I knew I couldn’t go on – I had to get help. When I made that realization I felt I slight boost of energy – a slight glimmer of hope – that helped me get to where I needed to be. I needed it because it took some work to find the proper treatment for my symptoms.
The door’s been cracked.
I can see light peaking through.
That slight glimmer of hope
is holding my head above water
for the moment…
I was constantly sick and on many days stayed home in bed. I missed my family’s Thanksgiving celebration which was the event that set the ball in motion. I knew I needed help at that point.
I’ve been very sick lately. It was like having the flu four times in two months. I went to my therapist crying. I knew something was really wrong. She said I needed to go inpatient. I’m still trying to figure it all out.
In middle school, when I started a habit of bingeing and fasting, the 6th grade me didn’t see our future. Deep down I know I’m a smart woman and I never meant for this to happen.
I felt I needed to make some notes to prepare for my phone assessments with two different treatment centers.
List of Symptoms
– Gag and spit out food at almost every meal.
– Sometimes vomit
– Very, very picky. I won’t eat fruits and veggies and I don’t like the taste of meat. Things I used to like don’t taste good anymore. The selection and variety of foods I’ll actually eat are getting smaller and smaller.
– I skip meals. Sometimes I eat one meal in the afternoon.
– Sometimes I eat food out of the trash.
– Sometimes if I find a good I really like I’ll binge because I don’t know the next time I’ll find food I like. I find comfort in eating a lot of the foods I like but it always leads to me feeling out of control.
– I eat the same foods over and over again. Right now I’m stuck on turkey sandwiches – as long as there’s a lot of mayo or dressing so I can’t taste the meat.
– I’ve been feeling very sick physically for the last two months. I see a GI doctor and he’s done lots of procedures and tests (endoscopy, colonoscopy, bloodwork, stool sample, ultrasound and MRI of abdomen) and hasn’t found any medical causes for my illness.
– I feel my hunger signals are messed up right now. Sick or hungry?
– My weight is affecting my health (high blood pressure and cholesterol)
– Diabetes has been ruled out with recent bloodwork.
– I’m overweight and upset about it, but I feel more afraid of food than I am of gaining more weight.
What I Want From Treatment
- Stop feeling sick
- Regain control
- Lose weight
What I Fear About Treatment
- Getting even fatter
- Not getting better/unwilling to make changes
- Family unwilling to make changes
Tuesday 1:30pm – assessment
Finding the proper treatment was even harder than I thought.
The steps to recovery
are covered in mud,
there’s no handrail,
upper floors don’t exist,
and the climb is steep.
I’m out of breath
and wearing the wrong shoes.
This is part of a letter I wrote when one treatment center suggested outpatient due to my rumination disorder:
Thank you for taking the time to do my assessment last Tuesday. However, I feel like I am screaming out for help and no one is listening. I am desperate.
My eating disorder has consumed me. It is an everyday battle that I am losing. It has negatively impacted my functioning and relationships. I have missed work and family gatherings. My husband has become somewhat of a caregiver and my impressionable young daughter is watching me suffer. Everyone in my life is worried.
I am very sick and very miserable right now. I am losing weight and am concerned about my health.
I have started looking for a dietician and occupational therapist like you suggested, however, I don’t think outpatient is going to cut it at this time. I need daily help to get me back on track.
Please help. I am really struggling and I’m begging you to reconsider.
When I wrote that letter I felt absolutely desperate and thought it was a long shot. However, that letter is what got me the treatment that I needed. I learned to advocate for myself which can be extremely important when it comes to healthcare. This is literally what saved me.
Prior to writing this letter, I was turned down by another treatment center also for rumination disorder. They said it would trigger the other patients. I thought I was running out of options so when I got a response to my letter I sobbed. I couldn’t believe it worked and that I would finally get treatment.
Went to my therapy appointment. We talked a lot about how anxiety, OCD, and grief all contribute to my eating disorder. She said I’m holding a lot inside.
She’s probably right.
Treating my eating disorder is going to be a long and difficult process. I feel like going to the treatment center when I was 21 was merely putting on a band-aid. There’s a lot of work to be done yet.
I admitted to my therapist that I held back when I saw my GI doctor last week. They asked if I had been feeling sick (nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea) and I said no. I thought – what’s the point? I’m getting treatment for my eating disorder soon.
I hope my writing will expose the process of getting treatment – just how difficult it can be, all the hoops you have to jump through when you already feel like shit. It takes a lot of strength and courage.
My therapist said that story needs to be told.
This was my second round of treatment – nearly twenty years after the first – and I documented every minute of it.
From time to time I will be sharing bits and pieces of my journals here.