My decision to write/blog came about for a few reasons. First, I have an eating disorder. I have been in recovery successfully since March of 2011 and my journey into eating disorder recovery and beyond started December 8th of 2010. This is the day that I celebrate my recovery, only because it is the day I signed papers to begin my journey to recovered health. It was a conscience, well thought out decision that would forever change my life. That was one TOUGH day for sure. I’d say, the toughest day of my life.
On December 8th of 2010, I drove up to the “big yellow house”, also known as Carolina House, in Durham, NC and I thought I was going to be staying just a week or two for treatment. Carolina House is a Residential Treatment Facility for Women. After signing papers and doing all the legal, financial, and insurance paperwork “fun stuff”, I found out that I would be there a minimum of 45 days. That was NOT okay. I had a 9 year old son whom I did NOT want to leave behind and a loving adoring husband I would miss just as much.
My husband would be home with our son, and who would take care of my husband? How would my husband feel? Did he think I was “crazy”? Would he think I was “crazy”? Did he REALLY understand or was he just supporting me the best way he knew how? What if he decided he didn’t want to be with me anymore because there was something “wrong” with me? Would he actually miss me? Would he think I was damaged in some way? What if this didn’t work and he didn’t want to keep going through this over and over? Would he be able to come visit me? Would he WANT to come visit me? Would he bring our son to visit me? Was he ashamed of me? Did any of this embarrass him? What was he going to tell other people? What was going through his mind? How was he feeling? There were two options, and I weighed those two options very thoughtfully over the next two hours while we were there. Meeting staff, nurses, therapists, doctors, RPA’s (Residential Patient Assistants), dietitians and everyone else, the thought of my health and leaving my son (for a minimum of 45 days) weighed very heavy on my mind. What would happen if I decided to just go back home and “tough it out”? What if I decided to go home and forget that I was even sick at all? Would I just get better on my own? Could I do it on my own at home? Would I be making a big mistake? Was I being selfish? Maybe the doctor had it wrong, maybe I didn’t have an eating disorder, maybe it was just a “phase”. What if I decided to stay? How would that affect my son? Would he hate me? Would he understand his mother was really sick and needed help? Who would comfort him when he needed no one else but his own mother? Would this effect him later on down the road in life and in the future? Would he resent me for “leaving” him? Would he feel like I was abandoning him? Would he feel comfortable to ask questions? Any and all questions that he had? If so, who would he go to? How much information should I give him? What do I tell him? Will he look back years later and be proud of me knowing that I did what was right for me so I could continue to be there for him in the future? Would he be happy (years later looking back) that his mother was strong enough to admit she needed help and that she was strong enough to seek it?
There were so many more things that I had racing through my mind. I was sick, yes, I was very sick. In making my final decision, I decided that this was not something I could do on my own. I wasn’t going to worry about what other people thought and I decided not to care what other people thought. I couldn’t keep fighting and losing. Because, in reality, I was losing my life. I could have died. That is how sick I was. Mentally, I was not strong enough to do it at home with just a therapist and a doctor. It was way beyond that point. Physically, I couldn’t do it-I had to go through the re-feeding process which I learned the hard way what that was and how bad off I really was.
Control had all been lost, and I needed to gain back control over my life. It was that, or die. Plain and simple. Needless to say, I stayed, and I stayed way past the initial 45 days. There were days I wanted to sign myself out, which was an option, and on more that one occasion, we did draw up the papers so that I could be released to go home without finishing treatment. I had called my husband and he supported me coming home if I felt I needed to. I had even started packing my things. Since I was there on my own free will, I could leave on my own free will. Instead, I stayed 4 months. A total of 109 days. These were the hardest days of my life.
Through this difficult time, I drew close to God, and made relationships with staff who helped to further encourage and reinforce my spiritual relationship with Christ. They encouraged me, gave me scripture to read for different situations, and prayed with and for me. A few of the bible verses that have stuck with me are: Nehemiah 8:10 “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Psalms 30:5 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 139:14 “I will praise You because I have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” I think this is my favorite of the three.
I had decided that it wasn’t selfish, as I had previously thought, to take care of myself. If I had a broken leg, I would go to the doctor, get a cast, stay off of my leg, follow doctors orders, then do physical therapy when my cast came off to strengthen my leg back up. If it was diabetes, I would check my sugar, eat a low glycemic index diet, take my medication and exercise. This couldn’t be selfish. It shouldn’t be selfish. What was selfish was living the way I was, allowing my eating disorder to take control over my life. It was selfish to allow my eating disorder to ruin my life, to continue to be loud and obnoxious and to lie to me about who the REAL me was. I was so lost, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. It was my health, mental and physical that I had decided to take back control over.
With the support of my strong, loving, supportive and completely wonderful and amazing husband, my decision was to make sure I was healthy not only physically but mentally as well. Not just for me but my family. After my family left on December 8th of 2010, I felt so empty. I felt so sick to my stomach. I felt so alone. I was ashamed. I felt isolated. Watching them walk out and leave left me in tears. Already, I felt broken. This made me feel even more broken then what I was already feeling.
What had I done? There weren’t any friends there, we had no phone access until after dinner time and that was only for 45 minutes. There was absolutely no TV, movies, internet or anything else. What HAD I done?? Later, after dinner, I learned who I was sharing a room with. This “roommate” (I will not use names because of confidentiality reasons) was very nice to me. She helped to comfort me and so did most of the other girls/women who were there. That night of December 8th, I cried on the phone to my husband. He promised me everything would be okay, told me how much he loved me and I was going to get better. But what if I didn’t? What if everything wasn’t going to be okay? That night, I cried myself to sleep, in a strange bed, in a strange room, with a sweet new roommate in the big yellow house and hoping it was all a bad dream. On December 9th, the hard, difficult, gut wrenching, soul searching, work I so dreaded began. It was mentally and physically exhausting and challenging day in and day out. I wasn’t prepared, but I had no choice. I decided to dig in deep mentally and begin the painful, demanding and completely optional treatment that was so overdue.