"Could I stay home and live a stable, yet disordered life? Yea… probably. But I am not ok with that. I have big dreams and goals in life and I am just not going to settle to be chronically disordered… I deserve to be fully recovered."
My name is Kelly; I am 22 years old and have been dealing with anorexia since I was 13. I have to admit, I have been putting off writing a post for Camilla’s blog. I have sat down several times to write and share where I am at, but I have froze at the reality of having to reveal what is really going on. BUT I am finally here, writing it, in the hopes that I can help just one person know they are not alone in their process to recovery.
Since the age of 14 I have been in treatment 13 times, yes you read that right… 13. To say I am mortified by that fact could be the understatement of the century. I am lucky, my insurance is terrific, and my parent even more terrific, in continuing to support me both financially and emotionally to keep getting help. But at the same time, treatment has been both a blessing and a curse. I admit my first 3 times in treatment were a joke…. I had no desire to recover at all. Even being in a world-renowned program, I clowned around and took nothing seriously. I was being given treatment that thousands of other people would kill to get, but I didn’t care… I loved my disease, I loved being sick, I was not about to give that up. Along with not using the treatment given, I proceeded to learn new tricks of the trade. New ways to engage in my eating disorder, new ways to become the “best” anorexic. So when I was discharged from these facilities recovery, school, friends, LIFE wasn’t on my mind… getting worse then all the other patients was. I can look back and see now how messed up this whole thought process was… but treatment, hospitals, and eating disorder friends became my new world and I didn’t have any desire to get out. Why would I? Treatment was an escape… Sure it had its down falls but I didn’t have to go to school, I made friends instantaneously, I was away from my home environment. The stress, the bullying, the pressure from my family… I was in a little eating disorder bubble.
The years passed by, 15..16…17…18…19…I had some wake up calls during that time, an ICU stint, a fainting spell in the mall.. these seemed to give me some motivation to recover… but those motivators faded and I just wanted to be back with my eating disorder and back in the safety and comfort of a treatment facility. By the time I was 17 I became a pro at treatment… ask me any question about any residential facility in the United States and I could get you an answer. Instead of spending my time with friends, going to parties, having boyfriends I was sitting at home starving, exercising, and researching treatment centers while comparing myself with every other eating disorder “friend” I had on facebook… feeling angry if they got worse then me… if they got hospitalized before me. I was addicted to both my eating disorder and to treatment.
I attempted to go away to college when I was 18…. While it was an epic fail leading to another hospitalization and residential treatment stint, it also opened my eyes to another world… I saw that maybe there was another kind of life worth fighting for. While this didn’t totally turn me around, it certainly helped me approach treatment differently. I started to work in therapy and talking about the distorted thinking I had around both my addiction to treatment and ED… but I still wasn’t ready to give it up.
Time went on, I tried to venture out into “normal” life… getting a job, going to community college but I was still tied to my eating disorder. I could function for some period of time, hell I even looked pretty good and was relatively healthy…but I was still so into my eating disorder. One of the most difficult places to be in the recovery process is when you are still so sick mentally, but you don’t look sick. There is no longer a visual “excuse” to why life is so hard, why you can’t go out with friends, why you can’t just live. “What’s the point of trying to stay healthy if I’m still so controlled?”. “I’m lonely, I have no friends, I don’t like living at home… get me out NOW.” Back to ED I would run.
From 2011- 2012 I spent 3 months in a residential facility that was a very different experience from times past. I didn’t feel accepted there, it didn’t feel safe or good to be there and it totally changed my view on treatment… I NEVER wanted to go back. While it’s terrible that I had to have that experience, I am glad I did. The luster of treatment was finally taken away… but the comfort of ED wasn’t. I came home and began relapsing again but I decided I had to just live with it… I had to accept I would be a “chronic anorexic” and do the best I could with what I had. I started working a lot and going to school while still using my disorder. I was half in life, half in ED. Looking back I have no idea how I did it… I was on autopilot with this idea that this was just how I was going to have to live… was I happy? No. But I whole-heartedly believed that this was the best it would get. Going away to treatment was no longer even a thought in my brain… I vowed when I left my last place I would die before I went back to a residential center.
Well, that time came… I truly feared for my life this past November. My therapist, doctor, and dietician dropped me from their care… telling me it was unethical to treat me if I was just going to go on as a self- pronounced “chronic anorexic.” Lots of tears, thinking, and processing later I realized I had to go back, for the first time I really went in treatment ready to work…. Not for the escape. I went to Center for Change- where I met Camilla, who I adore!! And I kicked my butt- I hate to brag but I was basically the “star” patient. I went above and beyond what my treatment team expected of me and cheered the other girls on along the way. It felt so real…I felt like I had it… I had recovery… I was really going to beat this disease!
I left CFC 4 months ago and came back to my home environment, back to the same school, same job, same house I was on my death bed at just months prior. My extreme motivation for recovery started to fade. I began to dabble in behaviors here and there… counting calories, cutting out certain foods, loosing a couple of pounds… next thing you know I’m back in it. Not to the extreme I have been in the past, thankfully, but I see the road I am heading down and I’m not ok with it. I can’t believe I am even admitting it, especially out loud to people who have seen me in such a positive state, but… it is the truth. However, there is a major difference. I am taking action now. I am not waiting till things get worse and I am in a full -blown relapse to make a change. I have been working hard to keep myself stable… not falling into more behaviors, and been working with my family and treatment team to figure out a better plan for me. The bottom line is I can’t be home and I need more support… it is the only way I can actually get a life of my own.
Things are in the works for me to get more help, no I am not going back to typical ED residential, but going somewhere that is really going to help me learn to LIVE in recovery and not just survive… which is what I have been doing for so many years. Could I stay home and live a stable, yet disordered life? Yea… probably. But I am not ok with that. I have big dreams and goals in life and I am just not going to settle to be chronically disordered… I deserve to be fully recovered, as does EVERYONE else. I can’t sit here and say I am 100% certain full recovery is possible.. .I have never experienced it… But I am not going to give up on that hope…. And I hope no one else gives up on that either.