Happy Friday! The regularly scheduled “Friday Favorite” will return next week.
Today continues a look back at my journey navigating recovery from anorexia. If you missed the first few entries, feel free to go back and read day 1, day 2, and day 3. I’ll do mostly summarizing from here on out otherwise this week-long share session will turn into weeks long. I don’t have many pictures since these weren’t exactly picture-taking circumstances.
We left off yesterday with my first full day of hospitalization. I ended up being on the medical floor for five days. After that, I was still too ill to go home, but not so ill that I needed to be on a heart rate monitor all day, so they moved me to, as I described in my journal, “a special area with kids with a variety of problems” (aka the adolescent psych unit). What I found there were kids who welcomed me from the start and didn’t judge me for what I was going through.
There was another person on the unit with anorexia. A teenage guy. I still remember him so clearly. He was tall and the skinniest person I had ever seen. As terrible as it sounds, all I could think of when I looked at him were the pictures I had seen of concentration camp survivors. I couldn’t understand how he could do that to himself and why he would want to look skeletal (pot/kettle much?). I still think of him from time to time and wonder how he is.
Even on the psych unit I was still on bed rest for part of the first few days. They put a cot out in the hallway so they could keep an eye on me and so kids would come over and hang out with me. One of the worst parts was having to go to the bathroom in front of one of the counselors so they knew you weren’t purging. They turned their back or left the door cracked, but it was still an exercise in humility. The entire experience was, in fact.
Although still a bit delusional about the seriousness of my condition (despite being scared of dying while on the medical floor, I started doing crunches in my bed at night while in the unit), I started to feel much happier. Being around people who had other issues and were learning to deal with them was extremely helpful. It wasn’t until I had been in the hospital for a week that I was finally off bedrest. I remember being so excited that I skipped down the hallway, which one of the counselors quickly told me was a no-no (it was seen as exercise for me, which was completely off-limits).
I was hospitalized for a total of sixteen days. Once I was discharged from the hospital, I attended a day program. My parents worked really hard to find a place that would allow vegetarians and the only one they were able to find was well over an hour from our house. One of them drove me there, then went to work (sometimes an hour in the other direction), and then picked me up and drove me home every day for about a month (until school started). That’s the kind of sacrifice they made for me, on top of what they had already done. I am forever grateful to them for doing everything in their power to aid in my recovery.
The day program was different because I was in a teen group part of the day and in an eating disorder group the rest of the day. I was the youngest one in the eating disorder group. Seeing adults deal with eating disorders was disturbing to me. I thought adults were supposed to have it together. I did not want to still be dealing with anorexia when I was an adult!
The day program facility also increased my calorie intake from 2750 to 3300 calories/day. That would be hard for me now when I have a good appetite! I still remember that my morning and afternoon snacks would be a giant muffin, plus a Carnation Instant Breakfast if I didn’t gain weight. Do you know how filling that is? Healthy too, right (note the sarcasm)? I know they had to get as many calories into me as possible in order to gain weight, but I wish I had had the option of a protein shake instead of empty carbs. Even now that doesn’t seem to be the healthiest way to put on weight. I do hope they do things differently now.
Despite the ups and down of the past month, I finally had a small break-through while I was at the day program. I’ll let 13 year-old Stephanie tell you herself:
This definitely seemed to be a bit of a turning point. While the rest of the summer wasn’t easy-breezy, it seemed my mindset had shifted a bit.
Stay tuned for Monday’s post, which will be a wrap-up of this week. I realize it’s no longer National Eating Disorders Awareness Week next week, but I obviously underestimated the amount of material to cover in only four days!
Thanks for following along this week. I know it’s been a bit of a departure from my regular subjects, but it is something important to me and something that has made me who I am today. If I can reach out to one person or pull back the curtain of this awful disease, it’s all worth it.
Please feel free to leave comments or questions! Have a great weekend!