You’ve called the treatment center, completed their bucket load of tedious paperwork, argued with your insurance company (and FINALLY got approved), and have your admission date marked on your calendar.
That’s right my friend. You have just completed the hardest part of eating disorder treatment – actually accepting the fact you need help and getting yourself admitted into the best treatment center for you.
Now all that’s left to do is pack and if you’re anything like how I was when I was told I had to go to treatment, you probably have no idea what to stick in your suitcase other than a couple of basics.
But don’t worry anymore about packing because I’ve got you covered. This very blog post will tell you the TEN ESSENTIAL THINGS that you definitely shouldn’t leave for inpatient or residential without!
During refeeding, my CuddlDuds leggings were lifesavers. Unlike traditional leggings that are incredibly tight and extremely uncomfortable for eating disorder patients, CuddlDuds mold themselves to your body to the point where it is almost like wearing a second skin. Also, they continue to stretch and to mold themselves to you throughout the weight restoration process. I can tell you right now that when I wore these leggings during weight restoration, they never felt like they were becoming too tight. The other cool thing about CuddlDuds is that THEY KEEP YOU WARM and that is a BIG plus for those who are severely underweight due to their eating disorder and cannot regulate their body temperature.
Last summer, I was constantly trying to keep my head above water in a merciless sea of anxiety. Every day, panic attacks completely consumed me and eating disorder thoughts blazed through my mind like unstoppable fire. My family was at a loss with what to do with me. I was going to weekly therapy, meeting bimonthly with a psychiatrist, hell – I was doing EVERYTHING I was suppose to and despite that, my mind was still being devoured by mental illness. That’s when my mom started searching the web in hopes of finding something – ANYTHING – that could get me back up on my feet. She ended up discovering a class on mindfulness meditation that was being held at a nearby hospital. Within a couple of weeks, I started the class and was given the book “Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation” by the instructor. Every week, we read a few chapters, discussed what we read, and then worked on meditating in class with the help of the instructor. I cannot tell you how much this book as helped me. It even comes with a CD so you can listen to some guided meditations and practice! I would HIGHLY recommend getting this book and bringing it with you to read in treatment. Not only will it give you something to do during those LONG hours of downtime, it will also help you find ways to cope with the stresses of getting you eating disorder into remission.
Now that we’re on the topic of books, let me tell you about “The Rumi Daybook.” This book contains a poem and teaching for every single day of the year by the Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, a 13th century poetic, theologian, and Sufi mystic. His beautiful poems are always laced with a level of wisdom that is so incredible, it is almost otherworldly. If I am struggling, I have always found that taking the time to open this book and to read one of Rumi works allows me to calm down and be at peace with myself.
Remember how I was telling you about how much mindfulness meditation has helped me? Well, here’s the set of CDs I use all the time to practice meditation! The maker of these CDs, Jon Kabat-Zinn, is actually executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Not only has he written several books on the practice of mindfulness meditation, he is also the author of many intriguing scientific papers on the clinical use of meditation in medicine and healthcare. So my skeptical friends be rest assured that this guy is legit and you have my word that his guided meditation CDs have been one of the most helpful tools in my battle against my eating disorder and anxiety.
5. CD Player
I’m guessing you saw this coming since I have already suggested two items that involve or are CDs. Plus, most (if not all) treatment facilities are against patients bringing in electronic devices that have a camera so if you are going to want to listen to music, your iPod or iPhone is just not going to cut it. Personal CD players are pretty cheap and you can easily order one on Amazon.
6. Ear Plugs
I firmly believe that ear plugs are essential when it comes to eating disorder treatment. If you have ever been to treatment, you know they can be loud – obnoxious nurses who can’t seem to shut their mouths, patients yelling when staff members inform the patient that they do in fact have to clean their plate or drink an Ensure, patients fighting among each other, the list of noisy situations just goes on and on. If you want to relax while in treatment, I highly suggest you find yourself some high-quality noise-canceling ear plugs. Believe me, they are sanity-savers. (PS. MY FAVORITE ARE MACKS SNORE BLOCKER EARPLUGS!!!!)
7. Knitting Supplies
Knitting is something that I find incredibly therapeutic. It forces your mind to focus on something else than ED thoughts and obviously, that comes in handy when you are fighting an illness as vicious as an eating disorder. Don’t know how to knit? No problem! There are several awesome knitting kits you can order on Amazon.
8. Adult Coloring Books
Coloring isn’t just for hyperactive toddlers who lack fine motor skills anymore, it’s for us big kids too! Nothing is more stress relieving then listening to some relaxing music and coloring some mandalas or intricate patterns! You can easily find TONS of beautiful adult coloring books with stunnning intricate patterns on Amazon or at your nearest craft store. Even big name bookstores like Barnes & Nobel have a wide range to choose from! Now if you are like me and have that thrifty gene, there are several ways you can make your own FREE coloring book. Just Google “adult coloring pages” on Google Images and copy the images into Microsoft Word or Google Slides (when you set up your google slide, make the slide 8.5in x 11in so that it cover the whole page when you print your book). There’s also some pretty awesome websites that have great printable coloring pages. Here’s a list of my favorites!
9. TONS AND TONS OF COLORED PENCILS
Obviously, you are going to need a wide variety of high-quality colored pencils if you are going to spending your downtime coloring! I absolutely LOVE Prismacolor Colored Pencils because their colors are so rich, but their price tag is not wallet-friendly. Crayola has a pack of 50 colored pencils for around $15 on Amazon and those work just as well too 🙂 .
10. A Journal
There will be days in treatment that are incredibly rough and you’re going to need to vent. Journals are the best for that because you will not tell you to “challenge your eating disorder thoughts” or to “think more postively” – it’s an inanimate object that is guaranteed to keep it’s mouth shut. The only thing that I recommend about getting a journal is to make sure you get one with some form of a lock. Why? Well, for starters there are patients that are what I call “nurse’s pets” – they basically scout out the unit ready to report to the nurses on any ED behavior. Secondly, a lot of treatment centers will actually READ YOUR JOURNALS and I do not care how many times they say it is for patient safety, it’s an invasion of privacy and there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Now that you know of the tens things you need to stuff in that suitcase of yours before you head on out, get packing!