You’ve found the best eating disorder treatment center, packed your suitcase to point where you are still shocked you got it to close, and now you are off – off to spend the next couple of weeks or months literally fighting for your life.
Currently the relapse rate for anorexic patients ranges from 9% to 65%, with the highest rate of relapse occurring during the first four to twelve months after treatment. For bulimia sufferers, the numbers are just as frightening. Within six months of receiving treatment, 30% to 50% of bulimics will relapse. Now we all know that relapses occur for many different reasons, but I would argue that one reason a person falls back into their disease is that they didn’t taken advantage of everything their treatment center had to offer. So in this post, I am going to tell you the three things I wish I had been told on how you can get the most out of eating disorder treatment.
1. Remission Never Occurs through Osmosis
If you want to get into remission, you must take some accountability and play an active role in your treatment. Would you expect to get rid of an ear infection by just standing by a bottle of antibiotics? Of course not! Then please tell me why you would expect to get your eating disorder into remission by just passively sitting through groups, hiding things from your treatment team, and not completing CBT and DBT homework? You have a disease that can and will kill you if you don’t step up. Now is the time to harness every ounce of strength and courage you have and fight for your life.
2. Sickness is NOT a Competition
The one thing I remember the most about my stints in residential and inpatient was the constant competition between the patients to be the sickest. If one person said they didn’t eat for two days straight, another patient would chime in and proclaim that they didn’t eat for three. When you go to eating disorder treatment, never enter this toxic tournament. You are in treatment get well and regain all that your eating disorder has stolen from you, not to brag about your life-threatening fasts and the amount of time you spent nearly killing yourself on the treadmill.
3. Don’t Play a Role in the Soap Opera
When you’re a patient at a treatment facility, you are living in close quarters for quite a bit of time with a bunch of other people. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that this is the perfect recipe for drama so intense that it would make even the Kardashians look relatively normal. It is incredibly easy to be consumed by it, but remember, every single moment you spend playing a role in treatment center drama, is a moment you lost working towards getting well. Don’t let drama derail your path to remission! Focus on yourself and yourself only!
The once blue sky laid buried underneath a mound of thick black clouds as I sat at the kitchen table, my brain throbbing as I attempted to finish the last pieces of my calculus homework. When I was young, this wasn’t how I imagined celebrating my 18th birthday. I had once had this fairy tale-like fantasy that on this momentous day, both of my parents would be home and I would have a mountain of birthday cards and gifts to open.
But fairy tales never come true, that why they’re called tales in the first place. As usual, my mom’s job had kidnapped her and whisked her away to some other part of the country. My little sister was in her room spending her hours watching sub par YouTube makeup tutorials, like every other vanity-obsessed teenage girl. Oh and my dad, he was sitting on his leather throne in the living room, his weary blue eyes glued to the pages of my old photo album and his face taken over by grief.
“I want Claire back” my dad said, the mournful tone of his voice weighing heavy in the air.
I turned my gaze away from my calculus book and towards him, my heart aching from the painful blow I had received from his words. I wanted to become defensive and shout back at him that his little “Claire Bear” had never left, that she had always been right here!
But my friends, that would be nothing but a lie.
The happy, adventurous Claire my dad’s heart thirsted for had perished many years ago, when a ruthless brain disease raged through her mind like a vicious cancer. With each passing day, the disease took more and more of her. Her personality began to fade away, her social skills weakened until she morphed into an emotionless hermit, her creativity and intelligence vanished into thin air, and her ability to eat . . . well that was just completely lost.
That barbarous disease, known to the world as anorexia nervosa, had left just a shell of my dad’s beloved Claire . . . it had left just a shell of me.
Like many other people stricken with anorexia nervosa, I could have let that shell of mine perish just like every other part of me did. But I didn’t. Instead, I started the slow process of filling my empty shell with the things anorexia had robbed me of. I began to rediscover my likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams and with that new information, I gradually pieced together my personality. My social skills began to improve and I started forming relationships. And bit by bit, I began to rely less on tube feeds and Ensures and began to regain my ability to eat. Grant it, I have a hell of a long way to go. Every single day, I still struggle to fight against my anorexia and there are many days when that damn disease seems to win. But despite all the psychological agony anorexia puts me through, I continue to rebuild myself and I don’t plan on stopping until I can finally say I am no longer under construction.
What I don’t think my dad realizes is that the pre-anorexia Claire that he remembers is no more. Now he has a new Claire. Sure this new Claire may be a tad bit broken. She gets anxious and keeping her weight up is still an everyday battle, but I can guarantee that she has a hell of a lot more strength and courage than the old Claire ever did. She made it through multiple hospitalizations and came out the other side ready to fight and advocate for other ED patients.
So many other parents of a child with an eating disorder seem to go through the same thing my dad is going through right now. They want their child back, the child that never had an eating disorder. Because of that, they push their sick child way beyond their limit. They force them to tackle tasks they are not yet ready for (like eating a piece of cake or pie for example), causing the child to slip further into their disease in order to cope with the horrific amount of stress that task caused. These parents fail to accept where their child is at and hold the past in a death grip. What these parents need to do is throw all of their expectations in the trash and let go of who their child was. Right now, all they should and need to focus on is the present and supporting their sick child as they battle a misunderstood disease that kills far too many people.
Well everyone, I need a little bit of your assistance.
For my math class, we were told to design and administer a survey in order to collect data on something we have interest in. As an eating disorder sufferer for most of my life, I decided to create a survey that allowed me to gain further insight into the potential triggers of anorexia and bulimia.
I ended up designing a survey that looks to see if there is any correlation between GERD (also known as “acid reflux”) and the two main eating disorders – anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Currently I am in need of more data. With that being said, if you have been diagnosed with GERD/Acid Reflux, Anorexia, OR Bulimia, please click on the link to my survey and take it. It will literally take you two minutes or even less to complete. Also, after you take the survey, be sure to share the link with others who have GERD/Acid Reflux, Anorexia, and Bulimia. The more people who take the survey, the more accurate my findings will be 🙂
Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/forms/GoUyIlqxyP
Well everyone, the time is here! It’s finally Eating Disorder Awareness Week and to start the week off, I made a the Q&A video I promised all of you in my last video. Hopefully you enjoy it and make sure to write some suggestions in the comment box below for new videos that you want to see or new blog post topics you want to read!
Have a great day everyone!
I made this picture because I really do think eating disorders are illnesses that are misunderstood by the majority of the population. Too many people think ED sufferers engage in behaviors by choice in order to achieve our nation’s current “thin ideal”. FYI folks, eating disorders are . . .
1) NOT the result of vanity.
2) NOT an illness that someone chooses to have.
3) NOT something that should be made fun of or not taken seriously. Would you make a joke about a person who is dying from cancer, a genetic condition, or another life-threatening physical condition? Then why is it even remotely humorous to judge or to make fun of someone who is dying from an eating disorder?