My name is Emily.
On April 17th, I got admitted inpatient to a treatment center for anorexia nervosa.
But the story begins long before then. I have always struggled with weight fluxuations, body image, and wanting to loose weight and appear “fitter”. The first time that I lost a significant amount of weight I was 12. Although the weight came back fine, I was mentally ill. But nobody told me that.
I stayed a fine weight for several years, though I still struggled with an addiction to wanting to be “healthy”. To me, healthy meant eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Working out in any free moment. Eating tons of protein. And no fat.
I had convinced myself that this was a healthy lifestyle for many years. And those around me believed it. In the winter of 2013, things went downhill. While on a vacation to Disney World with an old friend of mine, I was too afraid to eat any of the fast food meals. I felt like I shouldn’t eat because I wasn’t working out (despite the fact that we were walking many miles a day). I saw my friend’s mom tell her daughter to “get a salad” and “look at Emily, she’s so healthy!”.
The sad part is, I believed her.
At this point in time, I was following the iifym diet and counted calories excessively. Before Disney World, I wasn’t necessarily restricting. Rather, I was watching what I ate with extreme attention. I was eating as little fat as possible and downing the protein and vegetables.
Soon after that vacation, I met my therapist. She was there for me when I would cry about how lonely I was at school. She was there for me when I told her about how I couldn’t stop. She was there for me when I would describe my nightly binge visits to the refridgerator. As annoying as those were, they probably saved me life. And she still is there for me.
But her help was not enough to stop that burning creature that occupied my mind. On April 17, 2014, I was admitted to the Eating Reccovery Center in Denver. I was diagnosed with restrictive type anorexia. I said goodbye to my mom.
When I entered that room full of other suffers. I denied the fact that I was ill. For nearly a week, I told my treatment team that I was not thin enough to be there. I was so wrong. But they were patient with me. And I am eternally greatful for that. They did not laugh at me.
My therapist origonally told me that I would be there for aroudn 3 weeks. Oh boy, I wish that was the case! I rarely had to supplement my meals with Boost. I never snuck an exercise session. But I was there for nearly 3 months.
The last 3 weeks of those three months were some of the best weeks of my life. In that time, I got admitted to the PHP program. I was able to stay with my mom in a hotel in Denver at night, and I would go to a day program at the center during the day.
I remember the night my mom picked me up from being inpatient. I stood in the doorway and hugged her. There was a strict no-touching rule at the center, and I have always been a hugger. We cried. Not sad tears. Not happy tears. Tears of pain. Tears of forgiveness. Everyone around me watched as we embraced eachother.
I went home at the begenning of July. I’m embaressed to say, that I miss the safety and comfort of the treatment center. There, I felt supported. I felt loved. I miss being underweight.
But I understand that I am in a new phase of recovery. I do not want to spend my life inside of hospital walls, sitting all day. Never seeing the sun. Never looking out of a window. There are other people that need that help more than me now. Because I am stronger than ever.
I do not believe that clean-eating or iifym are the best ways to find recovery. For me, those were what got my into the deepest point of my life. I may be guilty as charged, but I am trying to do more than maintain my weight. Although I am weight restored, I still struggle on a daily basis. Eating is hard. But I don’t want it to be.