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My Eating Disorder Story (Part 4): Finding Recovery For the First Time

Please click here if you missed Part 3.

In Part 3, I described my descent into the depths of my eating disorder. After I lost my job, I sunk even lower than I ever imagined I could. It brought me to a point where suicide seemed to be the only viable option.

Hitting rock bottom is not a pleasant place to be, but sometimes it’s the best place to be! When you’re that far down, it’s very humbling because you realize you can’t crawl out of the pit you’ve dug yourself into alone.

Asking for help was the first step I took on my long road to recovery.

Asking for help

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I can’t remember exactly how long it was between the time I dropped out of school (during my internship), and finally realizing I needed to ask for help. I think it was around 4 to 6 months.

During those long months, I basically just drifted through my days, bingeing, starving, and exercising. I felt so useless, without any purpose in life, and the suicidal voices in my head were getting louder and more insistent.

Throughout all that time I was still continuing to see my therapist, but I never told her about my suicidal thoughts. I can’t even remember if I really talked much about the ED and how bad it really was, but I did talk a lot about being depressed. I felt somewhat better after my weekly sessions, but as soon as I got home I immediately resumed my erratic eating behaviors.

“Asking for help was the first step I took on my long road to recovery”

Up to that point, I hadn’t talked about my problems with food to any friends or family. And I had become so depressed that I wasn’t even answering my phone anymore. One day, however, for some reason I picked up the phone when a family member called. I told her the truth about what was going on with me.

There are lots of people who do recover from their eating disorders by going to therapy, but in my case, it just wasn’t enough. I had gotten to a place where I was seriously considering suicide. I knew I needed to do something different, something extreme. I had a serious problem that required a serious solution.

Going into treatment

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The family member I confided in knew of a 12-Step eating disorders recovery home for women in my city. A spiritually-based treatment approach appealed to me much more than checking into a sterile hospital setting. Although I was suffering from a type of mental illness, I instinctively knew that my problems with food were primarily of a spiritual nature. The antidepressant medication I’d been on for a while had only been a band-aid, as had the weekly therapy appointments.

Later that week I went to meet with one of the intake counselors at the recovery home. She told me what the treatment program was like, and we discussed my situation. They had either outpatient or inpatient treatment options, and I decided I would do inpatient. I felt like I needed to be surrounded by recovery day and night; I no longer trusted myself to be alone with food.

I remember the counselor looking me directly in the eyes, and she asked if I was willing to go to any lengths for my recovery. It kind of scared me, because I wondered what I would have to do! But I knew that I was absolutely going to die from my ED if I didn’t stop what I was doing, and I knew I couldn’t stop on my own. So I took a deep breath and said “Yes, I am willing to go to any lengths”.

It turned out that going to any lengths for my recovery began that very moment! I found out there was one bed available for inpatient treatment, but they could only hold it for me for a week. My mind raced as I had to make a quick decision. How could I pack up my entire apartment and put my things in storage, in just a week’s time?

“I instinctively knew that my problems with food were primarily of a spiritual nature”

I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I decided this was what I needed to do. I was willing to go to any lengths, and I would do it somehow.

I also found out that they recommended a stay of at least 6 months, and up to a year for inpatient treatment. This probably sounds like a long time, and it is! But I can remember feeling relieved that I would have that long to focus on nothing else but recovering from this horrible eating disorder that had destroyed my life.

Getting ready

I knew I couldn’t possibly get all my belongings in order by myself in only a week. So I humbled myself again by asking another family member to help me. I spent the next week searching for moving boxes, and packing up as much of my stuff as I could.

That week went by in a blur, as I hurriedly packed things in boxes for storage, and decided which items I would need to bring with me to live at the recovery home. I remember having so many different thoughts and feelings during that week. It was a mixture of shame, sadness, fear, and apprehension, but also relief and the tiniest glimmer of hope.

The end of the week came, and the next morning I had to leave to check in at the treatment center. Thankfully, my family member agreed to take care of finishing things up at my apartment. She finished packing, arranged for the movers to come, got a storage unit for my stuff, and did the final cleaning of my apartment. I was so grateful for her help, because there was no way I could have done it all by myself!

Walking into the unknown

The next morning I loaded up my car with the clothes and personal items I would need for my extended stay at the recovery home. As I drove away from my apartment for the last time, so many thoughts and emotions swirled around in my mind.

I felt sad and disappointed in myself, how had I let this happen? I was a grown, 29-year-old woman who had lost the ability to think straight and take care of herself. Waves of deep shame came over me as tears rolled down my cheeks.

But even amidst the self-condemnation, feelings of excitement and hope began to stir. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I sensed that this experience was going to change me in a big way.

Part 5 is coming soon!

Please feel free to leave a comment or any questions below. Have you ever gone into a treatment center for your eating disorder? I would love to hear about your experience, and if you found it helpful or not.

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