Released From Treatment

I’m back!

Friday was my last day in inpatient. I was there for four weeks, and home seemed like a strange place when I got there.

It’s always intimidating going to a new place, but I was beyond nervous. I’d never been in eating disorder treatment before. Other psych admissions, yes, but not for my eating disorder. My head was filled with fears about the program and if it would actually help me at all. My ED thoughts were running through my head like elephants in a stampede.

I took a breath and walked in the building with my father. I checked in, said bye to my dad, and went to the unit.

It’s always scary going to a new place, but this place looked promising. There were two rooms, one for adolescents and one for adults. We called it the milieu. We spent all of our free time there.

There were many rooms in our unit. You could easily get confused on where to go. Turn one way, you find the dining rooms and therapy rooms, turn the other and you get more therapy rooms and the sleeping area.

When in the milieu, we would color, write, talk, and watch movies. Stickers were a big thing, and when I got some in the mail, I was quite popular for a bit. We watched several good movies, but I am now obsessed with The Greatest Showman. I am listening to the soundtrack as I write this.

The first week you are there, you are woken up at 4 am to get your blood sugar checked. Your blood is taken each day. After you get your blood work done every day, you then get it done every Monday.

We had several groups. Four a day, not including goals group. The main expressive therapy groups were a variety of occupational therapy ones, music, art, and movement. We also had more in depth groups. Thursday was known as Therapy Thursday. We had Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). We’d end the day with a fun group. We also had nutrition groups.

I had a doctor and a therapist. We met with the doctor daily. She helped me a lot and I often said that I wanted to bring her home with me.

I also met with my therapist twice a week, once for individual and once for family.

I only met with the dietitian a couple of times, mostly to give me papers to look at.

My favorite therapy session I had there was my individual with the music therapist. She began to teach me the ukelele, including learning the chords to the first verse and chorus of Defying Gravity from Wicked.

Now, what’s the most important part of eating disorder treatment?

The food!!!

The first three days you are given meals you did not choose. It is already chosen for you. They were all bland meals. After your third day,you get to choose your meals. You would choose ahead of time by filling out menus during nutrition groups. We had meal plans that helped frame what you should circle on your menu. Then each meal time, we would get the paper we chose our food on. We would sit at our tables and be called up to go in the cafeteria. We would get our hot items from the lady behind the counter. Then we would get our cold items and drinks from the refrigerator area. Then we would go up to an area that had three stations. We would fill up our cups, cut food, and open wrappers in front of a staff member who would check to make sure we were getting everything on our paper.

Meal times were hard. The first couple weeks, I was not finishing my meals. I did not eat as I should and had difficult thoughts.

If you don’t finish your meals, you had to drink 1 or 2 Ensures, based on how much you ate.. There were days I was drinking up to 4 Ensures, because I wasn’t finishing my meals. I tried most days, but I’ll admit there were days I just wouldn’t eat. I was fighting with myself, and the eating disorder liked to think it could win, and for a long time, I was letting it. As the weeks went on, I ate more food and drank less Ensures.

I was completing! I was eating most everything. In the last two weeks, I only had to drink three Ensures, opposed to drinking three a day.

The staff was fantastic. They were always there to talk, help you, or distract you. We played many games during meals, mostly trivia. It definitely helped distract me from the meal.

Once you start completing, you feel like a different person. You are stronger and your mind works better. The ED thoughts are definitely still there, but food isn’t as scary now. I am following the same meal plan at home.

We had several opportunities to try new things. On Wednesday, we had therapeutic lunch. We had anything from quiche, to Indian food, to a pasta bar, to a cheesesteak. It would come with a salad and fruit, and sometimes something else. The adults chose the main meal and the adolscents chose the desert. We had mochi, fruit tarts, and key lime pie, and one more I can’t remember.

Tuesdays were OT snack, which means we made our own snack based on what was voted on. I had dirt or sand cups, graham cracker sandwiches, and trail mix.

Saturday nights were therapeutic snacks, which were just snacks that could be fear foods. There were cookies, chips and dip, and candy bars.

In treatment for an eating disorder, it is inevitable that we will be comparing ourselves to others. It’s not healthy, but it happens. I would compare myself to the really skinny girls. One instance of this was when I saw another patient’s weight that was much lighter than me. The purging thoughts tried to take over.

We had a couple patients that clearly needed more help, as they were purging in the hallways. The red cleanup bag became a source of anxiety

You definitely get close to the other patients, especially because you are with them from 8:15 am and 9:30 pm. You definitely get to know each other, which can be good or bad. There were arguments and a lot of talking about others. These showed up on weekends the most.

Weekends were slow. We had two groups on Saturday, and one on Sunday. The rest of the time was downtime. We did things like painting our nails or karaoke. Karaoke was super fun as we’d just scream the lyrics all together, reading them off of the staff’s rolling laptop. Laughter filled the room. I’m so mad I slept through the last singing session.

However, when 12 people are together for hours at a time, stress levels rise and people get upset. There was yelling. There were many tears. There was a lot of gossip. I tried to stay away from the nonsense, but in a place like that, there is nowhere to go.

One rule I did not like was having to be seated at all times. If we were not in line for something, you would be expected to be seated. There were even seats in the medication line. One mental health worker told a patient on the phone that if she didn’t sit down, the staff member would disconnect the call. I guess they don’t want us exercising or moving too much, but still….

When discharge is getting close, my brain was terrified. It didn’t know if I should be happy to be healthy, or if I should give in to my ED urges and stay sick. Luckily, I was able to push the negative thoughts to the side and focussed on how I can be healthy at home.

Leaving treatment can be as anxiety provoking as entering, but for different reasons. When you enter, you are worried about the program, nervous about meeting people, and curious about how you are going to begin recovery. When you leave, you worry about preventing relapse, following the meal plan, and being in the outside world again, where food television shows and pictures were not allowed, and you don’t have someone checking in on you every 15 minutes.

The little things were a big part of me returning home. I can flush the toilet on my own. I can drink when I want. I can STAND!

Now that I am home, I plan on using all my skills and actually talking to my parents and therapist before things get to crisis levels.


It’s time to live a healthy life


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Writer of many subjects, poet at heart. I work with the elderly but have a childlike mind. Expect the unexpected, because even I don't know what's coming