For those of you who have never experienced an eating disorder, there’s one thing you need to know:
No one will trust you.
In their defense, it’s probably with good reason. Those with eating disorders are accustomed to making up excuses not to eat (or to eat too much), lying about eating, and generally fabricating a story around their lives that keeps those around them ignorant of what’s actually going on. It becomes a way of life, a behavior that you depend upon to keep others away so that you can continue the lifestyle you’ve become addicted to. I learned to lie well… just not well enough. I was fairly transparent. When you’ve spent your life being incredibly honest up until that point, you just don’t have the experience to be a good liar. But heck, I tried.
So for two weeks, I was constantly monitored by the nurses of Park Nicollet, never left alone or unsupervised. They made sure I was swallowing each bite of food, and I even had to sign an agreement not to cut myself or cause anyone else any physical harm. I went through the recovery program and did quite well up until the last few days, when they practically double your meal size. It has always bothered me how normal people have such an easy time eating because it became my own special hell seeing a dinner plate piled high with food being set in front of me. Even now, ten years later, I envy normal people. I dream of what it’s like to have a healthy appetite. I find myself wondering, “What does it feel like to have your clothes fit properly? How does it feel to have clothes that are too small for you?” I constantly get angry when people take for granted the ability to eat.
It took me about a year after I got out of the hospital to seek psychiatric treatment. I had a brief stint with it in the hospital, but it was nothing but a routine weekly evaluation. The discussion about getting on medication had come up, but my parents brushed the suggestion off. My family’s view of therapists and “crazy pills” was that they were only for extreme cases. They didn’t want my head messed up more than it already was, but after a year of creative imaginings on how I would kill myself, along with constant depression and sickness from anxiety, I made the decision to seek treatment. My doctor put me on an anti-depressant at the minimum dosage and sent a referral over to the local mental health center.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of my psychiatric treatment, but what I will tell you is:
- I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Anorexia Nervosa at the age of 17
- It wasn’t until after 18 that I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- I had two different rounds of therapy, and they were seven years apart
- I have had two different therapists, and I’ve changed my medications several times (3 of the changes have been in the past year)
- I am currently on my third round of therapy which I’m receiving from a counseling center that’s Christian-based (I find this approach much better and more tailored to my needs)
- My depression went from “slight” to “major depressive disorder” in the last year (from the month of August 2014 to January 2015), but has improved since I’ve started seeing my new therapist
- I’m currently on three prescribed medications, five vitamin supplements, and one allergy pill (this was up to ten a week ago because I’m apparently allergic to antibiotics); my dad watched me count out my pills one night and was like “Good grief! Your pill count is starting to look like mine!”
- I’m currently 85 lbs, but as I no longer starve myself, this is probably due to loss of bone mass from my treatments for endometriosis
I’m now 26, and I’ve gone through a lot of changes regarding my health. Though I’m not where I want to be as far as weight, I’m doing better since I quit my full-time job as an Assistant Manager. For most people, being unemployed would be an added stress, and I’ll admit it is a bit unnerving. But I’m so much better off without that job that I don’t worry too much. I know that God is looking out for me, and that He’ll lead me to the right fit for me. In the meantime, I’m keeping busy with this blog, gardening and trying to start up a proofreading gig on Fiverr.
There are still days where it is a struggle. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed or even move. I don’t enjoy things like I used to. I find it difficult to move or speak because I’m so exhausted with the weight of it all. So, no. I’m not “all better.” I don’t think there ever will be an “all better.” But I know that I can live a fulfilling life, one that isn’t weighted down by depression and disorder. I don’t know how far away it is. I don’t know exactly how to get there. It’s a journey, and it might be a long one. It probably will be. But I will get there.