If you have listened to my audio posts, you might have a clue how I feel right now.
Or maybe you don’t.
Before I left the hospital, I took some time alone and just stood by the window and looked out. I looked out over the parking lot and up at the sky. It’s decent out. Not raining for a change, not even overcast on my day of discharge. I put my things together so that I could easily get them into my suitcase when the staff got it to me. It suddenly dawned on me that I had brought with me very few belongings, and had lived on very little material possessions of my own for a month in this place. All had been provided for me.
I began to weep.
Yes, all had been provided, and more. I came into the hospital determined not to let anyone or anything take my eating disorder away from me. No, no one took anything from me. There were no thieves there except for an occasional caffeine-starved patient who took my tea off my tray when I didn’t show up for a meal on time.
I came to the hospital wanting a quick fix. I wanted to stop the binge cycle and then go right back out and starve myself again. I wanted to lose all the weight I had gained from bingeing, and then keep on losing even if I died. But I wasn’t thinking in those terms. I had no hope, no future.
Today, leaving the hospital is just the beginning of that future I didn’t think I’d ever have. I believe that this relapse that began in 2008, over three years ago, the worst bout of anorexia nervosa I’ve ever had in my life, has finally turned a corner.
I do this for me. I had to do it to save my own life. Nearly dying in July didn’t stop me. But while in the hospital this time I reached a level of insanity that brought me to the point that the doctor told me I required long-term care in the state hospital. If any of you have ever been in a state hospital, you know that those places aren’t really hospitals at all, but prisons.
That, readers, was The End Of Life As I Knew It. Because many people with anorexia might feel as I did, or might understand why I felt the way I did: that I’d rather starve to death than to have my life taken from me by incarceration in a state hospital.
One of the staff told me that I had to fight back. Then they all said the same thing: You Can Do It.
So at 4:30 in the morning on September 15, I walked up to the night staff sitting at the desk, and with a tremble in my heart, mustered up all the strength and courage I had, and asked: “Can I have a glass of orange juice?” Believe me, it was a lot easier drinking it than it was asking for it. And that was just the beginning.
This morning, I had my last meal at the hospital. I had two pancakes. I asked the staff to give me some peanut butter. I had special privileges to get anything out of the kitchen that I want (I had to get a dr’s order for that). I spread the peanut butter on the pancakes, then spread applesauce on top, then sliced a banana on top of the applesauce, cut everything up into pieces, and ate it up without a thought.
And no, it isn’t always that easy. I asked the staff not to expect too much of me. So they didn’t. They watched me eat, and wrote down what I ate at every meal. I got used to it. Sometimes, it was a comfort. I also got accustomed to having to sit right by the video monitor in the dining room.
When I started eating again, I chose to take myself off the meal plan. This way, I could make choices that were more palatable to me. Otherwise, I would have had to eat scrambled eggs every single day for breakfast. The staff weren’t too pleased that I’d done this. After that, I got real creative with the limited selections on the menu. If you’re going to stay 26 days in a hospital and still eat, you don’t have much choice.
Before I left, I wrote a grocery list for myself. On the way home, I stopped at the stores I needed to go to so that I would have the things I needed to make meals for the next couple of days.
I will be satisfied. I will no longer be empty of life and joy and hope. There is no point in burying myself in my eating disorder any longer, because I choose not to.
And yes, I fight off the urge to starve myself and lose weight constantly throughout the day and night. I fight off the urge to skip meals or cut back on my food. I had to fight it at the hospital and I imagine it will be doubly hard here at home.
But it’s over. It’s over. It’s over. I stepped into daylight for the first time in 26 days this morning. I know I have a huge task ahead of me now.
Come, follow me into the light.