Well, here I am, out of the hospital after a 26-day stay. I seem to be okay. It was my choice to spend the 26 days indoors without fresh air. I figured it would be too depressing to go outside without my dog, Puzzle, and to have to go outside “supervised.”
I was not on an inpatient eating disorders unit per se. I was in a psychiatric unit. This is kind of a unique situation, because the hospital is split up into two sections, the “eating disorders” section “across the hall,” and the “psychiatric” section, where I was. But there’s a lot of overlap of staffing, and patients are occasionally transferred from one ward to the other.
When I went in, I was refusing all eating disorders treatment. I refused to go “across the hall.” I went to the psych side only to get a quick fix and then go out and starve myself some more.
It wasn’t to be so. At first, they were going to let me go. I seemed to be improving. Well, that didn’t last. I don’t know what happened to me, but the obsession of the eating disorder really got hold of me. I was eating less and less. Insanity gripped me and I became paranoid. Finally, my treatment team met, and came to the decision that I required long-term care in the state hospital. This, as far as I was concerned, was worse than starving to death. I had thought I was at rock-bottom when I almost died in July, but right after that, I went right back to my eating disorder, right back into Hell. Now, faced with incarceration in a state hospital, I knew I was at the lowest of the low, and that life, as I knew it, would soon be over.
I have all this recorded in writing. Upon admission to the unit, I was handed a blank notebook, and told to write in it. Everyone is given a notebook and told to write. During my stay, I filled a notebook and a half–300 pages. So everything is documented. I would like to share some of what I have written with You, Dear Readers,. at some point.
I have it all documented how things turned out, how I came into the hospital with no intention of having my eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, taken away from me. I held onto it with every bit of desperation I had left in my starving body. No, it was not taken from me. No, I did not win any battles. All I did was to ask, as did Oliver Twist, for a morsel of nutrition at 4:30am on September 15, the day after they broke the news to me about the state hospital. And in asking for food, for fulfillment, for nourishment and guidance and protection and love, I was inviting my life back into me. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in a hospital, much more scary than actually drinking the orange juice. And that was the beginning of awakening for me, for returning to safety, to the earth, to sanity.
I ate from then on. I don’t mean I suddenly started eating ten-course meals. I mean I ate a little bit, then a bit more, and a bit more. You know, it isn’t easy. I fight off the urge to starve myself all day long. I think I even dream about losing weight and cutting down on my intake, or eating nothing at all. And now that I’m out in the “real world” I’m facing new challenges. I don’t even know what half of these will be yet. So far, for the first day, things have gone smoothly. I’ve been lucky. Or maybe I’ve just worked real hard at planning things out.
My “relapse” lasted from sometime in 2008 (like in the spring I think), and it’s still going on, but I see relief on the way. I have gained strength already. It is getting easier to eat. It is getting easier to be honest with myself. I have a greater understanding of how my mind works and how this disease has given me certain character traits; or, rather, that I have certain character traits suitable for anorexia nervosa to take hold…and grip hard. Much of this I have figured out on my own, just observing how I acted in various situations on the ward.
For my last meal in the hospital, I had pancakes. Me. Pancakes. I spread peanut butter on them, then spooned applesauce over the peanut butter. Then I sliced a banana on top of that. I cut it all into pieces. And without a thought, I ate it all up. What a great choice for a last meal. Some freshly ground coffee would have been nice, too….
I can hardly believe it’s only been a day that I’ve been out. It feels longer than that. I am doing my laundry right now. Earlier, I went to the library. It feels like a normal day. Yes, it’s a normal day, except for one thing: I’m not starving myself. And this, I think, is only the beginning of something fantastic.