Reflecting on the past few months: severe anorexia nervosa and subsequent abuse in a hospital

I guess this is a story of how I got better from anorexia nervosa, in a nutshell.  It’s not a pretty story about a horse farm.

While cleaning out my computer today, I opened a few old video files and watched them.  One was done not long before I entered the hospital last summer, and the other was shot only a few days after my return.

I am not at all surprised at what I saw. Before the hospital I was rather “out of it,” seeing as I was starved, rather spaced out and in my own little world.  I didn’t talk about starvation at all, but of course I appeared rather shockingly thin.  I didn’t show my full body but it’s quite clear just looking at my face.  I never look like that unless I’m “bad off.”

However, I appear to be enjoying myself.  I showed some of my belongings to the camera, dumb little things, then picked the cam off the computer and showed the viewer a peek at little Puzzle.  I laugh frequently, too, and seem surprisingly carefree considering that in the back of my mind, I assumed it wouldn’t be long before I would drop dead.  Also in the back of my mind I was panicked thinking that at some point, I might get “caught” at what I was doing, and sent to a hospital. I was scared, because I’d been abused before, so I had no intentions of showing up at one again.

So what were my options? I figured my two choices were to get “help” or die.  I dreaded what I’d seen of “help” and didn’t want to put myself through all that. So I figured death was the better option.

I hadn’t considered the alternative: eat.  Yes, eat.  That would have solved everything. I guess if I’d realized just how badly I needed to avoid hospitalization on all costs, I would surely have seen things differently.  I knew hospitals were bad, but my experience  that began perhaps a week later, August 12 through 22nd, at Mount Auburn Hospital was by far a worse nightmare than I could ever have imagined.

The other video I am doing from my bed. I was so physically ill after the hospital that I could barely do anything except lay in bed and cry.  I was told to go to a day program, but this was out of the question because I had so much edema in my lower body.  It went right up from my huge feet to my bra line.  You could make dents all the way up my legs, on my buttocks and even into my stomach. The kidney doctor said he wanted me in a lying down position with my legs raised high, at every moment I had that I didn’t have to be doing something else. This isn’t the same as “bed rest,” as it’s known, when a patient is instructed not to leave bed due to dangerously low blood pressure or another danger.  I wasn’t in that kind of danger like that, but I was instructed to lay down to reduce edema.

I was also feeling very sick when I did the video.  After all, I was recovering from acute renal failure.  It takes a long time to get better after that.

But there was one more thing I noted that in fact overwhelmed me.  This was the loss of dignity I felt following the horrendous abuse done to me in the hospital. You can’t undo that loss overnight.  I was alternately tearful, shaken, and full of rage.  I was also physically exhausted.  You can see that the incidents of abuse are still playing like movies inside my head.  I appear ed distracted and pummeled by these memories, and I had a lot of trouble putting a sentence together.

This, to me, is tragic. Sure, I had a lot of weight restored, but the damage from trauma ran deep.

Today, I don’t feel those things half as much.  I was crying all the time after the abuse, and to make things worse, there was no one I could talk to about it. People couldn’t believe a top notch hospital could be a prison like that if someone is being treated for a serious medical condition.  I was not in there for psychiatric treatment, and in fact received no counseling.  I was only force-drugged.  I was belittled by a majority of the Mount Auburn personnel.

One thing helped me, though, and I can see this clearly now.  I was determined to meet others that had also been abused in hospitals.  I knew I hadn’t made up or imagined or incorrectly perceived what had happened.

Most people have the capability to distinguish caring from abuse.  No way were these abusive personnel doing acts of caring. This was abuse.   I have never questioned my judgment here.  Not once have I questioned the validity of my perception of what happened at MGH in 2011.

Some were convinced I was psychotic and “imagining things”…of course not. I wasn’t so “out of it” from starvation not to recognize abuse.  I was a good girl and took an antipsychotic as instructed for a period following the abuse at MGH, and yet I continued to maintain everything I originally said, that I had been cruelly abused.  Why should I not? All of it indeed happened and no pill will change the facts.

Now we know about the severe abuses masterminded by Boston Children’s Hospital and Child Protective Services, I think more people are waking up to the fact that this indeed can happen. If it happens to vulnerable children, then surely, it happens plenty to adults.

It was the answer for me to find others that had had this experience.  Together, we are working to make these horrors stop.  Today, I don’t look like I did in the first video, because I am not starved.  Nor do I look so devastated as I did in the second video.  I am able to lead a productive life again, but it has taken time.

I have joined forces with the antipsychiatry movement and I don’t ever intend to see another shrink of any type, ever.  I love the new person that I have become. I am free of mental health care.  I am the rebel kid I always was inside.  I am a former girl hitch-hiker who loves her dog, nothing more.

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on the past few months: severe anorexia nervosa and subsequent abuse in a hospital”

  1. I am really lucky because when I was fifteen and entered high school a friend of mine told me “high school sucks, do what you have to do, but whatever you do do not get caught. You’ll think that if you get hospitalized they’ll help you, but no, they’ll make you a lot worse and I know people who weren’t suicidal before going and are now.” I managed to structure all of my “mess” around not getting sent to one. It really is awful, though, because I think it’s natural to think “the hospital will be a place where I can rest and get access to people who understand and can help” but from what I’ve heard that’s not so true.

    1. Yes, all true. You get great advice from friends. Do consider the source. You are a better judge of people as you age, so you will know if someone’s “advice” is something you can use or politely toss aside. No matter how “loving” the friend is, if the person has learned to lie their way through life as a way to survive, their advice is not to be trusted either. All we can do is hope they will learn a better way to live. People criticize me because I am “too honest.” I’m not about to change that one!

Feedback and comments welcome!