Written by: Ryan K
Originally posted: 10/08/2015
Have you ever sucked it up, turned off Gilmore Girls and put on some non-PJs to meet up with your friends because you knew the next day at brunch they would be recapping THE BEST NIGHT EVER? Social media isn’t just a glorified highlight reel; it’s also a major cause of FOMO aggravation. But what you can’t tell from that Instagram photo is everyone is mad at each other and then they all get mugged.
Er, hopefully not.
Going to residential treatment was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it was also BY FAR the most difficult. Who the hell wants to go on medical leave from work and tightrope walk two million miles away from comfort? TRICK QUESTION. Nobody. But sometimes the toughest decisions change everything.
For anyone cautiously debating the idea of giving up freedom to live with strangers and be told what to do, I’ve put together some FAQs so you can see how I finally decided my life is worth saving.
Q: Honestly, I don’t even know if I have an actual problem. I might not?
A: I was awesome at convincing myself of this for a very long time, but chances are if you are questioning whether or not you have a problem, you probs got a prob. Why spend more time contemplating what to do while the illness further infiltrates your life? It’s never too late, but studies show higher rates of successful recovery for those with less ED tenure under their belt. I wish someone told me that a long time ago.
Q: So you’re saying nobody mentioned anything about your behaviors before? If they did, would you have gone to treatment right away?
A: Ha ha. No. Anyone who had the balls to say something to me was sucker punched. Not literally. WTF?? I am FINE. I don’t have a PROBLEM. Mind your own BUSINESS. Denial, thou art the most worthy accomplice. My hope for others is to not fight the instincts if something doesn't feel right. Hopefully with more awareness and less stigma, people will be less reluctant to ask for help.
Q: Residential care, though? Eh. Sounds inconvenient.
A: Back in April to some of my best supports from Walden, I confessed that I feared I may need resi, but that it’s just sooo inconvenient. One girl responded, “No offense, but so is death.” Touché, my friend. Touché. I’m sure death is slightly more inconvenient than medical leave, but the truth is there is no good time to go to treatment, or to make any other big life decisions for that matter. There just isn’t. If you’re waiting around for the “right time,” I really hope you brought a good book. A trilogy, maybe. Takes a lot of courage to stop everything and put yourself first but in the end, you’re all you’ve got.
Q: Literally nobody I know struggles with this. Nobody will understand.
A: Aside from one friend, I thought I was the only person in the world who struggled with this. Alllll by myselffffff. One is the loneliest number. Surprisingly, I learned that no, I am not the only person, and yes, people do understand what I go through. Like, really really understand. Like what’s wrong with you people? Others may not understand exactly, butwho doesn’t understand struggle? TRICK QUESTION. Nobody. I like trick questions. Anyway, you’d be surprised at how many people will be there if you let them in.
Q: What else helped you take the leap?
A: Slowly dying in the hospital helped. Funny to think I ended up at Brockton Hospital after a horrible commuter rail accident in 2011 (subsequently resulting in brain surgery), and then made my triumphant return during an aggressive relapse earlier this year. My reappearance happened only a few days after I went back to Walden for reevaluation and was told I need residential treatment but there were no beds available, so I should take medical leave and try partial hospitalization again. I liken this to having a severe open wound requiring stitches but the doctor dunno how to stitch so please come back and get a nice Sesame Street Band-Aid for a small fee. Brockton Hospital was also where I discovered my blood pressure and pulse were dangerously low. Really no bueno. Even then, I wasn’t sure about residential. I need to go to work! Work is very busy! At a family dinner a few nights after I left the hospital, my cousins encouraged me to check into the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center. But what about work?? OK so I’ve fucked up a lot of my relationships and am killing my body, but I do well at work! Yeah maybe for now, but that shit is not sustainable. The illness had already started slowly invading my professional life and it wouldn’t be long until I could no longer maintain my façade. Plus I really wasn't fooling anyone. I was afraid to let my team down but apparently I'm no good to anyone if I’m not around.
Q: OK … What would I tell people?
A: That, my friend, is a doozy and a half. I’ve been all over the map with this one, from not even letting myself in on the secret (#denial) to letting only one person know for a good five years to finally telling my family to now openly discussing my disorder all over the Interwebs. The decision is yours and you don’t owe anybody anything; do what feels right for you. As for work, I found the simple “I had a personal matter I had to focus on but everything is OK, thank you!” was plenty. People are generally respectful and sure, some may talk and gossip and all that garbage but that’s on them and doesn’t need to mess with your mojo.
Q: So are you cured?
A: Double down doozy. I believe that completely recovering from my eating disorder will be the most difficult challenge I will ever overcome in my entire life. I have yet to experience childbirth and all that jazz, but I don’t care; I’m sticking with ED recovery. I would love to tack on “but I’m all better now!” after announcing the disorder and make this a true success story, but I can’t honestly say I am completely better now. Despite making giant leaps and bounds of progress,I’m not quite there yet, but I will be. Recovery is possible for everyone. I am nowhere near the same place I was one year ago and I genuinely can’t wait to see what the next year will bring, one day at a time.
Q: Wait so I would take medical leave and go live in a treatment center and not be guaranteed recovery?
A: Does going to college guarantee a job? No, but you're better equipped to get one. Hopefully. I don’t believe anyone walks out after discharge completely healed, but most people are much better off. Despite not considering myself completely recovered (yet), I’ve learned so much about myself and how to productively tackle life’s challenges, ED-related or not. Now, I like myself again. I like life again. It's nice here. I think I'll stay a while.
Moral of the story: If you have to go to resi, don't be afraid of missing out; be afraid of what you'll miss if you don't.
Original post can be found at www.ryandoesresi.com.