This Is Not A Vacation
I'm in New York City. One of the world's fashion capitals, home to an amazing theatre district, and flooded with some of the best restaurants in existence. But this is not a fun trip. This is not a vacation. This city will be my home for the next couple of months, but I will be living on the fourth floor of a psychiatric institute.
"Why are you nervous?". People ask me this time and time again. "You've been there before". Or, "you'll be in the best city in the world! You're lucky!". I am lucky in the sense that the treatment centre I am going to has agreed to take me for the third time. But my luck ends there. I WISH I was in New York City for vacation. I wish I could have coffee and explore and take Instagram-worthy pictures. But that's not what life will look like for this next little while. I will be on an inpatient unit; unable to go outside when I want to, and forced to do some of the hardest work I've ever done. I will have to eat and gain weight.
Eating disorder recovery is not a walk in the park. During my hospitalization, I will need every ounce of strength I have to fight against the voices in my head telling me to not eat. Telling me that I'm gaining weight too fast. Telling me that I look fat and disgusting and unworthy of love. I will have to wake up at 6:30 am to get weighed and then head to the dining room where I will need to eat the kinds of foods that I fear and have avoided for so long. And not just eat - I will have to deal with my body changing. Everything will get bigger. And it's in these moments that I will feel like I have lost control. I will want to run and flee but I won't be able to because I'm on a locked unit.
I will cry and scream and wish for the weight gain to just STOP. But if I stop eating I won't be allowed outside. And what makes it harder is that I will also be away from every comfort of home; friends, family, my living room, my bed. I will instead have to follow strict and specific rules that include things like not being able to go to the bathroom when I want.
There will be moments when things get so bad that I will jeopardize my health and my treatment plan by convincing myself that I need to leave and return home as soon as possible. But I will stick with it. I will complete treatment. I will get to my goal weight and abide by the rules. And I will do all this because I want a better life for myself. I want more than my eating disorder.
So next time you think that I'm lucky to be taking time off work so I can be in New York City, please think again. And if you think I'm lucky because I can permit myself to eat so much delicious food, you're wrong. Every bite I take is a struggle and every pound I gain feels like the end of the world. But it's the only way to go. There's no holding back - I am in this for the long haul. So bear with me while I embark on the fight of my life.