I've been home for almost a week and the transition has not been easy. I cried the first couple of nights in my apartment. I was lonely. I was triggered. I was reminded of all the times when I was SO SICK and into the eating disorder.
I felt completely overwhelmed. I missed the girls that I met in New York and I missed my treatment team. As much as I wanted to get out of the inpatient unit, when I got home, I weirdly longed to go back.
Transitioning from 24/7 care to living independently in a different city made me question whether or not I was going to continue with recovery.
I am starting to feel a little more settled, though. I bought some accessories for my kitchen to make the space feel a little more inviting. I made the effort to see family and friends and be social. I am looking after my apartment and myself. I am gearing myself up to start work (full-time!) in a couple of days.
In honour of finally being discharged from an inpatient unit, and in order to make me realize that real life has got to be a lot better than hospital life, I decided to make a list of ALL OF THE BENEFITS of being home (and not in treatment). The list may have kind of a silly tone but LET'S BE REAL - I'll take any advantages I can to motivate me to stay out of treatment again.
I CAN USE MY PHONE
Due to confidentiality reasons, we were not allowed to use our phones on the unit. I had to share one of the three computers during the day to check emails and social media, and was only allowed to use my iPad for a couple of hours in the evenings. Once I got to a certain privilege level, I was able to use my phone for an hour every day in the building, but let's be honest - an hour a day is not enough! So, now, I am able to text and call and chat as I please and IT FEELS GOOD.
I CAN SHAVE
Being in a psychiatric institute meant that many of my items were confiscated in order to protect myself and everybody else on the unit. This meant: NO RAZORS. I was stuck using Nair hair removal cream for three months. I shaved for the first time today, and let me just say, it was AMAZING.
I CAN EAT IN FRONT OF THE TV
Sure, maybe eating in front of the television is not the most classy thing to do. But you know those rainy, cold mornings where all you want to do is curl up with a cup of coffee and your breakfast and just Netflix and chill? I am DEFINITELY taking advantage of that now.
I DON'T HAVE TO ASK ANYONE TO USE THE BATHROOM
No, I'm not kidding. If I had to use the bathroom within the hour after meals and snacks, I had to ask a staff member to bring me to the shared bathroom and was also required to keep the door ajar so that they could monitor any eating disorder behaviours. Yes, this was certainly helpful and important during treatment, but it really feels good to be able to use the bathroom when I please.
I CAN DRINK COFFEE WHENEVER AND WHEREVER
For those of you who know me well, you will understand my love for coffee. In New York, we were served one small caffeinated cup of coffee with breakfast, and the coffee with lunch and dinner was decaf. I mean, I was thankful that I had the chance to enjoy a hot beverage with meals. But sometimes I crave a cup of (caffeinated!) coffee or tea in the afternoon AND NOW I CAN HAVE IT.
I CAN GO OUTSIDE ANYTIME I WANT
Being on a locked unit was tough. If I made weight, AND completed all my meals, I was allowed outside (accompanied by a staff member) four times a day. Which was nice, sure. But being there in the summer (and being a sun-worshipper) made it difficult to come back inside on those beautiful days. Also, going outside was contingent on making weight. And there were times when I did not make weight. In fact, twice during my stay, my weight plateaued for days and I was stuck inside. Sometimes, even if you do everything right, you don't make weight and that is beyond frustrating, especially when it means you can't leave the unit.
I DON'T HAVE TO GET WEIGHED THREE TIMES A WEEK
I am a morning person, and generally don't mind waking up at 6:30am. But waking up at 6:30am to step on the scale? Thanks, but I'll pass.
To be honest, it wasn't all bad. Despite all the challenges and obstacles I faced there, I had some fun times. I had moments where I laughed harder than I ever have in my life. I met some amazing people. The staff were helpful beyond measure and are completely irreplaceable.
But the truth is, hospital life isn't real life. I have a lot of work to do in terms of my recovery and I know that. I'm aware. So, when times are tough, I just need to remind myself of all of the benefits and advantages of being home.
Thank you to all of you who have supported me during this transition.