At some point your body will give up. No longer will it be able to pump blood throughout your body-so you’ll swell, no longer will your heart be able to beat and function properly-so it will slow down and produce stabbing pains, no longer will you be able to walk up the stairs alone, or even get up from a seat without requiring help, in fear of blacking out.
So you experience all this and more, and then what? Well I, as I understand so do many others, knew I had to start increasing my calories, but still being sick I didn’t allow myself to eat much more than 500 calories daily while I tried to recover myself for about 3 weeks. The result, which is very common, was more weight loss which also meant more damage to my body. I had also developed huge fears of so many types of food, to the point where I would throw fits over them. And after I passed out at summer school the last straw had been drawn, in fear of losing their daughter, my parents staged an intervention at Bayridge Counselling Centre in Burlington, where I was sent straight to the children’s emergency in McMaster Children’s’ Hospital, to find myself admitted to the eating disorders ward within hours.
Not all sufferers require a hospital stay, but when your heartbeat is in the 20’s to 30’s in beat per minute and your body mass index is 13.4 the hospital is probably your safest choice to jumpstart your recovery. However the mental state of someone in the heat of their eating disorder will very likely be quite resilient to treatment, especially that taking place in the hospital where there is absolutely zero control on their part and a 100% likelihood of weight gain, “diminishing” all of an anorexic or bulimic’s hard work, their worst nightmare coming true. That is how I looked at it and from talking to other girls from across the world who’ve also been through an eating disorder, many patients would describe it quite similarly to how I do. So like I said before, often an intervention or something along those lines has to take place to get the person the help they need in order to save their life. In my case it was easier in the sense that when you’re under 18 years of age you cannot refuse treatment or discharge yourself against medical advice, believe me, I’d know considering I tried at least 3 times while being treated in the hospital. So an intervention is an easier way to get someone suffering from an eating disorder (or any mental illness) to get better.
I’ve given you a lot of facts and stuff about my own recovery, but for those currently struggling, in the height of your illness or teetering with recovering, I want to tell you why choosing recovery is the right choice!
Like anything worth having in life, recovery is not easy. There will be tears, arguments, and lots of fears. You’ll want to quit at times and yes, you very well may miss the control or being dangerously underweight, but all these feelings are temporary. Do you know what’s not temporary? Death. Or infertility, osteoporosis, or needing a pacemaker because your heart is unable to beat properly on its own anymore. Sure you might regret choosing to gain some [much needed] weight but do you know what you’ll regret more? Severing relationships because you refused someone’s offer to help or because you isolated yourself from everybody. Chose recovery so a year from now you can look back and say “I can’t believe that’s how I thought,” so you can realized how sick you were and how impaired you were, so you realize all the good times, smiles and laughter you missed, yet how many you’ve caught up on, so you can step out of the darkness for good. Do it so you can have the energy to go shopping and chase your dog around the street, so you can take advantage of everything you have at your fingertips and all the opportunities that come your way. So you can go out with friends and family and not stress about what will be on the menu-how many calories everything has, or how you’ll hide that you aren’t eating, do it for the normal, regular habits. Recover to erase the fear from your loved ones’ minds and hearts and recover so in 10 to 20 years when you wake up you’re waking up to the glowing smiles of your spouse and beautiful children, rather than waking up hooked up to oxygen and dialysis machines, fear what 6 meals the nurses will bring you that day. Most importantly, choose recovery so you CAN wake up tomorrow and for years to come.
Now I’d like to share different types of treatment with descriptions, this is very useful to people with loved ones who are currently ill!
• Outpatient treatment – patient receives treatment from a local clinic in their community, a doctor’s office or in a hospital. They have appointments usually weekly with a therapist (mental health professional), general physician or pediatrician, a dietitian, and a psychiatrist. In outpatient treatment the focus on gaining weight towards restoration, and healing the brain and mental illnesses. This is a good choice in my opinion because patients don’t have to be away from home and their family, they can recover with some level of comfort and familiarity. However, outpatient treatment is only a good choice if the patient is medically stable.
• Inpatient/hospital treatment – When you live in the hospital while being treated, you are in inpatient, I was an inpatient. Inpatients DO NOT leave the hospital while they are being treated, they must be treated in hospital because they are medically unstable and in many cases, like my own, are life-threatingly ill. Sometimes people 18 years and older who are not willing to agree to treatment but are in a life-threatening state will be admitted by family or a medical professional and put on a “form” so they cannot leave until they are stable. Inpatients are watched over 24 hours a day by nurses and meet daily with their medical team (a therapist and/or mental health professional, specialist eating disorders physician or pediatrician, a dietitian, and a psychiatrist). There are strict scheduled meals with certain calorie counts, patients must be supervised at every meal and finish every last bit, otherwise they receive a calorie supplement drink. Patients are supervised when they use the washroom, group therapy, family-based therapy, and distraction mechanism.
• Residential treatment – Similar to inpatient but for medically stable patients-they do not require the medical attention those in the hospital do. It’s about weight and mind restoration, as opposed to stabilizing and then adding weight, which is more the method in inpatient. People in inpatient may also have certain disordered behaviors that need to be watched for and corrected such as over-exercising or purging. There is more focus on recovering mentally from the illness than there is in inpatient because residential treatments are stable and usually ready for that.
• Day Treatment – Again, this is a recovery method for those who are medically stable. Day patients spend their week days at the hospital in the eating disorders inpatient ward and go home to sleep (when I was in the hospital the day patient kids were at the hospital from 7:45 am to 5:45 pm). If the patients are school-aged, they do their work at the hospital during day patient treatment, it’s used as one of their distractions. Similar to inpatient treatment, all meals are strictly planned, scheduled & supervised, and their recovery consists of therapy, calorie increase (weight-gain), and family based therapy, they also use group therapy and art or games-based therapy methods. Instead of daily meetings with the medical team, day patients usually meet with them weekly and usually “graduate” to outpatient treatment.
Lastly when it comes to staging an intervention, if you believe you or your loved one is in a life-threating state, please go straight to the hospital or at least your general practitioner, and even if you are stable at least you can be referred to a treatment centre. If the sufferer refuses help or treatment, you can also get the help of a councilling centre (like my parents did) who can help you with determining if they are stable or not and next steps/locations for treament. And if you believe you or the sufferer is stable please check this site for treatment centres near you http://nedic.ca/providers/on
I thank you so much for reading this, I hope & pray that you or your loved one receives the medical attention and treatment they need to recover from overcome the demon of an epidemic that is mental illness.
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