Today marks my first full week in recovery and I am happy to say that it has been better than I anticipated!
As expected, the first day in partial hospitalization was a bit overwhelming. After having to change into the attractive hospital robe to get my weight checked, it was time to experience my first breakfast. Although I am sociable, it was uncomfortable walking in to a group of people that I did not know and having to eat with them. On top of sitting down and eating with 7 new strangers, I had to block out the fact that a staff member was monitoring each of us.
Everyone receives an individualized tray in which everything must be finished. Frustration, anxiety, and fear are among many emotions that are commonly shown whenever food is present but it is nice having the support of others and knowing I'm not struggling alone. My meal was cereal, milk, orange juice, sausage links, french toast with butter/syrup, all of which I never have, however, ended up enjoying. They change up the meal everyday which has been good for me because not only am I practicing having normal variations of meals, but I also kind of look forward to what I will be trying next! Once we are finished eating we must get our tray checked by the supervisor and then wait for others to be done. Having our treys checked is a necessary task because although all of us are motivated to recover, it is easy to listen to ED and go to great lengths to hide or throw out unwanted food. I am guilty of letting ED win, but being able to identify that is already a step for me.
My first lunch experience was when I got very overwhelmed and was not a happy camper... With the occupational therapist we have one breakfast and lunch per week where we all get to make our own food in one of the hospital kitchens. This is actually pretty fun and nice being able to have some options, although there are still a lot of rules that we have to abide by. I was not a happy camper because I felt like I was given way too much food for my first day, didn't want that gross looking dirt cup, and was in a food coma 1/2 through my meal. During this meal ED made me lie and take advantage of the therapist who I really enjoy. I asked if there was anything else I could have instead of the dirt cup because I "didn't like one of the main ingredients" and after she kindly let me swap it out for a candy bar, I snuck half of it away when she was assisting someone else. This experience has been one of hundreds where ED has caused me to either pretend I don't like a certain food or lie to someone that I respect, but I'm glad to be destroying that. By being forced to eat everything I am given, I have finally been able to open up to new foods and re learn my likes and dislikes. I have not had things like hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken tenders in about 4 years and within a week I have ENJOYED all!
For anorexia patients, an extra snack is needed due to weight restoration(above link has more info). This is a component of treatment where one has to basically eat an excessive amount of calories in order to maintain the same rate of weight gain. Even after weight is restored, an individual usually requires more calories than someone with out an eating disorder history, just to initially maintain weight. That being said, not only are my meals 3x than before, but I also have to eat within shorter time lengths. So when some of us are served an extra desert and milk during group, tensions get high. I can speak for those individuals and say that we usually are unhappy with the food item and the fact that we are still full from our previous meal. Snack time sometime is so stressful on someone that they will even try to somehow get rid of it. Today when I was contemplating where to hide my brownie, I realized that in this situation I had two options, recover or fail. I chose to recover.
Independent dinner (just being on our own for dinner) is when things are put to the test and we have to continue all the fighting we have done throughout the day. After an uncomfortable, long, stressful day it is so easy to give in to ED and do everything that we aren't supposed to do. This can be anything from binging, purging, over exercising, laxatives, or restricting. Consuming more calories and eating "unhealthy" foods has made me want to go to the gym and "burn off" things I ate but I have not acted upon my urges due to the ED intentions. Dinner has taken some time to get used to because I have to make my own food and it is easy for me to restrict but thankfully I have a ton of support from Kaitlyn and my boyyyy Eric. I have struggled with eating by myself and "filling my bubbles" on my food chart but each day is a learning process.
I was impressed with how well I was doing in treatment but once the weekend came I felt like I took a few steps back. Eating while I am drinking is extremely difficult for me and even though I addressed the issue prior, I still let ED win. Being discouraged by this minor set back really pushed me harder on Sunday and every day since so I am pleased with that. I need to understand that this is going to be one hell of a long journey and setbacks are bound to happen, but nothing I can't overcome. All negatives aside, I have been proud of the accomplishments I've made in just one week and I am looking forward to overcome more obstacles.