Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

complicating the waters (cause that’s my job)

no real reason for choosing this pic. my friend and I were meeting for coffee awhile back and we saw this truck and thought it pretty neat.

Before I stir up the waters, I just have to say that I purchased my ticket to California for the Jackie Bristow Memorial 5K and I’m super excited.  I can finish this semester and go to the east coast to see my family and then go to the west coast to see my friends.  For someone who had never been west of the Mississippi until she moved to Missouri two and a half years ago, this is a hell of a lot of traveling.  And this girl is excited.

My previous post. I had some people strongly agree, some strongly disagree and some acknowledged both “sides.”  I put “sides” in quotations marks, because I wrote that entry not to establish myself in the “anti-hospitalization” camp, but to open up a dialogue about a very touchy subject: that of the Eating Disorder Inpatient Culture.  And I really do feel it has become a culture.

I am so far from the anti-hospitalization extreme, but not at the “I love the hospital” extreme.  I want to make this very clear: If you need more acute treatment, please do whatever it takes to get it.  If you are in a medically compromised position and still don’t want to get better but your treatment team is suggesting/threatening treatment: go.

Let’s reveal an ugly truth of my life: I have been hospitalized (inpatient) nineteen times, for time periods ranging from three days to three+ months.  I acknowledged in my previous post that people around me were tired of the in-and-out drama of me and hospitals.  I have admitted here and elsewhere that in the beginning of my treatment for my eating disorder, I had no intention of getting better and every intention of relapsing as soon as they let me go home.  I am not proud of this.  I am not proud of the nineteen hospitalizations, but I don’t regret them.  I am alive because other people stepped in and said, “You will die if you don’t get more help.”  The hospitalizations gave me time to decide I wanted to live.

Can I promise I will never be hospitalized again?  No.  I used to think I could promise that.  Then this previous year sucker punched me something fierce.  The depression (I’m Bipolar I) reached a low I thought I’d never see again.  My cardiac diagnosis made me question, once again, my identity, and combined with the Bipolar Depression the Cardiac/Identity/What The Fuck Do I Do Now resurrected some old coping behaviors I thought I had left behind.  I have learned a lot about myself in this past year, and I currently feel more rooted in recovery than ever before, but I have no idea what life is going to throw me further on down the line.  I hope I handle it with more grace than I did this past year, but I can’t promise that.

The decision this past year to revisit the psych ward and to get more help for the anorexia was not an easy one.  I hated that I was back in that position. I didn’t want to be back in that (literal and figurative) place. I was ashamed and embarrassed.  And I know I “shouldn’t” have been, but let’s face it, we feel a lot of things we “shouldn’t.”  Now I can say I am proud of taking action.

When I came back to my apartment, the real world was still there.  Waiting for me.  It will always be there.  There is no running away from it.  The only roads leading away from the Real World are roads of self-annihilation.  My previous post was more about this concern: Hospitals have become, for a growing number of people, a way of escaping the real world and a way of postponing the ultimate question that has to be asked and answered in recovery from an eating disorder.  Who am I apart from the eating disorder?

A hospital will not answer that question for you.  It can, if you are willing, help give you the strength to find the answers for yourself.  A hospital can, if you are willing, provide you with tools to help you cope with the real world.  Treatment can, if you are willing, support you in this journey.  But the journey is, in the end, yours.

The journey is not one that comes easy.  It’s not a day hike.  It’s not even a weekend backpacking trip.  It’s a trek up a mountain that doesn’t have any pre-made, convenient trails.  It takes time and there will be risks and there will be bears to frighten you along the way.  But the view at the top of the mountain, the person you find waiting for you, is worth all of the sweat and the tears.


November 6, 2010 - Posted by | coping, depression, Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



    Comment by lauren | November 6, 2010 | Reply

  2. We can hardly wait to see you at the Jackie Bristow Memorial Run/Walk. Jackie died because of her eating disorder. Most people with an eating disorder will never know how much they are loved and supported by their family and friends. The Memorial Run/Walk is a living testament that there is tremendous love and support for people suffering with an eating disorder.

    Comment by joan | November 7, 2010 | Reply

    • I really cannot wait to be there. And I’ve been extremely blessed in my life with the friends I made in college and beyond, people who never let me forget they cared for and loved me. One of the reasons I speak at colleges and universities is because I want people to know that there are people out there who care. I think to myself, “what would I have liked to hear back when I was in their seats?” Sometimes one voice of hope is enough.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 7, 2010 | Reply

  3. Heyyyy there – if I’m able, I’ll come to the walk and join you in the sidelines.
    I continue to appreciate the way you address things in this blog. Thank you for addressing such difficult topics to broach, and thank you for sharing of your own experience – I really don’t have the capacity to express how helpful I’ve found it.

    Comment by Sofia | November 7, 2010 | Reply

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