Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

after long silence


I realized that I haven’t blogged in quite some time.  Not sure why, other than I haven’t had much to say and no one’s presented me with any grand and glorious topics, so I haven’t really had much to say.

Someone did just ask me what I feel about seemingly routine hospitalizations and the seeming lack of any interest in following rules of that treatment center or considering treatment professional’s suggestions.

I have to admit that I get rather pissed off.  Especially when I see people go in and out of treatment, most especially when I see them go in and out of residential treatment rather than a hospital treatment setting and then act as if it’s a joke.  “The rules are ridiculous.  The doctor doesn’t know what s/he is talking about.  The food sucks.  Guess what I got away with last night?  These doctors are totally clueless.”

If the rules were ridiculous, you wouldn’t need to be in treatment.  The doctors generally do know what they are talking about, but a significant number of patients think that because they’re the ones with the illness, they know what’s best.  If the ones with the illness knew what was truly best and what truly worked, we wouldn’t need treatment centers in the first place.  I know, I know.  You’ve read the nutrition sites and you know how much protein you need and yadda yadda yadda.  Why sit through more nutrition groups and learn all this useless information?  Mainly because if you truly didn’t need to learn this shit, you wouldn’t be there in the first place.  Just because we have an illness, doesn’t make us the expert on treating that illness.  If I were an expert on treatment, then I would never have had to go to those hospitals and have someone else put food in front of me and tell me, “Yes, you really do need to eat all that food.”  And just because I’ve been on medications for over ten years now, doesn’t mean I know all there is to know about medications and their interactions and how to tweak doses.  There is a reason treatment professionals have degrees.  They don’t google “antidepressant” and then decide what medication you should take.

Part of me gets exceptionally angry when I read FB posts or blog entries about how so-and-so is breaking such-and-such a rule and isn’t it hilarious that the staff is clueless?  (I’d like to inform you that the staff is rarely clueless, but they pick their battles.)  Posts like this are basically the same thing as the person making fun of treatment and rubbing it in other people’s faces.  People who, if they were given the chance, might actually go to treatment and use that time to recover.

So after long silence, my main message is that I’m sick and tired of people treating treatment like it’s some kind of joke, and I’m really sick and tired of people making light of the medical consequences of eating disorders.  I’m finding it exceptionally difficult to be sympathetic to people complaining about electrolytes or urine color after I read them talk about how much Red Bull or Pepsi Max they’ve had to drink that day and how pissed their doctors would be if they knew how much of that shit they were drinking.  Do you want to know what comments such as these feel like to people who are fighting to get into treatment and can’t afford it?  It’s one hell of a huge slap in the face and a way of saying, “Since I have no intention of using this treatment to get better, I might as well fuck around as much as I can and waste their time.”

This game of delaying recovery, it’s not so much of a game.  Not when the ultimate prize is death.  But we all think the big D word can’t happen to us, that we’re invincible.  Tell that to the list of my friends who once believed the same exact thing and then died.  I’m tired of funerals.  I’m tired of memorial funds.  I’m tired of “scholarships in the memory of . . .”.

I’m sorry if you don’t take recovery seriously.  But there are people out there who do and would kill to have your opportunities and would like to wring your necks for doing everything you can to get away with shit while in treatment.

Do yourself a favor and consider the following question: Do I want to live?  Don’t follow that with the phrase “with an eating disorder.”  Just “Do I want to live?”  If you for whatever reason decide you don’t want to live, stop throwing it in other people’s faces, people who are fighting with everything they’ve got to stay alive.  Do yourself a favor and stop thinking of this as a game.

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January 20, 2011 - Posted by | depression, Eating Disorders, mindfulness, recovery, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

17 Comments »

  1. This is such a fantastic post, and so so true. It’s sad how many people I was in treatment with who didn’t really want to be there. They would laugh and joke about how this was the 20th time they’d been in treatment and they knew how to get around all the rules, etc. And it really frustrated me because, although I was lucky enough to have insurance, there was a huuuge waiting list and dozens of sufferers who were unable to stay in treatment because of insurance–people who would have really taken advantage of treatment if given the chance. Eating disorders are definitely not a joke, and I am so glad you wrote this post.

    Comment by Coco | January 20, 2011 | Reply

    • thank you for this comment. I was afraid I was going to sound too harsh and unsympathetic and that people were going to get on my case for it.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | January 20, 2011 | Reply

    • While I do agree with what Lex and you wrote – I have somewhat of a different perspective. I was one of those girls… I didn’t realize it at the time, but the reason why I was so “proud” of pulling the wool over their eyes was because it was all I felt I was capable of doing. I couldn’t exist in the “real world” – and deep down I knew it. I thought the only thing I was good at was my eating disorder. I didn’t realize what I was doing. Also, I was doing those horribly triggering things because I was terrified. I didn’t hide my bacon in my underwear so that I could brag about it later to my “friends” – I did it so I didn’t have to eat it. Because I was terrified of it. Later, after the fact, I might have bragged – but that wasn’t my real motivation. The fear that plagued me everytime I “pulled something” wouldn’t have been worth it if I was just “doing it for kicks”. Maybe my situation is different than the girls Lex was talking about – because I don’t know them. But I am just offering a different point of view. I probably looked like I thought it was a giant joke, too. Fortunately – I made it to the other side. No part of me wants to be that girl ever again. So, there is hope for them. They are just working through their own stuff. Ya know?

      Comment by Anon | January 20, 2011 | Reply

  2. What a great post!
    It takes a lot of courage to say what a lot of people are thinking. And frankly, even if others think it sounds harsh, I know that I at least often needed things to sound harsh for them to get through the fog of the eating disorder. The therapist who said “It’s ok you’re struggling. You don’t need to judge yourself, just be curious” was less helpful than the other who said “What the hell are you doing right now?” Sometimes that was really what I needed.

    Comment by T | January 20, 2011 | Reply

    • The “what the hell are you doing?” comments have always been more efffective for me as well.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | January 20, 2011 | Reply

  3. I agree- great post. I have distance myself from people with that attitude because it infuriates me. It was actually nice to read this and have to pause for a second to remember when I heard these last- I guess I thought maybe things were changing but then I realized- no I just have distanced myself from those kinds of people. But I feel like you really captured how it feels- a “huge slap in the face- rubbed in the face etc” ….I remember feeling that way so many times when I wanted treatment and would do anything to be in treatment but was unable too because the situation within my family or even after treatment when I could have easily returned to escape the pressures and responsibility of the real world but knew my parents marriage could not handle another bout of IP for me..especially in a residential treatment center as you mentioned- not even an IP stay…anyway I could go on forever but I would only be repeating your post 🙂

    Comment by Jessica | January 20, 2011 | Reply

    • I haven’t yet distanced myself as you have. Because of this blog, because of the outside work I do. I guess I have in that I don’t participate in those discussions anymore and I’m not afraid to call people out on it if I know them enough. I can relate to you, though, when you say that you could have easily returned to treatment to escape, but knew you couldn’t. I think if I’m honest, there’s still a part of me that wants an escape route sometimes.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | January 20, 2011 | Reply

      • I wonder if people who have cancer sit and think “Gosh, I wish my tumor would come back so I could go stay in the hospital for a little while and have people take care of me.” I must admit – it crosses my mind, too. But we can escape in other ways. We can go on a vacation! I vote for a weekend getaway…

        Comment by Anon | January 20, 2011

  4. I completely agree that I often still think about wanting an escape route. I am not completely at the point where I can say I am not affected by others actions. I know that my reaction towards others actions are because I probably often yearn for an esacpe route but know there is no other way and that is not the way to escape because the real world will just be waiting for me when I return. I agree with Anon though- there are other escape routes- it isn’t easy but sometimes giving ourself a mini staycation or simply learning to treat myself with respect and allowing myself to have a lazy day and mimic a day in treatment except that I get to choose my meals but just doing the right thing for me and to care about me is finally starting to feel good sometimes-nurturing in a way and I guess that is kind of cool.

    Comment by Jessica | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  5. I found that the people who are screwing around with their life by going in and out of “treatment centres” and making flippant remarks: 1) Don’t care about their life and they are just doing “treatment” to get family and friends off their back, and 2) aren’t paying for it all. I know one chick who has gone in and out, and the only way she “affords” it is because she whined enough to get the government to pay for it all. 😐

    Comment by Lily | January 22, 2011 | Reply

    • I’d also like to say, it was a HUGE burden and slap in the face when people were HARASSING me to get into “treatment” again, when I kept telling them I couldn’t afford it. It sucks, because there are so many people getting away with going in and out that so-called friends of mine thought I must be able to afford it too.

      Seriously, we need more no-bull, no-cost homes and facilities, instead of just safe-havens for girls to gain some weight, make negative connections, then get out and start the patterns all over again.

      Comment by Lily | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  6. Guys, I understand your frustration on many levels… we have to realize that they do have eating disorders, too. And they wouldn’t be admitted into treatment if it wasn’t bad enough. Doctors are definitely not dumbies. I have been kicked out of treatment before – it happens. If you mess around for too much and affect too many people they do pull the plug. Those girls are in pain, too. They might be hiding it – but they are. And we can’t give up hope on them. No matter what. I used to write people off as the ones that “will never get better” – and I know I was labeled that way… but it isn’t the case. There is ALWAYS a chance. There is ALWAYS a way. I’m living proof. So we can’t kick them out of treatment… cause one of these times it just might click.

    Comment by Anon | January 22, 2011 | Reply

    • I am in NO WAY suggesting that we give up on them or kick them out of treatment. Although I was never one to make fun of treatment or brag about getting away with things, I was put in treatment against my will and thought, “I’m going to relapse as soon as I get out of here” the whole time. But I am alive because of those hospitalizations. They gave me time to decide to live. And do you want to know what it took–it took someone asking me, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing by screwing around?” They asked me that in those words. Multiple times. And finally it clicked. So while I AM IN NO WAY ADVOCATING GIVING UP ON ANYONE, I am saying that maybe someone/multiple people need to be honest and stop pussyfooting around the issue and say, “You’re throwing away an opportunity to get better because you’re screwing around and it’s not affecting just you. Look around you. Your actions affect everyone else, too. You don’t live in a vacuum.”

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  7. You’re so right, Alexis. It’s very frustrating when you’re IP and you’re watching others doing stupid things. When it’s life or death and someone else can’t get into IP because you’re sitting there blatantly disregarding all the rules. I’ve also been the one that could not get in because of a lack of insurance at the time. It all just sucks, and you know full well that those that are just doing it because they ‘have to’ will be back…

    Comment by Afterglow05 | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  8. Alexis-great post. Thank you so much for saying what SO many of us are thinking. This post and another one, regarding people posting eating disordered things as their Facebook status for sympathy? attention? really brings up a couple of issues that are a huge problem and also tough to deal with. On the one hand you have people acting irrationally, trying to get attention in inappropriate ways, and who appear to not be taking a life threatening illness very seriously. On the other hand-there is a school of thought that might say, these individuals are malnourished and therefore, yes, their thinking and their actions are likely to be completely irrational, out of control, and largely a direct result of their illness. Until full nutrition is restored can we expect anything different? But therein lies the problem. How can anything different happen, if this individual continually “subverts” the system and her own treatment by “making it a game” and continuing to keep herself ill? This also begs the question-is it even really her own choice, at a certain point-is her mind even really her own, or is it under the control of the eating disorder? Is it, as one poster suggested, not really that she thought it was funny to hide the bacon in her pants but really that she was terrified to eat it? I want to say that although I completely agree with you-playing games in treatment should NOT be allowed to continue, I would actually argue that for the most part, with maybe some exceptions, it is the system that needs to be fixed and not the ill individuals. They need to be re-fed so that their brains can heal, so that they can regain rationality and clarity again, so that they won’t continue to do things that they might otherwise never have done. I think that there are definitely some people whose inherent pre-ED personalities are more prone to be “louder” about breaking the rules or trying to get attention by posting on Facebook-but lets be real. Didn’t we all, to some extent or another, do this? I personally, am a very quiet,private, non-rebellious person. I’m not the type to ever post about my ED struggles on Facebook or the disobey in IP. I quietly ate my meals and did what I was told. However, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t, in my head thinking that when I got home that I would still do a little bit of restricting here or there. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t use my ED to say things with my body that I couldnt say with my voice. So I essentially did the same thing as these girls, even if I wasn’t doing it as loudly, or obnoxiously, or on Facebook. And because I always appeared “compliant” no one ever thought of me this way. But again, I think that the problem is the system. It needs to start to take into account the fact that yes, unfortunately, when most of us are admitted into IP we are very nutritionally compromised, meaning as well-spoken and lovely and sweet and articulate as most of us are-you can’t trust us. We aren’t thinking clearly. We might seem like we are. Hell, we might even think that we are! But we’re not. I’m not saying to treat us like we’re drooling into cups, but I think that they need to sort of put grout into the cracks in treatment, so to speak. For example, if anyone has seen the documentary Thin-I personally was APPALLED at what those girls got away with! Security should be tightened up, in gentle, kind way, and I think that treatment centers should be up front with residents as to why the rules need to be in place-ultimately, I really think that people will really feel safer and more secure knowing that their eating disorder behaviors simply CANNOT be used at the IP or residential facility that they are in. Until they know this, they might feel anxiety or that they “have to try” to get around the system. Even better then IP or resi, if a person can be re-fed at home-if the family is loving, has learned about EDs, is on board with the team and can be consistent and structured about eating, and watch the individual really carefully (plug up the gaps) I think this is an even better option. This is tough though.

    Sorry, I know that this is majorly long. This is an issue that really bugs me too, and I think that the primary reason it bugs me is because I feel so strongly that if early prevention was happening, we wouldn’t be dealing with older adolescents or young adults, chronically in treatment and subverting it. But instead we have a broken treatment system that instead of pushing full nutrition and a cessation of symptoms right away, they try to get at the root of the problem with a nutritionally compromised, ill individual who is essentially incapable of realizing how ill they are because they are malnourished and not thinking clearly. All while waiting for the behaviors to stop, until a person is so malnourished that they can’t see straight, traces of the person’s former personality are nearly gone, and they are pretty much a walking eating disorder that wants to kill its host yet ironically sustain itself, like a virus.

    I’m sorry this is song long. Now that I am recovered, I just want to shout NUTRITION from the rooftops and stop ED from feeding on the brains of others as it fed on mine.

    So yes, IP and residential reform. Needed.

    Comment by Jamie | January 23, 2011 | Reply

  9. I was thinking the same thing today….there is a girl that I was in PHP with that post constantly on FB everything under the sun related to ED, being back in treatment, negative posts, and so forth. Part of me wants to support her, but the other part of me feels like I should separate. Which I have (I only respond to her posts sporadically if I feel I have something to add) and I’ve noticed others have, too. Maybe it is that we see more to life than ED? Different identities?

    I was fortunate to have a group through PHP to be largely rule followers and we were open about our not so rule following on the weekends when we were on our own. For me, not following the “rules” on the weekend was just as bad there–and earlier to hide. After having a little freak-out there, I learned the importance of talking! Occasionally, we would let the little comment slide, but good for the most part.

    Comment by imaginenamaste | January 27, 2011 | Reply

  10. Hear hear… You’ve said it.

    Comment by Janie | March 1, 2011 | Reply


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