One Size Does Not Fit All

Day 1 is over. I hated it. I hated everything about it. Being examined under a microscope while you eat is embarrassing and demoralizing. It feels like I’m being punished. I didn’t ask for an eating disorder. It found me. It manipulated its way into my life and convinced me that it would be the best friend I could ever imagine. And it was right. It became just that whether I wanted it or not. And today, after day 1 I feel that I would rather have an eating disorder than sit in treatment for months listening to other people’s problems and be monitored like a child.

I wasn’t sure if I would come back for day 2. But here I am. On the subway.  Everything I feel and everything I think makes me want to jump ship, give up and attempt to do this on my own. I am strong, I am determined, I am motivated and I am a doer. So why can’t I conquer this disease on my own?

Because it has become a monster. Something much bigger than me. It has taken control of every part of my life and will not allow me to let it go.

Yesterday in one of the therapy classes a patient said something very interesting.

He has been in the program for five weeks. He overheard his mom telling a friend what positive changes she has seen since her son has started eating normally again. He’s happy, he smiles, he has energy and he seems motivated. His response to that was, “it’s amazing that those changes happened all from putting food in my mouth.”

It’s crazy to think that food has become the enemy. I know that food is technically not the issue. It’s control. It’s perfection. It’s many other underlying issues. But food is the means to my end. I use it to control something. Why did I choose food? Why not drugs or alcohol?

The most difficult part I see with recovering from an eating disorder versus being a drug addict is that when you are using you take away the substance. With an eating disorder, you take what the person hates and make them eat more of it.

For now it’s my family and friends that are motivating me. It’s not me motivating me. But, I have to use whatever I can to get me started. I know that at some point it has to be about me. That is the only way I will get better. To do this for me. Everyone else will benefit from my recovery when I decide to do this for me.

And so the day begins. Wish me luck.

I just finished lunch. A chicken pita sandwich. Okay. Not terrible. But dessert was two containers of milk and a serving of chocolate pudding. Seriously??  I told them I do not like chocolate and they told me that the eating disorder doesn’t like chocolate.  I tried to explain that I’ve never liked chocolate. Even as a child I preferred sweets.  But I ate it because I know I have strict rules to comply with and didn’t want to risk getting an “incomplete.”

Dinner. Macaroni and cheese. Salad. Two containers of mandarin oranges and a can of coke. I have never drank pop. Never. When yet again I had to explain my challenge with dinner I was told that there would be no exceptions. It was a must. I sat at the dining table holding back tears as I opened the pop can. I put my lips to the opening, took a tiny sip and put it back down. I do not like pop. I was not going to finish it. The nurse came over and asked if I was okay. I could feel the other group members eavesdropping. As quietly as I could whisper, I explained that I would not be able to finish the can of coke. I don’t enjoy pop, but would gladly take an alternative with the same calorie count. “Lisa, if you don’t finish it, you will get an incomplete.”

At that moment, I knew this program was not for me.  By tempting me with unrealistic foods, they are practically serving the urges on a hospital tray. I am ready to eat. I am excited to eat. But not like this. This is a recipe for my disaster. It’s too much. Too quick. Too soon.  How am I on the same meal plan as the 24 year old, 6 foot 2 male in the program, or the same plan as the 52 year old, 5 foot 2 woman?  We are different. Our meals should be tailored to our needs and incorporate things we like instead of forcing us with foods we do not enjoy.  I know I need to reintroduce and introduce a lot of food back in my life, but pop ain’t one of them!

I requested a meeting with the doctors the next day. I explained my concerns. There was no negotiating. I could take it or leave it.

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