I recently left a treatment facility (hence the extreme lack of p;osts), and experienced one of the most frustrating things — I felt like I was losing everything, even though logically I knew that I was gaining the rest of my life.
- Good friendships with other patients
- Meaningful relationships with my treatment team and other staff
- 24/7 support and company
- Safety, familiarity, routine, and simplicity
- Eating disordered behaviors
- Other self-destructive behaviors
- Being taken care of and always told that I was worth-it
- Going home to my husband and dogs
- Communication with meaningful friendships in the “real world”
- All the things in the future — traveling, having kids, furnishing my house…. (not in that order)
- Permanent support and care taking from my husband and friends — support that doesn’t require that I be sick
- Driving. Shopping. Target and Starbucks. Walking around the rest of the world.
- Being able to use scissors all by myself, curl my hair if I want, toast my OWN bagel… you know what I mean.
- A life that doesn’t have to be consumed by the eating disorder. A chance to choose to do things differently.
I discharged because I had made a lot of progress and wanted so much more out of my life. In the moment though, all that I could feel was loss. Sure, I was excited to go home and see everyone, to cut my banana into more than 6 pieces without it being a food ritual, to actually go other places in the world… but regardless, I really hate endings. In a very real way, exiting treatment is an ending. Miserable and disordered as your life may have been going into treatment, it was a life that you knew well and relied on. All those disordered behaviors and coping skills that helped you survive — you can’t take them with you. You feel like you’re losing the eating disorder (now that you’re eating normally), other self-destructive behaviors (self harm, over-exercising, etc), and part of yourself (especially if you’re now on meds and feel better).
As if that weren’t enough, you’re losing the relationships with people who helped you conquer so many negative thoughts and support you through the toughest nights. Personally, I made more progress this last time in treatment than I have in the last 11 years… somewhat due to me (I will give myself credit for that), but also largely because I had a great treatment team that knew what to do with me and never hesitated to push me. Why would I want to say goodbye to them?
You enter treatment because your life isn’t working (whether or not you think it’s your choice to be in treatment). The intent is to gain something… to get back to life, to have a future, to not die… and you know that treatment requires sacrifices, like taking time off of school/work, traveling, leaving your family, and often paying for a lot of it. But… walking out of there, not only do you feel those losses, but you feel the loss of the ED, the loss of the relationships you made while in treatment, and some loss of the treatment world where you can be upset anything and it matters (like strawberry yogurt when you wanted vanilla, for example).
I’m not saying it’s not all worth it — because it’s the rest of your life (and those around you who’s life you are a part of) that we’re talking about, and that certainly is worth it. It’s just hard to leave so much behind and make those sacrifices. I’m trying to look at it as an investment. All of the energy in treatment and hurt I’ve experienced leaving will pay off someday.