Thursday, December 10, 2009

End of IOP

I write about my personal recovery here and use Velvet Steamroller to write about similar issues in a somewhat more sociological context. But I'll link to myself here: a post about the future of health reporting.

Personal recovery: Tonight was my last night in intensive outpatient treatment at Renfrew. I thought I would be feeling more of a jolt, either a sense of sudden isolation, or freedom, or something. But as my insurance-approved sessions slowly ran out, it sank in more and more that IOP is the beginning of treatment, not treatment in and of itself. I'll still have a nutritionist (monthly) and a therapist (weekly), plus weekly outpatient support group. Those are enormous, but in a way, they're incidental: I will not always have a nutritionist, or a therapist, or a support group. But I will always have my own resources, the tools that I've been given through the more active part of treatment.

I went into treatment not because my symptoms were so out of control (they were bad, but I've had worse and didn't seek treatment then), but because I realized I didn't know what to do to help myself. I thought I knew, but only through proper treatment did I learn that the ways I'd been trying to help myself were actually symptoms of my eating disorder. When I began to realize that, yes, I really had an eating disorder, not a lack of willpower, I looked up treatment plans and tried to do them on my own. I read that ED patients were instructed to eat every four hours, but that didn't work because I didn't know what to eat. I read about intuitive eating, but that didn't work because the barometer of my intuition was calibrated to my eating disorder, not my authentic self. I tried to avoid weight-loss information but instead started looking at the information reallyreallyfast, as though it wouldn't really do any damage that way. In short: I was unequipped to recover on my own. I needed help. And I got it.

I wish I had known earlier that eating disorders were actually treatable. Rather, I wish I'd known earlier that my eating disorder was actually treatable. I thought treatment was something that only really sick people got to have--like, if I'd messed up my heart by purging, or my bones through restricting, then I'd get to have treatment. I didn't know that what I was going through was "enough" to warrant treatment; I thought that, if I needed anything, I just needed some therapy to work on my body image and all would be well. I've read ad nauseam about eating disorders and how complex they are--how they're about control, and family, and expression, and emotion, and anger, and resistance, and, yes, the culture that tells us that our worth is in our shape. But ever since I can remember, my reaction to that has been, For them, sure. But me, I just want to lose a few pounds.

I was wrong.

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