It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
I always manage to forget until the very end of the week, and then I think, oh wait…I should really write something, since my journey to recovery has played such a huge role in shaping who I am today.
In the past, I’ve written very generally about treatment for anorexia, and the overall grueling process of recovery. About 10 years ago, I even posted some journal entries from my time in the hospital on my Xanga (Kids are like, “What’s a Xanga??” Shut up, I’m old…), which I can’t help but cringe at now because they’re so angsty.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about this specific season of recovery in my life, my time in the inpatient hospital. Last week, as I drove to work (sans distraction from my phone), I looked down at my wrist tattoo, the symbol for the National Eating Disorder Association, and I thought, “NEDA. Like that girl with bulimia, Neda, who I met in treatment. I wonder how she’s doing.”
And then my mind wandered to all of the other patients that I met in my time in the inpatient hospital. And then I thought about all the nurses who spent their days with us. And then I thought about the hospital, and the unit, and the useless therapists, and the rules, and daily life there, and the fact that I spent five weeks of my life living in, for all intents and purposes, a mental institution.
Maybe at the time when I posted my journal entries on Xanga, it was so angsty because it was still so fresh, having been only a few years since my time in the hospital. But now, almost 15 years later, I can look back with more perspective and clarity, and I think, was that seriously my life? Did all of that really happen to me? I mean, it just seems so outlandish that it’s almost comical. The shenanigans, the stories, the characters, the setting? It’s like I’m watching a made-for-tv movie, except it’s my real life (and let’s be honest, in a movie version they’d probably cast Jamie Chung or Lucy Liu or Sandra Oh for my part because ALL ASIANS LOOK ALIKE).
I mean, where else can you find a quiet-at-the-time, dorky Asian college freshman, a white upper middle class tanorexic/anorexic yoga instructor, a toothless middle aged schizophrenic with no eating disorder that was placed on the unit for the sole reason that there were no other available beds in the hospital, a Jewish dancer who spent her first two weeks in a straight jacket, a corporate professional that worked so hard that she just forgot to eat, a spoiled Russian teenager, and a weed-smoking college dropout hippie, all in the same place at the same time?
My life, that’s where.
I would ideally like to write a few posts about this strange and curious detour in my life. About the people, about the place, about the journey, about life in recovery. My hope is to give you a peek into a world and a struggle that very few will ever see or understand (the closest is if you’ve watched Girl, Interrupted), but also to pay tribute to and bring to life the stories of the other warriors who fought (or were dragged) alongside me in recovery for anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating. Some fought hard and conquered. Some are still fighting the good fight. Some have lost the fight, but won the war and now they rest in eternal peace. Each of them are precious, and each of their lives and their stories and their journeys invaluable.
Join me next time as we begin our journey inside the hospital walls.