On April 25, 2002, I entered inpatient treatment for anorexia nervosa for the first time. I was 17. I was terrified. I was out of my mind sick, and damn near dead. My parents essentially made the decision I was to go into treatment before I turned 18 and could legally refuse it. I was angry and bitter and I didn't understand my disorder at all, in fact I didn't even think I had a problem.
I thought that I'd go into treatment, eat, do a little therapy, and 90 days later, voila, I'd be all better. I was terribly naive, and I didn't know that treatment doesn't work unless you WORK to make it work. And so, sadly, during that treatment stay, I didn't really get better. Yes, I got "better" in the sense that I gained weight, but I wasn't ready to give up my eating disorder, and I didn't - not yet. It took me several more years to understand what recovery was and what it took, and it took me a long time to understand that I didn't want anorexia to kill me.
Photo - I thought for about .485 seconds about posting a picture of 17 year old Brie, but then realized you'd all shriek out thinking I was DEAD. Don't want to be triggering, so those pictures will forever be hidden in boxes in my storage room! So you get me...looking...serene? In my recovery maybe?
I was searching through some old boxes this morning, and I found my journal from when I was in treatment. I wanted to share a few excerpts from my very first day in treatment:
April 25, 2002
...So I just ate my first meal here...they gave me a 24 hour "grace" period where I don't have to eat everything on my plate if I don't want to. Which is good because we had hamburgers. Yeah, definitely haven't eaten one of those in forever!
So Mom and Brett dropped me off. It actually was okay. There really were no tears until the very end...when I was hugging Brett. I got really choked up. ...I've met most of the girls, and they seem really kind for the most part...but I'm one of the youngest girls here, at 17.
...It's just so hard for me to imagine that right now I should be in AP English class. The whole world is going on and continuing, while essentially, my life is on hold for 3 months. But I don't like to think of it that way.
I'm hoping this will be a kind of new beginning for me. I'm coming here scared and sick and confused, but in 90 days when I leave, I'm going to be happy and healthy and a new and better me. I guess I just can't get over it, I keep trying to get used to the idea that this very place I'm sitting in will be my home for 3 months. It really hasn't sunk in yet.
So today has been really busy. They drew my blood and did and EKG - which they said was abnormal - and then about four people have asked me the same questions over and over!
I'm trying to be so optimistic, but I'm scared. Before I got here, I pictured treatment being this place where they strapped you to a bed and pumped you full of food until you got fat, sort of like some nazi eating disorder camp. And I can tell it's not going to be that way, but it's still not going to be easy, and I'm really scared. I don't like admitting that I am, but I am. I really really am terrified. I hope I can do this.
Wow. Reading that....I don't know how it makes me feel. Kind of sad. Kind of nostalgic. But mostly just really really glad that I am not back in the past, with 17 year old Brie. I'm so happy that I'm here, that I'm healthy and energetic and vivacious and doing recovery. I'm so happy that I went into treatment, even though it was scary and hard, and even though it didn't stick that time, because it set the foundation for me to get better. I think it took the whole of all of my experiences, all of my failure and triumphs, to get me here. To get me to Live.
And so, 10 years ago, I made a pretty scary, but a pretty awesome decision to get better - or, to at least try. The seed of recovery was planted, even if it didn't yet begin to bloom. And I'm glad that it did eventually bloom; that 10 years later I can confidently say that I am happy and ALIVE and so happy that I chose to get rid of this needless disease that sucks the life out of you until it eventually tosses you aside, dead, or at least as good as dead. I'm so glad I didn't choose that for me. I'm so glad I chose Life.