The two voices are warring within me right now. For four years, I have battled anorexia nervosa and its voice. My fingertips have touched recovery only to have it slip out of grasp and spiral downward, dead as a withered brown leaf in the fall. Hope would rise and fall, and the rollercoaster ride of anorexia would continue even as I screamed at God and Heaven to let me off.
I recently completed about six weeks of treatment at the adult partial hospitalization program at the River Centre Clinic in Sylvania, Ohio. The above verbiage is the result of both my continued confusion about what led me to need more intensive treatment (will I ever know why I developed anorexia) and how to move forward in recovery.
It wasn't the most positive of discharges. My therapist there privately told me she had concerns about my ability to continue in recovery, particularly in the area of meal planning and eating. And frankly, I had concerns about that too. I am still concerned how to transfer RCC program eating into real life. My official discharge papers also said I was leaving AMA - even though I had said before entering the program I had to leave for school by a certain date. Leaving AMA (against medical advice) could hinder any future treatment options.
Several fellow RCC patients had kind and encouraging words to say during the graduation ceremony held on my last day. I was grateful to hear that I had helped several people and that others had enjoyed getting to know me as a person. There had been a lot of drama for several weeks in our small living space and I was led to believe much of it was my fault (was I too difficult? too opinionated? did I say the wrong things?)
I know I struggled with wanting recovery, and I'm sure my ambivalence was not helpful to others who were struggling.) I know each one of us made mistakes and was gratified that for the most part, we were able to move past the problems and support each other. Hearing others speak about me so kindly helped me see the truth through their eyes.
Still, I drove back home in silence. No singing along to the radio and rejoicing in the fact that I did stick with it. No happiness that I ate everything (except one snack) and gained ten pounds. Just confusion about the future and the fear I would never escape anorexia.
I met with Dr. Sackeyfio (my outpatient doctor/therapist) the day after I was discharged from RCC. I was unusually quiet. He kept asking me about my treatment there; the things that happened and how I felt about it.
I felt weighed down and oppressed, unable to talk. He gently confronted me, asking why was I afraid to express my opinion. I started to cry. It felt like it had been a long time since my opinion really mattered and didn't seem to cause trouble. It felt like it had been a long time since I was more than just a set of symptoms and urges to be fixed.
I opened up and my fears began to ease. He asked me to consider what I learned during the past six weeks and write about it. (What I learned and what my inner voice taught me through that time will be in a future blog post.) Our session ran over because he wanted to make sure I heard something before I left: "You have the right to your opinions. You have the right to your voice."
Immediately I felt the crushing weight lift, my spirit already feeling more free. I felt relief.
I am reclaiming my voice. It is separate from the voice of anorexia, and it doesn't always agree with everything I learned in treatment nor from my doctor. It is my voice.