Thoughts from Treatment
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
“And I would be good if I got and stayed sick.”
“Is this where you thought you’d be at this stage of your life?”
It was meant as a general assessment question and not necessarily something to be answered specifically. It hit me like a blow to the stomach.
No, this was certainly not where I thought my journey would take me. It’s not what I want for myself, not what I want for my children, not for anyone who loves me. It’s not what I want. And yet here I am, just months away from my 40th birthday, fighting to complete my second 30 day treatment program in as many years. Fighting for my sanity. Fighting for my life. Fighting for my will to live. Fighting to want to keep fighting.
I know this will be a struggle for some to read or realize. If that is you, I’d caution you as to whether you want to keep reading. I spent a good portion of these past weeks in the desert and it was a dark place to be. My life, my thoughts, my feelings turned morose and I found myself remarkably apathetic about this fact.
I came to treatment this time around with two specific goals in mind:
Push for a specific and accurate diagnosis as to exactly what mental illness (illnesses?) continues to plague me.
Develop a comprehensive plan incorporating both western medicine and wholistic or alternative means as a way to treat said illness.
I planned to stay inpatient just as long as it took to stabilize my mood and until such time as I could safely return home and reliably continue with a treatment plan on my own.
Within 24 hours it became startlingly clear to me that I will likely not ever receive such a diagnosis. During my first meeting with my team, a review of my history and current symptoms led to the realization that I do not fit the parameters for any of the commonly diagnosed, more frequently seen conditions known within the mental health community. I fit some of the criteria for several different disorders, but not any of them exactly. There was some talk of new illnesses being researched and studied, some traits I exhibit that might fit one of these diseases in particular, but I don’t fit the time frame required in the criteria for this diagnosis to even be considered.
For a minute I thought I was okay with this new knowledge. And I should be. It should be alright if my disease doesn’t fit into some perfectly labeled, easily identified box. But the truth is that I’m not.
One thing I am daily challenged on here in treatment is to practice radical acceptance of my thoughts and feelings. Without avoidance. Without judgement.
“...rigid honesty with oneself and others...”
If I’m being rigidly honest, I’m not okay with this fact.
If I’m honest, I want so badly to be able to give to someone I love very dearly, the desire recently expressed to me to “Complete treatment and put this all behind us.”
But I can’t do that.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that.
And that hurts more than I can explain in words here.
It hurts to my core and it’s more painful than anything I’ve ever experienced.
The fight I’m waging here is harder and more daunting than any other challenge I’ve ever undertaken.
And if I’m being rigidly honest, from moment to moment I’m not sure whether I have it in me to keep fighting. And that is a scary place to be.
There’s a quote up on one of the walls here, it reads “Hope is defiant.” I want so badly to identify with that quote. It sounds so brave, so bold, so right.
But the truth is I often find myself feeling neither.
Just tired. Really, really tired.
As scary as that is to me, I know it is terrifying to those who care about me. And I’m sorry for that. I really am.
I want so much to fight tenaciously for what everyone else is hoping and praying for me. To be healed.
I no longer know whether that’s possible.
Being rigidly honest, these past few weeks have rocked me to my core.
My faith has been shaken.
My past isn’t what I thought it was.
I’m not who I thought I was.
All of these things I thought I knew for certain are now perilously tenuous and it’s as unsettling as you might imagine it to be.
Even still, in the midst of this turmoil and suffering I have found a sense of peace.
I can only attribute this to the love being showered constantly over me by my family and friends and the community of faith I have found both within these walls and “out there.”
I spent the duration of my first week in treatment not feeling God. I began to question His presence and even His very existence. I questioned my purpose, my identity and my salvation. I could not find it within me to reach out to Him or to read His Word or to pray.
But the community of faith, y’all. I can only begin to tell you how they showed up. In quiet ways, in bold ways, in silence, in sternness, oh how they showed up.
The friend who held space for me while I wept uncontrollably, unable to even give voice to that which afflicted me.
You who held out hope when I could find none at all to cling to.
A book, a card, a message, a package, a text, a phone call.
Even as you were met with my silence.
You are the nurse who sat on a chair on the other side of my shower curtain not caring that you were being sprayed and getting soaked. You sat with your hand through the curtain, outstretched and waiting so I could cling to it and steady myself. You called to me continually from your station in a full and crowded bathroom awaiting my response because you did not want me to hurt myself and you wanted to reassure me I was seen.
All who signed up and showed up to bring my family meals—to nourish our bodies, to comfort and care for us using food. Food! The thing that I am here battling with, warring with me against this plague called Anorexia by showing up in droves with FOOD to show His love.
Groceries graciously provided to my family.
You and your family brought us groceries. A special “summertime” lotion because you somehow knew it was my favorite season and recognized how much I might be struggling as it fades away while I am stuck inside apart from the sun. At the bottom of the card tucked inside—a name that I only know secondhand. I have never met you face to face. I don’t even know you and yet you have shown His love to me.
An army of believers praying on my behalf—praying FOR me—because I could not pray for myself.
I received your gentle reminders.
I sat with your bold exhortations.
I pressed back against your chastisement.
I pushed you away.
I let you go.
I asked you to let me go.
“Please stop loving me.”
Yet you were faithful.
And as I write this with tear stained cheeks, I still cannot comprehend the magnitude of His love for me.
He did not leave.
He did not forsake.
I know this for sure.
I know this because although I could not feel His presence, I felt yours.
I heard your voice.
You cried when my tears had long run out.
You soothed my broken heart by allowing yours to be broken with mine, for mine.
You disagreed with my point of view, with my decision, with my choices—you loved me through, you loved me in spite, you loved me anyway.
And there really are no words to tell you just how thankful I am for each of you. I can only tell you how gratefully and openly I received each expression of loving kindness. Thank you.
Counting down the days until I can thank you face to face. <3