What It Was Like Spending the Holidays in a Treatment Center

I was admitted to Center for Change (CFC), a treatment center for eating disorders in Utah, on December 21, 2015 — yes, four days before Christmas. I knew what I was giving up, a holiday most cherished by many, but the staff at CFC were not comfortable with me postponing may admission date any further.

When I got to the actual center, it was decorated with paper ornaments and other DIY projects that were deemed safe for us to be exposed to. The morning of Christmas, I remember getting up, putting on my hospital gown, and sitting on the edge of my bed, waiting to get help so I could get in my wheelchair to be weighed. A smiling care tech came and wheeled me out where I heard Christmas music and saw presents, loads of them! We all stayed in our pajamas and went to breakfast. Now, being in a facility to treat eating disorders, starting off your day with a holiday-themed meal is, to say the least, heated. When we were all done either having accomplished a meal or needing to supplement, we gathered around, all seven of us, and grabbed a stocking and Santa hat filled to the brim with nail stickers, hygiene products, gift cards, toys and so much more. I found it truly magical that all of these things were donated to the inpatient unit. Between the adult unit and the adolescent unit, there were at least 30 to 40 patients at the time.

After we were done opening individual presents, it was time for the unit gifts. There were mini foosball, ping pong and pool tables for each unit, coloring books, and even a Buddha Board. I’ve been on both sides — the donating and receiving — and I have to say it truly can make a difference to the patients. That day I will hold in my heart forever. I am so thankful to those who bought or donated anything.

Being in the hospital during the holidays does not need to be something to be sad about. There can be so many opportunities to have an amazing time. I know being thousands of miles away from friends and family while seeing others visit their loved ones might sound like the worst Christmas ever, but for me, it was exactly the opposite. No, I didn’t get expensive gifts, but I believe I got something better: a day where I could try and relax and think of the good in my life and what to fight for.

Last year, I feel I learned the true meaning of Christmas: to be thankful, and that charity can go a long way. Also, don’t watch “Marley & Me” on Christmas. So, whether you are away from home or in the hospital this year, don’t forget we can always be thankful for what we have, and there is always next year.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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