Thank You to the Eating Disorder Treatment Center That Saved My Life
Editor’s Note: The treatment center name has been changed to protect the identities of those involved.
I am not who you would expect.
I graduated from college with honors. I moved across the country to follow my dreams. I sang and danced and loved life. I was represented by respected talent agencies. I smiled, always. I helped others. I never had a dangerously low BMI.
I am not who you would expect.
But it was me. I was the girl woken up at 6 a.m. who put on a gown for her morning weigh-in. I was the girl whose vital signs were so irregular she had to drink Gatorade at all hours. I was the girl who spent days and nights hiding under blankets, crying. I was the girl who broke down in front of a bowl of yogurt. I was the girl who broke her parent’s hearts. I was the girl who wanted to end her life.
As I depart from treatment for what I truly believe to be my last time, my heart is full of gratitude. Cherry Hill Place has served as my lifeline a handful of times now and each time has sent me back into the world feeling stronger than before.
To my primary therapist, thank you. You are the one who fought for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. You saw through my tears and my attitude, through my lies and deflection – you saw me for me. You fought tirelessly to pull me out of my spiral of self-hatred and sadness. You didn’t give me the option not to continue living. You believed in me wholeheartedly, and made it clear I was going to make it through this. You didn’t give up on me when I admitted again. Instead, you jumped right back in, ready to fight for me and with me. You truly championed my process from start to finish. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
To my expressive art therapist, thank you. You listened to my sadness, empathized and helped me express what my darkness looked like. You encouraged my creativity and helped me remember the healing power of movement. You allowed me to be silly, to be sad, to be happy, to be curious. You hugged me when I came in crying, you processed with me when my heart was broken and you celebrated with me when I found hope. Whenever I move or paint or sing or draw, I will be grateful for you.
To each and every member of direct care, thank you. You were truly in the trenches with me. You sat with me as tears fell into my pasta. You curled up on the couch with me and played your favorite songs to pull me out of panic. You sat on the edge of my bed as I sobbed, unsure of how to move on. You played games to distract from meals and snacks. You spoke to me about the beauty of life and of what you saw for me. You helped me see the beauty of life and treated me like a friend. Every day, it was you I looked forward to seeing. You never let me give up. It is you who I will miss every day.
To my sisters and brothers in recovery, thank you. First and foremost, I believe in you, just as you believe in me. I could not have fought these demons without you by my side. You kept me going bite by bite. You’re the ones I cried with and laughed with. You’re the ones who saw me at rock bottom and still decided to love me. You’re the ones who pushed me further when I didn’t believe I had the strength. You’re the faces I see when I’m teetering at the top of the rabbit hole. One of you is no longer here and your presence is noticeable and heartbreaking. For you, I keep fighting. You are the reason I continue in the face of sheer terror. I live for you and dance for you, because you no longer can. You all are beautiful, strong beyond belief, talented, loving and capable. We have made the journey together and for you, I will continue fighting. We will do this together.
While discharging from treatment is an exciting time, I will be leaving a small part of my heart in the halls of Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill gave me my life back. They returned the color to my face, the softness to my body, the life to my eyes and the joy to my heart. I will forever be thankful for the place Cherry Hill has in my life. For the beautiful, committed, wise people who treated me and for the incredibly strong men and women who fought by my side.
Thank you, Cherry Hill.
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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.