When Your Medical History Haunts You

Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

I was misdiagnosed with anorexia when I was 11.

After childhood trauma, unrelenting stomach aches and uncontrollable, unpredictable vomiting, I gave up on eating. I didn’t want to eat anymore if food made me sick — what 10 year old wants to deal with that? I saw my pediatrician and after seeing my astonishing weight loss, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder and put into eating disorder treatment.

I spent the next 12 years in and out of every eating disorder treatment center in the country, learning the “tricks of the trade” and being self-destructive in every way I could possibly think of. My mission was slow destruction, and I tried my hardest. I had stomach aches because I was “mentally unstable.” It was painful to feel sick all the time, but it was more painful to be so alone and unheard. I adapted to my situation and was repeatedly thrown out of inpatient, residential, partial and outpatient treatment for my atypical behaviors.

Fast forward to 2018. Two years ago I reached a weight where my body was happy, and the thoughts around food went away for about six months. I thought I was finally free, I thought that I had won. In November of 2016, I got sick. And I’ve been sick for the past year and three months with mysterious GI symptoms that are just now being looked at. I’ve spent the past 15 months begging doctors to listen to me and help me so that I can live the life I’ve built for myself. But there’s this problem. My medical record has “eating disorder” stamped in big red letters.

Every time I go into the ER dehydrated, starving, weak and exhausted, begging for fluids and IV nausea medicine so that I can go on with my day, I’m judged. I’m ridiculed and lied to by doctors who call me “a waste of a hospital bed.” My fate is sealed because of my labels from the past, and right now it seems that unless I somehow can erase my mental health history, or move to a new state and start fresh, my situation is hopeless.

My mind is clear and I refuse to give up on myself. But when you’re sick and tired, it’s so hard to defend yourself against an all-mighty doctor who says you’re just lying.

I am not my mental illness history. And I deserve to get help. The stigma is painful, the label stings. But I won’t give up.

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Getty image via spukkato

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