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5 Ways Going to Residential Treatment for My Mental Health Surprised Me

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.

Last summer, I went into residential treatment for my bipolar I disorder and, primarily, my eating disorder. There were a lot of things about going to residential that I definitely expected.

A lot of sleepless nights, therapy sessions, dietary sessions, and crying. Lots and lots of crying.

But here are some of the things I absolutely did not expect when I walked through those doors on Friday, July 13. (Yes, I entered treatment on Friday the 13th.)

1. Triggers.

It’s not until you’re inside the same house practically 24/7, unlocking the deepest parts of your brain and mind, that you really realize a lot about yourself. You begin to learn about all of your triggers and what sets you off. When you’re crying out of anger, you don’t just get to brush it off and say “I don’t know why.” You work through it until you understand what made you so upset.

2. Breakthroughs.

Every single breakthrough, no matter how big or how seemingly small, is special. There are many times when you don’t think you’re going to make it through and then something happens, maybe conquering a fear food, sharing in a group or simply getting one full night’s sleep, and you realize everything is a process.

3. Trial and error.

This can apply to anything, but it’s especially true with medications. You try one and it doesn’t do anything for you. You refuse another medication. One medication gives you an allergic reaction. Another one makes you feel like a zombie. It can get overwhelming but I promise you’ll eventually find one, or two, or three, or however many it takes to get you feeling like a human again. Personally, I went through five or six medications before finding the perfect concoction. After going through so many, I thought there couldn’t possibly be any more for me to try and at times I felt like a science experiment, but it was well worth it when my medications started working.

4. Incredible insight.

From the counselors, therapists, dietitians, psychiatrists and doctors, you receive the most mind-blowing and amazing insight — things you’ve never thought about before or even dreamed you would ever know. You begin to know so much more about yourself, all because of your treatment team’s insight.

5. Amazing housemates.

This one, you really might not expect. Meeting some of the most inspiring people that come from all walks of life. Your housemates soon become like family to you. You begin to share your life story as they share theirs and you realize they understand you like no other person ever has. You feel a love and a bond between everyone that you’ve never felt before.

And suddenly, your residential house begins to feel like home.

Photo by Abigail Faith on Unsplash

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