by Jenna S.
The days seemed long. Hours dragged on and on. Tears always felt as if their presence was welcomed and it was as if there was a fog over my eyes, keeping me from seeing clearly. School was impossible, friends were shoved aside. I trusted very few people.
However, in my grade twelve year a few very special people came into my life. People that I felt like I could talk with: my music teachers, Jenn and Linsay. I could talk to them without fear of judgment. They listened to me and encouraged me. They loved on me and gave me so much of their time and, after a while, I trusted them enough to open up to them about my eating disorder.
When I told them this secret I had been carrying about my eating disorder, Linsay nodded, as if she had already known and had chosen to love me anyway. Jenn also responded slowly and with grace, her blue eyes overflowing with compassion. After that, I talked with Jenn and Linsay often, leaning on them for support as I battled the fear, panic, depression and obsession that clung to me day in and day out.
But then, one night everything changed. That particular night, my body was in survival mode and my mind was panicking. More than any other time, on this particular night I truly didn’t know what to do. Sobbing, I picked up the phone and dialed Jenn’s number. A soft and gentle voice answered and without a moment’s delay my crying escalated. All of me wanted to give up. I felt hopeless.
But Jenn told me I was worth it, and alluding to a conversation we had earlier that day she said, “You need help.” I didn’t believe her that I needed to go to inpatient treatment for my eating disorder, but I was beginning to understand that I did indeed need help. She told me I needed to talk to my parents about what I was struggling with, but I refused. She told me to apply to a residential treatment center that specializes in helping people overcome eating disorders but I refused. I didn’t know what to do and I knew I needed help, but I didn’t have any interest in taking her advice either. I was stuck. So, I went to bed.
Restless as I was, I decided to listen to music to calm down. My song of choice was “Heartlines” by Florence and the Machine. I cried as I listened to the verses and chorus, but found comfort in the hard-hitting and powerful rhythm. When the song’s bridge came, she sang:
“What a thing to do,
What a thing to choose,
But know, in some way, I’m there with you,
Up against the wall,
On a Wednesday afternoon.”
My thoughts about seeking help came to me slowly and almost exactly as the lyrics say. What a thing it would be to reach out to those around me. What a thing it would be to choose to ask for help in battling back against my eating disorder.
So I reached out and found out that I wasn’t alone. Linsay showed me each and every day that I had someone in my corner who would listen. Jenn promised that she had my back and said that she would support me in any way she could as I sought help. In my world, I realized that I had more than just people behind me – I also had the support of Jesus – the God I believed would stand with me through it all even if I was up against the wall even on a Wednesday – which it was.
At this point, I was too weak and exhausted from crying for so long to even walk down the hallway. But somehow I got up, floated to my parents’ bedroom, woke them up, and with all the calmness and confidence in the world I sat down in the dark and said, “I need help.” It was at that point I knew that I was ready for residential treatment for my eating disorder. I was a mess and my life was falling apart. It was time for things to change. It took a lot of courage, help from friends and the power of God for me to realize this, but it happened. My whole world flipped upside down that night and it was all for the better.
I knew that I was ready for residential treatment because I wanted and was willing to accept help from others. When I talked to my parents there were many doubts filling my mind, but I managed to push them aside long enough to be brave and ready myself for recovery.
If you are considering residential treatment for your eating disorder, let me tell you this: you will never be one hundred percent ready to take this next step. You need to stop waiting for that perfect moment. Act now. As humans we are meant to live in community. We were never meant to walk through this life alone, especially when we are struggling. You don’t have to hide anymore. There doesn’t have to be any more secrets. You can and will be free. Just take that first step. Tell someone that you need help. Residential treatment for my eating disorder saved my life. And it can save yours too.