Residential treatment, that is.
When I was at the ANAD support group two weeks ago discussing my food rules, the conversation had turned to another person when suddenly the social worker who leads the group broke in.
I’m sorry, she said. I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable, but you’re doing counseling once a week, right? And seeing a dietician once a week? And coming here every other week? That’s all?
Yes, I answer.
Do you think that’s enough?
Enter the old party line: Well, I know everyone else thinks I’ve got a problem and I know I’m sort of funny about food, but it’s not like that. It’s really not that bad.
Monday, in counseling, I tell my counselor about the past week in the fuzziest of details. I avoid the shameful truth where possible and gloss over the details. Tell her about the near-breakdown I had on Sunday, how I felt like I had exhausted all my options: I prayed. I read the Bible. I cried. I screamed. I called a friend. I went for a run. And I was still left with self-hatred that burned a hole from the inside out and that I couldn’t and can’t get rid of. I tell her I couldn’t do that again. Screw the meal plan – if this is what eating is going to mean, I’m out. I can’t function in the world and attempt recovery simultaneously. Something’s gotta give and I’ve got too many responsibilities to be screaming and crying and breaking down on an hourly basis.
What your nutritionist and I are asking you to do is hard, Jessica. It is really, really hard. And yes, it is going to mean feeling a whole lot of emotions. I grimace. And I see you making a lot of effort, but maybe it’s not enough in this context. Maybe you need the kind of help that residential treatment offers. And that’s not shameful, but you have to admit that you don’t have control of this any more.
She talks about eating disorders as addictions. Talks about me as an addict. Me, with an eating disorder. Me, unable to fight my way out of this thing without some serious help. We talk about the option of adding a second counseling session each week. She tells me that what I need right now is a point of contact every. single. day. Someone professional to sit down with me, ask me the hard questions, and force me to answer them. I tell her I’ll think about it. But my mind goes automatically to the money, to the question of how the heck I would pay for a second counseling session when I’m already stretched thin. How the heck would I pay for residential treatment? Or even intensive outpatient?
Tuesday, I find myself in my pastor’s office, talking to his wife. A strange series of events and moments of clarity have brought me here and when she asks me what’s going on, there is this:
I, um, well…it seems that I have an eating disorder. Which, I mean, I’ve been fighting since last fall and I’ve been throwing everything at it that I can. But it seems to be getting worse.
For the next hour, I talk in circles, try to avoid the details, but she asks all the right questions and I am too tired to lie. We talk about the options, about how I may need to go away to really heal. We talk about my value in the Kingdom of God and my call to missions, which I have all but forgotten the past month, about how Satan desperately desires me dead so I can do nothing. We talk about how to make it through the next days and we pray.
We pray for hope. We pray for peace. We pray for clarity. And we pray for financial provision for residential treatment.