I hate that I have posted so many ED related topics lately, but the idea of investing in yourself is something I think can apply to anyone. In order to live a healthy lifestyle, it is important to have self-confidence, and believe you are worth it. This is something I definitely struggle with and one of the many reasons I think Caitlin, of Healthy Tipping Point, is so amazing for starting her Operation Beautiful movement. It is so easy to get wrapped up in negative self-talk and personal doubts, which can ultimately prevent us from pursuing our goals, or finding true happiness. So I apologize in advance for this lengthy entry. It is just another piece of my story and one of the many lessons I have learned from the difficult recovery journey…
Last year, after being in one inpatient hospital and a few partial day programs with no success, my therapist demanded suggested trying a residential facility. The idea behind residential treatment is re-learning how to live in a more healthy/productive manner. I don’t think I ever had a problem being productive. I even argued I was more efficient with an eating disorder because I barely slept and was constantly looking for things to do to keep my mind off being starved or wanting food. But I did need to learn to live again and re-evaluate my version of self-care. Ryan’s stipulation for residential was that it was not close enough for me to come home.
You see the first inpatient stay was very ineffective. I was at Princeton hospital, about two and a half hours from our home so he came almost every weekend, and I often had visitors during weekday hours. The real problem was my family did not have near as much knowledge about eating disorders and addiction as they do now, so they totally believed my lies when I told them I needed/was ready to come home. I actually signed myself out, against medical advice, claiming I was back in control of my life and could manage my treatment plan at home. Ryan was hesitant but I was manipulative and conniving and just wanted to go back to my comfortable way of life. I did not like that they were force feeding me things I had not had since I was a little girl, and I especially did not like that I was made to talk about the painful events or people of my past. I wanted out and I wanted out quickly so I did everything I could to get my way. Am I proud of this? Absolutely not! I pride myself on being an honest, good person. But when it came to my addiction, I could change into someone I don’t even want to know, at the drop of a hat.
But back to residential. Ryan didn’t want me to be in a place where it was easy for me to convince other family members I was ready for discharge. I don’t even think he wanted to be enticed to come get me. Since I had been sick of a very long time it was recommended a 60-90 day stay and I think we were both nervous we would let our emotions and missing each other persuade a decision of an early departure so to avoid the temptation he insisted on me being outside of easy driving distances. This landed me in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the Focus Center for Recovery.
I have a lot of good things to say about Focus. The dietician I worked with was wonderful and I still trust her more than any treatment professional I have ever had. She was compassionate and undestanding, pushed moderation and health, took us out for meals twice a week, took us grocery shopping and helped us cook once a week, and spent a lot of time in individual sessions reiterating the irrationality of the voices within our heads. The downfall of the program is they are not designed for a rapid weight gain recovery, which as science has proven, is the only way for someone who is severely undernourished to get better.
So we arrive at Focus in early May and receive a few bouts of bad news.
1. They weren’t sure they wanted to accept me into the program because of my vital signs and nutritional state.
2. Insurance would not cover the residential portion, only hospitalization fees and we could choose to pay room and board out of pocket.
If you are familiar with how much addiction treatment costs, it is nearly $1000 a day, some places very much more. When we heard what the cost would be per day, multiplied by the number of days I was projected to be there I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack. I told Ryan he needed to take me home immediately because there was no way in hell I was going to ask my Dad to pay that kind of money (he was generous enough to be helping us at this point). Ryan called my father and filled him in on the scenerio while I sat in the conference room and thought. “Are you f***I** kidding me?! I really don’t want to gain any weight I just want these stupid thoughts out of my head. I could definitely do this at home if it is going to cost this kind of money. Hell my stress will increase ten fold if I know the financial burden this is putting on everyone…” Oh and then it gets worse. Ryan hands me the phone and mpuths my dad wanted to talk to me….
To summarize the conversation he explained he wanted ME to pay for it out of the money I had left from what my Grandparents gave me for college. WHAT??!?!?!?!?!?
Yes, he said think of it as an investment in myself; CJ Inc. If I could not believe in myself enough, and my ability to get better, to pay for the treatment center, then why should anyone else? It’s like business, he said, if you believe you have a great idea and want to turn it into a profitable enterprise you have to do a little investing. You have to front the money, and work very hard to become a success. He continued that is proven people put more effort into things when they know it is their money on the line. Or perhaps an easier analogy is like when you are a teenager with your first job and you purchase some new clothes with the initial paycheck. How good do you feel wearing that new outfit? Do you take special care to wash it properly? Not get it dirty? How did you act about all the clothes you had that you didn’t pay for? I myself often tried them on and threw them on the floor. Or washed my black shirts repeatedly even if they weren’t dirty because I was too lazy to hang them up. Anyway, his point was clear, how could I expect anyone to invest in me, CJ Inc. as he called it, if I was not willing to invest in myself? If I did not value myself enough to believe I could succeed?
I got off the phone and cried for about a half hour. I cried because my messed up mind kept telling me, he doesn’t want to help you pay for treatment because he doesn’t care if you live or die. That is how the eating disorder works. It tells you nasty, untruthful things like that to make you feel bad about yourself at all times. But really he was trying to tell me I was worth it. He believed in me, and I should too. I should want to pay for my treatment because I should have confidence to know it will work and I will ultimately be a better person as a result. Unfortunately I was not ready to believe that. I did stay at Focus because at that point Ryan and I were both exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. We needed those two months to regroup, and I needed them to give my body nutrients to sustain my life for a little while longer.
So like I said, this is not just a lesson in eating disorders, treatment, or money. In fact, the most important thing to remember from my long, rambly story is that we as individuals are all worthy of life; we are all capable of being successful in whatever it is we strive for. Most of the time, what prevents us from achieving success is reluctance, fear, and negative self-talk. So next time you set out to accomplish a goal and get down on yourself, thinking it is outside the realm of attainability, remember the only reason it would be impossible is if you didn’t try. My favorite quote of all time comes from Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Maybe I should repeat that to myself a little more often because self-doubt has held me back from at least three years of life…
Thanks for listening.
How do you combat the negative voice?
How do you “invest” in your well-being?