Treatment – Con’t

After some deep soul-searching, I decided I needed to leave my job.  So, I planned and plotted and gave a resignation notice after a big project was completed at work which just happened to coincide with the end of my apartment lease.  Talk about great timing, this was a sign that I was making the right decision!  At this point, I was 6 months post-treatment although still seeing a therapist and going to group therapy each week.

I packed up my apartment and Tai Baby (he was so ready – see below!) and I moved in with my mom and step-dad with the dream of opening a center to treat people with Binge-Eating Disorder and Obesity.  And so….LifeStrides was born!





Treatment – Con’t

During treatment, we focused a lot on identifying “triggers.”  A “trigger” is an event, emotion or situation that prompts or causes a binge.  In completing those exercises, I realized that one of my biggest triggers was work.  I loved the work that I was doing running outpatient cancer clinics but the resulting stress was slowly killing my spirit.

But, how could I quit my job?  This had been my career for 20 years!  How would I live?  What would I do?  These were the pivotal questions for which I needed to do some soul-searching.

Treatment – Con’t

During treatment I saw a therapist every week.  To this day, I can’t remember a thing we talked about, I just know I cried a lot and she quickly drilled down to my sensitive core issues.  I’m sure the sessions had a positive affect so I really wish I could remember them!

Treatment – Cont

Two meals were served at the treatment center, breakfast and lunch which was the biggest adjustment for me.  I was given limited choices, a finite amount of food to eat and a time frame in which to eat it.  Eating with a group of girls who were anorexic and bulimic and who didn’t want to eat was really uncomfortable.  Here I was hoping for more food and trying to stretch the portion so I didn’t finish it within the first 5 minutes of the 30 minute meal when the others were trying to avoid it at all costs!  What a foreign concept.  To make matters worse, we had to avoid food rituals that I didn’t even know were food rituals until the counselor scolded me when I engaged in the behavior.  Can you say awkward?!?!

Treatment – Con’d

I was at the treatment center to get control of my eating, right?  Well, I didn’t see a nutritionist until about 3 days after I started treatment and my old, angry self was extremely annoyed by this.  I’m sure there was a method to the madness but I didn’t (and still don’t) see what it was.

Once I saw the nutritionist, it was explained that diets just don’t work and I wasn’t going to be given a plan to facilitate weight loss.  Weight loss would be a secondary result if I followed the food plan and became a normal eater.  What?!?!?!?  All I wanted to know was how I could stop bingeing and lose all this weight.  This was a totally foreign concept to me because losing weight had ALWAYS been the primary reason I followed any eating regimen.  Were they crazy?  How was I going to assimilate this new way of thinking about food?  Could I even get on board with it?

I finally decided that, yes, I could get on board because all of my old strategies hadn’t worked and I was desperate to get healthier.  Little did I know, this would completely change my whole perspective on food, dieting and eating and drastically change the course of my life.

Treatment – Con’d

I have decided to dedicate every Wednesday’s blog to telling the story of my treatment journey.

There were a lot of rules at my treatment center which made for a very serious and somber environment.  I guess that’s because patients were trying to recover from disorders that threatened their lives and structure was necessary.  We weren’t allowed to discuss specific types of foods or how we used symptoms.  It was hard to get used to at first and, of course, I stuck my foot in my mouth a couple of times before I caught on to the rules.  You see, there was no orientation so I was on my own to make the mistakes and endure the ensuing embarrassment.  I felt badly when I made these errors because I didn’t want to trigger any of the other patients.  I realized I was definitely on a steep learning curve.

Treatment – Con’d

During groups, I was most amazed by the young women who were being treated. These girls were 14, 15 and early to mid-twenties but wise beyond their years.  I suspect it was because they had been dealing with their eating disorders for a while and some had even undergone treatment before.  Being in the disorder and recovering from it requires much introspection to understand what causes it and how to heal from it.

I learned SO much from these young women, was inspired by and gained so much respect for them (don’t forget I was 39 at that time and knew it all :)). My wish for them all is that they find a way through these eating disorders so they can live happy and healthy lives. They all are so deserving.

I hope they’re reading because they know who they are and I love them so even though I haven’t seen them in over a year.

Treatment Environment

What impressed me most as I progressed through treatment was how nurturing and supportive the treatment environment was.  The girls/women in treatment, therapists, nutritionists and administrative staff were so kind and warm.  They truly wanted the best for me and I knew it because it was palpable…I actually felt it radiating from each person.  One talented young woman wrote me the most beautiful poem just because I was feeling “down” during treatment one day.  It was awe-inspiring and I wonder if she knows that I read it everyday and that it touches me just as much now as it did the first time I read it?

I realized that my work environment was the opposite and that awareness prompted the beginning of the end of my career as I knew it.

1st Day of Treatment – Continued

Even looking back, I can’t fully identify why I shed so many tears that day and throughout my Day Treatment program.  I was definitely overwhelmed with emotion I was unaccustomed to feeling since I stuffed them down with food for so long.  I remember feeling relief that I wasn’t a failure because I couldn’t lose weight…I was diagnosed with and being treated for a legitimate disorder that prohibited me from doing so with conventional weight loss methods.  It was reassuring that others were going through the same struggles I was but I was surprised to learn that not all women thought the same way I did about food and weight.    I was embarrassed that I needed to have this treatment and ashamed that I was crying in front of strangers – I didn’t want anyone’s pity or to appear weak.  I was also ashamed and embarrassed about my heavy weight.  I know this is all paradoxical but my thoughts at that time were a little mixed up and all over the place!  I guess that’s why I needed to be there so badly.

1st Day of Treatment

On August 15, 2012, I arrived at the Renfrew Center in Old Greenwich, Connecticut to start treatment.  I was to be there 5 days a week for 5 weeks – talk about intense!  Upon arrival, I had no idea what to expect and was feeling nervous, anxious and embarrassed.  I walked into a room full of girls and women who were 20 years younger and looked nothing like me and, as you can imagine, my discomfort grew exponentially.  Not only did I feel like a “fish out of water”, I was expected to attend group therapy with strangers!  Ummm – I didn’t do group therapy.  However, my tune quickly changed as the group started sharing and I realized that I had more in common with these wonderful young women than I thought and that’s when the tears began.