Thoughts About The Intervention & Inpatient Eating Disorder Treatment 25 Years Later

This started as a reply to a Facebook post, but I got long-winded as usual… *rolling eyes*

I had an full blown intervention done on me when I was working as an RN in the detox unit of a chem dep treatment center in the Hill Country. Eight or nine co-workers ambushed my butt after working a double shift. I had dropped a lot in just 3 months (like %25 of my wt in that 3 months, %40 in 9 months). While I hated leaving my dog, and not being at work, I was exhausted. I didn’t have anything to say to ‘make my case’. They had the van, driver, and ‘babysitter’ (nurse I worked with) ready with the plane ticket. I flew on my own, which was medically questionable to the other nurses, but was met at the transferring airport, as well as LAX- where I could barely see from fatigue, and had an hour drive to the facility (it sucked- as in being in the business and knowing what to look for, not just being bummed at being there as an inmate). The driver asked what pills I’d taken because I was drifting off- it was pure exhaustion, from working the double, getting about 2 hours sleep at the facility where they had cabins (my coworker stayed in one on the weekends to avoid having to drive back and forth for 12-hour shifts), and being weak in general. There were between 3-6 eating disorder patients at the drug/alcohol rehab place, and we were the oddballs. They finally put our dining room table behind an ‘accordion’ partition so staring at us while we ‘ate’ wasn’t as easy. Early on, when going on beach walks, I couldn’t keep up. The sand was impossible to walk in. Cold turkey from laxatives was horrific (I threatened to steal the vacuum cleaner from housekeeping if they didn’t do something after a week)… but my coworkers cared enough not to let me die. They’d rather I live and be mad at them vs. regretting doing nothing after I died. My primary doc had given me a couple of weeks to survive.

My weight wasn’t low (I started very overweight), but the skin on my heels had come off, leaving craters, and I couldn’t focus. If I ate cereal, it was one piece. In my mind, it was a WHOLE PIECE. If the medication nurse left small pieces of food on a plate near me after saying something like “I’m so full, do you want this?” (uh, no… but I’d take pieces if nobody was looking- I knew she was trying to help- and I was tired of my main prayer at night being “God, please just let me wake up tomorrow, I don’t want to die in my sleep.“) I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t know how to eat enough to function. It was my worst relapse.

Once I got nutritionally patched up (took another 3 years after I was sent home to no aftercare to be able to eat in front of other people- which bosses noticed, though I did eat holed up in my office or behind the office door at the rehab place), my thinking completely changed to more normal views on food (the starvation really messed up food reality) but I had to treat myself like I’d take care of someone else as an RN. I didn’t have the self worth to work on ME, but thinking of myself as one of my patients helped a lot. I had a checklist of food groups I had to consume (from the info the registered dietician gave me at the inpatient place- she was sane), or I didn’t allow myself to exercise. If I really fell short, there was the dreaded Ensure.

I knew I was on my own- the “big mouth” at OA (all 3 people; we met in a parking lot, sitting on the ground… so lovely šŸ™„) would bring the diet of the week that we “should all be using”. I bailed on that, but got some OA books and other ED recovery books written for professionals. I was eventually allowed to go back to work at the treatment center, where I still struggled with food, but was doing a lot better. I went on to work at a nice nursing home, and a hospital before moving back to my hometown out of state. That was 25 years ago. I can’t say it’s never a struggle- it’s daily to some degree, but the treatment center was horrifying, and the fear of going back to someplace like that was more awful. It’s since been shut down.

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