Today marks two months since I was admitted to Center for Discovery, so I figured this was a perfect time to begin talking about my experience in more detail. I’ll be including pieces of my journal entries and anything I felt was important during my time there. It may get hard, confusing, saddening, joyful, frustrating, and silly. This is real and raw. This is my residential story.
I was admitted into CFD on November 19, 2015, but the story to get there began 6 days earlier. I was exhausted from searching and contacting so many different treatment centers. Every single one was a dead end in some way: long wait list, insurance wasn’t accepted, huge and impersonal, on and on. I decided on a whim and last effort I would contact the one Sheri had emailed me about, Center for Discovery. I sent and email and waited. Not even ten minutes later I got the phone call that would change my life forever.
Not only was the lovely admitting lady at CFD giving me a chance, she vowed to fly me out and have me admitted by the end of the week. I was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I finally had hope, although fear accompanied and nearly overshadowed it. I spent the next few days preparing mentally and packing. Early the next Thursday my dad dropped me off at the airport.
The first flight felt much longer than two and a half hours. I grew more anxious with each passing minute, plus a rather irritating kid was next to me eating the whole time. My layover in Denver was pretty short and since I was so into my ED despite choosing to go to treatment, I didn’t eat a thing. If the first flight felt long the second was an eternity. I was actually shaking a little by the end of it. I really didn’t want to get off the plane at all. I knew my life was about to change. I wasn’t going to come back from California as sick as I was. Although I wholeheartedly wanted that with most of my being, part of me wanted to turn around and head back to my same sick life.
God sent an angel, AKA the the best house manager/one who keeps everyone afloat, R! Talking with her while waiting on my luggage helped calm my nerves at least a tiny bit. I immediately really liked her. She was funny and welcoming. We spent the whole half hour ride talking about different things, and she pointed out some landmarks along the way. I was amazed by the beauty of San Diego, and also grew more comfortable speaking with her. By the time we got to the house it felt less like I was going to prison and more like I would be at a home where people truly cared. She answered so many of my questions and calmed fears. I am forever thankful for that first hour after I landed.
Once we arrived at the house I was given a quick tour. I remember immediately thinking how lucky I was to be in such a homey and beautiful place. Every staff I passed gave a warm welcome. I was absolutely terrified of meeting the girls so I tried to hide from them as we passed by the milieu. Weird, I know, but I was certain they would hate me or that I’d be way much larger than them or any number o things that could go wrong. I think part of that was how some people at FV were. I didn’t want to deal with a situation like that for a whole month. Once I got through the tour it was time for all the assessments. I also gave up my cell phone and personal belongings so they could be sorted through.
I remember being very overwhelmed that first day. It felt like never-ending assessments with all of these people I wasn’t sure whether to trust or not. My ED was screaming the whole time that I needed to walk out the door. Those first couple hours at the house were scary. I began by meeting with the nurse, S, and Dr. S, the MD. I loved S right away and felt a little better. Dr. S was really nice as well. Next came a meeting with my therapist C, which wouldn’t have been too bad if not for the fact that they made me eat snack during it. I got to choose anything to eat (not a luxury in the ED world!) and I nearly broke down just from that. I ended up with a granola bar and spent the entire hour nibbling at it. It was only the second thing I’d had that day. I liked C, but I was consumed in the ED so I didn’t feel so great while we talked. All I know is that we managed to get through all o the questions and I was sent to the next person. The dietitian N was next. I immediately liked her, until she explained the meal plan. They work off an exchange plan where you’re able to split up your exchanges any way you please throughout the day, minus dinner which has a pre-decided entree and sides. It was so different from anything I’ve had in the past. I HATED it. I cried and struggled to plan even the one day’s worth of meals necessary. Luckily she was patient and helped me out. After N, I was done with assessments for the day and was able to go into the milieu and meet the other girls. Cue anxiety!
I didn’t actually sit down again until dinner. It was kitchen skills night which meant we got to help in the kitchen. I was put right in and began chopping veggies. That was a great intro because it allowed me to be around the other girls without the awkwardness of sitting there with nothing to say. The diet tech that night was also so peppy and friendly that I felt at ease. Dinner wasn’t terrible at all! I thought I was going to die beforehand, but it went fine. I really enjoyed that we ate family style with staff. We had conversation the whole time which helped with my strong ED thoughts. The meal went much better than I thought. I was supported and explained anything I had questions on. After dinner was free time in the milieu.
Thank Jesus for how amazing LK and RB are. I couldn’t have asked for two better girls to start treatment with. They answered my questions and offered support. We watched some good crime shows, laughed, and got to know each other that night. Looking back now, I am so thankful there were only three of us my first week and a half. It was so calm basically the entire time. We each had our own couch (its the little things :P), got along perfectly, were supportive of each other, and became close. If I was instead thrown into the chaos and craziness of 5 people who were neither stable or able to get along like my last week there, I would have ran right out.
I met and got to know one of my favorite staff members overall after dinner. T was the nurse for second shift. If I wasn’t sure that the staff at CFD were amazing before, she sealed the deal. I needed an EKG but we ended up spending a good half hour talking back in the med room after. She is one of the sweetest women I have ever met. She truly helped me relax and feel comfortable. At that point, without meeting even half the staff yet, I wrote in my journal that CFD has the best staff ever. Oh how much that statement would come true during my time there.
I went to sleep that night smiling and thanking God. Yes, I was at a treatment center for an eating disorder that I wasn’t so sure I needed to get rid of. Yes, I was about to embark on the hardest journey of my life. Yes, I was thousands of miles away from anything I knew. Even so, I fell to my knees, in tears, in awe of the blessing I had received in coming to CFD. I knew I’d made the right decision, both in seeking treatment and choosing this place to come to. It was the first time I realized that I would come home changed for the better and that I truly wanted that for myself. I cling to these hopes with all my being to this day.