Withering and Flourishing

April 4, 2017
By , New Orleans, LA

My mom always told me, “You never know what a day will bring.” This saying became clear to me when I was sent 1,674 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California to be treated for severe anorexia. The night before my departure was when I found out I would be sent away. My parents did not know how long I would be going, and I thought my life was over. Questions raced through my head. What was I going to tell my friends? What were people going to think? I could not fathom spending my eighteenth birthday, and my senior year in utter seclusion.

I have always struggled with body image; however, my anorexia began my junior year. I grew frail, weak, and empty. I was isolated, depressed, and irritable demolishing nearly every relationship I so deeply cherished. I would lay in bed with hunger gnawing at my stomach, begging to be fed. I was “too strong” to give in, and I had to “control” myself. I would run until I literally thought my heart was going to stop, and my lungs were going to cave in. Despite this agony, I was convinced that I was fine. I remember one of my friends asking me, “Are you related to the twins? You kind of resemble them.” People no longer recognized me, and I was shocked that I had allowed myself into such a dark place. My parents had no idea what to do; they were desperate to save their daughter. My outpatient team quit in fear of my life. Therefore, my parents thought it would be best to try and control my every move by keeping me at home. I had no means to contact the outside world, and I was literally going psychotic; sitting in my room for two weeks straight. This method for recovery was clearly not going to work. My parents had to figure out something, and they had to act fast.

August 16, 2016 was the day I was admitted to Monte Nido Vista in Southern California. I was scared, weak, and angry at the world. However, deep down inside, all I wanted was my life back. As we pulled in the driveway that lay in the beautiful canyon outside of Malibu, I saw a large mansion beyond the black gate. I walked in the big brown door and saw the eleven other girls that I would be living with for the next few months. Upstairs, were six bedrooms, two girls in each. My roommate arrived on that same day, and we began our journey as the two youngest in the house.

The first two weeks, I was mentally exhausted. I would cry myself to sleep. I woke up feeling like there was a pit in my stomach; alone, exhausted, and fearful of what the day would bring. I would wake up to the nurse each morning at around half past five o’clock for vitals. Then, I would take a shower, and try to be the first person to the only computer in the house so I could try and contact my family, and beg for them to come take me home. Waiting for meal times was like watching paint dry. What is usually a happy gathering for close friends became the most fear filled experiences for many of us. Waiting in agony for yet another meal, another snack, day after day horrified my fellow comrades and myself. We had to talk each other through tear filled meals and play games to pass the time. I attended a plethora of groups in hopes of calming my obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and get to the bottom of what led me down this dark, and deadly path.

Although the experience was extremely difficult, and I would not wish it upon my worst enemy, I grew closer than I ever thought possible with God and with my peers. I had to experience one of the most difficult things that I will ever have to go through; however, I will never forget the amazing memories that we made together. We found the joy, light, and special moments that make life worth living. It is still a daily struggle for me, but I know that the possibility of having the life I dream of is worth the battle.

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