2 weeks until finals. I have started studying. Yes, me–the ultimate procrastinator has started studying. Finals this quarter are fing scary. so scary. I can almost hear every person in class mentally chant: pass pass pass pass pass pass pass pass. We have 8 terrifying–half your grade is decided–tests in 4 days. Fun.
That is not why I say ‘blah’ though. I say it because of eating disorders. Did I write about this already??? I am not sure if I did but let me just say eating disorders are dark and depressing and (don’t laugh) all consuming for patients.
‘What did you expect?’ you say. Well I expected it to be like the TRUE STORY books I read as a preteen–you know where the main character has an eating disorder but it works out and she gets the perfect boyfriend and no longer feels the need to put mayonasie jars of vomit in her closet. You know, dramatic.
I spent two clinicals on an eating disorder unit. Two painfully long, boring, horrible clinicals. I am not saying the patients were boring and awful–the patients were intelligent and actually cared about each other. But there isn’t any vomit hiding- there is only cutting and cutting and cutting of foods that don’t need to be cut, minute upon minute of struggling to eat during timed meals, or sipping of water between each minuscule bite, or talking and talking about the anxiety caused from a slight change in schedule. There are also scars from suicide attempts, childhood abuse, rape, and harm–sometimes physcial and self inflicted.
I think part of me expected to walk in and make that moment happen for some of the patients there– you know the moment where they see what they are doing and allthesudden they are better and they thankyou while taking huge mouthfuls of food. I knew that was impossible but I still half expected it. Instead you enter a room where trust and hope were shattered years ago and replaced by dark depression and the need to do anything in order to not eat–including manipulating, lying, cheating.
Apart from meals and group there is silence. On all the other units I’ve been on there is always some sort of commotion going on–usually positive chatting or the occasional fight or argument but this unit was deathly silent. It was tense.
These patients have been hospitalized so many times and will do anything to purge or lose weight–so rules are strict. Meals are timed and you have to finish, no pockets or hoods at the table, bathroom doors are locked during and for 1/2 hour after meals, you cannot leave the table during meals, you cannot be in your room by yourself, if you are on bedrest then you are in bed all the time, if you are on partial you can use a wheel chair to go to meals but you cannot walk. It is insane. literally.
I am not saying that these patients do not get better but what they are dealing with is so powerful that its hard to see them as ever getting the chance to be healthy. These people are so sick with an eating disorder that they HAVE to be hospitalized (this is the place where patients are put on mandatory bed rest to conserve calories or tube fed). The age range of patients on the unit was 19 to 65. It is so hard to end.
I used to envy the willpower to not eat a bit because sometimes I think I could benefit from a little ‘noteating’ but not anymore. These patients have no power, no control–even though not eating is all about control. They have this monster sitting beside them telling them how fat they are, how ugly, how awful.
Above is a clip from the Documentary ‘Thin.’ It, at least with my 2 clinicals, is unexaggerated and very like what I saw.
But one more thing caught me by surprise–to me, none of the patients or girls in ‘Thin’ really looked that, well, thin. Our culture has become so anorexic that even starving people don’t look starving. How fucked up is that?!?