Leaving inpatient? a long drive from Denver back to Houston

by Elizabeth on April 2, 2013

Hello! As Joe said in his post yesterday, my departure from ERC was semi abrupt for lack of a better word? Let’s back up. After my first AWOL journey only 3 days after being there, I agreed to stay and complete the program. I knew it was where I needed to be for the time, but that didn’t change the fact that not a minute went by where I didn’t think about when I could go home. I wanted to share with you two things that helped me through the toughest times.

1. I started thinking about my life and where I saw myself in 10, 20, and 50 years. I didn’t want to be 80 and look back wishing I did things differently. I didn’t want to spend my whole life in this disorder, chasing something that was illusive in the end anyway. I wanted a full, joyful, existence that I could look back and be proud of.

2. When my relative came to see me that first weekend, she shared a lot of her own experiences with me that I never even knew she went through. Her spouse died the year prior due to addiction, and she told me often times she looked at him and felt like she didn’t even know who he was. She was appalled at his behavior and who he had become. THIS MAJORLY SHOOK ME UP. The thought of Joe, my best friend in the whole world, looking at me and thinking this wasn’t bearable. I knew I had to change and if in that moment I couldn’t do it for myself, I would do it for him.

So back I went?. My psychiatrist and therapist would tell me weekly I was making great progress and it wouldn’t be long before I was discharged home. For those of you who know me, I am a MAJOR homebody. It’s just part of who I am, so you can imagine how hard living in another state away from family in the middle of your pregnancy would be. I remember the first time I woke up because Noah was moving like crazy in the middle of the night. I could feel it from the outside which was a new experience and yet I was alone in my room. I had no one to share that moment with and so I laid there and cried. I also remember the day my niece turned one and the whole family was celebrating her birthday back in Texas. They sent me a video of her eating her cake so I could share in part of the day and again, I cried. I felt like I was missing SO MUCH and there was no end in sight.

PHP (the second half of my stay there) wasn’t required after inpatient. At first there was no way I was going to agree to do it when there was a similar support program at home, but 1. I had no choice and no money, and 2. it made sense to do it for a short time because if I struggled really bad with new freedoms and needed to move back to a higher level care I was right there still. In a family session with my therapist and Joe, we were told a lot of times when patients do well in PHP, they stay a week or two and then are discharged home. In my head I thought, “I made it this far, I can handle a week or two if it means going home.”

The transition to PHP was pretty smooth. I had struggles of course, but that was to be expected. Nothing crazy happened. I was so lucky that Joe was able to move up there with me! If anyone tells him this I might have to kill you ;-) but I actually do like Denver. Like he said, we enjoyed parks, really cool restaurants, and even got to take a few trips to the mountains. I’m never going to admit it to him though because I like to be really dramatic and pretend I was traumatized by that city?

Back to the story, two weeks came and went and my new therapist (you change when you step down) acted like staying a week or two was never the case. She told me that 6-8 weeks was more normal but again wouldn’t commit to anything. I realize my attitude wasn’t the best, but it was really hard to feel like I was being strung along and tricked constantly. It also made it hard to work on deeper issues that needed attention because honestly, I didn’t trust these people. At this point, I had access to money and I knew the choice to stay was mine because technically I could leave at any point. I chose to stay though.

The week came where Joe needed to go offshore. He flew back to Houston (I think it was a Sunday?) and I had our car to drive to and from PHP. Monday morning I woke up like any other day. I drove to the facility and had breakfast and our morning snack. I honestly wasn’t planning on leaving that day or I would have just drove home when I woke up that morning and not gone in at all. After snack a girl who worked there came up to me and told me she needed another urine sample because they were testing for drugs. Looking back, I can see how this might have been protocol, but I flipped out. I hadn’t come this far, and gone through this much to be accused of doing drugs! I’ve never touched any kind of drug in my life and wasn’t about to start when I was 6 months pregnant. I decided then and there to leave because I had had it. I walked out of the building without signing out, got in my car, drove back to Joe’s uncles house to pack, and set out back to Texas. Maybe it was my crazy pregnancy hormones or maybe it was just my time to leave.

I made sure I had a plan in place for when I got home. Letting myself slip wasn’t an option. I began going to a place called the Sentido Center the same week I came home for weekday lunches and snacks. We also had groups and individual therapy. I still go there twice a week to this day- a year and a half later. To say it has been life changing would be the biggest understatement I could give you. They catered to whatever level of care I needed and once I knew I was in a trustworthy place, we’ve done nothing but deep, life changing work. Living life through the lens of an eating disorder requires some serious psychological and spiritual overhauls and there’s no one I trust more to do it than the two women I’ve worked with there. It honestly scares me to think where I would be without them and I thank God for allowing me to be a part of their program.

One of my main reasons for starting this blog (in addition to sharing all of my quirkiness with you) is because countless times I have been walking out of there and I think how much ANY person, eating disordered or not, could benefit from listening to the stuff we talk about. Most often, we don’t talk about food, weight, or anything like that. We talk about life issues and struggles and how to skillfully manage them. Why this stuff isn’t taught in school just baffles me! Anyway, I felt like I needed an outlet to be able to share with anyone interested in reading all the stuff I learn. So that’s part of the reason why I’m here :-)

Like we’ve said, the journey has had it’s ups and downs. It’s moments of extreme pain and the highest feelings of victory. I don’t think we went through all of this for no reason, so to be able to share this with you is truly a gift, and I hope that a few lives can be touched and more people can find healing. Thanks again for reading.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SW April 2, 2013 at 6:37 am

I really appreciate how honest and open you are in this blog. I pulled the same “rather live in a homeless shelter” shenanigans, too. But NO ONE EVER TALKS ABOUT THAT. And I felt crazy for feeling that way! And at some point, communication gets lost when you step down and it is really really really really frustrating. Thank you for sharing your experiences and for bringing in true light. It’s not all flowers or melodramatics. It’s a bit of both and a bunch of stuff in between :)


2 Lindsey April 2, 2013 at 6:49 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I know it isn’t easy, but you are helping more people than you will ever know.


3 Sophie April 2, 2013 at 7:20 am

This is really brave. Thanks for sharing. I was hospitalized while pregnant because I was very sick (not ed stuff) as well as my baby. There was plenty of denial on my part and I definitely played the part of a difficult patient at times since all I wanted was to be home nesting etc. clearly I couldn’t accept how sick I was. Thankfully I stayed and my baby and I are both healthy but no one talks about how you don’t have to be crazy to be irrational under truly trying circumstances.


4 Carly @ Snack Therapy April 2, 2013 at 7:39 am

Your honesty is incredible, as is your strength! <3.
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5 Brittany @ read, run, repeat April 2, 2013 at 8:08 am

This is one of my favorite posts that you have written! Your honesty and strength is incredible. You are completely right about no one really teaching how to cope and adapt to challenges in our lives– which may be one of the most important skills that we can master. As a school psychologist, I work on teaching these types of skills to students, but they usually end up coming to me after they are already struggling. It would be amazing if these skills were actually taught.
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6 Chelsea April 2, 2013 at 9:11 am

Elizabeth, your strength and perserverance both amazes and inspires me. Not only did you do an amazing thing by sharing your story with us (and this also goes to Joe for sharing his story as well!) but to go through treatment and to have gotten to a place of continued recovery – there are a lot of people who don’t get that far, and who don’t then go on to start a blog to help others. God bless you and your family, and I hope little Noah knows he’s got some pretty amazing parents by his side :)
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7 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats April 2, 2013 at 10:08 am

I work in an inpatient facility which treats all kinds of mental illnesses and addictions. The ‘no end in sight’ is the hardest things for patients to understand and one of the things I focus on the most is explaining this realistically instead of stringing them along with “oh just a few more weeks and you’ll be fine”. I really think that you and Joe have helped a lot of people through these very honest posts.
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8 Jessie April 2, 2013 at 11:15 am

I have really loved reading all of these posts. Thank you for sharing.


9 Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom April 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm

It’s hard for me to understand that they’re not straight up with you… I understand that recovery is a process and a journey and that you’re never truly healed, but if they were really stringing you along like that, I can understand your frustration. I have no background in psychology or anything, so I honestly have nothing to back up my opinion with, but that just blows my mind! It might just be because I’m straight up with everyone in my life… but that might not be the best way to handle things. Thank you so much for sharing! It was a beautiful experience to read about the eating disorder through both of your eyes.
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10 Alyssa @ See This Girl Run April 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I love to see both of your outlooks on the experience. I would also have been very frustrated with not having a deadline for being able to go home. You’re so amazing, Elizabeth! I love that you’re using your experience and this blog to reach out to others.
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11 Jackie April 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Your honesty and openness is admirable, so thank you for continuing to share your story. I really enjoy reading your blog, daily!


12 Thetinyrunner April 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

i love your story and I am so glad you decided to share it on your blog! It is such a gift to be able to read along everyday!
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13 becky April 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Thanks for willing to be so open & honest with us all! Keep writing! (And posting pictures of your CUTE little man!)


14 courtney April 4, 2013 at 12:44 pm

you’re amazing. i’ve been reading for awhile now and really love hearing about your experience. i struggled as well, and seeing others also overcome the battle is truly remarkable. cheers to you, pretty darlin’! xo!


15 klh April 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Appreciate your honesty! Thank you for sharing :)

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16 [email protected] April 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm
17 Brittany April 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm

These are truly great posts from you and Joe. Keep it up. I’ll be interested to know what kinds of things you talk about that “they should teach everyone in school”


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