I have been in the PHP program for 8 days (plus two weekends).

The first day, I really thought I couldn’t go through with it. It was such a foreign place, with its own sub-culture and language that I didn’t understand. I kept nearly silent, trying to learn the norms. Meals were completely awkward. My favorite part of that day was meeting with the medical doctor, if that tells you anything.

Since then, however, I have started to really appreciate this opportunity to completely dedicate myself to healing and recovery. I go Monday-Friday from 8am-3pm. The day is filled with two meals and a snack, 2-3 group therapy/skills sessions (topics have included food rules & rituals, sleep, anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, self-esteem), and yoga. We have process times, where we can bring up anything we want to talk about (or process) with the group. I also see individually once per week the following: therapist, medical doctor, psychiatrist, and dietitian. I really like all of the providers, including the head therapist and head dietitian for the program.

I couldn’t believe how much, from DAY ONE, they made me eat though. Breakfast was okay, as she kept it the same as I was used to. But lunch was HUGE. It was/is very challenging to eat so much by the end of lunch.

I have a “meal plan” that is just mine, individually based on my needs. It was created by the head dietitian and is reviewed/updated (read: increased) weekly (maybe more sometimes) by my dietitian. The meal plan consists of a number of exchanges from food groups: protein, grain, milk, fat, fruit, vegetable, other. They use “exchanges” to talk about and understand portions/meals. So that is what I am learning to use instead of calories. My dietitian has increased my meal plan once so far. She will probably increase it again tomorrow, since I meet with her on Mondays.

I still have counted calories all but one day (yesterday) and still have weighed myself each morning. I had a half pound weight gain on Monday (day 5) and a whopping 2.5 pounds gain on day 7. I was PISSED. I didn’t know how to keep going. I don’t know how to come to terms with the idea of gaining weight. But I kept going. And surprisingly, by halfway through that day at program, I felt calmer and like I could do it. The next morning, I was back down 1.5 pounds so I have gained 1.5 pounds since starting the program. The expected weight gain is 1-2 pounds per week at this level of care.

We canceled our trip to Italy. It was my dream 40th birthday trip that we have been planning for such a long time. But every provider I have met with since January recommended strongly that I not go. In addition, I couldn’t come to a good place about using any leave for anything other than treatment right now. So the trip is off. I have spent this weekend trying to recoup as many of the costs as possible. It’s been hard to make a decision, but I have felt pretty peaceful since making it. Still very sad, but peaceful.

I hope I can get better. Recovery is the word used in the ED world.

All of my providers still think I need to be in residential care. I do not think I am that sick, nor do I want to be away from my husband and daughter. I like that I can still come home to them each evening and on weekends. It makes the load much more bearable for my husband, as I am only gone during the day as I would for work anyway. And the stories from the others I have met who have been through “rez” do NOT make it sound appealing.

There are only two other people in my program right now, which is about as small as it gets. One of them is awesome, she’s a 20-year old college student. I can relate to her as a previous version of myself in many ways. We have exchanged books we have found helpful on this journey. She gave me a memoir called Wasted that is very good so far.

The psychiatrist increased my anti-depressant and I feel the medication is making a big difference in my ability to stay calm and not get angry so easily. I have found my relationship with my husband and daughter have both been much better.

It’s clear that my eating disorder needs to be treated holistically and comes hand-in-hand with my depression and other areas of my life. I am so thankful that I have the resources to be in treatment.

Recovery. I am on the road to recovery.

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