I spend a lot of time in hospitals... So much so, that I have visited almost every single emergency department in the GTA within the past three months. At this point, when I disclose to my support team that I have, yet again, spent the night at the hospital, they don't seem to be particularly shocked. If anything, my team would probably be more skeptical if my hospital visitations decreased, because that may mean I am FINALLY taking positive steps in my recovery. And don't get me wrong, I go to the hospital for many reasons, not solely due to medical complications. Oftentimes, I end up in the hospital involuntarily because of suicidal ideation in which surface due to hopelessness. I also find myself supporting my close friends, holding their hands and sitting beside them in waiting rooms, as they attempt to find the professional help that they so desperately need.
A little more than a week ago, I found myself, once again, in an Uber headed towards Mount Sinai Hospital. Beforehand, I was at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) due to a crisis that surfaced as a result of past traumas. Near the end of my admission there, I started to feel physically ill and unstable. Chest pains, the shakes, heart palpitations, and numb limbs are not exactly a combinations of symptoms that can be shoved under the rug and forgotten about. That being said, when I arrived at Mount Sinai, I was attended to fairly quickly. Long story short, my electrolytes were imbalanced (big surprise - yes that was sarcasm folks). Consequently, I was hooked up to an IV drip for approximately six hours.
Within my eating disorder, one of the biggest things I struggle with is never feeling like I am "enough". Specifically, feeling like I am never "sick enough". Deep inside I am aware that I am unwell, however, I don't think I realize the extent to how sick I truly am. Therefore, I push my body harder, and test my limits often... Yet despite this, my eating disorder is never satisfied. My eating disorder tells me that I can always lose MORE weight, lose MORE hair, lose MORE sanity, and so forth. The sicker, the better... And it's not just me. From attending certain groups, and speaking with other individuals who are also living with an eating disorder, the theme of "not sick enough" is mundane. Health issues such as losing your period is celebrated, but heaven forbid you get spotting for half a day because that just simply means "you're not sick anymore". This example is so valuable, as it demonstrates the maliciousness of this illness, and just how irrational it can be.
Speaking of irrationality, I want to go back to my story about my most recent hospital visit. When my nurse put in my IV, the first thought I had was "holy shit, I'm going to be fat now". For those of you struggling with an eating disorder, this probably hits home. To those who don't, let me break it down for you. The IV that was in my arm was also attached to a bag of fluid. My eating disorder is huge on restriction, and knowing exactly what goes into my body at all times - including liquids. I knew for a fact that I would be in a lot of trouble if I decided to rip my IV out, but my thoughts were spiralling downhill very quickly. Yes, even if I did gain weight, it would probably have been just water weight, and eventually it would go away. However, that's not what my eating disorder wanted to believe. So, my eating disorder opened my mouth and used my voice to ask the nurse, "How many calories are in my IV drip?".
As soon as I saw my nurse's reaction, I realized the illogicality in my question. No "healthy" individual would have the same thought process that I had. No "healthy" individual would become obsessed with the calories in a bag of fluid. No "healthy" individual would feel as if the world was ending because of a fucking bag of fluid. Most importantly, no "healthy" individual would destroy their body for a peace of mind that is unachievable.
And in that moment, as I stared at the disbelief in my nurse's eyes, I realized that I was sick... Mentally, emotionally, physically.