Is Part of the Healing Process Other People?

How eating disorder rehab taught me more than how not to starve myself.

Kirstie Taylor

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Photo by Buse Doa from Pexels

The first time someone suggested “rehab” to me, I was sitting in my therapist’s office in tears. “I think it could do you some good,” she stated, with concern etched into her light blue eyes and a warm tone you’d expect from someone you pay $150 an hour.

I’d been seeing my therapist for a year for help with my eating disorder; she used the word “anorexia” to describe what had become my lifestyle. I first showed up at her office in a historical building in downtown Pasadena during my senior year of college. I was spiteful and uninterested in help, even though I’d lost my period and couldn’t eat without crying; I only sought therapy as a way for my then-boyfriend to see how broken I was. I thought, “maybe my pain will distract him from wanting to leave me.” People can be pretty naive when they’re in love.

As ironic as it sounds, I also wanted to escape my then-boyfriend. I had plans to live abroad, and an eating disorder wouldn’t stop me from my post-college plans, so I left a few months after starting therapy. After graduation, I moved to the other side of the world, believing I’d have my own Eat, Pray, Love moment. But living abroad only made me face everything I tried to outrun., After eight months, I was back in California, with those concerned, light-blue eyes assessing me.

“Since you don’t have a job and you can live with your parents, I suggest you get the extra help you need. Our one-hour sessions can only do so much,” my therapist stated. I wanted her to be wrong. I wanted to pick up my purse, run down the stairs, and never look back. But I spent the last several months in denial. It was now or never, and when it comes to your sanity, the present is more appealing.

“Fine,” I muttered, “I’ll try rehab for a week, tops.”

On my first day of “eating disorder treatment,” I rode my electric scooter– moving abroad meant I sold my car–to the facility and locked it up to a lamp post in the parking lot. I hesitated walking up; it looked like a prison. Half the complex required key cards to gain access, and the beige walls felt sterile and hopeless. I reflected on the first day I decided to skip a meal back…

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Kirstie Taylor

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