Holy shit I'm going home in two weeks. At my treatment team today they gave me a discharge date of October 3rd. Oh my god I can't even think! There is so much shit I need to do before I do go home. I need to do a list. Bah hold on.
I found out today that even though I was supposed to be discharged in two weeks my insurance company had to have the last word and said that I needed to be out by the 26th. Because my mom and dad can't take off from work, I'm leaving this Saturday. This gives me three days (was four but all we did today was get more names) to find a therapist, psychiatrist, and dietitian and make appointments. WHAT THE FUCK!!! I'm so overwhelmed!! I have so much shit to deal with right now and the treatment team is not even half of it. I have to deal with all of my fears about going home which I've been numbing out because of the amount of shit I have to do. But if I keep them numb then I won’t deal with them before I go and I'll get home and BOOM they'll hit me. That terrifies me even more. Then there is the grief process I'm going to be going through by leaving everyone here. Even though the majority of the patients suck, my treatment team and certain staff were amazing!!
I'm so upset I have to leave Ashley and Tasha. Ashley is the most amazing therapist I've ever had. I don't want to leave her she's helped me so much and I have such a strong trust and connection with her. I feel like no therapist will ever compare. It's not fair that I have to leave her. Tasha has taught me so much and has been such a good friend to me. I've had so much fun with her. She's become such an important part of my life now. Because of her I was able to get to the weight I am now. She really taught me so much that now I feel so confident in doing my eating plan at home. Oh my god I'm going to miss them so much! I'm so scared to leave them. They are such a strong support, definitely the strongest support system I've ever had. Why do they have to be in Virginia?! I wish they could be part of my life forever. Fuck I'm so scared!!
Then there is Jennifer who has always been the one staff member that I've connected to so strongly and who has always been there for me. God I'm going to miss her so much too. I really have met some unbelievable people here who have helped me so much and now I have to leave them and it hurts and sucks and isn't fair. I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank them or let them know how important they've been to my life and my success here. God I can't explain how much this hurts and how fucking terrified I am to have to go out in the world without them. I'm really mad that once again I have to change therapists. So far though since Warner, every therapist has been better than the last and maybe this time I'll be just as lucky and get someone equal to or even better than(although I don't know if that's possible) Ashley. Oh my god I don't want to leave her I don't want her to stop being my therapist!!! This isn't fair!!
Two weeks before my discharge date my insurance company decided to cut off my funding. By which, I mean, of course they did. It was shitty that in the end they were getting the last word, but two weeks wasn’t worth fighting for, so it was time for me to give in and go home. When I walked into Chestnut on that first day I was sure I wouldn’t last a week. Six months later I was packing my bags and wearing grey corduroy pants that hadn’t fit me in two years. I couldn’t believe it. I had in so many ways succeeded and I was absolutely ready to go home and leave that crazy place behind. Yes, I was terrified and yes, I was unhappy that I hadn’t reached my goal weight, but I was a different person. I was stronger and eighty pounds lighter and filled with less bullshit. I had faced this situation head on, made the best of it, and was coming out a million times better for it.
In my discharge meeting, my treatment team, my parents via phone, and I, sat around a conference room table and applauded my success. We cried from happiness and they cheered on my future. I had a lot to face when I got home, but everyone in that room believed in me -- including for the first time ever, me. I got lucky at Chestnut and was gifted with the best team of people anyone in that situation could ever wish for. At the forefront was Ashley who still remains the best therapist I’ve ever had and Tasha. These two woman gave me the knowledge and support I needed in order to succeed once I got home. That alone makes me eternally grateful for all the time I spent in that hospital, because all of the drama and ridiculousness was worth every second I was able to work with them.
I don’t even know how to begin to describe the day I left. From the moment I woke up everything seemed so surreal. My mom and her friend were driving down to come and pick me up and when they finally arrived I felt like I was in the middle of a dream. Normally cars aren’t allowed on the grounds, but because I had to pack up all of my stuff they let my mom drive up to my building. The entire time I lived there I felt like I was never going to leave. I hated those grounds, my room, the unit I lived on. But I had learned to love the people who took care of it. I learned to make good moments out of a whole bunch of bad ones. I learned to laugh in it and even sometimes have fun in it. I made Chestnut my home because I had to. If I hadn’t I would have been miserable and the last thing I needed was an excuse to be more miserable than I already was.
As we filled the trunk of my mother's car, I watched the girls, my now former housemates, head to groups and go about their day. Because of them, I was leaving Chestnut not only understanding myself better, but understanding people better as a whole. Living in that community opened my surprisingly ignorant eyes up to a whole world that as an Italian/Irish chick from Long Island I successfully avoided. Politically it made me fully aware of how messed up the system, that ultimately is in charge of the underprivileged youth of this country is. There is very little compassion in it and it is mostly run by a frustration and hurry to just toss the problem on to someone else to deal with. Those girls, who are now women, annoyed, infuriated, and frustrated me when I knew them, but they also broke my heart. They were survivors of atrocious tragedies and they were just navigating adolescence the only way they knew how. I admire them for that and am so grateful to have known them for as long as I did. As scared as I was to head home, unlike them, I knew that I was heading back to family and friends who loved and supported me. I was lucky.
On the drive home we stopped at a Holiday Inn Express and found ourselves hilariously in the middle of a goth convention. It couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. My mom, her friend Kathy, and I spent the night peeing ourselves laughing and I was able to forget about the challenge I was about to face. The built up fear about the last time I had gotten home from a hospital, the people I hadn’t seen in half a year, and the embarrassment of still being overweight all disappeared. It took a few hundred people in cloaks and fangs for me to put aside the trauma and tragedy I had steeped myself in for so long. Going home wasn’t going to be easy, and everything was going to take time. But I had just endured some crazy ass shit for the last six months, and If I was capable of making it out of there with not only sanity, but success, then I was sure I was going to be okay.
The greatest decision I have ever made was to choose to stick it out at Chestnut. Like Ashley had said, I was legally an adult and fully capable of signing myself out if I wanted to. But despite how awful the environment often seemed, not even I could deny the amount of help I was getting. Maybe if I hadn’t gone through war to get admitted things would have turned out differently. I learned, through gritted teeth and balled fists, that a fight doesn’t end when you want it to, it ends when it’s over and then a new one begins. I proved to myself, by making the choice to stay, that I was not just willing, but able, to be an active participant in that fight. The fight for myself. The fight for my life. My experience as a patient in Chestnut was a lesson in strength. It’s in the moments where you are tested to your limits that you really learn the truth in your capacity to thrive.