The following is the second in a series of my (only slightly) edited emails sent to friends and family documenting my anorexia nervosa (AN) rehabilitation, first at Westchester Behavioral Health Center (NYP) and later at the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI). I was diagnosed with AN in October 2021, along with generalized anxiety disorder, and entered treatment at NYP December 6, 2021.
My recovery is ongoing. Since I returned home from NYSPI on March 1, 2022, I’ve been participating in a study called REACH + Relapse Prevention for Anorexia Nervosa. It acts as a tailored, 6-month relapse prevention program for participants.
Written Nov. 25, 2021
I found out Monday I have to be hospitalized for anorexia. like, i went and caught anorexia — ha!
I have to go thru a ‘refeeding’ period to get my weight back up. Evidently this is a thing where if you put the weight back on incorrectly you can go and catch a heart attack! ha. Another bad joke.
So, I’m on a strict diet until I can get into this specific hospital in White Plains, NY that specializes in mental health and eating disorders. Their occupancy changes all the time and last week they had beds available, this week there’s a list of 7 people.
I completely agree I should go, but I might not be able to get in for the next couple weeks, so I feel a little ‘on pause’ as a person. At the same time, there’s a dietician, Carol, who, of course, has much more experience in this and the potential of death during refeeding, but I feel she’s being a little alarmist about me. And then there’s insurance, which doesn’t cover the other dietician Caroline wants me to see in the meantime. And I don’t have an income. If only we had insurance coverage like in Ecuador :) I wouldn’t have $ as an extra concern around my health.
Despite, or because of(?) all of this … I want to make something of this. My most undergirding goal — authenticity. to be really really genuine (and compassionate), but to really really do what my mind and body want to do — lobby and work at grass roots human/food rights. Like, for these guys — https://farmactionalliance.org/ with whom I’ve talked to over the past year a couple of times. Or, write for https://therivernewsroom.com/. Or really work in voter rights, which I was nearly hired in during COVID, but they went on a hiring freeze just as I was getting references checked.
There are reasons though, fears, as to why I never dove head first into orgs like this either recently or in the far past, or not going for a PhD in food-related matters long ago. I find myself getting distracted chasing where I think more $$ will be, or where it will be more acceptable (conservative) to work rather than being my full, more progressive self, and going to these places for employment or rallies and marches for BLM, food, human rights, etc. Or covering and trying to write for publications that publish on human rights, enviro, food like Civil Eats, Mongobay. I had a dream the other night that I felt like a fraud telling people I write and edit (i’ve gotten asked what i do loads of times since being back home).
Having said that, where I’ve found an ‘in’ are in the D.C. enviro consulting firms that work with USAID, which doesn’t feel genuine. It feels like corporate environmentalism. I want something grittier, more on-the-ground — Al Jazeera-esque. I’ve tried getting into these places, but I don’t know if my writer imposter synd has somehow made me hiccup (unconsciously) in the process. Know what I mean? or at least hesitate some. I also want to experiment with arty things — collage, water colors — and i have the tools here in front of me, but get stunted/scared the art wont’ come out good! ha! and it probably won’t cuz I’ve never done it. but then I avoid, then beat myself up for having not just digging in.
I can say, that of course, this anorexia (AN) is just a manifestation of my neurosis. my brain stuff and ways of thinking — perfectionism, being a bit pedantic, fear taking risks, protecting my physical body (which is interesting, cuz I’m actually really harming my body by depriving myself of food) — are just a reflection perhaps of what’s going on in my head and are typical to those with AN. My thought is that even if I get to the White Plains hospital past the ‘refeeding stage’ and my physical body is out of the woods of suffering a heart attack, I still really want to get the mental help there. I mean, I’ve been to plenty of counselors, etc, over the past 20 years, and I did a lot of work, but I really want to dig in, and I think it has a lot to do with my avoidance of my real self over the past 4 decades!mainly for the sake of my family and old shit I was told and grew up with as a kid, and kept floating with me over the years.
And, honestly, I never wanted to work for GCY. I hated it! I did it to get back to Ecuador (eek, being honest). I used it. It wasn’t me or mine for a lot of reasons.
At that moment in my life I probably wanted to go on for a phd, or stay in NY to dedicate myself to advocating for small farmers or agriculture. I did feel a genuine pull towards Ecuador, but had a more genuine tug toward Mexico, where I didn’t have a job and i felt $ would have been an issue. So, I went with the job (eye roll). And if you didn’t know the details — I got canned after the year was done. I had so wanted to quit but… fear of $, visa, etc. i kept myself in it. And in the end, I got let go.