Things It Would’ve Been Helpful to Know Before Receiving Eating Disorder Treatment During a Pandemic
Some of us have not been doing those Instagram workouts.
TW: Eating disorders
You’re gonna be online… like, a LOT.
The first of three months of your partial hospitalization program will be spent at a treatment facility. The second and third months will be spent in your room. You’ll get the log-on for BlueJeans, you’ll sign the forms consenting to receive teletherapy, and you’ll be scared shitless— how will you be held accountable for completing your meals when you can, like… just… movefoodofftheplateunderthescreen? How are you supposed to get better?
But that’s not how it’s gonna work. Your eyes will SCREAM at the end of six-hour sessions of computer therapy. But you’ll also get to text your crush under your desk without anyone seeing. Which is kinda cool, when you think about it. Kinda shit, but kinda cool. You’ll learn and progress just as much as you would’ve IRL.
You won’t be allowed to dance or go to the gym.
It’s gonna hurt like a mother when your dietician tells you that you’re not allowed to exercise for the time being because “the way you do it is a form of purging.” Five hours a day is apparently… excessive. But fret not, young one--
NOBODY is gonna be able to go to the studio or the gym.
Enter: coronavirus. The front desk team will be preoccupied with unemployment and stimulus checks. They won’t be thinking about how you must be gaining soOoOo much weight and losing soOoOo much muscle. Almost like… they have their own lives to care about or something!!!?! The stair master will not know the difference between the absence of your sneaker prints versus anyone else’s. The mats won’t know the true reason that you’ve stopped doing your splits on them every day. The dumbbells will feel abandoned by EVERYONE, not just you, kid.
But that doesn’t mean people won’t be working out.
Social media will reach a new level of hellaciousness. The push-up challenges. The Tik Tok dances. The “no excuses” fitspo culture. It will be, to put it lightly, triggering AF. You will loathe yourself, your body, and everybody who posts their shitty workouts on Instagram.
On top of that, your friends, knowing you as the gym guru, will ask for your latest home workouts. They’ll mean well, yet unknowingly reinstate the constant threat of the Quarantine 15. But guess what? You will learn to say, “I’m actually just taking it easy this month.” The self-hatred will melt to self-acceptance. And the world will go on without your own uploaded rendition of the Savage challenge.
Your friends will struggle to find motivation for Zoom University while you’ll find it impossible to eat three meals and two snacks a day.
Depression will hit u tf up. Your ex will not.
The average quarantinee will hate their life and question every decision they've ever made. And you, the Eating Disordered Quarantinee, are no exception. Your friends will struggle to find motivation for Zoom University while you’ll find it impossible to eat three meals and two snacks a day. But you’ll both struggle to get out of bed before 3:00 pm, and neither you nor your friends will get a reply when you cave and text your exes.
You’ll become allergic to cats.
Now THIS is going to suck, because you have three cats. You’re quarantining in your house; you’re trapped in their habitat 24/7. For two or three weeks, every day without failure, you'll have three or four allergic reactions. Your face will rapidly become hot to the touch, starting from your left ear and spreading across your face all the way to your right, staining you Rutgers Red for a good hour or so.
But the real issue is the way it will make you warier of food. Until you know that it’s your cats giving you the reactions, you’ll believe it's a food you’re reacting to. You’ll question every ingredient and be even more reluctant to take a bite of the new dishes you’ve been encouraged to try. Girl, it is not the food. It’s the dang fur babies. And as much as you love them, you just gotta lock ‘em outta your room.
Some days you’ll feel freakin’ incredible... Other days you’ll swear you’re pregnant with a watermelon and try to scratch yourself out of your skin.
You’ll learn to cook— for real!
Salads, quinoa, and protein shakes be damned! It's time to make some REAL eats. Some days you’ll feel freakin’ incredible, and you’ll dance around your kitchen to Sicilian music while making the most loaded bowl of oatmeal known to man, or a tofu scramble with cumin and avocado and vegan cheese and crushed red pepper. Other days you’ll swear you’re pregnant with a watermelon and try to scratch yourself out of your skin. But you’ll make the damn oatmeal either way. (Most of the time.)
You won’t be jipped of the treatment "experience" at all.
They’ll still be watching you finish your meals with their hawk eyes, only, this time, through a laptop monitor. Creepy, but caring. You’ll still be yelled at for not doing recovery perfectly. You won’t be in the building with the communal kitchen and the purple couches, but you’ll be in the safety of your own room, with your own cats, and your own allergic reactions.
Even though it seems like the absolute end of the world, you’re gonna be okay.
For resources on how to cope with eating disorders during COVID-19, visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/covid-19-resources-page.