Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Looking Back

Earlier tonight I was reading an article for one of my classes about the US health care system. A big part of it was how people with mental illness really get shafted, both in terms of the care they receive and the amounts they get charged for it. NEWSFLASH. Who's surprised? Anyone? Are you all taking notes?

Anyway, this won't be a rant about that. Too tired, not in the mood. What stuck out to me in this article was the statistic that almost a full 80% of adolescents with a diagnosable mental illness go without treatment. There were a lot of reasons given: poverty, no access to transportation, no qualified local clinicians, lack of parental support, lack of insurance coverage, etc. etc. but really, there are probably a million reasons. And even if a kid leads a totally privileged life and has every opportunity imaginable, that doesn't ensure he'll get treatment. 

Like me: I hated my body from the minute I started puberty and by the time I was thirteen, I was full-on restricting and running excessively. My weight dropped XX pounds in 2 months. My mom went on a work trip for two weeks, and came home to find me positively skeletal. And what happened then? I got a few lectures at the dinner table, a quick trip to the pediatrician for labs and an EKG, and that was about it. Over the next year, I fumbled through "refeeding" myself, gained back up to a healthy weight, and promptly dropped into one of the lowest depressions I've ever experienced. 

I've gone back over that year a million times in my head. What if I'd piped up during one of those lectures at dinner and said "I HEAR WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, MOM, BUT IT'S NOT WORKING AND I'M NOT OKAY." What if someone had admitted that it was gotten out of my hands, out of my parents' hands, and that we needed help? What if I'd gone to inpatient and gained weight on a proper, structured meal plan rather than the weird, chaotic, completely disordered way I did it myself? What if I'd addressed the issues for real back then, rather than muddling through the next six years in a fog of subclinical disordered eating patterns, ritualized overexercise, and intense weight-centric self-loathing? What if I'd actually been treated for the anorexia and depression, rather than being left to believe that there was something fundamentally, horribly wrong with me? What if?

I'm not blaming anyone, and I'm not bitter. I'm just sad. Sometimes I want to go back and do it all over—do it right this time. To let my body develop the way it was supposed to, rather than manipulating and abusing it until the poor thing didn't know which was up. I wonder what I'd be like, whether I'd be healthy and happy and normal. I wonder how much I'd weigh. Just kidding! Mostly I just want to go back and give my old self a hug.


  1. I'm so sorry this has you sad. It really is difficult to feel that things would be different if only there had been some intervention to stop the spiral. It's almost a grieving process that happens for the things that were lost or could have been. The statistic is alarming, and it's so hard to think about that many individuals who, like yourself, just didn't get the proper treatment at a time when it's most crucial for transitioning from adolescence into adulthood. I wish I had words of encouragement or some hope, but it's just so hard to ponder what could have been.

    I will say this, though, that you are an amazing, intelligent, compassionate, sweet, and supportive person, and in the process of looking back, I don't want you to forget all of the ways in which you are the wonderfully unique Kaylee that you are today. :)

  2. Think how different you'll feel in ten years when you look back and say, "wow, I'm so grateful I had the resources to get help, I'm so grateful I sucked up all that feeling like I was going to explode/die/never make it BS & did all that hard work, I'm so glad I didn't give up". It sucks to mourn the life that you could have had-- but I hope you can maybe focus on the potential life, and all the progress you've made now, too.

    I'm not "done" with recovery [but am mostly of the persuasion that at some point, I will be more a normal person who is at risk of having ED stuff, than a person currently in recovery vs. the "always in recovery" set] but even now I look back on how much my life has changed and I'm startled. I couldn't have predicted how much better I would feel. And so while it still sucks that it took me this long to get help/seriously get well, it's still the most worthwhile and continually amazing thing I've done. And that's kinda nice.