Luke 5:16 “But Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (NIV)
“Start by doing what’s necessary; Then do what is possible; And suddenly you are doing the impossible” Francis of Assisi
We are called to “fasting and prayer,” and keeping the Sabbath day so that we may fully engage with the father and receive the abundant life he has promised to those of us who believe. Some of us may check out by daily meditation, or in my case prayer. Others may check out and search for revival in fasting, yoga or religious retreats. I needed to withdraw to a lonely place to meet with God and to heal without any distractions. I wanted to check out to care for my mind, my spirit, and apparently my body which was and is still battling the aftermath of the chronicity of anorexia, purging type severe. (I was less than prepared to receive this diagnosis!)
I am, by the grace of my creator, a walking, living, breathing example of, you don’t need to “look” sick to be quite sick. This myth of not looking “sick” is what can keep those of us in dire need of medical attention from seeking the treatment we desperately need. You cannot tell if a person is sick with an eating disorder by looking at them anymore than you can “see” someone has diabetes. It is our ability to deceive others that we our “fine,” that allows us to deceive ourselves. I appeared fine as I, once again, approached the shore to test the waters of the eating disorder, not knowing where the drop off hid beneath the murky waters.
Please if you have to ask you self (this bears repeating) “Am I sick enough?” you are sick enough.
Per my diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa Purging Type-Severe, I had waded closer to the drop off than I had realized. I found myself treading water somewhere between the shores of the eating disorder and recovery. A few lost pounds from a virus coupled with extensive travel and the volume of the eating disorder began to drown out my recovery voice convincing me the lighter I became, the happier I would become. “Anorexia lies just as Satan lies,”
Through the crescendo of the voice of Anorexia pounding like waves against the shore, I heard a whisper that, like a siren’s song summoned me into the waters of recovery. Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the Left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “this is the way; walk in it.” (NIV) I turned my back to the voice of anorexia and towards the whisper. His whisper beckoned me to dive head first into the often-rough waters of recovery, to stop treading water, and swim towards the shore of recovery.
His voice of truth armed me with the courage, renewed strength. Jesus provided the life preservers I would need to swim against this strong tide in the forms of physicians, therapists, and loved ones. They became life-rafts holding me up as I realized I was wounded. I was able to tread water but not able to pull myself out of the riptide of anorexia.
One year ago, I made the decision to checkout of my life to check into The Center for Balanced Living’s 5, actually 6-day intensive eating disorders program based on the research of Dr. Laura Hill Ph.D. and her colleagues. My hope was that by checking out I could fully check back into my life, leaving the eating disorder behind me for good. http://www.centerforbalancedliving.org
The eating disorder repeatedly throws obstacles at me to navigate over and around just to make it through each day, now it threw a curve ball at me that threatened to keep me out of the Neurobiologically based program.
It is my heart rate and labs that come back suggesting I need a higher level of medical care than they can provide. I am terrified and feeling a bit like dead woman walking. I am disappointed, no, I am angry that my therapist, physician, and dietician have not communicated in months about my case management. I am not sure if my therapist didn’t see flailing arms, or if maybe I just stopped waving them?
In an exhausted state of resolve to check in and check out. I was forced to lie in wait to be medically cleared in order be accepted because my heart beats too slowly. At rest it beats far below the 50 beats per minute (BPM) the program accepts. My adjunct therapist was able to use her influence and connections, along with my physician, to storm the powers that be to plead my case, while my therapist of seven years fought her own battle, taking a leave of absence.
I am shocked, disappointed and angry. How can the program wait until Tuesday to deny me, when I am supposed to check in on Sunday? I am also forced to face the reality that this is serious as my life quite possibly hangs in the balance. I am scared. My psychological and spiritual badass self that has been emerging, suddenly feels frail and doomed. I turn to the life rafts, trusting that between them and God I would stay afloat long enough to be admitted.
I begin to move through the next few days cautiously aware of every beat of my heart; willing its BPM to rise. I turn to my watch incessantly to check, not the time, but my heart rate as I wait. I wait to live, to get the all clear, I wait to die. My heart rate doesn’t improve, but my case is reviewed and the powers that be clear me with special considerations and guidelines.
The word POWER resonates with me. My adjunct therapist, a leader in the eating disorder field used her power and connections to influence the program’s authorities, but I believe this all is a result of a greater power; the power of Jesus and the power of prayer. Only Jesus could ordain all the circumstances leading me down His path this time instead of Anorexia. He used everything, from a stomach virus, a “chance” encounter with a past clinician, my work serving as “wise” counsel to others, and even my therapist’s leave of absence to lead me to the water’s edge to coax me to dive in, stop treading water and swim.
Matthew 14:28 “Peter said to him, ‘Lord, if it is You command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ 29And Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came towards Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord save me!’ 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him…”
Jesus called me, much like he called Peter, to focus on him and step out in faith. Unlike Peter he did not call me onto the water. He called me into the water. I saw the promise of his outstretched hand and I courageously entered the heavy doors of The Center for Balanced Living; a walking example of the hidden dangers of eating disorders.
I have learned from Dr. Hill’s research and her colleagues research that malnutrition causes anorexia; anorexia does not cause malnutrition. Is there healing in doing psychological and spiritual work? Yes, however without properly nourishing the body and the brain true healing cannot take place.
As I understand it, food is my medicine and as long as I teetered on the edge of restricting, it was like trying to cure strep with half of a course of antibiotics. I may feel better at times, but the illness still lives and does unseen damage to the body. It is tantamount to knowing I have cancer and only doing part of my chemotherapy. The tumor may no longer show up on a scan, but the malignant cells lie in wait.
Jeremiah 17:19 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Jesus understands it. If you are asking yourself, “am I sick enough to seek treatment?” Do not lean on your own understanding, ask The Lord, turn towards your “life-rafts” because the answer is probably yes.
Taste and see…
There is hope, there is healing. Swimming against the current of an eating disorders towards recovery will be exhausting. Focus an Jesus’s outstretched hand and “Keep on swimming” (Nemo-Finding Nemo Disney)