Too Old To Recover?
A person who suffers from anorexia is never too old to recover. It takes inner strength and determination, and a great deal of perseverance to do the psychological work that it requires. A key component for anyone who wants to recover, is the method of treatment they receive, and the commitment of the patient and the professionals who are treating them. Recovery doesn’t end with weight restoration. It truly only begins, in terms of revealing the emotional and psychological sources of the disease. The psychology of the person can’t be addressed until the biology of the body is stabilized. I am 52 years old. After over 35 years of chronic anorexia, I am fully recovered. I have taken on a new identity, without anorexia. Recovery has taken me through many changes, some very difficult, and at times I felt like I didn’t have the strength to keep moving forward. But I learned to reach out and ask for the help that I needed to keep working. My illness began with a conscious effort to lose weight at age 13. I wanted to free myself from the stigma that had followed me through childhood about being overweight. I thought that losing weight would make my life perfect. I became completely obsessed with food, weight, and thoughts of my body. I realized after about ten years into my disorder that it was a recognized sickness, and I then started looking for help, beginning with outpatient psychotherapy. The next 25 years of my life was spent going from hospital to hospital, therapist to therapist, and into an exclusive and prestigious treatment center that nearly led my husband and I into bankruptcy. I felt a failure because I still wasn’t well after all the time and money spent on treatment. I realize now that I didn’t fail, treatment failed me. Proper treatment is the only successful method of recovery.
Recovery requires a technical, research-based approach, which individualizes treatment, and provides education to aid in correcting the irrational thinking that accompanies anorexia. These components are severely lacking in the majority of available treatment centers. In general, not much hope is given to those older sufferers of anorexia. About seven years ago, I was given hope that I could recover and find out what it’s like to live. I hadn’t been given that chance because of all the years that I was sick. In theory, my maturity and social development had been put on hold at age 13. I was 45 years old, and I was desperate to find someone who could help me. I was past the point of being able to help myself. I guess it was fate that brought me to a treatment center in Sylvania, OH, and that is where my true recovery began. I was terrified, but I had the determination that I didn’t want to live like this anymore, or end up dead. The treatment given at this clinic was unlike any I had ever had before. It is based on data gathered from research conducted over time. Treatment for all is monitored very closely, and care is taken to be watchful for those behaviors that can be self-sabotaging. The program includes both group and individual therapy, which enhances poor social skills, provides peer support, and contributes to the discoveries of how to cope with life without an eating disorder. Most of all, staff makes it very clear that they are dedicated to leading people to health, and helping them move on with their lives. For me it was a long, difficult process. Recovery time can’t be measured. It is different for everyone, depending on life issues and many other factors. Some days I felt like giving up, but they wouldn’t let me. I was always told that I would recover. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Today, I feel life in my body and soul. My self-awareness and acceptance is strong. The priorities in my life have nothing to do with food or weight. Life is a process of growth and change. I consider recovery a way of living, that will continue as long as life does, bringing new joys and experiences along the way. Never give up. Where there is life, there is hope. Proper treatment is crucial, but no matter your age, true recovery is possible. I’m living it!