My Experience In An Eating Disorder Hospital

My Experience In An Eating Disorder Hospital

I spent a month in the hospital, and it was life changing.

When I arrived at the eating disorder recovery clinic in January, the hospital was the last place I wanted to be. Severely underweight and sick, in the depths of my eating disorder, terrified of eating, addicted to exercise, pulled from school and forced to move six hours back home, I at least hoped I could do some online classes and have a somewhat normal life. Who knows, maybe a whole semester off would finally help me catch up on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." I’d enroll in an outpatient program and spend my nights relaxing and talking to friends on the phone.

When I arrived at the hospital and found out that no, I wouldn’t be going home to my own comfy bed and Netflix, and that I was too sick and underweight to do outpatient my world shattered. No phone, no Internet, no home for who knows how long? I had never been in a hospital before, let alone inpatient at a psychiatric one, and I was terrified.

I had no clue what to expect when I got on the elevator to the eating disorder wing. All I knew was that I wasn't allowed to have any of my belongings yet, not even my underwear, my laptop and cellphone were somewhere with security, and I had never even had the chance to call my friends and tell them what was going on. Coming to the eating disorder unit was especially mystifying: What would they make me eat? What would I do in my spare time? What kind of people would be up there?

I found my answer the moment the elevators opened. I walked in, probably looking like a deer in headlights, and sat down surrounded by girls of all ages from 17 to 70. At first, I was incredibly intimidated. It felt like freshman year of college all over again; moving into a floor where I knew none of the girls. A food menu and a meal plan were shoved into my hand, and I was told to pick something that fit my meal plan, which was just a lot of words and numbers that I didn’t understand. Two starches? Three meats? What?

Luckily, it wasn’t long before girls and a few staff members swooped in to help me. They explained what my meal card meant, how dinner would go, what choices on the menu actually tasted good (or as good as hospital food can).

The meal itself was a whole new experience. We couldn’t start until a specific time, and only got 45 minutes. If you didn’t finish your food, you were given Ensure Plus, a weight gain liquid supplement. Fail to finish that, it was loss of “privileges” (the chance to go on the computer for 20 minutes, the chance to sit outside on the patio, the chance to do anything even close to fun, etc). We had three meals a day, plus an evening snack, which more often than not was more Ensure.

Meal plans were the worst, and one’s people plan progressively increased. Anytime you heard the dietician call your name to meet in her office, it was like a death sentence (actually, it was an increase in 200 calories to your plan, but same thing). I started on meal plan 5, and ended on meal plan 17. They don’t tell you how many calories your meal plan actually is, but it’s not hard to figure out the system, and let me tell you, MP17 is a lot of calories.

In our free time, we read, we colored, we watched TV. That was pretty much it. There wasn’t much therapy in inpatient; that was reserved for outpatient. The main goal of inpatient care is to get you to a weight were you are no longer in medical danger.

The mood in the clinic was constantly up and down: one moment we could all be laughing and bonding, the next, doors would be slammed and tears shed. Most people with eating disorders also deal with anxiety and depression, plus a low weight makes one extra emotional, so everyone was constantly on edge. We were being forced to face our biggest fear, gaining weight, and there was nothing we could do about it.

Despite the emotions, I still met some friends I’ll have for life. We also understood each other on a level our other friends could not, and the talks I had with some of the other patients were the first time I truly felt like I wasn’t alone.

We had some funny times, too, and I met a lot of really interesting characters. I came out of the hospital with stories I’ll never forget and will always be excited to share. In the end, I finished my treatment (both outpatient and inpatient) in mid-April, and continued to stay in contact with many of the amazing people I met, from patients to staff.

My experiences in a psychiatric hospital changed my outlook on food, body image, mental illness, and the world in general forever. I’m still not perfect, I still struggle, but I can say I’ve come far from the dying girl I was in January. I kicked, I screamed, I was miserable, and I tried repeatedly to leave, but all in all, I’m extremely glad I had the experiences I did. They changed my life, and I met the most incredible people in the world.
Cover Image Credit: Psychology Today

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1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

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2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

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13 Songs That Help Me Through My Panic Attacks

It's easy to become paralyzed by panic attacks, but I've found music to be the best tool to help me cope.


Anyone who struggles with panic attacks knows just how draining and overwhelming they are. It's easy to become paralyzed by them, and once I noticed this, I made a playlist of songs that calm me down. I find that music keeps me grounded, no matter how bad the panic attack may be. Maybe the songs I have listed aren't for you. but I hope that in sharing my main songs that help me, it can spark your brain into finding songs that fit your needs during panic attacks.

In case you don't know some of the songs I have listed, I put a link to each song from YouTube. I hope you enjoy my interesting variety of music!

1. "Weightless" by Marconi Union

Go here to listen.

This song is my go-to song for panic attacks, especially if it's a bad one. For me personally, my heart rate spikes during panic attacks (I'll go from a resting heart rate of around 70bpm to anywhere between 180-200bpm). Evidence suggests this song can slow your heart rate and reduce anxiety and let me tell you... it works 100% for me and I highly recommend it.

2. "Somebody to Love" by Queen

Go here to listen.

I've just always loved this song. There's something about Freddie Mercury's voice that just calms me down and makes me feel like I'm not alone at that moment.

3. "Let it Be" by The Beatles

Go here to listen.

I grew up listening to The Beatles since my mom is from Liverpool, and "Let it Be" is a song that I always associate peace and good memories with. Also, I love the lyric, "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary calls to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be." It reminds me that there are things about me and this world that I simply cannot change, but I can find peace by letting it be.

4. "Lost in a Sea of Pillows and Blankets" by .anxious.

Go here to listen.

Go here for the full album.

I find this song, and really the whole album, to be extremely soothing. It literally feels like the comfort of pillows and blankets but in the form of music.

5. "1-800-273-8255" by Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid

Go here to listen.

I love this song for many reasons during a panic attack. One, it reminds me that there are other people that have felt or are feeling what I am currently. Two, it reminds me that I have a purpose on this earth, and I am not a waste of space. Three, I just love the awareness it brings to mental illnesses.

6. "Up and Up" cover by Lennon & Maisy (originally by Coldplay)

Go here to listen to the cover.

Go here to listen to the original.

"We're gonna get it, get it together somehow." This main lyric reminds me that I can conquer this moment, and the only direction from this moment is up. Also, Lennon and Maisy's voices are mesmerizing. The Coldplay original is amazing too, I put both for you to check out!

7. "In My Blood" by Shawn Mendes

Go here to listen.

I remember the first time I listened to this; I was actually on the brink of a panic attack. I heard the first lyric, "Help me, it feels like the walls are caving in. Sometimes I feel like giving up, but I just can't. It isn't in my blood." Every lyric in here, which was beautifully written by the way, describes how it feels having a panic attack and having anxiety in general. It reminds me that no matter what, I can make my way out of it. I can win the fight.

8. "Free Spirit" by Khalid

Go here to listen.

Khalid's new album "Free Spirit" came out on April 5, 2019, and I am actually obsessed with it. I find myself immediately playing this album when I open my Spotify. When it comes to the song "Free Spirit," the music is enchanting to me; something about it just immediately calms me down. Not to mention that Khalid's voice is absolutely beautiful. Also, I just love the concept of being a free spirit. Not being tied down by mental illnesses or fear, and having this sort of euphoric peace.

9. "Intro" by Khalid

Go here to listen.

Once again, absolutely mesmerizing. I honestly feel like I'm taken to another world with this song. Something about the music just makes my brain feel so happy, peaceful, and calm. As for the lyrics, they remind me that I need to find my worth and put me first. Sometimes, I put so much of my emotional energy into other people that I have none left for me. I need to keep some of it for me though, because I know that I have worth, but I can never see it, so I need this emotional energy to be able to put myself first and love myself.

10. "Spiegel im Spiegel" by Arvo Part, Angele Dubeau, La Pieta

Go here to listen.

Not gonna lie, I'm a sucker for classical music. There's something about this song in particular that I feel like really captures the feelings of depression and detachment that I experience during a panic attack. It's just another reminder that I'm not alone in this.

11. "Raindrop Prelude: Op. 28 No. 15" by Frederic Chopin

Go here to listen.

Sorry, another classical piece... I just really love it. I feel like it shows the feelings before, during, and after a panic attack. Once again, it's a reminder that I'm not alone.

12. "Cello Suite No.1 in G-Major, Prelude" cover by Yo-Yo Ma (originally by Bach)

Go here to listen.

Last one, I swear! There's just something about this piece that makes me feel so calm and at peace... I don't know how to describe it. It's beautiful, and it makes me feel like there's hope of conquering my panic attack.

13. "Rescue" by Lauren Daigle

Go here to listen.

First, Lauren Daigle is simply amazing. This song in particular, though, reminds me that Jesus is always by my side, and he will never give up on me. He sees me in my trials, and he's fighting this fight with me. It gives me a lot of hope that someday I might not have to deal with these struggles.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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