Posted on November 13, 2017
When I was a teenager back in the 70's, places like Renfrew did not exist. People didn't talk about eating disorders and mental health, or when they did, they did so very quietly. Now in my mid-50's, I look back and wonder how different my life might have been if my parents could have sent me to a treatment center like Renfrew.
Problems with depression and anxiety started young. I wanted to be the perfect, overachieving daughter, but my life felt like chaos. My parents either didn't or couldn't get me the help I needed, so my life went on and I continued to do all of the things that I was expected to do. To get myself through this, I started restricting my eating. It was numbing. It gave me something to command and focus on. Maybe I could become more invisible in the world, while simultaneously becoming more visible to my parents. It didn't work very well, but I couldn't stop. Eventually the restricting became a way of life.
As I got older and became more physically and mentally compromised, I was involuntarily placed in one hospital after another. I didn't want to be there and I didn't get any better. When I finally got to make a decision for myself, I chose the Renfrew Center in Philadelphia. That was when I learned what it felt like to be heard. The staff listened and understood. I could breathe again. I decided to trust my treatment team and for the first time, cooperate in my recovery.
I felt whole again after my stay. Life has its ups and downs, though, and a few years later, I chose to return for a "tune up." It took time, but I came to realize that there is no shame in returning to treatment. Recovery is an on-going process.
It has been 6 years since my last stay at Renfrew. One thing Renfrew taught me was that it's okay to live a more relaxed life. I am a dentist, but for now, I put that career on hold. Presently, I work in a local food coop. My current life is multifaceted and includes being in recovery. My life is more calm. I feel okay with being seen. I'm also ready to see the world around me. You can never be too old or too late to be a success story.