This post was originally posted on Rebecca Recovered. Cross-posted with permission.
I spent Thursday night and Friday morning in the emergency room. I’m physically okay now, but my mind is still bruised from a comment one of the doctors made.
While there are many, many things about which I can complain from that night, the one that I truly cannot get past is what the attending doctor said about my eating disorder. I am very far into my recovery, and the health issues that brought me to the hospital were very unlikely to be related to my eating disorder. That’s what made this experience even more upsetting.
I wanted to scream, I wanted to bury my head in my pillow and cry, I wanted to be anywhere but that hospital bed, getting preached to by a doctor about my so-called failures in front of my closest friends. I was embarrassed (especially because the doctor spoke about my private health information in front of my friends without asking for my permission), and I was angry, on top of the already high level of stress and anxiety I had from being in the ER in the first place.
I felt as though all the work I had put into recovery, all the years I’ve spent trying to keep myself healthy and strong and able, were just demolished in front of me by a doctor who viewed my illness as a flaw and me as a failure.
I truly believe that she didn’t intend to be malicious or hurtful, but the impact of her words still hurt.
Even though this experience sucked, I have done my best to find the positive in it. This doctor’s remarks have shown me that the work that I do with Embody is not in vain. I led a training for medical students last year, and I can only hope that those students will never say discredit and disparage their future patients’ health.
And now, writing this post, I realized something else. If this had happened, say, two or three years ago, when I was having a severe relapse, an interaction like this would have triggered me and exacerbated my eating disorder even further. But, at this point in my life, her comments didn’t cause me to lapse. I am mentally healthy and emotionally strong - and I did not fail.
My eating disorder is not a flaw. It is an illness with biopsychosocial roots. And I am not a failure. I am a success, and it doesn’t matter that she couldn’t see that. Having this clarity is enough for me.