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I don't know exactly what I expected of my experience at a psychiatric hospital, but whatever it was, it was not what I got. Of course, the people there had no idea what to do with me. Eating disorders had just come over the horizon, understanding was limited, and there was almost no successful track record for treatment.
The first few days were spent settling in, talking to lots of different people, and participating in yet more psychological testing. Because I was 17 I was eventually put on the adolescent program, which was me and about half a dozen juvenile delinquents. We were put on a rewards system for good behavior and I racked up points like gangbusters. This was all well and good but I wasn't improving. If anything, I was continuing to lose weight. Enter: Behavior Modification.
Here was the idea. They would put me in a room by myself at the end of the hall with a view of a brick wall. They would take away everything I had, except clothing and my toothbrush. And then every time I gained half a pound, they would give me something back. Half a pound and I get back my hairdryer. Half a pound and I get back my brush. Half a pound and I get to eat in the dining room. But I couldn't do it. I was so far gone mentally, emotionally, physically, that the program offered no hope. I couldn't see how I would ever get out. It was prison.
After 3 weeks in the psychiatric hospital, I was worse off than before, my weight bottoming out at 82 lbs. Why, oh, why, oh, why couldn't I figure out why I was such a mess? Why was I so broken that not even the experts could fix me?
My mother decided that it was not working either and withdrew me, against medical advice. I was thrilled and convinced that now everything would get better.