“We heard back from insurance yesterday about sending you to a higher level of care. They declined it saying that it wasn’t ‘medically necessary’. I’m so sorry.”
My whole body went numb. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing. I was hyper-aware of my heart beating in my chest as tears began cascading down my face.
It’s Not Easy
It was just yesterday that my therapist said that she wanted me to start a higher level of care because it was obvious that I was struggling. We made a plan that satisfied everyone, I went on with my day and I didn’t think anything of it until the program director called me into my therapist’s office.
“I just want to prepare you for this. This isn’t going to be an easy conversation.” A million thoughts went through my mind.
Were they kicking me out because I haven’t been meal plan compliant?
Were they going to send me somewhere else because they had given up on me?
Was there no money left to pay for my treatment?
Honestly, any of those would have been better than what the program director told me.
When Insurance Doesn’t Get It
I had spent my whole life trying to prove to doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, even myself, that I had an eating disorder.
Time after time, I would have to suffer eye rolls from nurses when I asked to step on the scale backwards. Time after time I would have doctors telling me to lose weight just moments after I told them that I had an eating disorder and wasn’t open to any unsolicited weight related advice. Time after time my therapists ignored my eating disorder to focus on my mood and anxiety problems, assuming all the while that my eating disorder was under control. Because why wasn’t it?
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I Looked Fine
Fast forward to my first semester of graduate school: I was in my dream program, studying a subject I was really passionate about in a city that I loved. I had an amazing apartment with my friends and literally the cutest cat you have ever seen. I thought that I had it all together. I was so concentrated on doing well in school that I completely blocked out how incredibly sick I was.
Right before I was to go back to school my therapist told me that she thought I needed a higher level of care and that there was another facility nearby that was accepting new patients. With angry tears in my eyes, I remember clenching my fists so hard that my nails were digging into my palms.
I am NOT sick. I am just fine!
While I really did not like that therapist and what she has to say at the time, she was one of the first people to truly recognize how immersed in my disorder I was; how it was tearing my life and my body apart.
I agreed to go to the higher level of care and admitted the next day. While I never wanted to go to this new facility, it was truly the turning point in my recovery and honestly what probably saved my life.
I Felt Seen
Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who were informed about life in a larger body; people who looked past my weight and disregarded my BMI to see me for who I truly was and just how deeply I was suffering. Never in my life had my struggle been seen as valid or taken as seriously. People were worried about me here. This was so new to me and there was certainly an adjustment period I had to go through in order to truly believe that these people really cared about me. Unfortunately, I needed more help.
Blinded By The Numbers
The crushing news of my insurance’s inability to look past some made up numbers sunk me. I was terrified. I felt like I had just been handed a death sentence. And then the program director said something to me that changed my whole perspective:
“I need you to keep holding on. I need you to keep fighting. I need to have a world with you in it.”
My treatment team worked out a schedule that would best help me get back on track with meals and snacks that had been historically challenging for me. They ramped up the words of encouragement and praised me for my small victories and were even more excited than I was when I came in with a big win against my eating disorder.
The moral of the story here is that if you are in a larger body, I see you. I hear you. I’m right there with you. I need you to know that your struggle with this disorder is just as valid as those in a smaller body. We are all fighting the same battle and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Your pain is just as valid. Your trauma is just as valid. Your experience with an eating disorder is just as valid.
And I need you to know that there are some good guys out there fighting the good fight for us. They are educating medical professionals, they are advocating for policy change, they are speaking up when our voices are silenced or if it’s too much emotional effort to speak for ourselves.
They exist. I promise you. I need you to keep holding on. I need you to keep fighting. I need to have a world with you in it. And yes…. I’m talking to you.