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The following blog discusses difficult topics of eating disorders, treatment, and hopeful recovery from the perspective of one individual. Keep in mind that recognizing and seeking treatment for an eating disorder is a journey that looks different for everyone. If you are struggling or in crisis, please call or text “988” or chat online at for support.

CW: Eating disorders (no numbers), Nasogastric tubes (NGTs), Vomiting (unintentional), Eating disorder treatment. 


  • ED: eating disorder
  • ARFID: avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
  • IP/Res: inpatient/residential (24/7 eating disorder support/treatment)
  • PHP: partial hospitalization (daily 6h eating disorder support/treatment)
  • NGT: nasogastric tube

When I was in residential eating disorder treatment, I was often flooded with motivation, pushing through meals and completing them. But when something difficult happened, like throwing up another nasogastric tube, this motivation would deplete, leading me to sit and refuse nutrition at every snack, meal, and feed. Because why would I continue with recovery when my body didn’t want it back?

Due to my body refusing my attempts to get better by eating more and accepting tube feeds, I gave up. I would cry until my voice went hoarse, give up on my dreams outside of IP/Res, and lie back while watching my eating disorder win. I was tired of fighting a fight I never seemed to be winning, no matter how hard I tried. After losing again and again, I told myself that I was done.

But then a few days later, I would wake up and decide to try again. Even though my motivation was shot, I chose to at least take a bite or two of solid food. I would take maybe a sip or so of my supplement, or sit through a full feed while distracting myself. Although I thought I had committed to the act of abandoning recovery, I never seemed to fully go through with it.

Where did this particular resilience come from? I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I knew that I would not be able to get out of treatment if I gave up. By doing that, I would be missing out on my one and only life. There was something in me that knew I couldn’t keep doing this on-and-off recovery; I had to fully commit to it, regardless of how difficult it would be. Because if I didn’t, I’d be stuck in an eating disorder for the rest of my life.

In my initial residential stay, I would lie through my teeth to get out; I didn’t actually want to recover. I couldn’t see a life without anorexia, and I refused to even consider recovery. But when everything in my life started getting better after twenty weeks of treatment, my outlook changed, and I chose to leave anorexia behind. Yet even though I’d left my anorexia, my ARFID was developing, as I was getting more and more chronically nauseous.

It came to a point where I decided to go back for a two-week residential stay, but I got sidetracked by tubes and fasts while my nausea worsened, and it quickly became an eight-week stay. Because of this time frame, I missed out on a theater production, a yearly university competition, got kicked out of my ASL class, missed countless weeks of school, and also missed out on hanging out with my friends. This both unmotivated and motivated me at the same time.

At the time, my life seemed to be stuck in treatment with what I felt was a broken body, I believed I could never live a normal life. I was sick of trying to eat or complete feeds and then resultantly throwing it up with my tube. Nothing was working out how I’d wanted it to, so my energy and motivation diminished and depleted.

Despite this, my team and parents never gave up on me, and neither did my peers. My roommate and friends would always be there when I laughed, when I sobbed, when I gave up, and when I completed a meal. This also included people in different units, as we would eat in designated spots in the dining hall. They always cheered me on and supported everyone during the hardest parts of the days for all of us. I knew that I couldn’t disappoint them, and that taught me that I couldn’t give up on myself either. 

Another thing that helped me get through my ED and nausea was discipline set by miniature goals. I write music, so my dietitian had the idea for my mom to drop off my ukulele so I could sing some songs that I had written, and others that I just enjoyed. When I had something to look forward to that I was passionate about and truly loved, my motivation increased. These music sessions that I held for my team and peers were only a glimpse of what my life would be like without an eating disorder. These experiences were too special for me to abandon them for restriction. It had too dear of a place in my heart for me to bury. Although eating was hard, especially with an NG tube, I decided to not give in to giving up.

After rediscovering these passions in life, I put more of my effort into meals and therapy. Over time, this discipline grew, and I got to keep my tube out. I eventually got to leave the facility with eligible peers from my unit and go shopping. I went to a waterfall in my state with my parents on a pass and also visited home. Life was beginning to regain its magnetic and mesmerizing color that I had once lost for years, and I didn’t ever want to go back to the grays and discolored hues I experienced from my eating disorders. 

When I made it to a PHP program, I needed a change in environment. I had severe treatment fatigue, which caused my motivation to diminish again. My therapist made the decision to discharge me, which made me feel more free. I finally was out of treatment after forty weeks and could return to my normal life — as long as I stuck with recovery. I knew that as long as I didn’t give in to my ED, I would live a whole life as the glimpses I’d had in IP/Res.

From what I learned in treatment, recovery is not a solo journey. It is almost impossible to do it on our own, at least in my case. This is because we need outside and professional insight into why we do what we do, and how to change these behaviors while healing our wounds. Even if you give up on yourself, there may be someone who hasn’t given up on you and can encourage you.

Your eating disorder will never heal the parts of you that are broken. It might temporarily numb them but, in doing so, it also numbs and discolors everything else. It’s not easy to notice your life turning to ash until you are out of it and back in the garden. The garden is where life springs — never the graveyard.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call, text, or chat with the Lifeline at 988 or

For eating disorder treatment, there are several online and mobile resources for you to obtain, such as,, and Treatment hospitals include Veritas Collaborative, Monte Nido, Clementine, Walden, Renfrew, Center for Discovery, Rogers Behavioral Health, and others.


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