The First Day of the Rest of My Life

I stood at the doors holding my admission documents tightly to my chest. The cool October air blew past me as it ruffled the gold and yellow leaves clinging to the trees that engulfed the block around the building. Just walk up the stairs. I inhaled deeply as I raised my foot and placed it on the first step. Closing my eyes, I continued to ascend the stairs and enter the building.

“You must be the new patient! Charlie?” A red haired women who sat at the information desk stood and approached me excitedly.

The room was painted an off-brown/grey colour and the florescent lights beamed down on the faces of those who walked through. There was a flight of stairs that blocked half of the desk that lead to a floor which laid hidden to those who did not know of it’s existence. There was a clear separation of the buildings occupants- a small paediatric clinic, that had pairs of mothers and their children wandering in and out, then, there was where I was going.

“Hi, yes, is this where I check in?” I asked, as I threw my hand forward to shake the approaching woman’s, trying to hide the trepidation in my voice.

“Yep! I just need you to stand in front of this wall so I can take a picture of you, and then you’ll meet with our admissions representative. She can give you the lowdown of what your time is going to look like here.” Her tone was oddly chipper and I was taken aback by her slim figure and choice of clothing, which felt inappropriate for someone working in her occupation. It was a bit disconcerting.

She pulled out a large camera as I stood exposed against the plain white wall. Feeling naked in my black tights and tank top. She placed the camera in front of her face and pressed her finger against the black button that shot a blinding white light in my eyes. I looked at her a bit shocked for the lack of warning.

“Alrighty, got that, thank you. I’ll just walk you back to the offices.” She guided me along the thin corridor to the offices located behind the stairs. She passed me off to another woman who sat me beside her desk. The next few minutes were a blur as she handed me folder after folder of documents to sign until she stopped and turned to me.

“Now, I have to ask you some questions to get an understanding of the type of monitoring you may need. It is standard procedure for all new patients, just to get a better overview of your disorder and what we can do to provide the best possible care.”

I swallowed, preparing myself for whatever was to come next. I nodded, showing her she could proceed.

“Do you self-mutilate?”

I shook my head.

“Do you use any recreational drugs?”

I shook my head.

“How much do you drink in an average week?

“I don’t drink often, I’m only seventeen”

“Have you ever attempted suicide”

I shook my head.

“Do you have suicidal thoughts?”

I shook my head.

“Do you use laxatives or diuretics?”

I shook my head.

“How often do you binge and purge?

Those words always got to me. Binge. Purge. I felt the blood rush to my face and I began to tug at a loose string on my leggings. “Depends on the week I suppose.”

“Have you ever been sexually assaulted?”

I nodded my head in affirmation.

For the first time since beginning the questions, she looked up at me and her eyes offered her condolences. An act I appreciated but also hated receiving.

She continued down the list of required questions, purposely marking the paper in front of her.

“As you know, this is an adult program, but from your intake and our perception of your maturity, the adult program will be far better suited for you than the adolescent one. You are actually the youngest patient we have allowed into this facility. However, if you feel that this is an uncomfortable environment for you at anytime, please let us know.”

I had no problem with the program, knowing that I would never encounter any issues during my treatment. I had played the confident, young woman who was “wise beyond her years” my entire life.

I nodded and stood up, believing that our meeting was finally over.

“One last thing, we need you to walk over to the medical offices in our building and get weighed, have your blood drawn, and give us a urine sample.”

She walked me over to the adjacent offices and I met the third stranger of the day.

I was instructed to take off all of my clothes, and proceeded to be weighed, measured, poked and prodded. At this point, I was exhausted and it had only been about 20 minutes since I had arrived.

Finally my intake was done and the red-haired women who had greeted me at my arrival came to retrieve me. She walked us over to the base of the stairs which lead to the facility I would be spending the next month at.

I walked slowly behind her as she talked about how wonderful the program they offered would be, and how I would develop amazing relationships and meet many warm people. I stared blankly at the walls surrounding me, covered in inspirational quotes and calming photographs, barely hearing the words pouring out of her mouth. I had sacrificed so much to be here. I had flown across the world and left my home, my friends, my dogs, my senior year. Pain surged through my heart as I felt the familiar sting of grief and sadness behind my eyes.

We arrived at the base of the stairs and I began the walk up to the facility. The joyful, red-haired woman waited at the ground floor and slipped back to her post behind the information desk.

I reached the door and as I began to open it she called up to me from down below, “I forgot! Silly me! Welcome to the Eating Recovery Center!” I had arrived.

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