In an article published on May 7th, the Kansas City Star announced the opening of Thalia House, a transitional living house for women recovering from eating disorders. Given that I grew up in KC, and also the place where my eating disorder came alive, I am so excited for Thalia House’s presence in the area.
When I lived in Kansas City, I had two stints at Baptist Memorial Hospital, in the eating disorder unit. The first was a 30-day stint, and the second was a 60-day stint. While I learned many tools and did not binge, purge, or starve while in the hospital, I relapsed within a couple days of discharge. The reason was not because I didn’t know what I needed to do. It wasn’t because I was a horrible person. It was because eating disorders are a BEAST. To go from 24-hour care to being thrown back in your old environment equates to relapse, in many cases.
What I needed was a step-down, or transitional, program. Of course, a place like Thalia House did not exist at that time. Even the few 12-Step OA meetings in the area did not really address anorexia and bulimia.
When I finally went to Sierra Tucson, a 28-day program in Arizona, they shed light on the need of the continuation of treatment. From there, I went to Turning Point of Tampa for 3 months, which was a step-down from Tucson. At Turning Point, I learned accountability for my actions and practiced being abstinent. Even after my discharge from Turning Point, I had some relapses. Eating disorders are tough. But, I practiced new behaviors, and my recovery time grew.
The person struggling with an eating disorder, family members, and even professionals often lack the knowledge or discount the power of the disease. Anyone who thinks that if you just eat X, Y, and Z three times a day then the eating disorder will go away is sorely mistaken. We don’t want to admit it, face it, deal with it. But recovery requires a lot of work and SUPPORT. In this case, Ignorance is NOT Bliss.
While “sober” living houses have been around forever, primarily located near treatment centers, it’s nice to see that eating disorder group homes popping up in more places. It is so needed! The ED epidemic continues to grow, and I’m guessing ED transitional living will grow, too. ‘Hope so!