The months that I spent at NYSPI gave me valuable insight into my struggle with anorexia nervosa. The doctors and staff were firm yet compassionate and fostered an understanding of the general and specific causes of my illness. As I reached optimal nutritional status, my emotional and mental state improved greatly. My ability to understand myself and my disease increased dramatically. I was also shown a varied number of ways to fight back, such as being encouraged to use my voice to have my needs met. In the time that I was there, I began to feel free to ask for things that are necessary for me to feel empowered to be a person and not just define myself by the number on a scale or how my clothing fit.
The last month that I was at PI was devoted to Exposure Therapy. This gave me the opportunity to better understand my relationship with food and showed me how my thoughts about specific foods were simply not valid. One of my great fears regarding food is sugar. Through sessions that took me back to exploring this specific food as a child would, I have come to understand that sugar is simply a food and does not have any of the bad connotations that I had attributed to it: It has a place in an everyday diet and is an energy supply. This does not mean that I no longer struggle with issues surrounding sugar, but it has given me a basis to be able to refute what I find to be “scary” about it. And this gives me strength to fight my self-taught and Madison Avenue misinformation regarding my daily eating patterns. Exposure Therapy gave me ways to look at the very basic fears that I have to confront on my plate daily.
I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity by the doctors and staff at NYSPI to regain a relatively normal relationship with food and the ability to understand the things that I need to do to maintain recovery.
I struggled with an eating disorder for 15 years. I tried many different programs….but was never able to completely eradicate eating disordered behaviors. I was exhausted, frustrated and had given up on having a normal life.
My doctor strongly suggested that I try the Columbia Program, and I reluctantly agreed. When I first entered, I was miserable since the many rules appeared unnecessary….As time passed, my resistance lessened, and I began to see the many benefits of the Columbia Program……
Research is an integral part of the program…the array of weekly groups offered multiple benefits. The most important part of the program is the time factor. The staff views the weight gain as the beginning of the journey, whereupon a patient can practice new skills and still return safely to the hospital.
Some patients feel the staff is “tough”. I disagree. I think that the staff is extremely compassionate, but tough enough to fight the illness. This is not an easy program, but it is not an easy disease. The Columbia Program recognizes the disease for what it is, and combines research-based guidelines with an experienced staff to give its patients the best possible chance at a real life.
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