Eating disorders: A psychological illness which is under-treated

Over the past nine years I have waged an internal war and recently came out victorious. I was in an abusive relationship with myself. My love affair with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa almost took my life. This November marks my first full year without being in the hospital or in inpatient treatment centers. I have had numerous stays for many months at a time in these rehabilitation facilities, and have noticed an alarming trend. Not only is the price-per-day of treatment the average person's monthly mortgage, insurance companies are failing to recognize the severity of eating disorders. Keep in mind eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychological illnesses, according to the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action, the mortality rate for Anorexia alone may be as high as 20 percent.

When a person is in treatment, there are nurses, counselors, psych techs, and other staff watching the patient 24/7. By law, if patients show any indication of harming themselves or their recovery, they can be taken out of the center by police force, and put in the psychiatric ward of the local hospital. Essentially, there is little room to not follow the program. On paper, most patients look like they are progressing. In reality, the patients have no option but to obey the rules, and take care of their bodies.

Insurance companies have been failing to recognize this critical fact, and are cutting off funds after merely a few weeks. Hypothetically, this means that a woman who has been battling Bulimia Nervosa for ten years will only be given two weeks of treatment because her insurance company claims that she is "cured" since she has not engaged in harmful behaviors for that period of time.

Eating disorders are not about eating "clean," cutting carbs, or exercising more. This is not about being health conscious or a role model. They are not about the physicality of the body, looking good in a bikini, or fulfilling any thought motivated by vanity. They are not about getting positive attention for beauty, wanting boys to notice you and girls to envy you, or fitting into sample sizes. They are not about fitting in, or following the ridiculous standards of the media. Eating disorders are not a hoax driven by surface insecurities.

Eating disorders are the result of having the self-esteem as clear as a ghost. The same self-esteem that was once destroyed by a traumatic experience, neglect, lack of needs being met by family in accordance to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, resulting in an atrocious sense of self-worth. They are the slow and silent way of committing suicide, hoping to be saved, but too stubborn to do anything about it. This is about hovering between life and death, torturing oneself and fading out until it is all over. It wasn't until I broke every fiber within myself. Lost my mind, hair, brain, bones, friends, family, school, and sanity, and was shivering in a rollaway cot in the ER, when I hit "pause" on life. Everything stopped. I was totally disconnected. This was when I had reached my finale. I wasn't living. I was merely surviving life.

An eating disorder is like any other addiction, being food is the drug of choice. The outer appearance is just a by-product of all the turmoil and abuse. The only problem with this addiction is that the Anoretic, Bulimic, or EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) person can never abstain from their drug of choice. Food is the most vital source for life, and therefore the addict has to come face to face with it everyday. Three times a day, and sometimes more. This is about having zero trust of oneself and others. It is about not feeling deserving of the most basic human right to live. This is about checking out, taking the cue to exit. This is about being sick, afraid, needing love, and fear. It's also about not being sick enough. This is just a skewed way of coping. It really isn't about the food.

So why do insurance companies neglect their most critical clients? They close their eyes and stick fingers in their ears, singing "La la la" until they can prematurely discharge a patient from treatment. Is this really helping? The patients already know that they have to eat to live, and treatment isn't there to educate patients on the obvious. Treatment is about an intense psychological dig and rebirth of self-value.

This is just a polite, but much needed, wakeup call-WAKE-UP.