How Rogers helped Sylvia find healing and hope for her eating disorderPosted on 01/12/23 01:22:pm
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Matthew, whose preferred name is Sylvia, says logging on to AOL for kids and finding a message board about eating disorders planted a seed.
“It was the idea of finding something to control in my life when I was feeling like my parents controlled everything,” Sylvia says. “I felt like at least I had a say about what I was taking in and how much I exercised.”
Sylvia says she struggled with body dysmorphia since her early teens and started restricting her eating in high school in addition to exercising excessively.
“I continued until I got to college,” she says. “My anorexia became bulimia. It got to the point where I had to take a semester off of school to see a therapist. She wasn’t that helpful, and I don’t think I was ready to start recovery then.”
Sylvia returned to college and says somehow she was able to continue through graduation. When she started a graduate program, her eating disorder became worse, so she started meeting with an outpatient therapist.
“She wasn’t trained in eating disorder therapy,” Sylvia says. “You need someone who is very familiar with treatments for eating disorders – what works and best practices – just talking about it doesn’t help. You need a plan.”
Sylvia says at that time there weren’t a lot of treatment centers for males. She first sought inpatient care at Rogers in Oconomowoc for two weeks, then was moved to Eating Disorder Recovery Adult Residential Care, which she says was life changing.
“With the encouragement and guidance of my Rogers’ therapist, I was able to heal and find a path to recovery that's given me purpose and joy,” she says. “I feel so blessed for everything the program and Rogers’ employees gave me."
The structure the dietician provided Sylvia for her eating was beneficial.
“She helped me with a meal plan,” she says. “I still have the card she gave me for meal plans and information on the number of meats and veggies and dairy I should eat every day.”
Connecting with other patients was also healing.
“I think the rapport I was able to build with the other residents was great,” she says. “Being able to sit down and have meals together really helped because there was a sense of community and encouragement.”
Evidence-based therapy, including exposure and response prevention, made a lasting impact.
“What I remember are the challenges as part of the program,” she says. “I recall being taken to a mall and being paired with someone to get a meal at the food court. That accountability and support is so important inside and outside of treatment.”
Sylvia now has her Master of Social Work to be a therapist like the one who helped her at Rogers. She has advice for anyone who might be struggling.
“Reach out for help,” she says. “Take the first step of talking to someone you trust. Ask a friend to go with you to a mental health provider if you’re afraid to see a therapist yourself. And remember that recovery is a process, not a straight line.”
How Rogers can help
Rogers’ multidisciplinary teams offer compassionate help for depression, OCD, anxiety, and eating disorders for children, adolescents, and adults nationwide. Call 800-767-4411 for a free screening.