I Didn’t Believe I Had an Eating Disorder. But the Threat of Forced Feeding Saved my Life

My therapist told me I was running out of time. She had been recommending I sign myself into the hospital for several weeks. Each time, I said I was fine, that such drastic measures weren’t necessary, especially considering that I was acing all my college classes at my small liberal arts school in western Michigan. I didn’t think I needed to gain weight — in fact, I wasn’t even positive I had an eating disorder, despite weighing less than I had as a fourth-grader. I wrote off my falling-out hair and diminishing body temperature as mere coincidences to my steadily declining weight.

“If you don’t voluntarily sign yourself in, we might have to start thinking about forced commitment. You could die,” she said.

I tried not to laugh in her face. But as her words sunk in, I realized where any court would send me. I had heard stories about that psychiatric unit, and it frankly terrified me. I realized I would have far more control over my care if I signed myself in. So, two days after Christmas, at age 21, I did.

Published on the STAT website on 1.18.17
Written by: Carrie Arnold