It all started in the 7th grade. A perfectionist, Theresa couldn’t accept getting even one wrong on a test. But as much anxiety she felt about her school work, she felt the same about her weight. As her anxiety progressed, so did her eating disorder. In 8th grade, Theresa lost a third of her body weight in three months, a downward spiral she couldn’t stop. Years went by until one morning, in her junior year of high school, she woke up deaf in one ear. Her equilibrium was off and she felt dizzy. A trip to the emergency room turned into a trip a Madison where she underwent surgery for a bone-anchored hearing aid. Feeling sorry for herself, a new illness took hold: depression.
Desperate, her parents loaded up the car and headed to Rogers for inpatient treatment. Theresa was so angry! In the hotel the night before she was to be admitted, she took eight pills and ran four miles on the treadmill. She told herself “If I live through this, I was meant to be here.” She went to bed that night expecting to never wake up, but despite her wishes, she did. After 11 days in the inpatient unit, she returned home against the recommendation of her doctors and the wishes of her parents, but she didn’t return home recovered. She needed additional treatment.
By this time, she was approaching graduation and she had a lot on her mind. She wanted to be valedictorian and receive a scholarship for college to become a nurse. She began to accept the fact that she needed help. When she contacted Rogers, she was devastated to find out that there was a three month wait to get into the Eating Disorder Center. Stricken, she lost an additional 10 pounds in a month and proceeded to get sicker and sicker.
Every day was a haze, until one death defying moment changed her life for good. Driving down the highway, she fell asleep at the wheel. Her car sped into the ditch, maneuvered in between the woods, veered back up the ditch and ended up right back up on the road where the car came to a stop. Theresa does not recall the accident, but there was a witness who later told her that he didn’t know how she was still alive. He told her she had a guardian angel, and she knew he was right.
After the accident, she re-discovered faith in herself and faith in God. She knew in her heart that she was ready for recovery, but she couldn’t do it herself. She was finally ready to seek and accept the help her family had been begging her to get. She was 19 years old. She was close to death. She had a heart rate of 39 beats per minute and had lost 50% of her body weight. Unknown to her family, she called Rogers for help.
On Thursday, December 19 she made the trip to Oconomowoc that saved her life. Once here, she realized she didn’t ever want to go back to her former life. She wanted to be a nurse and have a family, and she couldn’t do that with her eating disorder. After about a month at the Eating Disorder Center without any health insurance coverage, her parents were nearing the end of their financial resources, but Theresa knew she still had work to do. That’s when her treatment team recommended her for a Patient Care Grant. Two weeks later, Theresa moved to Rogers’ partial hospitalization program in Madison where she stayed for several months.
This spring, she not only returned home, but she returned home recovered.