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Something’s been going on for more than a year that I haven’t been able to talk about.
My wife, Laci, nearly died earlier this year.
She is currently in a partial hospitalization program. It’s still a dangerous situation. The recommended treatment period is a minimum of 30 days.
But after only two weeks, our insurance suddenly decided to stop paying for treatment far short of the duration recommended by her team of healthcare professionals. I’ll explain more in a moment.
Warning: this article talks about anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and eating disorders. If you struggle with any of these things, consider having a loved one read this instead.
What I’m about to share is extremely difficult for a lot of reasons, but we have decided it’s time.
December 19, 2019 Update: There is a new podcast episode where Laci joins me to provide a positive update on her recovery: 463: Recovering From an Eating Disorder)
6 reasons I’m talking about this publicly:
- I’ve had to take off of work completely, and I want you to understand why I might be absent.
- I won’t be recording any more podcasts at this time (Dan on my team is taking my place on the show).
- I have some pre-produced content I will continue to publish, but at some point that will be exhausted. I wanted you to know why you may not see the usual content from me.
- Both Laci (my wife) and I believe she will recover and one day help others by sharing her story.
- Laci wants to share this publicly now, while we’re in the struggle, not just after the fact.
- We want to encourage those struggling to seek help.
- We want to de-stigmatize the conversation around mental health.
- We want to help people recognize the warning signs in their loved ones and seek help.
I’ve struggled with when and how to share what’s been going on. I’ve erred on the side of keeping things private because it’s a very personal matter for my wife. I hesitated even to reach out to friends to talk because I didn’t want to “expose” her issue and embarrass her.
I didn’t know at what point someone else’s situation becomes so dire that it’s appropriate to talk openly with others regardless of whether you have that person’s permission. Is it appropriate only when your loved one is comatose or entirely unable to communicate? I still don’t know where to draw the line.
Looking back, it’s clear how severe things were. I sought professional help for Laci, but I personally suffered in solitude for most of the year. I regret not talking to people sooner for my own sake. It seems obvious now I should have reached out to talk to someone sooner. At the time, I was worried it wasn’t respectful to “out” my wife’s private issue by talking to anyone about how it affected me.
By sharing what’s going on right now, I hope I can encourage those with a loved one who is struggling with mental illness to not only seek help for their loved one but also for themselves.
I’m sharing this now because my wife has reached a place where she wants the story to be public. We are very much still in the middle of things and far from being on the other side. It’s a daily struggle. Things are still very scary. As I’ll explain in a moment, there are some very real problems today that are preventing us from getting the treatment Laci needs. But we are choosing to document what’s going on in the midst of the struggle.
Loss and grief.
After losing someone close to her near the end of 2018, my wife, Laci, grieved by severely restricting her eating.
By January of 2019, Laci was so malnourished, she was unable to speak a single full sentence. She could not hear or comprehend anything I said. At the lowest point, Laci had starved herself down to 107lbs and was near death. Her eyes looked glazed over. No one was home.
We were unable to have a conversation. She could not speak to me. She could not hear anything I said (even if I repeated sentences five times at a rate of one word per second). I tried desperately to get her to eat, but it was a real struggle.
When some of the people close to us learned about what happened, a few wondered, “How could Sean let this happen?”
By the time things were this bad, we were already getting help (I’ll talk more about this in a moment), but I wish I was able to recognize the warning signs much sooner.
Laci has always had a “weird” relationship with food since I met her 16 years ago, but I didn’t know it was something serious. She had always expressed an unhappiness with her body. Her weight fluctuated from 130–180lbs throughout the near-decade we’ve been married, but it was always very gradual. When her weight went up, I thought this was just a “thing that happens” after one gets married. When her weight went down, it was also gradual and never alarmingly low. She never purged (I asked), so I didn’t think there was a serious problem. It wasn’t until it was too late I realized these wasn’t just “dieting” efforts.
I never knew there was a spectrum of eating disorders. I would only learn later that’s what she had.
I suspect there are many people like me who have no clue what an “eating disorder” really is. I just thought most girls were “weird” about food and unhappy with their body or weight.
While stereotypically, the phrase “eating disorder” may make people think of a young, anorexic girl, it’s worth mentioning that there are numerous forms of eating disorders that affect people of all genders, shapes, and sizes.
Eating disorder types and symptoms.
Here are some prominent eating disorder types and how to recognize them (NOTE: this is not a comprehensive list):
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Characterized by weight loss, difficulty maintaining appropriate body weight, irrational fear of gaining weight (often accompanied by starvation or excessive exercise).
- Warning Signs/Symptoms:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Dresses in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm
- Is preoccupied with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
- Refuses to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
- Makes frequent comments about feeling “fat” or overweight despite weight loss
- See even more signs »
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake
- (Previously referred to as “Selective Eating Disorder”): Similar to anorexia in that both disorders involve limitations in the amount and/or types of food consumed, but, unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness.
- Warning Signs/Symptoms:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Dresses in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm
- Reports constipation, abdominal pain, cold intolerance, lethargy, and/or excess energy
- Reports consistent, vague gastrointestinal issues (“upset stomach”, feels full, etc.) around mealtimes that have no known cause
- Dramatic restriction in types or amount of food eaten
- See even more signs »
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Extreme overeating and feelings of loss of control about eating.
- Warning Signs/Symptoms:
- Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food.
- Appears uncomfortable eating around others
- Any new practice with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
- Fear of eating in public or with others
- Steals or hoards food in strange places
- See even more signs »
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Cycles of extreme overeating followed by purging (or other behaviors to compensate for overeating).
- Warning Signs/Symptoms:
- In general, behaviors and attitudes indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns
- Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food
- Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics
- Appears uncomfortable eating around others
- Develops food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group—such as condiments—excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)
- See even more signs »
- Compulsive Exercise
- Extreme, excessive exercise that significantly interferes with other areas of one’s life.
- Warning Signs/Symptoms:
- Exercise that significantly interferes with important activities, occurs at inappropriate times or in inappropriate settings, or when the individual continues to exercise despite injury or other medical complications
- Intense anxiety, depression, irritability, feelings of guilt, and/or distress if unable to exercise
- Maintains excessive, rigid exercise regimen – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury
- Discomfort with rest or inactivity
- Exercise used to manage emotions
- See even more signs »
- Obsession with “proper” or “healthful” eating to the point of damaging one’s own well-being.
- Warning Signs/Symptoms:
- Compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels
- An increase in concern about the health of ingredients
- Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products)
- An inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’
- Unusual interest in the health of what others are eating
- Spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events
- See even more signs »
“Weird” is dangerous.
I beg you: If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or your loved one, get help immediately. Do not brush it off. You may not want to face the anger or emotions that will come as a result of confronting them. You may hope ignoring the problem will make it go away.
But it will not go away on its own. Left untreated, things will only get worse.
If you’re like me, and you’ve never had problems with food, you were probably never made aware of the warning signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. You end up using words like “weird” to describe someone’s relationship with food.
“Weird” is a term we use when something seems slightly strange, but not strange enough to do anything about. “Weird” is something you shrug off.
But eating disorders are not just “weird”…
Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness.
A few alarming statistics:
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
- At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.
- Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder.
- Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 with anorexia have 10 times the risk of dying compared to their same-aged peers.
- 13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviors.
- Males represent 25% of individuals with anorexia nervosa, and they are at a higher risk of dying, in part because they are often diagnosed later since many people assume males don’t have eating disorders.
- Anorexia has an estimated mortality rate of around 10%.
- Among those who struggle with anorexia, 1 in 5 deaths is by suicide.
- Only 28.4% of people with current Binge Eating Disorder are receiving treatment for their disorder.
This wasn’t a “diet”. Something was wrong.
At the end of 2018, I did think Laci was being “weird” with food, but it looked like the pattern I’d seen for 16 years. Other than weight fluctuation, nothing bad ever happened before, so I didn’t know this time was different. In years past, when I’d noticed she ate only a little at a particular meal, she would eat a lot more at other times when I wasn’t around, and it would all balance out. I wasn’t aware she was starving herself this time. It’s not as though I tracked everything she ate for as long as I’d known her. I didn’t know to be alarmed. When she lost the first 10 or 15lbs, I thought she was just making an effort toward her goal to lose some weight (as had often been the case in the past).
I wish I had noticed the severity of the issue sooner, but I wasn’t able to recognize her behavior was different from what I’d always seen.
But after those first 10 or 15lbs, I realized something was wrong.
I insisted she go to the doctor. I also scheduled therapy for her and made sure she went regularly. It was through therapy we learned the reason Laci starved herself was because she was using food (or lack thereof, in this case) to cope with the loss of a loved one.
The doctor “tried not to look too alarmed”, Laci said, and encouraged her to eat more regularly and gave specific recommendations for frequency and amount of meals.
I took off work to be with Laci full-time.
I stopped working. From March–June, I made it my sole focus to make sure she ate on a consistent basis. I did nothing but make sure Laci ate. I tracked every meal, snack, and calorie on a spreadsheet and made sure she hit the targets to gain the weight back. Getting her to eat for those first couple months was excruciating, but I didn’t give up. I made it my full-time job.
As a result of this effort, her physical health was restored and she went from 107lbs to 140lbs by the summer. When talking to a specialist later on, he said he’d never heard of such a physical recovery from anorexia in this kind of timespan without professional help. He said it “usually takes years” when people try to recover on their own. I was glad to hear the relentless consistency had paid off.
After many months of intense focus, getting her to eat was finally no longer a problem. Eating consistently was finally normal. Laci and I ate all of our meals together, and she was (and still is) eating 5 or 6 times per day. She is currently 150lbs.
Things started looking up by the summer.
While things seemed to be looking up in June of 2019, and everything was improving steadily, Laci was in no state to work or drive. We decided to pull her off the road, and have her quit her job so she could spend the entire second half of 2019 focused on recovery.
This was good. Laci seemed to gradually get better each day, both mentally and physically. She went from being unable to speak a single complete sentence at the beginning of the year to at least being able to communicate to some degree. She would pause in the middle of every sentence for about 10 seconds to think of the word she was looking for. Over the months, those pauses shrunk to about 5 seconds. This was progress.
I was still spending almost all day with Laci, but I was able to work at least a few hours per day going into the second half of the year. There was still a ways to go, but it seemed like things were on the right track.
Then, in September, things took a turn for the worse.
Another downward spiral.
My best estimation is that once she regained enough of her cognitive abilities to be able to think and process more things, she was able to process the loss of herself. Whereas in the first half of the year, she had been completely gone (mentally), her awareness was coming back, and now she was able to recognize what she’d done to herself.
Loss of a loved one caused the initial trauma, but now, she was beginning to realize she’d lost half a year of time and felt like a shell of her former self.
This sense of loss started another downward spiral. However, this time, starvation was no longer a coping method at Laci’s disposal because she was under my constant supervision. With her old coping methods no longer available, she turned to obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
I sat down with Laci and listed out all of her symptoms:
- Most concerning were the suicidal thoughts. She said she didn’t have any specific plans, but the kind of thoughts that entered her mind were:
- “Cutting my throat with a knife from the kitchen.”
- “Running the car off the road while driving.”
- “Shooting myself in the head with a gun.”
- Other Symptoms:
- Incoherent stream-of-consciousness talking for 6–8 hours per day
- Picking: skin, face, ear, nails (until bleeding)
- Hitting herself (fist, book)
- Choking herself
- Panic attacks (many per day)
- Twitching and other OCD movements that lasted hours
- Couldn’t sit still
- Unable to focus
- Lack of mental clarity
- Ruminating and fixating (repeating the same phrases over and over)
- Memory loss/forgetfulness
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty listening/comprehending
- Brain fog
- Thoughts of hopelessness
- Feeling empty
- Detachment from body
Laci would have panic attacks every day along with incoherent stream of consciousness (mania) that went on for most of the day. She was fidgeting, picking, exhibiting strange OCD behaviors, and self-harming. She would repeat phrases over and over again, and this would continue for 6–8 hours every day for weeks.
She’s not herself. This is not who she is. I know that. She knows that. She’ll lash out, or break something, or harm herself, and then immediately say, “That’s not me. That’s not me.”
I know she isn’t choosing this. I see this as something tragic happening to someone I love. I’m not mad at her. I just have empathy.
She feels terrible and often points to herself after an episode and says, “This isn’t lovable!” I reassure her I love her unconditionally and I know she isn’t choosing any of this. “You don’t have to be or do anything to deserve my love. You are enough.”
Confusion and PTSD.
She is very confused and still thinks she is starving. She is constantly reliving the trauma and experiencing fear. Even though we make sure she eats thousands of calories per day, she thinks she is dying. Even while holding a bowl of food in her hands, she has panic attacks about not eating enough. She’s stuck in a trauma loop.
I took off work completely once again some months ago to spend 24/7 with Laci. I was constantly afraid to leave the room, or even go to the bathroom, because of her condition (especially with regard to the suicidal thoughts and self harm).
While this was happening for up to 8 hours each day, there were pockets of time where Laci was not in a manic state. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she was behaving normally, but there were times where she was not having an episode. Naturally, these were the pockets of time where she’d call or text friends and family. As a result, the impression most people got of her condition by talking over the phone wasn’t even close to accurate.
We tried everything we possibly could:
- Exercises (breathing, mantras, etc.)
I was with Laci 24/7 during this time. I went to the bathroom as fast as I could and stayed in the same room with her. I remained extremely patient and kind. We listened to books, podcasts, and practiced coping methods, but even with this level of care, 6–8 hours of episodes and non-stop incoherent stream of consciousness and panic attacks each day was… not good.
We were surviving on a minute-to-minute basis for weeks. I did everything I could to hold it all together. “Just get through this next minute. Be calm, be kind, be patient…”
It became clear we needed to step up her care.
Increasing the intensity of treatment.
I started researching more intensive treatment. The most basic mental health facilities did not have good reviews, and I did not feel comfortable with them.
There was, however, a great program that also specialized in eating disorders. But it was extremely expensive ($30,000/mo), and they didn’t take our insurance.
We weren’t sure what we were going to do.
I watched an interview about a woman whose husband committed suicide, and the signs Laci has exhibited were 10X worse than his—and the attempt that ended his life happened in the shortest little moment when he was alone.
You can imagine how on-edge I was as a result of seeing that interview, being afraid to even go to the bathroom.
After looking at all of the other options, I knew we’d have to go with the best, highest-quality treatment. We’d figure out the money later, somehow. The most important thing was Laci’s care.
Getting an assessment.
I called on October 21st, 2019 and we scheduled an assessment. The soonest appointment available was October 22nd. When you’re living minute-to-minute, one day is a long time to wait.
We made it another 24 hours. Laci answered questions at the assessment, and I also helped explain the full situation and provided an outline of Laci’s history and current symptoms. They said that helped a lot.
The result of the assessment was they recommended Laci enter into a Partial Hospitalization Program. This is intensive, all-day treatment, 7 days per week, for at least a month (4–5 weeks is the average length of treatment, but it can certainly be longer). This basically meant she would be in a structured program at a facility full-time, but she would get to come home at night to sleep.
This, of course, was all predicated on everything working out with their billing department.
We then had to wait for the billing department to reach out to discuss self-pay options and figure out how we were going to pay for all of this without insurance.
Meanwhile, I’m beyond burned out.
In July, Laci went on a 2-week road trip with her mom. This was the first time in 2019 where Laci actually seemed stable (before things took a turn for the worse), and I thought it would do her good to get out of the house and spend some quality time with her mom. I also felt like she’d be safe since she would be with her mom the entire time and visiting family.
The trip went really well and was refreshing for Laci.
On my end, I had planned to work on my next book while Laci was on her trip.
This was to take place in two parts:
- On July 1st, I set out to write 100,000 words in a day as a way to quickly draft my next book, Sabbatical.
- I then planned to take the rest of the month off to edit the book.
The event on July 1st went well. I ended up short of my numerical goal, writing a total of 55,614 words, but I did complete the first draft of my book.
Laci went on her trip, I completed my first draft, and now I had weeks of uninterrupted time to myself to edit the book.
I sat down at my desk, ready to tackle this book, and…
I couldn’t do anything.
I would pace around, come back and sit down…
It was like I was completely broken.
The next day, I tried again.
Nothing. I couldn’t work. It was like I was paralyzed.
This went on for days.
The guilt grew. I beat myself up.
“What’s wrong with me??”
I sat at a coffee shop and journaled. I journaled every day, desperate to figure this out. I wrote everything I felt and everything that came to mind.
In looking back at all of my journal entries, I see how desperate I was to understand what was “wrong” with me. Several times I wrote, “I think I figured out what was killing my motivation and productivity,” but it was always some surface-level productivity “trick” that didn’t end up helping.
When I told my dad the story of being completely unable to work in July, even when I had complete and total freedom, he said, “I find that hard to believe.”
That’s just it—so did I: How is Sean McCabe unable to make progress on a book for an entire month? I thought he was a robot.
It turns out I’m a fragile human on the inside.
It took me 34 days of journaling before I finally figured it out:
I’m able to compartmentalize to such an extreme degree, I didn’t even realize my inability to function at work was due to the fact that this was the first time, in the entire year of 2019, that I had even a moment’s break from taking care of Laci…
…and I was burned out.
Here I was, trying to write a book about sabbaticals and rest, and I, myself, was burned out.
People have told me it’s amazing I managed to accomplish as much as I did this year. But I spent the entire month of July beating myself up for being unable to perform, and it wasn’t until August 4th that I finally realized it wasn’t because I was a terrible, lazy person.
Here’s an excerpt from my journal entry:
What I had to go through with regards to taking care of Laci, and dealing with her physical and mental health issues, was exhausting. I was exhausted, but there was no break. It was quite literally a life-or-death matter, and in matters of life or death, you do what it takes and you don’t complain.
Imagine your loved one is being crushed under a vehicle. What do you do? You find the superhuman strength to lift the vehicle and hold it up for as long as it takes for them to crawl to safety. It doesn’t matter if it takes 3 seconds or 30 seconds. You find a way to hold on. The fact that you have a torn shoulder muscle and slipped disc is not important right now.
The point at which Laci left for her trip was the first time in this entire year I had a break. I’m only just now realizing this. I didn’t know how tired I was. I didn’t realize how much it had taken out of me.
I desperately needed to recover. I needed to do absolutely nothing.
I didn’t know why at the time. I only knew I was completely spent. I had no energy. I knew I needed to edit the book, but I just couldn’t. And I felt bad about that—like something was wrong with me. I felt guilty for “taking the time”, like I was “stealing” it from the book to do nothing.
But I needed to recover from six months of taking care of Laci. I only just today understood that and figured it out. It clicked.
I’ve been through a lot this year. I’ve had to be strong, but it’s taken a lot out of me. There is a very real cost to all of this. Among other things, part of that price has been my being unable to complete my book.
I’m setting myself free from the guilt I’ve carried at being unable to edit the book. If I treat myself as I would anyone else who went through the same thing, I would say:
“Look, it’s okay. You’ve been through something devastating. A lot has been required of you, and you’re understandably spent. You’ve had more than a full-time job’s worth of work on top of the full-time job you already have, and you’ve been the only one keeping everything together for the both of you. It’s okay! Give yourself some grace. You’ve needed rest. It’s understandable. It’s reasonable.
“You probably still need a lot more rest. That’s probably why all you can think about is Hawaii and the sabbatical year. Let’s face it, you’re burned out. Who wouldn’t be after going through what you’ve gone through this year? Please, don’t beat yourself up. You’re doing a fantastic job. In fact, it’s incredible you’ve been able to hold up as well as you have considering all you’ve endured. Take your time, take it easy, and be kind to yourself.”
That’s what I’d say.
Now I need to receive my own advice. It’s one thing to write it, as though I’m giving advice to someone else, and a whole other thing to accept it.
I think I’ve been in denial. I don’t think I’ve had the time or space to acknowledge that what I’ve had to go through this year has burned me out. I don’t want to be burned out—I’m writing the book on sabbaticals for God’s sake!
I’m burned out. I need to acknowledge that.
Obviously, I don’t want that to be the case, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I need to face the facts.
I was able to feel a little less guilty about not being able to perform, but it still stung every time someone asked about the book. I had been publicly documenting the process of writing the book, and then suddenly I went dark.
I couldn’t talk about what was going on, because it involved my wife’s personal issue. It just happened to also affect me significantly.
This contributed to the exhaustion and sense of loneliness.
For years, I’d been wanting to go to Hawaii on vacation. I was born in Hawaii, and ever since I left at the age of six, I’ve longed to go back.
I’d hoped to go last year, but it didn’t work out.
This year, I was determined to make our trip to Hawaii happen.
Because I was unable to work much this year, we didn’t have much money. But I needed a break desperately. I needed deep rest.
If you’ve been following me before seeing this post, you might know we took a trip to Hawaii in September. You may also know that after 13 years of working for myself, I had planned to take a sabbatical year in 2020.
You’d be forgiven for assuming we’re just rolling in the money if we were going to Hawaii and planning a sabbatical year, but nothing could be further from the truth. We personally have enough money to pay rent next month and bills. My business has a small amount of cash (but also $50k of debt—which I’ve talked about publicly on the seanwes podcast). I took a distribution from the business to be able to go to Hawaii for my own mental health.
The trip was very healing for me personally. It was the highlight of the year and good for our marriage as well. I’m so glad we took the trip, but in hindsight, I can’t help but feel a little guilty for spending money. I couldn’t have anticipated it, but now we’re in a situation where Laci is in a Partial Hospitalization Program at a rate of $1,000/day. It’s easy to beat myself up for the decision, but things were looking better and better every day. I couldn’t have known things were about to take a turn for the worse.
In terms of the 2020 sabbatical year I’d been planning to take since 2016, it’s on hold indefinitely pending Laci’s full recovery. I don’t know if we’ll be able to take a sabbatical in 2020 anymore.
If we do end up being able to take off 2020 as a sabbatical, it’s not because we have a year’s worth of savings in the bank. We don’t. We’d simply be using the money I receive as a salary from the business to travel on the cheap.
Right now, we’re not thinking about the sabbatical year. We can’t think beyond today. Our sole focus is on Laci’s recovery.
Treatment costs $30,000/mo.
I had no idea how in the world we’d afford $30,000/mo for Laci’s treatment, but I was committing to doing this now and figuring it out later. We can find ways to get more money, we can’t find ways to get more Laci.
Billing finally called, and I got the best news I’d heard all year: even though they hadn’t listed our specific insurance as one they took, they reached out to the insurance company and confirmed they will in fact cover treatment!
We do have to meet a $7,900 deductible, but when you’re expecting $30,000–$60,000 for a month or two of treatment, it’s extremely good news. We don’t exactly have the $7,900, either, but it’s certainly more manageable than what we thought we were facing.
We finally got the green light to start her first day of treatment on Thursday, October 24th.
This is a structured program, so visitation is not allowed (although I have participated in family therapy with Laci at least once per week). We’ve been very glad Laci has been able to come home in the evenings.
It all seems so strange and surreal. The night before her first day at the treatment center, Laci told me she baked cookies for me as a special treat. It’s moments like these, when she seems totally normal, I wonder if it’s all a dream. That’s the real Laci, and it’s so clear when she’s there. It feels uncomfortable even sharing all of this because in those good moments, you feel like everything is as it should be, and you certainly don’t want to focus on the negative.
I went in with Laci on the initial day and spent the first couple hours there helping with paperwork, going beyond the front desk to check out the facility. I was relieved to see it’s a very nice place with kind people. I was afraid it’d look like a sterile hospital, but instead it looks like a school or office with lots of colorful things on the walls. It’s not terribly strict (for instance, she’s allowed to bring her phone to use during breaks).
I spoke with both her therapist and psychiatrist on the first day and helped them get up to speed. The psychiatrist prescribed some medication, and I was amazed at just how much better things were the very next morning. It hasn’t been a total solution, but medication has helped immensely. Laci is now at least able to function, and focus on learning the coping skills.
She’s not yet to the point of being able to regulate her emotions, but that’s what this initial work is about. Once she can do that, she will move on to working through the trauma. This will be a weeks-if-not-months-long process. Her treatment team says it’s more important than ever she remain in partial hospitalization right now.
Insurance decides to stop paying for coverage.
It upset me greatly to hear yesterday from the billing department that our insurance decided they don’t want to continue to pay for treatment. “Laci no longer needs partial hospitalization,” the insurance company said.
We were all shocked.
According to the professionals at the recovery center, typical treatment (for someone with less severe symptoms than Laci) is a minimum of 30 days. They feel strongly that she should remain in partial hospitalization at this time and said for the insurance to cut off treatment at just over a week is egregious.
After going into peer review, the insurance company denied the authorization request and will step down her treatment in 2 days.
We believe this is terribly unsafe. Laci has barely stayed for half of the minimum recommended treatment.
We’re already struggling to meet the $7,900 deductible, especially with me having to take off of work. We’re not able to afford to continue out-of-pocket $1,000/day treatment without insurance. But I’m also very concerned about the notion of Laci leaving treatment this early.
I won’t mince words: we’re not in a good spot right now.
I want to be able to focus entirely on helping Laci and getting her the treatment she needs to safely recover.
I had planned to just provide this update and leave it at that, but after talking to a few close friends, they encouraged me to ask for help.
This whole experience has been extremely humbling. I feel embarrassed that I’m not “successful enough”, or in a good enough financial situation, to be able to weather a storm of this magnitude. I know I’m not a failure, but it hurts that I’m not able to provide to a greater degree in a time like this.
It hurts my pride to ask for help, especially in public.
But I’m swallowing my ego and humbling myself:
I need your help.
I don’t know what else to do other than to ask for help on behalf of Laci.
There are two ways you can help:
- Sign up for a month (or a year) of seanwes membership.
- Donate any amount (even a few dollars): Paypal (@seanwes) or Venmo (@seanwes).
If you’ve gotten any value from me over the years (podcast, book, or any other ad-free content I put out), it would mean a lot to me, and help our family greatly, if you sign up for a membership (even just for one month). I’ll at least feel good about giving you something of value in return for your support.
If that feels too strange (I understand), you can contribute directly to Laci’s care by using the Paypal or Venmo links above.
Finally, if you’re not in a position to help financially, please do not feel any pressure to do so.
All I ask is that you love people and love yourself. No one chooses an eating disorder. We need to talk about these issues in public to increase awareness. Eating disorders are deadly, and they thrive in darkness and secrecy. They hide behind diets and compulsive exercise. They’re not easy to recognize if you don’t know what to look for (I certainly didn’t).
Update: Laci is doing well!
Update: Laci is doing great! She is healthy and feeling much more like herself. Getting treatment has been fantastic. We are absolutely thrilled how well she is doing.
I’m happy to say, thanks to the generous support we received from so many, we were able to pay for the intensive care Laci needs. For a little over one month, she was in 7-day-per-week partial hospitalization at a recovery center, followed by 5 days per week of outpatient treatment. She’s doing so well, this week, her team recommended she step down to 3-day-per week outpatient treatment. She continues to see multiple therapists and dietitians per week.
Her diet has been consistent, nutrition is good, and cognitive abilities have returned! She’s sharp and able to comprehend and respond quickly. Her sense of humor has also been restored.
Her friends and I feel like we have Laci back. We are so grateful for your help. Thank you.
There is a new podcast episode where Laci joins me to provide a positive update on her recovery: 463: Recovering From an Eating Disorder
Get help for yourself or a loved one.
Learn about the symptoms. Seek help for yourself or a loved one. If your thoughts scare you, talk to someone immediately.
- United States:
- Find help for eating disorders in the U.S. »
- Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
- Warning Signs & Symptoms »
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