October 12, 2011 Jeanne Rust

Nine Reasons Not to Get Treatment

I love to answer the phones at Mirasol and speak with people who are calling us for information. Some people have been to several different treatment centers and are old pros at the admission process. Some people have never been to treatment but have been seeing a therapist. Other people are simply out there, very ill, and they've never attempted to get any help.

When I talk to people about previous treatment or lack of previous treatment, I get the comment, "I don't think I'm sick enough for treatment." They have an unbelievable list of reasons they shouldn't get treatment.
See if you can identify with anything on this list:

1. I don't want to. Wow, what a concept. I think I'll wait. I'd rather have a root canal!

2. I'm not sick enough. Everyone (yes, everyone) has used this excuse at some point. Other variations include:
a. I'm not thin enough. My weight is okay. I'll be the
heaviest person in treatment.
b. My labs are okay. I'm really healthy.
c. I don't have serious health consequences.
d. If it were really a problem, my spouse / doctor / friends / parents would have said something.

3. I can't take the time off from work – This excuse is not unreasonable, but what about having a life-threatening disorder? What about getting fired from your job because you can't do the work? What about getting treatment, coming back, and doing super work for your boss? You need to be around to do your job and to do a good job.

4. It's too expensive – Clients say this and parents say this! However, there are ways to find money. Some treatment centers have sliding scales. There are free, research-run programs in some areas. I know of a behavioral health lender that has very reasonable terms for the borrower. Many other people borrow money from family members. I remember one patient I had who borrowed $5000 from 10 different family members. Still, finances are a barrier for many people.

5. I had treatment before, and it didn't work – This is another excuse that I hear frequently from people. How about saying this? "I didn't fail treatment, but the kind of treatment I had failed me!"

6. I can do this on my own — This is another one that everyone has used, usually to put off therapists, doctors, and parents. If you could do it on your own, you would have done it by now.

7. There's no treatment near me — You'll have to be creative. You can find treatment of some kind, even if you're going to AA or Al-Anon meetings.

8. I'm too old – Adolescent females are not the only people in the universe who have eating disorders. At Mirasol, my oldest client was a woman who was 74! More and more older women are showing up with eating disorders.

9. Shame — So many people with eating disorders feel a lot of shame. "What will everyone say if they know I'm going for treatment?" It's none of their business first of all. You tell them you're going to a retreat center. Sometimes it seems like jumping off of a cliff without any idea of where you'll land! But take a risk and do it!

There are lots of reasons to NOT seek treatment, and many of them are valid. However, reasonable or not, they are still excuses and they help keep you sick.