Client and Family Testimonials
“As a 22 year old who has struggled with her eating disorder for over half of her life, my hope for recovery had been rapidly reduced down to a flicker. Castlewood Treatment Center is the second facility I’ve undergone treatment for my eating disorder; however, it’s the first place I was able to find a renewed hope for my future.
Castlewood’s staff is unbelievably knowledgeable about a variety of issues: trauma, abuse, eating disorders of every kind, substance abuse, anxiety and OCD, self harm, SI, body image issues, attachment issues–you name it; they are familiar and eager to help clients work through their struggles and begin to heal. Castlewood’s treatment extends beyond the surface of numbers and symptoms; their focus diligently hones in on the core issues and beliefs that drive the disorder. With their multiple different therapeutic modalities, Castlewood’s staff is able to find the appropriate treatment approach (or approaches) to best suit the clients needs; thus, creating an extremely unique and individualized program.
After having the privilege of staying at Castlewood for several months, I am able to look back and reflect on the noticeable changes and progress I’ve made towards my recovery. Their caring and trustworthy staff showed me a level of compassion and understanding I’ve never experienced before; making me feel safe and confident in their abilities to help me overcome my eating disorder.
The knowledge and understanding my family and I have obtained about my eating disorder is remarkable; I will forever be grateful. Castlewood Treatment Center successfully restored my hope for recovery to a full blown flame.”
Thank you for the monthly Castlewood newsletters. My daughter Heidi, was a client at Castlewood for two months at the beginning of 2012. Castlewood has given her the tools to begin a new life full of the hopes and dreams that she never before thought possible. Heidi is doing well in her recovery. For the most part, our family is doing well in her recovery. As I read through your recent newsletter, I was moved to walk back in time and experience again my thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams that I experienced during my family week-end visit to Castlewood.. As a fifteen year recovering alcoholic, I couldn’t help but to re-live so much of my recovery. It is so encouraging to see that the focus now being used in treating eating disorders treats the whole person and not just a single symptom. I feel strongly that we are the sum of our parts. When the parts get broken we have to replace them or fix them. Sometimes the parts don’t fit quite right so we have to throw them out and start over. I believe that an dealing successfully with eating disorders, as the same for alcoholism, that Heidi feel empowered to manage, control and achieve the baby steps and the giant steps in her recovery demands The difference for Heidi in her present recovery is that she is a strong partner in a multi-professional team that supports her, and most importantly, that provides her the tools to believe in herself enough so that she can fully believe in her support team. It has been said so often that it is not the destination but the journey that is most important. So true.
Castlewood TC is like a championship sports team. The fifth string is just as talented as the first string. I didn’t understand that there were so many genuinely caring and compassionate people in the world. I am sure that I had encountered many throughout my life but I wasn’t able to recognize them until Castlewood taught me to see. I experienced more tender loving care at Castlewood than in all the days of my life added together. The directors and staff have created a sanctuary in the truest sense of the word. It is a safe place where safe people helped me to find myself, to see who I really am, a place where I began to unfold. Castlewood not only saved my life they restored me to my life, a life I no longer believed possible, a life I no longer believed I deserved. A life not determined by circumstances or the expectation of others but the life I was born to live. The eating disorder has proven to be gift, a doorway to life. Because of the ED I had the privilege of living in this scared space for 90 days over the winter of 2011-2012. I left with a sense of renewed hope and possibility; I had begun to dream again, it was like being reborn. Unfolding is a process that takes time, patience and the continual presence of appropriate nourishment. Appropriate nourishment was modeled for me at Castlewood and it is up to me to supply that for myself I as move forward. I don’t yet know who I am but I learning to know who I am not. I don’t have the words to fully express the gratitude that I hold for this place and these people. The truest expression of this gratitude is to continue the process of growth and discovery, to continue to unfold and to live into my life, the life Castlewood helped me to remember and reclaim.
I find it incredibly difficult to put into words the gratitude that I have for not only Castlewood Treatment facility but for the staff that work at Castlewood. Castlewood and more importantly the people at Castlewood saved my life…..a life at the time I wasn’t even sure I wanted saved. When I arrived at Castlewood, I was broken and barely hanging on to life. Not only was I battling an eating disorder but I was engulfed in the most intense grief and post traumatic stress. It was hard to face each day, let alone breathe. Upon arriving at Castlewood, I was instantly surrounded by the most compassionate, skilled, brilliant, loving and honest therapists and I had a sense that I wasn’t going to be alone on this journey to recovery. Step by step, day by day I was supported by this amazing team of individuals, from Mark and Lori, to my individual therapist, Theresa, to the dietitians, the nurses and on-line staff. Each and every person connected to Castlewood played an integral role in my recovery. There were days, many days, during my 5 months of treatment that I did not think I could make it, but they would not let me give up on myself. They pushed me to limits that I didn’t think I was capable of getting to. They created the space for me to deal with the grief and loss issues that I was facing in my current day situation, but also enabled me to see how my current day grief triggered my losses and traumas from childhood and ultimately how that all tied into my eating disorder. The analogy that I like to use is that of an onion…..pealing all the many layers off to get to the core of my eating disorder.
One of the beauties and strengths of Castlewood is the way in which they were able to individualize my treatment plan to my specific needs. Castlewood isn’t in the business of serving tons of clients at once, but keeping their numbers small so that they can give all the individual attention that is needed to each client. It’s about quality not quantity. One of the best decisions of my life was to go to Castlewood Treatment Center and I will be eternally grateful for the therapy, compassion and support that I was provided during my journey back to a life that I do want to live.
My son has struggled with an eating disorder for 30 years and Castlewood saved his life; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We found that there were not many treatment centers for men as eating disorders are often viewed as only a “woman’s disease” and, of course, that is not true. Castlewood treated my son with the same commitment and care as they do all their clients. My son experienced the staff at Castlewood as knowledgeable and well-trained and, most importantly for us, he was embraced with loving compassion.
I was fortunate to experience family week two times. (I highly recommend this) I came away with a deeper understanding of eating disorders, treatment and recovery of the disease. To become aware that the family is part of the problem and part of the solution is a significant step in recovery. I see that this very important and meaningful experience helps me be a positive and integral part of my son’s recovery.
My son is recovering from his eating disorder. He is fully functioning in the world with strength, pride and confidence. The smile on his face comes from his healed heart. My son and our family are blessed to have experienced Castlewood and the wonderful staff. Thank you, I am most grateful.
~Cindy, a mom
I came to treatment at Castlewood not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t been in treatment before and had no idea what was ahead of me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in a special place. As I underwent the initial process of adjusting to a new environment, I attempted to convince myself that I was not sick enough to warrant help (a denial of my own needs that I later learned played into my eating disorder). I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredibly supportive peers who assured me that I deserved the help I was getting.
My first week at Castlewood completely exceeded my expectations; after struggling with my eating disorder for years under the occasional guidance of counselors who largely ignored the subject (with assistance from my own minimization of the issue), I could not believe the progress I made in therapy and groups at Castlewood in just a few days. I began a journey of addressing core beliefs about myself that I had formed as a child. I came to see the perfectionism, self-hate, and over control that drove my restriction not only of food but also of friendships, self-care, and enjoyment. The critical voice of my eating disorder, combined with black-and-white thinking, led me to believe that if I could not be some perfect, non-existent ideal, if I was ever “too easy” on myself, I would inevitably become out of control and my life would descend into chaos. This way of thinking became a self-fulfilling prophecy. After losing control in various areas of my life, I felt that I deserved punishment and the pendulum would swing once again to obsessive self-control fueled by my ever-present anxiety. Only with the help of Castlewood did I begin to truly believe that I could actually live a balanced life. Before coming to Castlewood I thought that I would always exist in one of two extremes, I thought this was just my personality. Although I desired to change, I did not see a way out. My work here has helped me to separate the messages I received from others throughout my life from my true self. I am in the process of re-acquainting myself with my own beliefs, convictions, interests, and goals. The false idea that happiness and satisfaction with myself equals shameful complacency buried my self-compassion. Unearthing this compassion from a massive pile of unhealthy messages is now a constant endeavor for me. Without Castlewood I would have never even thought to start digging.
The people at Castlewood understand that my eating disorder was not really about food. They understand that I was using disordered eating as a coping mechanism for my looming feeling of dissatisfaction with myself and my anxiety about being able to fit into the world as a “flawed” individual. They taught me to see that I am indeed not flawed, I had only been led to believe this through different experiences. Eliminating my eating disorder behaviors means having to deal with the underlying feelings and anxiety. My treatment team at Castlewood focused on helping me with my anxiety because they understood that in order to recover I must address the anxiety that had always made my eating disorder behaviors an attractive, self-soothing option. They emphasized new, healthy ways of coping with my emotions. My therapists helped me to be aware of my often scary feelings and understand their temporary rather than everlasting nature. I no longer automatically resort to restricting, bingeing, or over-exercising when strong emotions come up.
I appreciate that the staff at Castlewood has put so much care into creating a positive environment for recovery. The clients I have gotten to know at Castlewood have given me insight into my own disorder through their stories and struggles. I have found nothing as powerful as being able to relate to others on a deep level. I feel a strong connection to my peers. They provide understanding, motivation, and encouragement throughout the day and during the hardest times. I know my treatment at Castlewood will continue to benefit me throughout my life; I will always cherish the insight I have gained from self-exploration in such a caring and attentive community. My eating disorder provided me solace only through isolative, maladaptive, and disordered behaviors. I am beyond happy that, because of my time at Castlewood, I now can be present in the moment and enjoy seemingly simple things that used to feel so forced and uncomfortable, such as outings with friends, playing with my dog, and connecting to others.
I’ve been in more hospitals and residential settings that I would care to recount, but after my six months at Castlewood, I find that I am in the most stable place I have been in the last ten years of my life. I still have days when I struggle, when the voices in my head are loud, but the difference now, is that I have the tools and the belief that life without an eating disorder may just be possible, and I don’t act on those voices or urges. I came to Castlewood incredibly reluctantly; I had very little interest in being there, and if my school didn’t require medical clearance to return, I would have signed myself out within the first week. I had simply lost all faith in the process of recovery. Castlewood didn’t give up on me, though, and persisted in pushing me to open up and examine my life in ways that I never had before. I had the privilege of working with Theresa Chesnut, an incredible therapist who pursued in the face of my hopelessness and encouraged me to look at areas of my life that I had yet to understand as problematic. I examined my family and my role in my family in ways that I had never done before, and as a result, I have learned to set healthy boundaries within my family. I slowly came to face not only my eating disorder, but my addiction to alcohol as well, and finally, after six months, came to the conclusion not to drink anymore, a commitment that I have honored. Theresa not only included my parents and grandparents in the conversation, but my close friends as well, and through their insights, I learned even more about myself. I know that I couldn’t have done such intensive work with Theresa had it not been for the community and setting that make Castlewood so unique. To begin, the facility is absolutely beautiful and comfortable—after six months, St. Louis felt like home. Castlewood also has an incredibly organized and helpful level of care system, and being able to progress through and move up and down through levels of care truly secured my recovery. In residential, the direct care staff is there every step of the way to guide clients through the day and regardless of how much they have to do, they all truly love their job and are all always willing to give you time to talk. During my time in residential, I felt especially close to certain direct care staff and know that I couldn’t have made it through certain days without their support and belief in my recovery. While in the step down program, I was exposed every day to normal life stressors and was even able to become involved in the local synagogue. In step down, your peers become your main support system, and it was truly amazing how pro-recovery my peers were. I truly love the girls I spent my time with and still continue to maintain contact with some of them today. We all knew we were in it together and would rally when someone needed support. I can’t imagine how my life would be today had it not been for Castlewood—I’m back in school and I’m for once in my life, able to take care of myself. I’m completely indebted to Castlewood, a program I know is truly unique and I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone.
My journey to health began immediately upon my arrival at Castlewood. I felt a sigh of relief the moment I stepped into the facility and was warmly welcomed by staff members. I knew that I was in good hands. Less than an hour after my arrival, I met Mark Schwartz and his first words were something along the lines of, “Things will get better now. We’re going to take care of you.” I sensed the sincerity and compassion in his voice and can now say that they certainly did take care of me better than I could have ever imagined at the time.
I was moved by the compassion and sincerity with which the Castlewood staff addressed my needs and those of other clients. Even though a good part of each day was spent working in groups, I felt that I received more individual attention than I could have asked for. I truly felt that each member was selected not only for his or her high skill-level and knowledge but because they were passionate about helping people heal. Castlewood provided me with the guidance, knowledge and safety I needed in order to look inward and discover the roots of my illness. Throughout the process of this inner dissection, I felt strongly supported by the staff and group therapy sessions. Therapy felt like slowly taking myself apart, piece-by-piece, and then putting myself back together. Castlewood provided me with the compassion, security, and encouragement I needed in order to undergo that very frightening and painful process. The beautiful setting and peaceful home-like environment helped me feel more serene and comfortable during the deep healing process. Among the many life skills that I learned, I would say the most important thing I’ve been taught and continue to learn is to be there lovingly for myself.
Forever grateful for an organization who took the time to believe in me when my behavior didn’t deserve believing in, understanding when I couldn’t understand myself, and hope in my future when my vision was cloudy. Five years ago, I entered Castlewood hurt, without hope, and broken. I knew I had an eating disorder, my body showed it, and couldn’t stop starving, or bingeing and purging on my own. Castlewood and the staff was a safe haven for me to nourish by body, soul, and mind. Slowly, I was able to understand the function of my eating disorder, make changes, and regain stability in my life. My journey was not easy…it was painful and challenging at times, and in those times, my therapist and treatment team was there to support me until I was able to get back on my feet again. I’m grateful for the months I spent at Castlewood.
We were very impressed by the freedom that the clients had to express themselves and as a result, we developed a better understanding of the problem that those who have an eating disorder have in common. We were also very impressed with the loving care that the counselors demonstrated and the respect, admiration, and affection that the clients had with the counselors, and as a result, guidance was very much in place. Needless to say, the facility and setting were superb and very conducive to a get well atmosphere. We had the experience of meeting with a counselor (Theresa Chesnut) and were tremendously impressed with the depth of her knowledge and understanding of our granddaughter’s problem. She immediately put us at ease and we found it so easy to talk to her and we felt that she was there for our granddaughter in a way that no one has ever been. In short, we need Castlewoods across the country.
~ Grandparents of a Castlewood client
I was first admitted to Castlewood Treatment Center in November of 2011. I had been in and out of previous treatment facilities throughout the course of my eating disorder. I had been consistently in residential treatment for about the previous two years and I had done my share of hard work on the surface issues of my eating disorder issues such as significant weight restoration and DBT skills work. I came into Castlewood knowing that I had done a lot of work, learned a lot of skills, and made a lot of progress, but I had not yet been able to achieve lasting recovery from my eating disorder. It seemed as if every time I would leave treatment the relapse would start almost immediately and I would be right back in treatment within a month’s time. It always seemed to be related to a traumatic event or lead to a traumatic event. I also began to struggle with other addictive behaviors, such as binge drinking, self-harm, and sexually acting out. I have come to find that these behaviors were serving as my mal-adaptive behaviors that I developed in order to try to cope with the eating disorder.
Unlike other treatments that I have tried, Castlewood has worked with me on the core issues that lead me to develop my eating disorder and other mal-adaptive coping mechanisms. They took the focus off of the food and strict restoration guidelines for the first time for me, and I became the main focus. I have learned that throughout my childhood I was never given a chance at developing healthy attachment. This was the beginning traumatic event that has lead to a lifetime of trauma, reenactment, objectification, victimization, eating disorder, and addiction. In my time at Castlewood I have been given the chance to start to develop a sense of self-efficacy. This is something that I would have gotten from my attachment environment, had it been safe and secure. This connection is essential in leading a self-lead life and a life in recovery. I have come to know that my struggles are never really about the food, but about the unmet needs and stifled emotions that I have never been allowed to let myself to experience, because I was taught that this was wrong. Being the victim, conditional love, and other distorted beliefs that I was given as a child are all things I have come to see are just that, distortions, and they do not have to be the things I continue to do and believe throughout the rest of my life. I still have a long way to go with my recovery process and a lot of distorted beliefs to unweave and align with what is going to lead me to self-compassion and a life that I deserve to live, but there is no doubt in my mind that I am right where I need to be. Castlewood has changed my life forever and is giving me the chance everyday to become the woman that I was never allowed to be. I will forever be thankful to Mark and Lori for creating such a unique place of healing and self-discovery.
I came to Castlewood Treatment Center knowing that I would be coming to terms with my eating disorder. The amazing treatment team and caring staff members fostered an environment that allowed me to feel comfortable enough to discuss, and then have the appropriate tools to manage my anorexia. I truly believe that I would not be a success story without the encouragement and support of Castlewood. I didn’t develop my eating disorder overnight and I didn’t expect that it would ‘leave’ that quickly. It is something that takes hard work by the client as well as the treatment team, and for me, it was the first place I went and I’m so glad I found them.
I had struggled with an eating disorder most of my life. From age 16-22 it was really bad. I had a few good years but at age 28 I found my life unraveling. I was bingeing and purging uncontrollably and my weight had plummeted. My therapist recommended a higher level of care and after researching several options – I chose Castlewood. And it was the best decision I have ever made. Castlewood worked with me as an individual – not just the standard treatment protocol for an individual with an eating disorder. They included my family. They addressed the underlying issues (depression, childhood trauma, etc). I felt cared for and heard. I was challenged yet supported. It wasn’t just about the food – yet the food was addressed. Over a year’s time I spent approximately 8 months at Castlewood in different levels of care. A year after my discharge, I was struggling with eating disorder behaviors so I attended the Intensive Outpatient Program. I found that program to be extremely helpful in changing behaviors before they got to the point of needing residential treatment. I was able to focus on some issues and change behaviors while still working and having my normal social life.
The therapists at Castlewood were the best I’ve ever worked with. They listened and supported but also challenged my thinking and attitudes. I grew as a person in ways I never thought possible. I came into Castlewood defeated and hopeless – relying on a G-tube for sustenance. I now am living a life of recovery and have gotten married and have two beautiful children. I know that without the help of Castlewood I would not be where I am. Mark, Lori and Theresa were instrumental in helping me sift through the broken pieces of my life. With their guidance and expertise, I was able to create a beautiful life out of a crazy mess.
I hope I never need treatment again! I have been living in solid recovery for over 2 years now. But if I ever do need more help, I would not hesitate to return to Castlewood.
Being honest meant I was going against who I was – everything I was always taught – the constant shifting, in and out of whichever character I needed to be for protection from the rest of the world. At Castlewood, for the first time I told a story that was mine – not the one I thought I knew was true… not the story of a girl I was in public, or the girl in the bedroom I borrowed growing up, or the girl in my parents house. It was all mine – non-returnable, non-refundable – mine.
We all come in looking for a little corner, a piece of the world that is safe – a place we can claim as our own. Every person that walks in those doors walks out a different person no matter what, and we all take Castlewood with us when we leave. I found a corner of the world at Castlewood that is mine and no one can take that away from me.
If I dig deep enough I can feel it — if I listen close enough I can hear the sound of the trains…. I’ll keep a song in my head and hope in my heart.
I am eternally grateful — with deepest gratitude.
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