A client at Castlewood Treatment Center inspired by our dedicated direct care staff recently shared this with our team:
Meghan A- Meghan is always looking for ways to notice and connect with each client. She is always willing to make time to check-in no matter what else is going on. It’s so completely obvious that she loves her job and her passion makes us feel valued and special. Meghan genuinely demonstrates servant leadership and I often see her doing things for other DC staff outside her normal responsibilities. Meghan is flexible and always has a good attitude no matter what circumstance arises. Even when I’m a jerk, Meghan shows me love and acceptance and makes me want to be a better person/ makes me believe recovery is not only possible but something I am taking steps toward everyday and that I will be free.
Amanda- what can I say? She carries peace wherever she goes. Amanda sets a standard and presents goals and challenges that encourage me and push me to break through barriers that I thought were impenetrable. Amanda is a great example of dedication, integrity, and grace. Amanda is not afraid to confront me on my issues/attitude/behavior even when she knows she may receive backlash. I respect her for that and am so appreciative for her boldness.
Sarah- Sarah is so tender-hearted. She always displays a genuine concern for others above herself and often goes out of her way to give a voice to my needs and struggles. Sarah has taken so much time to comfort me when I was struggling the most and really needed someone to console me when I didn’t know how to ask for it.
Salicia- Salicia is a complete and utter asset to this team. Her work ethic and leadership abilities stand out and inspire me to come up to a different level-she raises the standard. Salicia is consistent; trustworthy, and provides stability even in he midst of chaos. I look up to her so much and respect her in every way. I want to be like Salicia. She has eyes in the back of her head and never misses a thing, which actually makes me and other clients feel safe because we know that we are noticed and protected. She always points out my strengths even when there are times when she needs to correct me.
Elizabeth- always has a positive attitude. She sees me and always approaches me and engages me through encouragement. She supports me in ways that make me feel empowered and has helped me pull through some difficult situations and stood right beside me, willing to catch me if I fall. She really wants to see us succeed and goes to great lengths to show compassion even in my failures.
Courtney- She is one of the first people to volunteer to help her co-workers. She is relatable and reliable, an example of stability. Courtney can cheer me up by making me laugh even when I feel down or hopeless. If she doesn’t have an answer, she will go to great lengths to find it for you.
Lacey- what a gem. She accepted me from day 1 and makes me feel special and laughs at all my jokes she is clearly passionate about her job and I’m so sad she will be at C1. Lacey has so much wisdom and when I get to talk with her one on one; I listen because she has wisdom far beyond her years. She is the real deal.
Beth- Beth is the best of both worlds. Beth is always understanding and willing to explain things to me that I don’t necessarily agree with, but will always encourage me to make the best decision possible. Beth is so organized and efficient which is so refreshing when everyone is always rushing around needing a million things from staff.
Shannon- she is always so attentive when I talk to her, you can tell she’s really listening. She is patient and always willing to help or talk. She’s gentle and it’s obvious she genuinely cares for each one of us.
Dayna- always has a smile on her face. She always has a positive attitude and seems to find the best in everyone. I like that Dayna is friendly but firm, she knows the right balance between being supportive and encouraging while also holding us accountable.
Katie- She is so much fun and makes me laugh. She can diffuse any situation and when there is tension at the table, she seems to find a way to lighten the mood. Katie makes me feel like a rockstar, she is always pointing out any positive choice or change I make. I feel accepted around her- like she doesn’t just see the ED when she looks at me.
Ashley- She is the REAL DEAL. Ashley is not afraid to call me out on my crap, but she will never do it publicly- she always makes sure to take the time to listen and understand the why behind the what in my actions and attitude. Ashley always asks me how I’m doing, and I can tell she really wants to know- its not just a passing platitude. I love her honesty and the way she can tailor her responses to each client, she’s very adaptable and I appreciate that because what works for one client won’t always work for me.
Deme- she goes out of her way to get to know the clients. She’s trustworthy and easy to talk to. She’s flexible and goes with the flow which is really important in this atmosphere! She’s gonna be great.
The nursing staff is all-star.
Brooke is a genius and she always knows what to do. Even when I’m pissed beyond pissed she can say two words and I’m calm. She listens and immediately works on getting me an answer or the help I need. She’s just so cool too, a person you want to be around. It’s nice to walk in every morning and see Holly. She can be doing 8 million things at once and still smile and put you first. She’s just a nice person and when I’m feeling rushed in the morning, it’s nice to know she’s got my back.
Myhesia- I’ll never forget my first family style dinner when I freaked out because of the seafood and would not leave the living room. She got me my supplement and sat with me and talked me through it. There is no way I would have been able to finish that meal without her support. She’s relatable and can make anyone laugh!
Joyce is the mama bear- she is always looking out for us. And I have to say, when I was residential and she did night checks, she did them like every 30 minutes to an hour, like clockwork. And she didn’t just peak in, she had her flashlight and went around to each bed. That is integrity and diligence. The night shift can really suck but she doesn’t let anything slip through the cracks. She’s always positive and warm.
Stacy is awesome. I am literally late like all the time for bloods and she is always so gracious with me. She remembers everything! I can tell her something one week and she’ll follow up with me the next time I see her. She makes me feel pretty special.
I’m sure you know how I feel about Rebecca and Kelly. Words can’t describe how ridiculously incredible they are so I’m not going to even try. I pretty much owe them my life.
Matthew Ryd, a former client at Castlewood Treatment Center and musician extraordinaire uses his talents each year during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week to raise money for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) and the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). In previous years he has participated in various fundraisers including creating a video sharing his story with the world to bring awareness to men and eating disorders. Matt shared that he feels that awareness is extremely important when it pertains to eating disorders. “Eating Disorder are generally misunderstood by the general public. It not just about young girls trying to be thin, its not about the media, its about something deeper being wrong and mental illness,” shared Matt. “I really encourage people to do some research and learn about this disease to help stop the stigma. People should understand what 10 million people in this country are going through,” said Matt.
This year for National ED Awareness week, Matt wrote a song entitled “Nothing Left to Lose“. He posted this song through Band Camp- a website which allows you to name your donation price for the music you download and make donations to worthy causes. During ED awareness week which is held each year during the last week of February, Matt helped raise $2700 for NEDA and ANAD. He shared that he “plans to donate all proceeds from this song FOREVER to NEDA and ANAD.” “I was humbled by everyone’s generosity, when I saw that we passed $2500 I cried,” shared Matt.
Matt is a professional musician and musical producer. He has four albums and has had songs featured on various TV shows including Scrubs, MTV’s Made, and Tony Braxton’s reality show on the Oxygen network. For more information on his work or to download any of his music please visit his website and blog.
Castlewood Treatment Center is committed to the comprehensive treatment of men with eating disorders. We understand that their are unique differences between men and women who struggle with this disease. Click here fore more information on our approach to treatment.
Written by Deanna James, LPC
Theresa Chesnut, LCSW and I recently sat down to discuss treatment, the recovery process and what she has learned in her 13 years with Castlewood Treatment Center. Theresa has worked with Castlewood Treatment Centers since its inception in 2000. She has devoted her career to helping individuals recover from their eating disorders. She offers a wide range of experience and understanding in her role as a therapist, clinical liaison, and eating disorder specialist. Most recently, Theresa has been working in Monterey Bay, CA , to assist in the startup of Castlewood’s affiliate, Monarch Cove Residential Program. She is the current Vice Chair for the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), as well as sits on the Board of the San Francisco Chapter of IAEDP.
One of Theresa’s greatest achievements is her own recovery from an eating disorder. After many years of struggling with an eating disorder, she went to treatment between high school and college and began her recovery journey. Theresa shared that when “I went off to college; I was ill-equipped to handle the transition and exist without my eating disorder. During my course of treatment, because it was the mid 1980’s, no one knew how to adequately treat eating disorders or provide anticipatory guidance to those in recovery. I left treatment and went into college with no skills about how to launch into life without my eating disorder.” Without adequate support or anticipatory guidance, Theresa shared that she had no idea how “ridiculously difficult it was to do things that I used to be natural and proficient at when I was in my eating disorder. Without my eating disorder and compulsive exercise the world was foreign.” What she knows now and shares with her clients is that this is a normal stage in the recovery process. “The eating disorder helps you function to some degree, so without it you have to learn a whole new way of being in the world. But no one told me that, so my perceived failures fueled a ton of self- hate. I kept thinking something was wrong with me,” said Theresa. “What I know now is that there was nothing wrong with me, I just had to develop new skills and learn to use my internal and external resources as I learned how to exist without my eating disorder,” shared Theresa. This is the same transformation that Theresa and all the therapists at Castlewood try to help their clients understand and work towards.
During college, Theresa started support groups, sought out resources and moved into a helping and mentoring role with others affected by eating disorders. After completing her Masters of Arts degree in Clinical Social work she knew she wanted to work with eating disorders and began work at an eating disorders unit in Kansas City. She remembered thinking the experience would “either catapult me into more recovery or cause a quick relapse.” Fortunately it “launched me into a deeper understanding of eating disorders and myself,” said Theresa. Her therapeutic experiences translated into motivation and passion to go out and create resources and treatment she wished had been available to her during her struggle.
When she started at Castlewood in 2000, Theresa felt that she “did not have a frame of reference for what recovery really was.” “I thought recovery was merely symptom abstinence,” said Theresa. When asked to lecture on the recovery process in 2002, Theresa wrote this inspiring definition.
Recovery is not just the absence of symptoms…it is the presence of a full life as evidenced by the ability to be human. A truly recovered life will reflect spontaneity, freedom, the ability to breathe, to have wants, needs and desires, knowing that the quest for perfection is an unattainable illusion. Having the ability to embrace the feminine, having close intimate relationships, and it is being aware of the tears in your eyes (whether out of intense or subtle sadness – or out of joy – or from a flicker of utter gratefulness) and then to allow your tears to flow freely. It is a life in which decisions and choices are made more from self and less from a shame and fear based prison. It is a life where you fully experience pleasure, joy, and passion and believe seeking and desiring enjoyment and passion is not only acceptable but necessary to living a full life.
After defining her own recovery, Theresa finally felt like she “understood the necessary components to recovery and therefore knew how to better guide the clients.” Theresa shared that her past experiences and her eating disorder history have positively influenced her career. She uses that influence to bring together what were the missing pieces for her in her own journey. Theresa revealed that “It is the work with the clients that fuels my passion for assisting people in their own journey and helping to shape a treatment center to truly treat the entirety of a very complex disease. I feel fortunate to be able to witness the struggle and the growth by my continued involvement in the program and my advocacy work in many communities.”
Theresa shared that she is very proud to work for Castlewood Treatment Center. She feels that “being a part of a team that offers clients a framework and format that is a vehicle for recovery is miraculous.” “What I am most proud of about Castlewood is that from day one we have treated every kind of eating disorder, from Anorexia to Binge Eating Disorder, men and women, clients with various sexual orientations, and have treated them entirely- body, mind and soul,” said Theresa. “We have created an environment that is safe, where clients that are men or have an atypical ED can come in and feel as accepted, receive treatment and heal. Castlewood and now Monarch Cove are places where clients can feel safe to do more than just contain symptoms, and regain their life” shared Theresa.
On behalf of Castlewood- Thank you Theresa for your dedication to the treatment of clients who suffer with eating disorders.
My daughter was a client at Castlewood for two months at the beginning of 2012. Castlewood Treatment Center has given her the tools to begin a new life full of the hopes and dreams that she never before thought possible. She 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 my daughter feels empowered to manage, control and achieve the baby steps and the giant steps her recovery demands. The difference for her 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.
Thank you Castlewood
Kimi- a former Castlewood client shares about her journey in recovery several years after treatment.
I sit here tonight, a junior in nursing school, at a top 3% nursing school in the nation, finally feeling like I am truly doing what I am supposed to be doing and living my life to the fullest. Tomorrow, I start my first day of clinicals in a psychiatric unit. I had to do a reflection on what I was expecting. I found myself drifting back to the months I spent at Castlewood. The most life changing months of my life. I can’t believe it was 4 years ago that I was in the depths of my eating disorder. Everything I did, everything I thought was consumed by my eating disorder. The feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness resonated day in and day out. The happy, outgoing, involved, fun-loving girl that my family knew and everyone else thought I was slowly disappeared. I look back now and am speechless. I was so incredibly sick. If anyone had told me then that I would be healthy today, I would have laughed. I was certain I would eventually die from this horrible demon that had taken over my life. I had honestly lost all will to fight. My parents thankfully stepped in and brought me to my saving grace, Castlewood. I can still remember driving up to Castlewood in my pink sweatshirt and jeans feeling nothing but numbness. Little did I know, my life would never be the same. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is the truth.
From the moment I walked in, I was greeted with warmth and love. I was suddenly terrified. My parents were dropping me off with a bunch of people I didn’t know and leaving me. How the hell was I going to get through this? The first week, I just went through the motions, certain that I could beat the system and get out of this place as soon as possible. I did everything I was supposed to do, just like the perfect student I had always been. I needed to impress the staff, to make them feel like I was going to be their prodigy. Then, after listening to another patient share her story, that struck close to home, about “working the system” and in essence just going through the motions and doing that for years and continuing to relapse, I had a break down. This was MY LIFE, my FUTURE that was at stake. Did I really want to live with this demon for the rest of my life? Did I want to let it control my happiness and my health? I realized that was the opposite of what I wanted. But, it wasn’t that realization that made me crumble. It was the fact that I had to give up my comfort blanket, the protection that was keeping me from FEELING and dealing with the traumas I had experienced throughout my life. What was I going to do? I remember laying in the hallway sobbing, feeling more powerless than I had ever felt. I went to bed that night and realized my journey was just beginning. That treatment wasn’t the end of my journey with an eating disorder, but the beginning of a new chapter- recovery.
I’ll spare you the details of the long weeks of treatment. But, what I will say is that I learned more in those weeks than any education could ever give me. I don’t mean to sound conceited, but I am much wiser than most twenty year olds. I’ve seen things and experienced things that I would NEVER wish on anyone else. People have asked me, if you could go back knowing what you know now, would you change it all? No. I would never trade my experience for the world. I am who I am today because of my experience with Castlewood. My interactions with the staff, my amazing therapist, Theresa, helped me get my life back. They helped me gain insight that I never knew would be so valuable to me. As I am in nursing school now, I have wisdom and experience and understand what it means to have a meaningful relationship with a patient. I have that because of Castlewood. No words can explain my gratitude for the staff.
Recovery isn’t easy. It’s not a linear thing, its ups and downs, and all arounds. It’s messy; it’s hard; it’s a fight. I am a fighter. I will continue to fight for my health for the rest of my life. I don’t wake up everyday and think how much I love myself. There are still times where I struggle with depression and body image. But, I have the tools I need to stay in recovery. As luck would have it, I was diagnosed a few month’s ago with Celiac Disease. For those of you who don’t know what that is, long story short, my body has an immunologic reaction to gluten. Gluten is found in almost everything! Wheat, flour, barley, and rye. I can’t have any of those, which is extremely ironic for someone who for so long restricted what they ate because of anorexia. I know my family was worried about this. Would this hinder my recovery? It might have, if I hadn’t had 3 years under my belt and a whole lot of support from not only my family and friends but the staff at Castlewood. I knew that if I needed anything, or was having a hard time, I could call on any of you. Now, it’s time for me to go on my own journey, as a nurse, and hopefully make as big of an impact on the lives of patients as you have made on mine.
I know not all stories of people with eating disorders going through recovery are happy. Trust me. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. But, I do want to say thank you. Thank you for helping shape me into the beautiful woman I am today, inside and out.
The theme of day 3 of Weight Stigma Awareness Week is RECLAIM. The idea for today is to RECLAIM your body image as your own. How do you CHOOSE to see yourself, if not through the lens of societies standards, what is your self-image? What do you truly value about yourself, others and the world around you? Lets all reclaim our bodies and our lives from the values and expectations placed upon us by others. I invite all of you to do some writing about the above questions! Below are my thoughts!
So what do I value?
I value in myself and others honesty, integrity, compassion, gentleness, kindness, laughter, fun, and connection. I feel the best about myself when I am connected to my body and my sense of spirituality. How do I connect- through breath, stretching, mindfullness and gentle exercise- not through changing it, starving it, dieting, or staring in a mirror self loathing. I connect to my spirituality through music, prayer, and devotionals.
When my body image reflects an accurate self image of compassion and kindness rather than shame or the messages from others- I value myself. When I am gentle with myself and others, I find happiness. When I see myself through the eyes of a Loving God, and see that I was created to share love and joy with others, I can find contentment within myself.
The best medicine for a bad body image day is to take care of myself, surround myself with people who build me up, and to say positive affirmations about myself and my life.
Castlewood is committed to helping our clients develop an accurate and positive self image that promotes a healthy body image. We work with our clients to promote self-compassion and positive affirmation. We work to help clients reduce the shame associated with their bodies and build a relationship build on what their body does for them not TO them.
Ian, a Castlewood Alumni shared with us about how he is putting the skills he learned at Castlewood to use!
SKILLS I LEARNED AT CASTLEWOOD WHICH I AM APPLYING AT HOME
One of the most important skills I learned at Castlewood was to not numb my emotions and let them be as they are and be curious towards them. I learned restriction and exercise numbs the emotions for a brief period of time only to return even stronger and it is normal to have these emotions. Since being at Castlewood, I have been able to manage my anxiety better with mindfulness; basically just trying to stay in the moment and journaling. Learning how to build a support network has really helped me since I have been at home. I have learned how to reach out for help despite how difficult it is to do. Having a balanced life was difficult before being at Castlewood. These are just some of the coping skills which I learned at Castlewood and have been able to apply at home. There are so many more!
I would highly recommend Castlewood Treatment Center to anyone who is seeking treatment for an eating disorder. I came to Castlewood in December 2011 feeling really hopeless and lost. Life felt miserable. My eating disorder was consuming all my time and energy. I had no time for anything else. I was hesitant going to Castlewood as I had really bad experiences in previous hospital based programs. I had so much anxiety and fear but I wanted to give life one more chance. At Castlewood I found staff who truly cared about the clients. They treated everyone as individuals. The staff was simply amazing. I have never met such a dedicated and incredible group of professionals. They are all caring, compassionate, honest, and kind. They went above and beyond. Frontline staff were always available to talk to. You felt like a human being.
Programs were individualized to the clients’ needs. I had my doubts about groups at first as I didn’t find them helpful in past treatment centres. Castlewood changed my mind about group therapy. Groups were excellent in that you were able to give and receive feedback from your peers.
I had wonderful therapists who helped and believed in me immensely. They were able to work with my anxiety, depression, and eating disorder concurrently. My dietician made me realize it is not about the food and was able to help with body image issues. A psychiatrist and Registered Nurse were also part of my team. I truly felt cared for.
It is hard work but there was so much support at Castlewood. I can’t thank the staff enough for helping me. I still stay in contact with my dietician and therapists since being discharged in May 2012. I don’t know of any other programs where you can do this. Thanks to all the staff at Castlewood.
I was at Castlewood for a little over two months.Castlewood was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was scared to leave home, but as soon as I walked through the doors I was welcomed and had all my questions answered by all and any staff. I was deeply struggling with an eating disorder and addiction problems. I was put with a therapist In Castlewood 2 and had never had a harder but more accomplishing therapy experience. I felt more cared about and safe then I had in a very long time while I was at Castlewood. The staff not only watched over our meals and ran our groups, but they were there to talk to no matter what time it was or what it was about. Big or small, they would take time out of their day and talk me through anything that was troubling me at that moment. Sometimes they would even be able to just read my expressions and know that something was wrong. Every person in Castlewood made me feel that they were completely dedicated to my recovery and finding my happiness again. They were always open to suggestions and made sure the house was running smoothly for all the girls in it. My experience with IFS was very emotional but finally let me open up myself to traumas that I had endured previous to coming to Castlewood. Traumas that I knew had certainly happened before we even started IFS. IFS let me find all the emotions like hurt, betrayal, resentment and anger that I didn’t even know I had building up inside me. I had completely blocked out my traumas before Castlewood to help me survive day to day. But with this denial, I became deeper and deeper into my eating disorder and addictions. IFS and the amazing therapy I received let me dig in deep to the hard things that happened in my life to try to get me to accept, understand and help move past these events. During my IFS experiences my therapist worked hard to find what was truly going on inside of me. Nothing ever felt coached or pressured. There were times I simply would tell my therapist I just couldn’t handle it that day and that was never a problem. My boundaries were always completely respected. Castlewood not only cared about weight and calories, they cared about me as a person and all my individual troubles. There was not one set plan to recovery in Castlewood. Castlewood understood that every person was different, and every person needed their own type of recovery methods. I was never just another client following the routine pattern towards not having an eating disorder. I was set up with a plan of action specially created for me. They helped me work on self esteem, self respect, my addictions, family issues, and the simple fact that I was so unhappy with the way my life had began to turn out. Every aspect of Castlewood was useful. This treatment center is one that I would recommend to anyone struggling with any kind of eating disorders and other issues. My only true regret about Castlewood was that I left way too early out of homesickness and not being ready to fully deal with my past. These things were my fault and nothing to do with how Castlewood was run. If I could change my choice about leaving when I did, I would change it in a heartbeat. But I also know that if I ever needed Castlewood again, they would happily take me back with open arms, even though I had made that mistake of leaving.
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~John Pierpont Morgan
A space shuttle flight crew returning to earth cannot kick back, cross their fingers, and simply hope re-entry works out. The flight crew must access their extensive training, check and double check all variables, meticulously plan the re-entry, and stay in communication with professionals trained to help them in order to be successful.
Similarly, there comes a time when you leave residential treatment and plan “re-entry” to your actual life. Despite feeling hopeful and prepared, it can be frightening to leave behind the safety, structure and support of residential treatment. When I returned home from Castlewood in February 2012, I quickly learned that re-entry demanded my attention and respect.
There were difficult things about re-entry that I hadn’t anticipated. Many places, including my own home, seemed unfamiliar. I felt unsure about contacting friends. I felt out of place everywhere I turned. The world seemed huge and overwhelming and unpredictable.
It was important at that point to follow the example of a space shuttle crew and use all my resources. I saw my therapist and dietitian multiple times per week. I re-read my relapse prevention plan, and gave copies of it to people who would hold me accountable. I continued to journal and write, as well as express myself through art and other mediums. I involved my family in recovery. Rather than asking them to “support” me, I asked them to do very specific things. For example, one helped with menu ideas, while another helped with grocery shopping. We implemented a “feelings check in” where each family member would share their feelings under two rules: feelings must be honestly stated, and no fixing other people’s feelings. Some of those check-in’s proved to be quite interesting! Most importantly, I was patient with myself. I limited my responsibilities and allowed my confusing feelings. I trusted that in time I would feel less overwhelmed, and looking back now I can see that being patient with my process was the perfect homecoming gift.
The Missouri Eating Disorders Association, a NEDA Network member, is hosting the 4th Annual St. Louis NEDA Walk September 29, 2012. 60% of the funds raised will be used in St. Louis and throughout Missouri for education and outreach. Castlewood Treatment Center is helping sponsor the St. Louis Neda Walk held at Tower Grove Park. Castlewood employees and alumni have also formed a team to walk at the event. For more information on how to donate or join the Castlewood team please visit the NEDA website.
Walk Venue: Tower Grove Park
Walk Location:4256 Magnolia Avenue, St. Louis MO 63110
Walk Date:Saturday, September 29th, 2012
Check In Time: 9:30AM
Walk Start Time: 10:30AM Walk End Time: 11:30AM
Walk Fundraising Goal: $15,000