The Cost Of Sickness

Yesterday, I did something that I have never done before – I had an appointment with a naturopath. I chose to make the appointment because I have been unsuccessful in getting my monthly cycle back without the use of birth control, which has been incredibly frustrating to me. Because I know that my doctor would prescribe me another month of birth control and because I know that I don’t like how I feel on birth control pills, I was interested in seeking out other options. A coworker of mine recommended a naturopath who she likes, so I decided to give it a whirl.

All in all, it was a good experience which I will delve into further in another post, but today I am focusing more on finances than naturopathy. You see, naturopaths tend to be expensive. The one that I saw does not bill insurance, either, so all of the cost is paid up front. As I begrudgingly got my credit card out of my wallet at the end of my appointment, I had to remind myself that this is an investment in my health, unlike the money that I spent keeping myself sick. It is a tad ironic that I spent obscene amounts of money during my sickest days, since I was certainly not spending it on food that I ate. What did I invest in, then?

Well, at my worst I was chewing at least a pack of gum per day, and usually it was upwards of two packs. Even if the gum was on sale, that’s about two dollars daily. Additionally, I was drinking several diet sodas per day, which adds up to somewhere in the neighborhood of five dollars. There was also a time where I ate primarily ultra-processed foods because they had nutritional information printed on them, which was certainly more expensive than making food from scratch. I spent money on vitamins to improve my hair and skin (which don’t do squat without enough food, by the way), amounting to about fifteen dollars for a two-month supply.

During my sickest months, I also began exhibiting some hoarding behaviors, which I have since learned are a very common symptom of starvation. I bought a whole lot of food that I still have not gotten around to eating, which was money out the window. For the purpose of this analysis, I will be conservative and say that I bought one box of granola bars per week that I did not actually eat, although that is a very conservative estimate.

After doing a few quick calculations, it is evident to me that anorexia cost me far more financially than I have ever realized. Anorexia alone cost me at least 200 dollars per month at its worst, and that is not counting any investments in recovery made at that time, such as weekly doctor’s appointments, my mom’s trip out to help me move from Indiana, or regular sessions with my therapist. Nor does it include the increased heating bill to warm my frigid body, which was paid by my parents. That $200 is my cost and mine alone, that I paid out of pocket to keep my disorder alive while I dwindled away.

For a good deal of my life, I have been a worrier when it comes to money. Growing up, I worried constantly about how much I was costing my parents. I apologized whenever I needed to see a doctor, or when they helped me put gas in my car or bought me clothing. To this day, I tend to be thrifty with my money, which is why dropping a few hundred dollars in an afternoon feels excessive to me, even if it is for my health. Looking back over the money that I spent keeping myself sick reminds me that some things are worth investing in, and those things are not gum and diet soda but opportunities to continue healing and growth in recovery.

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8 thoughts on “The Cost Of Sickness

  1. This is such a strange concept that I’ve never thought much about before, but I’m the same way. I’ve always been incredibly tight with my money, but wouldn’t have an issue paying more for the “diet” version of a food, or the “healthier” option at dinnertime. I’m sure there are lots of other ways I’ve wasted money because of my eating disorder over the years.

    Our health is definitely a much better investment than those crazy sick ways. Good luck with everything, I hope this new neuropathy stuff helps you!

  2. I hadn’t thought of this before, but you’re right. How many packs of gum did I buy to satisfy cravings for food? How many rotten pieces of fruit did I end up throwing out because I just needed to know I would have a “safe” food on hand in case I couldn’t find anything suitable to eat? Recovery is worth the investment.

  3. I could connect with so much of this post. If it was towards getting me skinny (diet pills, diet pop, etc.) I had no problem dropping any kind of money. Now when its about getting me healthy, the finances seem harder to part with. Messed up ED brains eh?

  4. I completely get the money factor! I actually do not buy organic or expensive food items when I can get rice, beans and pasta for dirt cheap. I don’t care how good kale is for you. If it ain’t in my price range, I won’t buy it. Sometimes I find that vitamins are worth it. I think I was happier this winter because I took Vitamin D. Just my experiment of one hypothesis 😉

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