ACUTE Brought Me Back as Husband and Father To My Family

July 21, 2020

ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders patient Mark Vogl

By: Mark Vogl

The most interesting and deadly part of having an eating disorder is how everything I did to progress my disorder was completely justified and made sense in that moment. It took me hitting rock bottom before I finally had no other choice but to seek help. Even then, my disorder continued to convince me that I was fine and could handle this on my own. 

I know that my inability to seek help came from a place of pride and self-ego that I just could not bring myself to get through. Beyond that, I am an older male who was also fighting all the stigmas of having an eating disorder. Many of the doctors I saw during this time were focused on fighting the symptoms and health issues caused by my eating disorder and were not trained to see that the root cause of these issues was that my disorder was causing severe malnutrition. I also am from a part of the country that is relatively rural in nature and does not have the same access to resources available in larger urban areas. There is such a misunderstanding about eating disorders and the health consequences in the medical community that I was able to easily hide behind my disorder and did so for many years.

Seeking Help for Me and for My Family

Being married and with a young child, I found myself unable to properly be available to my family. There is no worse feeling for a father than to be absent from my family’s lives and not being able to do anything to fix it. I was literally a ghost in the house that did not have the ability to be present and available to the members of the household. I had this disorder that had kept me as its prisoner as it continued to drive me closer and closer to rock bottom. I finally reached a breaking point where I had resigned to the fact that I could not solve this on my own.

How ACUTE Helped Me See the Light

As I was looking for resources through many different channels, I was eventually referred to the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders at Denver Health. Little did I know at the time, but this was the greatest turning point in my recovery path. They offered me hope and a way out of my current state. Even though I knew I needed to work toward recovery, my disorder continued to contradict all that was being told to me by the admissions team at ACUTE. I was absolutely amazed at how caring and compassionate the admissions team was and how diligently they worked to help me despite my disorder’s contradictions. The final turning point for me was a phone call that I received from ACUTE's founder and executive medical director Philip Mehler, MD asking me to fully consider my options and to warn me about the drastic state of health that I was in. I finally was able to accept all the care and concern that was being given to me by the ACUTE team and I decided to admit to ACUTE.

On my first day, I knew right away that all the people treating me were on my side and only wanted the best for me. They were caring, compassionate and had a deep understanding of my condition. I could not believe the extent to which each caregiver went to be sure that I was receiving the highest level of care which they had promised me at the beginning of my stay. With all of that in mind, I found quickly that getting healthy was not going to be an easy journey and it did require me giving into the process. I needed to open myself up to the process and allow it the time necessary to stabilize both my mental and physical health. I had a long road ahead and with the help of my team, the road seemed much more manageable and, for the first time, I felt confidence in my ability to beat this thing.

I very much appreciated that the team at ACUTE was open, honest and genuinely concerned about my wellbeing and the stabilization process. Each person’s path toward recovery is unique to their own individual concerns and health situation. I was amazed at how ACUTE provided a customized treatment regimen that was developed to provide me with the best opportunity to succeed. 

I can honestly say that I would not be alive today without my time at ACUTE.

Each day brought its own set of challenges, but I never felt that ACUTE was ever giving up on my recovery. That persistence gave me a level of confidence that I had not had, probably ever before.

Recovery Continues After ACUTE

One of the best things that I received while at ACUTE was a solid aftercare plan that included additional treatment from some of the best treatment facilities in the world. ACUTE was able to stabilize my physical condition and provided the necessary foundation for sustaining recovery. The success of my recovery started at ACUTE and that motivation and confidence lasted through the remaining phases of my recovery path. I have now completed my full course of treatment and I am thankful for every day that I spent working toward ridding myself of this disorder. I can honestly say that everyone that I worked with from those initial phone calls with the admissions team to those who helped set me up for a successful transition back into my everyday life was vital to the success of my recovery. I am now working with an incredible outpatient team that was put together, in part, with the help of my team at ACUTE.

My Goal in Treatment and Recovery

I had a goal from the beginning of my treatment: I wanted to give my son back his father and my wife back her husband. Through my time at ACUTE and with help from my outpatient team, I can honestly say that I have achieved those goals. I learned throughout all this that I needed to do this for myself, but there were days that my personal motivation was tested. During those times, I was able to lean on the care and compassion that I was being shown by my recovery team, including my family.

My life today is full and rewarding, I have been given a fresh start with my family, my career and my community. I still have challenging days, but I have been given a set of tools that continues to guide me along the healthy path toward full recovery.