January 25, 2023
Rei Cheung, a junior at Carlmont High School, is one of these students. To Cheung, spending time with friends means everything. He enjoys shopping for clothes with his friends and plans to be a fashion designer. He also indulges in anime and video games to unwind from the daily drone of life.
His journey began when he visited his pediatrician to seek therapy for his eating disorder under his mother’s recommendation. After talking to his pediatrician, Cheung learned that it would take two months to speak to a therapist. After anxiously waiting, he finally obtained a session with a therapist.
“We couldn’t even get started on what I wanted. We would need three or four other visits, which would be around two weeks in between, and we had to go to a hospital,” Cheung said.
One day, Cheung visited his pediatrician for a checkup. To his surprise, the doctor said that he needed to transfer to a hospital after observing his low heart rate and low blood pressure caused by a hybrid of stress and fasting. Cheung went home to eat dinner before being sent off in the early morning to be admitted to a hospital.
“I did not know that I was gonna go to the hospital before that visit, and then she was like, yeah, just have dinner at home, and then we’re gonna ship you off,” Cheung said.
Upon arriving at the hospital, he was given a bed. Later he found out that there was a waiting list for beds, which made Cheung feel grateful knowing he got treatment sooner than most patients.
“I think I was really lucky. But for all those people who missed their opportunity and had to wait, I think that’s really messed up,” Cheung said.
Life in the hospital for Cheung was miserable. He was not allowed to leave the bed at any time unless it was to use the bathroom or shower and was monitored at all times. During his stay, he had gotten food poisoning from the food provided to assist him with his eating disorder.
“It’s really ironic, I really think that they should have higher safety measures. I know that they may not have the budget for this, but maybe you should think about what you’re treating,” Cheung said.
Drained by the ordeal, his psychiatrist prescribed him Zoloft and four other medications, including Prozac. Cheung was cautious of the idea of taking medication and was worried about withdrawal symptoms.
“I hate it whenever they prescribe something new to you; you have to wean yourself off one and go back on to another one,” Cheung said. “It’s the most mind-boggling, head-aching process ever.”
Cheung’s most significant concern was for patients who are suffering from conditions similar to his, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder and are unable to get necessary treatment due to long wait times for admission. He especially felt sympathy for those in critical conditions similar to his.
“Some people could just be really unstable and are unable to continue living the way they want to, or they could harm other people or themselves. They could start taking drugs to not think about it. I just feel like if people got help at the right time, things would be a lot easier for people. Maybe they wouldn’t go looking for something else to fill that void,” Cheung said.