Things That Feed My Spirit, Social Dynamics

Things That Feed My Spirit

I actually had a good day yesterday.  It’s true.  Partly it’s because Meg has been gone since Wednesday.  I am not happy that she is gone, as a matter of fact, I am pretty unsettled by it but it is the weekend so I wouldn’t see her anyway and tomorrow is Monday and we can return to our normal schedule.

The ‘partly’ part though, that’s because with the break from the trauma work, I have stopped spinning out of control and I feel balanced again.  Trauma work exacerbates everything, ED symptoms, self-harm urges, suicidal ideation….It makes it all hard to manage.  Of course, that is how I got here…So I can do the trauma work with the support that I need to stay safe.

But I have digressed.  Yesterday was a good day because I basically go to do art ALL day.   I haven’t done anything that feeds my spirit since I got here.  And without using my creative energy, I have been pretty lost.  But yesterday, we had open art and I started a project that encompasses 3 of my assignments.  I am quite happy with how it is coming out and will put it on the blog when it is done.  The other art project we did was in group and we were handed stacks of magazines and told to put together collages about who we are outside of our eating disorder.  My collage took its own spin and ended up being much more about my spiritual side than anything else.  And it reflected all that I am lacking and missing here in that respect.  I get my spirituality and comfort by being outside and walking around (not exercise-wise) and seeing nature…Wait…I wrote an assignment that touches on it,  lemme find it and post it.

What Do I Envision a Healthy Relationship with Exercise to Look like?

What is keeping me stuck/preventing me from achieving balance in my ED?

Right now, I use exercise as punishment, a weight loss tool, a way to achieve a “high” and occasionally I exercise just because I like it…Meaning without an ulterior motive.

My two main forms of exercise are yoga and walking.  I have 1:1 yoga sessions at studio near my home.  It is amazingly beautiful there, overlooking the north face of the mountain, with a spring fed pond beside the studio and flowers and trees or snow and ice…No matter what the season it is gorgeous there.  My instructor is gently supportive and though it took me a long time to be comfortable with her (because I am so uncomfortable in my body) I really find the yoga to be restorative and soothing.  It never fails that no matter how depressed or anxious or tired I am when I go to yoga, I walk out feeling calmer, more balanced and relaxed.  It just has a magical power.

That relationship with yoga where I always leave feeling better than when I started is what I would like my relationship with walking to be like.  I love being outside…And by saying I love it, I am truly understating the importance of it.  I find being outside refreshing, restorative and centering.  I am an observer by nature and soak in all that surrounds me when I am outside, trees, leaves, slug trails, red efts, the sky, insects, flowers, duckweed…I just take it all in and it feeds my mind and soul.  I also am very in touch with the smells and sounds when I am outside, cut grass, snow in the air, pungent skunk, soft fluttery floral scents from wildflowers in the fields, brush crunching as deer run into the woods, birds calling, the wind rustling leaves, tree trunks rubbing together and squeaking.

Plus there is the feel of being outdoors, the rain on my face, the crisp cool morning air and the biting winter air.  My favorite is when it is crisp and cold and I can feel it on my cheeks…not quite cold enough to feel uncomfortable, but cold enough to remind me that I am alive and that the world is vibrant around me.

I get to soak all of this in when I am walking.  Every little bit of it is important to me.  Maybe it sounds kind of hokey, but being outside in nature is my Zen.  I love, love, love it.

But….I see and feel almost none of this when I am in amped-up over-exercise mode.  In that mode, I lose all of the soothing/calming/restorative aspect of being outside.  And when I am in exercise-as-punishment mode, it is all lost.

I would like to be able to walk for the fitness and physical-well-being aspect of it to keep my heart and lungs healthy, to have strong muscles and to keep my body at a healthy weight for me.  I also know that I get significant psychological benefits from exercise, helping manage my depression, stimulating my cognition and giving me a chance to roll thoughts over in my mind.

I know I mentioned keeping my body at a healthy weight and I don’t want that statement to send up red flags.  I would like to be able to not over-exercise in an obsessive pursuit of weight loss, I would like to exercise to support what weight is good for me.  This would be reflected in having moderation with exercise either in frequency or duration.  Or increasing calorie intake to support my body for the level of exercise I am doing.

My exercise ideal sounds wonderful.  Exercising for health, pleasure and renewal.  It’s practically too good to be true.

I can see this healthy relationship with exercise in my head…But when it comes down to brass tacks, I don’t trust myself to do it.  I am totally stuck in the ED compulsive exercise mode.  I actually knew this would be an issue when I was discharged from my previous res treatment and I actually delayed starting exercising again and I even started with “supervised” walks (by my choice to keep me on track).  But once on my own, I quickly got sucked into exercise as a way to ‘negate’ the calories I was eating in my meal plan.  I just couldn’t get past the ED thinking.  And that same thinking turned the exercise into a compulsion.  I couldn’t not exercise. I got all wrapped up in calories in/calories out.  I understand this is ED thinking and related to poor body image and self-esteem and body shame…But that didn’t really ease the compulsion part.

I guess the real reason I am stuck in my ED exercise thinking is because I hate myself and my body.  Which is a result of injury/trauma to my four-year-old child part and then subsequent re-injury to other parts.  And the only solution to that is to work with those parts, ask them to step aside so that I can try to find Self and make decisions from the Self perspective rather than the distracting Parts.

I think that does a good job of explaining what I get from being outside.  And here at Hilltop, we are not allowed to exercise.  Eventually, we get approval to do so, but it’s yoga and NIA and not outside.  All I want is some time outside where I can walk around the driveway a little bit and have some time a little bit with just me and nature.

I don’t remember if I blogged this, but after my last nutrition appointment, I did float the idea of mini walks by the Dietician.  She said we could talk about it more (maybe I did blog this, it sounds familiar).  I wonder if I show her my collage and read her the above assignment (she was the one who assigned it) that she will understand more my reason.  She did say she wanted to talk to me about why I didn’t want to do yoga or NIA.  I told her because that isn’t what I want.  I guess the truth is that it isn’t what I need.  Yes, yoga fulfills some of my needs, but it is not the same as being outside.

 Social Dynamics

I have been struggling over my reaction to the two new admits and how I perceive the difference in the vibe around here…..And I thought it was just me being socially challenged and I have been frustrated with myself for not being more flexible.  Yesterday, I learned that it is not just me.  After one of our meals, I walked into a conversation where one of my peers was expressing how upset she is about the new dynamic and the other people in the conversation agreed.  As a matter of fact, I think I have now heard 6 other people say (which makes 7 out of the ten) that they are really uncomfortable with the dynamic (Being an observer has its advantages, I can hear everything without necessarily being dragged into the muck of things).  The new women are “colluding” (a term they use here when people are feeding each other’s EDs) and it can triggering and it is disturbing and just plain annoying.  I should clarify, that this is all about these women’s process and where they are in their process and I don’t judge them because of it, ED recovery stinks and I have my own process and barriers…I really try not to judge anyone here.  But we are not in a vacuum here and we are on top of each other pretty much 24/7, so it is almost impossible to get space from new “feel” of the group.

Tomorrow, we have our ED process group and on Mondays, it is always a check-in group.  We will see if anyone has the courage to speak up about the new dynamic.

And lastly, as posting that assignment has turned this into an epic blog…Polly.  I kind of gave myself some space from Polly after she moved from the table, but I am over the surprise and feeling sad, so we are back on track.  I spent a long time talking with her last evening, just kind of chatting.  Of course, it wasn’t about anything not-ED related (I hate that seems like it’s the only thing I have in common with folks here) but it was nice to chat anyway as our conversation varied between light and serious but was relaxed and a nice way to end a nice day.  Actually, I even hung around for evening snack before going to be (which I usually don’t do because I don’t have an evening snack) and chit-chatted pleasantly at the table with folks.  It’s times like that that I can see ghosts of my old self and the person I would like to be again.

Social Stuff, Compliance and Integrity, I Have to Know and What Else?

Social Stuff

I was right. The two newest admits have totally changed the social dynamic.  It’s fascinating as one was here very recently and has returned.  That’s not the fascinating part, the fascinating part is how some of the staff have responded to her and allow her lots of lee-way.  I suppose it could be that the rules are different because she is not brand-new to the place. But even so, there is a definite vibe going on that I am not really liking.

Such is the life of a constantly changing social group with ever shifting dynamics.  And the life of someone who hates it.

Compliance and Integrity

I worked hard to be compliant yesterday as I really want to go on the outing to Michael’s.  If you are non-compliant within 24 hours of an outing, you can’t go.  So, I need to get through the next two meals.  Of course, the goal is to stay compliant after that too, but I am focusing on these couple of meals.  Oddly, even though I had counted two non-compliances this week, I am only marked down for 1.  I talked to my favorite Direct Care person about as I wanted to be honest about it, but she said it wasn’t recorded.  I guess I won’t complain, as didn’t try to hide it, so I am feeling like I did the right thing.  My integrity is important to me.

I have to know

So…I am kind of losing my shit.  I cannot stop checking my body to see how much weight I have gained.  Like, I obsessively use my hands to body check during groups, I start off my mornings now by body checking in the mirror (I hadn’t done this before).  I have devised plans as to how I can measure my body to see if it is getting bigger.  And over and over I body check and body check and body check with my hands. I am going to lose my mind if I don’t know how much I weigh.

I also cannot stop obsessing around calories.  Yesterday, about 6 times, I started mentally calculating the calories I had eaten.  And six times, I stopped.  One of the last times, I was sitting on the porch, phone in hand, ready to google the calories and one of my peers came out onto the porch to.  I confessed that I was about to do an ED driven behavior (didn’t say what though to not be triggering) and I allowed her to distract me.  I also texted one of my ED recovery friends and told her I was struggling to not count calories.  Her response was, “It’s not going to help.  Feed yourself, don’t feed the ED.”  Of course, she is right.  And I knew she would say something like that which is why I texted her.  But it hasn’t lowered the level of the urges.

I am still beyond self-conscious about my meal sizes and portion sizes.  I am going to start a list of things to not request for snack anymore because I feel so awkward.  Snack is more social and interactive and the table is such that more people can see what you are eating.  Yesterday, I just wanted to die from shame because of my snack portion. Honestly, it is was so little food that I don’t even know why I bother to have snack anyway.  And if I wasn’t trying to be compliant for the outing today, I may have just walked away.  Instead, I just burned in shame and made a note that I need to figure out better ways to do snack.  I had the same issue with the sub-meal this week (you can substitute a meal 3x/wk if you don’t like the meal being offered.)  The sub meal is a BLT with Doritos and fruit.  Only, because I am gluten free, I can’t have the vegetarian bacon, so I have a Sunbutter and jelly sandwich which looks tiny compared to the BLTs and of course, ¼ of it is cut off.  Again, it is so glaringly small on my plate….It is so obvious…they may as well just spell out the word FAT with my food.  Basically, if meals weren’t hard enough already, this whole Portion-of-Shame business is killing me.

Ugh…I am just not a happy camper.

All I need to do is get through today and go in the outing and come home with some projects/craft supplies that can take my mind off of things for a while.

What Else?

Oh…I did mention my portion size issue (though not at all the depth to which I feel it) to the dietician the other day.  I got the impression that I was not the first to speak up about being uncomfortable with the comparing.  Last night she made an announcement about how meal plans are individualized and that comparing is not appropriate and can lead to colluding with other people’s EDs.    Will it make a difference?  I am guessing not.  At dinner, I was sitting next to the woman who I am most uncomfortable with at meals because she is always looking at my plate and talking about comparing (and for some reason, I am always sitting next to her or directly across from her.)  Anyway, as I slowly ate my 3 pieces of asparagus, TVP patty (which was cut in half) and small scoop of scalloped potatoes (1/2 cup maybe) which was all served on an 11” inch dinner plate, I caught my peer making sidelong glances at my plate.  I really wanted to just say “fuck it” and get up and walk away.  But….the Michael’s trip. It has been a huge motivation for me the past few days.  So, instead, I just sat there and wanted to die and ate my food as slowly as possible to make it look like I had more food than I had.  And then, I had forgotten that the meal ended with a dessert.  I am only hoping she didn’t see that the ice cream cup I was handed had ¼ of the ice cream scooped out.

There has got to be a better way to do the portioning.

In Bullets

Yesterday was one of those days that is best captured in bullets because there is so much to say:

  • There have been two new admits in the past couple of days (one was yesterday) and it has totally changed the social dynamic…And I am not sure it is a change for the better.
  • I talked to my nutritionist about the comparing at dinner. I felt better after our discussion.
  • I was ultra-depressed for half the day yesterday (have been pretty depressed for about a week now) lots of negative thoughts, thoughts of self-harming etc. It taped off some as the day went on…We’ll see how tomorrow goes.
  • I am getting more support from my Favorite Direct care person and she is sort of keeping an eye on me. I like that she is helping me.
  • I met with the anxiety therapist again and I am resigned to the fact that there are going to be new diagnoses added to my psych list.
  • I mentioned to the nutritionist that I might like to have 5 minute walks just to get outside and see the trees and stuff. She said we can talk about it more.  (I was sure she was going to automatically say ‘no’)
  • I am totally burned out from coloring.
  • This weekend’s outing is to Michael’s and I really, really want to go which means I have to be on my ultra-best behavior for the next 36 hours. (No more non-compliances.)
  • I started thinking about the concept of “Productive Struggle” that they talk about here.
  • Meg is gone and it makes me anxious.
  • I worry that I will be gone too long and the AT will not take me back (I am sure that insecurity about the one has led to insecurity about the other.)
  • Sometimes, I feel like I can’t relate at all to my peers because they are all so skinny.
  • I have been working diligently on homework assignments and am due to present assignments maybe today and if not, certainly at the beginning of next week.
  • I have been upgraded to half-hour observations which means I only have to be in common areas for a half-hour after meals (When you first arrive you have to be in common space for 18 hours. Then once you are settled, it just for two hours after meals, then one hour and then a half-hour.  I don’t actually know if there is such a thing as no observation)
  • The two new admits puts Hilltop at pretty much max capacity.
  • I think I am going to be here for longer than I expected…Not necessarily at the residential level, but in terms of the whole program.
  • I love the trains that go by. All night and all day there are trains going by.  The most interesting train so far was loaded up with blades for wind turbines (like 30 cars of blades).  Other than that, there are coal trains, freight trains, and recently I have seen trains with red-ish rocks in the hopper cars.  Not sure what that is.
  • I get homesick a lot and am acutely aware of all the things I am missing/will be missing, especially seasonal foods like black raspberries, blueberries, corn on the cob, tomatoes from my garden, blackberries, etc., etc.
  • I have nightmares pretty much every night now and don’t sleep well.
  • The crazy hot weather has tapered some and now it is just really hot out.


Polly Moved From Our Station and My Four Year Old and Hard

Polly Moved From Our Station

I spoke too soon.  Just when I was getting comfortable, Polly left the table.  Her reason for leaving is valid.  So, I don’t know why it makes me sad, but it does.  I just kind of feel abandoned and rejected.  And I wonder if I did something wrong or if imposing myself on the table was actually bothering her.  I don’t know…But now I feel awkward and alone.  I am trying to decide if I should leave the table too…I just don’t know.  I hate social dynamics.

Really, all I want to do is withdraw.  I put myself out there with Polly, it didn’t work out. Now I should just put my guard up and retreat.  And not try again.  I had no idea how hard the social dynamics would be here.

My Four Year Old

I have discovered something.  A lot of my emotional rules and fears come from when I was four.  Clearly, I don’t operate on a 4 year level emotionally…Sort of anyway.   But it is fascinating to see that trauma from when I was four has had such a profound influence on my life.  I suppose that statement that comes from minimizing or denial…I guess I figure as long as I don’t have to think or deal with it, then it didn’t really happen.  It’s too bad that it doesn’t actually work that way.


Everything is hard right now.  I am just crashing and burning.  And I am not ready to be flexible enough to have Meg be gone for a couple of days.  That said, I don’t really have much say or input in the matter, nor should I.  But here it is…Me being reluctantly flexible. Ugh.

Meg being gone makes me miss the security and safety of Team Heidi.

I don’t know…I am just overwhelmed so I don’t have anything useful to say right now.

The Food On My Plate and Meg and It Is Happening

The Food On My Plate

Every time I sit down to a meal here at Hilltop I am reminded of my body size and my shame and my awkwardness.  And unwanted attention is drawn to me.

I don’t eat the same amount of food as everyone here because I am bigger than everyone else here.  Of course my body image sucks and the last thing I want to do is draw attention to my body…But every meal does.  My portions of food seem comparatively tiny…dinner is the worst because they serve the food on huge dinner plates and all that space around my food makes my portions glare.  Mind you, I am not complaining about the size of my portions, I would gladly eat less. But my food does not look right on my plate.  As a matter of fact, when served on a dinner plate, it looks like restricting portions.

And to make matters worse, my food doesn’t even look normal.  If I have a sandwich ¼ of it is cut off.  Yup, they don’t accommodate for the calorie difference by juggling around the calories, they just cut my fucking sandwich by a quarter.  And it looks stupid and it glares and I feel so, so ashamed.  It just kind of screams, “Everyone look, Heidi is fat.”  Ugh…I just want to crawl under a rock.

But…It even gets worse.  I have a peer who has severe issues with comparing.  She talks about it frequently and I know she really struggles because she has large portions for restoration of her weight.  And I feel for her.  But she is always talking about how some people have smaller portion sizes (it used to be me and someone else, but the other person was discharged yesterday, so now it will be just me) and she gets really upset.  Monday night, I was seated across from her and she looked at my plate and burst into tears.

I know it is about her and not about me. And I know I shouldn’t care. But OMG…She looked at my plate of food and burst into tears!!!!  I just wanted to disappear.  And I felt so ashamed and so awkward.

I guess my discomfort is two-fold.  I feel obviously fat and ashamed of my body because I have small portions that are cut weirdly and I feel embarrassed and ashamed and awkward that someone would look at my plate and burst into tears.

I am not sure how any of this is actually therapeutic.


I am really frustrated with my therapist.  I am starting to trust her and that makes me really angry.  I don’t want to trust her…especially since I haven’t known her very long.  And yet, here I am feeling trusting inclinations towards her and it makes me mad.  The other thing is that she is empathetic.  I hate that.  I don’t want her to be empathetic.  I don’t want her to be nice to me. It’s not supposed to work that way.  I have also figured out that no matter how much I try to push her away, she isn’t going to budge.  She calls me out on avoidance behavior, she points out things that I don’t want to acknowledge and she remembers everything I say.  Basically, she is really good at what she does.  And I like her.  But every part of me screams that I shouldn’t put myself out there and trust her.

It Is Happening

Meg and I are pushing a little harder in therapy and the harder push means we are touching on things that I don’t want to address….So, I am freaking out.  Mind you, no one would know, because I freak out internally except for when I just break and then burst into tears.  But I have started the over-obsessing about my weight, I need to know numbers.  I looked in the mirror this morning and I body checked feeling for my bones and I can tell that I am bigger.  I am clearly gaining weight and it is causing me lots of anxiety.  I am also obsessing about my meal plan and how many calories I am eating.  I tried to ask the nutritionist what the goal of my meal plan is and she gave me a very non-answer. I appreciated her effort of not engaging, but I need to know.  I have restrained from calculating it out…but only just barely.

And my self-harm urges are high.  If I can’t have control, can’t restrict, can’t know anything about numbers, then the only thing I can control is the self-harming.  Of course, along with that is lots of wishing I was dead and just being tired of the fight and wishing I didn’t exist.

So, now I have to figure out how to manage this struggle without engaging in my maladaptive coping strategies.

Polly and Sunday


Yesterday, the internet was down alll day. I had written a raging blog post about my Sunday, but never got to post it.  At this point, I no longer feel rage about Sunday, what I feel is more like heavy defeat and numbness.  The rage post no longer fits, so I am shelving it.

What I will post is something about Polly and then an assignment I was given yesterday regarding Sunday and how I responded to it.

So first…..Polly.  Polly and I were talking yesterday and I said that I had mentioned to Meg something about the table that Polly and I sit at as our “Station.”  And when talking to it to Polly, I referred to it as her table and she countered, “It’s not my table.”  And then she went on to say that she had only started sitting there a short time before I arrived at Hilltop.  This gave me a moment of thought.  Polly was the first person I was friendly with when I got here and part of it is because I inserted myself on the other half of her table.  And then we slowly got to be friends across the tops of our laptops (or at least as much of friends as you can be in treatment.)  I briefly pondered the fact that Polly moved to the table in time for me to share it with her.  The AT might point out that that sequence happened for a reason…And maybe I might agree.  Or maybe it is just a coincidence and means nothing.


The best part of our station is that it gives us a vantage point of the whole place.  Actually Polly has the best/safest spot at the table, .but i often turn so my back is against the wall and thus I get a good view of everything going on.  It’s a safe spot.

I don’t know where I am going with this….I just like Polly and am glad that she accepted me crashing her space.

You know, the other person I have become really friendly with (and she often comes and stands at our table and chats) is a woman who I was convinced I would never like.  I had heard she is very judgmental and compares like crazy (which she actually does). And of all of us here she is the most overtly entrenched in her ED symptoms.  Basically, I gave her a wide berth because I didn’t feel safe around her. But, being social by nature, I chatted pleasantly with her several times and started to like her.  Yup, her ED has a strangle hold on her (just like the rest of us) and yes, she struggles and struggles.  But she is actually pretty nice and so I have developed a comfortable rapport with her.

The one thing about my snap judgments of people…Sometimes, I am wrong.


Okay…now that homework assignment:

When I look behind me, I see that I am being trailed by years of stuff.  And this stuff weighs me down….no, it doesn’t just weigh me down, it is like an anchor on an elastic band.  It drags along behind me and the band stretches and stretches and I have to work sooo hard to keep moving forward, but I am making progress.  Yes, the progress is slow and the band sometimes pulls me back, but I am still moving.  But every once in a while, that anchor slips up out of the dirt and the elastic ker-twangs it right at me.  And it hits me and I can’t help but be hurt and overwhelmed and doubled over in pain.  But I can’t make the pain stop and the anchor just keeps bouncing on that elastic and hitting me again and again.  Sometimes, I just lick my wounds and keep on moving and other times, I can’t cope and I have to do anything I can to stop the pain.

Sunday morning, my anchor came flying at me and I was not able to cope.

When I have situations in which I feel unheard, brushed off or not believed, I get really, really upset.  Therapist #2 had a lot of concerns about my reactions to not being heard but we didn’t really ever get to address it in therapy as at that point, I was nowhere near being able to talk about trauma.  Even just skipping across the top of the topic was too much for me.  And being unheard is a trigger that will totally unravel me.

Being unheard was pretty much the story of my childhood.  No one heard me.  No one helped me.  No one acknowledged me. Here’s what I wrote about it for my agenda on being invisible: [This refers to a prior assignment…They call assignments ‘agendas’.

I felt invisible when I was growing up.  No one really saw me or heard me, no one was aware of my needs and struggles and desperate wants of love and attention. I was just a nothing and a no one. I never even had my own identity, I was always my sister’s little sister.  I didn’t even have my own name.  There was nothing about me that was remarkable enough for people to remember.  Maybe I was never remarkable enough to remember.  Heidi was nothing. 

When this not-being-heard happens I end up in a kind of a freeze.  I just shut down and enter this deep state of hopelessness.  I am guessing the shutdown looks like helplessness to other people, because I stop standing up for myself and/or advocating for myself and I withdraw. Sometimes, I withdraw really deeply into myself.  But it is not helplessness.  It is hopelessness.  I just get so mired in the hopelessness that I can’t see any way out of it and I stop trying.

This emotional re-run plays out in the moment of being unheard and then keeps replaying in my head.  I engage in punishing behaviors, I perseverate, I feel hurt and angry and like life is unfair. My core beliefs that I am bad and broken and worthless get reinforced.  And I withdraw more into my dark place.  And I punish myself more.

Depending on how the whole thing plays out, I either eventually get over it or I have to make it stop.  Making it stop involves self-harm.

When I self-harmed here on Sunday night it was the first time that I actually self-harmed in residential treatment.  I am not even sure why I did it.  I just was at the end of my rope.  I know that there is support staff here to help me, but I evidently am not smart enough to reach out to them…Another failing on my part.  And I knew it was a failure.  Which compounded my pain.

I did not engage in particularly significant self-harm and since I don’t really care about my body ultimately it doesn’t matter if I self-harm or not.  But I did the most benign form of self-harm that I engage in and pinched a little patch of skin between my index fingernail and my thumb.  And then I counted slowly to 100.  I did it 3 times.  Honestly, it didn’t hurt enough to satisfy me.  It was sort of a tentative trial.  I now know that I can self-harm in res.

For me, self-harm is not about making the biggest gash and the most gore…All I am after is the pain.  I probably would have been more satisfied with the more severe (most painful) kind of self-harm I engage in…but that also leaves the most mark and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.

Oh…and Meg wants me to talk to the anxiety therapist about my counting to 100 because the number 100 is involved in all of the self-harm I do and Meg want me to explore the ritual aspect of that.

And I got my second non-compliance for the week.  Yup, you get a non-compliance for self-harming.  Go figure.

Restriction High and Depression

Restriction High

I almost restricted yesterday night.  It was so close that I actually got that rush and totally could feel the restriction high.  Which only made the urge to restrict more intense.  I love the feeling of that high.

Here’s what happened:  When we sat for dinner, I had this horrible chunk of tofu sitting on my plate.  <shudder> Seriously, it was like they just cut a chunk off of one of those slabs of tofu you buy at the grocery store.  And it was huge…almost as big as the palm of my hand and it was super thick.  It had been seasoned on the top and somehow warmed…But it was in no way, shape or form palatable.  First of all, it reminded me of all the cold, flaccid, plain tofu I was served at Renfrew.  (Tofu was their go-to vegetarian protein and they didn’t know how to prepare it.) Secondly, I don’t like the texture of tofu very much when it is served that way.

Then I tasted the carrot slaw side-dish and didn’t like it and I figured in for a penny in for a pound, right?  So, I didn’t eat that either.  I was given a vanilla supplement and drank about a third of my dose and then….I thought about the calories in it and I stopped.  I had absolutely no plan or intention of drinking the rest of that supplement.  And that’s when I felt the restriction high rise up.  It was the best I have felt since I got to Hilltop.  Like, I pretty much felt giddy.  I looove that feeling.

I was filling out my non-compliance form and at that point I had decided not to drink the rest of the supplement.  I even wrote on my form about it.

Then one of my peers came through to sweep the dining room and as she came over to me she said, “I think you should just do it.”  I know she totally understands the place that I was in and I know she was looking out for me. And so I wavered.  She said, “You drank some of it, right?”  I replied, “Yes.”  And she said, “Well, you may as well drink all of it.”

And for that moment…her encouragement over-rode the restriction urge.  So, I took some more sips of the supplement (which is only slightly less horrible than flaccid tofu.  The taste isn’t bad, but the texture, richness and denseness is awful.) Then the Direct Care person (and my favorite one!) moved and sat right next to me and asked about ds.  And I forced the rest of that damn supplement down.

And the best part?  That restriction rush?  It kept going for about another half hour.  Did I mention that I love that feeling?

But then reality hit in.  And my stomach started hurting (supplements are not good for stomachs…way too rich) and the restriction high just crashed.

Of course, now I will struggle more with eating because I have a fresh taste of the restriction high.

Which rolls me into my next topic.


I am sooo depressed.  Mostly, I am keeping it to myself. (I know. Bad idea.) I do let bits of it show to my favorite Direct Care person.  And I am sure Meg sees it too.  But I am struggling so much.  Like, I just can’t do it. I don’t know exactly what it is that I can’t do…but I can’t do it. Mostly, I just want to curl up in a ball and wither away to nothing.  I hate being alive.  I hate processing trauma.  I hate being me.  There has got to be something better than this.

I go through the motions of being social and functioning…Although yesterday afternoon, it was a real struggle.  We had our weekly Therapeutic Outing that I had been really looking forward to and by lunchtime, I was totally going to bail.  As a matter-of-fact, Polly was supposed to go and she bailed (much to my disappointment.)  I did end up going, but I had a hard time getting into any frame of mind to actually enjoy the outing.  I bet it was an hour and a half into the outing before I even felt the tiniest bit relaxed. Eventually, I felt more relaxed, but it was that short-lived kind of thing where as soon as the activity (distraction) was done my mood started spiraling again.  And then we got home just in time for dinner and I had that stupid tofu….I hate eating. L

And then I was thinking about this week.  Meg has told me twice that she is going to be gone Thursday and Friday this week.  And it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that it hit me.  She is going to be gone. Not here.  And as much as I am loathe to admit it, she has become an important part of my routine here and I don’t actually want her to be gone.  And then my thoughts took me to: “What if she doesn’t come back?”  I don’t like that it matters to me.  I don’t need to her to be here.  I don’t need her.

Ugh…I am confused and grumpy and depressed.  I think I am scared too.  The work I have to do here is terrifying.

Everything in my brain is scrambled right now.  I don’t like the way that feels.

Anyway…That therapeutic outing?  We went to one of those places where they have ceramics that you glaze.  I found a very small bowl (cuz really, I can’t lug any big pieces of ceramics with me when I fly home) that I can keep my bracelets in.

Here’s a pic of it when I finished glazing it.  Eventually, I will post a pic of it after it has been fired.




My Business Is Everybody’s Business and Therapy and Assigments

My Business Is Everybody’s Business

Last night, half of the residents of Hilltop went to see a movie.  I don’t care for movies in theaters so I stayed home as did a few other people (some people were not allowed to go).  We sort of chatted and then we played Bananagrams and actually had a really nice/fun time.

When it hit 8:00, it was time to go downstairs to wash up.  At this facility the resident bathrooms (we have them in our rooms) are locked during the day and locked over night, with a window of time first thing in the morning and then at 8 when they are unlocked for showers and such.  You can earn the privilege of having them unlocked overnight (which I have had for about a week now) but they are always locked during the day.  I have a special accommodation regarding my period and my bathroom can be unlocked during the day just while I have my period.  I won’t get into details about why it is unlocked other than to say I have really, really heavy periods which are hard to manage.  The past two days my bathroom has been unlocked all day and it will be for another couple of days.

So, we finished Bananagrams and it was just about 8 and my peers were wondering if the bathrooms were unlocked and one of them turned to me and said, “But yours is always unlocked.”  And I was surprised and I said, “You mean at night? Or during the day?” And she responded, “During the day and at night.”  And I was like, WTF!  There is only one person here that I have told about my bathroom because I didn’t want any purgers to sneak into my bathroom and purge because they knew my bathroom was unlocked. Meanwhile, another peer heard the conversation and started to get all worked up about it…<sigh>.

Really, I was just so surprised that this woman knew my business.  The point of my bathroom accommodation was to give me some space to attend to my heavy periods but I also had been enjoying the fact that I could be discreet about my period.  Except, evidently I do not get the luxury of being discreet.

I guess when you live with 7 or 8 other women who are hyper-aware of everything and always comparing and who are confined to a small space there is no such thing as privacy.

Luckily, I have Polly (who is the one person I had told about my bathroom) because I was able to take her aside and express my surprise and anxiety about the fact that everyone seemed to know my business.  I really like Polly and am glad I have connected with her here.  It is good to have a friend.


Therapy is sooo hard.  We finally finished all the social history questions and yesterday was the “List your trauma” day.   I tried to convince her that since this data has already been collected and since it was in my timeline assignment that I didn’t actually have to tell her….but she wasn’t buying it.  So, I spent the appointment sliding in and out of dissociation.  And Meg kept reeling me back in and then addressing more of the questions. It .

So, I had to tell her and the whole time I was just dying of shame.  And feeling disgusting and bad.  What I don’t understand is why Meg and everyone else can’t see what a horrible person I am.  I don’t think Meg sees it because she doesn’t act repulsed by me.  It is the same struggle I have with Team Heidi….I just don’t get what they see in me and why they care.  Hilltop Team Heidi is the same way.  It just sort of baffles my brain.


At the end of every week, we get our “Contract” which is a paper outlining what we should be working on during the week.   I am going list a few of them to give an idea as to what I a working on.

  • I will write about what emotions were like in my family and rules around emotions. Based on this assignment I will better understand my struggles with emotions.
  • I will write about why I want to be invisible.  Based on this assignment I will understand how this came to be.
  • I will write a plan about how I would like to incorporate my support system during my treatment.
  • I will write in detail about what a day would look like if I acted in ways consistent with my values and beliefs.  I will consider relationships, self-talk, self-care, meals, priorities in the investment of energy.

These contracts have a collaborative aspect too.  At the beginning of the week, we are given a Pre-Contract where we assess the past week and then have an opportunity to think of assignments for the coming week.  And those assignments get integrated into the Contract.  Here’s one of those.  What I wrote on the Pre-Contract is in quotes.

  • I will “list 10 alternative ways to occupy my hands instead of body checking so I have more options.” Based on this I will be able to to work on slowing down the process of body checking with the hopes of understanding the underlying function of it.

There is so much more to say about my days at Hilltop, but not enough time to blog it all…And I notice that I breezed through today’s blog without really addressing what I have been feeling the past couple of days (pretty depressed and hopeless).  Perhaps I will have a more feelings oriented blot tomorrow.

Insomnia and Rituals? and Hopelessness


Another morning that I wake up too early.  I have been blaming on the time change, but it has been a week and a half since I crossed time zones and went back in time an hour.  And I have been staying up later but still waking up at 4:40 pretty much every morning.  It is starting to wear me down.

And this morning when I woke up, my teeth hurt, which means I was clenching my teeth really hard during the night.  Not only am I waking up too early, but I am not getting restful/quality sleep when I do sleep.


Meg and I were discussing my self-harm habits yesterday and she commented that perhaps I had a bit of a ritual about it.  I sort of shrugged it off.  But then she recommended that I mention it to the anxiety therapist (with whom I have an appointment this afternoon.)  I told Meg I would not.

It is bad enough that I have to discuss self-harming with Meg or anyone else here.  But the anxiety therapist?  No way.  There are some behaviors that I do that I consider pretty private and am pretty closed about and that includes self-harm.  Plus the fact that I feel so much shame about it.  Why would I want to tell to the anxiety therapist and have to experience that shame?

I suppose there is pretty much nothing about me that doesn’t induce shame….So, what is the point of trying to protect myself from shame? Likely, I will cave and tell the anxiety therapist because it doesn’t really matter what I feel.  Either I will just block the shame out, or I will accept it because honestly, I deserve the shame for self-harming because it really is an abhorrent behavior.


Right after we finish meals and while we are still at the table, we discuss how the meal went for us, our feelings (yuck!) and our urges.  Last night, I just felt run-down and defeated at dinner and so during the check-in discussion, I said that I felt hopeless.  The Direct Care person at my table caught right on to it and asked to talk to me about it later.  Ordinarily, I would really chafe at the idea of discussing it more, but I really like this particular direct care person and she has tried to reach out to me a handful of times.  She seems like a safe person.

So, later on, we chatted.  I explained to her how much pressure I am putting on myself to get better faster (worried about my insurance) and that it seems like my progress is too slow.  I also admitted to her that I have high standards for myself.  I guess it was good talking to her….But ….I don’t know….I didn’t tell her everything.  Like, I didn’t tell her that I wasted the whole first week by adjusting to the new place, worrying about fitting in socially and not knowing what was going on because everything is new.  That’s a whole week gone that I should have been using better.

I also didn’t tell her that I am totally failing at therapy.  I supposed to be opening up and discussing feelings and processing my stuff…And I can barely do it.  And every time I have a therapy appointment in which I am guarded and can’t open up, it is an appointment wasted.  I should be doing it better and faster.  And I am angry and frustrated because I can’t.

And my therapist is too nice.  I like her a lot….but she wants to feel empathy and seems to have compassion for me and it really bothers me.  Yesterday, I said something and then I looked at her and she had this look on her face.  It was one of empathy and concern and I bristled inside.  I don’t understand why she doesn’t see me as I really am.  If she did, then she wouldn’t feel empathy for me, she would feel disgust.

I don’t know…I don’t know how to do any of the work here and I feel like I am doing it all wrong.  I feel all confused and scrambled inside.  I have no idea what I am doing or how to do it right.  I am sooo frustrated.

And my stupid period still isn’t behaving and I cannot express exactly how much that bothers me.  I just want my body to do what it is supposed to do.

Character Strengths

Hmmm….Meg asked me to take the character strength assessment here.

And my results are as follows:

Here are your scores on the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.

The ranking of the strengths reflects your overall ratings of yourself on the 24 strengths in the survey, how much of each strength you possess. Your top five are the ones to pay attention to and find ways to use more often.


Your Top Strength

Fairness, equity, and justice –

Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Your Second Strength

Industry, diligence, and perseverance –

You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you “get it out the door” in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Strength #3

Self-control and self-regulation –

You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.

Strength #4

Caution, prudence, and discretion –

You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.

Strength #5

Appreciation of beauty and excellence –

You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.


Strength #6

Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness –

You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a “real” person.

Strength #7

Curiosity and interest in the world –

You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Strength #8

Kindness and generosity –

You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.

Strength #9

Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness –

Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

Strength #10

Creativity, ingenuity, and originality –

Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.


I would have ranked some of the traits a little differently, like to me, Creativity, Ingenuity and Originality would rank higher than 10….But really, I think it all captures me pretty well.  It will be more interesting to ask dh what he thinks.  As an outside observer, he sees me very differently than I see myself.