Panic and Hope

And then sometimes, the panic about food just hits me.  Like, it is a visceral response where I feel the breath sucked out of me and my anxiety rockets through the roof and I feel almost woozy and as if I am imploding.  The panic is because I have been eating food.  I used to panic like this really frequently about food.  Now, it is less frequent, but it will just hit me randomly and I feel like, “What am I doing?!  I have been eating food! I have to make this food go away.  I have to do something…I can’t eat like this anymore.”  Of course, “eating like this” means following  a normal meal plan.  But to me, it seems like an excessive amount of food and the repercussions of eating so much food for so long….Well, I just about can’t take it.  And so the panic hits me…And the room whirls around me and I need to catch my breath and collect myself and talk myself down from the fear.

It’s moments like this when I know I have an eating disorder.  Not that spending almost 4 months in eating disorder treatment doesn’t remind me of that every day..

Now, instead of escalating the panic, I can talk myself down from it.  I don’t have to engage in behaviors to make it better, and lately, more days than not, I feel like I have actually made a ton of progress.  Progress does not mean perfection or anything close to it.  But progress means that I am less attached to the eating disorder compulsions.

My dietitian got all excited on Monday because I expressed a slightly tolerant thought about my body.  She pointed out that that tiny bit of tolerance is a huge step forward.  She also said I will sort of bounce back and forth between body hatred and tolerance before I settle in mostly at tolerance (and then do the same thing towards liking and maybe even loving my body.)

I dunno…I think things are changing.  I think I am changing. It is terrifying and exciting.  This treatment experience really has the potential to be life-changing for me, because it is not just the ED being addressed, but the underlying stuff too.

Hold on…You know what I just realized?  I actually feel some hope. Hope! When was the last time I actually felt some hope for my outcome?

Hope? Is it possible?

 

 

Learning About Borderline Personality Disorder

I have known one of my peer-friends here for months now (she came to residential after I did and now we are in PHP together.)  She has borderline personality and since me coming to PHP, she has been obsessed with me, wanting to know every detail about my process here.  Every detail about everything.  I didn’t know that this is a manifestation of Borderline Personality.  That understanding would have helped me.  What ended up happening was that I felt very defensive and intruded upon by what I interpreted as her having sort of a voyeuristic interest in my life.  It was annoying…But, I never spoke to it.  I never let her know that she was violating my boundaries, I just sort of dodged her questions and avoided the issue..  I know, I know…I should have spoken up weeks ago.

So, recently, in one of our groups, she talked a little bit about her habit of obsessing with people, but I wasn’t there for most of that group, so I didn’t really hear what she had to say about it. Then more recently, she spoke about it again and I was there and I had this lightbulb moment.  First of all, she was trying to talk about me, as I am the one she is obsessed with, and I also realized how the behavior is part of her mental illness…which made me feel more compassionate about it.  Not that it’s not intrusive, but now I understand where it is coming from.

I had to leave that group right after she talked about it (about 5 mins early because I had an appointment) and she mis-interpreted it as me walking out on her and promptly burst into tears.  And then some of my peers said that she and I needed to talk. And the direct care person said that I really did have an appointment…that I wasn’t just walking out on her.

The awkward thing for the peer is that everyone knew about her obsession with me…It was pretty obvious.  But she didn’t know that everyone had seen it. Later in the day, we did sit down and talk about boundaries and her BPD and how I had found it intrusive.  And I commented about how people noticed when she and I aren’t getting along (because the intrusiveness has caused minor ruptures in our relationship from time to time.)  We have a pretty strong relationship and I guess it is just clear in the community when we have issues.  I think she was a bit taken aback by the fact that her interest in me was not a secret…But this is a small community of very hypervigilant people, not much goes by unnoticed.

Anyway…I have learned so much in the past week or so about my friend and how her mental illness impacts her and subsequently, the ripple effect that impacts me.  And she and I have actually grown together through it.  I like her a lot and I am glad that I understand her better and I am glad we talked it out.  And like I said before, I have a lot of compassion for and a new understanding of what it means to be Borderline.

Level 3

Level 3

So….Yesterday, I got promoted to Level 3.  This is the highest level at the partial hospitalization program.  I will be responsible for making 7 meals a week and as part of my transition to Level 3, I will be taking off one day a week.  (The day off was a bit of a push from my insurance…but is also good for me to trial a “home” day.) This week I will be taking off Sunday.  I go to UU anyway on Sunday mornings and programming doesn’t start until noon, so it will really only be the afternoon/early evening that will be different.  This seems like a good way to do it on my first day off.

As to the meals…I am very, very nervous about that.  I need to figure out what to have and what I can afford.  I won’t tell you which is more of a priority to me, money or preference.

Having Sunday off will be my first day of no treatment in 104 days.  As of Sunday, I will have been in full day, 7 day-a-week treatment for 104 days.  I think I can use a day off! Actually, I know I can use a day off, I have been ready for one for a while…Just kind of burned out from the whole 12 hours/day 7 days/week thing.

Other than that, it is kind of usual kind of day around here…Someone I like is discharging today.  It is sort of painful, this round after round of people going.  Basically, I am just starting to shut down about it.  I don’t even really cry anymore.  I just have to steel myself to the eventuality that everyone here that I like is going to go.  Or….I am going to go.  Sooner than later, I will be stepping down to IOP (intensive outpatient program).  It could be as soon as next week, but hopefully, it won’t be until a couple of weeks from Monday.  That transition will be hard on multiple counts.  Leaving my friends, leaving my treatment team (I will have a whole new treatment team, with the exception of my anxiety therapist at IOP), leaving Callie, and leaving the familiarity of PHP, where I have been for the past 9 weeks.  But…no need to worry about that now, right?

Body Image

Oh…and I totally forgot…So, today is a bad body image day for me.  It actually started last night…Or really, Tuesday.

Tuesday, I went on the Meal Challenge where a dietitian takes a handful of us on a restaurant outing for lunch.  It went as well as could be expected….I mean, I ate at a restaurant, I enjoyed some of the food, I felt anxious and guilty.  And I worried about the impact (i.e. gaining weight) from the trip.

Tuesday afternoon, we had Snack Challenge, for which I had to eat a doughnut.

Tuesday evening, I had a dinner date with one of my peers.

Last night, I ate left-overs from the evening dinner.

And then I had yoga.  And when I was sitting there in yoga, I looked down at my stomach and I could tell that it was bigger.  And I looked at my thighs and they were totally bigger. And I felt very self-conscious and embarrassed. Now, I know that technically, my body wasn’t bigger…I can intellectualize that.  But my distorted sense of self saw that I am fatter.

This morning, I was obsessing about what to wear and hating my body.  I had a full outfit on and was sure that everything didn’t fit right.  And I was in my closet going to pick out a different outfit, but couldn’t figure out what to wear because none of it would be better.  I would still be ugly and fat.  I am still ugly and fat.

I just am convinced that everything I eat will make me fat…Like, every single bite of food. My dietitian and I talk about this a lot.  That it is not actually true, that it is a manifestation of my ED.  And still, I can’t shake it…I know that eating will make me fat.

I really wish I could count calories.  And weigh myself.  I just need to know what is going on with my body.

Callie’s Oops and the Trauma Narrative

Callie’s Oops

Yesterday morning did not go as planned. Callie had a different obligation and did not make it in to Hilltop until after lunch.   My whole plan of reading her my narrative, talking about my fears about presenting it, etc. was totally blown to pieces.  And of course, there was no sitting in on my session with Kyla.  I struggled with this turn of events.  Of course, my core beliefs were triggered, that I am worthless and not important, that I am can’t trust anybody or count on anybody, that’s what I get for being vulnerable and reaching out to someone. And I kind of sorted through the core beliefs and eventually worked my way to my feelings.  I felt hurt that she had another obligation.  I felt disappointed that she wasn’t going to be there.  And I felt scared that my plan of working with her to manage my anxiety didn’t go the way I wanted.

And of course, I didn’t actually talk about any of this during my appointment with Kyla.  Nor did I talk about any of it with Callie.

Ultimately, just before group, I got a very mini-version of what I planned on with Callie and it was helpful.

The Trauma Narrative

So, presenting the trauma narrative was horrific.  I made it through and I did not die of shame, even though I was sure I would.  I did get supportive feedback which reduced my shame and I did leave feeling better than when I went in.

Now, I have a peer who says things she shouldn’t, so she sat with me this morning and listed all the people who had had a difficult time with my narrative (as in were struggling after the session.)  I didn’t really need to hear that.  But…whatever.  This peer actually says lots of things that are upsetting or triggering to me (and it actually takes a lot to trigger me, but she always seems to hit my sensitive spots) and seems to have no awareness.  So, that was kind of hard.

But anyway…the trauma narrative from when I was 4 is done.  I am sure I will get to process it lots more in therapy, but presenting it in the group is done.

And Callie?  Callie was there in the group, and I totally was comforted by her presence. And her being there and having read parts of the narrative right before group (I had her read the parts that would be hardest for me to not skip, so that she could call me out on it if I needed it) really did help me stay accountable.  And I also knew that she had read the parts and not hated me, so hopefully no one else would hate me either.

And this morning, I feel super depressed and sad and raw.  It’s just a typical day at PHP.

 

 

 

Homework and Callie

Homework

I am supposed to be working on homework right now.  I have an assignment to write about, “Identify the cycle of needing to be perfect that blocks me from receiving the care I need and deserve.”

Ugh.

I can kind of deal with the first part of the assignment…but the whole “need and deserve” thing….It just doesn’t work for me.  I want to reject care.  I don’t want people to care, I don’t want to be vulnerable and I don’t want to need people.  I want to keep everyone (except dh) an arm’s distance away, safely on the other side of my walls.  I don’t need care.

And deserve? Are you kidding me?  I don’t even think I deserve to spend money on food that I will eat because I think it is a waste of money (and food).  I don’t think I deserve nice clothes.  I don’t think I deserve peoples’ kindness and attention.  So…deserving care?  I don’t think so.

I know this is harsh, even I can see that…but it is sooo entrenched in me that I don’t know how to get around it.  I mean, I am supposed to challenge it and ultimately, retrain my brain.  But sometimes, I am so stuck in my core beliefs that I just don’t know how to break out of them.

Callie

So, I am going to ignore the homework and write about Callie instead.

Callie is one of the Direct Care staff here.  We have a rotation of 5ish regular direct care staff and they are all very good.  It seems as though Hilltop is quite particular about who they hire and the level of education the people have.  Some of the direct care staff people are even therapists.  I think all of them have Master’s degrees and if not, are working on their Master’s (though I haven’t actually asked everybody so I don’t know for sure.)  Anyway, there are a few that I am really attracted to, that seem like good fits for me, though honestly, they are all approachable.

Callie has turned out to be the person that I reach out to the most.  I really like her, she is very “real” and honest and caring.  I like the way she thinks, I like her insights and I actually feel like I have made a connection with her, which is huge for me.  I have let her into my little world.  Again, huge.  I really feel like I can talk with her and that she hears me.

I don’t know all the details, but aside from working here, Callie has been going to school and this fall, she is doing an internship, supervised by Kyla, in addition to her work hours.  And so, as I have connected with Callie, she mentioned something about sitting in on a session with me and Kyla.  And so, if everything works out today, she will.  I am good with this as it will help Callie know me better and further our relationship.

Also, I am supposed to read my trauma narrative to Callie this morning in prep for reading it this afternoon for Sexual Healing.  Since I am so ashamed of some of the stuff in my narrative and since it is soooo revealing, I am afraid that I will skip parts of it.  Well…I desperately want to skip parts of it, which would not be very productive.  So, if Callie knows what is in it, she can help me be accountable.  (She will be in the group taking notes, which is one of the parts of the Direct Care job.)

And thus, I have officially  integrated Callie into Hilltop Team Heidi.

Just saying Hilltop Team Heidi makes me miss my home Team Heidi.  But I think the Hilltop Team is as strong as as the home team, so I am very lucky.

 

 

I Ran Away

Sometimes, I think if I actually survive all the therapy and work at Hilltop, it will be a miracle.  Yesterday….Well, it was one of those days.

First of all, I felt like crap most of yesterday. It started after lunch on Sunday, I kind of had a stomach ache and was super tired.  When I woke up yesterday morning, my stomach ache was full-on nausea and I felt like shit.  I was achy and my head hurt…I must have picked up a virus somewhere (yet another reason to not go out in public…too many germs!).  When you are in ED treatment, not eating is not an option and I was not looking forward to the day.  They are big on giving you meds if you are nauseous but I don’t have a prescription for that med…So, I just muddled through and was miserable.

As a matter of fact, I felt so sick that after breakfast I told the direct care person, “I just have to say for the record, that I do not purge, so if I throw up, it really is  because I am sick.”  Of course, they all know I don’t purge, but I thought it was worth saying since people do swap around ED behaviors.  The DC told me just to let her know if I felt that bad.

I did slowly feel better all day, until right before bed…I think being tired made everything worse.  This morning….my stomach is a little bit wobbly but hopefully better.

Okay, but enough of that.

Therapy yesterday sucked.  Worse than usual.  I was stuck in defensiveness behind my walls, frustrated that I can’t immediately snap out of my defensive habits and angry at my therapist for that stupid trauma narrative.  The appointment was frustrating and pointless and was just like spinning my wheels on ice…I got nowhere. I had that old familiar suicidal mantra echoing through my mind. (Probably I should have mentioned that to my therapist?  But I didn’t want her to think I was being dramatic….Not that I engage in much drama here.) I left the appointment furious.  I went upstairs, put my laptop on the table and walked out the door and kept walking.  I ran away.  I just couldn’t take one more minute of PHP or Kyla or anything.

Of course, there is no place to run away to here.  And I purposefully did not grab my keys when I headed out the door (because I would truly have left the grounds), so I walked down to the parking lot, and sat on the ground between my car and the car next to it and I just sat there.  The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, the sky was blue.  I could hear the hawks and the rustling leaves and the squirrels in the woods.  I decompressed a little bit, I was no longer furious, but my self-harm urges spiked to that level where I would have willingly self-harmed to feel better.

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I rode out the SH urge.  And the leaves fluttered down around me and their crispness caught in the wind and they spun around as they fell.  I felt hungry (stupid body!) and still had high self-harm urges and I still hated PHP, Kyla and this state.  But I knew it was time to go back to the building and be safe and eat a snack and do the next right thing.

Of course, this is the real world, so I got back to the building, ignored that I had snack, started browsing airline tickets (I was still stuck in my ‘flight’ (running away) mode).  And then a peer came and sat with me. And another. And another.  And soon there were a handful of peers listening to me hate therapy and hate the program and missing home. And they were kind and reasonable (to counter my lack of reasoning) and they even encouraged me to get snack.

So….I vented, had snack and then told my favorite Direct Care person, Callie, that I really needed to talk to her.

Talking to Callie helped a lot.  And I need to write more about my relationship with Callie, as it has become important here.  But…I will have to do it later today or for tomorrow’s blog because I am just plain out of time right now.

So, I ran away yesterday, but not very far.  I fantasized about buying a plane ticket home, but did not.  I got support from my peers, even though I didn’t ask for it, and wouldn’t have asked.  I got really, really angry, which is something I don’t often do.  I felt like self-harming, but didn’t.  I felt sick all day, but still met my meal plan.  I connected with Callie and felt reassured.  And really, most of that happened in the space of a couple of hours.

Hopefully, today will be less intense.