Struggling with Behaviors

I still feel plagued by the depression.  It is all I can do to get out of bed, shower, dress and function.  Today, I stayed in bed a long time, hoping to not have to see the woman I live with.  It’s not that I don’t like her or anything, I just didn’t want to interact.  That probably smacks of isolating.  Unfortunately, I didn’t time it right and I got upstairs just as she was leaving, thus I was forced to interact.  I made social pleasantries while deciding what to eat. And then she went off to work and I was relieved by the quiet.

I struggled with breakfast.  I made myself oatmeal and counted the calories (this behavior just keeps hanging on).  2 packets oatmeal + approx 2/3 cup of soy milk = about 372 calories.  And I panicked a little bit.  372 calories in one meal was more than I was eating in one day back in February.  Okay…so I soothed myself by saying that I don’t want to be that sick again and I can eat it.  But it was one of those meals where I just was choking it down and my stomach was rebelling.  It is so hard to eat when you feel like you want to throw up.  And I know the nausea is psychosomatic, so I tried really hard to force myself, but I couldn’t eat all the oatmeal.  I am pretty sure I ate my required minimum amount, so there is that at least.  Oh, except that (according to the PHP meal routine) I am supposed to have fruit and nuts with my oatmeal and I didn’t.  I’ve been skipping components regularly at breakfasts.  I did drink my Gatorade though. (Another 140 calories, not that anyone is counting.)  Actually, if I am totally  honest, I am skipping components here and there across all meals.  It’s such a slippery slope.  I don’t want to be sick and I don’t want to lose control.  At the moment, I am finding a “middle ground” but it is not a functional or healthy middle ground.  I need to stop the restricting.  And I need to accept that I won’t always have control and that I can find other ways to manage my feelings that aren’t hurting my body.

And then I feel so depressed.  Like, “Why bother to go to yoga this morning?” And now I am back on my bed, still in my pajamas, feeling like bursting into tears and just wanting to go back to sleep and ignore the day. FML, FML, FML.

And speaking of FML…I have been really worried about a friend who is struggling and totally skipping meals….Does that make me look like a hypocrite for restricting?  <sigh>  Now the self-judgment is creeping in.  But my answer would be no, I am not a hypocrite.  She is struggling. I am struggling.  But I haven’t given up, I do, for the most part, accept help.  And I am still eating. I think what is most significant is that I haven’t given up.  Is this fucking hard? Yup.  But I can put on my big girl pants and push myself harder to not engage in calorie counting and restricting.  Ugh…except my immediate thought, like even as I type this? “If only I knew how much I weigh, then I would know if I am doing it right.”

Sometimes, I feel like I am banging my head on a wall.

Shame and More Shame

So…First things first  The new therapist gets a name:  Grace. (note to self…update blog shorthand.)

I really chafed yesterday when Grace was telling me that I have issues in the group and with group dynamics.  I know she bases this on what I have said, so there must be truth to it…But I like to think that I know how to negotiate social stuff, so I am feeling a bit touchy about it.  I am feeling touchier about the fact that she wants me to check in with the group and talk about my struggles. And despite my trying to convince her that this is not necessary, she thinks that I should.

I struggle though, because I don’t think my issues in the group are that big.  One of Grace’s concerns is that I am not connecting with people in the group, as evidenced by my isolating a lot and turning down peer requests to get together.  What do I have to say to that?  I do have connections with a couple of people in the group.  Okay, literally with two of the dozen or so of us in the group.  They were folks who I felt really connected with in PHP and basically, it was a long week while I was in IOP and they were still in PHP.  But they came right after me and things are better.

The rest of the group?  One person is very quiet (like scary quiet) and rebuffs my every attempt to talk with her.  I even sit right next to her in groups and she hasn’t thawed at all.  Another peer, I cannot connect with anymore because our relationship was toxic in PHP.  Another peer has talked about connecting with me, but never follows through. Yet another peer appears really nice and seems really supportive, but she also sometimes comes across as forced with her insight and at times is passive aggressive.  Of the folks left, I don’t really know one and she is discharging soon anyway, one is a man that reminds me so much of my dad that it has been a huge barrier for me, and the other…She seems nice and genuine, but she intimidates me a bit and so I haven’t really approached her.

Plus there is the whole shame thing I feel after last week.  I am sooo embarrassed to be vulnerable in the group that it is not funny.  (This is probably why Grace wants me to talk about it.  Secret shame feeds shame. Outing shame decreases it.) What I really want to do is apologize for last week.  And say how stupid I was for being so reactive and so defensive. Yes, I can say that I was/am ashamed. But then all my peers will give me positive and supportive feedback and encouragement, and what will that do?  It’s not going to make me feel better. And actually, I will also get frank and blunt feedback, which also is not going to make me feel better.  It will just compound my shame.

Basically, I feel like I can’t win, so why bother?

And then there is the text I got last night.  I had been getting together frequently with a former treatment peer.  And the past two weeks, I haven’t been in a place to get together and haven’t been responding much to her texts.  Clearly, I hurt her feelings because she sent me this text, “I feel like you are ignoring me.  If you don’t want to talk to me, just tell me and I’ll leave you alone.”  So, now I have managed to alienate someone that I really like and enjoy spending time with.  I don’t even know how to respond to her…What can I say that will make it better? Like, I want to tell her that I have been so depressed that I spent most of the weekend in bed.  Or that adjusting to IOP has been really hard and I haven’t had much energy for anything else.  Or that I am just crashing emotionally and don’t have much mental space for getting together.  But all that is just excuses and there is no point in telling her.  And I am ashamed for being a bad friend and hurting her feelings and I don’t know how to fix it.

Ugh…Everything makes me feel ashamed/embarrassed/socially inept right now. I don’t know what is wrong with me.

The next question is; What do I do about all of this?  For the moment, I am just avoiding all of the group stuff.  Will I check in during group?  I am leaning towards no.  However, I respect the opinion of my therapist a lot so I am not sure.  And what will she think of me if I ignore her advice?  Will I try to connect more with people in the group?  That sort of feels like a recipe for more embarrassment, so again I am leaning towards no.  And my friend that I have now alienated…Do I try to fix that?

And do I acknowledge that all these interpersonal dynamics I am struggling with are important?  Because what I want to say (and have tried to convince Grace) is that I don’t need connection.  Her response has been, “Heidi, I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t need connection.”  My counter is, “Well, you hadn’t met me yet.”

Have I mentioned that I am really struggling lately?  Yup.  Life sucks right now.

Interpersonal Issues

Yesterday, a treatment friend and I got together to run a couple of errands.  As she was driving, she commented that she and some of my peers were concerned about me.  She explained that basically, she had been nominated as the one to talk to me about how I had not been myself and have been overly sensitive and defensive lately.  And that my level of defensiveness was akin to when they had been with me in residential treatment in July and August.

Ouch.

Of course, I have known that I am falling apart and been a miserable mess.  This isn’t news to me.  I just didn’t realize that it was showing up as me being super defensive.  Of course, her talking to me about it made me….Defensive.  But I tried really hard to listen to her because I know she was coming from a place of concern.  Basically, the whole rest of our errands, I tried not to burst into tears and I felt profoundly depressed and damaged. I also felt embarrassed and now I know everyone is watching me and every move I make is being filed away.

This morning, I had therapy which was hard.  I get tired of everything being hard all the time and I get tired of crying.  I do like my new therapist and I think I am adjusting to her. I think it might be easier to trust her than I expected.  I have mixed feelings about this as it doesn’t feel safe.  But she seems safe, so maybe I should just roll with it.

I also saw my dietitian and much to my relief, the appointment went really, really well.  I am so glad because I don’t know if I could handle much more upheaval.  Not only did it go well, but we discussed an issue I had regarding calorie counting over the weekend and she was very kind and compassionate and offered me an opportunity to do the next right thing…which I did.  We even ended the appointment with a hug! (She asked and I accepted.)

The rest of programming, I was hyper-aware of myself in the groups.  I was careful with what I said.  Oh…and I ended up having to present in a group, which I totally didn’t expect. (Someone else was supposed to present, but wasn’t prepared.)  I picked a nice safe piece to read, an optimistic piece, so that the feedback wouldn’t be stressful and so that I wouldn’t be put in a place where I would be defensive.  Was that the best choice?  I don’t think I’ll answer that.  Of course, I didn’t really have much else to share, so it kind of was what it was, iykwim.

My therapist seems to think that I have a problem interacting with/in the group.  She probably is basing this on things that I said and my behavior over the weekend…I have to think about it some because she wants me to check-in during a group about it, which I am loathe to do.  More on the group interaction issue tomorrow.  Tonight, I need to work on some homework before bed.

 

What I need to tell my new therapist:

I am really struggling right now and everything I am feeling is overwhelming me.  It’s like I can’t get any break from my emotional intensity and I am just cracking under the strain.  I don’t know how to manage all of it without feeling like I am losing my shit completely.  The strain is so much that my brain isn’t working right and I drop things, and I stare at my phone and can’t remember how to use aps, and I can’t do much outside of programming other than just isolate in my room.

I am not self-harming to manage my feelings, though I would really like to because in the short run it makes me feel lots better.  But I am not doing it and that makes things really hard.  I am also not using my emotional pain as an excuse to engage more in ED behaviors.  I am struggling with the same behaviors I was struggling with before this emotional overwhelm started.

I am using peers for support, although the level of support I need right now is not appropriate to foist off on my peers.  I also sometimes think that using other emotionally damaged people for support is sort of limited in its effectiveness.  How much support can I get from people who are as fucked-up as I am?

I have noticed, what is perhaps a trend, in which I tend to have a PTSD exacerbation on Friday evenings.  It has happened two Fridays in a row now.  I have flashbacks and intrusive thoughts and hypervigilance.  I can’t fall asleep and then I sleep fitfully and wake up repeatedly.  Then the intrusive thoughts and images continue all weekend and I am exhausted and feel like shit from being poorly rested.

I need a go-to person when you aren’t there.  Or I need to figure out a way to see you on Fridays.  Of course, this isn’t an option because you don’t work on Fridays and I don’t think you do outpatient work like some of the other therapists do.

I have thought about doing a weekly outpatient session with Kyla to get me an extra bit of support, since she does them.  But when I asked her about it 3 or 4 weeks ago, she wasn’t taking more clients.  But more importantly, I think that seeing her would be a hindrance to our relationship.  I know that I would save things to talk to her about that I should be addressing with you.  I also should probably stick with you because your style is very similar to the AT’s style.  Kyla’s style is so markedly different from you two that it is like comparing apples and pinecones.  It is taking me time to step away from Kyla’s style and adjust to yours.  It will be a smooth transition from you to the AT, which will be important when I go home.

What I need is help.  I don’t even know if I will need it for a long time, maybe it is part of the transition, or maybe I should just stick it out as-is and things will get better.  But I feel like I am getting worse instead of better.  I am not even holding my own.  Several days ago, I felt like I was floundering.  Now, I feel like I am drowning.

Something is not working and I feel like I really need support.

Maxed My Emotional Tolerance

Let’s just say that this week has not gone well.  Yesterday was another day where I just…well….You know, I don’t even know what my problem is.  But yesterday, I walked out of a group because I just couldn’t bear to have one more “teachable moment.”  I know that my interaction and coping skills are not perfect.  I’m trying to correct that, but at the moment, I just fumble and screw up and kind of try to figure out what works.  And some days go far worse than others.  But because we are in group therapy all the time, we have to talk about and process this stuff all the time.

Yesterday, I was pushed to say why I had been reactive to something a facilitator said rather than tell the facilitator that what I felt about what she said.  (Something akin to yesterday’s rant about the word “ridiculous” only this time, the person referred to something I was struggling with as me playing a “game”. Which hurt, because I was actually struggling….and it’s long and complicated and I don’t feel like hashing the whole situation out right now.)  So, I looked at the facilitator, and I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I tell her how I felt?  Because I can’t always do that, because that particular person intimidates me and I didn’t want to confront her, because I struggle with stating my feelings, because I am afraid of saying the wrong things (although that ship has long since sailed), because I was already overwhelmed and shutting down and unable to process.”  And all of those reasons let me to the conclusion that I hadn’t told her how I felt because I am a failure for not being able to do all the right things.  So, when asked why I had been reactive vs. telling her how I felt, I just crashed internally and said, “Because I suck.” and I got up and walked out of the group.

After crying for a little bit, I did go back and sat in the back of the room. And as I felt better, I moved back up to the group.

And now I feel utterly humiliated and like I made of fool out of myself.  I didn’t mean to crack under the pressure.  I didn’t mean to be rude and walk out.  But, OMG, I was sooo far past my max emotional tolerance….Seriously, I had nothing left. And it wasn’t just about yesterday.  I have been pretty much at my max for days.  Everything this week has basically been overly challenging and then I have had to process it and it has bee really, really hard.  So, the last group on a Friday afternoon?  I should have just kept my mouth shut and sat there.

I don’t think I can really relay the shame I feel.  Honestly, I am a breath away from packing all of my stuff up and driving home.  And I don’t mean that figuratively or as a drama statement…I just don’t know how else to cope.  I feel like I am not getting the support I need (as evidenced by multiple crash-and-burns this week as well as a serious mood plunge) and I don’t know how to get more support.  I mean, I can ask for more support, but I doubt that is going to make a difference.  But something isn’t working and I feel like it is making me emotionally worse.  I am not even holding my own…I am moving backwards.

So, why am I doing all this suffering here?  If I am not getting better, then I may as well just go home.  There’s no point to me staying here.  At least if I am home, I can be miserable with my own family and dogs and everything that is familiar.  I think it is worse being miserable here, I have nothing to comfort me.

Shit….this has been a bad week.

Go Ahead, Invalidate Me. and Ridiculous

Go ahead, invalidate me.  I’m used to it.

So, I am still a wreck.  I don’t feel so deeply depressed as earlier this week, nor is my PTSD anywhere near as activated….But I am still barely hanging on by a thread and really unable to manage much.  At least this morning, I remembered deodorant, which is an improvement over the past week.

Yesterday, at programming, I got upset because I felt misunderstood about something (about what is engaging or not engaging in recovery oriented behavior).  I get frustrated sometimes because everything is judged as, “This must be your ED talking and trying to be manipulative.  This is not you being genuine.”  You know what?  Not everything in my world is run by my ED. <gasp> I know…How can that be?  I mean, my whole life and being is an ED, right?  Yup, I am a completely one-dimensional walking eating disorder (can you hear the dripping sarcasm?).  So, I felt unheard and judged and so I cried.  Only, I wasn’t able to bounce back from the crying, so I sat there and cried for the whole hour of that group.

You know what?  I work really hard to make recovery focused choices.  And I don’t feel anywhere near as wedded to the ED as I used to be.  I know it is tenuous, but at the moment, I feel like I am mostly in charge.  And I don’t feel like my ED is sitting on my shoulder whispering to me.  I’m not saying it is gone, but it is more like it is in a chair near me, watching my every move and making snide comments and offering “solutions” to my problems…but it is not perched under my ear and constantly funneling “advice”straight into my ear.

I don’t feel like anyone understands or recognizes that.  And even if they did, they would say, “Well, that’s probably your ED talking and trying to trick you into thinking you are in charge.”  But what if it isn’t?  I mean the goal of all this treatment is to get me making more decisions from my Self.  From my actual core being.  What if it is starting to work? Look, I’m not saying I’m perfect, and I’m not saying that I don’t want to restrict or that I wasn’t skipping snacks and under-portioning meals just a handful of days ago…But I am saying that I think I am getting better and I really could use some support in that.

And you know what? I’m going to screw up.  I am going to backslide and have really bad meals and probably really bad days and handfuls of bad days.  That is why I am still in closely monitored treatment.  But I feel like my progress is barely recognized and questioned.  And that no one understands that I am not in some glorified, “I’ve got this” sort of state.  I feel more realistic than that.  But look….I am making progress.  I can make decisions based on me.  Why can’t anyone see and support me in that?

It’s funny though…Some of my peers do see it.  Maybe it’s because they have known me longer and seen my progress.  I don’t know.

All I know is that I feel like the staff totally doesn’t understand me and that when I need recognition and support for making progress and trying to do the right things, I am torn down and questioned and invalidated.  It hurts.

The one person who is beginning to understand me, my new therapist, she is never there.  I see her twice a week for an hour. She only works three days a week.  I feel like I can’t get the support I need from her.  And I don’t have any back-up support people like I did at PHP.  I just feel alone and lost.   Hell…I just feel abandoned.  I want connection and support, and I can’t find connection and support.

And my dietitian? Forget it.  I have written but not yet posted a blog entry about her use of the word,”ridiculous” to describe some of my ED stuff.  I was offended and hurt and felt totally judged.  And I haven’t posted it because I have been trying to figure out if I am just being oversensitive.  You know what? I don’t need to filter myself.  It’s my blog, I can say what I want.  Here is that post, I wrote it Tuesday:

Ridiculous

ri·dic·u·lous

rəˈdikyələs/

adjective: ridiculous

deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.

I have to be very careful right now because I am really trying to figure something out.  And I am feeling very…ummm….judged.  I think sometimes that words choices make a huge statement about what someone is saying.  In treatment here, the nuances of wording is often point out, because what you say and the words you can used to say it can be very telling…indicative as to what you are really feeling or what you may be minimizing or how you really see something.

Yesterday, the word ridiculous was used twice to describe aspects of my eating disorder.  The first time, I just sort of caught the word.  The second time, I was staring at some purple candy in my hand, my orthorexia was crooning to me, my brain was saying, “This won’t actually kill me,” and I was resisting the urge to eat the tiny Nerds one by one.  Eating them that way would have felt safer to me.  FYI, eating Nerds one-by-one counts as an food “ritual” if you have an eating disorder.  And as I was working on this exposure and fiddling with my Nerds in my hand, I confessed my urge to eat them one-by-one.  And somewhere along there, the term “ridiculous” was used to in a sentence to describe my behavior.

Ridiculous.  It didn’t feel very compassionate.  By no means do I want coddling or babying, but respect and compassion? Yes, I at the very least, expect respect.  Sitting there struggling with Nerds….Did I need judgment (because I felt really judged) or compassion?  I do have an eating disorder.  I do engage in irrational thought processes about food, calories, exercise, food dyes (i.e. purple Nerds) etc.  I understand that everything I say and do does not always make sense.  I am also working my damnedest to overcome these compulsions.  And it is fucking hard work.  But when it comes down to brass tacks, I have a mental illness.  It is not a cop-out to say that.  Which you know if you know me. But it is the truth, I have a diagnosed eating disorder, i.e. a mental illness.

So…Ridiculous.  Is my behavior ridiculous?  Is it deserving mockery? I don’t think so.  Is it absurd?  This one is trickier.  My thoughts and behaviors are disordered and at times irrational.  But absurd? Isn’t that kind of loaded with judgment?

Okay…So, I am processing this all out because the person who used the word ridiculous, is my new dietitian.  And I am trying to figure out if her using that word is truly disrespectful or if I am just being too sensitive.  Or maybe there’s a little bit of both.  I don’t know.  It felt disrespectful.  Maybe that’s all I need.  My gut says that telling someone that their behavior/thoughts are ridiculous, especially as that person is actively, like in the moment, trying to practice a new behavior, is just not respectful.

Or I am being too sensitive?

Oh yeah, and speaking of my eating disorder, I am sooo really struggling right now.  I am just an emotional wreck and that has spiked some ED behaviors and I am not happy about it.


Okay…so that’s the post.  I know the “right” thing to do is to talk to my dietitian.  But I feel like she is kind of judgey and won’t understand me.  I don’t know…several things about my appointment on Monday were misses on her part.  I don’t really feel like trying to connect with her.  As a matter of fact, I just plain want a new dietitian.

I just wish something at IOP was easy because I am getting sick of floundering.

Thankful

I am not so much a “What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving” kind of person…But….What am I thankful for?

Okay…first of all, I am thankful for myself and the fact that I am even alive right now.  I did not kill myself this year.  I survived the worst points of my eating disorder.  My Hilltop dietitian pointed out to me recently that before I went into treatment in March (at the other facility) I was not eating enough to sustain life.  She pointed out our bodies are resilient and do anything to stay alive, but that the cost is high.  I am thankful that despite hitting some ultra-lows with my depression that I did not kill myself.  Yes, I am just plain thankful that I am alive to write this blog post.

I am thankful to dh for his unwavering support, for keeping our household running, for missing me every day but never asking me to come home, for telling me that as long as it takes and whatever I need, we will make it work so that I can get better.  And I am thankful for his unconditional love.

I am thankful for ds who has been willing to pick up slack at home and step into a role of much responsibility.  I am also thankful for his love and support and flexibility with me being gone.  And I am thankful he is doing it all while juggling a job and a full semester.  He is an amazing kid…errr…man.

I am thankful for my friends,

  • Donna who has kept me in her thoughts and prayers and has kept me in a steady stream of postcards and notes and love.
  • SS for taking good care of my special little friends and for supporting and encouraging me.
  • A., who was invaluable at keeping me in one piece all spring and summer.
  • L., who has been a loving and supportive friend.

I am thankful for my treatment friends who are constantly supporting me, loving me and deeply understanding my pain and how hard it is to heal.  And who remind me that I am worth recovery.

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And I am thankful for Team Heidi. Really, I cannot thank them enough for their support which has gone above and beyond anything I ever expected.  Team Heidi held me up when I had nothing left to keep myself up. Team Heidi kept me safe with persistence and commitment.  And Team Heidi gave me the support to pack myself up and travel across the country for treatment.

I am thankful for Hilltop Team Heidi.  The support of this team has helped me learn things about myself that I never knew and showed me I have strength I didn’t know I have.  Trauma work is a bitch, and I have had multiple teams here that I have trusted enough to do the work and keep focused on my recovery.  And even though I am one of many people they treat each year, I feel like they actually care about me.

I am thankful for the first treatment center I went to this year, for re-feeding me and getting me medically stable.

I am thankful for the woman who took me into her home and lets me stay here for very little “rent” thus helping me be able to stay for treatment as long as I need to.  I also appreciate her kindness and companionship.

I am thankful for the UU I found and the support of my Pastoral Care person (whose house I am going to for dinner today.)  It is so nice to be taken in by strangers and treated like I am an old friend.

I am thankful for the little things.

  • This puppy, that makes me absolutely crazy and that give me much joy.
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  • The little magical bits of nature I find:
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Oh! And I am really thankful for finding my way into a yoga studio where I feel safe and cared about and supported with trauma sensitive instructors and financial accommodations.

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Truly, my list could go on and on.  I have much to be thankful for this year.

Now…If I can get myself out of my anxiety and mood funk, which is still following me like sticky dark shadow, I might be able to make it through today without falling apart.  However, I am still really struggling and I am not looking forward to going to programming today (Yes, we have programming on Thanksgiving day) and I am anxious about the dinner I am going to later because I really won’t know anyone there.  But I will try, just for today, to cut myself some slack.  And if that’s too much, then I will just try 5 minutes of grace at a time.  And if that doesn’t work….well…I can only do the best that I can do.