She Slips But Does Not Fall.

I weighed myself. 

12-19

I weighed myself.  This pains me in ways that I didn’t expect.

Everyone always asks, “What is the function of engaging in such-and-such ED behavior?”  And for this, I don’t have a great answer.  I have wanted to know my weight forever…at least it feels like forever.  The compulsion to know has waxed and waned and I try to roll with it.  The day I weighed myself, I started in the morning asking my dietitian about my weight.  I wanted to know if I was “healthy.”  I didn’t quite phrase it like that to her, not that I was trying to be deceptive, but more because I felt kind of awkward for asking.  We discussed it briefly and then moved on to the next topic, but my dietitian told me that we would go back to the weight discussion at the end and that I should remind her to do so.  I did remember, but I felt really embarrassed about it, so I didn’t ask.

Later, I still had my weight on my mind, but not in an obsessive way.  I was reading my old blogs and looked at where I was a year ago.  I was blown away by the changes I have made in the past 12 months.  Seeing how far I have come and how different I am gave me the impression that I could know my weight and handle it.

I went to the closet and pulled out the scale.  Honestly, it felt surreal, like I wasn’t connected to what I was doing and I wasn’t quite in my body.  I tapped the scale with my foot to see if it would turn on.  If the batteries were dead, I would have just let the whole thing go.  But they weren’t.  I gingerly put one foot on the scale and watched the numbers change.  I shifted my weight more and watched the numbers.  Then I just put my second foot on the scale.  And that was it.  The numbers scrolled by and then stopped.  The number was not at all what I expected.  I felt like throwing up.  The disconnected feeling got worse and I felt hollow in my stomach.

And then it hit me.  Fuck! What did I just do? All the time and work that I have put into not knowing my weight…I just fucked it all up.  By standing on that scale and looking at my weight, I just did something that I could not undo.  My eating disorder perseverated briefly on the number.  But the overwhelming feeling I had was a profound disappointment in myself.  And fear…fear that I let down myself, dh and my team here, fear that I couldn’t fix it, the number was in my head.  I couldn’t un-see it

It was pretty much time to leave for programming and this was the only chance I would have to talk to my therapist about it until after Christmas.  As I drove to IOP, my thoughts went from, “The number can’t be right. The scale must be broken.  Yes…that’s it, the scale is broken,” to “I have to exercise, I need to exercise,” to “It’s just a number.  My worth is not defined by a number.”  The thoughts were scrambled and competing.  And I just kept telling myself that all the scale did was give me a number.  It’s not who I am, it’s just a number.  Even if I didn’t like the number, I have been happier in general the past few months and becoming more tolerant of my body.  My body hasn’t changed just because I weighed myself.  Number or no number, next time I look in a mirror, my body won’t have changed.

At the end of the day, I wasn’t thinking about the number.  I am thinking about how much I disappointed in myself.   I am disappointed that I caved and made a choice was not at all a recovery based choice.

At dinner that night, I felt like a fraud.  We were peer posting and I didn’t have high ED urges but I felt like not saying something about my huge slip up was not being honest with my peers.  We stepped to the art room and I told them what I had done.  They were amazing and supportive.  We went back to the table and I said that I needed more support so we actually went to the group room and talked some more.  I explained how I felt like I had disappointed people and myself.  My peers reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect, that some of them had weighed themselves too, that some of them secretly own scales, that weighing myself doesn’t have to derail my recovery, that I am okay.

And you know what, I felt better.  It is nice to feel understood.

I did not tell my dietitian, I am too embarrassed to tell her about it.

So…that’s the story.  But what does it mean?

That day, I ate my dinner, I ate an evening snack.  I went to bed and didn’t perseverate over my “failure.”

I got up the next morning and was looking in the mirror as I hooked my bra. I turned left and right, looking at my body.  It looked the same as the day before.  Probably it was the same.  I had an urge to weight myself to see what the number was in the morning before I had eaten.  I mean, why would it matter? I already blew it by weighing myself. But I knew that I can’t start the habit of daily weighing.  That is a slippery slope that I don’t want to slide down.

And yes, I can’t un-see the number on the scale, but I can “fix” it by doing exactly what I did the next morning, which was to acknowledge my urge, counter it, and then just let it go.  I know that this will not be the last big mistake I make with my eating disorder.  Rather than obsess about it, hate myself and descend into a shame spiral, I am going to see it for what it can be…which is a “learning point”.  Just because I make a mistake doesn’t mean everything is ruined.  And no matter how disappointed I feel in myself, I am not a bad person.

I did not fuck up by weighing myself.  I did not ruin everything.  And how I am dealing with my choice is evidence to me that I have strength of self that I didn’t have 4 month ago, because I am accepting my mistake, not letting it derail me and moving on and doing the next right things. I think I kind of like this person who does not let a mistake drag her down into hatred and self-loathing.

12-27  About the Second weighing

Why did I do it again?

So, a week after the first weighing, I did it again.

This time, when I did weekend check-in  at programming, I admitted to the group that I had weighed myself again and that I had weighed myself last week.  Again, I got questions about what function the second weighing served.  I don’t really know.  I feel like partly, I weighed myself because I could.  And I also know it was totally ED related.  But ultimately, I don’t even know if I cared about the number.

I don’t know if weighing myself was about control over what has been happening while I have been in treatment or about managing the feelings when dh left (I didn’t let myself cry after I left him at the airport) or about my obsession with knowing my weight. I am just kind of at a loss as to what function weighing myself a second time served.

I am not happy about my choice to weigh myself again.  This not a path I want to go down.

I plan on moving the scale to where I can’t access it easily and I plan on utilizing peer support, journaling and containment to get through the next urges to weigh myself.  When I get home, there won’t be a scale in our house.  Of all the ED things I am giving up, the scale is actually the hardest thing.  I need to put more thought into why.

12-28

Moving the scale to where I can’t see it is not a viable option because I would still know where it is.  I can’t get rid of the scale, because it is not my scale, it belongs to the woman I live with.  It is not her primary scale as she has one in her bathroom.  I can respect her space and not weigh myself on hers. So, what to do with the scale outside my bathroom?

I took the batteries out and threw them away.

In order to use that scale again, I would have to make a very deliberate effort to get new batteries and put them in the scale.  That extra step is enough to slow down the impulsiveness of the urge and give me a chance to catch my breath and deal with why I am having the urge vs. just giving in to the urge. I think it is a good solution.

And yes, the two weighings have spiked my urge to weigh myself.  I am getting lots of opportunity to explore what is behind the urges.

Today, I see my dietitian.  I still have not told her face-to-face about the weighings, but I sent her the first two parts above. Plus, I am sure my therapist told her. I will not get judged by my dietitian. However, I am still really embarrassed and will be judging myself. It will be an awkward appointment for me.

Recovery is a messy process.

Powerful Recovery Article

“And remembering recovery is indeed defined by progress, not perfection; every valiant act of courage taken in hope of overcoming an eating disorder should never be underestimated.”

 

Finding the Strengh to Carry On

Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, ICCL

The prospect of recovery being ongoing can be a daunting prospect. Yet, the concept of being completely “recovered” from an eating disorder is something of an ongoing debate. At what point can a person who has struggled with an eating disorder consider themselves fully recovered, and how is this defined or measured?

While the answers to these questions may not clearly be spelled out in easy to define ways, there are many measures that are telling of progress in recovery. Recovery by any means should be considered nothing less than a fight for life and freedom from the overwhelming burden that is an eating disorder. However, the striking reality is that this picture may be painted differently for each individual walking this road.

For the middle-aged woman who is battling a decades-long fight against bulimia or the college-aged male who is struggling with anorexia, progress in recovery may look completely different – though differences do not negate what is momentum against these psychiatric illnesses. For one person, recovery may mean choosing life each and every day; for another, recovery may mean the bravery to work with a therapist to face a painful past.

“Every single courageous step taken in the name of eating disorder recovery is powerful; momentous enough to shatter the stronghold of an eating disorder.”

When you are facing an unknown future with the presence of an eating disorder, it is easy to limit your perspective with the reality you are currently faced with. The mind convoluted with an eating disorder views things in terms of the disease: “How can I avoid eating this meal?”, “Where can I get rid of this food?”, “Why would anyone love me as I am?”

Recovery, in contrast, looks ahead in face of these fears and questions and asks instead, “What must I do now to stay alive, to truly thrive in life?” When asked in these terms, the prospect of recovery becomes much more attainable – meeting you where you are today and empowering you with the hope you need to keep moving one foot in front of the other.

The truth is this: your life is meaningful and valuable. You are worthy of love and care, and having an eating disorder does not lessen that. Because eating disorders are chronic diseases by nature with strong biological underpinnings, this may very well be an ongoing part of your life. Rather than wallow in the overwhelm of what lies ahead, mindfully meet yourself in the present to act on what it is you need today to keep yourself moving forward.

No act in recovery is too small or insignificant to continue challenging the eating disorder that calls you away from the life you want to live.

“Even in the moments where it feels like all hope is lost or that you cannot possibly pull yourself together once again, there is opportunity for healing and restoration.”

Wherever you might find yourself today, it is important to understand that recovery can meet you exactly where you are at: in the midst of brokenness, confusion, shame, guilt, frustration and the overwhelming messiness of life with an eating disorder. You cannot wait for yourself to reach a certain standard that will never be met. Recovery can start with the simplest of steps: confiding in a friend, eating that next meal, staying off the scale, asking for accountability, connecting to help. Sometimes recovery means pulling up the blinders and resisting the tendency to compare to what everyone else is doing; simply focusing on the here and now and asking yourself, “What is the next step I need to take to keep moving forward?”

And remembering recovery is indeed defined by progress, not perfection; every valiant act of courage taken in hope of overcoming an eating disorder should never be underestimated.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brené Brown

RecoveryWarriors

Butterflies in Late December

Yesterday, we visited a butterfly conservatory.  It was amazing.  We walked into the room and immediately, butterflies glided past us.  It was truly magical.  The room was hot and humid…a delicious treat from the winter temperatures.

As we wound through the paths, the butterflies would lift from the foliage, drift about and then flutter back down.  They circled in the air like birds.  It was peaceful and delightful.

At first I though that we would be there briefly, as the room was not too big.  But we sat on benches and watched the butterflies and we tried to photograph them…no easy task with the shutter delay on cellphone cameras!  We also talked a lot with one of the employees about the butterflies, which are imported from South America and Asia.  Actually, their chrysalides are imported and we saw many in their “incubator” that were ready to hatch.  We stayed for quite a while.

It was so. much. fun!!!

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Lights

The big highlight of dh’s visit (so far!) was going to a glow event in the city.  It was delightful to stroll through the grounds, holding hands with my best friend and enjoying the lights.  And it was nice to have a break from all-treatment-all-the-time life that I have been living for the past 5.5 months.

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My Process, Her Process

Fascinating.

You know what? I am getting better. I am sort of stumbling along, feeling the ups and downs and looking forward, but I have forgotten to look back to see how much I have changed.

This morning I ran to get some groceries with a peer.  It was an eye-opening experience. This peer has had more treatment than me and has really struggled.  I know she still struggles based on her words and attitudes and emotions.  I didn’t anticipate issues shopping with her, or I wouldn’t have asked her to go with me.

She checked calories on every single item she bought, while saying the she knew she shouldn’t be doing it. She did not buy certain foods based on their calorie content while saying that she knew she shouldn’t be doing it..  She talked about having high binge urges and then bought a fistful of candy at the check-out.

Wow.  She is still totally enmeshed in her eating disorder.

I don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou, because I certainly peek at calories and question food choices based on calories.  But…I work very hard to not scrutinize the calories of everything I buy.  I may question food choices based on calories, but I don’t refuse to buy foods because of calorie content.  And the one time I did intentionally buy a low-cal food, my nutritionist told me to throw the food out and buy what I would have normally bought, and you know what? I did it immediately after my appointment.  Yes, it was painful.  But I did it.

So, how far have I come?  I eat food.  I eat more than 350 calories a day.  I exercise minimally.  I rarely self-harm.  I resist restriction urges or restrict very mildly.  I calorie count sometimes, but not often.  I worry about my weight, but I don’t weigh myself every day, or every week…or even at all. I don’t body check every single day.  I eat more than a rotating cycle of the same 5 foods.

Even though it is far from perfect, all those changes are huge progress. I think I have some hope for me.  I am not judging myself against my peer, but seeing where she is in her process just made me realize how far I have come in my process.

Just for the heck of it, I looked back to see what I was writing during this time last year…..It’s kind of painful to look at:

Hyper-focusing Again (Still?)

So…this is not being a good week at all for my Nutritionist goals.  My therapy-induced upheaval has just super charged my eating hyper-focus and I am unable to snap out of it and I have been unable to diversify what I eat or increase the quantity…If anything, I am eating less.  And I have lost more weight than I am supposed to (again).  I am supposed to be losing about a pound a week and anything in the 1-2 pound range is acceptable.  This week, I have lost 5.4lbs.

But hyper-focusing is the only way I have any control in my life right now…So, I continue to hyper-focus.  And if I am being totally honest…I think I am getting worse.  Now, when I sit down to eat, I feel sick.  Like the idea of eating makes me sick to my stomach.  I don’t know if this is just extreme general stress (I do have other stressors right now besides the therapy upheaval) or if it is food stress.  But it worries me.

Oh well…I suppose it doesn’t really matter anyway.  Like I have said before, I am nowhere near starving to death, so it’s not like I am hurting myself.

All I have to say is ouch.  I was totally hurting myself and though I didn’t know at the time, you can malnourish yourself to death (i.e.starve) while still having fat on your body.

Holy shit….I was sooo oblivious.  I wonder what I would have thought if someone sat down with me and told me what was going to unfold over the next 12 months.  I am sure I would have just dismissed it as them over-reacting and not believed it.  But now, I have lived it.  I want to say it’s been a shitty 12 months, but that isn’t fair.  Because despite hitting some real lows, I have been crawling my way up out of that hole and working to get myself better.  Yes, there have been some shitty parts.  But I have also found strength and courage I never thought I had.  In that respect, it has also been an amazing 12 months.

 

Some Days…

Some days… I just wish I had a rewind button.  So that I can undo and re-do that stuff that went wrong or that I handled poorly.

Some days…I wish that I didn’t have anxiety and that I didn’t have times when the anxiety was driving the bus instead of me.

Some days…I feel resentful of my PTSD, that it keeps me always in a state of hyper-vigilance and jumpiness.

Some days…I feel the weary-to-the-bone exhaustion and just wish I could have some energy.

Some days…I wish I had slept better last night.

Some days…I wish I could be present all the time and not dissociate.

Some days…I wish I could eat or drink without feeling like I am betraying myself.

Some days…I wish I could take the support that is offered to me.

Some days…I wish I could be flexible all the time and roll with the punches.

 

Some days…I am grateful for being imperfect.

Some days…I am given cookies that a friend made just for me.

Some days…I can eat at cookie or even two.

Some days…I can cry and say what hurts.

Some days…I am able to understand the compassion that people express to me.

Some days…I feel warmth in my heart when I hear the puppy trotting through the house looking for me and then see her delight when she finds me.

Some days…I feel the love behind a hug.

Some days…I can accept the ups and downs.

Some days…I give myself some grace.

Every day..I am me trying to do the next right thing.

 

 

 

Annoyances

I don’t feel like I have much to say.  I mean, I can bitch about stuff, and maybe that would be good to get it off my chest….For instance:

There is a general ignorance/intolerance of the fact that there are other religions’ important holidays occurring right now.  One of my (non-Jewish) peers said, “It’s not even like Hanukkah is an important Jewish holiday.  I don’t know why people turn stuff like this into a big deal.”  Ummmm…..So many things wrong with that statement!!! And at the very least, if it is important to an individual then it is important.

This conversation came about because a Christmas Holiday tree was erected at programming.  It took several days of retraining the staff to get them to stop calling it a Christmas tree.  And when one of my peers asked if the program was going to put up a Menorah, he was told he could bring one in if he wanted one.  Ummm….????…..<sigh>

There are 11 of us in programming right now and I know that three of us are not Christian/Christmas people.  There could be others too…I just don’t know everyone’s beliefs….although after a group text I was part of yesterday, I am thinking most everyone else celebrates Christmas, and non-secularly.  Based on their comments in the texts they totally didn’t seem to get it.

And this bothers me because I am a not-Christmas kind of person.  My holiday is on the 21st.  I don’t even dare bring up my holiday, because it the intolerance is so high for Hanukkah, then I’m not opening my mouth about Solstice.

Okay…that wasn’t even too bitchy!

I tried being social with my friend that I wrote that letter to a while back (on my blog only, it was for me, not for her).  She has changed (hundreds of hour of therapy and group therapy will do that to you!).  And she has not changed.  So…she is still super, super negative.  Hey, at least I tried and now I know that it is better for me to maintain my boundaries.

As a matter of fact, she is causing tension in the community because she is complaining and complaining about not losing weight (she is heavier).  I am not sure the complaining is appropriate.  And then at dinner she slammed her dietician for “lying” to her about her weight.  The girl sitting next to me has the same dietician and you could just watch as her confidence in their dietician dropped.  The negative person was going to keep ranting , but at the same time, another peer and I jumped in and shut the conversation down.  A. It wasn’t appropriate and B. You don’t do stuff to derail other people’s work.   Later, the negative peer was snotty about it saying that the girl should just be in her own process and not have been bothered by the accusation that her dietician was a liar.  <sigh>  The negative person just. doesn’t. get. it.

Have I mentioned that the communal aspect of the group is starting to wear me down?

Skipping topics…I’ve got some new stress starting.  We may just plain run out of money to keep me here before I am officially ready to be discharged.  Not sure how this is all going to play out.

OCD Exposures

Not sure what to write about today…So, here’s this:

As a method of reducing my OCD behaviors, my anxiety therapist has started me on germs and contamination exposures. I made a hierarchy of what things bother me from least to most.

Germs and Contamination

  1. Using a communal blanket
  2. Wearing clothing after someone else has worn it (i.e. like if I lent a sweatshirt to someone)
  3. Dirty tables in restaurants
  4. Touching things that I consider yucky (a used sponge, mine and other people’s dirty laundry, things that have landed on the bathroom floor, raw meat, etc.)
  5. Reaching into a trashcan for something
  6. Not washing my hands after using the toilet
  7. Not washing my hands (if I feel like they are dirty) before I eat
  8. Using food that has a broken seal (like fresh from the store, but the seal is torn or cracked or coming off, like on a yogurt)
  9. Touching the inside of the garbage can lid or having to push the flap in on a garbage can to throw things away
  10. Eating something that has fallen in the sink
  11. Drinking out of someone else’s glass
  12. Bumping my hands in public bathroom sinks or knobs or paper towel dispensers after I have washed my hands (I will have to re-wash my hands)
  13. Touching my face if I feel like my hands are contaminated (especially with sick people germs)
  14. Getting in close physical proximity to sick people
  15. Eating near sick people
  16. Breathing when sick people have coughed/sneezed/sniffled close to me
  17. Turning faucets on/off with bare hands esp. in public places
  18. Touching doorknobs (especially public bathroom or doctor’s office)

The most distressing things revolve around public sinks, doorknobs, sick people and trash cans.  These are the things that I use behaviors to avoid every single day, and multiple times a day.

So, now I am practicing “easier” exposures.  So I was sent home with my first exposure tasks and a form to rate my distress.

bans

She told me to use the SUD scale to rate my distress.

Subjective Units of Distress Scale

0   No distress at all. Feeling okay and calm.
1   Feeling little if any stress. Not quite fully calm.
2   Faint tension or mild stress.
3   Feeling slightly unpleasant or uncomfortable.
4   Growing distress or discomfort. Mildly agitated.
5   Verging on becoming very uncomfortable and distressed.
6   Very uncomfortable affecting my attention.
7   Emotionally painful becoming severe.
8   The emotional pain is taking over my attention.
9   The emotional discomfort is almost unbearable.
10 The emotional pain is overwhelming me–the worst possible

And so…It has been a long few days.

A Wordy Post!

By whatever method I am being measured, I suppose yesterday counted as an awesome day.  Just as long as no-one looks too closely.

Yes…I made it to yoga.  I literally almost didn’t.  I didn’t do my timing right and still was eating breakfast and in my pajamas when I needed to leave for yoga.  Luckily, at least I was showered!  I was sooo angry at myself for not even giving myself the choice to go (because it was too late) that I cried.  Lots of judgmental thoughts went through my mind.  And then, I looked at the clock and thought, “I still have time. I might be a few minutes late, but I can try to make it.”  So, I got the dogs settled, ran downstairs and changed my clothes, grabbed what I needed and ran to the car.  I made it to my 8:00 yoga class at 7:59. So yes, I got to do yoga, which I really enjoyed. I am going to look at the yoga schedule today and commit to getting to yoga more than once this week.

Next was grocery shopping.  Other than feeling guilty for spending so much money (I have discussed my beliefs about not being worth buying food for.) it was an uneventful trip.

In the early afternoon, was the lunch with my peers and the peer who is leaving for a higher level of care.  I didn’t want to go.  I went more for social graces interests than because I wanted to be there.  Something about the whole luncheon really bothered me.  As I was driving there, I realized that celebrating the departure of my friend (who had to leave the program because she was starving herself) just seemed wrong.  It felt like we were celebrating the fact that her ED had won this round.  The same issues came up around Sarah’s wake in June….I didn’t blog about it, but spent a long time talking to the AT about it.  So, I got to the lunch and luckily, I was seated far away from that peer.  I decided to pretend that I was just having lunch with the peers sitting by me (there were 11 of us, so it wasn’t awkward to just focus on the folks near me) and ignore the “celebration” aspect of it.

Do you know that I hate getting together like this with my peers?  Seriously, I am so fucking tired of talking about eating disorders, our mental illnesses and watching people sneak in behaviors at meals.  Or…of knowing that the person is eating the meal, but is going to go right home and purge.  There’s a new person in IOP and she has been and is still actively purging and binging and purging.  She’s been doing it for weeks.  As a matter of fact, she and the girl who we had the lunch for, were living together and I am guessing some of what was going on with her was that they were in a situation in which they ended up competing with each other.  Who could be sickest?

But I got off topic.  I am so sick of my peers.  I don’t know why I am encouraged to spend time with them outside of treatment.  They are solely focused on ED talk…not even recovery talk, but ED talk.  I am sooo much more than my eating disorder…I just don’t want to talk about it every time I am with them.  I want to have real conversations about real things and that doesn’t happen.  This is a huge part of the reason that I connected with my Janis, my pastoral care person, because she and I can talk about other stuff, which is a refreshing break.  It’s also why I like hanging out with Linda.  We have normal conversation.

I was so frustrated about my peers yesterday that I was ready to just wash my hands of IOP.  Like, just screw it.  What is the point anyway?

And if that wasn’t enough stress yesterday, I got a text from a peer/fried (who has been out of the program since September) asking if I wanted to go to her house and see a movie.  I jumped at the chance. She and I have done stuff together before and it is really close to “normal” i.e. not focused on our EDs.  When we were firming up plans, she seemed a little bit irritated in her texts.  I let it slide and went to her house.  When I got there, she seemed really put out and was cold and distant.  I thought she was mad at me, and was relieved that we were going to watch a movie so we didn’t have to interact much.  Then I noticed her gait was different, she had sort of a limp.  That’s when I realized that I was not watching the movie with my friend, but rather with one of her alters.  It explained her behavior…but still was pretty awkward as she seemed irritated the whole time I was there.

Aside from yoga, the only other positive about the day was that my friend who came over Friday night came over again last night.  We sat by the fire and chatted, yes about ED stuff, but in a recovery way, we drank coffee, we had a snack, it was relaxed and pleasant.  A good way to end a tumultuous day.

Today, other than church, I have nothing planned.  It does mean that my depression may be more active…only time will tell.  I have 3 agendas to work on, which will take up most of my afternoon.  And I am going to video chat with dh.  After yesterday, I am looking forward to a quiet day at home!!

Oh…and the whole realization that the luncheon yesterday felt like an ED celebration made me really miss the AT.  He is the one with whom I processed Sarah’s wake.  And thinking about that just made me pine for his compassion and caring.  I trust him, I feel safe with him and I miss him.  I am tired of being emotionally disrupted here with the revolving door of therapists.  All I wanted and needed was some continuity of support which is not really an option here.  At least I will be able to get that at home.