Insomnia Means Means More Time to Blog, Right?

Howling coyotes (if you can call the sound they make howling) woke us up at 3.  They must have been very, very nearby as they were so loud.  As suddenly as the howling started, it stopped.  But I was awake.  I thought for a few minutes about the wild rabbit we have seen the past couple of mornings, or as we like to call him, the Yard Rabbit.  But 3 is early for crepuscular animals such as yard rabbits, so I am hoping he is safe.

I tried to fall back asleep, but the room was too quiet and too dark. And dh was snoring.  And I just didn’t feel sleepy anymore. Then I started thinking about chores and laundry….I know I will  be miserable later because I started my day at 3 (well…technically 4:06 cuz that’s when I got out of bed.)  We are due for some nasty weather later today, so being home and napping in the afternoon is a definite possibility.

The question I am being asked is, “How are you doing?”

I am overwhelmed.  And I am surviving.  I have had a lot of anxiety over doing this all perfectly…Yes, I know.  The last thing I need is perfectionism right now, so I am really trying to cut myself a LOT of slack.  Basically, re-integrating the first couple of days, I just felt kind of stunned and numb.  Yesterday was much better. <phew>

I am eating.  That’s the first and most important thing, right?  And despite a lot of anxiety about it, I am pretty sure I am eating my meal plan correctly.  I won’t know that for myself, I need to wait to be weighed and then someone will tell me how I am doing, but they only will if there is an issue.  So…I will keep doing what I think is right and see where it leads me.

I saw the AT yesterday.  I was soooo glad to see him.  Despite me feeling pretty anxious and worrying about reconnecting with him, it went well.  We actually had a bridging phone call last week when I was still in the program. My program therapist, the AT and I talked for an hour.  I think it was key to re-building my trust with him.  And I wrote a self-assigned piece about what he needs to know about me now.  So, yesterday I felt a little awkward at the start, but slid easily into safe comfort with him.

I have reconnected/connected with half my team now.  (I mean of the clinical team…Dh is always part of the team, even if I don’t mention him outright every time.)  I met the new dietitian Saturday.  She seems okay…I have a couple hesitations but I am going with it for the moment.  I saw the new Couples’ Counselor (CC) with dh yesterday.  He seems really nice and I think seeing him is going to be really helpful.  As I just mentioned, I saw the AT.  I also had a phone “interview” with an OCD therapist.  At the end of the interview, he accepted me as a client and I will be starting with him next week.  So, that’s contact with 2/3 of my clinical team in my first 3 days home.

Today, I see my primary physician.  Tomorrow, I see my Psych NP and the AT (again).  Then the rest of the week, I get to relax and recover and catch my breath.

Between all of Team Heidi, I will have 7 appointments a week to start.  The AT commented yesterday that it is like I will be having a job and that it is exactly what I need to be doing right now.  I felt relieved when he said that because I worry that all of my appointments are selfish, or like I am taking too much from all of my clinicians.  Or that I should be getting a real job and diving right back into the world of employment (which would be a bad idea at the moment.)  I like it when my therapists say things that actually make me feel better.

Tomorrow, I will write about my/our (dh is on board and helping with this) project of changing the physical environment of our home to help me not fall back into old habits and patterns of behavior.

And I will write about my plates.

 

205 Days

205 days ago, at the crack of dawn, I left dh and ds for what I thought was going to be 6 weeks of treatment for atypical anorexia. 205 days later, I am being discharged from the program, a healthier, happier and completely changed person. Although difficult in many ways, this extended treatment was the best thing that I could have ever done for myself. I want to thank all my supporters, near and far for helping me on my journey. I also want to thank my therapists, dietitians and other staff at Hilltop for their expert care and guidance that has helped give my my life back. Today will be a day of mixed emotions as I leave the program that saved my life and also look forward to flying home tomorrow to start a new chapter of my life.

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Sweetarts

The woods near the gravel parking lot at programming are now littered with Sweetarts.

Recovery is such a messy process.

I was supposed to do a challenge snack with my dietitian today.  And I bought Sweetarts earlier this week because I was feeling empowered to do the challenge.  Candy!  Can you imagine? She wants me to eat candy!  But…I was ready.

Only, we didn’t quite communicate on the where and how part of the challenge. I pretended to be all flexible about it but I felt missed, like she had forgotten that we were supposed to do the challenge.  And then my dietitian had her own thought that it would be easy to just do the challenge during group.

I have enough shame about eating candy that doing it front of the group wasn’t even on my radar. And so I refused.  Which was okay, we just rescheduled until tomorrow.

Except that I was thrown.  My plan had gotten messy, my core beliefs got triggered and I had a total melt-down. Only…it was for the most part an internal melt-down, which meant I just shutdown completely.  And I sat through the group, staring at my lap and hoping and praying group would end soon and I could run away.  I sat there hating myself and becoming more and more angry at me, my inability to eat candy, my failings as a person, my eating disorder.  And one of my peers was talking about wanting just.be.normal.  I just raged internally against myself. I want to be normal too!

After group, I quietly packed up my bag. I thanked and politely declined the support I was offered by my peers and I walked to my car, lips trembling, trying not to sob.

I didn’t even know what was wrong with me.  At that point, I didn’t know what had triggered me.  I just knew I was hurting inside more than anything and that I hated my fucking Sweetarts and I hated recovery and I hated food and I hated my dietitian and I hated me.

I stood outside my car, unwrapped a handful of Sweetarts and hurled them into the woods.  I unwrapped another handful and raged them into the woods too.  All the Sweetarts went flying.

I didn’t pause.  I know that I smelled them because they smelled sweet and pleasant and I know I looked at them because the blue one was pretty and I thought about the dye in it. But I didn’t stop to actually be in that moment.  I just flung those fucking Sweetarts as far from me as possible.

I drove home wanting to self-harm, wishing I was dead and hurting, hurting, hurting.  So, I decided to that I wasn’t going to eat dinner.  And I wasn’t going to eat breakfast or lunch either.  And that I didn’t give a shit about recovery.

Honestly, I haven’t been in this emotional place for probably two months+.  It sucked and it scared me.

I got home and I crawled into bed.  And I rested about 5 minutes before deciding that I’d better do the next right thing and get up and make dinner.  I grabbed some paper and a pen and decided to sort of flow-chart out what the heck had just happened.  That’s how I found out that feeling missed by my dietitian triggered core beliefs that triggered maladaptive responses that triggered shame that triggered more shame and urges as ways to stop the shame/pain.  The mystery was solved.  The feelings abated.

I cooked myself quesadillas with pepper jack cheese, seasoned turkey and pineapple salsa.

I ate it.

This is so fucking hard.  Recovery is so fucking hard.

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Thoughts on Compassion

I got invited to be in a closed eating disorder Facebook group facilitated by the therapist of one of my Hilltop Recovery  Friends.  It has prompted some thinking on my part.

The topic was compassion.

I wrote:  It is hard for me to wrap my head around the concept of self-compassion. My initial response is to scoff at the idea and say that I don’t need anyone’s compassion, much less my own…But the longer I have been in treatment, the more I have realized the importance of acknowledging past wrongs and how they impacted me. Am I more self-compassionate? I am not sure, but I realized about a week ago that I no longer hate myself. This is a huge shift for me and is perhaps the greatest step I will take towards finding and accepting my own compassion towards myself.

She replied:   This is HUGE! The ED has three roots, self-hate, shame & fear. Deprivation is one of the main causes of this. Every human has Core Needs & when ALL of these CN are not consistently met, a person experiences deprivation. A child, adolescent, teen or adult in deprivation of universal Core Needs lives in fear, feels toxic shame and comes to the conclusion that if they were better, smarter, stronger, more this, more that (this is self hate) then none of this deprivation of universal core needs would be happening to them. I am so glad you’re on this healing recovery journey and that you’re here with us!

I wrote: It has been a long time coming. And every word that you just wrote about shame, fear, need for perfectionism, core needs not being met, etc. has been the foundation of who I am as a person. It is almost weird to change….Like who am I now? How do I be with myself now? And how do I not slide down those familiar pathways during times of stress? I just keep reminding myself, over and over again….”Do the next right thing.” All I have to do is one day at or time, or if that’s too much, one meal at a time and just focus on doing the next right thing. (Which is often much easier said than done.)

Grounding

Pretty much all of the work I do here is really stressful and I often feel very overwhelmed by emotions and get totally flooded.  Frequently, I end up dissociating, which does no good for working through issues in therapy.  Because of this, it is important for to me to have grounding techniques and tools. Basically, grounding brings me back into the present and changes my focus so that I can stop feeling flooded.  The goal is to calm myself enough to continue the work.  Examples of grounding techniques I use are 5,4,3,2,1 , ice pack/cool cloth, breathing, sensory input, hand fidget toys, reading book titles, counting things, etc.  Some of these I can do on my own, some end up being facilitated by my therapist if I am dissociated.

I do well with sensory input, like my stuffed rabbit, or the ice/cool washcloth, or things with texture or that fit in my hand.  I will automatically start rubbing the hem of my shirt, or fiddle with my socks.  I have some toys, putty, a baby teether with spinning beads, etc that give me something to do with my hands and give me sensory feedback.

 

 

However, I recently found the most amazing grounding tool for me!  I snagged it a local Goodwill.  It is a Crayola product, they call it Mess-Free Touch Lights.  It is basically finger painting, but without the mess.  Technically, the toy is supposed to have a stylus, but being at Goodwill, mine doesn’t.  But that’s okay. I much prefer the tactile input of just using my fingers to draw on it.  And the  best part is it is a light board, so the drawing is backlit and just looks really cool.  I use the board before bed if I am anxious and/or having a PTSD hard time.  I also use it at programming.  Actually, I was lucky enough to find a second one at Goodwill, so now I don’t have to tote my board back and forth.

Here’s what it looks like:

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And here’s what it looks like with some doodles and then with a hand print and some of the color options.

Anyway, I just adore this toy and it totally works for me.  Oh…and if I leave it by my chair at programming, sometimes I am lucky enough to come back to it and find messages from my peers; smiley faces, “I love you” and one time one of my group leaders was talking to me and reminding me to cut myself some slack and she wrote “Kind” on my board.

I have to say, if you like hands-on grounding things, I highly recommend this.

 

Victory 3 (This is a big one!)

My therapist said something to me Wednesday about how my feelings spiral and I get to a place of self-hate.  I listened, agreeing in my head and then I was kind of looking for that self-hate part.

Gone.

I don’t think I hate myself anymore.  I am shocked.  I know I do fall into patterns of self-hate, but self-hate is not my baseline. This is sooo different. Like, I almost feel lost without it, and there is a sort of hollow space there.

Then she asked if I was neutral about myself of if perhaps I had some compassion for myself. I kind of laughed at the idea of me holding compassion for myself.  But….maybe some day?  At this point, I’m at neutral.

So, of the core beliefs I have challenged and changed, what do I believe now?

  1. The sexual abuse when I was 4 was not my fault.
  2. The sexual abuse when I was 14 may not have been my fault.
  3. I can tolerate my body (for the most part).
  4. I can tolerate myself (neutral feelings).
  5. My eating disorder is a serious problem.
  6. I do have an eating disorder.
  7. I did have trauma.
  8. I was treated unfairly as a child.
  9. I have needs.
  10. I didn’t deserve any of my traumas.
  11. I can heal.
  12. I am lovable to some people.
  13. I can trust some people.

Okay…that’s kind of a mind-blowing list.  And while I have these new beliefs, they are very fragile and get shaken very easily and there are still lots of contradicting feelings about them.  And they are in no way cemented in my brain and I will and I do lapse on them.  But to even accept these things as true (even if tomorrow I will try to deny some of them) is more than I ever had hoped for.

I am telling you, Hilltop has changed me in ways that are going to change my whole being. I am going to walk out of Hilltop a totally different person than when I went in.  It is kind of terrifying, I don’t know how to be a different me, but I am really trying to learn.

 

 

What She Said To Me…

Yesterday, my therapist made a very direct statement to me that I have the fight and persistence I need to maintain recovery.  She said I might lapse and lapse again, but that I have the stubbornness to keep on going.  It was very powerful and I asked her to write it down. She said she would and she gave it to me today.

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“Heidi,

You are a fighter and you are both persistent and stubborn.  This is something I have seen from the get-go and if you use that to your advantage there is no doubt in my mind that you can have recovery and maintain it even when there are lapses.  Hold onto that persistence and fight that you have and use it to your advantage.  That isn’t something that someone can give you or take away, it is something that you have.”

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Priorities

Yesterday got better.  This morning worse.  But I did eat.  Eating is the important thing to do when striving for the “next right thing.”

I didn’t sleep well.  I couldn’t fall asleep.  I was up frequently. I had a rape nightmare.  I woke up all discombobulated.

I am exhausted.  I am irritable…no…not irritable, just at my stress tolerance and everything over my stress tolerance pushes my coping skills which makes me edgy.

 

 

Love

Post #3

Yesterday, dh and I were texting and he sent me some texts that I need to remember, so I am going to put them here so I can look back at them:

Me: I just have “gotta get it all done” panic.

DH: You don’t. You have made so much progress.

You’ll do a little more work with them, and then come home, wherever you are in your process. And you’ll be OK.

And we’ll take care of you and you’ll continue to work on on things.

And there will be good days and harder days.

For better and for worse…

In sickness and in health…

I love you. And your deserve to be loved and to be cared for.

Me: U r making me cry

DH: I don’t want you to heap unrealistic expectations on yourself.

You don’t have to be perfect, to be “all better,” for me (or any of us) to love you.

I know I’m not perfect, either.

wanna video chat?

I love this man soooo much.

She Slips But Does Not Fall.

I weighed myself. 

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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.