The Apartment, Therapy, The New Therapist, and Speaking of Hard

The Apartment

I am so tired.  Last night was the first night in the apartment housing.  The place is filthy.  And I don’t mean like from my germ phobia kind of point of view.  The place is gross. The fridge wasn’t cleaned, the bathroom is yucky, there is a used q-tip on the floor in my room.  Anything metal is rusted.  It’s just nasty.  Plus it smells strongly of stale cigarette smoke.  It has poor lighting too.  Oh…and the dryer sucks.  I washed and tried to dry my sheets last night (to use my laundry detergent rather than have an allergic reaction to theirs) and after a long, long, long time of trying to dry my sheets, I finally gave up and just made my bed and slept on damp sheets.  The internet doesn’t work either.  Really, it is that bad.  So, what to do?  I haven’t gotten that far yet.  I am so tired and stressed, I am just going to give it the weekend. Plus Mel and I have plans to clean this weekend.  That should help a ton!

Then, last night was also really hard.  I didn’t sleep well, mostly because I woke up in the middle of the night in PTSD hypervigilance mode.  I was terrified and couldn’t calm myself.  I actually had to get up and check the outside door to see if it was locked. And the window and then I locked my bedroom door too.  I haven’t felt that unsettled and needed to lock doors in a long time.  I even considered tucking a chair under the exterior door. Again, I haven’t felt that unsafe in a long time.

Therapy

So the new therapist…She actually seemed pretty on the ball yesterday…I mean for the parts where I could pay attention to her between my severe anxiety, tears and dissociation.  I will probably have to make eye contact with her and actually try to engage with her next time I see her.  I really am struggling with the change of therapist.  All it makes me want to do is go home.  If I have to change therapists, then I just want to go home to see the AT.  He is safe and I know him and he knows me.  And then, if I went home, I would be home! In my safe world, with all the people and dogs and things that I love.  I just miss being home sooo much.  I don’t know why this time in treatment my homesickness has been so strong….

I don’t know….I also blame myself for being here.  If I coped with my issues better, if I had fought my ED harder, if I was somehow a stronger or better person, I wouldn’t need to be away from home.  <sigh>  I wish I could get over this self-blame.  But I can’t convince myself that I am not letting down dh and ds by being gone for so long and not working and not contributing to the family.

The New Therapist

I have been observing the new therapist, Kyla, today.  And I realized something…I actually realized it a little bit yesterday, but as I have watched her walking around and interacting with people, I realized that she looks very similar to a professor I had at my Associate’s Degree school.  And I have a very negative association with that school, that program and that particular professor.  That was the school where the Trigger incident occurred and I got no support over it.  And that particular professor, whom Kyla resembles, was one of the key players in not hearing me and not supporting me (or outsourcing me for the support I needed) and just generally being part of my downward spiral while I was there.  I actually had a lot of issues with this professor before the Trigger and was always on edge around her, but she also happened to be chair of the department, so I had to deal with her about the Trigger.

Now, of course, I know that Kyla is not this professor.  But my immediate response is sort of a visceral gun-shy kind of response.  Which means I should bring it up in therapy. Which means we will have to talk about it…..Ugh.  I hate all of this!

Let me rewind to, “I just want to go home and see the AT.”  I am tired of everything being so fucking hard.

And Speaking of Hard

Cuz I need more stress <eye roll>…..My new dietitian tried to fuss with my meal plan.  Not changing my food quantity, but changing the way I am portioning.  And I listened to her and I tried for one meal….And I freaked.  Seriously, I could barely cope.  It brought back all that shame that I had blogged about a handful of weeks ago about portion sizes and feeling fat and people comparing and my shitty body image.  And I could barely eat because I was so anxious.  Really, I just felt so stressed that I had nausea and could barely get food down.  It is so un-fun having to eat when I feel that way.  I mean, I don’t think any of us would want to eat when feeling nausea, but it’s not like I have a choice, so it makes it worse.

So, in a moment of courage I approached the dietician asked if we could step into her office and I promptly cried.  And she asked what was being brought up for me (one of their absolute favorite questions here) and I barely hesitated before saying that it brought up shame and made me feel obvious and the fact that my body size is so different than everyone else’s (in other words, I am FAT).  And we discussed that maybe right now is not the right time to change the way I am doing my meal plan.  And that maybe I have work to do/processing to do about why I feel so ashamed.  And that we will made the meal plan change but not today or this weekend, and that maybe we will start slow and work up.

And….guess what? I felt heard and validated.  And she even said something about taking me where I am at.  I left her office so relieved.

She did want me to journal/blog about my feelings of shame with changing the meal plan, and I will. But not today.  At this point, I need to give myself a little break.

I Want To Feel Safe

The thing about having a trauma history is that I get to have trauma dreams (some are just disturbing/upsetting dreams and some are outright nightmares) all the time.  There is never any rhyme or reason as to what dreams will be most upsetting.  Sometimes, the sexual danger is just implied and the dream has me wake-up in heart-pounding terror.  Sometimes, the sexual danger/violence is more overt and I wake up feeling disgusting and dirty, but not in terror.  And sometimes it flip-flops.  I don’t know how my brain decides what kind of dream it will be…but it doesn’t really matter.  Terrified or disgusting, it is not the way I want to feel when I wake up.

Yes…Last night, I  had one of those dreams.  I woke up feeling disgusting and used and super depressed.  I hate being tormented in my sleep.  And I don’t want to take that stupid nightmare medicine.  I hate medications.

Lately, I have having dreams where I am kidnapped and/or held against my will and raped.  And in my dreams, the raping is not always penile penetration…Nope, my nightmares are taking me into darker territory.  And I hate it.  I told the AT that I was having kidnapping/rape dreams and he got his super compassionate look and said something to the effect of, “I am sorry you are experiencing that.”  And I was annoyed.  I don’t want him to be sorry.  I don’t want him to care.  My response was a shrug of, “It doesn’t matter.”  (Of course, if it really didn’t matter, I wouldn’t have brought it up.)

I never have dreams that are literal re-enactments of my trauma. I don’t know if such dreams would be better or worse.

So, this morning when I woke up, I just wanted to be dead.  I didn’t want the feelings I was having after the dreams.  And I wanted to self-harm.  But I have the triple safety contracts…Which makes me feel trapped and without options.  I distracted myself by spending probably 15 minutes body checking over and over….Feeling for the bones on my hips and my ribs and my collar bones, taking comfort in the fact that they are more prominent.  And then when I finally dragged myself out of bed, I restricted what I ate.  (Which, as everyone keeps pointing out, is self-harm, but I don’t think it counts.)

It was an ugly start to my day and though my day has improved some, and at the encouragement of my PNP, I did eat more (but still restricted) I am still tearful and stressed and feel pretty disgusting, which would be almost tolerable, except that we have to go over to my mother-in-law’s for a barbecue this afternoon.

I am so sensitive about who I eat with and what I eat and my eating schedule…This meal at my MIL’s will be super painful.  I am taking my own food so I know it is gluten free/vegetarian and that it meets my meal exchanges for lunch.  And if she is put out by that, she can piss off.   But of course, I won’t tell her to piss off.  I will smile and be the perfect daughter-in-law and endure until it is time to go home.  Let me tell you, after 20+ years, I have the perfect-daughter-in-law act down to an art.  It sucks every bit of energy out of me, but it is how I keep myself safe and deflect the selfish narcissism of my MIL.

Ummmm….I have no idea where I am going with any of this.  I guess I just needed to do a brain-dump.  Anyway, I am tired and emotionally raw and now I have to go be social and perfect for a few hours.  I just don’t feel up to the task.

 

 

 

 

This And That And The Other Thing

This

So, every morning and every evening I have Check-Ins with my PNP via texts.  It helps to keep me on track (and even though I fall off track regularly, the accountability does help) and it is part of my safety contract with her, so I do it.

Here in an example of what I would write for today:

Met breakfast exchanges. No food journal. Yes meds.  Lots of body checking already.  

No Self Harm urges or Suicidal Ideation yet. 

Won’t be alone today.  

Am safe.

Have plans to head down to [specialty shop] today for ds’s birthday.  Will have lunch there.

Will check in this evening as per routine.

And good morning! 🙂

This accountability thing has now turned into triple safety contracts.  Yesterday, my doctor gave me a contract too.  <sigh>  That’s what I get for admitting contracts help keep me safe(r).  I also find myself under huge pressure from the contracts…I feel like the only thing I have left in the world is my integrity and every time I fuck up a contract, I put a stain on my integrity.  It kind of leads to a cycle of shame and self-blame….But I have that shame/blame about pretty much everything…So, whatever.  Plus, as I said, the contracts to help keep me on track.  So, shame/blame or not, they are worth having.

That

Yesterday, the AT pointed out that I am attached to him.  This observation was really threatening for me because I thought it was going to cause him to suggest and/or implement some distancing.  He tried to reassure me that my attachment is about trust and it is okay…But I really felt like there is something wrong…That having an attachment is a bad thing.  It kind of unglued me.

Later on, I got to thinking about it more.  Here’s what is starting to come together in my brain.

  • Being attached to people is risky because it means I care about them and the relationship and usually that puts me in danger of being hurt.
  • Pointing out attachment  makes me panicky because I fear being abandoned.  Ignoring the attachment is safer.
  • Attachment makes me feel super vulnerable.
  • Attachment has not always gone well for me in the past.
  • People I have been attached to have hurt me.
  • Attachment means I am emotionally clingy.
  • Attachment is a weakness on my part.
  • When I feel attached, I let my guard down and am at risk.

I dunno.  There is a lot there about not wanting to be hurt and not allowing myself to be vulnerable to avoid hurt.  And not wanting to need other people…

I also realize that my issues with attachment are part of the colliding of times, the then/now paradox.  Then, attachments led to violations.  Now, attachments are building healthy relationships/relationship skills.

The Other Thing

Wednesday, I found out that the new facility has accepted me for admission at the residential level.  This is good and I am relieved that I can get more support and will be closely supervised (as in 24/7 to) to keep me safe.  Especially because as I work on hard stuff at the facility, my ability to be safe will be really challenged.

I don’t have an admission date yet.  I need to do the pre-admission medical stuff, for which I have an appointment scheduled late Tuesday afternoon.  I get the impression that once all the medical and insurance ducks are all in a row, the admission date will come quickly and with relatively short notice.  My goal for this weekend is to get all my stuff organized and set out so I am ready to throw in my t in a suitcase.

Oh…And this new place is far enough away that I will have to fly.  And since we are so strapped financially right now (since I haven’t been working for months and months) I am going to have to fly out alone.  😦   I haven’t been on a plane in over 25 years.  I am not afraid of flying, but I am anxious about the travel stuff and new airports and figuring out stuff.  I am capable of doing it, but I just wish I was more familiar with the process.

 

Yesterday Sucked

When I woke up this morning, I had to check to see if I was in one piece.  Yesterday was a brutal day emotionally and I wasn’t sure if I had actually survived.  Honestly, the best part of yesterday was going to bed so that the intense emotions would turn off.  And yup, I still feel a bit sensitive/fragile, but I am indeed in one piece today.

Basically, I had one of those days where I just ended up crying. A lot.  It started with texting my PNP in the morning and she said something that I got both angry and hurt about.  I put my phone down and just cried.

A while after that, I had an intake assessment phone call with the residential facility that I am hoping to go to.  Now, these phone interviews are long, at least an hour long, and pretty intense.  They go over every detail of your eating disorder and of your co-occurring mental illness(es).  It is like being stripped naked emotionally and made to stand in front of a crowd…Just exposing every detail of what I struggle with the most and to a total stranger. Awful.  Plus it totally highlights exactly how fucked-up I am.

But that wasn’t the worst part.  The worst part was the trauma history part.  The facility wanted to know details…Physical abuse? Emotional abuse? Sexual abuse?  And details…If you were physically abused, how often? By whom? With what?  Emotional abuse: In what way? By who? For how long?  Sexual abuse had the same questions and, Did you tell anyone about it/report it?

After the phone call was over, I hung up and burst into tears.  The phone call was sooo triggering!  Of course, the timing of the call was such that I had to immediately make and eat lunch (ha!) and then run out to triple-decker appointments.  So, I forced food into my body and launched into the afternoon, even though I was emotionally raw, PTSD triggered and feeling fucked-up beyond repair.  Basically, I was holding out for my AT appointment. I just needed to keep myself together until Art Therapy and then it would be okay to fall apart.

I actually did keep myself corralled until therapy.  And that occurred even though I had an embarrassing/shame part of my doctor’s appointment.  The shame didn’t help my emotional misery, but I didn’t cry…So I consider that a win.

I did cry during therapy.  Honestly, I didn’t really do much during therapy, I was too triggered to do anything.  After a little bit, I asked if I could draw and I sat at the art table and drew purple spirals over and over on a piece of paper.  It made me feel better and I was able to self-regulate enough to talk to the AT a little bit. But then the appointment ended.  I really didn’t want to have to leave.  I feel safe with the AT…I didn’t want to have to leave that feeling .

I don’t actually remember much about the rest of the afternoon or about dinner.  But after dinner, I snuggled with dh on the couch and felt warm and safe.  And finally, I decided to just go to bed and make the day end.  Sometimes, the easiest thing is to just throw in the towel and start over again the next day.

And today will be better. I have a fun play date with SS, Pixie and Blossom that I have been looking forward to for a looong time.

I also will hear back from the treatment place today to and will find out what level of care they accept me at.  And then the ball will really be rolling and I will soon be off for round two of treatment.

 

 

Next Steps

It looks like I am going to be getting the help that I need. My team has been collaborating as to what will be best for me. At this point consensus (and this includes my opinion too!) is that I am in need of residential treatment again, this time to address the trauma and the eating disorder.  While frustrating for me because I want to do everything by myself, or at least with the help of Team Heidi, the relief I feel is significant.  My thoughts and actions have been disturbing to me…Well…at times just plain scary to me.  And I cannot pull myself together.  Getting intensive treatment will help keep me safe and give me a solid foundation to continue recovery work (both trauma and eating disorder) at home.

I do get really mad at myself though.  I tried to ask the AT about this yesterday…Like how come I am such a wreck?  My sexual abuse should not be such a big deal.  It should not have shaped me into this devolving mess.  I should not be struggling with it some 40 years later.  What is wrong with me?

I guess I want to minimize what happened.  If I can convince myself it wasn’t a big deal, then I don’t have to address it. And maybe all my symptoms will go away.  But denial and minimizing across the decades is exactly what got me here.  If I don’t address it, will I even make it until another birthday?  How long can I deal with all of this before I hit the end of my rope?

Luckily, I wont have to find out since I am going to be getting more intensive help.

So, the where and when of the treatment is still up in the air.  I am researching a handful of places and my PNP will be calling them soon.  I am sure the goal is to get me in ASAP, so I don’t lose my shit in the mean time.

I don’t want to be too hopeful about all of this, because hope just leads to disappointment. But relief…Yup.  I will admit to that.

So Fucking Tired

I am just emotionally spent.  The news that one of my friends from treatment killed herself is disheartening in a way for which I have no words to express.   And when you are in residential treatment with someone, you get to know them on a more intimate level…You see them at four in the morning, half asleep, teeth not brushed, hair gone wild as you wait for morning vitals.  You see them putting on their make-up in the morning, making their way through their days with laughing, crying and determined perseverance, fighting for recovery at meals and watching as they face their inner demons one forkful at a time…And then ending the day, exhausted, spent, waiting with them in pajamas in the med line before you both stagger to bed and crashing for the night, only to repeat the whole process the next day.  There are not many people you get to know on that level and with that kind of personal intensity.

It is painful to me that her mental illness took her life.  I wish she had felt like she had other choices, other options, other anything than to kill herself.  But I understand the feeling of wanting to do anything to make the internal pain and turmoil stop.

This is a real blow to the recovery community of which I am a member.  We are all so close to the edge and emotionally unstable already…A suicide just adds to the overwhelm.

I was lucky enough to get an extra appointment in with the AT yesterday morning.  I sent him a one line email first thing, “Woke up to find out that one of my Renfrew friends killed herself Monday.”  I don’t know what I wanted from him….Just acknowledgement or support.  But he had an opening in his schedule, so I got to go to his safe office and work on my feelings.  He had me do a piece of art as a tribute to my friend.  And we talked a little bit and I cried.  And my feelings just wanted to consume me.

After that, I had a quiet, numb day.  I didn’t exercise at all, I didn’t garden, I didn’t really anything.  And that was okay.  I needed a “light” kind of day.  I even took a little nap (good escapism) with the Big Dog snuggling me on one side and the Tabby cat snuggling me on the other.  It was good.

But.  I didn’t eat.  I skipped breakfast. I skipped lunch.  I did eat some fruit at 2:00…not because I cared, but because I knew that the Team cared.  I did have dinner because dh and ds would have noticed if I didn’t.  But I didn’t make much of an effort to eat my normal kind of dinner. The eating disorder is always there to help me manage my feelings and make me feel better.  I love that.  And I hate it.

Today, I am a bit more balanced. I made myself eat breakfast.  I am still numb. I expect a quiet morning.  I might walk the dogs, I might not.  I have appointments all afternoon.  Hopefully, I will be less engaged in ED symptoms.  I already have a good start since I ate breakfast.

When My Eating Disorder Gets In My Way and This Blog

When My Eating Disorder Gets In My Way

Yesterday, the AT said, “I can’t work with you anymore on your trauma until you get your eating disorder under control.”  He said this at the end of February/beginning of March…Part of what led to me going to Renfrew.  He also told me yesterday that he thinks I need a higher level of care.  Which I have heard in one way or another from most of the rest on the team.  It’s not that I don’t agree, because I do.  But it is disheartening.  And….there is a piece of me that is relieved.  I know I need more support right now.  I know I need some way to reign in my eating disorder craziness and I just am not in a place to do it.

I asked the AT yesterday if we could just pretend that I had never had trauma and then we wouldn’t have to work on all this stuff.  I want to feel safe by grasping onto the slippery straws of denial.  He said, “So, you want to be where you were before you started seeing me?”  Ummmm….no. I really don’t.  I was on the verge of a real break-down and had given up on everything, including living.  I don’t want to feel that way again.

Really, I don’t want to feel anything.  But perseverance on the part of the AT and the support from the rest of my team has made me feel safe enough to start feeling.  Only, feeling is terrifying, so my brain is constantly sabotaging the work I am doing.  And at the moment, the sabotage (eating disorder) is totally winning.  I want to push it aside and be me-Heidi again instead of eating-disorder-owns-Heidi.  But I can’t.  I just have this constant compulsion to engage in eating disorder symptoms.  Even when I try not to, the eating disorder over-rides me.

This is why I need extra help and a higher level of care.

lost

This Blog

The purpose of this blog is for me to dump stuff out of my brain and work my way through it in hopes that I will become a healthier, stable and happy person. My brain is a whirlwind of trauma, depression, ptsd, anxiety and eating disorder.  It is exhausting and frustrating and discouraging to have this constant spiral of mental illness in my head.  I am working my damnedest to sort through my trauma and the subsequent confusion and pain caused by my past colliding with my present.  And I am looking for the me that I buried years ago to keep her safe and away from further damage.

Yes, I have been talking about my eating disorder a lot lately…because it has become a pressing issue which threatens my mental and physical well-being.  And yes, I have been tagging my blog with “eating disorder” and “anorexia nervosa.”

But I want to be clear about two things:

I do not want my eating disorder.

This is not a pro-Ana blog.

There will be no tips, encouragement, tricks to lose weight or methods to deceive medical providers, family and friends on my blog.  I may discuss how my eating disorder is managing me, or urges it makes me feel or compulsions I have.  I may talk about ways in which my eating disorder is a step ahead of my recovery.  I may discuss symptoms I have and symptoms I engage in. But I am not writing any of that to encourage or support the active pursuit of eating disorders or engaging in eating disorder symptoms.  If that is what you are looking for, you will need to look elsewhere.  And if you are at a point in your eating disorder where you are seeking pro-Ana or pro-Mia information, then I really encourage you to seek help before you damage your body in a way that cannot be repaired.

And in case it wasn’t clear enough the first time:

I do not want my eating disorder.

This is not a pro-Ana blog.

Okay, that just had to be said.  Hopefully, I won’t have to say it again.