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.

choose-hope-anything-possible-christoper-reeve-quotes-sayings-pictures

 

Hollow

If I am distracted, I am pretty much okay.  I know I am kind of withdrawn when distracted, but I can manage.  But once I am not distracted, the depression just slams me and I am totally not okay.

I went shopping with the woman I live with yesterday. More to the point, she went shopping and I tagged along (she invited me). She went to these higher end clothing stores and bought a beautiful evening gown at one store and then an outfit for a cocktail party at another store.  At the second store, I fell in love with a blue, velvety, embroidered tunic (which would have been a knee-length dress on me) top.  I couldn’t stop wanting it…even the woman I live with looked at it and said, “That’s a Heidi-shirt!”  It was expensive to start, but 50% off…and still expensive.  It’s neither here nor there though, they didn’t have my size, only a smaller size.  I spent the rest of my time in the store wishing my body was smaller and contemplating how I could achieve making my body smaller…It was not a good path for my brain.

We got home and I was drained.  I didn’t have any energy to make dinner, so I had a fluffernutter and some blackberries and a huge mug of my not-coffee. It was probably not a dinner that met my meal plan.

Then, the friend I was supposed to get together with after dinner cancelled. I was alone at home, and I could feel the depression just crushing me.  All I wanted to do was retreat to my isolation zone, but the dogs were out and about and I didn’t have the energy to put the puppy in her kennel, so I put on my pajamas, did my laundry, did some homework, sent out a couple of emails.  It was low key. And I was just depressed the whole time.

Now it is morning.  I dreamed last night that I was weighed and saw my weight. I want nothing more than to weight myself on the way to shower.  Would it matter if I did?  Why do we spend so much energy trying to hide my weight from me?  Why can’t I just know?  If I knew, then I could be more at ease with where I am with my eating disorder.

Of course, to weigh myself, I’d actually have to get out of bed.  I need to get out of bed, I want to go to UU, I need to try to function, I am getting together with a peer sometime later today, I need to shower, I need to move.  And yet, I am still in bed, the depression holds me down as if I had wet sacks of sand on me.  And the idea of rallying and making it to UU is beyond exhausting.  I’ve already been laying here this way for almost an hour…It is almost impossible to get going because I have no initiative.

I think this depression has become a problem.  This weekend, I had planned to do things differently, but yesterday was not a good start, I ended up missing yoga, I didn’t get together with peers (I had two opportunities to do so), I felt smothered by depression, I went shopping but felt hollow the whole time, I lied to my peers to get out of socializing, and I didn’t care about anything. I will try to do differently today, but I am afraid that no matter what I do, I will just feel hollow and dead inside.

Okay.  I have to get out of bed.  If I am going to try to do differently today, I have to get up.

The Perfect Body

I am not sure how the time goes by so quickly.  I guess I have been neglecting my blog because I have had a few people ask about it over the past week.  Yes…the blog is a bit dusty.

My blog gaps have mostly been because I am pretty constantly in a state of emotional full-ness (overwhelm) here and that I am constantly writing homework assignments about my feelings.  I think that the constant emotional drain just tires me so much that I have no energy for the blog.  I have had the idea that maybe I should post homework as blog entries, and I think I will do that.  It is very much what is going on in my mind and with my feelings, so it is very relevant.


9-20-16

My life will change in _______ ways if I had the perfect body.

Just the idea of having a perfect body kind of fills me with some kind of giddy excitement.  Oh to have a perfect body!!!!!  My life would be amazing and different and I would be so much happier.

If I had a perfect body, I would no longer think of my body as disgusting.  Not only, would I not think my body is disgusting, but no one else would think it is disgusting either.  I could go out in public and not have to worry about the critical eyes of other people assessing and judging my body.  I would be free to go in store that I wanted, grocery shop without anxiety, go to restaurants and creemee stands without shame and engage with people without being self-conscious and hyper-aware of my body and body size.

I wouldn’t have to shame myself or have a constant negative self-talk loop playing in my head.  Instead of messages of worthlessness and of my mantra, “fat, ugly and stupid,” I could have self-confidence and pride.  I wouldn’t have to isolate myself, try to be invisible, try to slide through everything in life un-noticed.  I could social and happy and not feel like I am faking it or pretending.  As a matter of fact, there would not be this un-spoken tension of me and the other person knowing that I am disgusting, but just not mentioning it.

I could wear what I want with confidence.  Now, I mostly wear what I want, but not with confidence, but rather with the resignation that the folks here at PHP have already seen my body and know that it is disgusting.  I don’t have to fake it here…Since they already know, I can wear what I want (which I wear for comfort) because the cat is out of the bag, I don’t have to hide or pretend here.  My body glares as too big and too disgusting.  It is sooo obvious.

If I had the perfect body, I would smile more.  I would worry less.  Life would be So. Much. Easier.  And I would be so much less anxious and less miserable.  There is nothing about having a perfect body that could be wrong.

But there is one catch.  I will never have the perfect body.  And I mean that by my critical/perfectionist standards.  It is not a phrase of grace, but a phrase of self-loathing.  I can have a smaller body, but my body is beyond fixing to a point where I will ever be able to call it perfect.  And that infuriates me.  Some of the flaws, I can accept, like stretch marks from being pregnant.  But others….there is no way to make better.

And this leaves me in the futile cycle of trying to attain perfection and all that I associate with it, in a body that I will never like, never accept and honestly, that I would rather be totally disconnected from.  And yet, I am stuck with it.  Quite literally, it is attached to my head and I can’t get away from it.  And so my self-vitriol, self-loathing, self-criticism, self-judgment continue into perpetuity.

If only I had the perfect body, I wouldn’t have to worry about any of this.

_____

I had to read this assignment during Body Image group.  It was hard getting feedback from my peers because they pointed out how harsh I am with myself and that they don’t think I am disgusting.  They kind of said that I was selling-them-short by assuming that all they see is my body.  There were also a number of people who completely understood what I was saying and how I feel about my body.  (We are in ED treatment, afterall.)  When I re-read this to post it, agree that it is harsh.  And after the feedback from my peers, I actually feel less self-conscious here.  I am not sure that I feel less self-conscious overall….but even a little bit is progress.

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.

Self-Worth and My Body

(This was a homework assignment written Sunday evening)

How I Define Self-Worth and How This Became Correlated to My Body

I am not even sure how I define my self-worth.  What things make me worth anything?

  • My intelligence
  • My sense of humor
  • My persistence/perseverance
  • My work ethic
  • My creativity
  • My compassion
  • My love of nature
  • My love of my family

What makes me feel like I am not worth anything?

  • That I am not smart enough
  • That I am not skinny enough
  • That I am ugly
  • That I am disgusting
  • That I am never good enough
  • That I am damaged
  • That I am bad
  • That I am stupid
  • That I do stupid/embarrassing things
  • That I am fat

Just looking at these two lists, it is clear that my sense of worth revolves around things that are intellectually/brain based and the things that make me feel worthless are all about my body.

I guess that the reason my body measures my lack of worth is because of messages I got over and over as a child. I was never good enough because I wasn’t lady-like enough. My body betrayed me by attracting sexual abuse.  Puberty came before I was ready.  My peers teased me relentlessly, first about my early puberty, with ogling and snide remarks about my breasts, and then because I got fat and thus my peers bullied and tortured me for the next 6 years over my size.  Basically, I learned at school to hate my body because my body was what made me a social pariah.  And it was my body’s fault.

I also had lots of criticism about my body at home.  It was never spoken directly, my mother never said to me, “Heidi, you are fat. Lose weight.”  But I was told how to dress and what to wear to make me look good/smaller despite my body size.  I also was told what to wear and how to dress to minimize my busty chest.  And then there was the time that my parents made me do Nutrisystem with them.  No…no one at home ever said I was fat, but the message was there loud and clear.

And the constant focus on my size and my feelings of shame and subsequent hatred of my body because of that focus, consumed my thoughts and emotions and became the central point of my self-worth.  Being smart wasn’t good enough, being funny wasn’t good enough, being kind and compassionate wasn’t good enough.  All people saw when they saw me was my body. And then that’s all I saw too.

So…the past few weeks, at HillTop, I have been feeling a bit better about my body.  I had started to accept my body…I mean, in tiny baby steps, but I was starting to like what I was seeing.  Maybe it was just over-confidence, but I was seeing my body as smaller and feeling some acceptance of it.

But then this afternoon, I undid all that.  I went out shopping with Mel and tried on a bunch of shirts because I wanted some new shirts to wear with my new leggings.  I have been wearing the leggings because they are really comfortable and I really want to be comfortable.  I am also really attracted to the prints and patterns on the leggings.  But when shopping, none of the shirts I found fit right.  And I got to actually look at myself in a mirror and I got to look at myself in my leggings…And I hated what I saw.  And I realized that I have been fooling myself and that I still am disgusting and ugly.  And not worth having any self-confidence.  There is nothing about me to like or feel good about or to even tolerate.

When I look at my body now, like even just sitting in this chair, it looks different.  I am huge.  I can see how big and fat and ugly I am.  I feel stupid and embarrassed that I actually thought any differently.  And that I let myself start to feel comfortable.

This means that everyone is wrong.  I can’t eat food the way I have been eating it.  I can’t not-exercise.  And Mac is wrong.  I do need to know how much I weigh so I can keep everything under control.

And what I really need now is to lose weight.  And a lot of it.

So…I guess the only way I can define self-worth is by my body size.  And right now, I am not worth anything.

 

Tuesday update:  After losing my shit and crying most of yesterday because I hate my body and I am so disgusting….I woke up this morning and pulled out my favorite pair of leggings, put them on, put on a tunic top (which is super comfy and shields some of my awkward body spots) and am trying to wear my leggings again.  I am going to try to tone down the hatred and dial up the fact that I enjoy the comfiness of the leggings…Not sure how this will play out…But I am giving it a try.

 

 

Humble Pie

Okay…I am not such a stubborn person that I can’t admit when i am wrong.  And I think I was wrong about that direct care person that peeved  me so much a week or so ago.  And I am willing to ‘fess up to my error.

I have been ignoring the fact that the past week she has seemed a bit more grounded and looking a bit less like a deer in headlights and maybe is showing a bit more confidence.  I have been ignoring all of this because, if you may recall, I wrote her off as un-trustworthy.

But.

Earlier this week, I ordered some clothing from amazon.  I decided it was time to add a little bit to my wardrobe (which does get a bit old after 5 weeks, plus some things fit differently from when I got here) and I had recently taken the plunge to wearing the leggings I brought for yoga.  I also have been admiring the colorful and sassy leggings my peers have.  And I wanted a second pair of leggings for yoga and NIA.

Yesterday, my package came.  I had agonized over what sizes to order and when it got here I just plain could not open the package to see if the clothes fit.  Eventually, I made my way to the table by the aforementioned direct care person with my package and evidently, I looked distressed.  She called me out on it and I told her a little bit of what was going on, and I cried a little bit (so annoying! I hate that I cry over everything!) and she coached me through with fact-checking, logic and acknowledgement of how the ED was impacting my thinking.  She didn’t do it as smoothly as the other DC women, but she did it honestly and caringly and she didn’t botch any of it up.  She eventually settled me enough that I could open the packaged and then go downstairs to try the clothes on.  She even offered to go with me and stand outside my door to just be supportive.  I declined her offer as I just wanted to live alone  with whatever shame I might encounter.

But…It wasn’t so bad.  I really like the clothing and the fit.  I kind of wish the sizes (numbers) were different, but I really try to cling to the message I got at Renfrew that it is more important how you feel in an outfit (comfortable, relaxed etc) than how it looks or what the size is.  And boy, oh boy…This outfit is comfy!

So, despite my bit of body shame/discomfort over wearing leggings in general, I am pretty pleased with the outfit.  And it feels amazing, soft, comfortable, and snuggly.  I plan on wearing it all day today.  Maybe it is okay to wear things that I like?  And not just things that I throw on my body to cover myself?

Damn, that almost sounds like a moment of enlightenment.

Social Stuff, Compliance and Integrity, I Have to Know and What Else?

Social Stuff

I was right. The two newest admits have totally changed the social dynamic.  It’s fascinating as one was here very recently and has returned.  That’s not the fascinating part, the fascinating part is how some of the staff have responded to her and allow her lots of lee-way.  I suppose it could be that the rules are different because she is not brand-new to the place. But even so, there is a definite vibe going on that I am not really liking.

Such is the life of a constantly changing social group with ever shifting dynamics.  And the life of someone who hates it.

Compliance and Integrity

I worked hard to be compliant yesterday as I really want to go on the outing to Michael’s.  If you are non-compliant within 24 hours of an outing, you can’t go.  So, I need to get through the next two meals.  Of course, the goal is to stay compliant after that too, but I am focusing on these couple of meals.  Oddly, even though I had counted two non-compliances this week, I am only marked down for 1.  I talked to my favorite Direct Care person about as I wanted to be honest about it, but she said it wasn’t recorded.  I guess I won’t complain, as didn’t try to hide it, so I am feeling like I did the right thing.  My integrity is important to me.

I have to know

So…I am kind of losing my shit.  I cannot stop checking my body to see how much weight I have gained.  Like, I obsessively use my hands to body check during groups, I start off my mornings now by body checking in the mirror (I hadn’t done this before).  I have devised plans as to how I can measure my body to see if it is getting bigger.  And over and over I body check and body check and body check with my hands. I am going to lose my mind if I don’t know how much I weigh.

I also cannot stop obsessing around calories.  Yesterday, about 6 times, I started mentally calculating the calories I had eaten.  And six times, I stopped.  One of the last times, I was sitting on the porch, phone in hand, ready to google the calories and one of my peers came out onto the porch to.  I confessed that I was about to do an ED driven behavior (didn’t say what though to not be triggering) and I allowed her to distract me.  I also texted one of my ED recovery friends and told her I was struggling to not count calories.  Her response was, “It’s not going to help.  Feed yourself, don’t feed the ED.”  Of course, she is right.  And I knew she would say something like that which is why I texted her.  But it hasn’t lowered the level of the urges.

I am still beyond self-conscious about my meal sizes and portion sizes.  I am going to start a list of things to not request for snack anymore because I feel so awkward.  Snack is more social and interactive and the table is such that more people can see what you are eating.  Yesterday, I just wanted to die from shame because of my snack portion. Honestly, it is was so little food that I don’t even know why I bother to have snack anyway.  And if I wasn’t trying to be compliant for the outing today, I may have just walked away.  Instead, I just burned in shame and made a note that I need to figure out better ways to do snack.  I had the same issue with the sub-meal this week (you can substitute a meal 3x/wk if you don’t like the meal being offered.)  The sub meal is a BLT with Doritos and fruit.  Only, because I am gluten free, I can’t have the vegetarian bacon, so I have a Sunbutter and jelly sandwich which looks tiny compared to the BLTs and of course, ¼ of it is cut off.  Again, it is so glaringly small on my plate….It is so obvious…they may as well just spell out the word FAT with my food.  Basically, if meals weren’t hard enough already, this whole Portion-of-Shame business is killing me.

Ugh…I am just not a happy camper.

All I need to do is get through today and go in the outing and come home with some projects/craft supplies that can take my mind off of things for a while.

What Else?

Oh…I did mention my portion size issue (though not at all the depth to which I feel it) to the dietician the other day.  I got the impression that I was not the first to speak up about being uncomfortable with the comparing.  Last night she made an announcement about how meal plans are individualized and that comparing is not appropriate and can lead to colluding with other people’s EDs.    Will it make a difference?  I am guessing not.  At dinner, I was sitting next to the woman who I am most uncomfortable with at meals because she is always looking at my plate and talking about comparing (and for some reason, I am always sitting next to her or directly across from her.)  Anyway, as I slowly ate my 3 pieces of asparagus, TVP patty (which was cut in half) and small scoop of scalloped potatoes (1/2 cup maybe) which was all served on an 11” inch dinner plate, I caught my peer making sidelong glances at my plate.  I really wanted to just say “fuck it” and get up and walk away.  But….the Michael’s trip. It has been a huge motivation for me the past few days.  So, instead, I just sat there and wanted to die and ate my food as slowly as possible to make it look like I had more food than I had.  And then, I had forgotten that the meal ended with a dessert.  I am only hoping she didn’t see that the ice cream cup I was handed had ¼ of the ice cream scooped out.

There has got to be a better way to do the portioning.