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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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.

Struggling So Much

I feel like a failure.

I am not going to make it to  yoga this morning.  Saturday morning yoga is my favorite part of my weekly routine and the class has my favorite instructor.  And I am not going to make it because I spent 45 minutes trying to will myself out of bed to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and be ready to go….And I couldn’t do it.  And now, it is too late to get my shit together and go to yoga.

What is wrong with me?  Why can’t I shake this depression?  It is not helping me at all right now…Although I don’t think depression ever actually helps.  But really, it is impeding my recovery process.  I suppose it is a good sign that I still care, because when it gets to a point that I stop caring about recovery, then I will know the depression is out of control.

I didn’t struggle with the PTSD episodes last night.  Last evening, I went grocery shopping with a peer.  I didn’t have a good time.  Last time I went out with this peer, I didn’t have a good time.  I think I will stop doing things like that with her.  She just is always distracted, texting, doing her own thing.  I mean, that’s all fine, but if you are going to do something with someone, it would be nice to actually spend time together, iykwim.

We were out through dinner time, a tactical error for me.  She didn’t care because she isn’t eating right now. I cared.  By the time I got home, it was over two hours after I usually eat.  I was fascinated by the fact that I wasn’t actually hungry.  (When you mess up your body with an eating disorder, you mess up  your body’s ability to cue you about hunger.)  I did eat.  I made myself some quick mac n cheese and had tomatoes dipped in salad dressing.  I am guessing my friend went home and ate nothing.

After that, I video chatted with dh for a while.

I don’t know if it was the being with people, or chatting with dh, or change of routine, but the Friday night PTSD torture did not happen and I am sooo relieved.

But now, here I am, in the depression hole. I have self-harm urges, passive suicidal ideation, emotional pain and no energy for initiation of anything.  I haven’t even gotten out of bed to pee.  And…now, I am going to miss yoga.  F.A.I.L.U.R.E.

I have spent some time this morning, as I have been trying to will myself out of bed, asking myself why I feel so depressed, why I feel like self-harming, why I feel suicidal ideation.  What purpose is this serving me right now?  I can’t come up with much.  The last two days of programming this week were kind of tough.  Yesterday, I did that me-in-the-group check in.  I also checked in about the use of eating disorder behaviors I have had this week.  That was hard…and didn’t really make me feel better.  We had a really hard discussion in our sexuality group on Thurs about trauma effects on sex and masturbation.  I shared something I had written about it on my trauma timeline, which was really hard to do.  (And despite my shame about what I had written…I had several peers thank me both during and after group for my candor and putting words to a hard topic and opening it up for people to talk about it.  Because as ashamed and embarrassed as I felt, I was in a roomful of people who had the same experiences and felt the same way.)  Sharing that probably pushed me farther into trauma stuff than I should have gone.

I don’t know…I feel scrambled as I am blogging…and there is so much more that I want to say, but I feel like I am not making much sense and this post is going to get too long if I say it all.  Wait…this is a time for bullet points.

  • I am still reeling from my therapist saying I probably need to be here another 8ish weeks.
  • I am concerned about our finances and how we will afford to keep me here that long.
  • My anxiety therapist did the Y BOCS II with me yesterday (an OCD assessment) and I scored really high…I am still trying to process what that means for me.
  • I think my PNP is worried about my depression.
  • I am supposed to go meet with peers at Starbucks this morning and I don’t want to go
  • I have started to lose my boundaries with the peer that I wanted to keep distance from because our relationship is unhealthy.
  • I am furious at my friend who is not eating.  I am trying really hard to be compassionate, but why does she get to not eat?  And why does she smirk and look pleased every time someone asks her about it/confronts her about it/or clinicians talk about it?  And is she just trying to kill herself? Is it attention getting behavior?  And when she restricts at our group meals, why aren’t they following their protocol about it?  WTF.  Everything about it makes me mad. Which probably means I need to just ignore it so it doesn’t interfere with my process.
  • My PNP really wants me to do something “sweet,” as in finding something I enjoy for self-care and lifting my mood some.  I don’t feel like I enjoy anything.  How can I find something “sweet”?

Okay…now I know I am rambling. I am going to drag myself out of bed and take a shower, take my meds, get dressed, eat breakfast and try not to crawl back into bed.

Actually, I think I can hear water running which means the woman I live with is showering.  It gives me an excuse to just stay in bed for a while longer.

 

 

Struggling with Behaviors

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

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

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

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

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

What I need to tell my new therapist:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maxed My Emotional Tolerance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shit….this has been a bad week.

Go Ahead, Invalidate Me. and Ridiculous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ridiculous

ri·dic·u·lous

rəˈdikyələs/

adjective: ridiculous

deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.

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

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

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

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

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

Or I am being too sensitive?

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


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

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