Thankful

I am not so much a “What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving” kind of person…But….What am I thankful for?

Okay…first of all, I am thankful for myself and the fact that I am even alive right now.  I did not kill myself this year.  I survived the worst points of my eating disorder.  My Hilltop dietitian pointed out to me recently that before I went into treatment in March (at the other facility) I was not eating enough to sustain life.  She pointed out our bodies are resilient and do anything to stay alive, but that the cost is high.  I am thankful that despite hitting some ultra-lows with my depression that I did not kill myself.  Yes, I am just plain thankful that I am alive to write this blog post.

I am thankful to dh for his unwavering support, for keeping our household running, for missing me every day but never asking me to come home, for telling me that as long as it takes and whatever I need, we will make it work so that I can get better.  And I am thankful for his unconditional love.

I am thankful for ds who has been willing to pick up slack at home and step into a role of much responsibility.  I am also thankful for his love and support and flexibility with me being gone.  And I am thankful he is doing it all while juggling a job and a full semester.  He is an amazing kid…errr…man.

I am thankful for my friends,

  • Donna who has kept me in her thoughts and prayers and has kept me in a steady stream of postcards and notes and love.
  • SS for taking good care of my special little friends and for supporting and encouraging me.
  • A., who was invaluable at keeping me in one piece all spring and summer.
  • L., who has been a loving and supportive friend.

I am thankful for my treatment friends who are constantly supporting me, loving me and deeply understanding my pain and how hard it is to heal.  And who remind me that I am worth recovery.

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And I am thankful for Team Heidi. Really, I cannot thank them enough for their support which has gone above and beyond anything I ever expected.  Team Heidi held me up when I had nothing left to keep myself up. Team Heidi kept me safe with persistence and commitment.  And Team Heidi gave me the support to pack myself up and travel across the country for treatment.

I am thankful for Hilltop Team Heidi.  The support of this team has helped me learn things about myself that I never knew and showed me I have strength I didn’t know I have.  Trauma work is a bitch, and I have had multiple teams here that I have trusted enough to do the work and keep focused on my recovery.  And even though I am one of many people they treat each year, I feel like they actually care about me.

I am thankful for the first treatment center I went to this year, for re-feeding me and getting me medically stable.

I am thankful for the woman who took me into her home and lets me stay here for very little “rent” thus helping me be able to stay for treatment as long as I need to.  I also appreciate her kindness and companionship.

I am thankful for the UU I found and the support of my Pastoral Care person (whose house I am going to for dinner today.)  It is so nice to be taken in by strangers and treated like I am an old friend.

I am thankful for the little things.

  • This puppy, that makes me absolutely crazy and that give me much joy.
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  • The little magical bits of nature I find:
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Oh! And I am really thankful for finding my way into a yoga studio where I feel safe and cared about and supported with trauma sensitive instructors and financial accommodations.

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Truly, my list could go on and on.  I have much to be thankful for this year.

Now…If I can get myself out of my anxiety and mood funk, which is still following me like sticky dark shadow, I might be able to make it through today without falling apart.  However, I am still really struggling and I am not looking forward to going to programming today (Yes, we have programming on Thanksgiving day) and I am anxious about the dinner I am going to later because I really won’t know anyone there.  But I will try, just for today, to cut myself some slack.  And if that’s too much, then I will just try 5 minutes of grace at a time.  And if that doesn’t work….well…I can only do the best that I can do.

Trauma Makes Everything Worse

The depression continues.  It is like I am overwhelmed by emotional pain right now.  I hate it.  And how do I talk about it with the new therapist?  I am trying so hard to push myself to trust her, but she is not Kyla and she is not Meg and she is not the AT.  And she isn’t attuned to me yet.  Yesterday, I tried and tried not to cry, but she wanted to talk about feelings and stuff and my stupid walls collapsed a bit and I cried.  I hate not being in control.

Today, my suicidal ideation started.  No, I am not actively suicidal.  One time Kyla asked me if suicidal ideation is a way of comforting myself.  I had never thought of it that way, but yes, my current suicidal ideation is a way of knowing that there could be relief from the emotional pain.  This is different from some suicidal ideation in the past when I felt like killing myself was the only relief from my pain.  But if I didn’t kill myself then (when I thought it was my only solution) then I won’t kill myself now.  Now, it is more of a litmus test as to how bad I am feeling.

I think a lot of it is the triggered PTSD.  Like, my trauma (as much as I choose to ignore it.  And btw, I couldn’t convince the new therapist that I hadn’t had trauma.) is right in my face right now and I am struggling to manage it.  As a matter of fact, I accidentally re-traumatized myself yesterday.  And I am still reeling from that.  TMI ahead…stop now if you don’t want to read it.

So, yesterday morning, I was putting in a tampon and I somehow managed to pinch the opening of my vagina and it hurt a lot.  It was the last thing I needed with my heightened PTSD; to cause myself vaginal pain (I actually cried because I was so traumatized).  Then the spot where I pinched myself hurt all day.  So, all day, I had this pain triggering me and every tampon I used re-triggered the already triggered me.  It was awful.  (And if you wonder why I kept putting in tampons…I am at that stage of my life where my period is sooo crazy heavy that not using tampons is not an option…And I am lucky if I get two hours out of a ultra tampon before I I bleed through and have to change it.  So..pads?  That just wouldn’t work for being out of the house. Heck, I don’t even like tampons but I have to use them.)

And today? My vagina still hurts.  My PTSD is still triggered.  My passive suicidal ideation is triggered.  I have a therapy assignment to write about shame and I don’t think I have the emotional stability to do it at the moment.  I have a dietition assignment to write about why I want recovery and my body image and recovery, which makes me feel like my dietition thinks I don’t want to recover.  And I am overwhelmed and depressed and starting to feel hopeless.

But, I am blogging to get some of this out of my head, I am meeting a friend at her place to have lunch with her (I am hoping she will let me use some of her Fluff and I can have a Fluffernutter sandwich.)  I have programming today.  I am going to go on a little grocery shopping trip.  I am going to force myself to be “normal” and get out of the house.  Even if I just want to climb back into bed and pretend I don’t exist. Hopefully, this all gets me through until I see my therapist tomorrow morning.

Speaking of my therapist, I have to figure out what to call the new therapist on my blog, because typing out “new therapist” every time isn’t the best way to do it.  Nothing pops immediately to mind.  I’ll have to think about it.

 

 

 

 

Mood Crash

I am depressed.  I hope this is exacerbation is short because I haven’t felt this depressed in a while.  I just want give up on everything and go home.  Trauma? I can just say I don’t have any. Eating disorder? I am sure it is fine (if you ignore this past weekend when I wasn’t feeling well.)  I don’t need the therapy and programming here, I can be fine without it.  I just want to go home where everything is normal.  I can try to keep myself together without relapsing.  I mean, I have to go home at some point? Right?

Last week, I told my therapist that I had high flight urges and she told me she was glad I hadn’t left.  But she doesn’t even know me….Why/how is she glad?

Ugh.  I just want to run away.

Did you know that I have stopped crying?  I just can’t let myself cry anymore.  This concerns me because I feel like I am moving backwards.  I didn’t shed a tear when I left all my friends at PHP.  I didn’t shed a tear when I said good-bye to Kyla or to my self-assigned adjunct therapist, Callie.  Nope. No tears anymore.  I am done with feeling.

I am so tired inside.  I just want to numb it all.

This weekend was hard too because I had a lot of intrusive thoughts and flashbacks.  And something I found very disturbing was that some of my intrusive thoughts were from other people’s stories.  I have heard some pretty awful stories of other people’s trauma here.  I mean, things that you just would never fathom would happen to people.  Can I be traumatized by other people’s stories?  And why now?  Why am I coming unglued now?

And I feel so much pressure from the IOP program right now.  We are supposed to find a job, get a volunteer position or take some sort of class within three weeks of starting IOP.  I have applied to three jobs and not heard back.  The volunteering that I would most like to do is human services (like hospice) but those programs require background checks and training and by the time I got through all that, I would be pretty much done here.  Classes?  I was told they could be as simple as classes at Michael’s….but they all cost money and require supplies that cost more money.  The best I have done is found some programming at some local libraries, like Knit Night kind of things…But that doesn’t help occupy my time during the days….And I feel this incredible pressure because now I have two weeks left and no leads.

And I can’t handle any of it anymore.  None.

This is not a good Monday.

Panic and Hope

And then sometimes, the panic about food just hits me.  Like, it is a visceral response where I feel the breath sucked out of me and my anxiety rockets through the roof and I feel almost woozy and as if I am imploding.  The panic is because I have been eating food.  I used to panic like this really frequently about food.  Now, it is less frequent, but it will just hit me randomly and I feel like, “What am I doing?!  I have been eating food! I have to make this food go away.  I have to do something…I can’t eat like this anymore.”  Of course, “eating like this” means following  a normal meal plan.  But to me, it seems like an excessive amount of food and the repercussions of eating so much food for so long….Well, I just about can’t take it.  And so the panic hits me…And the room whirls around me and I need to catch my breath and collect myself and talk myself down from the fear.

It’s moments like this when I know I have an eating disorder.  Not that spending almost 4 months in eating disorder treatment doesn’t remind me of that every day..

Now, instead of escalating the panic, I can talk myself down from it.  I don’t have to engage in behaviors to make it better, and lately, more days than not, I feel like I have actually made a ton of progress.  Progress does not mean perfection or anything close to it.  But progress means that I am less attached to the eating disorder compulsions.

My dietitian got all excited on Monday because I expressed a slightly tolerant thought about my body.  She pointed out that that tiny bit of tolerance is a huge step forward.  She also said I will sort of bounce back and forth between body hatred and tolerance before I settle in mostly at tolerance (and then do the same thing towards liking and maybe even loving my body.)

I dunno…I think things are changing.  I think I am changing. It is terrifying and exciting.  This treatment experience really has the potential to be life-changing for me, because it is not just the ED being addressed, but the underlying stuff too.

Hold on…You know what I just realized?  I actually feel some hope. Hope! When was the last time I actually felt some hope for my outcome?

Hope? Is it possible?

 

 

Callie’s Oops and the Trauma Narrative

Callie’s Oops

Yesterday morning did not go as planned. Callie had a different obligation and did not make it in to Hilltop until after lunch.   My whole plan of reading her my narrative, talking about my fears about presenting it, etc. was totally blown to pieces.  And of course, there was no sitting in on my session with Kyla.  I struggled with this turn of events.  Of course, my core beliefs were triggered, that I am worthless and not important, that I am can’t trust anybody or count on anybody, that’s what I get for being vulnerable and reaching out to someone. And I kind of sorted through the core beliefs and eventually worked my way to my feelings.  I felt hurt that she had another obligation.  I felt disappointed that she wasn’t going to be there.  And I felt scared that my plan of working with her to manage my anxiety didn’t go the way I wanted.

And of course, I didn’t actually talk about any of this during my appointment with Kyla.  Nor did I talk about any of it with Callie.

Ultimately, just before group, I got a very mini-version of what I planned on with Callie and it was helpful.

The Trauma Narrative

So, presenting the trauma narrative was horrific.  I made it through and I did not die of shame, even though I was sure I would.  I did get supportive feedback which reduced my shame and I did leave feeling better than when I went in.

Now, I have a peer who says things she shouldn’t, so she sat with me this morning and listed all the people who had had a difficult time with my narrative (as in were struggling after the session.)  I didn’t really need to hear that.  But…whatever.  This peer actually says lots of things that are upsetting or triggering to me (and it actually takes a lot to trigger me, but she always seems to hit my sensitive spots) and seems to have no awareness.  So, that was kind of hard.

But anyway…the trauma narrative from when I was 4 is done.  I am sure I will get to process it lots more in therapy, but presenting it in the group is done.

And Callie?  Callie was there in the group, and I totally was comforted by her presence. And her being there and having read parts of the narrative right before group (I had her read the parts that would be hardest for me to not skip, so that she could call me out on it if I needed it) really did help me stay accountable.  And I also knew that she had read the parts and not hated me, so hopefully no one else would hate me either.

And this morning, I feel super depressed and sad and raw.  It’s just a typical day at PHP.

 

 

 

Treatment is a Bitch

Yesterday, I ended up sharing homework assignments in both our Eating Disorder group and in our main therapy group.  I also had my 1:1 anxiety therapy.

My name was top of the list for sharing in Eating Disorder group.  I like sharing in groups because it is an opportunity for getting feedback, support and thoughtful questions from my peers and the therapists running the group.  Sometimes the questions make me squirm, but it is always productive.

My dietitian and I had discussed what to talk about in ED group and she said I could read an older homework assignment or read something from my blog.  I felt like reading the post about my family of origin and food would be most helpful in terms of getting support and feedback.  I felt embarassed to share it as it kind of highlights how fucked up my family was…but part of sharing in groups is about reducing shame.

You know what I realized when reading it and during the feedback after?  That my orthorexic thinking has much deeper roots than I realized.  Like, it goes way back to when I was in elementary school.  I had no idea!  It gave me a bit of pause about the self-judgment I feel because I have a hard time shaking the orthorexia.  The orthorexia is deeply ingrained in my thought processes and feelings about food.  I am not going to just be able to snap out of it.  It’s not at all that simple.  Now…if I can turn that understanding into some compassion for myself, I will be in a better place.  But, I still am frustrated and angry at myself that I cannot shake the orthorexia faster.  I guess since I really only got diagnosed with it recently, I figured it was a recent development and would be easy to stop.  I sure was wrong about that.

Anxiety therapy was hard yesterday.  Somehow we got to talking about what I feel like I deserve and don’t deserve.  I don’t think I deserve much.  Like really, this is another deeply ingrained belief.  And while we were talking, I was working hard at challenging my therapy blocking behaviors (namely, shutting down when I felt intense emotions.)  It was a hard and draining session.  I left sniffling from crying and feeling totally raw.

I went from that session to the main therapy group…I walked in half-way through it (because of the anxiety appt) and noted that there were four people observing the group.  I don’t like change, people observing make me uncomfortable.  They were clinicians from around the country who had come for an event that Hilltop PHP is having today and tomorrow, but they had come early to observe groups and stuff.

So…I sat down and was trying to decompress a little bit and…My name popped up on the sharing list and I was immediately called upon to share some homework.  Yikes!  So, I shared an assignment about feelings and tried to ignore the visitors and focus on what I was doing.  The glitch was that the assignment briefly addressed the physical abuse I endured as a child.  This is something I pretty much never talk about and had never even really brought up during my whole stay a Hilltop.  (Because I am pretty sure I deserved the abuse because I was bad.)  Of course, it became part of the discussion and I was really uncomfortable.  And I didn’t share that I minimize the abuse because I feel like I deserved it.

Anyway, it was an intense day.  And everything has been more intense lately because I have been steadily working on my trauma narrative from the first sexual abuse I had when I was four.  That assignment has me in a constant state of emotional rawness and miner overload.

It has been a long week.

K…I don’t have time to proofread…Hopefully, the typos aren’t too bad!!!  I’ll try to get to editing later.

Homesick

I woke up this morning to the sound of dog nails on the floor above me…And the muffled sounds of someone preparing for the day.  It sounded familiar and like when dh would wake up in the mornings before me and take the dogs out and start his day making his tea, while I was still cozing in bed.

So, when I was slowly waking up this morning…I thought I was home.

I am not home.  It was not my bed or my house or my dogs or my person getting a start on the day.

The disappointment is palpable.