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.

Still Struggling

I was a bad therapee yesterday.  I had therapy at 9.  I had been okay, I had talked to my PNP prior to therapy and was feeling good.  I adore my PNP so talking to her always makes me feel better for a little while.  But when I headed out to therapy, my anxiety hit me.  I have no idea why I was anxious, but by the time I got to therapy, I was really anxious.  All I can figure is that it was related to therapy. I’m not sure what triggered it though.

Unfortunately, it was one of those appointments where I was really struggling to stay present and connected.  Grace did a lot of talking, which was fine, she was explaining some stuff and reflecting stuff back to me.  And if you ask me now what she said, I really couldn’t tell you.  I know we talked about peers and feelings, I know that we talked about something about yoga and self-care, I know that when I left she said we would go over two homework assignments on Monday.  But…the details about all of this is fuzzy because I just couldn’t stay focused.  Like, I remember one of the assignments she said, but not the other (but I am going to guess which one she meant). And I can’t remember at all the details about what she said about self-care.  Nor can I really remember the peer conversation other than the fact that I was really unhappy talking about it.

So, What makes me a bad therapee?  The fact that I knew I was having a hard time staying present and focusing.  And I almost said something to her, but I didn’t.  I just kept trying to force myself to attend to her and hear what she was saying.  Only, clearly, it didn’t work.  I am really frustrated with myself for not doing a better job of communicating my state of mind with Grace.  Actually, I feel pretty critical of myself for basically wasting a whole appointment because I couldn’t stay present. Fucking stupid.

You know, I was going to summarize the rest of the day, but I realize that it is all pretty fuzzy.  I did a project in art therapy that I am going to take pictures of today so I can post them tomorrow.  The directive was, “Where are you in the recovery process?”  Oh right, we had our Gender and Sexuality group.  Someone read her homework assignment and I wasn’t really able to give her much feedback because as soon as she stopped reading, I couldn’t remember what she had said.

The other thing about yesterday is that from lunchtime on, I felt uncomfortably overfull.  As if I had eaten too much.  And I am not sure what was up with that because I had not eaten too much.  And the feeling lasted all afternoon and when dinner came, I had no appetite and had to force the food down.  I am going to guess that this was a psychosomatic event.  I say that, because aside from feeling overfull, I totally felt like my body had gotten bigger.  Like, I happened to put my hand on my stomach and I was startled as to how much bigger it had gotten (since the morning.)  Intellectually,  I know that  my stomach didn’t get bigger in 6 hours.  But my distorted perception was that my stomach was bigger, and I looked at my legs and my thighs were bigger too

And then lastly, my mood, which had been feeling a little bit better, dropped again last evening.  I was home alone and it was quiet and I just felt the weight of the depression settle on me.  I know I refer to my depression as being on me a lot.  Have you ever had an x-ray and they put one of those really heavy vests on you to shield parts of your body from the x-ray?  That is sort of how I experience my depression settling on me.  It is just feels like a heaviness in my mind and body.  Like the depression has weight and substance.

I also realized last night that the woman I live with is gone all weekend and that I need to be extra careful to not isolate.  And I am a high isolation risk this weekend.  I feel more depressed, I am struggling with the departure of my peer.  I will be alone in the house.  It will be sooo easy to just stay in bed all day.  However, I already had plans for a friend to come over tonight, so tonight is taken care of.  Tomorrow, I will make myself go to yoga in the morning and to the grocery store too.  And today, I will make a plan for the rest of the weekend.

Departures

I got a text last night from a peer that she is being discharged today.  I think I mentioned her a few days ago, and said that I was frustrated because she was re-engaging in ED behaviors. Well, she made herself sick enough that she needs a higher level of care and Hilltop wants her to go somewhere else.  I think this is probably a good choice on their part, because she has moved through the levels of the program twice this year already and now is back to needing residential care again.  Clearly, the program is not working for her right now.

I have really mixed feelings and also no feelings about her leaving.  I have gotten to know her pretty well and I have spent a lot of time with her.  I have both enjoyed her company and been driven crazy by her.  I will miss her companionship and support and I won’t miss her constant push-pull and attention seeking behaviors.  So those are the mixed feelings.  And as to no feelings; I will not cry when she leaves.  I am sooo burned out on feeling anything anymore when people leave…It’s just pointless.  I will hug her and say nice things and be hollow and emotionless.  I won’t feel and I won’t cry.

And when she goes, it will be pretty much the end of our relationship.  I will keep her as a facebook friend for a while and text her some, and eventually it will taper off and I will stop texting and unfriend her and after a longer while, I will delete her from my phone.  No…this is not some maladaptive grief process (that would be the not feeling/not crying I mentioned above).  This peer is a treatment friend, but not a recovery friend.  I am very particular about who I keep as recovery friends and so far, I only have two that I have kept and they are both from Renfrew.

What is a recovery friend?  It is someone who is interested in her own recovery.  And being interested in her own recovery means that she is interested in mine.  Rather than having our eating disorders collude, or feed off each other, they exist separately.  My recovery friends don’t even have to be in recovery.  As a-matter-of-fact, Beibs is not at all in recovery, and her ED may well kill her, but she wants to recover and is open and honest and thoughtful about her struggles.  What she needs more than anything is to come to Hilltop for treatment.  I truly think she could get the help she needs here.  But I digress.  She doesn’t hold my recovery back, she helps me move forward.  And the same is true of my other recovery friend.

Treatment friends? Are just that.  Friends I have while in treatment.  Treatment isn’t a vacuum, I need support and friendship here, but those friendships can stay within the confines of the programming.  I haven’t connected with anyone here who I plan on keeping as a recovery friend.  Wait!  That’s not true.  I can think of someone I will keep as a recovery friend….

Oooh…I just thought of something.  I was kind of thinking as I was typing, “Why have I not made any recovery friends here?” And I kind of scrolled through my Renfrew friends in my mind and I got to Sarah.  I think I know part of the reason that I don’t want to take the risk of recovery friends at Hilltop.

Okay.  I am not in the mood for dealing with Sarah right now, so I am just going to shut this down.  Fuck, Meg made such a big deal out of this when I came to Hilltop.  And she even brought it up when I transitioned to Kyla. What if she is right? I had this pushed way back into the recesses of my mind…I didn’t mean to dig it out again.

Ohhh…Fuck again!  I am not liking the connections I am making.  Since I am on the tail end of the program here and so is everyone else in IOP, what if I am struggling staying connected in the group because I am already trying to break off emotionally to protect myself from them and me leaving?  And trying to keep emotional distance to avoid more Sarahs?

Sometimes, I hate my introspection.

Tenuous Improvement

It is possible that the edge has been taken off of my depression.  I always hate this part of relief from my depression, because I never know if it is actually going to last.  It is frustrating because I had felt such a substantial decrease in my depression over the past few months that this exacerbation has been really hard.  And…as I start to feel better, I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Will I continue to feel better? Will I crash again?  How soon will I crash again?  It’s like I can’t have hope that feeling better may last.  I also think that the improvement is so delicate that it would take very little to push me right back down.

My PTSD was active again over the weekend, but not as bad as it had been.  One of my peers actually asked about it yesterday, and I felt really touched.  Like…she actually heard how much I was struggling and cared enough to check in with me about it.  It kind of made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Grace would probably use that interaction to illustrate the point that connecting with people is good for me…But one positive interaction with one peer does not prove the point.  Mostly, I just can’t accept what my peers say as supportive.  I mean, I have been doing this group therapy stuff so long now that I have heard the support over and over again.  Lots of it is just words with no follow-through.  And at this point, the support just never makes me feel better.  So, why bother?  And Grace doesn’t listen to me when I tell her there’s no point in talking about my struggles in group.  She has some very strong ideas about me needing connection.  I have some very strong ideas about it too.  If you can imagine, our ideas are kind of at each end of the spectrum.

Truthfully, connection just doesn’t seem safe to me.  I don’t want to put myself out there, I don’t want to be vulnerable, I don’t want to be disappointed.  Shit…that’s probably just me stuck in old patterns and then reinforcing them with my stubborness fear of being disappointed and hurt.

Today, programming doesn’t start until 3. I am feeling the loneliness of the before-programming-time already and it is only 8:30.  This is the depression litmus test.  Either I will start to feel like shit or I will hold my own until 3.  I do have an errand to run because my nutritionist wants me to add some cookies into my meal plan.  Cookies!!!  I think she is trying to kill me via my anxiety!

Come to think, I have two little projects started (projects make me very happy) and maybe I can get a couple of supplies while I am out to keep working on them. I also have homework to do today…That will keep my mind occupied too.  I am working on my treatment challenges/goals/objectives for the next month and I also have three writing pieces to do: What is the status of my body image right now?, What do I need both internally and externally while doing trauma work? and How does denying I have needs keep me stuck?

Yikes!  So much processing to do.  It is overwhelming just writing it down.

Interpersonal Issues

Yesterday, a treatment friend and I got together to run a couple of errands.  As she was driving, she commented that she and some of my peers were concerned about me.  She explained that basically, she had been nominated as the one to talk to me about how I had not been myself and have been overly sensitive and defensive lately.  And that my level of defensiveness was akin to when they had been with me in residential treatment in July and August.

Ouch.

Of course, I have known that I am falling apart and been a miserable mess.  This isn’t news to me.  I just didn’t realize that it was showing up as me being super defensive.  Of course, her talking to me about it made me….Defensive.  But I tried really hard to listen to her because I know she was coming from a place of concern.  Basically, the whole rest of our errands, I tried not to burst into tears and I felt profoundly depressed and damaged. I also felt embarrassed and now I know everyone is watching me and every move I make is being filed away.

This morning, I had therapy which was hard.  I get tired of everything being hard all the time and I get tired of crying.  I do like my new therapist and I think I am adjusting to her. I think it might be easier to trust her than I expected.  I have mixed feelings about this as it doesn’t feel safe.  But she seems safe, so maybe I should just roll with it.

I also saw my dietitian and much to my relief, the appointment went really, really well.  I am so glad because I don’t know if I could handle much more upheaval.  Not only did it go well, but we discussed an issue I had regarding calorie counting over the weekend and she was very kind and compassionate and offered me an opportunity to do the next right thing…which I did.  We even ended the appointment with a hug! (She asked and I accepted.)

The rest of programming, I was hyper-aware of myself in the groups.  I was careful with what I said.  Oh…and I ended up having to present in a group, which I totally didn’t expect. (Someone else was supposed to present, but wasn’t prepared.)  I picked a nice safe piece to read, an optimistic piece, so that the feedback wouldn’t be stressful and so that I wouldn’t be put in a place where I would be defensive.  Was that the best choice?  I don’t think I’ll answer that.  Of course, I didn’t really have much else to share, so it kind of was what it was, iykwim.

My therapist seems to think that I have a problem interacting with/in the group.  She probably is basing this on things that I said and my behavior over the weekend…I have to think about it some because she wants me to check-in during a group about it, which I am loathe to do.  More on the group interaction issue tomorrow.  Tonight, I need to work on some homework before bed.

 

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.

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.