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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Victory 3 (This is a big one!)

My therapist said something to me Wednesday about how my feelings spiral and I get to a place of self-hate.  I listened, agreeing in my head and then I was kind of looking for that self-hate part.

Gone.

I don’t think I hate myself anymore.  I am shocked.  I know I do fall into patterns of self-hate, but self-hate is not my baseline. This is sooo different. Like, I almost feel lost without it, and there is a sort of hollow space there.

Then she asked if I was neutral about myself of if perhaps I had some compassion for myself. I kind of laughed at the idea of me holding compassion for myself.  But….maybe some day?  At this point, I’m at neutral.

So, of the core beliefs I have challenged and changed, what do I believe now?

  1. The sexual abuse when I was 4 was not my fault.
  2. The sexual abuse when I was 14 may not have been my fault.
  3. I can tolerate my body (for the most part).
  4. I can tolerate myself (neutral feelings).
  5. My eating disorder is a serious problem.
  6. I do have an eating disorder.
  7. I did have trauma.
  8. I was treated unfairly as a child.
  9. I have needs.
  10. I didn’t deserve any of my traumas.
  11. I can heal.
  12. I am lovable to some people.
  13. I can trust some people.

Okay…that’s kind of a mind-blowing list.  And while I have these new beliefs, they are very fragile and get shaken very easily and there are still lots of contradicting feelings about them.  And they are in no way cemented in my brain and I will and I do lapse on them.  But to even accept these things as true (even if tomorrow I will try to deny some of them) is more than I ever had hoped for.

I am telling you, Hilltop has changed me in ways that are going to change my whole being. I am going to walk out of Hilltop a totally different person than when I went in.  It is kind of terrifying, I don’t know how to be a different me, but I am really trying to learn.

 

 

Moving to IOP

It’s like every time I get on board with blogging…I get interrupted in the flow.  But as of this week, I think I can be much more consistent with my blogging because I am going to have more free time.

Tomorrow, I start my first day of the intensive outpatient program (IOP).  IOP is significantly less demanding in terms of program time.  Instead of being in programming for 10-12 hours a day 7 days a week (although the past few weeks I have been having weekends off so was only there 5 days/week) I will be in programming 4ish hours a day 5 days a week. The meal system changes too.  At PHP, as you go through the levels, you become more responsible for your meals.  At IOP, you are responsible for all of your meals and only have one supervised meal a day.  And that meal is something you bring in yourself.

So, I am going to have more free time, more meal responsibility and less programming. This part of the program is going to be the most challenging and the most work out of all the levels I have been in so far.  I am a little scared.

Of course, the change of programming means a change of treatment team (again!).  I am truly fortunate, in that my psychiatric NP from home is picking me up for psych stuff while I am in IOP.  Since I adore and trust her, I really couldn’t be happier about it.  However, I will have a new therapist and dietician.  I have met them both and I really like the therapist and Kyla highly recommends her.  I actually ran into Meg a few days ago and she also thinks the new therapist will be a good fit. <phew> The new dietician though….I have met her and….Let’s just say, I am highly skeptical.  And I am really frustrated because I felt like she was questioning my integrity and also wanting to over-support me.

My PHP dietician at Hilltop has been very hands-off with me for the past couple of weeks.  I got thrown into my first solo-weekend day with no support from my dietician, but I made do.  After that, I expressed concerns about portioning and food-anxiety, etc. and my dietician kept telling me that I was doing fine and that it wasn’t a problem.  She didn’t review a menu with me, didn’t ask me what I was eating…She just reassured me that I knew what I was doing and to keep doing it. Okay…So, I did.  Honestly, she was totally missing me on my need for support, but I muddled through, kept asking for support and not getting it and then just saying, “Fuck it” and doing it on my own.

Now the new dietician wants me to track every meal and send her daily “Honesty Logs.” This is when I got mad.  First of all, I have never had to do an Honesty Log.  Those logs are reserved for people who lie, deceive, and try to cut corners without telling their team.  I am totally insulted that I have been asked to do Honesty Logs.  I have a lot of integrity and am always honest with my team.  I don’t lie or try to deceive my team.

And….If I was given so much autonomy by PHP dietician, who repeatedly assured me that I know what I am doing and was totally hands-off with my independent meals and meal planning, then why do I have to be micro-managed now?  Argh!  I am so annoyed.  The new dietician tried to explain it was to better use our appointment time so that we weren’t talking about food and what I had and how it went, but so we could do more important stuff.  ?????  Hello???  Does this make any sense?  I am in ED treatment.  Talking about food and how meal planning and eating is going seems kind of important to me.

Sooo….I am skeptical.  Of course, the most annoying thing is that I was pissed at our transition meeting and she knew it.  I told her that I would consider whether or not I would do “Honesty Logs” and if I decided I would, then we would not be calling them “Honesty” logs.  I am not sure she knew what to make of that.   Ummm…and I don’t know exactly how I did at making a good first impression.  😦

Oh…and one last thing about IOP.  It is in an ugly place.  I mean that literally.  Both the residential program and PHP program have been tucked in woods, peaceful, serene….Deliciously soothing to mind and body.

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IOP? It’s in a totally more urban area and it overlooks a parking lot, McDonald’s, Krispy Creme and gas station.  And the view just past all that is the highway.

I don’t like change.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

I Ran Away

Sometimes, I think if I actually survive all the therapy and work at Hilltop, it will be a miracle.  Yesterday….Well, it was one of those days.

First of all, I felt like crap most of yesterday. It started after lunch on Sunday, I kind of had a stomach ache and was super tired.  When I woke up yesterday morning, my stomach ache was full-on nausea and I felt like shit.  I was achy and my head hurt…I must have picked up a virus somewhere (yet another reason to not go out in public…too many germs!).  When you are in ED treatment, not eating is not an option and I was not looking forward to the day.  They are big on giving you meds if you are nauseous but I don’t have a prescription for that med…So, I just muddled through and was miserable.

As a matter of fact, I felt so sick that after breakfast I told the direct care person, “I just have to say for the record, that I do not purge, so if I throw up, it really is  because I am sick.”  Of course, they all know I don’t purge, but I thought it was worth saying since people do swap around ED behaviors.  The DC told me just to let her know if I felt that bad.

I did slowly feel better all day, until right before bed…I think being tired made everything worse.  This morning….my stomach is a little bit wobbly but hopefully better.

Okay, but enough of that.

Therapy yesterday sucked.  Worse than usual.  I was stuck in defensiveness behind my walls, frustrated that I can’t immediately snap out of my defensive habits and angry at my therapist for that stupid trauma narrative.  The appointment was frustrating and pointless and was just like spinning my wheels on ice…I got nowhere. I had that old familiar suicidal mantra echoing through my mind. (Probably I should have mentioned that to my therapist?  But I didn’t want her to think I was being dramatic….Not that I engage in much drama here.) I left the appointment furious.  I went upstairs, put my laptop on the table and walked out the door and kept walking.  I ran away.  I just couldn’t take one more minute of PHP or Kyla or anything.

Of course, there is no place to run away to here.  And I purposefully did not grab my keys when I headed out the door (because I would truly have left the grounds), so I walked down to the parking lot, and sat on the ground between my car and the car next to it and I just sat there.  The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, the sky was blue.  I could hear the hawks and the rustling leaves and the squirrels in the woods.  I decompressed a little bit, I was no longer furious, but my self-harm urges spiked to that level where I would have willingly self-harmed to feel better.

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I rode out the SH urge.  And the leaves fluttered down around me and their crispness caught in the wind and they spun around as they fell.  I felt hungry (stupid body!) and still had high self-harm urges and I still hated PHP, Kyla and this state.  But I knew it was time to go back to the building and be safe and eat a snack and do the next right thing.

Of course, this is the real world, so I got back to the building, ignored that I had snack, started browsing airline tickets (I was still stuck in my ‘flight’ (running away) mode).  And then a peer came and sat with me. And another. And another.  And soon there were a handful of peers listening to me hate therapy and hate the program and missing home. And they were kind and reasonable (to counter my lack of reasoning) and they even encouraged me to get snack.

So….I vented, had snack and then told my favorite Direct Care person, Callie, that I really needed to talk to her.

Talking to Callie helped a lot.  And I need to write more about my relationship with Callie, as it has become important here.  But…I will have to do it later today or for tomorrow’s blog because I am just plain out of time right now.

So, I ran away yesterday, but not very far.  I fantasized about buying a plane ticket home, but did not.  I got support from my peers, even though I didn’t ask for it, and wouldn’t have asked.  I got really, really angry, which is something I don’t often do.  I felt like self-harming, but didn’t.  I felt sick all day, but still met my meal plan.  I connected with Callie and felt reassured.  And really, most of that happened in the space of a couple of hours.

Hopefully, today will be less intense.

 

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.

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.

 

 

Things That Feed My Spirit, Social Dynamics

Things That Feed My Spirit

I actually had a good day yesterday.  It’s true.  Partly it’s because Meg has been gone since Wednesday.  I am not happy that she is gone, as a matter of fact, I am pretty unsettled by it but it is the weekend so I wouldn’t see her anyway and tomorrow is Monday and we can return to our normal schedule.

The ‘partly’ part though, that’s because with the break from the trauma work, I have stopped spinning out of control and I feel balanced again.  Trauma work exacerbates everything, ED symptoms, self-harm urges, suicidal ideation….It makes it all hard to manage.  Of course, that is how I got here…So I can do the trauma work with the support that I need to stay safe.

But I have digressed.  Yesterday was a good day because I basically go to do art ALL day.   I haven’t done anything that feeds my spirit since I got here.  And without using my creative energy, I have been pretty lost.  But yesterday, we had open art and I started a project that encompasses 3 of my assignments.  I am quite happy with how it is coming out and will put it on the blog when it is done.  The other art project we did was in group and we were handed stacks of magazines and told to put together collages about who we are outside of our eating disorder.  My collage took its own spin and ended up being much more about my spiritual side than anything else.  And it reflected all that I am lacking and missing here in that respect.  I get my spirituality and comfort by being outside and walking around (not exercise-wise) and seeing nature…Wait…I wrote an assignment that touches on it,  lemme find it and post it.

What Do I Envision a Healthy Relationship with Exercise to Look like?

What is keeping me stuck/preventing me from achieving balance in my ED?

Right now, I use exercise as punishment, a weight loss tool, a way to achieve a “high” and occasionally I exercise just because I like it…Meaning without an ulterior motive.

My two main forms of exercise are yoga and walking.  I have 1:1 yoga sessions at studio near my home.  It is amazingly beautiful there, overlooking the north face of the mountain, with a spring fed pond beside the studio and flowers and trees or snow and ice…No matter what the season it is gorgeous there.  My instructor is gently supportive and though it took me a long time to be comfortable with her (because I am so uncomfortable in my body) I really find the yoga to be restorative and soothing.  It never fails that no matter how depressed or anxious or tired I am when I go to yoga, I walk out feeling calmer, more balanced and relaxed.  It just has a magical power.

That relationship with yoga where I always leave feeling better than when I started is what I would like my relationship with walking to be like.  I love being outside…And by saying I love it, I am truly understating the importance of it.  I find being outside refreshing, restorative and centering.  I am an observer by nature and soak in all that surrounds me when I am outside, trees, leaves, slug trails, red efts, the sky, insects, flowers, duckweed…I just take it all in and it feeds my mind and soul.  I also am very in touch with the smells and sounds when I am outside, cut grass, snow in the air, pungent skunk, soft fluttery floral scents from wildflowers in the fields, brush crunching as deer run into the woods, birds calling, the wind rustling leaves, tree trunks rubbing together and squeaking.

Plus there is the feel of being outdoors, the rain on my face, the crisp cool morning air and the biting winter air.  My favorite is when it is crisp and cold and I can feel it on my cheeks…not quite cold enough to feel uncomfortable, but cold enough to remind me that I am alive and that the world is vibrant around me.

I get to soak all of this in when I am walking.  Every little bit of it is important to me.  Maybe it sounds kind of hokey, but being outside in nature is my Zen.  I love, love, love it.

But….I see and feel almost none of this when I am in amped-up over-exercise mode.  In that mode, I lose all of the soothing/calming/restorative aspect of being outside.  And when I am in exercise-as-punishment mode, it is all lost.

I would like to be able to walk for the fitness and physical-well-being aspect of it to keep my heart and lungs healthy, to have strong muscles and to keep my body at a healthy weight for me.  I also know that I get significant psychological benefits from exercise, helping manage my depression, stimulating my cognition and giving me a chance to roll thoughts over in my mind.

I know I mentioned keeping my body at a healthy weight and I don’t want that statement to send up red flags.  I would like to be able to not over-exercise in an obsessive pursuit of weight loss, I would like to exercise to support what weight is good for me.  This would be reflected in having moderation with exercise either in frequency or duration.  Or increasing calorie intake to support my body for the level of exercise I am doing.

My exercise ideal sounds wonderful.  Exercising for health, pleasure and renewal.  It’s practically too good to be true.

I can see this healthy relationship with exercise in my head…But when it comes down to brass tacks, I don’t trust myself to do it.  I am totally stuck in the ED compulsive exercise mode.  I actually knew this would be an issue when I was discharged from my previous res treatment and I actually delayed starting exercising again and I even started with “supervised” walks (by my choice to keep me on track).  But once on my own, I quickly got sucked into exercise as a way to ‘negate’ the calories I was eating in my meal plan.  I just couldn’t get past the ED thinking.  And that same thinking turned the exercise into a compulsion.  I couldn’t not exercise. I got all wrapped up in calories in/calories out.  I understand this is ED thinking and related to poor body image and self-esteem and body shame…But that didn’t really ease the compulsion part.

I guess the real reason I am stuck in my ED exercise thinking is because I hate myself and my body.  Which is a result of injury/trauma to my four-year-old child part and then subsequent re-injury to other parts.  And the only solution to that is to work with those parts, ask them to step aside so that I can try to find Self and make decisions from the Self perspective rather than the distracting Parts.

I think that does a good job of explaining what I get from being outside.  And here at Hilltop, we are not allowed to exercise.  Eventually, we get approval to do so, but it’s yoga and NIA and not outside.  All I want is some time outside where I can walk around the driveway a little bit and have some time a little bit with just me and nature.

I don’t remember if I blogged this, but after my last nutrition appointment, I did float the idea of mini walks by the Dietician.  She said we could talk about it more (maybe I did blog this, it sounds familiar).  I wonder if I show her my collage and read her the above assignment (she was the one who assigned it) that she will understand more my reason.  She did say she wanted to talk to me about why I didn’t want to do yoga or NIA.  I told her because that isn’t what I want.  I guess the truth is that it isn’t what I need.  Yes, yoga fulfills some of my needs, but it is not the same as being outside.

 Social Dynamics

I have been struggling over my reaction to the two new admits and how I perceive the difference in the vibe around here…..And I thought it was just me being socially challenged and I have been frustrated with myself for not being more flexible.  Yesterday, I learned that it is not just me.  After one of our meals, I walked into a conversation where one of my peers was expressing how upset she is about the new dynamic and the other people in the conversation agreed.  As a matter of fact, I think I have now heard 6 other people say (which makes 7 out of the ten) that they are really uncomfortable with the dynamic (Being an observer has its advantages, I can hear everything without necessarily being dragged into the muck of things).  The new women are “colluding” (a term they use here when people are feeding each other’s EDs) and it can triggering and it is disturbing and just plain annoying.  I should clarify, that this is all about these women’s process and where they are in their process and I don’t judge them because of it, ED recovery stinks and I have my own process and barriers…I really try not to judge anyone here.  But we are not in a vacuum here and we are on top of each other pretty much 24/7, so it is almost impossible to get space from new “feel” of the group.

Tomorrow, we have our ED process group and on Mondays, it is always a check-in group.  We will see if anyone has the courage to speak up about the new dynamic.

And lastly, as posting that assignment has turned this into an epic blog…Polly.  I kind of gave myself some space from Polly after she moved from the table, but I am over the surprise and feeling sad, so we are back on track.  I spent a long time talking with her last evening, just kind of chatting.  Of course, it wasn’t about anything not-ED related (I hate that seems like it’s the only thing I have in common with folks here) but it was nice to chat anyway as our conversation varied between light and serious but was relaxed and a nice way to end a nice day.  Actually, I even hung around for evening snack before going to be (which I usually don’t do because I don’t have an evening snack) and chit-chatted pleasantly at the table with folks.  It’s times like that that I can see ghosts of my old self and the person I would like to be again.

Polly and Sunday

Polly

Yesterday, the internet was down alll day. I had written a raging blog post about my Sunday, but never got to post it.  At this point, I no longer feel rage about Sunday, what I feel is more like heavy defeat and numbness.  The rage post no longer fits, so I am shelving it.

What I will post is something about Polly and then an assignment I was given yesterday regarding Sunday and how I responded to it.

So first…..Polly.  Polly and I were talking yesterday and I said that I had mentioned to Meg something about the table that Polly and I sit at as our “Station.”  And when talking to it to Polly, I referred to it as her table and she countered, “It’s not my table.”  And then she went on to say that she had only started sitting there a short time before I arrived at Hilltop.  This gave me a moment of thought.  Polly was the first person I was friendly with when I got here and part of it is because I inserted myself on the other half of her table.  And then we slowly got to be friends across the tops of our laptops (or at least as much of friends as you can be in treatment.)  I briefly pondered the fact that Polly moved to the table in time for me to share it with her.  The AT might point out that that sequence happened for a reason…And maybe I might agree.  Or maybe it is just a coincidence and means nothing.

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The best part of our station is that it gives us a vantage point of the whole place.  Actually Polly has the best/safest spot at the table, .but i often turn so my back is against the wall and thus I get a good view of everything going on.  It’s a safe spot.

I don’t know where I am going with this….I just like Polly and am glad that she accepted me crashing her space.

You know, the other person I have become really friendly with (and she often comes and stands at our table and chats) is a woman who I was convinced I would never like.  I had heard she is very judgmental and compares like crazy (which she actually does). And of all of us here she is the most overtly entrenched in her ED symptoms.  Basically, I gave her a wide berth because I didn’t feel safe around her. But, being social by nature, I chatted pleasantly with her several times and started to like her.  Yup, her ED has a strangle hold on her (just like the rest of us) and yes, she struggles and struggles.  But she is actually pretty nice and so I have developed a comfortable rapport with her.

The one thing about my snap judgments of people…Sometimes, I am wrong.

Sunday

Okay…now that homework assignment:

When I look behind me, I see that I am being trailed by years of stuff.  And this stuff weighs me down….no, it doesn’t just weigh me down, it is like an anchor on an elastic band.  It drags along behind me and the band stretches and stretches and I have to work sooo hard to keep moving forward, but I am making progress.  Yes, the progress is slow and the band sometimes pulls me back, but I am still moving.  But every once in a while, that anchor slips up out of the dirt and the elastic ker-twangs it right at me.  And it hits me and I can’t help but be hurt and overwhelmed and doubled over in pain.  But I can’t make the pain stop and the anchor just keeps bouncing on that elastic and hitting me again and again.  Sometimes, I just lick my wounds and keep on moving and other times, I can’t cope and I have to do anything I can to stop the pain.

Sunday morning, my anchor came flying at me and I was not able to cope.

When I have situations in which I feel unheard, brushed off or not believed, I get really, really upset.  Therapist #2 had a lot of concerns about my reactions to not being heard but we didn’t really ever get to address it in therapy as at that point, I was nowhere near being able to talk about trauma.  Even just skipping across the top of the topic was too much for me.  And being unheard is a trigger that will totally unravel me.

Being unheard was pretty much the story of my childhood.  No one heard me.  No one helped me.  No one acknowledged me. Here’s what I wrote about it for my agenda on being invisible: [This refers to a prior assignment…They call assignments ‘agendas’.

I felt invisible when I was growing up.  No one really saw me or heard me, no one was aware of my needs and struggles and desperate wants of love and attention. I was just a nothing and a no one. I never even had my own identity, I was always my sister’s little sister.  I didn’t even have my own name.  There was nothing about me that was remarkable enough for people to remember.  Maybe I was never remarkable enough to remember.  Heidi was nothing. 

When this not-being-heard happens I end up in a kind of a freeze.  I just shut down and enter this deep state of hopelessness.  I am guessing the shutdown looks like helplessness to other people, because I stop standing up for myself and/or advocating for myself and I withdraw. Sometimes, I withdraw really deeply into myself.  But it is not helplessness.  It is hopelessness.  I just get so mired in the hopelessness that I can’t see any way out of it and I stop trying.

This emotional re-run plays out in the moment of being unheard and then keeps replaying in my head.  I engage in punishing behaviors, I perseverate, I feel hurt and angry and like life is unfair. My core beliefs that I am bad and broken and worthless get reinforced.  And I withdraw more into my dark place.  And I punish myself more.

Depending on how the whole thing plays out, I either eventually get over it or I have to make it stop.  Making it stop involves self-harm.

When I self-harmed here on Sunday night it was the first time that I actually self-harmed in residential treatment.  I am not even sure why I did it.  I just was at the end of my rope.  I know that there is support staff here to help me, but I evidently am not smart enough to reach out to them…Another failing on my part.  And I knew it was a failure.  Which compounded my pain.

I did not engage in particularly significant self-harm and since I don’t really care about my body ultimately it doesn’t matter if I self-harm or not.  But I did the most benign form of self-harm that I engage in and pinched a little patch of skin between my index fingernail and my thumb.  And then I counted slowly to 100.  I did it 3 times.  Honestly, it didn’t hurt enough to satisfy me.  It was sort of a tentative trial.  I now know that I can self-harm in res.

For me, self-harm is not about making the biggest gash and the most gore…All I am after is the pain.  I probably would have been more satisfied with the more severe (most painful) kind of self-harm I engage in…but that also leaves the most mark and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.

Oh…and Meg wants me to talk to the anxiety therapist about my counting to 100 because the number 100 is involved in all of the self-harm I do and Meg want me to explore the ritual aspect of that.

And I got my second non-compliance for the week.  Yup, you get a non-compliance for self-harming.  Go figure.

Restriction High and Depression

Restriction High

I almost restricted yesterday night.  It was so close that I actually got that rush and totally could feel the restriction high.  Which only made the urge to restrict more intense.  I love the feeling of that high.

Here’s what happened:  When we sat for dinner, I had this horrible chunk of tofu sitting on my plate.  <shudder> Seriously, it was like they just cut a chunk off of one of those slabs of tofu you buy at the grocery store.  And it was huge…almost as big as the palm of my hand and it was super thick.  It had been seasoned on the top and somehow warmed…But it was in no way, shape or form palatable.  First of all, it reminded me of all the cold, flaccid, plain tofu I was served at Renfrew.  (Tofu was their go-to vegetarian protein and they didn’t know how to prepare it.) Secondly, I don’t like the texture of tofu very much when it is served that way.

Then I tasted the carrot slaw side-dish and didn’t like it and I figured in for a penny in for a pound, right?  So, I didn’t eat that either.  I was given a vanilla supplement and drank about a third of my dose and then….I thought about the calories in it and I stopped.  I had absolutely no plan or intention of drinking the rest of that supplement.  And that’s when I felt the restriction high rise up.  It was the best I have felt since I got to Hilltop.  Like, I pretty much felt giddy.  I looove that feeling.

I was filling out my non-compliance form and at that point I had decided not to drink the rest of the supplement.  I even wrote on my form about it.

Then one of my peers came through to sweep the dining room and as she came over to me she said, “I think you should just do it.”  I know she totally understands the place that I was in and I know she was looking out for me. And so I wavered.  She said, “You drank some of it, right?”  I replied, “Yes.”  And she said, “Well, you may as well drink all of it.”

And for that moment…her encouragement over-rode the restriction urge.  So, I took some more sips of the supplement (which is only slightly less horrible than flaccid tofu.  The taste isn’t bad, but the texture, richness and denseness is awful.) Then the Direct Care person (and my favorite one!) moved and sat right next to me and asked about ds.  And I forced the rest of that damn supplement down.

And the best part?  That restriction rush?  It kept going for about another half hour.  Did I mention that I love that feeling?

But then reality hit in.  And my stomach started hurting (supplements are not good for stomachs…way too rich) and the restriction high just crashed.

Of course, now I will struggle more with eating because I have a fresh taste of the restriction high.

Which rolls me into my next topic.

Depression

I am sooo depressed.  Mostly, I am keeping it to myself. (I know. Bad idea.) I do let bits of it show to my favorite Direct Care person.  And I am sure Meg sees it too.  But I am struggling so much.  Like, I just can’t do it. I don’t know exactly what it is that I can’t do…but I can’t do it. Mostly, I just want to curl up in a ball and wither away to nothing.  I hate being alive.  I hate processing trauma.  I hate being me.  There has got to be something better than this.

I go through the motions of being social and functioning…Although yesterday afternoon, it was a real struggle.  We had our weekly Therapeutic Outing that I had been really looking forward to and by lunchtime, I was totally going to bail.  As a matter-of-fact, Polly was supposed to go and she bailed (much to my disappointment.)  I did end up going, but I had a hard time getting into any frame of mind to actually enjoy the outing.  I bet it was an hour and a half into the outing before I even felt the tiniest bit relaxed. Eventually, I felt more relaxed, but it was that short-lived kind of thing where as soon as the activity (distraction) was done my mood started spiraling again.  And then we got home just in time for dinner and I had that stupid tofu….I hate eating. L

And then I was thinking about this week.  Meg has told me twice that she is going to be gone Thursday and Friday this week.  And it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that it hit me.  She is going to be gone. Not here.  And as much as I am loathe to admit it, she has become an important part of my routine here and I don’t actually want her to be gone.  And then my thoughts took me to: “What if she doesn’t come back?”  I don’t like that it matters to me.  I don’t need to her to be here.  I don’t need her.

Ugh…I am confused and grumpy and depressed.  I think I am scared too.  The work I have to do here is terrifying.

Everything in my brain is scrambled right now.  I don’t like the way that feels.

Anyway…That therapeutic outing?  We went to one of those places where they have ceramics that you glaze.  I found a very small bowl (cuz really, I can’t lug any big pieces of ceramics with me when I fly home) that I can keep my bracelets in.

Here’s a pic of it when I finished glazing it.  Eventually, I will post a pic of it after it has been fired.

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