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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Love

Post #3

Yesterday, dh and I were texting and he sent me some texts that I need to remember, so I am going to put them here so I can look back at them:

Me: I just have “gotta get it all done” panic.

DH: You don’t. You have made so much progress.

You’ll do a little more work with them, and then come home, wherever you are in your process. And you’ll be OK.

And we’ll take care of you and you’ll continue to work on on things.

And there will be good days and harder days.

For better and for worse…

In sickness and in health…

I love you. And your deserve to be loved and to be cared for.

Me: U r making me cry

DH: I don’t want you to heap unrealistic expectations on yourself.

You don’t have to be perfect, to be “all better,” for me (or any of us) to love you.

I know I’m not perfect, either.

wanna video chat?

I love this man soooo much.

She Slips But Does Not Fall.

I weighed myself. 

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I weighed myself.  This pains me in ways that I didn’t expect.

Everyone always asks, “What is the function of engaging in such-and-such ED behavior?”  And for this, I don’t have a great answer.  I have wanted to know my weight forever…at least it feels like forever.  The compulsion to know has waxed and waned and I try to roll with it.  The day I weighed myself, I started in the morning asking my dietitian about my weight.  I wanted to know if I was “healthy.”  I didn’t quite phrase it like that to her, not that I was trying to be deceptive, but more because I felt kind of awkward for asking.  We discussed it briefly and then moved on to the next topic, but my dietitian told me that we would go back to the weight discussion at the end and that I should remind her to do so.  I did remember, but I felt really embarrassed about it, so I didn’t ask.

Later, I still had my weight on my mind, but not in an obsessive way.  I was reading my old blogs and looked at where I was a year ago.  I was blown away by the changes I have made in the past 12 months.  Seeing how far I have come and how different I am gave me the impression that I could know my weight and handle it.

I went to the closet and pulled out the scale.  Honestly, it felt surreal, like I wasn’t connected to what I was doing and I wasn’t quite in my body.  I tapped the scale with my foot to see if it would turn on.  If the batteries were dead, I would have just let the whole thing go.  But they weren’t.  I gingerly put one foot on the scale and watched the numbers change.  I shifted my weight more and watched the numbers.  Then I just put my second foot on the scale.  And that was it.  The numbers scrolled by and then stopped.  The number was not at all what I expected.  I felt like throwing up.  The disconnected feeling got worse and I felt hollow in my stomach.

And then it hit me.  Fuck! What did I just do? All the time and work that I have put into not knowing my weight…I just fucked it all up.  By standing on that scale and looking at my weight, I just did something that I could not undo.  My eating disorder perseverated briefly on the number.  But the overwhelming feeling I had was a profound disappointment in myself.  And fear…fear that I let down myself, dh and my team here, fear that I couldn’t fix it, the number was in my head.  I couldn’t un-see it

It was pretty much time to leave for programming and this was the only chance I would have to talk to my therapist about it until after Christmas.  As I drove to IOP, my thoughts went from, “The number can’t be right. The scale must be broken.  Yes…that’s it, the scale is broken,” to “I have to exercise, I need to exercise,” to “It’s just a number.  My worth is not defined by a number.”  The thoughts were scrambled and competing.  And I just kept telling myself that all the scale did was give me a number.  It’s not who I am, it’s just a number.  Even if I didn’t like the number, I have been happier in general the past few months and becoming more tolerant of my body.  My body hasn’t changed just because I weighed myself.  Number or no number, next time I look in a mirror, my body won’t have changed.

At the end of the day, I wasn’t thinking about the number.  I am thinking about how much I disappointed in myself.   I am disappointed that I caved and made a choice was not at all a recovery based choice.

At dinner that night, I felt like a fraud.  We were peer posting and I didn’t have high ED urges but I felt like not saying something about my huge slip up was not being honest with my peers.  We stepped to the art room and I told them what I had done.  They were amazing and supportive.  We went back to the table and I said that I needed more support so we actually went to the group room and talked some more.  I explained how I felt like I had disappointed people and myself.  My peers reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect, that some of them had weighed themselves too, that some of them secretly own scales, that weighing myself doesn’t have to derail my recovery, that I am okay.

And you know what, I felt better.  It is nice to feel understood.

I did not tell my dietitian, I am too embarrassed to tell her about it.

So…that’s the story.  But what does it mean?

That day, I ate my dinner, I ate an evening snack.  I went to bed and didn’t perseverate over my “failure.”

I got up the next morning and was looking in the mirror as I hooked my bra. I turned left and right, looking at my body.  It looked the same as the day before.  Probably it was the same.  I had an urge to weight myself to see what the number was in the morning before I had eaten.  I mean, why would it matter? I already blew it by weighing myself. But I knew that I can’t start the habit of daily weighing.  That is a slippery slope that I don’t want to slide down.

And yes, I can’t un-see the number on the scale, but I can “fix” it by doing exactly what I did the next morning, which was to acknowledge my urge, counter it, and then just let it go.  I know that this will not be the last big mistake I make with my eating disorder.  Rather than obsess about it, hate myself and descend into a shame spiral, I am going to see it for what it can be…which is a “learning point”.  Just because I make a mistake doesn’t mean everything is ruined.  And no matter how disappointed I feel in myself, I am not a bad person.

I did not fuck up by weighing myself.  I did not ruin everything.  And how I am dealing with my choice is evidence to me that I have strength of self that I didn’t have 4 month ago, because I am accepting my mistake, not letting it derail me and moving on and doing the next right things. I think I kind of like this person who does not let a mistake drag her down into hatred and self-loathing.

12-27  About the Second weighing

Why did I do it again?

So, a week after the first weighing, I did it again.

This time, when I did weekend check-in  at programming, I admitted to the group that I had weighed myself again and that I had weighed myself last week.  Again, I got questions about what function the second weighing served.  I don’t really know.  I feel like partly, I weighed myself because I could.  And I also know it was totally ED related.  But ultimately, I don’t even know if I cared about the number.

I don’t know if weighing myself was about control over what has been happening while I have been in treatment or about managing the feelings when dh left (I didn’t let myself cry after I left him at the airport) or about my obsession with knowing my weight. I am just kind of at a loss as to what function weighing myself a second time served.

I am not happy about my choice to weigh myself again.  This not a path I want to go down.

I plan on moving the scale to where I can’t access it easily and I plan on utilizing peer support, journaling and containment to get through the next urges to weigh myself.  When I get home, there won’t be a scale in our house.  Of all the ED things I am giving up, the scale is actually the hardest thing.  I need to put more thought into why.

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Moving the scale to where I can’t see it is not a viable option because I would still know where it is.  I can’t get rid of the scale, because it is not my scale, it belongs to the woman I live with.  It is not her primary scale as she has one in her bathroom.  I can respect her space and not weigh myself on hers. So, what to do with the scale outside my bathroom?

I took the batteries out and threw them away.

In order to use that scale again, I would have to make a very deliberate effort to get new batteries and put them in the scale.  That extra step is enough to slow down the impulsiveness of the urge and give me a chance to catch my breath and deal with why I am having the urge vs. just giving in to the urge. I think it is a good solution.

And yes, the two weighings have spiked my urge to weigh myself.  I am getting lots of opportunity to explore what is behind the urges.

Today, I see my dietitian.  I still have not told her face-to-face about the weighings, but I sent her the first two parts above. Plus, I am sure my therapist told her. I will not get judged by my dietitian. However, I am still really embarrassed and will be judging myself. It will be an awkward appointment for me.

Recovery is a messy process.

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.

Isolation Excuses and Path To Recovery

Isolation Excuses

So…the puppy barked and barked last night.  I know from other times that her mom has been away that she has night-time separation anxiety, and so I own and use earplugs.  But last night, the barking was too much for me because the other dog was barking too.  And he was growling, like he does when strangers are here, and it set off all my hypervigilence/fear/nighttime safety triggers.  I was a mess.  After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore and I grabbed a blanket, came upstairs and got onto the covers of Linda’s bed and fell asleep.  The puppy is in a kennel in Linda’s room, so my presence soothed her and there wasn’t another peep out of her all night.  Am I supposed to climb onto Linda’s bed and go to sleep?  I don’t know…but it was a total necessity.

Tonight, I am going to try to stay in my own bed because I need to be in my own space.  And now that I know that I was safe-enough last night, that the dogs were just feeding off of each other, then I can hopefully be more settled tonight and not terrified.

As a result of last night’s disruption and me being so afraid, I am exhausted beyond measure this morning.  Which gives me a perfect excuse to skip yoga.  Of course, the truth is that going to yoga seems like too much work and all I want to do is stay home and isolate.  I am on the fence as to what I will actually do.

There is also a good-bye lunch (so ironic) for the peer that was discharged from the facility yesterday.  I am feeling really annoyed that she got kicked out for not eating for two weeks (because she has made herself so sick that she needs a higher level of care)  and yet her group good-bye is a meal in a restaurant, which is how she chose to do it.  Anyway, I am frustrated by her and also have no interest in spending time with my peers, so I am very, very tempted to skip the lunch too.

At least this afternoon, I have a legitimate reason to stay home so that I can take a nap.

I will get demerits from Grace if I isolate all weekend.  (That was tongue-in-cheek I am much more likely to get compassion than demerits.)  Perhaps the truth is that I will give myself demerits if I isolate all weekend.

Path to Recovery

Okay…so I mentioned an art therapy project yesterday.  The directive was to make an art piece representing where you are in your recovery process.  I kind of took the directive into a less artsy direction and basically made a map.  It ended up huge, I bet it is 4-5′ wide.

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It starts on the left with the super lows of being entrenched in the eating disorder.  It is dark and bleak and hopeless. And as you can see, from that point, all the work is an uphill battle.

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But as the progress moves up, and the eating disorder symptoms taper off, things start to look better until I get over the hump and into recovery.

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Way on the right are some words that are hard to read that say, “Living Life”, “Life”, and “Hope for the future.”

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And where I am on my path to recovery?  I am on the slippery slope.  It is a one step forward, two steps back, four steps forward, one step back kind of place.  So, I slide up and down the slippery slope.

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I wish I was in a more secure place and at the same time, I am glad that I am not in the dark place.  I am guessing I will be on the slippery slope for a long time.  And that’s okay, as long as I don’t slide all the way to the bottom.

I didn’t really depict it, because I kind of put the idealistic version of recovery on the right, but honestly, even that will have a lot of give and take until I get far enough away from the eating disorder.  But I have heard from clinicians at Hilltop and from recovery speakers, that one can end up in solid recovery.  So, there is hope for that.

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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.

Depression Steals So Much From Me

Okay…Today’s blog post is late.  I did write it earlier, but last night I had some failure of my wifi adapter which rendered my computer non-connectable.  It was a long 24 hours.  I tried and tried to fix it, but had to wait until this evening and dh coached me along and now, all is well inside my computer again.

The funny thing is that so much happened today….This morning’s post is almost ancient.  Oh well…It is still important.


 

Depression steals so much from me.

Okay…fantastically, wonderful, amazing news!  Dh decided that it has been enough time with us apart and he is coming here in two weeks to see me!  I cannot describe what this means to me!  I pretty much cried when he firmed it all up and bought his plane ticket.  I thought that this would totally get me out of my depressive funk.  I mean, my best friend is coming to visit! And I have missed him soo much!  And he is coming here!!!!  To see me!!

This was all worked out and plane ticket was bought before noon.  And then later, after suppertime, when I got home from programming…I could feel the denseness of the depression sliding over me.  You know, I thought I would be able to ride the dh high for the next few weeks, but I guess it won’t be that easy.  And this is why I say depression steals so much from me.  I want to be excited and happy for the next two weeks.  I don’t want to feel inert.

At least I can count on this…When dh comes, I will be soo happy and so busy and so excited that during those 5 days that he is here the depression will be over-ridden by my joy.  So, I will at least have that time to feel like me.  And though I won’t count on it, maybe the depression will actually be better by then anyway.  A girl can hope, right?

Yesterday, I worried about the day feeling long and me feeling alone but I did not sit in the loneliness of my day yesterday.  I had those errands to run and sort of on a whim, I texted a peer that I like, and asked if she wanted to go along for the ride and maybe go out to lunch too.  She was happy to go, so we spent a couple of hours together, which was really nice.  We did go out to lunch together…And I struggled with my ED.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t eat, because I did.  But the anxiety and backlash from eating was really strong.  It was totally one of those moments where I panicked, the “Oh shit! I just ate food.  Now I am going to gain weight.  I have done the wrong thing.  I need to restrict for the rest of the day.”  This tells me that my eating disorder is a little more engaged than I thought it was.  For what it’s worth though, I have been on track with my meal plan today.  And I was yesterday too.  I can be okay as long as I keep doing the next right thing.

This morning, I get together with Janis, my pastoral care person.  I made the plan at the end of last week…And guess what?  I don’t want to go.  It just seems like too much effort.  You know what I want to do?  Stay in bed all day.  It’s not really an option because I have programming…but I would sure like to do it.