Struggling with Behaviors

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking the Rules, IFS and Social Dynamics

Breaking the Rules

So, I have been desperate to go on a walk.  Not an exercise walk, but a nature walk kind of walk.  Currently, I am not allowed. I just got approved for movement this week which only allows yoga and NIA.  Walks aren’t allowed and it would be forever until I was allowed a solo walk anyway.

Today we were at another site for “Family Week” (more on that later and no, I don’t have any family here for family week).  The other site has two buildings with a long walking path between.  We were not allowed to walk the path, we had to take a shuttle back and forth.  But one of my peers walked on the path even though she wasn’t supposed to.  And she got a Non Compliance for it.

That’s when I realized….If I walked around the driveway loop by myself, all I would get is a non-compliance?  Really?  I can get two non-compliances without affecting my privileges, the third cuts me from the outings.  Now, I once said I didn’t care about the outings, but really, I do.  So, I have been trying to stay compliant enough to not be cut from the outings.  That means I could do two loop walks a week! Two!  The temptation is almost too much to bear.

I wish my peer hadn’t talked about this particular non-compliant act because it had never occurred to me to just say “fuck it” and walk anyway.

But….There is a snag.  Meg has been really respectful of my need to be outdoors and earlier this week, we did half a therapy session outdoors.  It was delightful.  And then yesterday, I had therapy at the other site with Meg and we were in this office with a huge window that looked out into the trees and Meg commented on the nature view.  So, she gets it.  She heard what I was saying and gets my need and has tried to support it. As always, I am kind of bewildered by her response as it is so foreign to me.  But she is being respectful of me and my needs.

So, I feel like I would be being disrespectful I just threw the rules out and went on a walk.  I hate having high moral standards. I guess I will keep the idea of non-compliant walks in my back pocket, just in case.

IFS

Speaking of therapy, we have been doing more and more IFS work.  It is fascinating and I am getting a better understanding of myself.  It is also kind of involved and confusing work but that is why I have Meg to help me through it.  I am learning lots more about myself though and what makes me behave the way I do.  Recognizing that is the first step to changing, right?

Social Dynamics

I haven’t said much about the social dynamics for the past few days because it has settled down some.  Things have still been a bit topsy-turvy as we got three new admits in a very short amount of time and now the place is at max capacity.  But the new admits are settling in and there seems to be a lot less colluding going on.

The downside to so many new people and the place being at max capacity and the high demands of some of the clients is that it has been harder to get support from direct care.  I feel a little bit lost in the shuffle and kind of disappointed.  Like, I had talked about sharing something with my favorite direct care person, but she has been too busy. I try to console myself by saying it’s not really important anyway.  But I am not sure I feel better.  What I really wish is that I hadn’t gotten attached to her because if I didn’t care, then I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Let’s see…What else…

I don’t know, I feel totally drained.  That seems par for the course here.  But I am barely holding it together.  I had to do a lot of faking it yesterday to make it through the first day of family week, and it used up a lot of my reserves.  This morning, I just feel overwhelmingly depressed.  I don’t know how I am going to make it through two more days of family week.

Nightmares and Cognitive Flexibility

Nightmares

I have not slept well since getting to Hilltop.  I have had a couple nights where I have been totally emotionally wrung out and thus crashed in that “I can’t cope another minute with the stuff in my head.” But even then, I have been having nightmares pretty much nightly. So far, only one time was so bad that I woke up in “freeze.”  (And lemme tell ya, it is hard to ground yourself with the usual, “I am in my bedroom with dh. I am home. This is now. There’s my door/closet, etc.” When you aren’t actually home.) But mostly, it’s just nightmares.  Something unusual is that I wake up from having them and then fall back asleep.  But in the morning, I can’t remember the nightmare at all.  Usually, my memory is pretty detailed and the emotions are fresh.  I am not sure why it is different here.

The nightmares indicate that things are getting stirred up, which likely means they will get worse before they get better.  I am ambivalent about this since nightmares are almost run-of-the-mill for me anyway.  I guess it depends on how bad they get and how much they trigger the intense fear and “freeze” response.

A lot of my therapy so far has been my therapist collecting history data from me…With bits of real therapy mixed in. Basically, when I can’t tolerate the real therapy, I switch back to the interview part.  My therapist….Guess I will call her Meg.  Meg points out that I am avoiding when I do this, but I usually allow the conversation to loop back around whatever the sticky topic was and we end up talking about it.  I just need some pacing and some distancing.

But, the data collecting is not easy either.  Talking about my life history just points out exactly how it sucked.  Like, it is no wonder that I am totally fucked up.  I pretty much never stood a chance at having a normal life.  Someone, I don’t remember if it was here or if it was the AT commented to me that likely the issues with my parents and attachment and the relationship disconnected probably even started when I was a baby.  You know what it makes me think of….That Little Me video.  Like did anyone every really want or love me?  Or was I just always second best and an afterthought?  I can ask these questions, but I refuse to let myself feel the answers.

Cognitive Flexibility

Last week, a huge thunderstorm roared through here.  And by huge I mean HUGE.  The power went out for about 24 hours and things were all disrupted in terms of our schedule.  They also moved us to another building about 20 mins away because we didn’t have AC in our usual buildings due to the lack of power.  I did not do well with the disruption.  I didn’t have a sense of balance here yet, and I hadn’t made any friends yet, and I was feeling isolated and like a misfit and judged and body shamed.  I was just in so much pain and then they disrupted the status quo by moving us.  I held it together for a while in the other building and then had a melt-down. And as is par for the course of my life experience, I really had no one to support me.  One of the Direct Care people did get me to talk a little bit, but I was so closed and guarded that mostly I just shredded my tissue and avoided looking her in the eye.  I couldn’t really even allow myself to accept her comfort.  Sometimes, I wonder if this is a punishing behavior on my part…Or as a new concept Meg has tossed out there…the idea of re-enacting old patterns. Come to think, the AT also has talked about it, but with just a little bit of different verbage.  So, probably I am punishing myself in a way….because even though I desperately wanted support when I was growing up, I never got it.  And if I didn’t deserve it then, then I must not deserve it now.  And I didn’t deserved it then because I was somehow bad, and that belief hasn’t changed….I don’t know. Something is trying to connect about this in my head, but I am not quite getting there.

But, I have totally digressed.  Last night, we had a big thunderstorm. And the power went out.  And thus we are again transplanted to the other building. This time, I am rolling with it a bit better. Yes, the place is familiar so it isn’t all new and so bad. But I am also in a little bit of a better place so I am able to be a little more flexible.

Internal Family Systems Model

DSCN1484

I was cleaning in my art room yesterday afternoon and I cleared off my desk (at least enough to reclaim some functional space) and my eyes landed on my mandala book.  Even though it wasn’t the usual time to draw a mandala, I decided to open the book and the above drawing is what wanted to be put on paper.

Internal Family Systems Model

Last week, the Nutritionist gave me a book to read called Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide To Your Inner Life. She had mentioned it at the prior session, so I took a look at it on Amazon and I already hated it by the time she lent it to me.  However, I tried to read it.  It isn’t the content of the book that bugs me, it is the writing style and the illustrations.  It feels dumbed down and annoying to me.  Or maybe I am just a snob…I don’t know.

However, I didn’t want her to think that I was unwilling to do the work, and I was kind of curious about the premise of the book (though I found the book muddy in terms of presenting a foundation for the content).  On the back cover there was a reference to “IFS”.  So…I Googled it.

IFS=Internal Family Systems which is a psychological model that I am totally unfamiliar with.  Here’s an excerpt from the website, The Center for Self Leadership

  1. BASIC ASSUMPTIONS OF THE IFS MODEL
  2. It is the nature of the mind to be subdivided into an indeterminate number of subpersonalities or parts.
  3. Everyone has a Self, and the Self can and should lead the individual’s internal system.
  4. The non-extreme intention of each part is something positive for the individual. There are no “bad” parts, and the goal of therapy is not to eliminate parts but instead to help them find their non-extreme roles.
  5. As we develop, our parts develop and form a complex system of interactions among themselves; therefore, systems theory can be applied to the internal system. When the system is reorganized, parts can change rapidly.
  6. Changes in the internal system will affect changes in the external system and vice versa. The implication of this assumption is that both the internal and external levels of system should be assessed.

So, I get this for the most part.  For example, if anxiety is a subpersonality, with the goal of protecting us from danger, it will “pop” up and try to keep us safe.  In and of itself, this is not bad, but when the anxiety overpowers other subpersonalities and the Self such that one cannot make a trip to the grocery store, then it becomes an issue.  The Self (whoever that is) needs to be strong enough to manage the subpersonalities when they get overbearing.

Further into the theory, it is pointed out that the subpersonalities (which they oddly call “parts”) interact and are broadly divided into three different parts. Again, an excerpt from that same website.

  1. GENERAL GROUPS OF PARTS
  2. EXILES
    1. Young parts that have experienced trauma and often become isolated from the rest of the system in an effort to protect the individual from feeling the pain, terror, fear, and so on, of these parts
    2. If exiled, can become increasingly extreme and desperate in an effort to be cared for and tell their story
    3. Can leave the individual feeling fragile and vulnerable
  3. MANAGERS
    1. Parts that run the day-to-day life of the individual
    2. Attempt to keep the individual in control of every situation and relationship in an effort to protect parts from feeling any hurt or rejection
    3. Can do this in any number of ways or through a combination of parts — striving, controlling, evaluating, caretaking, terrorizing, and so on.
  4. FIREFIGHTERS
    1. Group of parts that react when exiles are activated in an effort to control and extinguish their feelings
    2. Can do this in any number of ways, including drug or alcohol use, self-mutilation (cutting), binge-eating, sex binges
    3. Have the same goals as managers (to keep exiles away) but different strategies

I understand this section, though I am so unfamiliar with the terminology that it is hard to wrap my head around.  And I am not sure that I buy the whole concept.

Now, she gave me this book because somehow it is related to eating disorders.  Maybe the super-controlling eating disorder is a part (subpersonality)? And I am supposed to strengthen my Self to control that part?  I am going to attempt to look at the book again now that I have some understanding of the theory behind it….But I am still not sold on it yet.

I am working hard to be compliant with her request to read the book (I am a people-pleaser, after all!) but I feel like it is a big set up for failure.  Luckily, I don’t see her until Thursday, so I have some time to try to get my head into the book.

Thursday is going to be a yucky day.  Art Therapy in the morning (not yucky, just hard) then Nutritionist (yucky) and then my Primary who is going to weigh me and then talk with me about my eating problems again (yucky).  I am also kind of scared to talk to my Primary, because one of the things she had mentioned when I saw her last week is that if I don’t change my eating habits, they might have to hospitalize me.  I kind of dismissed it as being part of her education on the impact of eating disorders…But then I asked them to email me a copy of my Nutritionist summary from last week, and they emailed me the wrong thing…It wasn’t the summary for me, it was the summary with the Nutritionist’s notes and write-up for my records.  She mentioned inpatient treatment in her note too.  The prospect of inpatient treatment has caused me a lot of stress…I don’t even know what to think about it.  <sigh>

Okay, I don’t have to be anxious about it right now…It is Monday, so I get my hour of security with the AT, which I am really looking forward to.  I feel like need that safe zone right now and I am glad to be going.