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.

Struggling So Much

I feel like a failure.

I am not going to make it to  yoga this morning.  Saturday morning yoga is my favorite part of my weekly routine and the class has my favorite instructor.  And I am not going to make it because I spent 45 minutes trying to will myself out of bed to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and be ready to go….And I couldn’t do it.  And now, it is too late to get my shit together and go to yoga.

What is wrong with me?  Why can’t I shake this depression?  It is not helping me at all right now…Although I don’t think depression ever actually helps.  But really, it is impeding my recovery process.  I suppose it is a good sign that I still care, because when it gets to a point that I stop caring about recovery, then I will know the depression is out of control.

I didn’t struggle with the PTSD episodes last night.  Last evening, I went grocery shopping with a peer.  I didn’t have a good time.  Last time I went out with this peer, I didn’t have a good time.  I think I will stop doing things like that with her.  She just is always distracted, texting, doing her own thing.  I mean, that’s all fine, but if you are going to do something with someone, it would be nice to actually spend time together, iykwim.

We were out through dinner time, a tactical error for me.  She didn’t care because she isn’t eating right now. I cared.  By the time I got home, it was over two hours after I usually eat.  I was fascinated by the fact that I wasn’t actually hungry.  (When you mess up your body with an eating disorder, you mess up  your body’s ability to cue you about hunger.)  I did eat.  I made myself some quick mac n cheese and had tomatoes dipped in salad dressing.  I am guessing my friend went home and ate nothing.

After that, I video chatted with dh for a while.

I don’t know if it was the being with people, or chatting with dh, or change of routine, but the Friday night PTSD torture did not happen and I am sooo relieved.

But now, here I am, in the depression hole. I have self-harm urges, passive suicidal ideation, emotional pain and no energy for initiation of anything.  I haven’t even gotten out of bed to pee.  And…now, I am going to miss yoga.  F.A.I.L.U.R.E.

I have spent some time this morning, as I have been trying to will myself out of bed, asking myself why I feel so depressed, why I feel like self-harming, why I feel suicidal ideation.  What purpose is this serving me right now?  I can’t come up with much.  The last two days of programming this week were kind of tough.  Yesterday, I did that me-in-the-group check in.  I also checked in about the use of eating disorder behaviors I have had this week.  That was hard…and didn’t really make me feel better.  We had a really hard discussion in our sexuality group on Thurs about trauma effects on sex and masturbation.  I shared something I had written about it on my trauma timeline, which was really hard to do.  (And despite my shame about what I had written…I had several peers thank me both during and after group for my candor and putting words to a hard topic and opening it up for people to talk about it.  Because as ashamed and embarrassed as I felt, I was in a roomful of people who had the same experiences and felt the same way.)  Sharing that probably pushed me farther into trauma stuff than I should have gone.

I don’t know…I feel scrambled as I am blogging…and there is so much more that I want to say, but I feel like I am not making much sense and this post is going to get too long if I say it all.  Wait…this is a time for bullet points.

  • I am still reeling from my therapist saying I probably need to be here another 8ish weeks.
  • I am concerned about our finances and how we will afford to keep me here that long.
  • My anxiety therapist did the Y BOCS II with me yesterday (an OCD assessment) and I scored really high…I am still trying to process what that means for me.
  • I think my PNP is worried about my depression.
  • I am supposed to go meet with peers at Starbucks this morning and I don’t want to go
  • I have started to lose my boundaries with the peer that I wanted to keep distance from because our relationship is unhealthy.
  • I am furious at my friend who is not eating.  I am trying really hard to be compassionate, but why does she get to not eat?  And why does she smirk and look pleased every time someone asks her about it/confronts her about it/or clinicians talk about it?  And is she just trying to kill herself? Is it attention getting behavior?  And when she restricts at our group meals, why aren’t they following their protocol about it?  WTF.  Everything about it makes me mad. Which probably means I need to just ignore it so it doesn’t interfere with my process.
  • My PNP really wants me to do something “sweet,” as in finding something I enjoy for self-care and lifting my mood some.  I don’t feel like I enjoy anything.  How can I find something “sweet”?

Okay…now I know I am rambling. I am going to drag myself out of bed and take a shower, take my meds, get dressed, eat breakfast and try not to crawl back into bed.

Actually, I think I can hear water running which means the woman I live with is showering.  It gives me an excuse to just stay in bed for a while longer.

 

 

Shame and More Shame

So…First things first  The new therapist gets a name:  Grace. (note to self…update blog shorthand.)

I really chafed yesterday when Grace was telling me that I have issues in the group and with group dynamics.  I know she bases this on what I have said, so there must be truth to it…But I like to think that I know how to negotiate social stuff, so I am feeling a bit touchy about it.  I am feeling touchier about the fact that she wants me to check in with the group and talk about my struggles. And despite my trying to convince her that this is not necessary, she thinks that I should.

I struggle though, because I don’t think my issues in the group are that big.  One of Grace’s concerns is that I am not connecting with people in the group, as evidenced by my isolating a lot and turning down peer requests to get together.  What do I have to say to that?  I do have connections with a couple of people in the group.  Okay, literally with two of the dozen or so of us in the group.  They were folks who I felt really connected with in PHP and basically, it was a long week while I was in IOP and they were still in PHP.  But they came right after me and things are better.

The rest of the group?  One person is very quiet (like scary quiet) and rebuffs my every attempt to talk with her.  I even sit right next to her in groups and she hasn’t thawed at all.  Another peer, I cannot connect with anymore because our relationship was toxic in PHP.  Another peer has talked about connecting with me, but never follows through. Yet another peer appears really nice and seems really supportive, but she also sometimes comes across as forced with her insight and at times is passive aggressive.  Of the folks left, I don’t really know one and she is discharging soon anyway, one is a man that reminds me so much of my dad that it has been a huge barrier for me, and the other…She seems nice and genuine, but she intimidates me a bit and so I haven’t really approached her.

Plus there is the whole shame thing I feel after last week.  I am sooo embarrassed to be vulnerable in the group that it is not funny.  (This is probably why Grace wants me to talk about it.  Secret shame feeds shame. Outing shame decreases it.) What I really want to do is apologize for last week.  And say how stupid I was for being so reactive and so defensive. Yes, I can say that I was/am ashamed. But then all my peers will give me positive and supportive feedback and encouragement, and what will that do?  It’s not going to make me feel better. And actually, I will also get frank and blunt feedback, which also is not going to make me feel better.  It will just compound my shame.

Basically, I feel like I can’t win, so why bother?

And then there is the text I got last night.  I had been getting together frequently with a former treatment peer.  And the past two weeks, I haven’t been in a place to get together and haven’t been responding much to her texts.  Clearly, I hurt her feelings because she sent me this text, “I feel like you are ignoring me.  If you don’t want to talk to me, just tell me and I’ll leave you alone.”  So, now I have managed to alienate someone that I really like and enjoy spending time with.  I don’t even know how to respond to her…What can I say that will make it better? Like, I want to tell her that I have been so depressed that I spent most of the weekend in bed.  Or that adjusting to IOP has been really hard and I haven’t had much energy for anything else.  Or that I am just crashing emotionally and don’t have much mental space for getting together.  But all that is just excuses and there is no point in telling her.  And I am ashamed for being a bad friend and hurting her feelings and I don’t know how to fix it.

Ugh…Everything makes me feel ashamed/embarrassed/socially inept right now. I don’t know what is wrong with me.

The next question is; What do I do about all of this?  For the moment, I am just avoiding all of the group stuff.  Will I check in during group?  I am leaning towards no.  However, I respect the opinion of my therapist a lot so I am not sure.  And what will she think of me if I ignore her advice?  Will I try to connect more with people in the group?  That sort of feels like a recipe for more embarrassment, so again I am leaning towards no.  And my friend that I have now alienated…Do I try to fix that?

And do I acknowledge that all these interpersonal dynamics I am struggling with are important?  Because what I want to say (and have tried to convince Grace) is that I don’t need connection.  Her response has been, “Heidi, I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t need connection.”  My counter is, “Well, you hadn’t met me yet.”

Have I mentioned that I am really struggling lately?  Yup.  Life sucks right now.

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.

Panic and Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope? Is it possible?

 

 

Learning About Borderline Personality Disorder

I have known one of my peer-friends here for months now (she came to residential after I did and now we are in PHP together.)  She has borderline personality and since me coming to PHP, she has been obsessed with me, wanting to know every detail about my process here.  Every detail about everything.  I didn’t know that this is a manifestation of Borderline Personality.  That understanding would have helped me.  What ended up happening was that I felt very defensive and intruded upon by what I interpreted as her having sort of a voyeuristic interest in my life.  It was annoying…But, I never spoke to it.  I never let her know that she was violating my boundaries, I just sort of dodged her questions and avoided the issue..  I know, I know…I should have spoken up weeks ago.

So, recently, in one of our groups, she talked a little bit about her habit of obsessing with people, but I wasn’t there for most of that group, so I didn’t really hear what she had to say about it. Then more recently, she spoke about it again and I was there and I had this lightbulb moment.  First of all, she was trying to talk about me, as I am the one she is obsessed with, and I also realized how the behavior is part of her mental illness…which made me feel more compassionate about it.  Not that it’s not intrusive, but now I understand where it is coming from.

I had to leave that group right after she talked about it (about 5 mins early because I had an appointment) and she mis-interpreted it as me walking out on her and promptly burst into tears.  And then some of my peers said that she and I needed to talk. And the direct care person said that I really did have an appointment…that I wasn’t just walking out on her.

The awkward thing for the peer is that everyone knew about her obsession with me…It was pretty obvious.  But she didn’t know that everyone had seen it. Later in the day, we did sit down and talk about boundaries and her BPD and how I had found it intrusive.  And I commented about how people noticed when she and I aren’t getting along (because the intrusiveness has caused minor ruptures in our relationship from time to time.)  We have a pretty strong relationship and I guess it is just clear in the community when we have issues.  I think she was a bit taken aback by the fact that her interest in me was not a secret…But this is a small community of very hypervigilant people, not much goes by unnoticed.

Anyway…I have learned so much in the past week or so about my friend and how her mental illness impacts her and subsequently, the ripple effect that impacts me.  And she and I have actually grown together through it.  I like her a lot and I am glad that I understand her better and I am glad we talked it out.  And like I said before, I have a lot of compassion for and a new understanding of what it means to be Borderline.