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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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.

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.

Up and Down But More Down Than Up

Up and Down But More Down Than Up

Yup. Today was emotionally brutal.

This morning, one of our peers graduated to a lower level of care.  It was so exciting! She has worked hard, seems so grounded and really is on the right path for recovery.  I couldn’t be happier for her.  And I am excited that when I make the same step down I will get to see her again in that program.  She is a vibrant person…I will miss her until I see her again.

This morning, one of our peers gave up on her recovery and checked herself out against medical advice.  She is very, very unwell and there is very little chance that she will have a positive outcome without further treatment.  It is beyond discouraging.

We were in one of our groups where we do Monday check-in and were asked how we were feeling about the departure of our second peer.  No one said a word.  I final spoke up and said, “She is going to die.”  Everyone was thinking it, I just was the one to say it.  Of course, then my therapist (who was one of the co-facilitators of the group) wanted to know how I was feeling.  <eye roll>  I hate those damn feelings things.  But eventually, I ‘fessed up to some feelings.  Partly, I was scared.  Scared for the peer, scared for me as someone who also has and ED and feels like the battle is hopeless, scared for the rest of my peers.  I realize too that it brought back the pain of Sarah, the friend of mine who killed herself earlier this summer.  That connection with people who are compromised might lead to more death and more loss for me.  Ugh…Too much.  I hate feeling scared. I hate feeling sad.  I just hate feelings.

The group prior to that was also horrible for me.  One of my peers shared some of her trauma history (which we frequently do as part of our group therapy) and as she talked about it, I started to feel like I was going to cry.  But it was odd because what she was saying is not something that I would ordinarily be bothered about.   I felt worse though, and dissociated and I furiously stretched and twisted and folded my putty.  (Lots of us have stress putty).  And when the group ended, I couldn’t stop with the putty.  I actually couldn’t get up.  I was frozen.  Everyone left and I couldn’t move.  My favorite Direct Care person was in the group and she came over to check on me.  I don’t really remember what she said, but it was a comfort just to have her near me.  I remember saying that part of me felt unsafe (that four-year-old part) and the rest is kind of a blur.  That experience threw me for the whole day

Actually, the whole day was just crap for all of us.  That peer who gave up on herself really depressed and discouraged the whole group.  Even in the afternoon, the community room just had this of hopelessness.  We are all afraid.

I don’t have much else to say about today.  I am ignoring my homework, ignoring my feelings and just letting the numbness carry me until bedtime.

Tomorrow will be a hard day too as it is my insurance review where they determine what level of coverage I will continue at.  The anxiety will be painful.  But the contingency plan is in place…I just hope I won’t have to use it.

In Bullets

Yesterday was one of those days that is best captured in bullets because there is so much to say:

  • There have been two new admits in the past couple of days (one was yesterday) and it has totally changed the social dynamic…And I am not sure it is a change for the better.
  • I talked to my nutritionist about the comparing at dinner. I felt better after our discussion.
  • I was ultra-depressed for half the day yesterday (have been pretty depressed for about a week now) lots of negative thoughts, thoughts of self-harming etc. It taped off some as the day went on…We’ll see how tomorrow goes.
  • I am getting more support from my Favorite Direct care person and she is sort of keeping an eye on me. I like that she is helping me.
  • I met with the anxiety therapist again and I am resigned to the fact that there are going to be new diagnoses added to my psych list.
  • I mentioned to the nutritionist that I might like to have 5 minute walks just to get outside and see the trees and stuff. She said we can talk about it more.  (I was sure she was going to automatically say ‘no’)
  • I am totally burned out from coloring.
  • This weekend’s outing is to Michael’s and I really, really want to go which means I have to be on my ultra-best behavior for the next 36 hours. (No more non-compliances.)
  • I started thinking about the concept of “Productive Struggle” that they talk about here.
  • Meg is gone and it makes me anxious.
  • I worry that I will be gone too long and the AT will not take me back (I am sure that insecurity about the one has led to insecurity about the other.)
  • Sometimes, I feel like I can’t relate at all to my peers because they are all so skinny.
  • I have been working diligently on homework assignments and am due to present assignments maybe today and if not, certainly at the beginning of next week.
  • I have been upgraded to half-hour observations which means I only have to be in common areas for a half-hour after meals (When you first arrive you have to be in common space for 18 hours. Then once you are settled, it just for two hours after meals, then one hour and then a half-hour.  I don’t actually know if there is such a thing as no observation)
  • The two new admits puts Hilltop at pretty much max capacity.
  • I think I am going to be here for longer than I expected…Not necessarily at the residential level, but in terms of the whole program.
  • I love the trains that go by. All night and all day there are trains going by.  The most interesting train so far was loaded up with blades for wind turbines (like 30 cars of blades).  Other than that, there are coal trains, freight trains, and recently I have seen trains with red-ish rocks in the hopper cars.  Not sure what that is.
  • I get homesick a lot and am acutely aware of all the things I am missing/will be missing, especially seasonal foods like black raspberries, blueberries, corn on the cob, tomatoes from my garden, blackberries, etc., etc.
  • I have nightmares pretty much every night now and don’t sleep well.
  • The crazy hot weather has tapered some and now it is just really hot out.

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