Grounding

Pretty much all of the work I do here is really stressful and I often feel very overwhelmed by emotions and get totally flooded.  Frequently, I end up dissociating, which does no good for working through issues in therapy.  Because of this, it is important for to me to have grounding techniques and tools. Basically, grounding brings me back into the present and changes my focus so that I can stop feeling flooded.  The goal is to calm myself enough to continue the work.  Examples of grounding techniques I use are 5,4,3,2,1 , ice pack/cool cloth, breathing, sensory input, hand fidget toys, reading book titles, counting things, etc.  Some of these I can do on my own, some end up being facilitated by my therapist if I am dissociated.

I do well with sensory input, like my stuffed rabbit, or the ice/cool washcloth, or things with texture or that fit in my hand.  I will automatically start rubbing the hem of my shirt, or fiddle with my socks.  I have some toys, putty, a baby teether with spinning beads, etc that give me something to do with my hands and give me sensory feedback.

 

 

However, I recently found the most amazing grounding tool for me!  I snagged it a local Goodwill.  It is a Crayola product, they call it Mess-Free Touch Lights.  It is basically finger painting, but without the mess.  Technically, the toy is supposed to have a stylus, but being at Goodwill, mine doesn’t.  But that’s okay. I much prefer the tactile input of just using my fingers to draw on it.  And the  best part is it is a light board, so the drawing is backlit and just looks really cool.  I use the board before bed if I am anxious and/or having a PTSD hard time.  I also use it at programming.  Actually, I was lucky enough to find a second one at Goodwill, so now I don’t have to tote my board back and forth.

Here’s what it looks like:

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And here’s what it looks like with some doodles and then with a hand print and some of the color options.

Anyway, I just adore this toy and it totally works for me.  Oh…and if I leave it by my chair at programming, sometimes I am lucky enough to come back to it and find messages from my peers; smiley faces, “I love you” and one time one of my group leaders was talking to me and reminding me to cut myself some slack and she wrote “Kind” on my board.

I have to say, if you like hands-on grounding things, I highly recommend this.

 

Little Victories

Did I sleep well last night? Nope.

Was my PTSD in crazy over-drive last night? Yup.

Am I still depressed? Yup.

But………….

I made it to yoga today.  This alone is an amazing victory.  I can’t say I used kindness to get myself there, but I did get there and I enjoyed it once I was there.

Maybe there is hope for me yet!

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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.

recoverypath2

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.

recoverypath3

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.

recoverypath

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.

recoverypath4

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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Tenuous Improvement

It is possible that the edge has been taken off of my depression.  I always hate this part of relief from my depression, because I never know if it is actually going to last.  It is frustrating because I had felt such a substantial decrease in my depression over the past few months that this exacerbation has been really hard.  And…as I start to feel better, I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Will I continue to feel better? Will I crash again?  How soon will I crash again?  It’s like I can’t have hope that feeling better may last.  I also think that the improvement is so delicate that it would take very little to push me right back down.

My PTSD was active again over the weekend, but not as bad as it had been.  One of my peers actually asked about it yesterday, and I felt really touched.  Like…she actually heard how much I was struggling and cared enough to check in with me about it.  It kind of made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Grace would probably use that interaction to illustrate the point that connecting with people is good for me…But one positive interaction with one peer does not prove the point.  Mostly, I just can’t accept what my peers say as supportive.  I mean, I have been doing this group therapy stuff so long now that I have heard the support over and over again.  Lots of it is just words with no follow-through.  And at this point, the support just never makes me feel better.  So, why bother?  And Grace doesn’t listen to me when I tell her there’s no point in talking about my struggles in group.  She has some very strong ideas about me needing connection.  I have some very strong ideas about it too.  If you can imagine, our ideas are kind of at each end of the spectrum.

Truthfully, connection just doesn’t seem safe to me.  I don’t want to put myself out there, I don’t want to be vulnerable, I don’t want to be disappointed.  Shit…that’s probably just me stuck in old patterns and then reinforcing them with my stubborness fear of being disappointed and hurt.

Today, programming doesn’t start until 3. I am feeling the loneliness of the before-programming-time already and it is only 8:30.  This is the depression litmus test.  Either I will start to feel like shit or I will hold my own until 3.  I do have an errand to run because my nutritionist wants me to add some cookies into my meal plan.  Cookies!!!  I think she is trying to kill me via my anxiety!

Come to think, I have two little projects started (projects make me very happy) and maybe I can get a couple of supplies while I am out to keep working on them. I also have homework to do today…That will keep my mind occupied too.  I am working on my treatment challenges/goals/objectives for the next month and I also have three writing pieces to do: What is the status of my body image right now?, What do I need both internally and externally while doing trauma work? and How does denying I have needs keep me stuck?

Yikes!  So much processing to do.  It is overwhelming just writing it down.

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.

 

 

Trauma Makes Everything Worse

The depression continues.  It is like I am overwhelmed by emotional pain right now.  I hate it.  And how do I talk about it with the new therapist?  I am trying so hard to push myself to trust her, but she is not Kyla and she is not Meg and she is not the AT.  And she isn’t attuned to me yet.  Yesterday, I tried and tried not to cry, but she wanted to talk about feelings and stuff and my stupid walls collapsed a bit and I cried.  I hate not being in control.

Today, my suicidal ideation started.  No, I am not actively suicidal.  One time Kyla asked me if suicidal ideation is a way of comforting myself.  I had never thought of it that way, but yes, my current suicidal ideation is a way of knowing that there could be relief from the emotional pain.  This is different from some suicidal ideation in the past when I felt like killing myself was the only relief from my pain.  But if I didn’t kill myself then (when I thought it was my only solution) then I won’t kill myself now.  Now, it is more of a litmus test as to how bad I am feeling.

I think a lot of it is the triggered PTSD.  Like, my trauma (as much as I choose to ignore it.  And btw, I couldn’t convince the new therapist that I hadn’t had trauma.) is right in my face right now and I am struggling to manage it.  As a matter of fact, I accidentally re-traumatized myself yesterday.  And I am still reeling from that.  TMI ahead…stop now if you don’t want to read it.

So, yesterday morning, I was putting in a tampon and I somehow managed to pinch the opening of my vagina and it hurt a lot.  It was the last thing I needed with my heightened PTSD; to cause myself vaginal pain (I actually cried because I was so traumatized).  Then the spot where I pinched myself hurt all day.  So, all day, I had this pain triggering me and every tampon I used re-triggered the already triggered me.  It was awful.  (And if you wonder why I kept putting in tampons…I am at that stage of my life where my period is sooo crazy heavy that not using tampons is not an option…And I am lucky if I get two hours out of a ultra tampon before I I bleed through and have to change it.  So..pads?  That just wouldn’t work for being out of the house. Heck, I don’t even like tampons but I have to use them.)

And today? My vagina still hurts.  My PTSD is still triggered.  My passive suicidal ideation is triggered.  I have a therapy assignment to write about shame and I don’t think I have the emotional stability to do it at the moment.  I have a dietition assignment to write about why I want recovery and my body image and recovery, which makes me feel like my dietition thinks I don’t want to recover.  And I am overwhelmed and depressed and starting to feel hopeless.

But, I am blogging to get some of this out of my head, I am meeting a friend at her place to have lunch with her (I am hoping she will let me use some of her Fluff and I can have a Fluffernutter sandwich.)  I have programming today.  I am going to go on a little grocery shopping trip.  I am going to force myself to be “normal” and get out of the house.  Even if I just want to climb back into bed and pretend I don’t exist. Hopefully, this all gets me through until I see my therapist tomorrow morning.

Speaking of my therapist, I have to figure out what to call the new therapist on my blog, because typing out “new therapist” every time isn’t the best way to do it.  Nothing pops immediately to mind.  I’ll have to think about it.

 

 

 

 

Homework and Callie

Homework

I am supposed to be working on homework right now.  I have an assignment to write about, “Identify the cycle of needing to be perfect that blocks me from receiving the care I need and deserve.”

Ugh.

I can kind of deal with the first part of the assignment…but the whole “need and deserve” thing….It just doesn’t work for me.  I want to reject care.  I don’t want people to care, I don’t want to be vulnerable and I don’t want to need people.  I want to keep everyone (except dh) an arm’s distance away, safely on the other side of my walls.  I don’t need care.

And deserve? Are you kidding me?  I don’t even think I deserve to spend money on food that I will eat because I think it is a waste of money (and food).  I don’t think I deserve nice clothes.  I don’t think I deserve peoples’ kindness and attention.  So…deserving care?  I don’t think so.

I know this is harsh, even I can see that…but it is sooo entrenched in me that I don’t know how to get around it.  I mean, I am supposed to challenge it and ultimately, retrain my brain.  But sometimes, I am so stuck in my core beliefs that I just don’t know how to break out of them.

Callie

So, I am going to ignore the homework and write about Callie instead.

Callie is one of the Direct Care staff here.  We have a rotation of 5ish regular direct care staff and they are all very good.  It seems as though Hilltop is quite particular about who they hire and the level of education the people have.  Some of the direct care staff people are even therapists.  I think all of them have Master’s degrees and if not, are working on their Master’s (though I haven’t actually asked everybody so I don’t know for sure.)  Anyway, there are a few that I am really attracted to, that seem like good fits for me, though honestly, they are all approachable.

Callie has turned out to be the person that I reach out to the most.  I really like her, she is very “real” and honest and caring.  I like the way she thinks, I like her insights and I actually feel like I have made a connection with her, which is huge for me.  I have let her into my little world.  Again, huge.  I really feel like I can talk with her and that she hears me.

I don’t know all the details, but aside from working here, Callie has been going to school and this fall, she is doing an internship, supervised by Kyla, in addition to her work hours.  And so, as I have connected with Callie, she mentioned something about sitting in on a session with me and Kyla.  And so, if everything works out today, she will.  I am good with this as it will help Callie know me better and further our relationship.

Also, I am supposed to read my trauma narrative to Callie this morning in prep for reading it this afternoon for Sexual Healing.  Since I am so ashamed of some of the stuff in my narrative and since it is soooo revealing, I am afraid that I will skip parts of it.  Well…I desperately want to skip parts of it, which would not be very productive.  So, if Callie knows what is in it, she can help me be accountable.  (She will be in the group taking notes, which is one of the parts of the Direct Care job.)

And thus, I have officially  integrated Callie into Hilltop Team Heidi.

Just saying Hilltop Team Heidi makes me miss my home Team Heidi.  But I think the Hilltop Team is as strong as as the home team, so I am very lucky.

 

 

Mad At My Body and Nutrition Education and Typos

Mad At My Body

I feel like I got some sleep last night.  But I am not sure I am happy about it.  The lack of exhaustion numbness, and likely my work on some of my writing assignments, has left me feeling raw. I could just burst into tears.  I am also feeling edgy and startle-y.  It has the makings of a long day.

I also am pretty mad at my body at the moment.  I am supposed to get my period this week (which is not why I feel tearful, I already had my pre-menstrual irritable and then tearful days) and my body is not doing what it is supposed to do.  I keep sort of starting and stopping with my period.  This is not the way my period usually works and thus not the way it is supposed to work.  I have a predictable period pattern and my body is supposed to follow that pattern.  I can think of reasons that my period is jumbled, stress, new environment, new eating patterns, etc., etc.  But it still makes me mad.  I hate it when my body doesn’t do what it is supposed to do.  Ugh…I wish I could explain it.  I just feel betrayed.  And if I don’t hate my body enough, the betrayal just adds to it.

So, not only am I tearful today, but I feel extra grumbly.  I also feel like I don’t know when (if) my period is going to start being really heavy, so I am worried that I will bleed through my pants.  Yes, I am prepared, but I am in the menstrual tsunami part of life, so it goes kind of from zero to tidal wave in a very short amount of time.  I just don’t need the stress of worrying about it.

Maybe today it will start behaving.

Nutrition Education

One of the groups I had yesterday was co-facilitated by the Nutritionist and my therapist, Meg.  It was about nutrition and how our bodies need carbs, proteins, fat, etc.  And I skeptically listened.  Then the Nutritionist talked about portion sizes and the move towards “intuitive eating” following your body’s hunger and satiation cues to determine how much you eat.

And I just don’t buy it.  Why can’t you meet your nutritional needs but just eat less food while you do it? I mean, you can shave off the energy part of food without compromising the nutritional content of your food, right?  I just don’t think I need the amount of food she is suggesting.

Plus, the only way I can make sure I am eating the right amount of food (to lose weight and not gain it) is to track what I eat.  I don’t think intuitive eating is a good idea at all.  I did try to express my concern and the nutritionist countered with, “Where is that coming from?”  I knew she meant me or the ED, but I chose to ignore that and asked her what she meant.  She did indeed ask if it was my ED talking.  I think I dodged answering.

Don’t I know what is best for my body? And what if it isn’t intuitive eating?

Typos

I have been re-reading some of my recent blog posts (yes, I do read my own blog) and have noticed lots of typos.  I do proofread before I post, but clearly I am not catching them all.  So, please bear with me about the typos.  I am often blogging in the common room and it is loud and full of distractions.  Plus, I am tired most of the time and I think it is just keeping me from clean typing.  It’s not the biggest deal, but it is annoying to me.  I am sure it has nothing to do with my perfectionism.  <cough>

 

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.

The Honeymoon Is Over

And here’s where it gets real.

I have been sort of coasting on different levels since I got here, much of it has been emotionally intense, but in ways that are more about the transition and homesickness and finding my way socially.  Plus the whole stress about all the members of of Team Heidi the Hilltop version.

But today, the shit hit the fan.  I read my timeline assignment in one of our groups.  It is a timeline of the major events in my life and the development of my ED.  For major events, I really focused on trauma related kinds of events.  This is the assignment that I can’t post all of because it would be too identifying, but here’s a snippet:

1983: age 11:  Just after my 11th birthday, I got my period.  As soon as I hit puberty, I started gaining weight.  I also rapidly grew breasts and pretty much went from flat chested to a C cup size.  I refused to wear a bra until I was shamed by the leering and ogling of my male classmates.  The boys also would elbow me in the chest to hurt me.  I continued to gain weight.

I was tortured by my peers for being heavy.  In gym class they would sing, ‘watch it wiggle, see it jiggle’ At this point, I really wasn’t excessively heavy and wasn’t even the fattest girl in class.  But I was still tortured.

This is also the time that I would say my eating disorder started, I started eating for comfort. I needed relief from the bullying at school and also I was really struggling with the onset of puberty and having a grown-up body when I still felt like a little girl.  I also was very uncomfortable with the ogling and felt dirty and disgusting.

1983:  My parents sent me to my first counselor, a woman who treated me like a child and just didn’t seem very smart.  I didn’t go to sessions for very long.  I don’t remember much about the sessions except that the woman was not very smart and was condescending.

1984:  age 12; I was part of several pull-out groups run by the guidance counselors.  The kind of groups which meant I had been tagged as “damaged.”  One of the groups was a book/discussion group about a book about a girl with anorexia.

1986: Age 14: I started high school.  This is the time when the two middle-schools blend into one high school and everything is new and scary and disruptive.  Within a couple of weeks of school starting, a girl who was a freshman too but from the other middle school was kidnapped, raped and murdered.  They didn’t find her body for over two months.  The first two months of school were all about speculations as to what had happened to her…It was all people talked about all the time.  There was a significant unease at school.

There was a woman student teacher in my English class that took a liking to me and showered me with gifts and attention.  I loved someone finally paying attention to me and liking me.  What I didn’t know was that she was grooming me.  Eventually, this led to sexual abuse.  I don’t remember how long it went on for other than it was months.  Honestly, a lot is sketchy about this time.  Like I thought it happened in the fall, but then I remember spring weather and her taking me places in the summer…It is all fuzzy.  Eventually, my parents complained to the principal and the student teacher was no longer allowed to spend time with me outside of school hours.  I don’t remember how the relationship actually ended.

So, l read the whole timeline from birth to now. And then I got feedback from my peers, lots of them related to parts of my story. And then the therapist running the group asked therapisty kinds of questions and gave therapisty kinds of observations.  And it was really hard for me.  I feel incredible shame over parts of my timeline, as a matter-of-fact before I read it, I referred to it as my “Timeline of Shame.”

But it wasn’t shame I felt when I finished reading it.  What I felt was sad.  It really is a simplistic kind of feeling for putting my whole miserable life out there.  Except that I don’t do sad.  Sad is one of those unsafe and un-allowed feelings.  Sad leads to those secret hidden spots that nobody is allowed to see.  Sad is the feeling that will consume me.  Plus, if I feel sad, then I have to ask what the sadness is about and I am NOT going there. NOT. NOT. NOT.

So…My brain turned the sad off and replaced it dissociation.  If I can’t feel sad then I won’t feel anything.

We went back the the residence building for a bathroom break and that’s when the dissociation hit me. I started to feel all disconnected and floaty and like I was pulling away from myself.  I felt a little bit wobbly on my feet and just needed to sit down and feel grounded (but I didn’t).  And instead of tapering off quickly (as it sometimes does) I was really struggling and it was not wearing off.  When I get all floaty like that I don’t even feel safe because I feel so disconnected from my body and I just can’t connect with my functional brain either. Like I washed my hands after using the bathroom and in my totally spaced state, I walked away with the faucet still running.

I knew it was only going to get worse, so I approached one of the Direct Care people that I kind of like and asked her for a wet washcloth because if I rub one on my hands and arms, the roughness of the washcloth and the coolness of the water evaporating off my skin can help ground me.

We returned to the next group and it took me over an hour in that group to pull myself back into my body and be mostly grounded.  I say mostly because I wasn’t really grounded. And the next hour or so of time is pretty much lost.  I know what I had to have been doing, I just don’t remember doing it.

And then it got worse.  We went to our Psycho-Drama group and the woman who was working on her trauma experienced a serious trauma at the same age I had had my first sexual abuse trauma. She hesitantly connected with that painful child part of herself and I could identify really strongly with it.  Only she is much farther along in her process so she had the strength and courage to do it.  But I am not that strong and certainly not that courageous so I was just overwhelmed and I slid pretty easily back into dissociation.

Immediately after that, I had therapy.  I didn’t want to seem my treatment therapist.  I didn’t want any members of Hilltop Team Heidi.  I wanted my regular, safe, comfortable Team Heidi.  I don’t like being here and not feeling safe. I don’t like new everything.  I want my own PNP, my own AT, my own everybody (except my own nutritionist).

When I got to therapy, I melted a little bit.  But just a little.  I just couldn’t let it all out.  I mean, my therapist here is nice enough and surely seems competent, but she’s not the AT.

I struggled my way through the appt and only briefly slid a little deeper into dissociation a couple of time…And I don’t think she noticed which is okay with me. I don’t want her to know me. I don’t want her to know when I am struggling.  I don’t want anything from her. And I certainly don’t want her to care.

Yes, I know.  The whole point of being here is to work with her and everyone else.  But it is soo hard.  I don’t want my feelings.  I don’t want to face my past.  I don’t want to eat.

And yet, I will get up tomorrow morning and try again.  I just wish it didn’t hurt so much and that I wasn’t afraid all the time.  I just wish I was normal and didn’t even have to be here.

I hate being me.