The Project

Right now, my time has been consumed by a project.  My program dietitian recommended that I rearrange my dining room and kitchen to disrupt the possibility of slipping back into eating disorder auto-pilot when I got home.  And so…We have rearranged.  And are still rearranging.  Basically, we are having a whole house purge starting with the dining room and kitchen.  If it hasn’t been used in a long time, it is outta here.  If we have kept it due to an obligation or guilt, it’s outta here.  It’s a new beginning in multiple ways.  And I am liking it.

Except.  Except that I am totally letting the projects consume me and am giving myself very little room to think/feel/breathe.  This is not an ideal position for me to be in.  It also has meant that I haven’t ventured out to yoga at a new studio yet.  I know my hesitation is that it will be a brand-new studio and I am anxious about that.  But…I am starting to feel a bit edgy and off and I know that means that I will have to go to yoga asap.  So…I guess I will be off to yoga tomorrow.  I need to figure out a class…Oh! And I need to check the weather, as I have heard we have bad weather coming our way.

Back to the rearranging…So, we have an U shaped open floor plan living room/dining room and then a galley kitchen (the stairs are in the middle of the U).  I love that it feels spacious and open.  I hate that we have been bogged down by poorly placed and crappy furniture and clutter.  We have moved some of the crappy furniture out and as I said before, we are purging clutter.  But, the rearrangement we have done…I love it.  We moved the dining room table around the corner and on the far side of the U and now it looks over the deck and outside at the view.  We moved our bird feeders so that we can enjoy the birds too.  Where the dining room table was, we put a coffee table and moved two small arm chairs.  This faces the kitchen, but you can see around the whole U from there.  We call it “The Cafe.”  And we all love it.  Such simple changes, but such a huge difference!

Next week, we will be putting a new coat of paint on the walls.  Dh wanted yellow, and I am not invested in a color, so yellow it will be.  He wants to do that thing where you have some walls one color and then an accent color on another wall.  Again, I am game…whatever, just as long as it looks new and different.

We also have some nasty wall damage from our crappy futon frame…I think we are going to cheat to fix it.  It is on the inside of the U and sort of a stand-alone wall.  I think we may slap up some wainscoting and call it good.  It will also be a good trial to see what we think of wainscoting.

So much to do and so much fun!  Well…unless you count that part where I am sooo exhausted from doing all this stuff for hours on end.

Okay…Off to the city for some appointments.

What She Said To Me…

Yesterday, my therapist made a very direct statement to me that I have the fight and persistence I need to maintain recovery.  She said I might lapse and lapse again, but that I have the stubbornness to keep on going.  It was very powerful and I asked her to write it down. She said she would and she gave it to me today.

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“Heidi,

You are a fighter and you are both persistent and stubborn.  This is something I have seen from the get-go and if you use that to your advantage there is no doubt in my mind that you can have recovery and maintain it even when there are lapses.  Hold onto that persistence and fight that you have and use it to your advantage.  That isn’t something that someone can give you or take away, it is something that you have.”

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Powerful Recovery Article

“And remembering recovery is indeed defined by progress, not perfection; every valiant act of courage taken in hope of overcoming an eating disorder should never be underestimated.”

 

Finding the Strengh to Carry On

Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, ICCL

The prospect of recovery being ongoing can be a daunting prospect. Yet, the concept of being completely “recovered” from an eating disorder is something of an ongoing debate. At what point can a person who has struggled with an eating disorder consider themselves fully recovered, and how is this defined or measured?

While the answers to these questions may not clearly be spelled out in easy to define ways, there are many measures that are telling of progress in recovery. Recovery by any means should be considered nothing less than a fight for life and freedom from the overwhelming burden that is an eating disorder. However, the striking reality is that this picture may be painted differently for each individual walking this road.

For the middle-aged woman who is battling a decades-long fight against bulimia or the college-aged male who is struggling with anorexia, progress in recovery may look completely different – though differences do not negate what is momentum against these psychiatric illnesses. For one person, recovery may mean choosing life each and every day; for another, recovery may mean the bravery to work with a therapist to face a painful past.

“Every single courageous step taken in the name of eating disorder recovery is powerful; momentous enough to shatter the stronghold of an eating disorder.”

When you are facing an unknown future with the presence of an eating disorder, it is easy to limit your perspective with the reality you are currently faced with. The mind convoluted with an eating disorder views things in terms of the disease: “How can I avoid eating this meal?”, “Where can I get rid of this food?”, “Why would anyone love me as I am?”

Recovery, in contrast, looks ahead in face of these fears and questions and asks instead, “What must I do now to stay alive, to truly thrive in life?” When asked in these terms, the prospect of recovery becomes much more attainable – meeting you where you are today and empowering you with the hope you need to keep moving one foot in front of the other.

The truth is this: your life is meaningful and valuable. You are worthy of love and care, and having an eating disorder does not lessen that. Because eating disorders are chronic diseases by nature with strong biological underpinnings, this may very well be an ongoing part of your life. Rather than wallow in the overwhelm of what lies ahead, mindfully meet yourself in the present to act on what it is you need today to keep yourself moving forward.

No act in recovery is too small or insignificant to continue challenging the eating disorder that calls you away from the life you want to live.

“Even in the moments where it feels like all hope is lost or that you cannot possibly pull yourself together once again, there is opportunity for healing and restoration.”

Wherever you might find yourself today, it is important to understand that recovery can meet you exactly where you are at: in the midst of brokenness, confusion, shame, guilt, frustration and the overwhelming messiness of life with an eating disorder. You cannot wait for yourself to reach a certain standard that will never be met. Recovery can start with the simplest of steps: confiding in a friend, eating that next meal, staying off the scale, asking for accountability, connecting to help. Sometimes recovery means pulling up the blinders and resisting the tendency to compare to what everyone else is doing; simply focusing on the here and now and asking yourself, “What is the next step I need to take to keep moving forward?”

And remembering recovery is indeed defined by progress, not perfection; every valiant act of courage taken in hope of overcoming an eating disorder should never be underestimated.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brené Brown

RecoveryWarriors

Isolation Excuses and Path To Recovery

Isolation Excuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

Path to Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Departures

I got a text last night from a peer that she is being discharged today.  I think I mentioned her a few days ago, and said that I was frustrated because she was re-engaging in ED behaviors. Well, she made herself sick enough that she needs a higher level of care and Hilltop wants her to go somewhere else.  I think this is probably a good choice on their part, because she has moved through the levels of the program twice this year already and now is back to needing residential care again.  Clearly, the program is not working for her right now.

I have really mixed feelings and also no feelings about her leaving.  I have gotten to know her pretty well and I have spent a lot of time with her.  I have both enjoyed her company and been driven crazy by her.  I will miss her companionship and support and I won’t miss her constant push-pull and attention seeking behaviors.  So those are the mixed feelings.  And as to no feelings; I will not cry when she leaves.  I am sooo burned out on feeling anything anymore when people leave…It’s just pointless.  I will hug her and say nice things and be hollow and emotionless.  I won’t feel and I won’t cry.

And when she goes, it will be pretty much the end of our relationship.  I will keep her as a facebook friend for a while and text her some, and eventually it will taper off and I will stop texting and unfriend her and after a longer while, I will delete her from my phone.  No…this is not some maladaptive grief process (that would be the not feeling/not crying I mentioned above).  This peer is a treatment friend, but not a recovery friend.  I am very particular about who I keep as recovery friends and so far, I only have two that I have kept and they are both from Renfrew.

What is a recovery friend?  It is someone who is interested in her own recovery.  And being interested in her own recovery means that she is interested in mine.  Rather than having our eating disorders collude, or feed off each other, they exist separately.  My recovery friends don’t even have to be in recovery.  As a-matter-of-fact, Beibs is not at all in recovery, and her ED may well kill her, but she wants to recover and is open and honest and thoughtful about her struggles.  What she needs more than anything is to come to Hilltop for treatment.  I truly think she could get the help she needs here.  But I digress.  She doesn’t hold my recovery back, she helps me move forward.  And the same is true of my other recovery friend.

Treatment friends? Are just that.  Friends I have while in treatment.  Treatment isn’t a vacuum, I need support and friendship here, but those friendships can stay within the confines of the programming.  I haven’t connected with anyone here who I plan on keeping as a recovery friend.  Wait!  That’s not true.  I can think of someone I will keep as a recovery friend….

Oooh…I just thought of something.  I was kind of thinking as I was typing, “Why have I not made any recovery friends here?” And I kind of scrolled through my Renfrew friends in my mind and I got to Sarah.  I think I know part of the reason that I don’t want to take the risk of recovery friends at Hilltop.

Okay.  I am not in the mood for dealing with Sarah right now, so I am just going to shut this down.  Fuck, Meg made such a big deal out of this when I came to Hilltop.  And she even brought it up when I transitioned to Kyla. What if she is right? I had this pushed way back into the recesses of my mind…I didn’t mean to dig it out again.

Ohhh…Fuck again!  I am not liking the connections I am making.  Since I am on the tail end of the program here and so is everyone else in IOP, what if I am struggling staying connected in the group because I am already trying to break off emotionally to protect myself from them and me leaving?  And trying to keep emotional distance to avoid more Sarahs?

Sometimes, I hate my introspection.