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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Suicide (Not Me) and Monday

Suicide

Being part of a community of mentally ill/fragile people is challenging because you never know how close to the edge anyone is.  Last night, I saw a Facebook post from a friend (who I have kept in regular touch with) from my previous treatment facility.  Friday, she tried to kill herself, and it sounds like she almost did.  She had to be intubated, was in the ICU and was in a coma.  Strangely, I have no emotional reaction to this.  But it makes me want to keep all my current peers a safe distance away.  I don’t want to connect with people who are just going to disappear out of my life.

Or who disappear and then pop back in.  I am still Facebook friends with my friend who killed herself earlier this summer.  I don’t know why…I just haven’t had the heart to unfriend her.  Every now and then, someone posts a message to her and so I get a notification from her page.  It is unsettling and kinds of jolts me into feelings that I don’t want to have, so I just ignore it all.

In the transition meeting with Meg and Kyla, Meg brought the suicide of my friend up.  Honestly, at that point, I had buried the suicide so deeply inside of me that I had practically forgotten about it. Although my memory of the transition meeting is a bit sketchy, I think Meg said that I had not grieved the loss of my friend.  I don’t know what to think of that.  Have I grieved? Do I want to grieve?  Does it matter?

Monday

I am so anxious about today, that pretty much as soon as I woke up, my hands were shaking. I don’t know how to get my shit together and not lose it at PHP.  Well…I can almost guarantee I will lose it at PHP, but I don’t want to.  And I will probably have to face Kyla today and I sooo regret that email that I sent her Saturday in which I told her how I was feeling because she forgot me.  I don’t know why I wrote it or what benefit I thought I would get about stating my feelings and showing a bit of vulnerability by doing so.  What the fuck was I thinking?!

I cannot do this.  I can’t do any of it.

 

 

 

 

Two Things

Thing One

I do appreciate comments and words of support on my blog, especially as I struggle with things like body image and my concerns about my size and weight.  However, I think I need to bring attention to something about me and my struggles.

I have an eating disorder.  Yup.  I do.  I have an eating disorder that wants me to restrict food like crazy, exercise like crazy and count calories, measure portions and has totally taken over my whole flippin’ life.  This eating disorder has caused me heart troubles which had the potential of killing me, consumed my cognition and has eaten up weeks and now months of my life with residential treatment.  I am on the hard road to recovery, but am nowhere near recovery.  I have a couple more months of treatment ahead of me and then months more when I am home.

Soooo….Comments and/or advice encouraging dieting are not really helpful to my process.  I’ve got the whole “dieting” thing down pat.  It is the “surviving and living” thing that gives me the real challenges.

I cannot in good conscience approve comments on my blog that have potential to undermine my recovery process.  Right now, I am referring specifically, to diet related comments, but I also have had pro-ana comments which I also have not approved.  For more on the that, I refer you here.

Thing Two

I am really, really anxious about my transition to the partial hospitalization program. I don’t like change, I don’t want change.  I like my safety bubble here on top of the hill.  I don’t wanna leave.

And yet, as Meg aptly put it, I need the challenge of the step-down in level of care.

The problem is (among others) is that this change of program and coinciding change of living situation has made me desperately homesick.  If I need to leave Hilltop, then I just want to go home.  <sigh>  And the thought of being away from home for 4 months is just painful.  <double sigh>

I packed up most of my stuff tonight for the move on Thursday.  I figured it would be easier to not do it tomorrow when I am in a panic about the transition.

<sigh> Sometimes, it just feels hard.

The ED Fights Back

So much for this morning’s feel good post.  I made a tactical error today which has kind of sent me into a tailspin.  I had an outing with a friend and tried on some shirts as I really need a couple of new shirts…And I looked at myself in full-length mirrors….And it was disheartening to say the least.  Really, I am angry and disgusted and my mind went straight to restricting and over-exercising to fix me.

Then we came back just in time for dinner and dinner was a cream based soup.  I don’t eat cream based soups…It is not on my list of “safe” foods and I discovered it is super triggering.  I nearly cried…I would have except that it was my last meal with my friend Mel who is transitioning to a lower level of care tomorrow.  I didn’t want to ruin dinner with her.  She actually tried to coach me along and I tried to eat the soup….But it was a fail.  So, I had to supplement.

Really, I feel like there were too many fails today to make it any sort of a good day.  And I hate myself and I feel like I am disgusting.

And tomorrow, I have appointments that I don’t want to have and I have to “confront” someone about something I don’t want to deal with, but my therapist is kind of making me do it.

Plus, my dish partner has been very unreliable and there was an enormous amount of dishes tonight and I was overwhelmed and frustrated as I was trying to deal with them while I could hear her laughing and chatting with the direct care person in the next room

Plus, my dish buddy and I are also supposed to do the group meal this week….but instead of planning for it, my dish buddy is off saving a sick baby raccoon.  (No, I am not kidding.)  And I just feel like, “fuck it.”

I am done, I am tired, I am angry and I hate myself.  This is not a great way to start the week.

Tug-Of-War

I think I have changed.  Not a huge change, and not a consistent change, but I think something inside me has shifted.  I am listening to one of my peers complain about breakfast and her portion size and trying to negotiate that if this portion is such and such big, then that portion should be reduced.  And you know what I am feeling?

Annoyed.

And there is the shift.  I don’t feel ED solidarity towards her cause.  I feel like, “Eat the fucking food before you starve to death” (a very real possibility for this person.)  And then I was thinking about my jelly serving a couple of weeks ago…and a couple of weeks before that.  Sometimes, I get the wrong amount of jelly with breakfast, i.e. too much.  The first time it happened I complained and insisted they check it and then reduce the portion.  A couple of weeks later, the jelly was over-portioned again.  And I stared at it and I contemplated fussing about it.  And then I thought to myself, “It is a teaspoon of jelly. It won’t kill me and it is not going to be much more calories anyway.”  And so, I ate the jelly.

I waffle back and forth between this healthier attitude and ED over-ride, but when I decide to not listen to my ED, it is not so hard.  As a matter-of-fact, I am no longer white knuckling through meals (as they like to call it).  I am not saying every meal is easy, or that I don’t check-out emotionally sometimes, but I am more relaxed, even letting myself taste food and even looking forward to certain meals.

I do get backlash from my ED about this, so a good meal or two can be followed by intense restricting/exercise urges, or a need to check my body to make sure I am not getting fatter as my ED screams at me, “You need me.  If you don’t listen to me, you will get fat and be more disgusting and you will look stupid and weak.”  And I do cave.  It is not easy standing up to my ED…but I a getting a little bit better at it

And then there are moments when I lose those little bits of Self I am starting to activate. Like earlier this week, I got walking privileges. Yay!  I was (and am still) so happy about it. Not because of the exercise, but because of the nature-cise. But…when I found out that I have to eat more food to compensate for the increased movement….Well…I balked.  In a huge way.  I decided that my walks weren’t worth the extra food.  To walk, I now have a mandatory half-snack in the morning and my half-snack in the afternoon was turned into a full-snack.  The kicker is that I had recently asked for an optional morning snack as sometimes I am actually hungry <gasp> in the morning.  But when I was told I had to have it….That stubborn ED dug in his heels and gave me lots of backlash.  I didn’t tell anyone, but before that first mandatory morning snack, I cried.

But, I am doing it. And I a getting in my walks. The first two walks were awkward as I am supervised by staff and felt kind of self-conscious.  Last evening, we went on the walk and I was relaxed.  I looked at a kind of nut I have been seeing on the ground, I am not sure what it is, but brought one back to the house to google.  I found some mint in someone’s road-side garden and tore off a piece and smelled it and then explained to my walking companion how the stems on mint plants are square (yup, they are…check it out sometime).  We saw echinacea and some echinacea plants in a neon-reddish shade I have never seen before.  We looked at the ornamental grasses, which seem very popular here, but I rarely see at home, I am guessing it is too cold at home.  We looked for the horses, we chatted about the houses on the street (which are crazy-huge) and enjoyed the cool air and the breeze.  I even got a couple of mosquito bites.

Was it worth an extra snack?  Yup.  Last night it was.

And yet, my mind also plays with me and tells me that when I am on my own, I won’t need to have an extra snack. I can exercise all I want and lose all the weight I want and be happy.

Things may be shifting, but it is more like tug-of-war.  Hopefully, I will manage it better as I keep going through treatment.

 

Humble Pie

Okay…I am not such a stubborn person that I can’t admit when i am wrong.  And I think I was wrong about that direct care person that peeved  me so much a week or so ago.  And I am willing to ‘fess up to my error.

I have been ignoring the fact that the past week she has seemed a bit more grounded and looking a bit less like a deer in headlights and maybe is showing a bit more confidence.  I have been ignoring all of this because, if you may recall, I wrote her off as un-trustworthy.

But.

Earlier this week, I ordered some clothing from amazon.  I decided it was time to add a little bit to my wardrobe (which does get a bit old after 5 weeks, plus some things fit differently from when I got here) and I had recently taken the plunge to wearing the leggings I brought for yoga.  I also have been admiring the colorful and sassy leggings my peers have.  And I wanted a second pair of leggings for yoga and NIA.

Yesterday, my package came.  I had agonized over what sizes to order and when it got here I just plain could not open the package to see if the clothes fit.  Eventually, I made my way to the table by the aforementioned direct care person with my package and evidently, I looked distressed.  She called me out on it and I told her a little bit of what was going on, and I cried a little bit (so annoying! I hate that I cry over everything!) and she coached me through with fact-checking, logic and acknowledgement of how the ED was impacting my thinking.  She didn’t do it as smoothly as the other DC women, but she did it honestly and caringly and she didn’t botch any of it up.  She eventually settled me enough that I could open the packaged and then go downstairs to try the clothes on.  She even offered to go with me and stand outside my door to just be supportive.  I declined her offer as I just wanted to live alone  with whatever shame I might encounter.

But…It wasn’t so bad.  I really like the clothing and the fit.  I kind of wish the sizes (numbers) were different, but I really try to cling to the message I got at Renfrew that it is more important how you feel in an outfit (comfortable, relaxed etc) than how it looks or what the size is.  And boy, oh boy…This outfit is comfy!

So, despite my bit of body shame/discomfort over wearing leggings in general, I am pretty pleased with the outfit.  And it feels amazing, soft, comfortable, and snuggly.  I plan on wearing it all day today.  Maybe it is okay to wear things that I like?  And not just things that I throw on my body to cover myself?

Damn, that almost sounds like a moment of enlightenment.

Lorazepam Makes It All Better

Yesterday was pretty close to the most miserable, awful day I have had since I got here.  I spent the morning having an anxiety attack and crying.  (This started within minutes or me waking) and basically having an anxiety attack with ranging severity for about 6 hours.  It was. not. fun.  I will spare you the details because it is sort of a long saga and too complex to explain. Plus, I don’t want to re-trigger myself into more anxiety.

The end result of my day of angst was that by bedtime last night I felt completely unsafe and just wanted to go stay in a hotel.  I just wanted to have a night of no worries, of safety and of actual sleep.  Since going to a hotel was not an option, I used better-living-through-chemistry to manage the night.

I have not taken any of my as-needed lorazepam (anti anxiety med) since I got here.  And usually when I have taken it at home, I take 1/2 to 1 whole tablet.  Last night, I asked for whatever the max dose was.  It turns out my max dose is two tablets.  I have never, ever needed to take two!  But I figured the only way to get through my anxiety about the night was to numb my nerves and be oblivious to the world.  So, I gulped down my two pills, while wishing that I could have taken a handful.  Then I got into my pajamas, turned the volume on my soothing-noise/white noise app up all the way to drown out anything that i might hear, and I turned so that I was facing away from the door-side of my room.  And I burrowed under my blankets.

I still didn’t feel safe, but pretty quickly I could feel the smoothing calm of the lorazepam wash over me and with the roaring of the white noise app, I was able to cocoon myself to sleep.  I don’t know what, if anything, happened during the night…But I had rendered myself oblivious.  As a result, I slept pretty much straight through the night, only waking up maybe once and again when my alarm went off.  I felt a little groggy from the meds, but that wore off pretty quickly once I started moving.

So, the night in which I was feeling the most unsafe turned into one of my better nights of sleep thanks to lots of anti-anxiety meds and nearly deafening white noise.  I can only imagine how much better my night would have gone if I could have taken more of the lorazepam and just completely deadened myself to the world.

Today is another day.  Most of my angst about yesterday is gone, though I still have a reminder on my arm where I self-harmed.  That will take a while to heal.  Maybe it is a good representation because even though I say my angst from yesterday is gone, it will take me a while to feel safe here again at night and a while for me to heal from the emotional trauma of the day.

 

Lots o’ things

Yoga

I did survive yesterday, though it was hard.  You wanna know what got me through and improved my day?  Yoga.  I sooo miss my regular yoga.  I was actually wondering if I could convince Mac to let me do a little YouTube yoga video I like.  I would only do it once or twice a week as sort of a grounding thing.  And it is not very long at all…It wouldn’t be like real exercise.  I can guess what she will say, but it might be worth asking.  But then I was looking at YouTube for the video I wanted to do so I could show Mac but I can’t find it.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter, she will say no anyway.

Purging

Our newest peer is really struggling with purging.  It kind of throws me back to the anxiety of Renfrew where there was way too much “Public Purging” as I used to call it.  I know it is pretty much a compulsive behavior, but sitting at my station in the common area and listening to someone purging in the bathroom is beyond disturbing.  Plus she talks about purging all.the.time.  I find it triggering and I don’t even purge! I also walked into the kitchen dining room and she had clearly just purged (which means likely in the sink, but I don’t even want to contemplate that).   I got my laptop and sat down at the table with her because she was alone.  I didn’t do anything, didn’t try to caretake or anything, I just sat.  She told me she had already purged 4 times.   I hate the way eating disorders consume my peers.

Homework

I had a backlog of homework to work on yesterday.  In the morning, I finished two assignments that I started over a week ago.  Then I did two assignments that I had been procrastinating on doing for the anxiety therapist.  After that, me and Mel worked on a menu and grocery list for this week’s dinner we are doing (cooking for the group of residents here).  I was going to start some of my new homework from Meg after dinner, but honestly, I was just plain tired.  That homework can wait until when we have free time today.

Dinner

I had to supplement last night at dinner.  I am not really happy about it.  We had tofu (again) for dinner and it was served as a giant flaccid slab.  The chef cooks it so the sides are somewhat browned, but most of it is jiggly inside.  And when I say slab, I am not kidding.  It is a giant chunk of tofu.  I cannot eat it when it’s served like that.  Actually, Mac and I have discussed it.  I can’t stand the texture served like that and it also brings back some really negative memories of how the tofu was served to me at Renfrew….Over and over again Renfrew would serve me lukewarm, unseasoned, soggy tofu. It made is so now I just can’t stomach it. <shudder> Usually, my preference is accommodated and they cut the tofu into slices and then cook it, but it didn’t happen yesterday.  So…last night, I tried one bite of it, and just knew I wouldn’t be able to choke it down.  And that’s okay, I just opted for the supplement and thus completed my dinner.

I don’t like Monday Mornings

It is Monday again and that means a blood draw.  I hate this part of Monday.  It means that I have to hustle and make sure I get weights and vitals done right when they start (not that I don’t always get them done first thing) and then drink as much water as I can, so that I am super-hydrated and my veins will be easier to find and skewer.  I can’t hydrate more slowly because drinking before being weighed is a no-no. Unfortunately, the rapid consumption of lots of water makes me feel kind of sick, and then by the time breakfast comes, I feel kind of queasy.  It’s not really great.

And actually, speaking of breakfast, it is oatmeal day, which I also really dislike.  We have a set amount of time in which to eat breakfast and oatmeal day is really stressful because after we sit for breakfast they cook the oatmeal (it is instant oatmeal so they microwave it) which takes a while because they are cooking 10 oatmeals. Then I have to wait for my oatmeal to cool enough to eat it.  Plus, my oatmeal tastes like nothing.  It is gluten free and has no flavor what-so-ever.  And I don’t think it has anything in it for a sweetener.  It’s kind of like eating paste.  Mac said I can put some spices in it to help with the flavor, but I think it is just going to end up tasting like spiced paste.

I am not looking forward to the next couple of hours.

PTSD And Extreme Anxiety

PTSD and Extreme Anxiety

Not having a good morning so far.  My PTSD is in super-overdrive and I am crawling out of my skin with anxiety.  My hands are fumbly so I am dropping things which then surprises me and I jump.  I took the trash out (my chore this week) and heard a tiny noise and startled so much that I just about burst into tears.  And everything else that is causing me anxiety (like trying to keep gluten cross-contamination from happening when we all are self-portioning at breakfast) has my anxiety at an astronomical high.  This has the makings of a terrible day.

Plus, I ran my experiment again about if I am actually getting checked on at night.  The answer is that I am not.  And I mentioned it to my favorite DC and she said she was going to email the res director about it.  She said she wouldn’t use my name…But I am really afraid.  The particular night person who is not checking on me is kind of nasty (and this is not just me…everyone has had run-ins with her.  And yesterday, she was in rare form and was nasty to pretty much all of us.) I am so afraid the night person will figure out it was me who said something, and the backlash will be awful.  If she is bitchy now, what will she be like if I have pissed her off?  And I don’t have the tolerance to deal with my feelings about this today.  I am fucked.

And I have a shit-load of assignments to work on. And yoga, which I would ordinarily love, but I am having an almost frighteningly heavy period (like, I am used to heavy periods, but this one is scary-heavy) and am afraid I will have an issue while doing yoga poses. But if I skip, I will get a non-compliance.  And I actually want to do yoga because I like it and could really use it today.  <sigh>

So…how do I mange the crawling out of my skin, astronomical high anxiety and bleeding to death?  I guess I can get support from direct care for the first two and just will muddle through with the last.

Or I can just suck it up and ignore it all.  Except that that’s probably not the most therapeutic solution.

Yup. Today is going to suck.

 

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.