My Process, Her Process

Fascinating.

You know what? I am getting better. I am sort of stumbling along, feeling the ups and downs and looking forward, but I have forgotten to look back to see how much I have changed.

This morning I ran to get some groceries with a peer.  It was an eye-opening experience. This peer has had more treatment than me and has really struggled.  I know she still struggles based on her words and attitudes and emotions.  I didn’t anticipate issues shopping with her, or I wouldn’t have asked her to go with me.

She checked calories on every single item she bought, while saying the she knew she shouldn’t be doing it. She did not buy certain foods based on their calorie content while saying that she knew she shouldn’t be doing it..  She talked about having high binge urges and then bought a fistful of candy at the check-out.

Wow.  She is still totally enmeshed in her eating disorder.

I don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou, because I certainly peek at calories and question food choices based on calories.  But…I work very hard to not scrutinize the calories of everything I buy.  I may question food choices based on calories, but I don’t refuse to buy foods because of calorie content.  And the one time I did intentionally buy a low-cal food, my nutritionist told me to throw the food out and buy what I would have normally bought, and you know what? I did it immediately after my appointment.  Yes, it was painful.  But I did it.

So, how far have I come?  I eat food.  I eat more than 350 calories a day.  I exercise minimally.  I rarely self-harm.  I resist restriction urges or restrict very mildly.  I calorie count sometimes, but not often.  I worry about my weight, but I don’t weigh myself every day, or every week…or even at all. I don’t body check every single day.  I eat more than a rotating cycle of the same 5 foods.

Even though it is far from perfect, all those changes are huge progress. I think I have some hope for me.  I am not judging myself against my peer, but seeing where she is in her process just made me realize how far I have come in my process.

Just for the heck of it, I looked back to see what I was writing during this time last year…..It’s kind of painful to look at:

Hyper-focusing Again (Still?)

So…this is not being a good week at all for my Nutritionist goals.  My therapy-induced upheaval has just super charged my eating hyper-focus and I am unable to snap out of it and I have been unable to diversify what I eat or increase the quantity…If anything, I am eating less.  And I have lost more weight than I am supposed to (again).  I am supposed to be losing about a pound a week and anything in the 1-2 pound range is acceptable.  This week, I have lost 5.4lbs.

But hyper-focusing is the only way I have any control in my life right now…So, I continue to hyper-focus.  And if I am being totally honest…I think I am getting worse.  Now, when I sit down to eat, I feel sick.  Like the idea of eating makes me sick to my stomach.  I don’t know if this is just extreme general stress (I do have other stressors right now besides the therapy upheaval) or if it is food stress.  But it worries me.

Oh well…I suppose it doesn’t really matter anyway.  Like I have said before, I am nowhere near starving to death, so it’s not like I am hurting myself.

All I have to say is ouch.  I was totally hurting myself and though I didn’t know at the time, you can malnourish yourself to death (i.e.starve) while still having fat on your body.

Holy shit….I was sooo oblivious.  I wonder what I would have thought if someone sat down with me and told me what was going to unfold over the next 12 months.  I am sure I would have just dismissed it as them over-reacting and not believed it.  But now, I have lived it.  I want to say it’s been a shitty 12 months, but that isn’t fair.  Because despite hitting some real lows, I have been crawling my way up out of that hole and working to get myself better.  Yes, there have been some shitty parts.  But I have also found strength and courage I never thought I had.  In that respect, it has also been an amazing 12 months.

 

Blackberry Cobbler

Woke up this morning and before I was fully awake, I thought I was home.  Dh loves toast and eats it alll the time.  (Seriously, he is a toast addict!)  So, the woman I am living with was already up and I could smell toast, so I think smelling toast as I was waking up transported me back home to the many mornings I would wake up to the smell of dh’s toast. It made for a rough start of the day.  Funny how a simple smell can transport me the 1160 miles to home.  I want to say I hate being here…but I don’t.  I need to be here to get better.  I can’t hate being here because that won’t help me.  But I would be much, much happier to be home.

Monday, among other assignments, my dietitian wanted me to make a blackberry cobbler.  I have been eating a lot of blackberries and she was concerned that I was being repetitive with my food.  (Really, it was because blackberries have been $1 a package…and unheard of price back home and I love blackberries, so I have been eating as many of the as I can!!!!!) I took up her challenge, bought a cute little Pyrex container and baked my cobbler.

15300530_10208305239848005_1605056625_n

And then? I panicked. Because step two of making the cobbler would be to eat the cobbler. And I panicked.  I am sooo mad at myself.  Like it’s just a stupid cobbler, why can’t I eat it? Why does my brain go right to the fact that it is calories and that I can’t have extra calories?

See why I can’t hate being here? I still need to be here. As frustrating as that is to admit, I am not quite done my work here yet.  And I won’t be done any of the work when I go home, I know that.  But I need to be more consistent with the food.  I need to be able to panic over food and still eat it. Oh…right…the cobbler.  So, I ate one spoonful of it last night, just so I could say I had some. I am going to challenge myself by having cobbler for breakfast.  Because it’s just cobbler, right?  It’s just a fucking cobbler.

 

 

Go Ahead, Invalidate Me. and Ridiculous

Go ahead, invalidate me.  I’m used to it.

So, I am still a wreck.  I don’t feel so deeply depressed as earlier this week, nor is my PTSD anywhere near as activated….But I am still barely hanging on by a thread and really unable to manage much.  At least this morning, I remembered deodorant, which is an improvement over the past week.

Yesterday, at programming, I got upset because I felt misunderstood about something (about what is engaging or not engaging in recovery oriented behavior).  I get frustrated sometimes because everything is judged as, “This must be your ED talking and trying to be manipulative.  This is not you being genuine.”  You know what?  Not everything in my world is run by my ED. <gasp> I know…How can that be?  I mean, my whole life and being is an ED, right?  Yup, I am a completely one-dimensional walking eating disorder (can you hear the dripping sarcasm?).  So, I felt unheard and judged and so I cried.  Only, I wasn’t able to bounce back from the crying, so I sat there and cried for the whole hour of that group.

You know what?  I work really hard to make recovery focused choices.  And I don’t feel anywhere near as wedded to the ED as I used to be.  I know it is tenuous, but at the moment, I feel like I am mostly in charge.  And I don’t feel like my ED is sitting on my shoulder whispering to me.  I’m not saying it is gone, but it is more like it is in a chair near me, watching my every move and making snide comments and offering “solutions” to my problems…but it is not perched under my ear and constantly funneling “advice”straight into my ear.

I don’t feel like anyone understands or recognizes that.  And even if they did, they would say, “Well, that’s probably your ED talking and trying to trick you into thinking you are in charge.”  But what if it isn’t?  I mean the goal of all this treatment is to get me making more decisions from my Self.  From my actual core being.  What if it is starting to work? Look, I’m not saying I’m perfect, and I’m not saying that I don’t want to restrict or that I wasn’t skipping snacks and under-portioning meals just a handful of days ago…But I am saying that I think I am getting better and I really could use some support in that.

And you know what? I’m going to screw up.  I am going to backslide and have really bad meals and probably really bad days and handfuls of bad days.  That is why I am still in closely monitored treatment.  But I feel like my progress is barely recognized and questioned.  And that no one understands that I am not in some glorified, “I’ve got this” sort of state.  I feel more realistic than that.  But look….I am making progress.  I can make decisions based on me.  Why can’t anyone see and support me in that?

It’s funny though…Some of my peers do see it.  Maybe it’s because they have known me longer and seen my progress.  I don’t know.

All I know is that I feel like the staff totally doesn’t understand me and that when I need recognition and support for making progress and trying to do the right things, I am torn down and questioned and invalidated.  It hurts.

The one person who is beginning to understand me, my new therapist, she is never there.  I see her twice a week for an hour. She only works three days a week.  I feel like I can’t get the support I need from her.  And I don’t have any back-up support people like I did at PHP.  I just feel alone and lost.   Hell…I just feel abandoned.  I want connection and support, and I can’t find connection and support.

And my dietitian? Forget it.  I have written but not yet posted a blog entry about her use of the word,”ridiculous” to describe some of my ED stuff.  I was offended and hurt and felt totally judged.  And I haven’t posted it because I have been trying to figure out if I am just being oversensitive.  You know what? I don’t need to filter myself.  It’s my blog, I can say what I want.  Here is that post, I wrote it Tuesday:

Ridiculous

ri·dic·u·lous

rəˈdikyələs/

adjective: ridiculous

deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.

I have to be very careful right now because I am really trying to figure something out.  And I am feeling very…ummm….judged.  I think sometimes that words choices make a huge statement about what someone is saying.  In treatment here, the nuances of wording is often point out, because what you say and the words you can used to say it can be very telling…indicative as to what you are really feeling or what you may be minimizing or how you really see something.

Yesterday, the word ridiculous was used twice to describe aspects of my eating disorder.  The first time, I just sort of caught the word.  The second time, I was staring at some purple candy in my hand, my orthorexia was crooning to me, my brain was saying, “This won’t actually kill me,” and I was resisting the urge to eat the tiny Nerds one by one.  Eating them that way would have felt safer to me.  FYI, eating Nerds one-by-one counts as an food “ritual” if you have an eating disorder.  And as I was working on this exposure and fiddling with my Nerds in my hand, I confessed my urge to eat them one-by-one.  And somewhere along there, the term “ridiculous” was used to in a sentence to describe my behavior.

Ridiculous.  It didn’t feel very compassionate.  By no means do I want coddling or babying, but respect and compassion? Yes, I at the very least, expect respect.  Sitting there struggling with Nerds….Did I need judgment (because I felt really judged) or compassion?  I do have an eating disorder.  I do engage in irrational thought processes about food, calories, exercise, food dyes (i.e. purple Nerds) etc.  I understand that everything I say and do does not always make sense.  I am also working my damnedest to overcome these compulsions.  And it is fucking hard work.  But when it comes down to brass tacks, I have a mental illness.  It is not a cop-out to say that.  Which you know if you know me. But it is the truth, I have a diagnosed eating disorder, i.e. a mental illness.

So…Ridiculous.  Is my behavior ridiculous?  Is it deserving mockery? I don’t think so.  Is it absurd?  This one is trickier.  My thoughts and behaviors are disordered and at times irrational.  But absurd? Isn’t that kind of loaded with judgment?

Okay…So, I am processing this all out because the person who used the word ridiculous, is my new dietitian.  And I am trying to figure out if her using that word is truly disrespectful or if I am just being too sensitive.  Or maybe there’s a little bit of both.  I don’t know.  It felt disrespectful.  Maybe that’s all I need.  My gut says that telling someone that their behavior/thoughts are ridiculous, especially as that person is actively, like in the moment, trying to practice a new behavior, is just not respectful.

Or I am being too sensitive?

Oh yeah, and speaking of my eating disorder, I am sooo really struggling right now.  I am just an emotional wreck and that has spiked some ED behaviors and I am not happy about it.


Okay…so that’s the post.  I know the “right” thing to do is to talk to my dietitian.  But I feel like she is kind of judgey and won’t understand me.  I don’t know…several things about my appointment on Monday were misses on her part.  I don’t really feel like trying to connect with her.  As a matter of fact, I just plain want a new dietitian.

I just wish something at IOP was easy because I am getting sick of floundering.

Struggling/Depressed

I’m not gonna lie.  I am super depressed.  It hits me most in the mornings and evening when I have no distractions.  I am weary and dead-inside.  I struggle to get out of bed and function.  I can’t make simple decisions, like what to wear.  I am overwhelmed.  The evenings are barely better.  I feel hollow and empty and try to convince myself that brushing my teeth is a good idea.  I put on my pajamas and crawl into bed…My mind slowly drifts across the day (not in an obsessive/anxiety sort of way) and I wish I was dead and intrusive thoughts break into my quietness and then I fall asleep.

Daytime is better.  We are so busy here and there is really no way to be disengaged.  I do the work I need to do, I smile at my peers and the support staff, I deflect my sadness with humor.  I am not faking it too well though.  When I am distracted from the busy-ness, my affect changes.  I know this, because I have had a few people approach me in such moments and ask if I am okay.  Mostly, I say that I am just tired.  To some, I have said I am depressed.  Feeling depressed is run-of-the-mill here, so it is an honest answer, but sort of meaningless.  I have not told anyone how depressed I am.  Or that I am struggling to maintain function and to not cry all the time.  (Although, crying is run-of-the-mill as well…so it wouldn’t look any different than any other day.)

I even can tell you why I am depressed.  Last week, Kyla had my write a trauma narrative from when I was 4.  It has stirred up lots of stuff.  She had me read her the narrative and I omitted stuff from it when I read it, which I told her.  She gave me the assignment of highlighting the omitted stuff before the next session.  And I didn’t do it.  She reassigned it.  I didn’t do it. She reassigned it on Monday.  And I did it. And I added to the narrative and I hunted down something I had written and given to the AT in May.  And I hate all of it.  So, the depression has settled around me, like a tarry blanket.  I feel broken and sad and like I am being swallowed into a dark hole.  It’s no wonder that I am tired all the time, I am working hard to maintain my day affect.

So, here I am.  Depressed.

The depression makes me not want to eat.  Supposedly, I am going to be moved to Level 2 today, giving me more autonomy with my meals. I have been waiting for this “promotion,” but right now, I feel like the timing is poor and I will struggle to do what I need to do with my meals.  I have already thought of 101 ways to get around eating what I am supposed to when I am moved to Level 2.  I am frustrated that I think this way, frustrated that I might use the autonomy to work the system.  Disappointed that I can’t shake the ED thinking.

I just don’t know.  I have therapy at 11 this morning.  I am supposed to read the damn narrative again.  But I won’t.  I feel stubborn about it.  Or scared…I guess really, I feel scared and so I want to put up every wall  I can to not have to read it.  However, I may get around it because there are a few things that I actually do need to discuss with Kyla that are not the narrative, but that are becoming pressing issues.  Mind you, she can spot distraction behavior a mile away, so I don’t know what I will be able to get away with, but I do have some other things to talk about that are totally legit.

 

 

 

 

Not Doing Well

I am totally drowning right now.  Seriously, I cannot handle this transition.  I am losing my shit completely.  I knew the transition would be hard, but did not have any idea that it would be this hard.  I am empty and depressed and scared and hopeless.  And I am already restricting.  Yup.  I am such a failure.  I am so ashamed that I can’t even talk to anyone about the fact that I am struggling this much. So, I sit here, in tears, just wishing I was dead.  Struggling with restricting when given more meal autonomy is probably not surprising to my clinicians, and I am sure that even though I will get in trouble for doing it, it is a way to “practice” the skills that I need to overcome the urges, but I just feel like a complete and utter failure.

I don’t know how anyone recovers from an eating disorder.  I have no fucking idea.  I am not the only one at PHP (partial hosp) struggling with urges and/or actively using symptoms. Is it even possible to recover?

I guess the only thing I have right now is the knowledge that it is okay to struggle and I am only barely restricting and that I know it is about having control.  If I can remind myself of my goals and am honest with my clinicians maybe I can catch this before it takes off.

Oh…and speaking of clinicians, Kyla has earned her first strike.  I saw her for the initial appointment on Thursday and she was supposed to check in with me yesterday to see how I am doing.  And she forgot.  I was sitting at the table and saw her come up the stairs, keys in hand, and go right out the door.  And I felt like every single thing I have ever felt about being worthless was proved true.  Honestly, I was devastated.  Now, I feel like I can’t trust her.  She is not supposed to forget me, she is not supposed to make me feel worse about myself and anything she says about caring about me or supporting me (cuz they always say that) is bullshit.  There is no way I am going to let my guard down around her.

She did actually email later in the day and apologize for forgetting me.  And asked what she could do to support me….but I feel like that ship has already sailed.  However, I worked really hard to set my anger and disappointment aside and respond to her email with some “I” statements and reflections of my feelings.  I figured that even though I likely will never trust her, I ought to at least make an effort, especially since she did email me.

Anyway, for what it’s worth…Here’s what I said:

I really want to be snarky and passive aggressive in my response to you….And I am struggling to set that part aside so I can respond from a more Self oriented kind of place….We’ll see how that goes.

Yes, I noticed that you forgot to check in.  I am very unhappy about it because it just reinforces a bunch of my core beliefs and I feel abandoned and it puts a huge kink in the whole trust-building thing.  I already hated the whole process of transitioning from [Meg] and now I just feel like giving up completely.
I am not sure there is anything you can do to support me right now.  I am miserable and struggling and at the moment, I just want to quit PHP and go home.  I am barely managing my ED urges and I forgot to have morning snack today (It was an honest error….I don’t know if you will actually believe that, but it is true.) which has caused my restriction urges to surge.  I feel like I am hanging on by a thread, but that thread is unraveling and about to break.
I know transitions are hard for me and I want to cut myself some slack, but I just can’t.  This process should be easier and I am not sure why I can’t do it right.  At this point, I just hate everything about me and being here.
So….That’s what is going on with me right now.
Oh, and for the record, I may want to quit PHP and go home, but I won’t actually do it.  I am trying really hard to actually get on the path to recovery, and I know going home would not be a sound choice.
And even though I am mad (i.e. hurt) about you forgetting me, I am glad you emailed.  It saved me from spending the weekend convinced that you hate me.
I don’t know…Maybe I was too honest?  I feel kind of unsure about having actually sent that email.   Of course, I feel unsure about everything.
And as to my comment about forgetting snack, it is actually true that I genuinely forgot. Snack is different in PHP, in that you do it within a certain time range, but everyone doesn’t sit down together and no-one announces it is snack time.  In residential, it is more structured and evidently, I haven’t quite adjusted to the new system yet.  And yes, it was the strong restricting urges after snack, combined with some issues about my meal plan and my shame about eating that led to the restricting.  And like I said, it was only super mild restricting, “invisible restricting” so hopefully, I can nip it in the bud today.  As long as I don’t let the shame, self-loathing and feelings of failure consume me, I think I have a fighting chance. Actually, that sounds far too optimistic for what I am actually feeling…But maybe I can convince myself it is true?

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 Food On My Plate and Meg and It Is Happening

The Food On My Plate

Every time I sit down to a meal here at Hilltop I am reminded of my body size and my shame and my awkwardness.  And unwanted attention is drawn to me.

I don’t eat the same amount of food as everyone here because I am bigger than everyone else here.  Of course my body image sucks and the last thing I want to do is draw attention to my body…But every meal does.  My portions of food seem comparatively tiny…dinner is the worst because they serve the food on huge dinner plates and all that space around my food makes my portions glare.  Mind you, I am not complaining about the size of my portions, I would gladly eat less. But my food does not look right on my plate.  As a matter of fact, when served on a dinner plate, it looks like restricting portions.

And to make matters worse, my food doesn’t even look normal.  If I have a sandwich ¼ of it is cut off.  Yup, they don’t accommodate for the calorie difference by juggling around the calories, they just cut my fucking sandwich by a quarter.  And it looks stupid and it glares and I feel so, so ashamed.  It just kind of screams, “Everyone look, Heidi is fat.”  Ugh…I just want to crawl under a rock.

But…It even gets worse.  I have a peer who has severe issues with comparing.  She talks about it frequently and I know she really struggles because she has large portions for restoration of her weight.  And I feel for her.  But she is always talking about how some people have smaller portion sizes (it used to be me and someone else, but the other person was discharged yesterday, so now it will be just me) and she gets really upset.  Monday night, I was seated across from her and she looked at my plate and burst into tears.

I know it is about her and not about me. And I know I shouldn’t care. But OMG…She looked at my plate of food and burst into tears!!!!  I just wanted to disappear.  And I felt so ashamed and so awkward.

I guess my discomfort is two-fold.  I feel obviously fat and ashamed of my body because I have small portions that are cut weirdly and I feel embarrassed and ashamed and awkward that someone would look at my plate and burst into tears.

I am not sure how any of this is actually therapeutic.

Meg          

I am really frustrated with my therapist.  I am starting to trust her and that makes me really angry.  I don’t want to trust her…especially since I haven’t known her very long.  And yet, here I am feeling trusting inclinations towards her and it makes me mad.  The other thing is that she is empathetic.  I hate that.  I don’t want her to be empathetic.  I don’t want her to be nice to me. It’s not supposed to work that way.  I have also figured out that no matter how much I try to push her away, she isn’t going to budge.  She calls me out on avoidance behavior, she points out things that I don’t want to acknowledge and she remembers everything I say.  Basically, she is really good at what she does.  And I like her.  But every part of me screams that I shouldn’t put myself out there and trust her.

It Is Happening

Meg and I are pushing a little harder in therapy and the harder push means we are touching on things that I don’t want to address….So, I am freaking out.  Mind you, no one would know, because I freak out internally except for when I just break and then burst into tears.  But I have started the over-obsessing about my weight, I need to know numbers.  I looked in the mirror this morning and I body checked feeling for my bones and I can tell that I am bigger.  I am clearly gaining weight and it is causing me lots of anxiety.  I am also obsessing about my meal plan and how many calories I am eating.  I tried to ask the nutritionist what the goal of my meal plan is and she gave me a very non-answer. I appreciated her effort of not engaging, but I need to know.  I have restrained from calculating it out…but only just barely.

And my self-harm urges are high.  If I can’t have control, can’t restrict, can’t know anything about numbers, then the only thing I can control is the self-harming.  Of course, along with that is lots of wishing I was dead and just being tired of the fight and wishing I didn’t exist.

So, now I have to figure out how to manage this struggle without engaging in my maladaptive coping strategies.