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.

Callie’s Oops and the Trauma Narrative

Callie’s Oops

Yesterday morning did not go as planned. Callie had a different obligation and did not make it in to Hilltop until after lunch.   My whole plan of reading her my narrative, talking about my fears about presenting it, etc. was totally blown to pieces.  And of course, there was no sitting in on my session with Kyla.  I struggled with this turn of events.  Of course, my core beliefs were triggered, that I am worthless and not important, that I am can’t trust anybody or count on anybody, that’s what I get for being vulnerable and reaching out to someone. And I kind of sorted through the core beliefs and eventually worked my way to my feelings.  I felt hurt that she had another obligation.  I felt disappointed that she wasn’t going to be there.  And I felt scared that my plan of working with her to manage my anxiety didn’t go the way I wanted.

And of course, I didn’t actually talk about any of this during my appointment with Kyla.  Nor did I talk about any of it with Callie.

Ultimately, just before group, I got a very mini-version of what I planned on with Callie and it was helpful.

The Trauma Narrative

So, presenting the trauma narrative was horrific.  I made it through and I did not die of shame, even though I was sure I would.  I did get supportive feedback which reduced my shame and I did leave feeling better than when I went in.

Now, I have a peer who says things she shouldn’t, so she sat with me this morning and listed all the people who had had a difficult time with my narrative (as in were struggling after the session.)  I didn’t really need to hear that.  But…whatever.  This peer actually says lots of things that are upsetting or triggering to me (and it actually takes a lot to trigger me, but she always seems to hit my sensitive spots) and seems to have no awareness.  So, that was kind of hard.

But anyway…the trauma narrative from when I was 4 is done.  I am sure I will get to process it lots more in therapy, but presenting it in the group is done.

And Callie?  Callie was there in the group, and I totally was comforted by her presence. And her being there and having read parts of the narrative right before group (I had her read the parts that would be hardest for me to not skip, so that she could call me out on it if I needed it) really did help me stay accountable.  And I also knew that she had read the parts and not hated me, so hopefully no one else would hate me either.

And this morning, I feel super depressed and sad and raw.  It’s just a typical day at PHP.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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?

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.

Fitting In

I had a really hard time breaking into the group socially when I got here. At first I realized it was because Sarah’s suicide.  I got close to someone at Renfrew and I really liked her and then a bit over a month ago, she killed herself.  I was really upset after she died (obviously!) and what I didn’t realize is how her death still shadows me.  Like little things set me off and I get really upset.  So, when I got here, I totally distanced from my peers.  It took me about a day to figure out that I didn’t want to get close to them because I was feeling very guarded about putting myself out there and then being hurt.  (I have several side notes about other things that have triggered my sorrow/grief about her suicide here, but will tack that into another post.)

So…The women here are intense.  Most of them are emaciated…Just super, super thin. That, of course, is intimidating to me because it makes the fact that I am fat just glare.  And several of them are so pre-occupied with having to find something to have control over that they openly obsess about random things.  It made approaching challenging.

Plus, they are so obsessed with their weight/size (and please note, I know that I am obsessed with my weight/size too, I just do it differently) that they judge each other and I am sure that they judge me.

I have been walking around the social scene on eggshells.  It has been brutal.  I have felt lonely and like I don’t fit in and very left out.  Those feelings hit on lots of my social fears.  Plus I have felt judged and body shamed.  Like body shame that has been so intense that I have been just mortified to exist here.

And while the women have made small talk with me, I only connected with one, and even then my approach has been guarded and closed.

A fucking rough first week.

So, Sunday afternoon, I talked to a recovery-friend about some of my struggles and when I got off the phone, I had a couple of realizations.  If I want to make friends and not feel socially isolated, I need to behave differently.  I need to engage and be friendly.  I realized later that in my anxiety about feeling body shame and not fitting in that I was probably giving off some pretty defensive vibes which were probably off-putting to my peers.  It was kind of one of those moments when I was able to get out of my head enough to look at myself and see what I can do to make things better.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with a new attitude.  I approached peers and felt much more relaxed and open.  I engaged in small talk and at times, worked to connect on the next level with some of my peers.  And I found some responsiveness on their part and I just plain felt better on my part.  And more relaxed.  Which is good, because the energy I spent being on guard around my peers is better spent in other ways here.

Plus, I have made a friend…Sometime mid-week last week I connected (guardedly for sure) with a woman who I have some things in common with.  And she is nice and I like her.  That relationship has kept me from feeling completely like a social pariah.  Yesterday, we connected some more as I let my walls down some.  And then she did something unexpected.  I ate my snack late as I had had an appt during snack time.  So, it was me and a person from Direct Care at the table.  Hmmm…I’m gonna need a name for this new friend…Ummm…..Polly.  Okay, so Polly came over and sat at the table to visit with me while I had snack.  She was partly waiting to ask the woman from Direct Care a question, but really she sat to chat with me.  And her body language was open and relaxed.  I felt kind of surprised (you know…the, “Why would she go out of her way to come to the table and sit and chat with me?”) and I also felt kind of happy.

Yesterday was totally a turning point socially for me.  This may be a hard group of people to connect with as we are all pretty damaged and guarded and inter-personal relationships are not really our talent (understatement of the day) but….I can do it.  And getting to the point where I don’t feel like such and outsider is a huge relief to me.

Sometimes It Catches Up With Me and The Appointment and Knitting

Sometimes It Catches Up With Me

I was sailing through triple deck appointment day yesterday…Things were going well and I seemed totally under control.  But when I was driving home after appointment #3, my fingers were hurting me.  One of my Heidi-habits is that when I get really stressed/anxious/nervous I pick at skin around my fingernails…Any little bit of hangnail becomes a victim of me picking at it (shredding it) until it is really sore and/or bleeding.  Sooo…I had peeled back hang nails on three fingers.  I know I did one during the Nutritionist appointment, and one during my PNP appointment…Not sure about the third. I realized that I was more stressed than I had thought.

When I got home from my appointments, I lasted about five minutes before I crashed.   Basically, I collected the eggs, let the dogs out, had a drink of water and then was overwhelmed from all the emotions from all my appointments.  I resorted to one of my more benign coping methods…I collected the dogs and went to bed and took a nap.  I haven’t taken a “stress nap” in quite a while.  But I needed to escape from the feelings.

The Appointments  

Art Therapy was really good.  He pushed me super hard and that was okay.  Sometimes, I need super hard pushing….Not necessarily every time I go, but sometimes it is good.  He did something pesky though….When talking about people from whom I got negative messages as a child, he used the term, “abuser.”  Using the term “abuser” acknowledges things that I would rather just ignore and not feel anything about.  That word makes it too real and I don’t like it.  I can’t go there….I feel too much like I will fall apart.

My PNP appointment was good.  She did something unexpected…She apologized for missing the significance of something I said to her years ago.  I appreciated her apology, but more than that, I appreciated her making the observation that led her to her conclusion and that she was in tune with what was happening and then was able to reflect on it.  To me, that is an example of a good provider.  We also discussed why I said in my blog that my PNP appointments are “easy.”  The word “easy” does not imply simplicity or lack of meaning to my appointments, but more that her appointments are the least painful of my other appointments.  Plus, I know I am 100% safe with her…That makes seeing her “easy.”

The Nutritionist appointment was NOT easy.  I don’t need to go into too much detail as you have heard it all before.  What I will say is that I am sooo sick of being told, “It is up to you” that I could scream.  The next person who says it to me may get an unfiltered-Heidi response.  It’s like my N (and my Primary Physician, she has said it too) thinks I can just magically snap out of it…that it is easy to quiet the eating disorder and lay it to rest.  Only…It doesn’t really work that way.  And then when she says “It is up to you.” I feel this intense pressure, like I have to change and do it immediately….but it’s just not happening and then I feel like a failure.  Ugh.

Knitting

I didn’t get done as much waiting room knitting as I expected to yesterday.  I ran two quick errands between appointments and both happened to be in stores with the sssllllooowwweeessttt checkout lines on the planet.  A run-in-and-out purchase should not include 15 minutes of standing in line. <eye roll>  And as much I appreciate a personable cashier, the cashier should not be having long conversations with patrons when there are five people waiting in line.  <double eye roll>  However, I did have a lovely chat in one of the stores with another lady standing in line to buy some yarn. We discussed chocolate (we were standing in front of a chocolate display), the yarn we were purchasing, dye lots, our projects, and she shared that just that morning, she became a great-grandmother for the second time.  (Yes…for someone who has social anxiety, I am pretty friendly when I feel safe.)  It did help pass the time.

Despite the errands, I got a chunk more done on the green kimono sweater.  I am loving the yarn and how the sweater is knitting up.  I showed my PNP how you fold it into a kimono and let her admire it. 🙂  I should be done with it by the end of today (the knitting part, then I have to seam it and do the finishing work on it.)