On recovery

When I started this whole recovery process, I never thought I would still be sitting where I’m at now. I had some idea about recovery being challenging, but I figured it got easier. I expected it to get easier each day. I thought I would be pretty good by now. I didn’t imagine I would still be in therapy and struggling more now than when I was out of treatment.

Recovery isn’t a path that’s always moving up. That’s not even close to what I’ve experienced lately.

I’ll be the first to tell you that recovery can plain suck. There is no sugar coating my bad days, like the past two-ish weeks. It’s a constant battle that you don’t always want to fight. It’s tons of crying and hating where you are and being uncomfortable. The Ed thoughts can feel so loud and overpowering.

Despite how hard recovery is and has been for me lately, I think it’s important to look at my good days.

Good days pre-recovery meant eating as little as possible. This would lead to me having no energy at all, being moody, and plain miserable. Sure, I was thin. Yeah, I did get noticed for that. In truth, however, I wasn’t happy. It was all euphoria that Ed produced to hide all the hurt I was actually feeling.

Even with how much Ed has been trying to convince me I’ve done well these past few weeks, a part of me knows deep down that isn’t true. I have felt terrible. I don’t have energy for school or my youth girls or photography. I can’t stop thinking of food. I have no hope for the future again. I have lost some weight, but I still hate my body. I am having way more depressive and anxiety thoughts. I am starting to believe it isn’t worth following Ed if I have to deal with all this.

Good days in recovery are what I want to live. Even having part of a day that’s good is way better than my best days pre-recovery. In recovery I am making new friends. I am helping others. I am a youth leader. I am laughing and smiling. I can eat and be okay with it. I can enjoy what the world has to offer.

I want to offer a quick comparison. Last Wednesday, I was at the church for Awana after following Ed all day. I barely talked to anyone. I’m pretty sure I didn’t smile once. I wanted to sleep. People kept asking if I was okay. I didn’t want to be there at all. Fast forward to Sunday and there was a complete flip. I followed my meal plan for breakfast then headed to church. I got more hugs than I could count that morning. I could smile. I paid attention to the sermon. After lunch, I went with the youth pastor’s family to their daughter’s soccer game and then to the church. I laughed so much at the game. I took tons of great pictures. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I ate when we got back to the church. It was challenging, but I had Kim and her daughter there supporting me. I felt good after doing it. Overall, that day was one of the funnest in a very long time.

It’s easy to see that my good days for Ed are bad for me, and vice versa. I want to live again. I want more days like Sunday and far less like Wednesday. I am going to fight this demon.

God didn’t design me to suffer from this disorder forever. I am not going to be 40 and still sick. He has such bigger plans for me that I can’t even begin to comprehend yet. The first step towards them is recovery. I absolutely need to stick through with this. I am going to push forward. One step at a time, I will defeat anorexia.

Late night update

So it’s 11:36 and I can’t sleep, so I suppose it’s a good time for the update I’ve been avoiding.

This week has been hell. I haven’t had this bad of a week ED wise since about three weeks post FV when I had a little slip up. This slip up, well it isn’t so little. Without going into triggering and unnecessary details, I will try to explain how I’ve been. It’s hard to pinpoint a time when I started slipping. It came slowly at first but then I just plunged right back into Ed. He was waiting for me with open arms and I ran to him. I have exercised more than I should, not eaten enough, and used some behaviors and lies so that my family doesn’t know at all. I halfway feel guilty about that but Ed is whispering how wonderful I’m doing. The one way I do see that maybe this is wrong is with how absolutely miserable I am feeling. I have no energy, high depressive thoughts, and no personality. I sat there almost in tears on Wednesday at the church and I never ever am not smiling there.

To say that I’ve been stressed lately is a HUGE understatement. Things on my mind include having to apply to colleges and worry about if I got in even though I won’t know for 2-4 weeks at least, two of my close friends going into a psychiatric hospital in the past two weeks (I’m glad they’re safe but I still worry about them both), having some youth situations this week involving eating and if I will negatively impact the girls with my eating, tests/a lab practical/midterm in my classes, scheduling for my final semester at CC, telling the other girls eventually, and writing a philosophy paper that I didn’t start until today. It doesn’t help that my anxiety tends make every worry ten times worse. Also, since the Ed stuff has worsened I also have all of those things constantly on my mind. This has made it harder to focus at all.

The only person who knows of my struggles right now other than Jenny (she doesn’t know THAT much either…) is Kim. I haven’t even spoken to her since Sunday, but at that point she thought I needed to tell my mom if it didn’t stop this week. Their family is coming over tomorrow night for dinner so I highly doubt she’ll ask there, but I know the conversation is coming. I don’t know what to tell her. I can be honest and probably freak her out and have her tell my parents if I don’t. I’m so scared of that. I don’t want to upset her or burden her with that kind of information. Also, there’s Ed screaming to shut up and keep this to myself. No option looks good right now.

I see both Paul and Jenny Tuesday. Again, I have no clue whether to be honest or not. I always always have been in therapy prior to this. I feel no need to lie when they’re trying to help me. This is different though. If I don’t tell them I can continue like this. I can take control for a while. At the same time, I know my parents will realize eventually. That eventually is realistically only a week or two away at the rate I’m going.

I’m so confused. I want to recover, but that is so low on my priority list right now. I have so much going on and Ed is easier. It’s just like last year. I gave in to Ed then because I felt out of control and I feel that way now too. This isn’t good.

So after all those jumbled thoughts I am going to spend some time in prayer tonight. I need to get grounded again. I also need some sleep after that. I know God is with me, even as I’ve been straying away from Him this week. He will work through me still. I know it. I need His guidance now.

Amazing youth activity

Tonight, I wanted to do something a little different for small group with my girls. Kim stayed in with us because I knew that she needed to be here for it too.

I started off by handing out marker and a piece of notebook paper. My first instructions were to write down anything negative that you have thought about yourself or anything someone has said to you. We talked a little about how we felt reading it. Then I shared some scripture that talked about how beauty is on the inside, God’s love for us, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Once I was done reading I asked how they felt about that list now and explained that in God’s eyes we are beautiful and just right. Since all of these things we wrote were so against what the bible teaches we crumpled those up and threw them away.

Next came the amazing part. We each got big white pieces of paper and wrote our names down and then “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I then had us pass it one to the right and write down anything/everything we love about that person, with special instructions not to use any comments about outward appearance. We spent a good half hour passing each paper around until everyone had comments from each person. The girls LOVED doing this but reading what other people thought made me cry. I love these girls so much already. I love being a youth leader and everything they had to say about each other and me is just.. wow. That’s honestly all I can say. I feel so loved and so worthy of it too.

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Mine 🙂

I want to do more activities like this one in the future for sure and I know the girls agree.

Stopping this spiral

It’s happening again. I am obsessing over food. I am restricting. I can’t think anymore. Food is on my mind all day.

I want to cry and scream and make it stop. I am so sick of living this way!

I am going to try. I need to try.

I need to fight back against anorexia. Ed is so loud and he needs to shut up. I am going to fight. I am going to reach out. I can’t fall again. I have to keep going, for my family, for my treatment team, for my support, for my girls, for all the people who love me, for the girls I met in treatment, for myself.

A prayer for my youth girls

Dear Lord,

Protect them. Keep them safe in this crazy world. When they do have troubles, show them You will always be there. I know that they will feel hurt but please allow them to always see Your plan even through the hardships.

Let them always believe that they are enough. There is so much pressure to find fault in themselves. They will have to battle these thoughts often, maybe even everyday. That is not how You see them though. They were all created in Your image. They are beautiful, inside and out. In the moments of self-doubt or even self loathing may they remember how perfect they already are and how much You love them.

Keep them safe from the terrors of mental illness and eating disorders. One of my hugest fear is that any of them will have to go through the things I have. Allow me to be a support if any of them are on those paths now and show them that there is hope and freedom in You.

If and when they experience heartbreak, remind them that they are already loved by the only man who truly matters, You. You already know who their match will be. Let them overcome any pain that boys may cause. In times where love feels hopeless, let Your love shine on them.

If they ever stray away from You, help guide them back. It can be so hard to have faith, especially in times of hardship. Allow them to seek Your guidance in these times and grow close to You again.

Lastly, help me to let Your light shine as I am with them these next few years. I pray that I will continue to grow as I am a positive role model and influence on them. I know that You have given me this opportunity for a reason. Allow me to be whatever they need.

Amen.

Telling the girls

I was planning on posting about this yesterday and then today and now even though Ed has me in a sour mood I won’t let him ruin my happiness from yesterday.

Moving on, yesterday started out pretty good but I woke up after barely any sleep and with tons of anxiety. I went to church alone but joined a few other “orphans” so I didn’t have to sit by myself. I immediately found Kim after church and flipped out had her reassure me it would be okay and finalized a time for our outing. I helped with Sunday school  then headed home until the outing.

Kim is amazing. I may say this about 27  times this post but seriously, it’s true. She’s very insightful and could tell I was still anxious. Her daughter Jamie*, Amber*, and Claire* were the only girls who showed up (out of 7 total). This actually was a huge blessing and I know God planned it that way. Jamie came up with the idea to go to Starbucks and Amber announced that it was adoption day at Petco so Kim quickly decided we had to do both. This gave me an extra hour or so until we went to the beach and I truly appreciate her for that.

We headed out to Starbucks and got our drinks, then went off to Petco. I think we  probably spent close to 45 minutes there. It was so so fun! There were tons of kittens and we stopped to pet each one of course. Having that extra time to just relax calmed my nerves a ton.

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It was the perfect day for going to the park and beach. We had a nice walk through the woods that took quite a while since Kim stopped us for pictures a ton :). The whole time was lighthearted and all of us were laughing and smiling. Once we reached the beach we spent some time soaking in the sun and scenery. Something about the waves and beachy air calmed my nerves more. After we got a few more pictures, Kim kind of nudged me to say it was time to tell them. Thankfully, a picnic table up on the walkway was free so we took camp up there.

Kim started us off in a lovely prayer and then explained that I would be sharing my story. I was a little shaky and fumbled words, but I got through nearly all of what I wrote. Ed was screaming at me the whole time. That on top of the uncomfortable feeling that being so vulnerable gives you made it tough. I wanted to discredit myself afterwards but Kim wouldn’t let me. She kept gong on about how proud she was of me and how well i did.

After I was done the girls didn’t have too much to ask so we headed back. I chatted with Kim on the walk back while the girls stayed behind and talked together. We all jumped back in the car and went to my house.

Originally they were just dropping me off but it turned into a half hour ordeal because I had to show them Mr. Milo :). It was a great way to end. We needed something a little more lighthearted after all of the negativity an eating disorder involves.

The true highlight of yesterday was when Claire commented/texted me about the afternoon. She thanked me again and again for sharing my story, told me she loved getting to know me, that I was part of their little family now, and said that all of the girls would be helping me on Friday when there’s food at the lock in. That made me cry and I still am so happy thinking about it. I know this was the right thing to do.

Overall, I am glad I did this. It needed to come out and the girls reacted so well. I still will have to share with the remaining four girls but I’m not scared fr it. I pray that God can use this struggle as a way for the girls to connect with me or open discussion in our small groups. I am not letting Satan destroy me through this disorder anymore and now I have even more support behind me to fight it.

*I am using pseudonyms for the girls to protect their identities

Recovery milestones

By the grace of God and the blessing of some amazing people in my life, the past month and a half since PHP has had so many baby steps and a few giant leaps towards recovery. Not everyday is completely wonderful, but the bad days are getting less frequent and I am learning to fight through them. For this post, I want to list some milestones I have accomplished in recovery, some very recent and others overall throughout it.

Today marks one week without weighing myself. Our scale is jank. It has been for ehh 2 years. I know it’s jank. I know it can be up to 15 pounds off from the doctor’s. Even so, it has been Ed’s friend. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve weighed myself in this disorder. I couldn’t count how many times I cried and beat myself up over that number on the very jank scale. Since starting recovery I haven’t weighed myself more than once a day and I haven’t had as many meltdowns, but it still it was a significant tie to this disease. This past week I broke free and I have no intentions of going back. I feel better not knowing my weight than I ever did seeing that number creep down.

I am continually thanking God for my lack of health issues relating to the ED instead of using that as reason to get sicker. It’s sad to admit, but in the depth of my ED I wanted to have some health problem. I wanted a heart attack or osteoporosis or something that would prove I was doing well enough in losing weight. I see how completely distorted these thoughts were now but I definitely couldn’t then. I am now overjoyed that I haven’t suffered much physically besides a period of iffy blood work and the dizziness/concentration issues when I was restricting.

I had my first healthy run in 2+ years last night.

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Since the ED started and even before that, every time I ran it wasn’t in a healthy way. I counted calories/miles, was underweight, didn’t eat enough to sustain myself before/after the run, or pushed myself way beyond what my body was capable of. Yesterday was so different. I added this note to the treadmill over all of those things that were so important to me before. I have no clue how many calories I burned, how fast I was going, or how far I ran. I only have a rough estimate of the time but I am doing my best not to care anyways. I ate more than enough yesterday and I am not underweight like before. I simply ran. I want to run more again but I am not letting myself get sucked into the world of overexercising and calorie counting again. I want to exercise for fun and to be healthy. This is the beginning.

I am sharing my story tomorrow and doubling the number of people (outside of treatment/family) that even know about my ED. I know I’ve talked about this a ton, but it really is so important to me and my recovery. I feel blessed to have the opportunity. I hope and pray it will make some kind of impact in their lives. I also pray that having them know will help when it comes to snacks and meals at the church. This is such a huge step for me in recovery and as being a youth leader and positive role model.

I am applying to colleges for transfer soon and flourishing in my semester so far. This one isn’t as directly related to recovery on the surface, but I still feel a need to include it. Without recovery, I wouldn’t have the grades I do right now. There is no way I’d be able to focus and succeed. I also wouldn’t be thinking about transfer colleges because I would still believe I have no future. The fact that I have so many opportunities with my education and am able to make these choices is amazing. A year ago or even six months ago my parents never would have let me even consider staying on campus because I was too sick. I also probably wouldn’t be looking at Christian colleges either because my relationship with God was so broken.

I ate out for dinner without choosing a “lighter choices” meal OR researching calories before/after. Not going to lie, the second my parents said we would go to Chili’s for dinner tonight Ed perked up. He taunted me, saying that if I just get the least caloric entry and research calories beforehand I would be good. I wouldn’t get fat. I would be happy. Ed was definitely loud as I looked at the menu. It was a little bit of a battle. In the end, I won. I got a chicken sandwich and I ate until I was full. Ed screamed at me but I am so glad I disobeyed.

None of these things would be possible if I hadn’t started my recovery journey. I am still working hard everyday and each milestone I pass pushes me forward even more.