The happiest place on Earth with an unwelcomed guest

They say Disney World is the happiest place on earth. I have no doubt it is for many people, just not me, at least not my last trip there. My time was hijacked by anorexia and I didn’t have much happiness to speak of at all.

I along with three other girls in our school made it to HOSA nationals which just so happened to be held at Disney. Instead of being elated when I received my medals, I panicked. I barely managed states and now they wanted me to hop on a plane with two other girls and my teacher and fly down to Florida for 5 days? I didn’t think I could do it. My parents threatened to keep me home if I didn’t promise to do better with my eating. Despite the voice within me screaming no, I signed up for the trip. How bad could it really be? Even before we left the airport I knew I had barely any control over my situation.

Ed took over the entire trip. I had to find the lowest calorie options possible for each meal. When our teacher informed us we must have breakfast each morning, Ed told me grapes were good enough. I had two days of testing at the main resort. I was so low on calories I’m really not sure how I managed to focus during my tests. Except for those few hours in testing, I was constantly exercising. I purposely “explored” as much as I could and made any excuse possible to get up and move. Even when the other girls were resting I found some way to burn more calories. I was constantly obsessed with not gaining weight on vacation though I knew deep down I was actually doing the opposite.

The days we went to the park was way harder than I ever imagined. I started by skipping breakfast and then lunch all while the others thought I had both. I didn’t have close to enough calories to even break even for the day. We walked 10 miles at least and I still felt it wasn’t enough. When it came time for dinner I had a tiny amount of food. I just couldn’t do it. I think at this point the girls and my teacher figured something was wrong. They made some comments which I blatantly ignored and denied.

The whole time I was so miserable. I had little energy and nearly fainted multiple times. I didn’t get to have anywhere near a full experience. I was cold some days even though it was in the 90’s and sunny our whole trip. I put on a huge front for those girls though. None of them could have guessed the internal war I was going through. I put on a fake smile and pushed on through. They just assumed I liked to eat healthy and had a small appetite. In some ways I wish they would have said something because maybe I would have gotten help when I got home instead of waiting until the end of summer. I lost so much weight that week. My mom looked like she was about to cry when she picked me up. Even though she commented on the weight difference, I was able to hide my eating habits while we were up north at the cabin. That trip also brought weight loss.

I look back at Florida and want to cry. I was so sick and I didn’t believe it. I needed help. My dream is to go back to Disney one day but this time not bring Ed. I think I deserve to truly enjoy it and be healthy next time around.

Pows & Wows 12/29

Only a day late this time woohoo!

Pows

  • Foot is still killing me which means no running and makes for a very anxious/moody me
  • Useless appt with Paul this morning
  • Way too many holiday/family/friend dinners the past week

Wows

  • I survived above dinners for the most part
  • Don’t have to see Paul for two months!
  • Christmas Eve service was beautiful
  • Christmas was mostly hard but also good because how can celebrating Jesus’s birth ever be bad
  • Rick&Kim and family are coming over Friday AND I plan on truly challenging myself with the meal
  • Officially less than six months until NTS Camp!!! (yes, I am starting my countdown way early)
  • I have time to decorate my room more this week
  • LILY GOT OUT OF TREATMENT TODAY! I am so proud of my little big sis 🙂

John 10:10

I was flipping through my bible and noticed a verse I marked last summer: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. I wrote in next to it “Ed= the thief/satan.” I didn’t fully get it back then, not a chance. Now I think I do.

Ed has had one and only one positive impact on my life: weight loss. I thought for so long, and still believe to some extent, that because I was losing weight I could ignore any bad things that came from it. I was wrong.

There are some things this eating disorder stole from me that I will never get back. I have pushed so many friends away, and those relationships are irreparable. All of these things I put my body through have serious consequences, some of which I am still too scared to admit are happening. I put my family through hell. I don’t think it will ever be the same. I have completely ruined more meals in the past few years than I can count. I can’t take that back. I’ve said nasty, horrible things to people who love me that I’m not sure can be forgiven. I don’t think I will ever be able to see my body realistically no matter how hard I try.I have turned down so many different events and fun things because of my fear that food could be involved. My trip to Disney that should ave been the highlight of my year was ruined by Ed. My relationship with God has suffered. I have become a shell of the girl I once was.

Ed/Satan has taken these things and I let him. I still do. I don’t fight like I am supposed to. I am trying, some days at least, to repair what has been broken and replace what is lost. It’s not easy. Not everything will ever be “normal” again. Despite all of the bad thoughts and the fear that I won’t ever be okay again, I still have hope that God can heal me. I will always have to carry these scars and pain around with me but I believe that it can be lightened. I have to, because being here wouldn’t be worth it otherwise. I want to follow Him fully into recovery. That’s the only way it’ll ever get better.

It’s hard looking back on all of this, but also a little empowering. I can’t do this on my own. I’ve tried and it just gets me back on this same path. What this verse is teaching me now is that I need God, more than ever. I am going to embrace Him, not my eating disorder and not anything Enemy tells me. I can’t let any more of my life or future be stolen from me.

Tough.

I had a hard day/night. We went to a friend’s house in another city and I hated it. My mom really tried her best to be accommodating and have some safe foods for me, but all of that was no match for Ed. I absolutely hate eating with people I am not used to. This is an extremely small number. Adding that to the fact that I was already worn out from fighting Ed this week made it a recipe for struggle. I had zero control over that meal. I barely had enough to convince my parents that I wasn’t trying to starve myself. I felt really bad about not trying their food but the guilt of having it would have been too much to handle. I shrank away after the meal and barely spoke the rest of the time. All I could do was think about the calories I consumed and couldn’t get rid of.

I think the main cause of excess Ed thoughts this week, other than the fact that it’s holidays and such, is that I injured my foot last week running. It’s extremely painful to even walk so running or exercise in general is out of the question. Each day gets worse as I become more anxious from lack of burned calories. I’m considering running on it tomorrow because that pan is better than having this mental battle everyday. I also have done a super crappy job of utilizing support. I feel like a burden and especially so since it’s the holidays and all. I simply don’t want to be anyone’s problem.

Tomorrow I’m going to try and at least distract myself for a little while. I have lots of space left on my motivational wall and tons of time to write/draw things out. Having no true plans is really hard for me, but I have to manage. If it gets absolutely unbearable I’ll be forced to contact support but I am absolutely not doing it otherwise. (Yes I know this is bad but oh well.)

Change

So I am terrible with change. I hate it tons, even for things as simple as a haircut. It took me four months to finally get one inch off ha.

I was completely attached to my avatar photo. It’s from on of the best days at FV and I was so happy in it. The thing is, I don’t look quite like that anymore. I have gained weight. At that point I wasn’t anywhere near a healthy weight. I wanted to keep that picture as long as possible but I realized today that it’s like holding on to my disorder. I have changed and this is okay.

The picture I chose isn’t the most recent, but I am at a healthy weight there. It was the week after getting out of treatment. We went on our traditional end-of-summer vacation up north. I felt more at peace with myself and recovery than I had ever. It was an amazing time. It’s a different feeling than the other picture but that’s okay. I am different. I am better than I was. I am recovering.

Change can be good too.

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We survived.

So this my not be your average Christmas Day post, but then again I am not your average person. Like 1 in 4 people in this country, I suffer from mental illness that just so happens to peak in severity during the holidays. Also like 24 million of those 1 in 4, I have an eating disorder. I like to look at those statistics every once in a while. It helps me realize that I am not alone. We are all here, some in recovery, others in the depths of their disorders, all fighting like hell to keep going each day. This season is hard. It’s not quite over yet either.

No matter how today went, whether you won the battle or not, all of you out there are warriors. You survived today. You did it, we did it. I don’t care what anyone says, because the fact that we are still here living, fighting, beating those demons within us is a huge victory. I really do mean huge.

2014 is almost over. We have spent 359 days this year battling our illnesses on top of everything else life threw at us. There were good days and bad, maybe even times we wanted to give up. The fact that we didn’t is truly a miracle. We’re just six short days from starting a new year. Let’s make 2015 one of resiliency, strength, and refusal to back down. These disorders do not own us and we can continue to overcome them this next year!

The Grinch who stole Christmas Eve

I had a really nice post planned out for tonight. It was going to be full of joy and happiness. Sitting here as I feel right now, I can’t write those words. I am not feeling okay tonight. I’m sorry that this won’t be a great or positive post, but it will be true to how I am doing.

I woke up feeling decent. I was able to down breakfast and relax those first few hours. Just before lunch, however, Ed decided he had other plans. He ruined my Christmas Eve and stole the amazing day from me.

Today was a hard day with food after Ed came into play. I restricted pretty heavily for lunch and dinner. What hurt me even more than that was all of the thoughts racing in my mind. A few months ago, I didn’t think I would be home right now. I was certain I would have been put inpatient. That’s truly where I was headed too. I should be celebrating that fact, and that I have gotten better in a lot of ways, but I’m not. Ed has screamed at me today that because I’m not bad enough to be in a hospital I am huge and worthless. He convinced me that if we saw my aunt this break, she wouldn’t call me “skinny minnie” like last year but would instead stare at all the fat and weight I’ve gained. It’s like all of the sudden I realized all of the food I’ve consumed in recovery and all it’s done to my body. I feel numb and disgusting and appalled.

We went to a beautiful candlelight service at our church tonight. I wish I was more present for it. I tried my best to listen to the verses and songs being sang. I couldn’t bring myself to really sing along or experience any sort of joy. I really hate that Ed ruined it for me. Kim could tell something was wrong, probably from the dead look in my eyes that Ed always gives me, but I didn’t want to worry her.

I want tomorrow to be better but I’m already dreading it. Having family over and the stress that that causes plus being around tons of food really isn’t a good mix for me. I really hope and pray I can somehow have the strength to fight Ed tomorrow, even if it’s just for a little while.

Pows & Wows 12/23

Let’s all pretend I posted this Sunday because I completely forgot 😉

Pows
• Tweaked my ankle running on Friday but woke up Sunday in complete pain and it still hasn’t gotten better
• Sunday was so awkward because I am weird oh man am I still embarrassed
• Had some hard meals and days
• my final grade in philosophy…

Wows
• Get to go hang out with my ex boyfriend’s mother today (and this is still less awkward than the second point above!)
• KINDER. I am obsessed.
• I’ve gotten the good bottle caps multiple times this week
• had so much fun making blessing bags and caroling with the church
• I’ve had a lot of extra time to relax, write blog posts, and basically everything else
• Olivia and I got each others packages and are opening them tonight!!!

What They Didn’t Tell Me About Recovery

Quick announcement – I have some blog posts coming up that I finally have time to write since I’m on break! For sure will be one on recovery like a where I am now and what I have learned, my time in treatment, my time in Disney (and how bad Ed was). Basically all the things I’ve wanted to say but haven’t yet!

Anyways, onto this post. I seriously wish that the second you choose recovery you are magically overnighted a “What to Expect in Recovery (Every Single Thing)” book. That would be so beyond helpful it’s not even funny. Unfortunately, this just isn’t realistic.

My own “start” (I use quotation marks because I truly didn’t have real recovery then) in recovery began with Forest View. Those previous 4ish months in eating disorder therapy with Sue and two months working with Paul? Not even close. Of course, then I thought that I already was on my way and would be 100% okay by the end of the year. Oh man do I laugh at that thought now.

My first few days at FV were a whirlwind. I was in this new and scary world of weigh-ins, blood draws, talking about my feelings, saying the word anorexia out loud, seeing so many sweet sick girls around me, learning about ED behaviors and how the other girls would tattle, Ensures (DISGUSTING SO SO DISGUSTING), cursing every dessert at lunch, and otherwise getting used to everything that was eating disorder treatment. At the time, other than sweet I, I was both the youngest patient (range from 36-55 in the others) and the one with the shortest marriage to Ed. Every other girl had been through treatment before and sadly, they didn’t clue me in too much. I have learned basically all of what’s coming in this post on my own. I want this to be a resource for anyone new to recovery because I know it can help.

Without further ado,

What They Didn’t Tell Me About Recovery

Refeeding syndrome: it exists, and it sucks. I am honestly surprised that no one ever mentioned this in treatment. It was talked about a tiny bit, but never by name. I didn’t learn of it’s existence until I went on huge internet searches (probably should make a post about that too). Even then, I didn’t believe it could ever apply to me. When I went from eating as little as possible to what they tried to force into me in treatment, my body honestly didn’t freak out that much. Looking back, that definitely had more to do with me not following my meal plan AT ALL and continuing to overexercise than me being lucky enough to evade RS. The only minute mention of RS was when my phosphorus dipped very low in my second week. The doctor told me it happens when people start eating again and that I may have to take supplements. Never was the syndrome mentioned. Not even when T had edema in her legs did they give it a name. I believe that by ignoring this “side effect” of recovery FV did me and the other girls a disservice, which is why it is the first point I want to make.  For me, refeeding has brought a sense of lightheadedness that rarely goes away, a slew of GI problems, what I have found are huge dips and jumps in glucose levels, palpitations and very fast heart rate, mood swings like crazy, increased anxiety, confusion, acid reflux so bad I can barely eat some days, and general malaise and feeling “off.” It’s been a grueling few weeks. I never imagined I would feel this bad after I signed the divorce paper. I have no clue when it will stop, but I am hopeful (after researching about 200 different websites to confirm it) that it will. I have to keep pushing through all of these crappy days to get to the good ones. You can do it too! Going back to Ed behaviors only increases the chance that you can have more RS symptoms and nobody wants that. Hang in there because even though I can’t yet vouch for it, refeeding will get better.

Note: My experience of RS has been with AN, and I am sure it’s different depending on the disorder you have and each person, so please look into other resources to see all that RS can be (here is a great one). Also, please don’t follow my example. I have and continue to make excuses why I don’t need to see my doctor. This is beyond unsafe for anyone in recovery. If something doesn’t seem okay, go to the doctor. It’s better to be worried for nothing than miss something dangerous to your health.

Your body will recover WAY faster than your mind. Weight gain is a part of recovery. I’ve heard this so many times I can’t always hide my annoyance when people tell me this. I know I can’t recover but stay at the weight I was in my sickest. I just wish there were a way to gain weight only as your mind starts to recover. Sadly, another wish of mine that isn’t ever going to be possible. When your body and mind aren’t on the same page, it so easily becomes a very negative situation. Ed is constantly whispering that all you’re doing is becoming a huge fat whale and that it’s all you’ll ever be unless you follow his demands. You hate your changing body because you aren’t ready to accept it. Another way this comes into play that I didn’t expect at all is when it others see your body change. Once you start to be at a healthier weight, suddenly those around you assume everything is fine. News flash: you cannot tell how much of an internal struggle someone has with an eating disorder based on his or her appearance. It is so hard to keep going at this stage. No one around you believes you are sick but you still deal with Ed thoughts constantly. Your mind WILL catch up, I promise. As for the people who now become skeptical of your sickness, do your best to ignore them and lean on others who support you.

Committing to recovery doesn’t make it any easier – at least not at first. I don’t know about you, but the day I first thought about recovering I imagined it being a smooth process from there on out. I always figured in a few bumps in the road but my visions were absolutely opposite of what I got. Recovery is HARD. It’s choosing to fight every single day even when you’re worn out and your body feels like crap. You can’t half-ass recovery. A lot of the times it just sucks. There’s no way to sugar coat all of the bad days I’ve experienced. Here’s the thing though: it will get brighter. I have noticed some changes in myself already and others around me always comment on how much brighter and full of energy I am now. A few of these came from people who never knew about the ED, so I definitely believe it’s true. I have a ton of bad days, but I also have experienced some of the best days in years. It’s a rollercoaster of thoughts, feelings, and emotions but it is worth it. I can’t entirely vouch for that one yet but I know I’ll be able to one day.

It’s not always best to surround yourself with fellow eating disorder sufferers. To put it plainly, being surrounded by people who are going through the same thing as you can be quite triggering. Between Tumblr, Instagram, and here, I follow hundreds of girls and guys trying to recover, in recovery, and still deep in sickness. For me it can be so inspirational to see someone I feel a connection with eat that pizza or throw out a scale. I love reading all the positive things. Like I said before though, recovery isn’t all fun and good. There are far more negative and triggering things posted and said than positive ones most of the time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be part of the recovery community or support friends who are in the fight along with you. I actually feel that is one of the most helpful tools available. Feeling like you aren’t alone in this is so very beneficial. For example, I have Livvy, Kim, and Lily who are all at varying stage in their recoveries and it i amazing to lend them support and receive it. I don’t think I’d be at this point in recovery without that. I also benefited from the recovery community before I even believed I had an eating disorder. The thing about having so many people around on social media or in person is that it can be detrimental to your own recovery. Pouring yourself into others is great but not if it hurts you. Following these people on social media is great until you reach a point where all of their posts become huge triggers. It’s hard to do, but I have had to hit the unfollow button so many times I’ve lost count. It’s for my own health and good, even if I felt a little guilty. I have also set some boundaries in a few of my relationships with friends and people I met at FV. That was harder than clicking unfollow but has benefitted my recovery. I haven’t blocked anyone out of my life but now it’s not so much an “I’ll give everything I can to help them even if it’s unhealthy for me” kind of relationship. As I’ve cleaned up some people who weren’t such a great influence on recovery, I’ve found tons more positive ones to “replace” them. I follow a ton more fully or nearly fully recovered and also ones who will, like me, try to not post triggering things. It’s so much better scrolling through my dash or IG now. It may take a bit of effort and hard decisions, but you will be so much happier once you find a balance of who you keep in your circle when it comes to other recoverers.

Not everyone you tell about your eating disorder will be a viable support or understand it. Oh goodness have I learned this one the hard way. I have gone through a pretty good number of support people (many of them “support” sadly) in the past year or so. I picked up a few when I started self harm recovery (including TJ who was amazing for the self harm for the first few months. He was exactly what I needed even if we don’t talk about it now), dropped off one or two after that, added a couple more once I realized “oh wait maybe I have an eating problem,” tried to frantically find more who would understand as I slipped deeper into the ED, lost all physical support and basically everyone online/out of state except Livvy and Lily, found people in treatment, and finally, finally, finally solidified support in person with Kim and eventually went on to reach out to more people like the youth girls and Christian fellowship members. It’s been very hectic figuring it all out. I think I’ve learned a ton about what to look for in someone who can be support and also some red flags that someone wouldn’t be great at it. Hopefully my advice can help to avoid the bad kind of support. One of the most important traits is someone who is mature, emotionally/mentally stable themselves, and not shy about talking of these type of things. Hint: don’t try to blab emotional things and blurt out to your best guy friend you have an eating disorder when he has never been there for you emotionally and always shies away from that kind of talk. He and I no longer are even friends, and it’s mostly because he a) didn’t know how to handle it and b) tried to tell me I was faking it and wanted attention. I may be a bit biased but girls/women have done much better in my experience than guys. It probably has something to do with my friends’ personalities, but I also think eating disorders are incredibly complex and just something most guys won’t understand. I do have three wonderful ones who have been great for me though. Another thing when finding support is making sure you’re comfortable sharing things with them. Eating disorders are deeply personal and it’s not always easy finding the right person you are willing to share with. It will be uncomfortable sometimes but it shouldn’t be to a point where you don’t feel you can trust or talk to them. If you are lucky enough to know someone who is recovering or has recovered these type of support help so so much with the right boundaries. I cannot say enough good things about my three. It’s a complete blessing to not be in this fight alone. That being said, anyone can be there for you, not just fellow fighters. Also, please don’t feel down on yourself if you lose support after a while. It happens. It hurts. I truly believe the ones I have broken contact with are gone for a reason.

You may have to switch therapists, doctors, dietitians, etc a few times but having a great treatment team is KEY. I have been to three therapists, my doctor and then a psychiatrist for meds, and finally a new doctor who will help me keep my health in check. Although I don’t have or feel the need to get a dietitian on my team, they too can be great tools. At the very minimum a therapist and good doctor should be on your side. It’s okay and normal to have to “shop around” a bit when it comes to these people. It isn’t about not wanting to hurt their feelings or being worried of switching. In the end it comes down to YOUR health and the professionals who best get your situation and can help you. Trust me, all the hassle of finding the right ones is so worth it in the end.

You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Okay, so you don’t technically have to be, but it certainly would help. Nearly everything about recovery is uncomfortable. You eat as Ed is screaming at you every bite. You have refeeding symptoms. Your body image makes you see yourself as a potato, at best. Urges to use behaviors are constant and fighting it takes 1000x more effort than giving in. Sharing feelings and struggles with others is never very easy. Getting rid of those who are toxic to your recovery and health is hard. Admitting you need help is one of the most challenging but worthwhile things you can experience. Basically everything you do in recovery is fighting the voices in your head. It’s getting up every morning and yelling at Ed to shut up. It’s conflicting emotions and feelings. It’s fighting like hell. All of the bad is beyond worth it when you picture the freedom and life beyond your eating disorder.

I truly hope at least some of this will resonate with you. Also, a point I find so important is that I don’t want this to scare anyone away who is contemplating recovery. In fact, I hope that it insteads prepares you pretty realistically for what comes ahead. The positives far outweigh anything else that comes in recovery.

To anyone who read all of this, you’re a champ! 😉

Honesty Time

So… honesty time. I haven’t been honest with my parents, my support (Kim and Livvy), my therapist, or myself. I’m not ready for the majority of it (coughcough Kim and Livvy and Jenny should just read it here so I don’t have to say it) but I have to start somewhere.

In being honest, there’s no way I’m going to come out and tell my parents everything I’m about to reveal here. They STILL do not know anything at all about my huge slipping back into Ed basically since I left FV. I don’t plan on telling them. It’s probably better that way. The only hint they even have that things aren’t okay now was yesterday. In saying that, however, my mom just thinks it was a mixture of stress and having little sleep.

Jenny and my support I am almost completely honest with. They are here to help me and can’t do that if I lie to them. I have a hard time telling my support when I’m struglgling because I feel like a burden and I don’t want them to worry. I still end up telling them most things though. Kim especially can see right through me and knows when somethings up (like tonight). Livvy can tell too so I really don’t have too much deception there. Jenny I’ve also told basically everything to except what I’m about to talk about.

Alright, so what’s been going on I’ve really been in denial about. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to admit it. I am finally beginning to realize it isn’t okay and that the signs have been there for quite a while. First off, my depression is worsening. I just can’t seem to stay positive and any small negative thing overwhelms me. Negative thoughts take over and make me feel terrible. I don’t have much desire to do anything and it also attributes to not wanting anyone to know. This second part is so much harder, but I am having self harm thoughts. Not just self harm, sometimes even worse. I have had a hard time walking past pills at the store and I’ve searched all the cabinets to see if my parents missed any when they took them away before. Not as much, but I have considered cutting. I think at this point there is a much stronger leaning towards pills. I’m not too sure whether I would really do it again. I think maybe if I got that bad of thoughts I might. I am pretty scared. Even though the pills are and have been hidden for nearly a year, I could easily get everything if/when I had about ten minutes home alone. This has been fine before since I didn’t have that strong of a desire to do anything but i think if I keep going down this road I will get them soon. I think the worst part about admitting this is it means I am just where I was last year. I had quit self harm and I took up my eating disorder full force. Now, I am trying my best to recover from the eating disorder but this old behavior is trying to creep in. I don’t want that to happen.

It feels so weird to have that all typed out. I want to cry thinking how I have gotten here. I want to give up sometimes because it seems impossible. I need to recover from all of this fully. I can’t keep going to different bad coping skills. I want to try and be honest with Jenny and my support. I think it will be hard but I need help if I want to get better.