How I’m REALLY Doing

This past week, maybe even a little before that, I have been transported back to Summer 2014. My eating, or lack of, is out of control. I have no energy. The main difference from then to now is the fact that I am 30 pounds heavier than I was.

There are many more differences than just my weight and I will get to them as well. My weight now is allowing me to hide. I don’t look sick. You could put me in a line up with other healthy people and I don’t think I would be picked out as the one with the eating disorder. Now I know size has absolutely nothing to do with how much someone is internally struggling, but in my case it’s the only real symptom I show. My parents never believed I truly had a problem until suddenly my hip bones were clearly visible and I didn’t fit into my clothes anymore. Being at a heavier, normal weight now means that they suspect nothing. Heck, my mom even suggested cutting back or ending therapy which I absolutely still need.

It’s hard to admit, but my eating is out of control. I literally can’t tell you how it happens. One moment I am sitting and doing something else and then my parents leave for a little and I run to make it look like I ate a meal and just throw it all out. In those moments I blank out. I am powerless against the thoughts. Same thing goes with exercise. I start and continue to push, push, push, until I am beyond exhausted and in pain from running. I don’t allow myself to enjoy the run or any food I actually do get in.

It’s hard to actually speak about how little I eat. I don’t realize how bad it is until I see the sad and worried look in Jenny or Kim’s eyes when I am honest. Just today I wanted to cry seeing Kim react. I mean this is more than just restriction. It’s skipping meals and entire food groups. It’s running on the lowest amount of calories and food intake I can bear. Today I had just three bites of sloppy joe after Kim begged me for a good 15 minutes and I felt like exploding. I have moments of clarity like then where I see this is bad but I don’t really want to change.

I am scared. Actually, make that terrified. I owe it to Kim and Livvy and Lily to tell Jenny the truth. She already heard it last Wednesday and told me the next step would be IP at Forest View if I didn’t improve. I don’t want to go back, not now. I really can’t go back. I have five weeks left in this semester and if I don’t finish my parents will kill me. I have to finish, there is no getting around it. Telling Jenny how I have been struggling would mean possibly losing my chance to finish. Although I am in full denial that I’m as bad as she thinks, I can be forced against my will if she believes I need to. I’m also worried that even if I do go to FV again it won’t help. The words of T who was been in and out of treatment for 15 years always remind me how IP is a bandaid to make you stable not to cure you. What if I go and waste more money we don’t have and then I’m not better?

I honestly can’t say what the next few days will bring. Tomorrow school starts again for the week so I at least will have some distraction. I made a promise to Kim to work harder this week. I meet with Paul tomorrow (not looking forward to it one bit) and since it’s also going to be the last time I see him ever I don’t plan on mentioning the restriction at all. Maybe if he asks specifically but I just don’t feel like it. He’ll just give me another “You should consider Forest View” talk which I already got from Jenny. Wednesday I meet with her and I may or may not be truthful. If I can do better with food until then I probably will be. If not then there are no promises. My number one goal right now is to stay in school. Five weeks is all it takes. After that, who knows.

This is not a Pows & Wows

I just honestly don’t feel like doing one right now. Maybe next week or something. What  I DO want to talk about today is my current state.

Jenny said it in session today. I believe it. I’m spiraling downward, and pretty fast. There’s so much going on in my life (Grandpa doing poorly, school, family drama, parents so stressed out they can’t deal with me, etc) and I’ve resorted to a lack of caring about myself. I’m not eating enough. I’m eating even less than I was at some points this summer. I’m hiding everything from everyone. I’m not reaching out to support. I feel really hopeless.

Jenny told me that if I continue she will put me into Forest View. I was angry to hear that. I absolutely cannot go back there right now. If I don’t finish school my parents will kick me out. If I don’t go to Calvin next fall they will kick me out. Failure is not an option. Even if they didn’t have these views I still wouldn’t be willing to go to treatment in the middle of the semester. I am almost done. There’s no way.

I am terrified. I don’t know whether I should just lie and keep going until May or if this could give me a little motivation to do better. I don’t need this fear to add to everything else. I mean yeah I am a tiny bit afraid of getting even worse, but I’m way more afraid that someone is going to find out and/or do something about it.

Apologies for the negativity and if this doesn’t really make sense. It is how it is.

My grandpa is dying.

They don’t know when but tonight in the ER the doctor said they can’t do anything more for him. He has CHF and water gaining and bad O2 levels. I know too much to believe that this will ever get better. Pastor is talking about how he’s going to make him do all these things and get better but I know it won’t. He’s dying and there is absolutely nothing we can do.

This is the first day I’ve ever cried about it. I haven’t seen him so sick. For a while it was like he didn’t even know we were there with him. I want to give up. I want to quit school and go to FV right now. I feel unstable and scared. I just wish things were different.

Chance encounter? I think not.

Before I get to what happened today, I have to add the back-story of what the past month has entailed. Trust me, it shows how much a little thing like today can mean a lot more to someone in a depressive/bad state. My thoughts have been terrible. I am not exaggerating when I say this but they are the worst I can remember (depression wise) ever. I honestly can’t remember ever feeling so bad about myself. Something as small as accidentally bumping into someone or having my mom get irritated at me causes crying spells and a flood of bad thoughts. I can’t find things I like about myself. I don’t have confidence in anything I do. I am paranoid about every friendship I have and feel like a burden constantly. I can’t begin to describe how much I hate my body, the things I do, who I am, and myself in general. I will spare the exact thoughts because to be honest I am too ashamed to share them. I’m sure even without them it’s apparent how I’ve been.

That brings us to today. I have had a really crappy day. I didn’t want to wake up or go to school. I skipped Christian Fellowship because I feel like I’m too broken/bad lately and I don’t deserve to have support or love from them. I had lunch Erin and restricted pretty heavily (while tricking her into thinking I am fine). I’ve missed Forest View so much. I wanted to come home and do more self-destructive things. I was going to until my mom and I happened to go into the grocery store.

A lady from our old old church (who I haven’t talked to in gosh like 5 years?) stopped us as we were passing by. I was kind of confused at first when she started thanking me for sharing my stuff on Facebook. Then she started asking about treatment and I realized she was actually talking about all of my posts for NEDA week. I think the rest of the conversation was spent with my jaw dropped because I couldn’t believe any of it. She told me she knew someone who wasn’t doing well and struggles with an eating disorder. I had nothing but praise to give her about Forest View. I have never talked so openly to basically a stranger about this stuff before. I offered to speak with the person she knew if needed. After thanking my mom and I for our help, we went our separate ways.

I have to admit the conversation didn’t suddenly convince me that I’m a good person or anything, but it brightened my day. I helped someone. Sure it’s in a really indirect way and I may never actually know the results of it, but i did it. I shared my story with hundreds of near strangers. I opened up the opportunity for others to come to me about similar issues. I mad a difference in a tiny way.

I’m still dealing with a ton of thoughts I’d rather not have right now. It’s still a hard day. BUT, I know I would be much worse off if I hadn’t had that short encounter today. God knew that I needed to hear something like that today. It wasn’t chance that we crossed paths. He wanted to show me love someway today because I needed it badly. I am so thankful for that.

Pows & Wows 3/15/15

Pows

  • Took my night meds on accident before our lock-in Friday so I was barely alive for the first two hours. Whoops
  • Tired/achey/crampy/headachy
  • For the third time in about 3 months, I was hit on by a high school freshman… who thought I was 15. Gahhh
  • Technically hasn’t happened yet, but tomorrow is going to be LONG because I’m not bringing or buying any caffeine.
  • I should be used to it but thoughts are bad and obsessive and I am over it

Wows

  • Lunch with Kim Thursday was really good 🙂
  • The lock-in was amazing and I got to hang out with some of my girls and that’s my favorite thing
  • I slept almost 4 hours after I got home at 7:30 in the morning!!!
  • Stayed in my PJs all of Saturday
  • Church was great because: hugs + sermon + worship
  • Tomorrow I start my yoga class at college! I’ve been wanting to get into it for a long time and I definitely will continue after the semester too
  • I feel oddly anxiety-free about our presentation on bulimia for abnormal psych tomorrow night
  • I got to run on the treadmill while watching Netflix and it was so what I needed

Pows & Wows 3/11/15

Way way way late so this may be ginormous.

Pows (I’ll try to do these in order)

  • My grandpa was in the hospital again almost all of last week. I’ve spent more hours there and visiting him at Pastor’s house than my own. It’s hard. He has congestive heart failure. He is dying. I haven’t shed a single tear over this and I don’t get why. I’m really numb. It’s also been family drama and stress to no end. I just want things to be back to normal again and him to be better.
  • School is stress and I am not doing well in my classes
  • Got the rejection letter from Honors Fellows
  • Not much relaxation during break or at all, unfortunately
  • My thoughts have been worse and worse
  • Today in therapy Jenny said the D word (depression) and also is calling Paul. It was really exhausting too.
  • I feel sick. IBS SUCKS.
  • The last few weeks my middle school group has been challenging. It’s hard to want to go every week when most of them act out and don’t even attempt to learn anything. I have a few who truly do though and hope that the others will change. Until then, I have to be the “mean leader” unfortunately.
  • Feeling overwhelmed in general and all the time

Wows

  • I am thankful for my church so much, especially lately. I feel better when I’m there. It’s nice to feel loved even if I don’t deserve it. I also love the fact that I can change people’s lives with what I do.
  • I am trying to be a better friend. I’m not aiming for perfection either which is unlike me.
  • Kim has been amazing. She always is but this week I needed that push and support to get help. I am beyond thankful for our friendship.
  • I told Jenny, Olivia, and Kim what’s been going on. That was hard. I am hopeful good will come from it.
  • Regardless if they know it or not, people around me who say small things out of love are really making me push forward.
  • Comedic relief was reading a case study on bulimia and seeing that this girl was 100% cured and done with therapy after 22 sessions. I would die if that happened.
  • The bulimia study is actually helping me to realize things I never knew about my own eating disorder.
  • Tomorrow is the last day of school for the week. It’s  been a long one but I can relax just a bit after 4:30. Also, way more awesome than the weekend is that Kim and I are doing lunch. It’ll be nice to chat and help each other a little.

What do you mean you’re not beautiful?

Most of my day was spent at the church (not complaining, those are the best days!). I spent the morning in church, headed home for a bite to eat, back to church for pinewood derby car making, home again to have a snack, and finally youth group. It wasn’t until the ride home from youth group that the words in the title of this post truly sunk in.

Before we started building the cars, I was chatting with two of my favorite 5th and 6th grade girls. I’ve let K help me take pictures before so I was giving it to her when she asked for my picture because “I’m beautiful” which I replied with my “heck no/Ed” face (Jenny and Kim know this way too well). K, bless her soul, then asked “What do you mean you’re not beautiful?” At the time I shrugged it off and life moved on. I had no idea how this small moment would affect me just a few hours later.

Currently, Rick is teaching/using videos with Francis Chan’s amazing book “Crazy Love.” I absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s a Christian, wow it’s good. Tonight’s lesson was on what does it mean to have God love us with this “crazy love.” At one point he poses a question about a point in our lives when we truly got what God’s love means. Immediately, I thought of my breakdown at camp a month and a half ago. In that moment I saw how much God must be hurting to see me so sick and at times fighting against Him. Thinking about it now almost brings me to tears, in a good way. I still don’t understand how God could love ME, with my brokenness and scars and faults and baggage. How could I possibly be good enough to be considered His child?

After thinking of the night at camp, I realized how much what K said relates to it. These past few weeks I’ve sunk into a depression. I’ve questioned everything: my value, abilities as a youth leader, academics, and other things I don’t feel comfortable speaking (or blogging) of. Thinking about how God sees me is so much like K’s (and the other kids/girls) view. She loves me. She thinks I’m beautiful. She treats me like I am the best person in the world. Not that she knows anything about my eating disorder or depression and whatnot, but I feel like she would see past those things even if she did. She isn’t the only one though. So many kids at Awana look up to me. I get more hugs than I can count every day. My girls have assured me they love me too. Rick praises me on what I’m doing during youth group Wednesday nights almost every time I see him. Kim no doubt loves me and values our friendship. Mama Joyce always always hugs me. Mrs. Hall always talks about how great of an AP student I was and how I continue to be good to her kids and help her out. The list doesn’t stop at church and this isn’t even everyone at church, but for space and the point of this post, let’s pretend it does 😛

Each of these people mentioned are all showing God’s love to me, I just didn’t realize it before. They don’t care what I’ve done. They aren’t forced to love me or even like me, but they genuinely do. This love is pure and true. I didn’t see that all before. If all of these people, and the creator of the universe love me, how could I be as terrible as these bad thoughts say? Not one of them have ever said anything remotely close to what my thoughts constantly echo: you’re fat, you deserve to die, you’re too broken, no one could ever love you, you will never be enough, you aren’t worth anyone’s praise, perfection or you’re a failure, on and on. Why is it that I still believe these thoughts over everything else that I’ve ever heard? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question but I am going to try and combat it just the same.

Starting today, I am keeping a “Love Journal.” I am going to put all of the nice things people say/text/whatever about me. The first entry will be what K said today. I want this to look back on. Even if I can’t believe them yet, they are much closer to the truth than any self-talk I’ve ever had.

Someday.

Someday I’ll get better. Someday I won’t feel guilt after every meal. Someday I won’t need therapy. Someday I will have even a shred of confidence. Someday I won’t hide behind “I’m fine.” Someday I will finally feel like I belong. Someday it won’t hurt to smile. Someday I will say I love myself and mean it. Someday I won’t have any lingering urges to pick up something and harm myself again. Someday I won’t feel like I’m bleeding everyone around me dry. Someday my parents won’t always watch me like a hawk. Someday I’ll have no need to make excuses for all of my appointments. Someday I won’t let food control my willingness to attend a social event. Someday I won’t whisper mean comments to myself every time I look in the mirror or see any part of my body. Someday I won’t spend so much of my alone time crying. Someday I won’t feel broken.

I was always holding on to someday, but now someday isn’t holding on to me.

What I (probably) won’t share in therapy tomorrow

Fair warning: this is going to be negative. As always I’ll do my best to stay away from triggering info.

I’ve been dealing with some really crappy thoughts lately. And by lately I mean the past forever. I ignore them usually (smart, right?) and haven’t mentioned them to anyone. I feel like now is a good time to talk about them so I don’t have to in therapy.

My lovely disordered thoughts are definitely changing. Before I would have extreme guilt and self-hate thoughts after eating and also before I ate. This would cause me to restrict heavily then feel bad even eating a tiny bit. Now that I’m all fully committed to recovery I have been eating better, but not really for good reasons. Basically it’s only because I feel extreme guilt letting my mom, Livvy, etc down. In doing this I am creating way more negative thoughts than I could have. It gets to the point where I hate myself and my new body and all of the gross foods I’m eating but I just don’t care about myself enough to change a thing.

The thoughts I’m dealing with now suck. I hate myself 100% of every single day. I can’t think about much else. I don’t even have confidence in things I normally would, like my ability to be a youth leader. Mirrors, old pictures, getting dressed, really anything can be a trigger. Once I head down the negative route it just doesn’t stop.If I’m being honest, I have had suicidal ones lately too. It’s not really wanting to do anything but more feeling like I should be dead. If someone told me I was going to die tomorrow I really wouldn’t care… I know there are people who love me (I don’t get why though) but it really doesn’t make a difference. I’m sick of who I am and who I’m becoming. I would rather not burden anyone anymore.

Well that’s the end of negative thoughts for the night. No way I’m sharing it with Jenny tomorrow. I haven’t told a single health professional about any of the suicidalish thoughts since… Susan maybe? So it isn’t going to happen tomorrow, that’s for sure!

I know certain members of my support would probably yell at me if/when they read this so let’s hope they don’t.

NEDA Week in pictures

I love everything about NEDA week/month! Last year I was sick and posted things about recovery because I thought I was fine (I chuckle at that thought now, ha). I wanted to do more this time around. I shared about a zillion awesome articles, infographics, videos, etc on my Facebook which probably annoyed everyone but oh well. I also took NEDA week itself as a time to share my story which I had never done before. I do frequently post tiny snippets on IG but FB is a completely different story. I wanted to change that even though actually posting was HARD. I ended up doing a wear purple picture each day with an intro part I kept the same through the week and then the second half of the caption I shared my story. Here’s a rundown of the week:

Sunday – Day 1

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  • First thing’s first, Kim and I made NEDA week challenges for each other during our bible study time. I definitely had “the Ed face” (I’ll have to make a post on it some day oh boy) on when I first read through it. Ed HATED it. Emily wasn’t so happy with certain points either but we promised each other we would do it so I couldn’t back out. Looking back it really was a good thing, even if I’m not much better at drinking milk than I was Day 1.

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  • These two go together with my dreaded fear of changing cereals and dairy. Kim bought those Cheerios for me so I wouldn’t have an excuse not to get more vitamin D. You better believe I gave her “the Ed face” for that one! I believe I got about two sips of milk in that night. Other than this week I haven’t touched milk once since FV so it’s harder than it looks. I did, however, prove to myself that I can eat cereal other than my beloved Kashi. At least I’ve expanded my food variety a teeny bit.

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  • This part I posted with each day: My very first #wearpurple selfie to kick off #NEDAwareness week. This years theme is “I had no idea.” I am going to be sharing parts of my own story to go along with the theme and spread awareness this week. It is so important to get others more information about eating disorders so we can provide adequate treatment, erase the stigma, and eradicate eating disorders one person at a time.
  • And the “I had no idea” part: I had no idea… that losing a few pounds due to sickness could be fuel to the fire and ultimately help start my battle with this disease.

Monday – Day 2

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  • I posted a ton of post-its with inspiring messages in the women’s bathrooms at school. It was so fun and I had to be pretty stealthy since I wanted it to be anonymous. Too bad the janitors took them down by the next day and I had to put more up 😦

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  • I had an ounce more of bravery for my Day 2 post: I had no idea… I would lose so much more than just weight to my eating disorder. Only since being in recovery have I begun to see how much this disease changed my life. I lost friends, trust, health, happiness, faith in God, and more. Even if the weight is most obvious to others, the psychological and emotional effects of eating disorders are just as important to consider as physical ones.

Tuesday – Day 3

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  • I went all out with the awareness at school. I printed these awesome posters from the NEDA website and hung them up around school. Nobody took those down thankfully 🙂

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  • Made up and put up a bunch more post-its. This is the last day I took pictures of but I did continue each day I was at school.

[there was a comparison photo here but I no longer find those as anything but harmful]

  • This was absolutely amazing. It was really hard but I am incredibly happy I decided to do a transformation Tuesday and post this photo and caption: I had no idea… that recovery is possible and so beyond worth it. 8 months ago, I was the girl on the left. I let ED thoughts control my life. I was physically weak and mentally in a terrible place. I was dying and I really didn’t care. I thank God that none of the above is true anymore. I have my bad meals, days, and sometimes weeks, however, my worst moments in recovery are nothing compared to when the ED was in full control. I am learning to love myself again. I have light in my eyes. I am happy and blessed to be alive. Recovery is nowhere near easy but it is the best decision you could ever make for yourself. No matter what the ED voice says it IS possible to fully recover!

Wednesday – Day 4

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  • First up is the tear-inducing message I received from a girl I went to high school with but have never actually spoken to. This and other comments thanking me for sharing my story make opening up and being vulnerable so so worth it.

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  • I had no idea… only 1 in 10 eating disorder sufferers get treatment. I am part of the lucky ten percent. Treatment has saved my life. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today with the awesome team I’m blessed with. Lack of awareness, poor health professional knowledge, and the huge stigma surrounding these disorders all play into why so few get treatment. Let’s take this week to change that.

Thursday – Day 5

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  • I had no idea… that hating my body is not a fact I should simply accept about myself just because it’s all I’ve known since I can remember. I’ll be honest, I don’t love my body now. I am just beginning to head in that direction. It’s a lot of work. The thing is, I know there’s better than how I feel about my body now. I will love it one day. I have hope. Recovery has given me that.

Friday – Day 6

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  • My mom bought Ovaltine to go in my milk since it has D in it. Somehow that definitely made drinking my milk harder but I pushed through and got closer to finishing.

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  • I had no idea… that I was never alone in my struggles, regardless of what lies the ED fed me. There are 30 million plus Americans who have eating disorders. They come from a variety of backgrounds and make up all religions, genders, ethnicities, ages, economic classes, body types, and walks of life. Eating disorders do not discriminate. If you were like me, and feel alone, please know that you aren’t. There are so many people out there fighting, just like you.

Saturday – Day 7

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  • I had no idea… that many health professionals overlook or misdiagnose eating disorders. The problem here is twofold. First, doctors and other health professionals need more education on eating disorders. They have to be able to see the signs and know what kind of care their patients would benefit from. I’ve had a few bad experiences myself when it comes to talking about it, even with a therapist. At the very least, they should be able to point you in the right direction for treatment even if that isn’t them. The second issue with EDs and health professionals is the nature of the disorders. It’s shameful when you’re stuck in one. It isn’t easy to admit what’s really going on. Awareness is truly helpful in this area because once people realize that they may be sick it gets easier to tell your doctor or therapist. I honestly believe that getting awareness and education will result in more diagnoses and treatment.

    Eating disorder awareness week/month ends today, but the need for information, awareness, and learning doesn’t stop here. There are so many ways to get involved whether it be through participating in a NEDA walk, donating, putting fliers up, sharing on social media, or finding out how to support a friend in need. Together we can make a difference and beat eating disorders.

I hope I made a difference this week. Even helping just one person in some way makes it all worthwhile. I have learned a lot about myself this week. I’ve realized that sharing my story is a gift. There has been even more of a fire lit in my heart to help people with eating disorders. I have talked with some strong and inspiring people. I am going to continue spreading awareness and helping others in any way I can until next year!