Back to Forest View and I (voluntarily) drank an ensure

First off, no I am not yet again a part of FV’s treatment program. Despite how much I love and appreciate a lot of the staff there, I hope to never be again. Secondly, no I was not drugged or suffering from a psychotic break when I drank the ensure. These two things actually go together.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, I can talk about what led me to FV. B, a sweet lady from Forest View round 1, messaged me on Monday afternoon and asked if I would like to come to the ED support group. I’ve known about it since last summer but thought of many excuses reasons not to go. I also never had a ride. A main thing I was afraid of is how I would feel being back. I was ready for a full emotional breakdown. (side note: we were on the partial side but if we had been in the “ED room” I would have lost it). I also assumed I would be huge compared to the other girls and would feel judged for it. Even with all these things keeping me, I decided to be brave.

I still teared up walking into the building. I was also extremely nervous and didn’t want to talk at all. There were six of us and I knew both B and S so that was nice. I also got to see Karen (the best activity therapist at FV) and Hannah (old FV ED therapist) which was the best.

Group was almost as amazing as they were at FV. We supported each other and it made me feel less alone again. Also, it was freaking hilarious. L came in late and Karen had her do a motion for how she felt and she flipped her off and then proceeded to make that her favorite answer to anything all night. We had so many jokes and they were perfect. Karen was informed about the “Wack Shack” and had the best reaction. Our next meeting in two weeks will be our “fancy ass tea party” and I’ll just say I am pumped.

After a tough day with food and therapy, group was the comic relief and support I needed. I talked to S and Karen afterwards and, even though I am wholeheartedly #teamnoensure, decided I needed one.

I’ve had a pack of ensure in my dorm since school began. I also have been at a place of needing them enough to have gone through a case by now. Why haven’t I used up a case or even one before monday? I am stubborn and listening to the ED.

Anyways, I got back to the dorms and went to go find my suitemate/RA B. I knew I was not about to finish an ensure on my own. I told her I needed to drink one and asked if she would check on me in 10-15 minutes and keep the bathroom closed so I wouldn’t dump it. I got down a few sips by the time she came back. She gave me a little pep talk and had to leave. I am not going to lie, doing it on my own was HARD. I wanted to dump the rest and fake it so badly. At that point I knew I deserved to fuel my body in some way and this was what I got because I basically skipped dinner. I spent about an hour making small progress and finally finished it. I cried/had terrible thoughts/felt sick and miserable.

Both of these things were steps towards recovery, even if I truly didn’t feel like doing either. Like Sheri says, sometimes I have to push myself to take action even when I don’t feel like doing it or the ED is loud. After all, it’s not one giant leap to recovery but many small steps, detours, pot holes, setbacks, and, in the end, freedom.

And then God had other plans

A month ago, Saturday the 26th, I was singing in the car with other girls, headed to dorm retreat. I was so pumped for the night and knew exactly how I thought/expected it would go down: growing closer as a floor, marshmallows, lots of card games, singing, “mocking”, and enjoying each other’s company. That may have been the case for everyone else there, but not me. We were about to play capture the flag with each floor of girls and guys facing the other two. Seems all good and fun, right? Wrong! Not even five minutes in, yours truly managed to run hard into some guy’s shoulder and get knocked out. So fun, not!

I remember waking up on the ground with people around me and a killer headache and “faceache.” A girl from the other team helped me back to the lodge since I was so unsteady. She sat with me, I got an ice pack and some ibuprofen and figured all would be fine in an hour or two. Wrong again!

Long story short, I ended up leaving dorm retreat that night and headed to the ER. My no big deal injury turned out to be a concussion, broken nose, and fractured orbital bone. I am so lucky to have not lost any vision. I saw an ENT a few days later and had surgery the next Monday. Overall, I was out of school for two and a half weeks.

It was really hard being away. At the same time though, I know why it had to happen. I was on the verge of needing treatment had I stayed in school much longer. Instead, my home became my inpatient. I went through the grueling process of refeeding for what seems like the thousandth time by now. It wasn’t a great time by any means. I still feel sad about all the time I missed. I’m not even caught up yet on all my work. But, despite all of that, God is still showing me how much He is in control.

After what seemed like huge strides towards recovery while I was home, I expected school to be fine. I see now that was pretty naive. It hasn’t been anywhere close to easy. Restriction is as high or higher than before my injury. I’m struggling to focus and handle everything. Eating on my own now is a wreck most days. I am isolating. I feel depressed and anxious all the time. I have more thoughts of food than anything else. I have began exercising again (not as strenuous though).

I am baffled right now. I don’t get why I am still barely surviving here. I’m hoping to figure things out and make steps towards recovery soon. I have some support here and treatment. I know the tools and i know what needs to be done, it’s the putting it in action that just isn’t happening.

Right now, I am going to trust God. Maybe my plan is not what is meant for me. Maybe he has a whole other idea that will lead to me living a fuller, happier life than I am right now. Maybe there is even more beauty waiting for me on the other side.

For now, I will do what I can to fight this illness and cling to Him. I will be open to whatever needs to be done.

I ran.

Until yesterday, it had been somewhere around five months (maybe more?) since I’d last stepped on the treadmill. I’ve been itching to get back on lately. I went home specifically so I would be watched and unable to sneak in a run, but I was home alone a few hours and did so anyways. I know one time on the treadmill is nothing to some people, but I am not one of them.

My ED used to be what Jenny called exercise purging. If I felt guilty for the food I ate that day, I’d run. If something set me off and I felt depressed or anxious, I would run. If I was numb, I’d run. She also felt it was an addiction. I loved being able to count every calorie I burned and push myself to do it longer, faster, and more miles. In the months leading up to FV round 1, I exercised (usually on the treadmill) an hour a day. Each day after PHP I would run again, lying to my parents that it was okay. This began to slow and finally stopped. I still ran, but not as often at all. I thought my little problem was over. I was wrong.

Yoga became my new exercise of choice. Just like the running, my focus was burning calories and losing weight. I would do videos that were more cardio/weight loss style rather than something that made my body feel better. I got more sore and exhausted from some of these workouts than any runs I went on. I was obsessed with it. And then FV round two happened and suddenly I was once again told not to exercise so much anymore. The first month of college I had a pretty good relationship with exercise. I went rock climbing at least twice a week and did yoga nearly every day, but not to the intensity as before. I loved getting stronger and pushing myself, but not in an unhealthy way.

That leads us to today. After my injury at the end of September I was restricted from all exercise up until last Monday. I’ve been itching to run for a long time. I asked the psychiatrist, my RA, supports, and even mentioned it to my mom. All of them agreed it was a bad idea, but i ignored their advise. I brought it up to Laura last Friday, who didn’t get how I could ever think she would be okay with me doing it right now. Obviously I didn’t exactly listen.

I’m not really sure what my relationship with the treadmill will be now. I want to continue running and also practicing yoga and rock climbing. I love being active. At the same time, the recovery part of me knows this can go downhill really fast. Because of my past, I will be cautious. I’m not going to lie to either L or S. I already promised to mark any and all exercise on my meal plan checklist. If they continue to tell me no on some of these things, I will try to listen.

I may be able to use the treadmill in a healthy way this time. I hope so.

A friend no more

I’ve lost quite a lot due to my eating disorder. Other people around me have suffered as well. Its been really hard on my family, especially my mom. Even with all the hell an eating disorder causes, I never expected my illness to cause our family to lose close friends.

I’m going to call this woman Carrie. She is a mom of a guy who was in early college with me and two boys near my brother’s age. Ever since I began early college, my mom and really our whole families grew very close. I mean we switched to our church because they invited us first. My mom definitely considered her a best friend. I was also pretty close to her, even more so after I started volunteering so much at church. Her younger boys were friends with my brother and I. We had their family over for dinner and to swim and they even watched Milo for us.

This all came to an abrupt halt recently. At first, I was the only one treated differently. Suddenly Carrie wouldn’t talk to me anymore, even though I tried to be nice and friendly. I spent a long time thinking I’d done something wrong and not knowing what it was. It actually got so bad the youth pastor had to speak with her. After that she got a little nicer, but overall she was still extremely distant. At this point she also began to avoid my mom more.. This was at the beginning of last summer.

I made some posts one Facebook once I hit my one year mark from being admitted into PHP. I’ve been trying to open up more and more about it on social media because I want to spread awareness. Shortly after, I was admitted into FV once again for IP. Our church put this in the prayer chain (without my name) and I posted some more general “please be praying for me” type of things on FB. Even being so open about my mental health to people who ask I just didn’t want to make a big deal of it.

Since then, every time we go to church, the whole family ignores us. My mom was really torn up about it and didn’t quite understand what went wrong. I kind of had a feeling of why Carrie may have done these things, but one day a week after I was discharged she got the real answer: Carrie doesn’t believe eating disorders or mental illnesses in general are real and thinks that I am faking this all for attention.

I cried the first time I heard that. I immediately felt guilty that I had cost my mom such a close friendship. Soon after, I realize I shouldn’t be. I didn’t ask for these illnesses. Heck I really don’t want sympathy. All I do desire when it comes to my story is to promote awareness and help others going through these things. It’s views like Carrie’s that make it so much harder to live with these problems.

I’m angry. I can’t believe anyone could be so harsh about such serious illnesses! I also didn’t understand how she could justify being terrible to me and my family over this. While I may not ever accept that this severing of friendship had to happen the way it did, I have learned from it.

I realize now that there are more people like Carrie out there. And there will be relationships broken just like what I experienced. The only way to ever prevent this intolerance of mental illness is to push awareness even more. That’s exactly what I’m going to do until everyone sees mental illness as a flaw in brain chemistry, not character; serious problem not something to be brushed off; and a legitimate diagnosis, not fraud for attention. We have a long way to go to erase these negative mindsets, but it will happen, one person at a time.

I am alive.

I shouldn’t be alive right now. These past few years, they should have killed me one way or another. I don’t really want to focus on all of the things that easily would have ended my life, but instead on why they didn’t.

How am I still alive? I went to therapy once a week or more. I was in PHP and IP at Forest View. So many people have supported me through this all. I was monitored and nearly force-fed. My loving Father and Savior has been merciful on my life and kept me going. Regardless of how many outside forces were trying their best to keep me alive, there’s really just one that did it: me.

I am alive right now because I choose to be. I am working hard to live each day, and even learning to thrive. I fight like hell against all of the thoughts that weigh me down. I feed myself and try to somehow make love in my heart for myself. I am growing each and every day because I am resilient. Even on the bad days I am not losing because I am still here at the end of it.

I am so thankful to be alive. I was put here for a purpose. God doesn’t make mistakes, not even me. I want to treat each new day as a gift from Him. I am pushing myself to enjoy every second and learn and move more toward who He desires me to be. Not everyone wakes up. We are never promised tomorrow and recent events have let me see that. Knowing this, how could I rationalize any other way of living?

I am overcome that so much of my life has been spent not wanting to wake up the next morning. I wanted a way out. I didn’t see any worth whatsoever in myself. I couldn’t justify living another second. I didn’t think life would ever get better. I honestly didn’t want it to get better.

Here’s the thing: it does get better. I don’t care what you’re facing or how bad it is. I was there too, but I’m not now. I want to live, and I want to help others decide to live too. When I say “it gets better,” I don’t mean that it gets easy, or that it won’t get worst. In fact, it probably will be worse for a while. You will feel like you can’t even manage another breath, that you would rather choose the easy way out. You have to push beyond it because beyond the depression, suicidal thoughts, tragedies, hurt, years of pain, miserable living situations, self-doubt or even self-hatred, eating disorder, or whatever you may face is hope. Hope that says tomorrow is worth it. Hope that says your life is worth it. Hope that says you are worth it. Hope is right.

Keep living. Keep being alive. I’m here with you.