“How do you have an eating disorder?”

It was my first night inpatient at Forest View. I was more than terrified. I stood nervously in the hallway near the nurses station. Why I was standing there I can no longer remember, although it may have been waiting for the 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th blanket. Maybe I was afraid of being alone in such a scary place. I don’t honestly know because I was completely stuck in the ED, my mind fogged by all of the restriction from the majority of the past year.

Either way, there I was in the hallway, wishing I was anywhere else. I would have rather been at MCC eating in the cafe, back in high school, at work, or stuck in PHP since I would be able to go home then. I knew I was supposed to be there, I knew I wouldn’t do college if not. I knew that this was a chance to stop behaviors for a week and hopefully head into the school year in a better place. Of course, I was wrong about that. After my encounter that night I was so upset that I considered just signing myself out AMA.

A girl around 20 came up to me in a wheelchair. She had announced why she was in the hospital many, many times: she drank bleach with the intent to commit suicide/self harm as well. I had no reason  to judge her. In fact, I never felt anything but compassion and understanding for any other patients. All of them, myself included, were seeking help for mental illness. We had no right to say someone is worse off, that you are better than them, they seem “happy/just fine”, or that there’s no reason for them to be inpatient. Despite these unspoken rules, she did anyways. It hurt me in more ways than she would ever know.

Right away, she told me why she was at Forest View (only the 10th time I’d heard it) then proceeded to ask me, “why are you here, you seem fine?” This worried me right away. I could have lied, maybe I should have. Instead I admitted that I’m suffering from an eating disorder and that I’ve been very bad this whole summer. This primed her for one of the most hurtful comments I had ever received in regards to my ED: “How do you have an eating disorder?” If that wasn’t enough (trust me, it was), she started telling me I was way too large and compared me to another girl who had a BMI in the low teens, which I know because said girl told me in a bragging way :(. She claimed I shouldn’t be here because I’m not *that* bad. Then, she laughed at me and gave me a terrible look. I walked away because I could barely hold the tears in and found nothing else to say that would make her see I wasn’t just a fraud.

I went straight to my room and cried in the comfort (well, not really but it was better than being out in the common room) of my own bed. I couldn’t stop the thoughts that only multiplied following her words. I tried to muffle the sound as much as I could, but the nurse doing rounds heard me anyways and became somewhat concerned. She asked if I was just scared given it was my first night. I shook my head yes so she sat with me for a minute and gave a little pep talk. After she left I knew I should quiet down. I did, and tried my hardest to push her remarks out of my head.

I would love to say that her words haven’t affected me since that day. She questioned the validity of my illness and assumed I shouldn’t be in treatment. I have always dealt with these fears on my own but she only intensified them. I still struggle with that. When I entered residential I was convinced they would tell me I wasn’t really struggling, that nobody would believe me since I wasn’t emaciated and had no physical changes due to my ED. I waited for someone to not take me seriously. Thankfully, that never happened and I was continually supported by everyone. Her comments have also made me hyper-vigilant when I tell others I have anorexia. My automatic expectation is to have a repeat of what happened that night in inpatient. I imagine them saying I’m too fat, too happy, attention-seeking, etc.

I am working past that 2 minute conversation. The most important thing is to know that I am sick. I cannot mull over everyone’s reactions to determining whether I am or not, because in the end, I do have anorexia.

Next time you see or learn of someone with chronic illness, please treat them with dignity. What’s on the outside doesn’t reflect how they truly feel. Any “how do you have ___” questions do nothing but harm.

200 posts!!

Yesterday’s blog was my 200th post! I wish WordPress would tell you that before you reach x number of posts so I could have done this yesterday, but oh well.  That’s crazy to me, that my little blog has turned into a great outlet these past few years. Also, I have people actually reading it! I am thankful for every single person who has read, commented, liked, followed, etc. I hope that I have inspired you along the way. Let’s take a look back at all that has made up my blog experience:

Best things about having my blog

  • sharing my story with others from all over
  • owning all I have been through
  • spreading awareness of eating disorders/MH
  • creative outlet for what I’m feeling
  • fun! I really enjoy writing posts, especially the more positive ones when I can

My favorite posts

  • my story – I am very proud of this, because it is sharing the most intimate details of my struggles, but also some hope for the future
  • all of my TFHR, Pows & Wows, Stuff and things – these have been fun and mostly light-hearted. I also enjoy how they give little insights about how life is going for me in that moment
  • When you leave residential ED treatment – this was exciting, took forever, and is a funny post to read. It’s nice to reminisce about residential in a goofy way with all the memes and gifs
  • My BRAIN is sick. I was angry writing this and I had a right to be. A short post for (what should be) a simple concept: you never know how someone is doing in recovery based on what you see.
  • Anorexia is… I wrote this to help others get inside the mind of anorexia, since it is hard for them to imagine. Now, I turn back to it to remember all the things I am NOT missing.
  • “You look really, really good!” I didn’t take the compliment as “you look fat” and instead embraced who recovery has made me to be.
  • Losing the skinny identity my identity was always tied to things I had or didn’t have, with my skinny identity being the one I put most of my trust into
  • Comparison is the thief of joy I am passionate about breaking the competitive nature of people struggling. We all are sick and it dosn’t matter how your ED masifests
  • all of my ED awareness posts because they give people the truth

Goals for the next while

  • reach 75 posts in 2016. I am currently at 59 including this one and I want to continue at a good pace for the rest of this year. It shouldn’t be super hard considering I have at least 20 drafts/ideas for posts
  • do more awareness posts
  • write about my other illnesses that I really haven’t shared: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), anxiety and depression (more specifically), body dysmorphia, Pectus Excavatum. Those stories affect my life greatly as well.
  • ED bible study/support group
  • morphing of behaviors
  • faith posts
  • inspiring and positive topics regarding recovery
  • mayyyyybe some photography, assuming I actually pursue that passion again :/

 

TFHR 10/25/16

Today I’m bringing back my old favorite post series. I really enjoy the TFHR format because it updates many different aspects of how I’m doing/what’s going on/etc. I plan (hope) to do one either every week or every other week. For now, the goal is writing it Tuesday night (so it will be Weds-Tues on the post) which will really show up early Wednesday.

Thoughts

  • The semester is half over! I do like my classes for the most part, but I am ready for it to be done. The living situation is out of control. I really don’t want to go into it but I constantly feel the need to pull out my hair. Ugh.
  • I am not enough, a core belief that has been a catalyst to what now consumes my life. That phrase has come and gone over the years but right now is growing louder.
  • I cannot wait to be a nurse or even start core nursing classes! My passion for nursing only grows as learn more about how my life will be. There are options in all fields, and I specifically want to work peds or NICU. I know I will make a great nurse one day, but I want that day to be soon!
  • I have been in a cycle of ED thoughts. I go from urges/I am so fat to restriction to seeing my body as better  and finally back to the beginning. It is a ////////////vicious cycle which only ends in death. I work hard everyday to keep myself from getting any closer.

Feelings

  • Blessed. I have a wonderful church family, therapist, support people, and my mom. I try not to take these things for granted.
  • Lonely. I haven’t stepped out of my dorm room (other than eating, groups, driving places) really all semester. I know that ‘s bad, but I keep telling myself that isn’t true.
  • Relieved. My adviser appointment went wonderfully last week. I am right on track for nursing and will apply sometimes before January. She feels good about where I stand, and if I keep this up I am very likely making it in. I’m nervous and stressed sill. God is in control and I will do my very best.
  • Sad. In the sane appointment decided ti drop my rock-climbing course. I’ve only been a few times this semester. With my EDS flaring up and several subluxations, I know it would only hurt me. I love rock-climbing but also realize my limits (something I never would have acknowledged last year).
  • Anxiety/fear. A ton of things make this list, grades being one of them. The largest contributor now is Milo. I take him to the vet Friday. The only symptom that may be wrong is a little gunk in his eyes. I’m talking a tiny amount, kind of like we get randomly. In chinchillas this can be a sign of a really deadly disease, and of course I already expect the worst.

Happenings

  • Today was a really great ED bible study group. We went over truth v lies , which was applicable to other parts of your life as well. These women have been a godsend. I am finally being understood and that is amazing.
  • On Friday I see my dietitian for the first time. I need this more than ever. I’m praying that we can work out a way to get me back on track and (unfortunately/disappointingly) follow a meal plan. And I hope that meal plan is from CFD because I can’t handle emotional attachment.
  • Right now I’m on advising break! We have today and tomorrow off which is so nice. Somewhat sad they don’t just schedule it as a long weekend but oh well.
  • I have a car! My parents gave me my dad’s old car. It’s convenient because I can go to the store, support groups, drive home, etc
  • Speaking of driving home, I now do so every weekend and on Wednesday.
  • I am rewatching Private Practice and it’s making me all kinds of happy!
  • I got to meet my old childhood friend’s baby and he is the cutest squirmiest little nugget.
  • A happy anti-ED behavior: Mom and I have dollar tacos together on Fridays. We have the best Mexican place near our house and I pick them up when I drive home.
  • I’ve slowly shopped for more clothes, since I do need them. Definitely not an easy task, yet I know this will take me out of this way I feel about my body once i get better fitting clothes.
  • Work work work all the days of the weekend (not thattt long but still)

Ramblings

  • I am so freaking annoyed with election season!!! Okay the memes are pretty funny, but everything else makes me want to throw up. Politics aren’t something I enjoy to begin with, and having people spew their thoughts on social media (and argue with people) is the worst. The presidential election definitely takes the cake with how much it’s in the media. Local elections here are also ridiculous. There are campaign ads and stupid signs everywhere. We receive approximately 10 pieces of mail a week. I realize that we are given the right to vote in our country and I am voting for the first time because I honor that privilege. Currently just counting down the days until it’s all finished.
  • Not to be the old grandma who kills all the fun, but why to adult college girls get the idea that it’s okay to screech obnoxiously at all hours of the day? They are sadly worse than middle schoolers with the intensity, volume, and lack of maturity. College is meant to be fun; however, you are finally an adult and need to act like one.
  • My nutrition prof is so understanding and cares about my well-being. We have 3 diet analysis activities and he is allowing me to do other small projects instead. He is well receptive to my needs as someone in recovery. Profs like him make college much better for everyone.

And that’s all folks! This is a day late but not lacking much of what the last few weeks were like!

Fall 2013 v 2014 v 2015 v 2016

*I am considering fall September – early December because this is the first trimester/semester of school*

Fall 2013

  • Senior year of high school, 1/2 time HS classes and 1/2 college classes at the local community college = stress
  • Self harm:
    • doing my best to completely end the addiction after struggling for 6+ years of bruising/hitting and ~1 year of cutting
    • being therapy for the first time because my parents noticed and were angry once they realized I was cutting
    • entered complete recovery on December 3rd and haven’t slipped up majorly since then
  • Depression:
    • worse than I’ve ever experienced before
    • lots of isolation, low self-esteem, internalizing feelings despite therapy
  • Anxiety:
    • extremely high with balancing high school + college classes
    • occasionally suffered from panic attacks (a new symptom I’d never dealt with before)
    • same constant worries I’ve had since I was born. okay probably not but as long as I can remember so basically
  • Therapy:
    • was meh at best
    • went every week and every other sometimes
    • at least I liked her a lot
    • no help at all with the ED
    • literally zero
    • did help some with the rest = good
    • not challenging/hard on me (which I later learned I need)
  •  Perfectionism:
    • HOLY COW
    • I cried and flipped out every time I received anything less than a 90% on basically every assignment
    • A&P was difficult to achieve that level of excellence because all of the body parts and just being a difficult “weeder class”
    • therapy did nothing really
    • everything needs to be perfect->constant feelings of imperfection->depression/anxiety/shame/guilt/self-hatred->taking this out on my body through self-harm and then ED behaviors
  • Eating disorder:
    • behaviors and thoughts multiplied like CRAZY
    • restricting increasing steadily
    • ran on the treadmill everyday and pushed past my limits each time
    • began hiding food, lying to my parents, and skipping meals/snacks
    • I had lunch on the way back from the career tech center or in class
    • lunch this way meant throwing away ~80 percent of grains/meat, eating fruits and vegetables, eating very slowly
    • lying about how I ate said lunch
    • weight loss to a point of hovering between underweight and at the bottom of “normal” BMI (aka bullshit meaningless information not that I viewed it this way at the time)
    • weighed myself at least 3 times a day (morning, after school, before bed) and of course hid this from my parents
    • kinda pertaining, during a urine sample testing at CTC my ketones were +2 which worried my teacher
  • Overall status
    • poopy
    • very entrenched in mental health issues
    • feeling out of control with all of it
    • going down, down, down
  • Other:
    • started on my very first psych med, courtesy of my extremely judgy pediatrician
    • turned 18 yay real adult
    • literally no friends in person except acquaintances in class
    • found the most wonderful online friends ever ❤
    • began to prepare for competing in HOSA for medical math

Fall 2014

  • “13th year” of early college aka finishing up my associate’s degree as a full-time college student
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • celebrated one year free
  • Depression:
    • blech, probably around the same
    • a constant thing, usually just connected to anxiety, perfectionism, and anorexia in one lovely ball of fun
  • Anxiety:
    • pretty darn high with yet another semester of rather difficult classes
    • again, wrapped in the joy with depression, perfectionism, and anorexia
    • revolved also around losing everyone around me
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • new therapist love <333333
    • seriously never imagined therapy being so helpful
    • she actually dealt and specialized in eating disorders
    • came straight out of a month and a half of PHP at Forest View
    • PHP terrified, stabilized, and motivated me
    • I never had felt so connected and understood in my life
    • had a meal plan I somewhat mostly followed
    • saw a dietitian all of once and then gave up with that one
    • was finally challenged in therapy and given homework
    • small amounts of tough love
    • had psych appointments monthly at first, then less frequently
  • Perfectionism:
    • again, grades were a main focus
    • needed perfection in my recovery ?
    • felt the need to do everything right because I almost was forced to quit school
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • spoke aloud “I struggle with anorexia” for the very first time at FV
    • emotional issues became an even larger trigger for ED behaviors
    • referred to anorexia as Ed and personified it
    • lovingly forced to eat challenge foods
    • parents were food police to the extreme and I HATED it
    • I was forced to eat lunch with my early college dean each day I was at college during that time
    • it was nice to have company, but she was oblivious to me using behaviors and restricting
    • eventually began eating by myself more, always facing the wall and if not I wouldn’t eat a thing
  • Overall status:
    • better than the year before, at first anyways
    • still caught up in distorted thought patterns constantly
    • going through the motions
    • a majority of my life was centered around my mental health stuff, mainly the ED
  • Other:
    • started this blog!
    • became a youth leader
    • my girls = a motivation to recover; not a strong one in the end but motivation still
    • Lily and Livvy were my long distance support people
    • was on 2 psych meds, courtesy of scary doctor VH from FV
    • simply skated through slightly below the threshold of “you need more treatment” and “you’re doing all right”
    • had support from a woman in church which I needed at the time
    • other than her basically no physical support
    • relationship with my family was pretty bad still
    • grades were much better, especially considering how I was doing overall

Fall 2015

  • first year at Calvin
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • 2 years clean
  • Depression
    • steadily grew worse each day
    • isolation also increased with that
    • psych meds weren’t fully helping
  • Anxiety:
    • grades, grades, grades
    • stressing out because I “needed” to get into the nursing program fall 2016
    • I had to act normal and make friends
    • always worrying that I would be alone forever
    • catching up after I was gone from my injury
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • spent one week in FV’s inpatient program
    • that ended only one week before school started up
    • IP was a complete bandaid
    • it worked for like a month tops
    • started seeing a new, amazing therapist at school ❤
    • sidenote: I have been blessed with two wonderful therapists since leaving FV
    • saw my first ever dietitian who was pretty good for me
    • once a week therapy and dietitian
    • all the outpatient treatment in the world couldn’t have saved me from myself
    • left school and entered residential treatment at Center for Discovery Del Mar Nov 19th and stayed through Dec 28th
  • Perfectionism:
    • perfection with eating, exercise, meal plan (following and then restricting it)
    • very rigid exercise plan
    • I went rock climbing often and had to get the route down perfectly or I failed
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • began restricting basically straight out of FV
    • had a meal plan that I at least attempted to follow
    • work-out/weight loss yoga became my go-to exercise
    • and it all came crashing down
    • restricted tons during the week and then was forced to eat whenever I came home for the weekend
    • my parents knew nothing, of course
    • I felt 100% powerless
    • obsessed with losing weight, not knowing the number but hearing which direction it was going by my dietitian
    • measured myself by size of clothes and looking in the mirror
  • Overall status:
    • just bad
    • wanted to give up on everything
    • eventually I gave up hope, interest in anything
    • flat emotions and an overall lack of caring
    • my life revolved around my eating disorder
    • most of the fall is pretty hazy because I was in a state of confusion, memory loss, lack of concentration
    • everything completely changed once I entered treatment*
  • Other:
    • fractured my orbital socket, broke my nose, and received a concussion while playing capture the flag at dorm retreat
    • this lead to surgery and 3.5 weeks at home
    • I fell behind in my classes
    • grades slipped to the lowest they have ever been: B’s and C’s
    • felt the need to tell my roommate and RA/suitemate about the ED
    • they somewhat became a food/exercise police
    • my RA seriously would knock on my door when she heard a yoga video and make me stop
    • my relationship with my family was better than before, then dropped off some when they found out I hid my struggling
    • residential was the best/hardest choice I have ever made for myself
    • the immense growth and motivation I gained firmly planted me in recovery
  • note: minus a few points, these are all my status pre-treatment*

Fall 2016

  • 2nd year at Calvin
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • 3 (!!!!) years clean this December
  • Depression:
    • worse than before for who knows why
    • MAJOR isolation
    • hopeless about ever making friends
    • feeling down for no apparent reason
    • occasional passive suicidal ideation “I don’t deserve to live anymore”, “I wish I wasn’t here”, etc
    • it interferes with everyday life – I am not interested in things, somewhat slower in movement/thoughts, flat,
  • Anxiety:
    • stressed in general
    • apathy/procrastination->stress and completing everything last minute
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • seeing my school therapist every other week :/
    • still have psych appointments, probably every month or so
    • dietitian (starting this week with a new one at school, not sure how often that will be)
    • bi-monthly support group held at FV (ohhhh the memories in that lovely room)
    • eating disorder bible study weekly
  • Perfectionism:
    • grades are becoming progressively moreso
    • less than a 90 on tests kills me a little
    • I absolutely cannot show my true emotions and struggles at church
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • I feel the need to be more disciplined in my eating than I have been in recovery
    • taking smallish steps to achieve that
    • body image suddenly improves when I restrict/eat healthier/exercise
    • goal = lose a few pounds and tone
    • ^probably a bad idea
    • fighting urges more than I have any other fall so far
    • eating 80% of my meals in my room (when I’m not home)
    • more fearful of the dining hall, or maybe just the food there?
    • when I compare my body, it’s by size and not weight (except when my psych doctor decides to tell me my BMI)
  • Overall status:
    • faith is improved and I have more hope!
    • general feeling blah about life
    • loss of interest in many of my former passions
    • I am able to focus on school and everything more than I have in years
    • it can be really hard faking happiness when I really want to be honest with others (eg at church)
    • I would say this is better than I have been in years, but by no means have I taken a 180 and suddenly been freed from all of the negative MH stuff in my life
    • on my good days I am generally just content with where I’m at
    • I’m pretty worried about the amount of support I’m getting currently
  • Other
    • attending church 2-3x a week and coming home midweek and on weekends – LOVE
    • I’ve gone out soulwinning a few times and it’ amazing to spread the gospel and invite others to church
    • currently working every weekend around 10-15 hrs
    • I tend to put off things and forget or not care anymore
    • my friends/supports are still long distance
    • making a new friend from work though! we have a ton in common and I’m excited about it
    • playing Sims again 😀
    • team no sleep, typically 5 hrs a night on weekdays
    • building up my relationship with my family
    • they are more trusting finally and not the enemy anymore
    • I have a car and with that more independence
    • driving back and forth is actually pretty nice

I definitely didn’t intend for this post to be so long, but I am inspired and surprised but how much change has come over the years. There’s been growth and setbacks, positive moments and pits of darkness, a variety in levels of ED/depression/anxiety, and more. I have gone through a lot and I honestly believe it’s pretty incredible that I am still here and in a (mostly) better space than before. My hope is that Fall 2016 will be the best one yet!

I’m doing this all on my own.

A few weeks into residential, my therapist and I were discussing discharge plans. She asked whether I would be able to head back to Forest View’s PHP, then step down to IOP, and eventually go to therapy twice a week with a dietitian, etc. Right away I told her none of those things were possible. I started school the week after I left resi. PHP (and IOP) is 45 minutes away from home, and although it’s close to my school, I didn’t have a car at the time. Of course there is also the issue of school. I had to sign papers that I would come back for interim or forfeit enrollment at Calvin. There is no way I could give up my college career. Her concern immediately grew. Instead of having a month or more of step-down care, I went from 24/7 support to therapy once a week, and no dietitian for the first few weeks.

This was a hard pill to swallow. I knew all along that step-down care wouldn’t ever happen, but being so close to discharge it started to sink in more. I changed and grew immensely at residential, more than anyone expected. I was the girl I had never seen before in my sickness. Even so, the real word is scary. You aren’t in a bubble with people to help you through urges, meals, meltdowns. I no longer had groups with others who understood exactly what I’m going through. I dropped from a safe place into a world of triggers and little help.

I tried to be as optimistic as possible as discharge crept closer. There were looming fears I couldn’t shake: dining hall eating, being back at school in general, the food police, being so fat/bigger than before. I was originally going to leave the Monday before Christmas. That caused me the most worry of all. How would I be able to jump right back into a holiday after only four days out of treatment? My therapist pulled me into her office the Wednesday before I was supposed to discharge and gave me the best news possible: insurance approved an extra week. I cried feeling so blessed by this opportunity. We had to share my decision with my parents. That was a difficult conversation and is still full of negative emotions on their part. I mostly ignored it because to me getting the most time at residential as possible was going to add more confidence and motivation to my recovery.

Unfortunately, nothing CFD did to prepare me for the real world could fully do so. Coming home meant uncertainty and outcomes both good and bad. If I gave up or gave into anorexia I would just end up back where I started. On the other hand, finding the strength to fight with all I am meant finding the girl I had lost so many years ago.

Leaving residential and going straight back to completely outpatient has been challenging. I no longer had the cushy protection to help me not use behaviors or restrict. I wasn’t in treatment for 8 or 4 hours each day. No one was there to ensure I ate enough.

The thing is, by much less support (and more of a drastic change because of it) after residential I have had to own my recovery. Sure, I still had people cheering me on and did therapy, but that was only an hour of professional and then the meals I had with my family, as far as physical support goes. I so appreciate everyone who has been there for me; however, it never will be the same as being in residential or treatment in general. I completely am on my own now.

I have grown but also struggled these last almost 10 months post CFD. I miss it, or at least some aspects. Groups definitely top that list. I feel more alone now that I don’t have people to under­­stand me. (Luckily that is changing as I attend 2 support groups now). I’ve looked through my journals and pictures from residential sometimes and just bawl, longing for any part of that program to return. About a month ago I drove to Forest View and sat in the parking lot. I so wanted to have the safety, support, and even the dreaded ensures. Also, and really surprising/confusing/weird, I miss Dr. VH?!? He was a hard ass and somewhat mean but holy cow do I miss him telling it like it is and threatening me. I honestly thought about checking myself into inpatient and just riding it out for a week so I didn’t have to face reality. I know that’s really not how I felt about inpatient at the time and I don’t plan on returning ever. For whatever reason sitting there brought up all of the good things about my time in that building and blocked out anything bad (aka most everything I experienced). More than anything it was be realizing I was so close to what parts of treatment I missed the most: groups, 24/7 care, supervised meals, being with others the same as me.

I am currently taking some steps backwards as the fall goes on. My thoughts are very negative and consumed by ED, depression, and anxiety. I am doing my best to take care of myself by going to support groups, spending time with people I love, taking another try with a dietitian, relaxing some, and eating as well as I can. Realizing all I have and haven’t done since discharge gives me motivation to keep going. I haven’t had any sort of treatment other than therapy/occasional dietitian, and I have done well without it. I haven’t needed to return to treatment. I have had so much more energy and don’t look or feel like a zombie.

I am very proud of myself for this progress. I’m in no way saying that I’m better than someone who has had step-down treatment after residential. I wish sometimes (especially during lapses in recovery) that I would have been fortunate enough to. I felt that was unfair for a long time. Now, my feelings are very different. I am glad that I came right out. I am continuously choosing and working towards recovery each day because I want it.

I was so certain I would end up back inpatient or residential without any good aftercare plan., but I didn’t. I survived each day and made it through on my own. I continue to do this all on my own. Little by little, I am finding strength on the hard days because I came home from residential and went straight back to real life.

Reasons to recover/what recovery has given me – Fall 2016

I’ve experienced countless positive things this fall in comparison to last. I am battling anorexia, that hasn’t changed, BUT I am in a much better place recovery-wise. Currently I’m falling backwards a bit, so I wanted to make a list of everything recovery has given me. This way, I can have proof that recovery is 100% worth it when the going gets tough. *I will most-likely add to this as time goes on/I think of more*

  • My hair has never been so healthy, full, and shiny. Pretty self-explanatory, but my hair hasn’t been this healthy in many years. It’s a motivation because I really like my hair, it’s one of a handful of what I appreciate my body.
  • Grades. Last year this time, my schoolwork was pushed aside so I could fully focus on my eating disorder. I barely studied for tests, skipped out/forgot to complete homework, missed classes. This obviously had a harsh impact on my grades. Today I sit with 1 A and 2 A- (and I start my fluff gym class next week)!! I realize I can’t put my worth in these letters; however, considering I can compare the 2 classes I’m retaking from last fall, I feel this is something to be proud of. My focus, my natural intelligence and memory, all of it is back. I’m learning and working like I have all throughout my life (minus the parts where the ED/anxiety/depression took over) again. This is exactly what I need as I head into nursing classes next fall. There is no room for the ED if I want to reach my dreams.
  • Warmth. To be honest, I don’t suddenly feel warm all the time even when it’s below 65, etc. I have always been and will always be “cold-blooded.” The thing about anorexia is that it takes you to a level of freezing beyond what any layers or blankets can cure. The eating disorder strips your insulation and storage so 85 degree weather requires a coat and pants. It doesn’t stop with physical cold, but hardens your heart, dampens your spirit, and leaves you in an emotional void.
  • Energy. Outside forces aside (AKA getting ~5 hours of sleep of sleep at night and having migraines), I have buckets of energy, as my biology professor would put it. Who knew all you need to do in order to reverse the fatigue is eat more?
  • Ability to go mote than a week without therapy. Never could I ever have imagined that this coul ne possinle.Not going to lie, but it hard most times. I wish that I could do things differently, although I know in the end this is for the better. My strength is showcased everyday I can get though without therapy.
  • Faith. My walk with God was nearly extinct last fall. I gave everything to my eating disorder, plus it was very low on my priority list. Mt spiritual life is far from perfect, but drastically better than last fall. I trust the Lord more and lean on Him when it’s hard.
  • Not needing to tell those around me about the ED. It was crucial to let my rommate and RA know, so they could know warning signs and somewhat watch over me. I needed someone on my said. I was also in a terrible place which coul lead to trouble quickly. If I wish to share with someone, I certainly will. For now I feel a sense of relief and freedom just knowing others cannot use my struggles to define or judge me.
  • No threats to bump up to higher treatment levels. For the last almost month before residential, I was told again and again that a higher level of care was nes=cessary. Last summer the same thing happened which led to FV round two. I currently am not in any danger of succumbing fully into this trap.It’s amazing being able to love my life and take ownership of my recovery.
  • No more a zombie. I walked around as a dead person. My eyes were sunken in, I had little energy, emotions were not even there, and I was constantly exhausted. I now have none of these symptoms. I am light and filled with life.

And that’s a wrap! What are your reasons to recover? Put them somewhere you’ll see it often. It can be a source of motivation  each day.

While I was gone

My absence has not been the result of me doing too well to blog about my eating disorder. In reality, I admit I have basically ignored the work I need to put into recovery. I attended therapy every week and ate enough food; however, I was just going through the motions. I made little to no progress on my thought patterns. Summer was hard. I dealt with extreme stress at work, guilt/shame, isolated, barely did anything I love, etc. Returning to school has been a wakeup call. I’ve slipped into some old habits simply because I don’t do much to prevent it. Triggers are everywhere – diet talk, being in the same place that contributed to my downward spiral, feeling like I have no people here, isolation because of that, school stress, perfectionism in classes (last week I got a 97 on my bio test and beat myself up about it for a few days), fear of eating in the dining room. Fall at school hasn’t been good for my ED since I first started using behaviors. I want to do my best to prevent another season of hell.

Currently I feel that I’m sort of in this alone with little help. I see my therapist once every two weeks. Before this, I’d only gone two weeks without every once in a while (maybe every other month), so it’s been a huge adjustment. I would be slightly more stable and definitely more accountable if it was a weekly thing. I just get off track sometimes. I no longer see my dietitian or keep any sort of meal diary as of Julyish. I honestly have no desire to see her again, even if she was helpful. $45 a session is too much to go more than once a month. Health services has a new dietitian form the same company as my old one from school did. Slowly, I’ve warmed up to the idea of working with her. I tend not to trust many professionals who “deal with eating disorders” because I’ve encountered many who really don’t (case in point: therapist #2). But, I bit the bullet and emailed health services Thursday. I haven’t told my therapist (I see her Tuesday) and before she was worried it could be detrimental. I’ve spent time thinking and praying. Ultimately, I need to have a mealplan again. Maybe I’ll go a few months and then be back on track, but I am willing to put in the time and work. I am trying everything that could help this fall not be a repeat of last.

I have felt very, very alone in my ED struggles all summer and since being back in school. Honestly, since residential I just haven’t had a positive yet open outlet to express my feelings with those who understand. The one at school was so-so. On one hand, it helped me see I wasn”t alone, but all we did was small skill building activities. I never felt comfortable sharing how I was really doing. As much as I would like to try the ED group on campus, which has a different leader now, it won’t work with my schedule currently. Do I even want to, though? Instead I attend 2 different groups now. Forest View one (my gosh how weird it is to be back there so often now, in the same PHP room with the same cold hospital feel) is every other Monday night. I actually shared quite a bit this past week. I do enjoy the people, conversations, and leaders. This Tuesday was the first meeting for a 7 week ED women’s bible study at a church just a little down the road from campus. I was terrified to go. Like so many times I have worried myself sick, I loved it. I have never had something that ties my faith into recovery (at least not in this level). This is an opportunity to develop my relationship with Christ and use His strength for me to fight.

Other than the many issues I deal with in relation to my eating disorder, I have a ton on my plate of mental health and being. MIt has been a struggle. My depression has been unchanged for a long while. I went to my psych appointment and he upped a med. I’m not hopeful it will change a thing. I have little passion or energy for the things I love. Most days I will lay in my room from the second I’m out of class to when I go to bed. My SH thoughts have come back too. Added to my mental health issues I haven’t been able to sleep. Isolating occurs everyday I can’t remember when I’ve gotten more than 5 in recent weeks.It’s scary knowing that everything I am experiencing now could lead me down the sark pit.

The eating disorder cannot be my go-to for the rest of my life. None of my dreams could be accolmplished of that happens. I just hope and pray that I can make this happen.