My “broken leg”

It has been a rough week, both with ED/treatment things and personally. I am starting to process it all and (attempt) to look at it all with a clearer mindset.

Monday started out pretty fun with our picnic at IOP. It was different in a great way from what I’ve been used to at meals there. We all brought some typical picnicy foods and went off to a cute nearby park. One of the two silos had a rock climbing wall, so I was just a little pumped for that. The meal was definitely challenging for most of us, but being outside made it feel lighter. Once we got back to treatment and reality, I started to shut down. I didn’t say more than a few words in the 1-2:30 group because I was too terrified of the dietitian appointment following.

I wasn’t entirely surprised with how hard it was, but I also didn’t fully anticipate what was coming. I drew up plans for a more wait and see approach. I wanted a few steps between now and partial. I wrote my excuses reasons, some legitimate, why PHP isn’t possible and asked a lot of questions. Part of me figured that she wouldn’t necessarily buy everything I offered, but I also wasn’t ready to hear what their plan was.

K put it right out there in the first couple minutes: her and R think it’s best for me to go to PHP, and I should actually set up an assessment and tentative start day ASAP. That was pretty much my worst fear confirmed. I fought back right away, of course, even once she brought logic into the equation.

She asked me what I would do if I broke my leg right now. Would I continue to work in housekeeping, ignore any doctor’s orders, refuse a cast, not do anything to reduce pain and swelling? Would I be mad at myself for not being able to just get over it with no help? Obviously the answer here is no. As a nursing student especially, I know how important medical intervention, rest, etc is when healing from an injury or illness. I’ve talked time and time again about how mental illness should be treated like physical ones (in terms of making it valid, deserving of help, etc), yet I am being a hypocrite and not applying that concept to myself.

I feel guilt, shame, frustration, anger at myself and the world, hopelessness, uncertainty. I have refused help this whole time, barely reaching out to any supports at all. I admit, I’m just not taking care of myself. As cheesy as it is, I think I do need to treat this relapse (yep, I said the R word) as if it were any other illness. I deserve and am allowed to ask for help when I’m no longer able to do this on my own.

Right now the plan is pushed out a week or two. I agreed to talk to my parents about supporting me and share about my struggle if we could wait out contacting FV. I know they didn’t want to at all, but my team agreed. Maybe they’re just doing it to appease me or maybe they’re hoping I realize that it isn’t a viable option in the end. I honestly don’t know. I’m not fully sure if I can do this or not, I just know that I have to anyways.

I’ve had a few moments since Monday where I considered the possibility and need of treatment. I was relatively close to emailing my therapist and asking if it might be a good idea to get an assessment at FV just in case. This wouldn’t be waving a white flag, mores so looking at my options. When I wrote and considered sending my email, I was a bit scared. My mom knew/knows I need support. It’s been okay. The thing is, I might need more than what I’m asking for and I am terrified of doing anything else. I guess partial could be some sort of safety net? I’m not sure why I am somehow about 3% okay with this. Maybe it’s my effort to fix my “broken leg”?

Whatever the case, I think I need to consider what recovery means, what steps I am committed to taking, how I can get there, where I want to be… I need to do this. I’m running out of time to get ready for fall semester. I want nothing but to graduate on time. Letting go of the ED (even just some parts initially) will be difficult, but maybe the future without it is worth the fight. I am trying to believe that an steps needed to get me to a healthy place are just like someone getting a cast, resting, and taking medications.

Defiant with a capital D

Sometimes, the eating disorder takes over and makes me act like a five year old. Yesterday was one of those times.

I am still on weight gain protocol. I hate it with every ounce of my being. This means that if I lose or maintain when I’m under this certain weight range, I will need to supplement. It’s frustrating for a number of reasons. Ed strongly objects because I can’t possibly be expected to gain weight. Boost/Ensure is simply gross. I feel like I’m being punished in comparison to drinking a supplement because I did something to deserve it (like skip a meal or refuse to finish something at treatment). There’s also the whole pride piece, especially when I have to do it around other clients.

Every day of IOP starts with a weigh-in. Yesterday, L the dietitian weighed me. We go way back and she knows all of my tricks/beliefs/arguments really well. It’s hard to “get away” with anything while she’s there. This leads to us butting heads quite often and definitely contributed to what went down.

After she weighed me, L couldn’t find my chart and subsequently wasn’t able to check my weight from Monday. Her suggestion was for me to have a supplement anyways based on how close it was to last week’s weight (which she somehow remembered a week later?). I immediately refused. I was NOT about to voluntarily drink a Boost when I didn’t for sure need it. So, I didn’t. I told her if she expects me to drink one she had to know before.

I thought I had been really sly about the situation and there was no chance that I would need to supplement. When L summoned me out of art I knew I was wrong. She contacted R/K and found out that I had lost weight since Monday. I immediately got super annoyed and tried to fight it. I was/still am convinced that this was a fluke. I had a lot of bloat going on Monday, so naturally I would have lost a little weight jut from that. Apparently, that doesn’t count as a good enough reason to bypass the supplement.

Once I realized that there was no getting out of it, I became mad at the world/IOP/L/whoever had the terrible idea to make Boost. I drank the damn thing, but did so slowly with lots of disgusted facial expressions and the slightest bit of arguing back. I shut down and didn’t ask for what I need because of it. I feel like I didn’t benefit much from the last 2ish hours of IOP, other than getting in a snack.

I’m now over a day removed and in a more reflective headspace. In those moments I felt so angry and completely ignored the whole recovery thing. Ed gets irrational and emotional to the point where it can halt progress or cause harm. I hate supplements and everything, but maybe it would have been better to just agree to one before L found out for sure. I’m not following my dietary goals, so the Boost is making up for what I’m lacking nutritiously. Of course the ED can’t accept that as truth, but at east I’m able to consider it.

I hate who I become when I’m stuck in the ED thoughts and behaviors. My entire focus is avoiding food, exercise, weight loss, etc. I’m not a fun person to be around and I get like a little kid who has tantrums again. Someday maybe the recovery side will take over and I’ll no longer be so apt to the regression. For now, I just want to recognize when the ED takes over these moments so I can find some way to stop it. I won’t be the defiant one forever.

“The day”

The funny thing is, I asked for this. I presented a more in depth take on my treatment history, specifically the summer of 2015, to my team some weeks ago. I skated by that entire summer. Did I need a higher level of care week 1, maybe not. But then NTS camp came and went. My level of struggle at that point, early-mid July, was enough for treatment. I fought hard. Legally, my therapist could do nothing except coax me into telling my parents since she didn’t have a release to talk to them. I used this position to run my own treatment until I hit a major crisis point. By mid-August, I no longer had the luxury of over a month to cushion between then and moving in to college. I had maybe 12 days by the time I told my parents that I was struggling hard and needed inpatient. I spent a week at the hospital then went to orientation a couple days later. That wasn’t truly enough since I ended up in residential a few months later. I’ll never know for sure; however, there’s a chance that it could have been prevented if I had gotten help when I was knee deep in the hole instead of consumed by Ed.

I know how bad that summer was. Ending my last week with a psych hospital stay really stunk, but everything that came before was miserable too. I looked like a normal person, acted like I was perfectly wonderfully fine, but really felt dead on the inside. I honestly can’t remember much of that time other than NTS camp (mainly from pictures). Someone was asking me at work how different things were the first summer v now and I couldn’t think of a whole ton. That makes sense considering I was passing out while cleaning showers and not at all fueling my body. The only other memories are from inpatient. I never would expect every day to be some amazing adventure, but I longed for a summer to look back on fondly.

Another huge goal from the very beginning was to get back on track and into a healthy place for fall. I always struggle at the start of semesters or other areas of big change, so I need some higher ground to fall back on. I took the recovery focused step to tell my team that I wanted an end date, a time where we would seriously evaluate my progress and see what should happen. Monday July 9 worked great, since it was after we returned from Ludington and about halfway through the summer. I basically promised to consider whatever recommendation they might have. Part of me now really regrets asking this of them at all.

For probably a month now my team has had parameters where, if met, I would have to be honest about my struggle. I never hit that but it had no effect on the number of times this was brought up. There has been a lot more serious talk lately, so many “if, then’s” and possible outcomes. I’m not sure why I still expected different today.

We didn’t take the hour therapy appointment to talk through my vacation and other ups/downs of the past two weeks. It was briefly touched on and then R started on the part I didn’t want to hear: she and K both think I would benefit from a couple weeks in partial. It isn’t a set in stone, this is happening for sure thing yet. I’ll have a week still to figure this all out. The first step would be talking to my parents about how I’m struggling. Ideally, I apparently should have done this weeks ago at least. The second step is PHP (partial hospitalization program – around 7 hrs a day). I offered an alternative of C. none of the above. I have a million and one reasons (excuses?) about why neither work. They don’t buy it at all. I saw that coming, of course.

I have a week to figure this out, or as I say get my shit together. There are a couple options here: accept their plan(s) and my inability to handle this, come up with an alternative that will actually be approved, or make some major progress. I felt about .03% hopeful until K squashed that with my goals for the week. They seem really lofty and not something quite possible. I’m not sure if she thinks I can do it or wants to show that I do need help. Regardless, I know this is going to require a lot more effort than I’ve been giving.

I don’t have a clue where things will stand in 7 days. I could be heading into a fun picnic lunch (super excited about this actually) and then a less painful dietitian appointment with therapy the next day. On the other hand, it could be devastating and hard and result in a call with the place I swore I would never be back to.

Yes, I can technically refuse any and all recommendations, but I don’t know that I have a ton of power in what happens from here. Even my best effort may not be enough of a push. I could be kicked out of outpatient.

I want nothing more than to keep outpatient, working 4-5 days a week, enjoying some freedom, and taking time to relax. This may be the best possible time to go through treatment and big change. Maybe, maybe, I might benefit from telling my parents or doing PHP. But it could blow up in my face and be terrible. I guess I won’t really know until something happens.

For now, I will be scared and stressed and unsure. It’s all I’ve been thinking of for nearly 14 hours. I need some sleep, and maybe motivation in the morning. I’ll have a nice full day of work to check out a bit and then star figuring this out later. I can’t promise myself that I can fight, but I can make sure to at least consider all of my choices and not just the one I like.

In vs going through: the power of wording

I often pay special attention to words and how the choice of them can easily change meaning. I love writing, so this makes sense of course.

I’ve heard many ways others and treatment providers talk about recovery. Some say they are recovered, working on recovery, trying to recover, in recovery, and, most recently, a girl mentioned going through recovery. Those last two seem very different as I’ve thought more about it.

Being in recovery brings a picture of someone running a marathon. There may be twists and turns, hills, valleys, areas where they’ll need to walk, stations to fill up with water or go to the bathroom. What they’re doing takes tons of energy. They have to care for themselves in order to continue. Sometimes they feel like giving up, but they persist anyways. The end is a celebration, whether they PRed or took way longer than expected.

Going through recovery sounds like someone stuck in the woods and trying to get out. Maybe they have a guide or GPS, or perhaps they’re all alone. The ending isn’t defined. They may not have prepared for this at all, but they’re stuck and trying anyways. If not, they could be in the woods forever.

As I think of these two situations, I can dissect where I am. I’ve said many times that I’m in recovery. It doesn’t necessarily feel right, especially not when I’ve been specifically asked how long I’ve been there. Technically I’ve spent nearly 4 years in varying levels of treatment, but does that mean I was in recovery the whole time?

At this moment i think I’m much closer to the “going through” option. I feel so lost at times. I know there is a life outside the woods, but I don’t always fully believe it. I have tools, skills, supports, my team, IOP, etc but I choose not to use these things much of the time. It also makes me think of going through the motions of recovery which I certainly am. Therapy, challenge lunch, dietitian, work, IOP, work, repeat. Sometimes it feels like I’m just waiting for the next day of treatment and doing no work in between.

I want to be more in recovery, not just going through it. I am tired of being where I’m at. To me, taking that active step would mean choosing to work hard, putting (real) effort in, and remembering what life I’m fighting for.

So a few questions for anyone who reads this: what do you think about my interpretation? Have you considering what wording with recovery changes? Where do you feel you’re at? Also if you have other explanations/meanings I would love to hear your insights!

I am ready.

These times are hard, where I want to write with every ounce of my being – even ache sometimes, but I still cannot. I have sat for hours since my last post. Nothing has come to fruition. Something changed today and I could not be more grateful.

I finally feel able to breathe. We arrived in Ludington last night. After nearly two weeks of constant working or therapy/IOP, I am free. I have 5 more days of bliss coming my way. I am excited to have a week of fishing, boating, reading, hammocking, exploring the beautiful parks here, shopping in town, blogging, and time with family.

Of everything that will happen this week, I think I’m most looki by forward to writing again. This has been a huge part of my life for nearly 4 years and I am ready to be back. I have some really good/interesting things to share and you’ll be hearing more about it all soon!

More than just a bad choice

*this was written almost entirely last week but I’m just getting around to posting it

It has been a day, and I am just now coming up for air at nearly 2 am. There was a lot of good, and I’ve been overly focusing on absolutely everything BUT what I should be. I’m ready to do the work and unpack a little.

Exactly what happened doesn’t matter. I don’t want the specific behaviors/overall situation as the focus. Sure, that matters to an extent. I can discuss that part with my team or not at all. Right now, though, I want to look at what this all says about my recovery.

This morning started off well. I got to sleep in and I was really excited about seeing my friend (now coworker!) and then suffering together through an orientation thing. I started thinking about the day which of course included meal planning. That’s when the ED voice started to grow. By the time I had to leave and grab food, i was in a constant battle over what to do: choose Ed or recovery. Ed won. A flood of different emotions came. It’s always like that with behaviors. The ED side is prideful and euphoric, when deep down I know it’s only hurting me. I have a hard time knowing how to feel with so many conflicting thoughts.

Once I returned to my home, I could have completed a behavior chain, dusted myself off, and kept going. Instead I continued to be pulled in Ed’s direction. It wasnt about one bad decision anymore, but all of the consequences that piggybacked off of it.

The entire day has involved at minimum background noise from the ED. Many points brought overbearing thoughts, like around dinner and towards the end of tonight.

Ed promises that he will shut up for a while if you only do xyz. That’s not the truth for me. Restriction and behaviors only leads to more of the same. I have to get out of this cycle before it ends with me going back to treatment. What happened today cannot repeat again and again. Tomorrow, I will fight this more and be stronger. I will feel the fear and do it anyways, as one of my favorite therapists always says.

I made it! – a little update

As a rule, I genuinely dislike taking breaks from blogging. I love to write. I love how this allows me to get my thoughts out. I love that I can reach other people. I love being vulnerable and sharing bits of my story. Sometimes, though, all of  that needs to be put to the side. The past couple weeks have been one of those times (for good reason).

The last post I made was on May 7. That was the start of one of the craziest weeks of my life. It consisted of: finishing a 6 page research paper in around 24 hours, writing and rewriting our last big journal for clinicals, attending IOP, shadowing a lactation consultant, packing up and cleaning my entire dorm (all last-minute, of course!), still making it to support group, studying, and trying not to lose my mind. I took my exams the next Monday and Tuesday, aced my maternal newborn ATI, and finally left campus at 6 on Tuesday.

I thought I would have time and energy to blog right away, but it wasn’t the case. I have napped more days than not since being home. I hate it but know my body is probably trying to tell me something. My brain feels like absolute mush, which definitely doesn’t help. I have all the ideas in the world, but without energy or focus I end up sitting at a blank screen most of the time. That’s finally changing because of work. I’ve always been able to think about different ideas/posts when I’m otherwise preoccupied. Driving is a top offender for this. I’ll have some brilliant idea but it slowly fades out by the time I have access to a means of jotting it down. Luckily, I have found time to type a note on my phone or even write all over my arm to remember bits and pieces of what I want to say.

Although I’ve found some inspiration while working, being there so much since coming home has left me exhausted. It’s been all kinds of crazy and stressful – from difficult requests to long hours and staying late more nights than not (I was officially scheduled 3 hours last week and worked 5 days/20 some hours). I come home and immediately sink into the recliner/my hammock. Naps and staying home are a big part of my life currently.

In the short almost two weeks since school ended, I’ve learned more and more that recovery is going to be the true full time job this summer. My team has already been on me about increasing exchanges, a meal plan change (that I’m expected to give a try..), weight gain protocol, and generally making strides away from the ED. They also share the beautiful future I could have without Ed. It’s nice to be reminded of the end goal because I can know what I’m fighting for. I don’t often see what could be when I’m in a struggling place.

I am so, so ready to be back in this space. I have lots more to share soon, but I just wanted to give a quick update to start off!