I am proud of myself this week.

Honestly that feels pretty odd to say/think, but at this moment I believe it. I deserve a freaking gold star for getting through. I want to give myself that kind of recognition. I may wake up tomorrow and have a completely different view, so I am relishing in this moment to explain the “why” behind this amazing feeling.

Way back in residential/afterwards for a little while, I made a list of “weekly accomplishments” to showcase the progress I had made. Sometimes it was painful to come up with two examples, and others I had over a page. No matter what, seeing the positives laid out in front of me gave me a different, perhaps more realistic, view. One of the most common cognitive distortions I engage in is discounting the positives. This is a way to completely turn that around and add up the good rather than all the ways I’ve “failed.”

As R and I were talking through the distortions I frequent, she stressed how much of a concern this is for her and everyone at IOP/my treatment team. I could do something that seems so amazing to them, get a compliment or “wow, that’s progress” but shrug it off and come up with a counter. It is hard to see much progress from when I entered IOP in December to now. That is a long freaking time and too many hours in treatment to count.

As we were coming up with goals on how to change this, I mentioned my accomplishment lists I used during and shortly after residential. She immediately loved the idea and so it became my goal. I got out a beautiful new journal I had been saving for something worthy enough to use it for. Each week (Sun-Sat), I will jot down anything and everything I’ve done that brings me towards the person I hope to become. The hope is that this will slowly chip away at my negative views of my progress/self/recovery/hope/etc.

Just now, I read over everything I wrote down this week. This is why I feel some confidence and pride in how it has gone. Was I perfect? Did I follow my meal plan 100%? Did I complete every single assignment, attend every class? Was it a week free from struggle? Absolutely not! It would be completely wrong to say that I’ve done so outstanding and I am quickly pulling myself out of my struggles. The difference here is how I am looking at all that’s happened. I have spent so much time focusing on the wrong I’ve done, the “should’s,” comparisons, on and on and on. It is beyond time to try something different.

It’s pretty obvious that this is not going to be some easy fix where I suddenly will acknowledge everything they say as true. Even if I come in with the best intentions it is going to take time. These are thought patterns that are automatic, and pulling myself out of them is a challenge. In this moment, however, I will drink in my accomplishments from the past week. I will acknowledge the strength despite some really hard times. I’m going to keep moving forward, with my new journal to (hopefully) help grow confidence in myself and my recovery. This will be a process, one that I am finally ready to embrace.


I haven’t quite decided whether I will make a page on my blog like I did before, or perhaps just share bits and pieces of my journal. For this week, I’ll show everything written down, though.

4/09/17-4/15/17

  • ate dinner Sunday when I didn’t have to/want to
  • honesty in therapy
  • took time to collage and just enjoy
  • tried whipped Greek yogurt and kashi bars
  • bravely did not cancel my dietitian appt
  • attended support group without my two friends
  • made goals for the weekend and took in (although reluctantly) what my dietitian said
  • got housing set up for next year
  • back into blogging again ❤ 🙂
  • spent 2 hours “mocking” and not anything else
  • survived the car accident without allowing negative thoughts to fester, took care of myself, and gave myself GRACE (more on this soon)
  • spent time outside doing yoga
  • no skipped meds all week
  • stayed patient with my mom even though she has been difficult to deal with
  • SURVIVED – it was a rough one!

Songs I am loving

I tend to get completely obsessed with certain songs and then play them at least twenty times once a day. I really love how many of the one I’m listening to now are really positive/recovery/encouraging (for the most part), so I thought I would share them here! I have plenty of random ones as well, ha.

Rise Up – Andra Day

  • This is my absolute favorite song right now. K from IOP always plays it and I love the way it sounds/the words and all of it basically.

Scars to Your Beautiful – Alessia Cara

Beauty from Pain – Superchick

  • So this one can be depressing in a way, but I think that the message of coming through something hard is still hopeful and very raw.

Be Kind to Yourself – Andrew Peterson

  • okay, kinda cheesy, but I really do like the message

 

Dear Friend – Stacie Orrico

  • I always imagine saying this to a friend ❤ (but should also realize I deserve the same)

Crushed and Created – Caitlyn Smith

Long-standing Demi Lovato faves

Fight Song – Rachel Platten 

  • Funny story I first heard this one at FV round 2 and we always sang it during art. Also I may have linked the 1 hr loop because I still listen to that one oops.

 

Elementary nostalgia (all songs on my 5th grade graduation video)

Grey’s Anatomy songs – these don’t have much meaning other than the fact that they come from the best TV show ever.

 

 

Oh how I love my psych

Hopefully you can sense the sarcasm in that title because my God has he been progressively worse this year v. last. I’ll give a quick rundown of what I’m talking about before I share on yesterday’s appointment.

In October he oh so kindly told me my BMI, which was significantly higher than the last time I had seen him in the spring. That’s bad enough in itself, but then he added on that I could lose 5-10 pounds. I see now that this was definitely a catalyst in my relapse; not the main cause, but still…

Since then:

  • was basically convinced I had OCD when I was talking about using DBT skills (???) and wouldn’t believe me at first that I have never been anywhere close to diagnosed
  • asked why I am not eating and if it’s *just* that I’ve decided I’m too fat
  • insisted on upping my one medication even though my blood showed I have above therapeutic levels (which after that point doesn’t have increased effects)
  • in general a complete lack of understanding of EDs and how to approach them in an appropriate way

I went into the appointment yesterday automatically assuming I would get some sort of ill-advised advice or comments. I was right, but didn’t expect the absolute disregard for my struggles. At first it was just remarks on my sleeping patterns (1-3 am and wake at 7:30-8:30). His advice: go to bed earlier. I then talked about the major lack of motivation I’ve had. We are trying a new medication to possibly replace another one. That I am fine with. He made more comments about me choosing not to eat and how that isn’t helping blah, blah. The last part, however, is the worst advice I have ever heard from a medical professional regarding my eating disorder, right up there with my old therapist asking for diet tips.

His suggestion for being tired all of the time: give me either Ritalin or Adderall. What the hell?!!? Does he not realize that one of the main side effects is weight loss? Does he not know I am diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, a disorder that already has a huge focus on weight and thinness? In addition, it is highly addictive/causes dependency/can easily be abused. I have had a history of addictive type behaviors (eg SH). I really don’t need another opportunity for that to happen. I can see this causing so many issues. If I won’t be addicted from the actual effects of amphetamines, I would probably be hooked on the weight loss it causes. On a less serious note, it can affect my hear as well.

I left in disbelief and very distraught over the entire appointment yesterday. I just don’t think I can handle having a doctor who doesn’t get this anymore. Hell, I would almost settle for Dr. VH. Almost. I think it’s time to consider switching to a different doctor. I hate doing it. I hate change, but maybe this is worth it? I’ll definitely be talking to my mom, support people, and treatment team about this. Maybe one of them can talk to him for me, ha.

Has anyone experienced something like this? Advice? Am I overreacting?

What this backsliding has brought

  • The words “we may need to think about higher treatment if..”
  • Crying during or after more meals than not.
  • Hating the person in the mirror. She is too much, too large, yet not enough in every other way.
  • Doubting my treatment team all over again.
  • Temptations leading to urges leading to actions leading to guilt.
  • More and more of each day being consumed with ED thoughts.
  • Not even having to think before using behaviors; being somewhat scared over how automatic it’s become.
  • Every dietary suggestion feeling impossible.
  • Excuses, excuses, excuses.
  • Avoiding church when I once attended 1-3 times a week.
  • The immense pain a forced smile or “I’m good” can bring.
  • Basic self-care as an afterthought, if at all.
  • Near absent motivation for school, to the point of some failing grades and flat out skipping assignments, classes, etc.
  • From “stuck” between ED and recovery to dipping another toe into the ED world.
  • Isolating – coming out of my room for treatment, classes, and not much else.
  • Another semester of missing out on all things that scream “normal college experience.”
  • Cutting corners in all aspects of life because there’s no energy to do otherwise.
  • Not remembering the last time I talked to a [school] friend outside of class.
  • The numbers obsession multiplying every moment.
  • Seeing “that face” on the ones who hear the truth.
  • Ever-consuming numbness.
  • Giving in to cognitive distortions and irrational thought.
  • “In my head” most of the time.
  • So many wasted hours – spent on nothing of substance whatsoever.
  • Guilt for how I’m really doing then lying/hiding it from others.
  • Emotional, physical, mental exhaustion that nothing will fix.
  • Spiraling out of control faster than I realize.

Nearing the end of my time at IOP, I began slipping back into the ED some. I never truly 100% completed my meal plan, not ever since before I even started treatment. I was doing much better and then shit happened. I’ve been overwhelmed by ED thoughts, anxiety, and depression which has led to more behaviors than I even anticipated. This is going to be a reminder, the reasons that full-blown relapse will not serve me. I can still come out of this. I need to.


Well, it’s been over a month. Plenty has happened, and a myriad of things have kept me from blogging (school, finishing up IOP, stress of all lovely sorts, depression/anxiety, and not much energy or motivation for anything. I’ve hated the break but it was probably necessary. I hope to be back now. I won’t promise any schedule, but I have over 30 drafts sooo there shouldn’t be a lack of topics to write on.

 

What is NEDA Week and why is it so important?

It’s finally here! NEDA week – National Eating Disorders Awareness Week – is my absolute favorite time of the year. I am passionate about both eating disorder and mental health awareness, so I take every opportunity to do so. Here is a small blurb from NEDA’s website:

#NEDAwareness Week 2017

Spearheaded by the National Eating Disorders Association, the goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week is to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need. This year’s theme is It’s Time to Talk About It and we’re encouraging everyone to get screened.

It’s time we take eating disorders seriously as public health concerns. It’s time we bust the myths and get the facts. It’s time to celebrate recovery and the heroes who make it possible. It’s time to take action and fight for change. It’s time to shatter the stigma and increase access to care. It’s Time to Talk About It!

My personal goal this week is not only to share all of these wonderful resources, but add my own content as well. My hope is that I am able to reach others and promote change in some way.

I will be posting this whole week on different topics. This is my 3rd year I’ve had this blog for NEDA week, and I want to make it the best one yet. Here are my posts from years past:

I will leave you with an interview from the director of my IOP clinic. She and a few others who are recovered spoke to our local news about eating disorders/NEDA week. I am so thankful for the resources I have right here in GR. Also, they are lighting the downtown bridge NEDA colors, the first and only landmark in Michigan to do so! II cannot wait to see things unfold this week!

I am not at all ready for this.

Ever since the semester began, my schedule has been crazy between treatment and school. I attend half of IOP Mondays and Tuesdays, then the full day on Thursday, which requires skipping my Spanish class. The whole situation worked great (in my opinion). My Spanish professor is understanding and was willing to rid me of a limit for how many weeks I could do IOP. I am so very thankful for this and the fact that I can get the help I need. Everything was fine until today.

Backing up a bit, I met with Dr. C on Friday. She believes in and gives me more credit for the progress I’ve made. I definitely don’t see it, but I suppose my opinion doesn’t really matter (as you will see…). She somewhat alluded to the fact that I need to cut back on treatment. She was not at all clear on how/when this needed to happen, nor did she explain why it was imperative. 

Fast-forward to today, when I met with L and R during IOP. I went in very anxious, as per usual. I didn’t follow through with my goals fully (also typical) and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured we would discuss stepping down. A few weeks before we made a tentative plan: begin by eliminating Monday’s (half of process group, art) while keeping Tuesday’s (experiential and process) and the full day IOP on Thursday’s. Within the next few weeks I would slowly wean off IOP and groups. I fully expected this to take about a month which I was fine with. Obviously, I can’t be doing this much treatment forever; however, I in no way felt ready to drop off much support now. I wanted and needed gradual change, because Lord knows I am terrible with change. Key point here: I imagined I would be told to cut Mondays out starting next week and to see where things go from there. Of course I was wrong. Of freaking course.

The joint meeting began with L doing most of the talking. She wanted to know how my eating and exercise were. I had done somewhat better than in weeks past, but I felt so stuck. We’ve discussed this at length before. I am honestly in much the same place as I was a month ago, and many similarities to around 8 weeks ago. I haven’t been able to push myself into the leap towards full recovery, not this is half-in, half-out predicament. I can’t imagine being here forever, yet the reluctance caused by thoughts is overwhelming.

R dropped some shocking news once most of the dietary side was covered: “Dr. C and the treatment team are having you step down to just Monday and Tuesday. Today will be your last day of IOP.” I’m honestly surprised I didn’t burst into tears on the spot. I don’t feel ready. I hate that this was shared with me at the last possible second. I wish I had a say in things. I want this at my own pace. Most of all, how could Dr. C take this upon herself and essentially get me “kicked out” of IOP?

I am angry at her. She could have told me something, anything, when I saw her Friday. I may not have been fine with it but at least I would have had more time to process. The main reason I need to stop is because of the accommodations needed. She believes it will look bad for nursing school, even though my advisor is aware. I find it ironic that she put me on medical leave for treatment but now has taken me out of it when I still benefit greatly from extra support. I just don’t get it, not at all. 

There aren’t very valid reasons for this overhaul of my current schedule/life. I can barely handle meals at school and I’ve consistently eaten below my meal plan. Overall, IOP is still helping me at this point. I am forced to miss IOP for at least the coming week. I have a feeling it won’t end well and we will again be sitting, going over how stuck I am. All I can do now is wait.

P.S. I completely appreciate all comments you all may have; however, due to how I’m feeling now I would like to address something that isn’t going to be helpful. In general I wouldn’t like to hear many “it will be fine, a blessing in disguise, etc.” I’ve cried more in the past not even 12 hours than I have in months. I couldn’t believe this type of comment if I tried. Right now I am wallowing and trying to sort this all out. Thank you for being understanding ❤

Climb on?

I went into my appointment with Dr. C yesterday with just one objective: get approval to start rock climbing.

I was first introduced to climbing last fall via my roommate. We are blessed with a huge rock wall and bouldering area here at Calvin. Around one night a week, all year long, I went climbing. I grew stronger and fell more in love with it. The huge sense of strength and power continued to bring me back. I was able to challenge myself with the continually changing routes. It certainly isn’t easy, especially with Ehlers-Danlos, but I made it work. The minor (and one majorish) injuries were worth it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the wall much this last semester. My eating disorder played a huge part in this. When I wasn’t isolating, I usually felt too weak to climb. I still pushed myself when I probably shouldn’t have. This leached some of the fun away from an activity I enjoyed so much.

I’m not in a perfect or great place now, but I am more than mentally ready to tackle climbing again. I crave another way that I can appreciate my body and have fun with friends. I was relatively optimistic heading into my appointment. Honestly, I shouldn’t have been, not at all. I am better than the end of less fall. I am off medical leave. I am handling the semester thus far. I am not, however, at a healthy enough place to take on such a physically demanding task.

I grew the courage to ask for Dr. C’s approval towards the end of my appointment, to which she answered, “Absolutely not,” in a solemn tone. I immediately questioned why and hoped for a compromise. Her concern is my heart. I am not allowed to belay (hold the hope taught as your partner climbs) because she is afraid I will pass out and put someone else’s life on the line. While not ideal, I could technically still climb but need to have one other person belay my partner. That idea lasted for about two seconds before she gave her reasons why I cannot climb. One is that I would pass out at some point during my climb. Assuming I had an experienced and focused belayer, I would be okay. More serious than this, she believes there is a chance that I could collapse or even have a heart attack. If that were the case there isn’t any guarantee someone would be able to help  or even resuscitate me in time to prevent serious damage. Minor issues with climbing include broken bones (due to possible osteoporosis/penia with my ED), dislocations/subluxations (thanks EDS), and in general injuries related to the way I am inadequately nourishing my body.

I’ll admit, I do understand some of her worries. It isn’t a great idea for me to try this without following my meal plan. If I was restricting that much I probably would be too weak to even hoist myself up the wall. It’s happened before. I don’t agree with most of the heart stuff. I frequently get dizzy and sometimes feel like I’ll pass out. This mainly occurs if I’m going from sitting or lying to standing too fast, or when I am not hydrated. I could easily be careful enough to prevent this. There is no way my heart is “bad” enough to cause me to collapse or worse. I have no special restrictions otherwise for the abnormality. Mainly I just need to ensure I hydrate and feed my body. Easier said than done, but something I would work on the days I climb.

Part of the reason she is so worried about my heart is because she believes I may have Marfan Syndrome. I am missing nearly all of the markers minus my PE, hypermobility, and vision (eg: not tall, no long and skinny limbs/feet/fingers/etc, no mitral valve prolapse or aortic root dilation, none of the facial features, lack of family history). If I did have it there would be an increased risk for multiple heart conditions much more severe than what I am dealing with currently. I still need to wait until I see my pediatric surgeon in a few weeks (more on that soon), but I can almost guarantee he will rule it out. Once that happens I may be able to negotiate with Dr. C again. Side note: I’m looking forward to picking his brain on EDS and hopefully, maybe getting referred to someone who actually gets it.

As much as I disagree and discount her concerns, I will listen and resist rock climbing for now. The tone she used scared me. We have spent two months now talking about my heart and how imperative it is that I start nourishing my body to prevent damage in the future. I can’t easily forget or play my symptoms off as absolutely nothing no matter how hard I try. It isn’t normal for your heart rate to increase 30 bpm when standing and as much or more practicing gentle yoga. I shouldn’t, at 21, be plagued with symptoms, an abnormal echo, and worry. And yet, here I am.

This conversation we had is about far more than just rock climbing. Her goal isn’t for me to increase my food intake so I can have her blessing to get back on the wall. This is about taking care of myself. If for nothing else, I need to repair any of the damage I’ve caused before it gets any worse.

I didn’t get the answer I had hoped for. I don’t agree with some of Dr. C’s reasoning. I am still resistant, making excuses, and defying her (and everyone else’s) requests. I have started to realize the bigger picture here. That’s a step in the right direction, one I don’t want to take, but a step nevertheless. One conversation at a time, I am getting there, even if it means getting motivated about renewing my rock wall privileges.