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 ❤

2016 -> 2017

11 whole days into 2017 before I finally was able to finish this post. I blame perfectionism and huge lack of motivation, but now I have the itch to blog again 🙂


2016 was a time of… change (so, so, so much change), joy, growth, isolation, discovery, friendship, grief, loss, struggle, faithfulness. I kept on living through it all.

The good

  • doing very well in my spring semester
  • attending my new church and growing close to everyone there
  • Ludington – the healthiest year in a very long time
  • a summer where I was eating well with tons of energy
  • work to keep me busy
  • finishing my Fall semester despite how much Ed tried to take it away
  • learning a ton about myself
  • practicing assertiveness to put my needs first
  • experiencing many days where the eating disorder was barely there at all
  • hugs, prayers, good conversations, and lots of love
  • slowly beginning to accept the changes in my life

What I hope to leave behind

  • Toxic relationships. There are many situations to which this applies, not only the people I must separate myself from. These are people I was close to, but it was not healthy for me at all. Carrying their burdens and triggering conversations hurt my recovery and added anxiety. I know that was a two-way street. I hope they also realize why this needed to happen. Deleting and blocking negative influences online has been just as difficult. I follow numerous accounts who are “recovering” or pro-ana, etc. The sickness in me looks at them as comparisons and inspiration. I get invested in their lives. This exists on multiple platforms: instagram, Facebook, blogs, Youtube. I am combing through them little by little. I feel connected to these people and the triggering information. Ed doesn’t want me to give them up, which is exactly why I need to. I have to detach from these negative influences in my life before they bring me down further.
  • Isolation. I can count on one hand the number of times I did anything with anyone last semester. Outside of class, appointments, or leaving campus, I rarely left my room. I would stay there from midafternoon on, adventuring out only to get ice or make a smoothie. It is a sad existence to be alone all of the time. I’m hoping to make small strides towards new friendships and experiences.
  • “Just scraping by.” Well, here’s something that applies to many (and most, as of late) areas of my life. I put just enough effort into my classes this year to get the grades I absolutely needed. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t screw that up more. I barely fought Ed enough to finish out the semester/year without being in residential or IP. This fall at work proved I am not myself on restriction
  • My focus revolving around the ED. I would say around 90% or more of my thoughts this last year (mainly the end of it) were on food, weight, calories, exercise, my body shape and size, weight, restriction, looking up all sorts of ED things on the web (tips, health complications, weight loss calculators, etc). I’ve been in a place where Ed consumes almost every waking moment. This left no room for anything else, good or bad. If I want to accomplish any of my dreams or simply live a better life this needs to change.

Hopes for the new year

  • Really get something out of IOP, even if (but hopefully not) that means a referral to a higher form of treatment
  • Grow closer to my mom again by letting her in
  • Start nursing classes in the fall while being in a healthy place to do so
  • Find meaningful friendships at Calvin
  • Self-discovery. Who am I really without my eating disorder? Who do I want to become?
  • Have activities that bring me joy: photography, reading, exploring, spending time in nature, going to the movies, trying new things,  and of course blogging 🙂
  • Turn to positive ways of coping when I need them
  • Making this year different in a good way
  • Prove to myself that I am resilient, strong, worthy, lovable, and capable of pursuing recovery fully

I really enjoyed making this list as an inspiration for myself. A new year is always a time to start over and make changes. I don’t want to call these resolutions, but they are certainly what I hope to work towards.

I wish everyone a happy new year and pray that you also can find positive change in 2017! 

Alice all over again.

Well it feels like I have just woke up
In a world where down is up
And up is a long way from here
In the big wheels where they keep on turning
They don’t slow down they just keep on learning

Well my name’s not Alice but I know how she felt
When her world started turning into something else

Alice by Lisa Mitchell has been one of my all-time favorite songs since the summer of FV round one (so 3 years). It describes how I’ve felt during many transitions, both good and bad. You can read my post from last fall here.

Once again, I am listening to this song at least 5 times a day (10 times writing this post, oops). I have quickly managed to fall back into the pit that is anorexia. It’s so startling. Sometimes I do feel like I woke up and poof full-blown Ed thoughts and behaviors. This isn’t exactly true, but it’s why I relate so much to the lines “well it feels like I have just woke up in a world where down is up and up is a long way from here.”

A multitude of changes have occurred in a relatively short amount of time. I went from doing nearly 100% of my meal plan in the summer to 1/2 of the reduced meal plan. I’m not always having 3 meals per day. Honestly, I know this is a bad sign. My mind is occupied by disordered thinking all of the time. I lie about anything and everything, mainly as a way to keep my parents out of the loop. Slowly, I lose control of my life by handing it over to my eating disorder.

Down the rabbit hole I go once again… but this time, it’s tempting. I know what I’m getting myself into since I’ve been here before. I have dealt with my problems through restriction, exercise, self-hatred, body checking, etc for years. In that way, embracing Ed thoughts feels much more comfortable. In a disordered way I feel at home. Anorexia is home. How messed up is that?

No matter how stuck I feel, I am not a permanent resident, or at least I don’t have to become one. I do have the power to turn around and climb back out. The Ed thoughts are strong, very strong; however, there is the healthy me still there. She is reaching out, seeking more treatment, and fighting every single day.

I am not alone. My treatment team, although all are new, will be here to bring me up. I have the option for more intensive options if I feel unable to handle this on my own. The few amazing supports I have will always be there. I am not alone even though it seems that way.

I have to decide: is it worse/scarier seeing how I’ve slipped into relapse, or is this false comfort and hope anorexia gives me enough to continue this downward spiral?

 

Right now I feel like Alice and I don’t have to accept this new reality when I am able to turn it around and come out of this stronger.

 

I knew this was coming…

I met with S today, most likely for the last time. At first it didn’t seem that way. I was honest about how I’m doing and began a writing assignment. She had me write what has changed, pros/cons of my behaviors now, why I feel it’s happened, and how/if I wanted to change it. I’ll share a little bit of this but not all since it may be triggering and I definitely want to avoid that here.

  • what’s changed: restricting more, lying, fear foods, eating the same few things, increased ED thoughts, isolation. On and on and on.
  • pros: feel better emotionally, I feel more in control, these behaviors will make me like my body more
  • cons: doing worse in school, no energy, hurting my family/friends, where I’m going scares me

While I was working through that, S read my food diaries and meal thought logs. I glanced over a few times and her face killed me. That’s when I knew for sure what would happen but didn’t want to believe it.

I only got through half of my answers before she spoke the dreaded words: “you need more help than I can give you.” Her schedule is basically full up until we leave for winter break. I would probably see her once until the 2nd week of January. As of now, this doesn’t mean IOP, PHP, inpatient, or residential, but I need to see a new therapist. Specifically she is recommending/telling me I need once a week or more.

I tried to argue and make excuses. I still want so badly to get out of it. Of course she doesn’t buy any of the ED’s bullshit though. Basically I had 2 choices: go get the extra help now or be forced to go inpatient within a month (at the rate I’m going). God I didn’t want to hear that. I cried a little as I realized this was what I’ve come to. I’m supposed to be doing better. I know this is chronic and relapse happens but all I wanted is a good semester/year.

Once I left her office I couldn’t hold myself together. She’s been there for over a year. I hate change, especially when it means leaving someone I know works into the unknown of a new therapist. I’m terrified of what lies ahead. Part of me, the very sick part, sees this as proof that I am doing “well” in the eating disorder. It finds a twisted satisfaction.

Part of me wanted to lie to S, tell her I called and got an appointment when I didn’t. Maybe I would just skip therapy altogether. The thing is I have hope. S told me that maybe this is God’s way of providing me with someone who will help me exactly how I need. The real me is holding on to that.

So reluctantly, I called. I’ll be going to the same practice where my old dietitian was. They specialize in eating disorders and offer all types of outpatient treatment. I talked to the director and have an appointment set up with my new therapist, R, on Dec 1st. This is two weeks out and in the meantime I will attend group therapy on Tuesdays. I have fears on both fronts: Will I be the largest one there? What if I hate my new therapist? Will it even help? What if I can’t do this at all?

I am sick. This is something I need if I want any chance of getting back on track before I hit rock bottom. I am too sick to see S anymore. I cannot do this without more help. I am going to be okay, I hope.

What this year has taught me

My first year at Calvin went nothing like I expected or wanted. Last September I was 100% confident in my recovery after a bandaid week inpatient. I would finish out all of my pre-reqs in one year to enter nursing the next fall. Not long after relapse hit, then worse relapse, and soon I was left with failing grades and really no choice but residential. That was the best choice for me and part of why I am in a good place now, but even after has been a huge rollercoaster. This unexpected year has taught me so much more about myself and what I can do.

  1. I don’t need to be perfect. I’ve struggled with perfectionism since I can remember, but that has been challenged constantly this year. I had to quit halfway through a semester, changed my entire timeline for classes, was late to class, forgot to do assignments, let down friends, and in general messed up a million times. Was I a failure because of it? Not at all. I make mistakes but that’s just part of being human. I can’t spend my life believing it isn’t.
  2. Disappointment is okay. There have been so many areas where I’ve felt disappointed in myself or the situation going on. Its okay to feel sad about the way things have happened but dwelling on it as I have in the past only makes it worse.
  3. My grades aren’t as important as my health. I would never have left college without being pulled out if I didn’t believe this just a little. Ever since coming back from residential I’ve done my best to put my recovery first. If I needed more time to relax or use skills or do yoga, I made time. My grades aren’t what they could have been, had I created more stress for myself and possibly even slipped more into the ED. I would rather never have an A again than cause more harm to my body and mind.
  4. I am strong. I have been through some really hard shit this year. I wanted to give up so many times. I easily could have. I didn’t because my will to fight is stronger than any hopelessness I may face. How else could I come back from my recent relapse on my own?
  5. Others help, but I am the one who makes the changes. I could go to therapy 7 times a week and still not get one step closer to recovery. Anybody else can put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get me better but unless I do, its futile. The progress I’ve made has been possible, in part, due to others but mostly because I took each baby step to get closer to where i want to be.
  6. I determine my progress. I know I’ve said this over and over but it has been an important part of my process. Ever since week two of residential I haven’t allowed anyone else to determine whether I am doing well or not. I know when I’ve made positive change and I can give myself that praise instead of relying on others to do so.
  7. I can feel joy. I never though I would be this happy again. I figured I was meant to be miserable until I died. That isn’t true at all. I’m filled with more joy than I ever thought I could experience. Its all because I’ve been finally working hard enough in recovery to see how beautiful life is and how much I am blessed.
  8. Everything is better when you have good people to do it with. I love having my people at school. We played euchre and other card games, had Survivor nights, ate together, did homework, and enjoyed each other’s presence. Friends have made my day go from terrible to fun and light in just a few minutes. I was always a loner but now some of my happiest moments are with others.
  9. Sharing my story is amazing. I have been completely open about my struggles on social media, here, with my friends, and when people ask questions. I was so ashamed to suffer from mental illness and my ED before. Instead, now I tell my story so I can help others and feel free. Its the bet decision I could have made.
  10. I CAN and should love myself. Self-love has become a part of my daily life. I’ve never felt that before. I can’t really explain how it happened, but at some point I began to accept my flaws and realize I am worthy of love. Now I see no reason why I shouldn’t!
  11. Life is so much better without being held back. I used to avoid so many things and let my ED/MH issues control my life. It was dull, I felt trapped, but now I am free. I can go eat random foods at parties, actually want to hang out with friends, feel confident, and be spontaneous. I can do anything I set my mind to.

I can’t help but smile and cry tears of joy considering all of the positive change I’ve had this year!

Change

So I am terrible with change. I hate it tons, even for things as simple as a haircut. It took me four months to finally get one inch off ha.

I was completely attached to my avatar photo. It’s from on of the best days at FV and I was so happy in it. The thing is, I don’t look quite like that anymore. I have gained weight. At that point I wasn’t anywhere near a healthy weight. I wanted to keep that picture as long as possible but I realized today that it’s like holding on to my disorder. I have changed and this is okay.

The picture I chose isn’t the most recent, but I am at a healthy weight there. It was the week after getting out of treatment. We went on our traditional end-of-summer vacation up north. I felt more at peace with myself and recovery than I had ever. It was an amazing time. It’s a different feeling than the other picture but that’s okay. I am different. I am better than I was. I am recovering.

Change can be good too.

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