It’s over (!!) and will be for a while

As of this past Monday, I am officially done with school for the semester. I doubted the entire last 2 months that I would even finish it. I wanted to give up. Sometimes, I wish I would have. No matter what ended up happening, I did make it and I didn’t fail any classes or do bad enough for it impossible for me to make it into the nursing program.

This was my hardest semester. It isn’t easy to complete homework, study, or take tests when your body is malnourished and brain lacking the carbohydrates it needs. No matter how much I know logically, Ed still won a majority of the time. I spent more time taking naps and thinking about food than all of my schoolwork combined.

My whole treatment team has told me the same thing: you have to be stronger in your recovery if you want to successfully complete nursing school. Dr. C talked about how I can’t be so used to lying and cutting corners as I enter into the program. It isn’t okay to hide my struggles and carry it over to my schoolwork then eventually my job.

I will go into this in a future post with my thoughts on everything, but as of Tuesday I will be on a forced medical leave for the interim (J term) semester. I honestly was pretty shocked when Dr. C told me this. She was very close to forcing me inpatient or residential. For now she is agreeing on IOP, assuming I can make progress . This next 5 weeks or so are going to be spent in treatment 3 days a week. I will be able to stay on campus still (which isn’t typically allowed but Dr. C set that up right away).

I have to work my butt off if I want to start classes again for spring semester. It’s scary and hard and I’m not sure I can do it, but I am going to try. Goodbye fun interim class; hello, all of the groups, appointments, challenges, and (hopefully) growth.



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.


Well hello there, Ed.

Nope, not referring to some dude I’ve met, a weird uncle, or the older guy at church. This is someone I’ve known for years: my eating disorder. 

This may sound vaguely familiar for those of you who’ve been here since the very beginning. If not, you also may have heard this tactic of naming the eating disorder in the ED community (Jenni Schaeffer books, some treatment centers, etc.) Though I haven’t talked in terms of “Ed” for over 2 years, I did spend the first almost year of treatment doing so.

Forest View was adamant about Ed. We wrote letters to Ed, consistently talked that way in groups. It taught me to separate who I am from my eating disorder for the very first time. If I could see these thoughts weren’t me, that gave me fuel to fight. I needed that. I needed any ounce of motivation and tools to kickstart my recovery.

Naturally, I brought Ed along for the step-down to outpatient therapy. J was supportive of the usage and it helped create progress in discovering who I was beyond my illness. I often would write letters to Ed, sometimes thanking him, others of submission, and sometimes fighting like hell. I wrote up my divorce papers and signed them on December 3, 2014 (one year in recovery from self-harm as well). Whenever the eating disorder voice got loud in session she would respond with “Hello, Ed” to remind me who was really doing the talking.

I’m not sure I would have gotten through those early months had I not used such a drastic change in my view of the disorder.

It ended pretty abruptly when my greatest physical support at the time told me I should stop. She claimed it only was making my eating disorder bigger than it was and giving it more power. Anorexia wasn’t a person and didn’t deserve a name. I listened to her and told J that we no longer were using “Ed.” I trusted this woman so much then and I think that was the main reason I gave in to what she said. I honestly don’t know if that was the right decision or if it was for the right reason, but either way it did happen.

Fast forward to my very first meeting with L. As I later found out, she was a meal support at FV and worked with the “Ed” technique. I hadn’t referred to Ed in over 2 years, so it was a surprise when it came up in our conversation. Even more surprising, I went with it.

I talk and think about Ed every day. One of my assignments, alongside food diaries and thought logs, is to write a short letter to Ed each day. I’ve had many different responses to him. Sometimes I am angry and tell him how much I hate what he does to me. Others it’s the exact opposite with praise for his role in my life. A few days ago I had a very sarcastic passive-aggressive letter which I find hilarious. Lately I have had more positive ones since I am growing more into my behaviors and thoughts.. Regardless, how I feel about my anorexia isn’t as important as recognizing what it does to me.

Sessions with L are definitely a flashback to 2014. L will tell me that it’s Ed talking just as J did. She sees the contrast from my true self. At this point, the healthy part of me rarely gets a word in. It can be pretty surprising at times. I believe these thoughts completely, yet they are Ed thoughts and not mine. I’m thankful

I am giving this faceless disorder a name. I am taking away its power by separating out my voice, the real me. I need to use Ed to distinguish between me and it. I’m so thankful L has brought this back to my recovery.

“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.

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.

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.

Life After Residential – 6 months out (!?!?!?)

Holy cow. 6 whole months since I signed papers, hugged the staff and friends, and stepped on a plane to enter back into the real world. It feels like just yesterday and a million years ago. There isn’t a moment where I’m not thankful for all I learned during my time at CFD, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Realizations in the past sis months:

Motivation for recovery lessens when things start to get hard after the “honeymoon phase.” Much like the spiritual high you receive coming back from church camp, the recovery high after residential fades away. Real life doesn’t come with 24/7 support, a ban on any diet/food/calories/exercise talk, distracting table games, lack of mirrors, others who 100% understand you, and therapy every single day. Without the extra push to recover it has been hard to keep at it. I start shifting toward using exercise to cope and believing a little restriction is okay. Thankfully I’ve now learned to keep motivation up by focusing on my goals and doing recovery for me.

I can get out of a relapse. I feel stronger than ever since beating my first relapse. Seeing my weight was a huge trigger, one that could have sent me into a deep pit I couldn’t get out of. Fortunately, I found my strength in myself through Him. I deserve recovery and I have so much life ahead of me. I don’t need to turn to my eating disorder to deal with things. I can fight urges. In previous relapses, I never wanted to or thought I would be able to fight. There was an entire year spent on the edge of being forced into treatment, FV round 2, and residential. I was sick and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. A huge factor now is knowing what recovery is like: freedom, joy, truly living, despite struggles.

I am capable on my own. I have relied on therapists, dietitians, friends and mentors, the entirety of treatment staff. While that was absolutely needed during residential and as I transitioned back to life on the outside, it isn’t at all realistic or healthy long-term. At some point I had to take control and responsibility for myself. I can’t have therapy everyday. Sometimes I have gone two weeks. Sure I have had days where I needed someone to rescue me, and then I did get support from others. As time has gone on that hasn’t been the case. I journal, manage my emotions in a healthy way, fight urges, talk to friends about anything but my eating disorder. Heck, today in therapy we didn’t focus solely on the ED and I was able to work through anxieties and other things. I really can’t explain how amazing and empowering it feels being able to stay healthy mostly on my own.

I can share about my eating disorder in a way that isn’t a sad story that I feel is burdening others. Before, I told others about my ED and MH issues out of necessity. I needed support and for people to avoid diet talk. Some relationships were built and consumed by my sickness. I felt guilty for sharing my story because I was broken. I haven’t actually told anyone new in person about this yet, but I am planning that very soon. I’ve prayed about it, and I am going to tell my favorite from work. She has noticed the difference in me now and I want to let her in. I feel such joy about all I have accomplished. Why wouldn’t I want to share openly how I have become resilient through God’s strength? Instead of “look what I am going through” it is “look at what I’ve conquered that’s made me into the person I am today.” I am blessed by this change.

There is no perfection in recovery; I am a work in progress. This is kind of cliché but also true. I have had countless slip ups, even in the past two months coming back from my relapse. Just like my self harm recovery, I have days where I follow urges and compulsively exercise/restrict. These things are normal. I can’t expect myself to be completely recovery-minded 110% of the time nor allow others expectations to affect me negatively. I have learned to forgive and accept my failures in the same way I celebrate my successes. It isn’t a linear process in the slightest.

I am different from the girl who left treatment 6 months ago. (Not talking about my body here). My dreams have multiplied as I realize how much more I am capable of now. I am working very hard to not let food be the main focus in my life. Sure, I probably think about it more often than the average person, but it in’t anywhere near when I first left treatment. Until a month or so ago I was still counting exchanges and being rigid in my diet.I have conquered many fears since coming home. Some examples: being able to eat a healthy amount around basically everyone without struggling (much), trying former fear foods, openness about my story, looking at my body in the mirror. I feel so much joy. I never expected or dreamed of this. I wake up happy, enjoy my job, talk with people, find happiness everyday. I definitely had more a more positive mood coming out of resi but not like this. I have grown in self-love exponentially. Overall, I have been able to discover who I really am along this journey (not what the ED made me).

He makes recovery possible. I have struggled in my relationship with God, especially during my darkest points in my eating disorder. I felt abandoned and unworthy of His love. I am just now seeing how wrong I was. He has been there since Day 1. My faith and relationship with the Father is my number one now, not my ED. It is such a blessing.

It’s crazy to think of all the progress these 6 months have brought. I learned how to deal with everything in a healthy way and without relying on the ED in residential; however, this time has been applying those things. Each day I continue on my recovery journey which all began at a house in San Diego.

Stages of (Restrictive) ED recovery – where am I?

Lately I’ve felt pretty terrible, not going to lie. I am really sick of recovery, at least parts of it. Body image has been consistently the hardest part and recently is at an all-time low (I’ve said that before but now is the worst I can remember). I’ll talk about that more in a moment, though. Once again I’m not hungry and food doesn’t usually sound good. I have some feelings of jealousy and resentment. There are so, so many benefits and things I am thankful for that can only happen because of my recovery, but those aren’t at the front of my mind right now. I’ve been beating myself up over this. How could I still have negative feelings when I’m this far in (~7 months since starting resi, 5-6 true recovery)?

I ran across an article I have read a few times before, “Phases of Recovery From a Restrictive Eating Disorder.” Every time I previously skimmed this I was either very sick or in quasi-recovery. It scared the shit out of me. I am a very logical person and use it to calm me, but the ED was way too powerful for that to work here. I’m luckily in a much different head space now and can use the information to further not hinder my recovery.

Currently, my biggest threat to recovery is my body image. I only see myself ballooning more and more when that part should be over by now. I see my stomach which protrudes no matter how much I try to hide it, my hips and thighs that are incredibly large, stretch marks multiplying everyday that all the positive spin in the world can’t help, piles of clothing that no longer fits, fat instead of tone, everything larger than ever in my life. At times it takes every ounce of me to stop from tearing away at my skin. I wish, at times, that I could give in or give up recovery altogether just to make it go away.

Reading this article today has given me hope. I first was sure I was in Stage 3, maybe 4 (the ED fueled horror when I feared it may be the case). I’m actually quite certain my body isn’t there yet, but in Stage 2 still. I obviously have not experienced any sort of weight redistribution or really stopped gaining. That alone has caused hopelessness and other negative emotions. Another clue I may not be in 3 is that I feel like my body is off. I have hunger all over the map. I’m having issues with fatigue, GI problems, and food doesn’t give me the expected energy it should. Lastly, I’m barely at 7 months in recovery max with around a month of relapse. It feels like forever but with all the damage I’ve done it really isn’t. My body doesn’t trust me enough to move past the fear of starvation and pain again, and I don’t trust it in the least bit to handle food correctly, keep from forever ballooning out, and give me correct hunger cues.

Initially knowing I had more ahead until my body would be healthy again was disappointing. I have worked hard, yet none of it was enough to make my body okay again? I’ve thought about that more and now see that this is a good thing. I am still not comfortable – with my body or in my body while experiencing physical issues. This isn’t the end, though, which means that it still gets better from now. I can look forward to more acceptance and the return to a new normal in the future. It really helps me breathe a sigh of relief as I’ve felt so hopeless about the future of my recovery.

On the other side of things, I have become more cautious and aware. I had a relapse because of my failure to accept where I was at physically and not attempt to “fix” it. I know now that this is part of a normal process but one that can be a trap from the ED. This is all temporary that eventually will lead to a healthier me, both inside and out. I need to accept and fight the feelings that threaten to send me back into sickness.

Lord knows I am not healed mentally from my eating disorder. In many ways I never will be. The same thing applies physically. My body isn’t in the end stages of recovery yet, but that is okay. I need to give it time. Now is the prime time for relapse. I can’t go down that road again. It was terrible and terrifying all in one. Right now I need to trust: God and His ability to be my strength in this, my body as it heals, that my disordered thoughts are not real, the truth that it will get easier. I am healing each day and reviving myself more and more.

*Note: I don’t agree with all Your Eatopia has to say on this topic or in general. Nonetheless I do believe this is a good resource.

Progress is

Measuring progress through my own lens.

Handling urges the best I can even when I so badly want to give up.

Lowering perfectionistic grade standards.

Going out with friends instead of turning them down.

Not needing the “food police” to ensure I eat enough.

Removing outside influences (mainly social media) that are harmful to me.

Being trusted to handle my own medications.

Smiling, laughing, enjoying, loving, socializing, living.

Taking care of my body: resting when it needs rest, fueling it, enjoying movement, keeping it from harm.

Working with my therapist and dietitian instead of fighting them.

Speaking out about what I need.

Asking for help without feeling shame.

Putting my relationship with God above my relationship with self-hatred and the ED.

Seeking out opportunities for fellowship instead of waiting for them to come to me.

Feeling joy and gratitude in the little things.

Work being about serving God not a way to exercise and restrict.

Entering the healthiest summer I have had in at least 5 years.

Trying not to dwell on mistakes I have made.

Feeling so incredibly excited for the future.

Allowing myself to have foods I crave, not only the ever-shrinking safe list.

Approaching clothes shopping in a different way – focusing on what I feel best in, not the sizes.

Calming my anxious thoughts before they become overwhelming.

Coming back stronger from the worst and fastest relapse I have ever experienced.

Others telling me how I look so alive now.

Investing in whatever is helpful for me to continue regulating emotions and negative thoughts.

Plans for the future that are not driven or held back by my eating disorder, anxiety, depression, self-hatred, etc.


Embracing social gatherings with food.

No meticulously planning meals and snacks beforehand.

Moving past the strict meal plan.

Using the energy once taken up by the ED towards everything I love and deserve.

Going a week without therapy and not self-imploding/freaking out/slipping/breaking down.

Trusting that God has this all under control and seeking Him again.

Separating the lies of disordered/irrational thought out from my own.

Sharing my story instead of hiding it from the world.

Choosing spontaneity, not rigidity.

Believing I am more than my problems that weigh me down.

Enjoying and noticing the world around me.

Becoming more passionate about photography.

Coming through so many difficult situations that would have broken me before.

Realizing I am worth so much more than I ever imagined.