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.

 

A “fun” dietitian appt

Oh man was I fun for L to deal with on Thursday. I am stubborn, resistant to change, doubtful, and and in denial when it comes to nutrition and my meal plan. I would say that my largest pitfall is believing every word she says is a lie.

I was pretty grumpy going into our session which didn’t help the situation. Most of it was the same things I’ve heard again on repeat for months: you need to eat more of fats/carbs/protein, eat enough if you want to exercise, keep completing your food log, follow your meal plan.

I look in the mirror and judge the excess food I’m consuming. All I can think about is the fat and weight I must be gaining. I voiced my concerns and how I’m convinced my treatment team is trying to make me fat. She attempted to reassure me by sharing I haven’t gained anything since starting out there. I so don’t buy that. It just doesn’t make sense with the amount of food I have been eating, etc.

L fought Ed with logic, which is the only way to actually convince me of anything. When I claimed she was trying to make me fat, her response was pretty shocking: “if my goal was to make all of my clients continue to gain weight forever I would be out of a job.” I haven’t heard that before. Usually it’s questioning why they would want to make me fat, which can be answered and explained in a disordered way. This has proof. She’s right, there is no way anyone would stick with her if they ballooned out forever on their meal plan. This was the one point in our conversation where I was able to combat the ED.

How do you feel about my meal plan? 8 words that I could have refrained from saying. I hate her answer. L doesn’t believe that my meal plan is enough. It’s currently ~2/3 of what I came out of CFD with, exchange wise. Her exact words were “You are on the lowest amount that I am ever okay with.” Obviously, she needs to increase it, probably to what it was before restriction happened. The problem is that I’m not meeting my meal plan as it is. I’m coming off pretty serious restriction for the last few months, but apparently not fast enough. She is not allowing me to do next semester unless I am able to increase my meal plan back to an acceptable amount. To be honest, that really pissed me off. I don’t think she has a right to keep me from my future when my physical health is fine and I’m going in a better direction in general. Deep down I know that this isn’t a normal or healthy amount I’ve been eating. More than anything, I’m terrified I won’t be able to do this.

L has her work cut out for her. I can talk back and give some nasty “Ed” looks while fighting every word she says, which she has already seen many times. The healthy part of me hates that I’m ignoring and defying the help that she is offering. I really do need to work towards building trust with her and my entire treatment team. Until then, we’ll be stuck with the wrath of my ED shining through. Sorry, L.

Restriction is…

Unlike my previous Anorexia Is post almost two years ago, this is not planned or edited. This is raw. I am in the pit of restriction and this is going to be an honest picture of what that’s like.

Your therapist, dietitian, and doctor not being able to hide their concern. So much brain fog. Exhaustion that sleep cannot touch. Wasting perfectly good food your mom sent you. Eating the absolute bare minimum. Putting off supplements.Being terrufued if Lies, so many lies all day long. Having to write down an entire notecard of what happened on session because you lose it all within an hour otherwise. Seeing someone lifeless looking back at you in the mirror. Hours of time going by with little memory of what happened. Feeling too weak to even do gentle yoga. Apathy. Watching your grades slip fast. Hating being at home on the weekends because it means eating more/food police. Hiding the truth from everyone. When it hurts to smile or be around others. Ed thoughts every waking moment. Exhilarating, when it comes to the eating disorder. Ignoring your hunger until it isn’t even there, only emptiness. Forgetting to message your mom all day. Putting everything else last. Shutting out everyone. Hiding. Ignoring any signs that you’ve gone too far. Anxiety dominating everything. Freezing no matter how many blankets you have. Sticking to the smallest list of safe foods. Defining your worth by the amount of food you ate that day. Goals shrinking by the day. Denying yourself every food you enjoy. A false sense of strength. Napping for hours on end.Not just about losing weight.  Zoning off constantly. Being at constant war with yourself. Needing to justify every bite of food. When ED behaviors happen on their own. A dying body. Losing the girl underneath this disorder. Not believing those in your treatment team.  Completely miserable.

My Thanksgiving plan & how things went.

No, this doesn’t have anything to do with where I will be physically, what I’m wearing, etc. Having an eating disorder means lots of worry over holidays.

I am going to do my best to take care of myself which requires plans and back-up plans. I will get through tomorrow.

Have set food/exchanges for the meal. L and I worked together yesterday to figure out exactly how much and what I will have at dinner. One of the biggest stressors for me is going into any food situation without any ideas. Realistically I know this isn’t something I can always do; however, this is where I am today. Meal planning is what kept my anxieties down the most in residential and it’s exactly what I need to get through Thanksgiving. I will already have all I need on my plate before I have time to worry about portion sizes.

DBT skills. This is another residential trick I’m pulling out. I need distraction and a way to get through the ED thoughts. Because we have family around, it’s important for these skills I use to be discreet. My go-to use anywhere currently is my makeshift stress ball from CFD. It’s simple, basically rice inside of 2 balloon layers. That thing works magic! The consistency allows me to change the shape and squeeze it in my palm. We made our own during residential, but I actually took this one from the house as well because it’s perfect for me. There’s a very good chance this will be the skill I use at the dinner table. If not, I have travel size thinking putty. I can play with it in one hand while having the other free to eat. Outside of mealtime I have a few options to choose from. I absolutely love using my kinetic sand. There’s something incredibly peaceful about making shapes, writing words, or just feeling the texture. My lentils are another tactile one that instantly brings calm. I doubt I’ll use my large thinking putty but it’s another option. My biggest struggle will be actually pulling out my skills instead of wallowing.

Escape route. I am so thankful we have family over instead of going to a relative’s house. For one, this means I’m more comfortable. More importantly though, it gives me escape routes and places to hide it out. First and foremost is my room. The second I become too overwhelmed, I can head in and breathe a little. My mom will call this “antisocial” but given the circumstances I’m hoping she’ll get it. I most likely won’t close my door or anything, but just getting away from everyone else will be much needed. I can come in and play sims, blog, homework, love on Milo, etc.

Support. I love my mom and she is wonderful, but right now I can’t really go to her for support. For one, I’ve been lying and keeping my real status away from her. She thinks I am doing well and I really can’t hurt her. Given thi, I am turning to texting as a way of reaching out. I have my people (including my person <3) who will always be there. Heck, I am their text support too.

Prayer/asking the Lord for help. I cannot get through tomorrow alone and I shouldn’t have to. He wants to carry me as one of the hardest days of the year goes on. This is a valley for sure, but I’ve got to stay strong in Him.


I had these hopes going into the day that simply didn’t happen. My day brought restricting, tears, isolating, and being the worst person as I let my mom down. I feel like a failure, I really do. What I’m trying to learn, though, is that I cannot fail if I really tried. Eating anything is better than not eating. L is drilling this into my brain.

While I could sit and list off all of the things I couldn’t do, I will instead focus on the parts of my plan that did work out.

My biggest victory was in taking care of my needs via my escape routes. I was having a really hard time being with all of my family. It’s overwhelming even if I’m just sitting in the room where they’re all talking. I stuck it out for the half hour before dinner by distracting myself with my computer and TV in the background. After we ate I went straight to my room. I got some much needed chinchilla therapy and calmed down some. That wasn’t enough because my grandma and others would come in, so I left for my parents’ bedroom. I was able to close the door and just sit on my phone. I watched a few videos and drowned out the noise outside. I know that sticking it out with everyone would have made it all 10x more miserable. I am glad I could recognize that.

I used my skills! My stress rice balloon didn’t really leave my hand the whole night. I was constantly playing with it to get my focus on anything other than the disordered thoughts running through my head.

I may not have come close to completing my set meal plan, but it did help simply to use it as a starting point. I put all of the exchanges on my plate so that I could see exactly what I needed. There was little chance that I would finish it all to begin with, so I didn’t feel quite as bad when I didn’t. Regardless of the percentage I did eat, planning ahead of time helped. I ate more than I would have otherwise.

I am not very proud of Thanksgiving. I wish things would have gone better. My emotional state was terrible and consisted of many crying spells over not being at CFD. ED thoughts were on loudspeaker. As much as I really don’t want to, I am giving myself some grace. I did what I could. The day is over and now it’s time to keep going.

Stretch marks

Warning: this post is real and raw, as is the photo included. It is exactly what I see and feel everyday.

DSC_0040

I noticed my first stretch marks a few months after discharge from Forest View PHP. I was appalled and I remember crying for well over an hour. It sent me into a small spiral of restriction. Back then I felt like many other women: stretch marks and any scars or other “imperfections” are seen as disgusting and unwanted. That is why I couldn’t handle looking at my thighs for a long time. I closed my eyes anytime I was getting dressed. The only time I wore a swimsuit was with shorts on.

As time went on and I stayed a stable weight, thanks to mild restriction, my marks faded.I could barely see them which meant others couldn’t either. My body image improved in the slightest. Honestly I just forgot I even had stretch marks for around a year since I had so many other ED thoughts/body image issues/behaviors/etc to deal with.

Coming back form residential I couldn’t hide from it anymore. I gained more stretch marks than ever before and I’m not using my eating disorder to distract me. There are the old, white and subdued, and new, angry red and impossible to ignore. This is what I see every single time I look down at my thighs. Its my choice how I let if affect me.

I won’t lie, this has been HELL to get through. I have broken down and doubted my recovery over some imperfections in my skin. How incredibly sad is that?

My view of the stretch marks is slowly changing. I didn’t gain them for nothing. They are a package deal with my recovery, and I want that more than anything. My body has grown bigger and stretched in ways it hasn’t in years. I neglected and starved it and upon receiving nourishment it became healthy again. There is no way at all I could be so committed to recovery and life if my body wasn’t changed to the way it is now.

I have earned these stretch marks. All of the ensures I’ve downed, tears I’ve cried, emotions I’ve dealt with, thoughts I’ve overcome, and every ounce of strength has resulted in them. I am proud of the work it took to come here. My body is not perfect by today’s standards but it is healthy. It deserves my love.

My stretch marks will probably never go away on their own. I fully believe I can get to a point where I won’t want them to. They signify my struggle and resiliency. My entire recovery is represented in those lines. Its time to own it.

I may not be able to say I love these marks yet, but one day I will.

 

 

 

Honesty time: coming back from a relapse

nhh

When these words popped up on my Instagram feed this morning (via @beatingeatingdisorders) I knew I had to finally talk about what’s been going on with me lately. I hope that by sharing my story I can give hope to others finding themselves in a slump like this.

Probably around 6 weeks ago now I was struggling heavily with body image and had basically no hunger. This led to guilt and plenty of crying before/after/during meals. I felt defeated and lacked much motivation to finish everything I needed for the day. I skipped out on snacks altogether, then restricted meals. To top it all off, I saw my weight after a doctor’s appointment (here). Then I wrote about not doing so hot two weeks ago (here) but I haven’t mentioned it since.

As I’m pulling myself out of this, I realized that this most definitely was a relapse. I ran full-force back to my eating disorder and went from engaging in some restriction but not a ton  to extreme restriction and compulsive exercise. I also isolated, hid everything from my mom, felt very depressed, slept a lot, and was plain miserable. My dietitian appointment last week Tuesday, I was doing so badly that she set my minimum meal plan at around 1/3 of what I left residential with. The next day I went into therapy and just cried. I felt extremely hopeless and I didn’t know how I was supposed to do this all. I was struggling, my dietitian and therapist were worried, and I had little motivation to change.

Last Thursday came news that has created a complete change in mindset for me. I will talk more about this soon (its very, very exciting I promise!). Suddenly, I had something to look forward to in the near future, as opposed to becoming a nurse years from now. I could never do this thing if I’m still sick. My motivation for a new shorter-term goal has grown to cover my entire life. Living with anorexia is not living at all. If I’m stuck in this place forever I will miss so much. I could die or at least feel like dying every second. My eating disorder is not worth having to give up all of my goals and hope for the future. I need to recover for me, simply so I can have everything I deserve.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I am going to fight with everything to stay in recovery. My whole life is ahead of me and for the first time in years I am genuinely excited and thankful for that. Anorexia is NOT holding me back!

Yesterday I was able to go into therapy as a completely different person than I was the week before. I left the session feeling proud of myself, thankful for her support, and in awe of my own power/motivation. I met with my dietitian today and that appointment also went so differently than either of us had expected the week before. We found a meal plan that will be so much more nutritious and talked about making sure I honor my hunger. My progress between this week and last is probably the largest positive change I’ve seen in myself. It is so much more than just eating again.

Going back to the words above, the eating disorder really does have a way of pulling you in with temptations of relapse. Since leaving residential I’ve somewhat been waiting for it to happen in a way. After coming out of this now, I never want to go through this again. The memories of your time in the ED is so different than reality. The misery comes right back and takes over as relapse begins. It hurts so much.

If you end up beginning to slip back into your old ways, take a moment to pause and think about where this could end up. You follow the eating disorder that either leads you to death or feeling like you’d rather be dead. You fight, which is much harder, and have the rest of your life, full of possibilities. You are worth recovery. Find some things to live for, create future goals, follow your dreams, but most importantly choose recovery for YOU.

Not doing so hot.

If “doing cold” were a thing I certainly would be there or very close. This is the worse I’ve been behavior and thought-wise since before I went to treatment. If it continues I could be back there. That’s scary.

Even a few weeks ago I was at a much better place with behaviors, but I can also see that many of my thought patterns began well before my actions changed. My body image has grown worse over time since discharge. That alone is a huge part of my downward slide. My appetite has been wacky and near nonexistent for well over a month now. That’s made me much more prone to guilt and not wanting to eat. Seeing my weight last week really started the behaviors again and multiplied ED thoughts.

I have been restricting heavily. I haven’t met close to what my meal plan is, or even the 75% goal my dietitian gave until my hunger cues normalize. In addition to that I started exercising again in a very compulsive way. Because of these things I feel weak, exhausted, dizzy, and just out of it a good majority of the time.

Its amazing how incredibly addicting my eating disorder is. I feel so high when I’m restricting or exercising, just like before. The ED is enticing. It reminds me of all the reasons I should choose to use behaviors and let thoughts grow. What I see in the mirror is constantly growing closer to something I can be okay with, so long as I continue following the eating disorder’s ways.

I know what happens down this road. It feels great, oh so wonderful, at first. You become delusional and hold on to that feeling while your entire life spirals out of control. I am not going there again but I need help.

I reluctantly emailed my dietitian the truth today. I see her Tuesday but I wanted to hear any suggestions when it comes to food and getting exchanges in somehow. My therapist has been sick. I met with a different one at Broene yesterday briefly. He encouraged me to go back to all of my skills again. I am hoping to meet with S tomorrow. I really need her no-BS push in the right direction. I have been honest with a few people. My last two days at school before the weekend wont be as secretive as it has been.

I have work to do if I’m going to move out of this cold spot. Recovery is never easy in the least bit and its like I’m just now seeing that for the first time.