Treatment update – IOP round 3

I have a whole ton to update on and a couple posts I’ve drafted, but first I want to touch on a difficult subject that came up yesterday. I’m still trying to accept my new normal for the first few weeks of the semester.

I had an absolutely wonderful day at clinical orientation in the children’s hospital. I’m very pumped for it all. I left in a great mood and just felt positive, but then I looked at my phone. I got an email from R that was a little shocking and very upsetting:

K and I talked and we would like you to be at x exchanges before you stop coming to IOP.  We will extend your time in IOP to 2/15.  If you haven’t been able to reach x exchanges by then we will need to look at having you go to a higher level of care like PHP to stabilize. So,  work hard this week to keep moving forward!

Now I want to back up a little bit. In the beginning of January I stepped up care, attending more groups and eating lunch at treatment. I didn’t consider it IOP because I had other appointments while I was there. I quickly realized that being there the whole time IOP is going on still means I’m in IOP. I think it’s been good for me to get out of my dorm and try to work through some of this. The one thing that hasn’t truly improved (okay, I did have half an exchange increase from 2 weeks ago to last week) is my eating and subsequent weight loss. I don’t know that I’ve had this much trouble getting out of restriction before.

IOP is going relatively well. I’ve had a ton of challenges and mostly stepped up to the plate. Last week Monday ended up being the most exchanges I’ve had in months, thanks to increasing for both my meal and snack at IOP. Even though I do love the therapists and some of the activities, I don’t want to be there any longer than I already have been. I’m ready to focus on school instead.

Originally I was supposed to attend full IOP this Thursday and R would let me know on Monday what the plan would be. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I’m not at all happy with this arrangement. I cried and felt generally terrible upon hearing the news.

I decided that yesterday I would allow myself to wallow. I felt all of the negative emotions that came up – guilt/shame, frustration, fear, hopelessness, a little anger, sadness. I didn’t try to push them down. At some points I felt genuinely sorry for myself. It honestly was a bit miserable. As hard as that was, I believe it definitely benefited me. I got out those feelings in a more healthy way. I didn’t focus on acceptance, which may seem a little counterproductive.

Today, I will attempt to end the wallowing, rationalizing, and planning about how I will get myself out of IOP for the next 2.5 weeks. As my best friend said, arguing against it may result in my team feeling I’m not in a good enough place to continue in this level of care. I really can’t have that happen. (side note: any other form of treatment absolutely will not work with my schedule)

Today, I will work on acceptance. I want to go into tomorrow with the best possible attitude. If I’m going to be forced into IOP, I want to actually gain something from the experience. We’ll see how that goes considering how stubborn I can be (and how loud Ed is now).

I am not where I wanted to be by the time spring semester started. I am not where my team wants me. I am (probably) not in a stable enough place to handle everything. I need to change this so I can be in the best possible place to thrive and not just survive.

This is obviously not the update I wanted to make, but it’s where I am. This won’t be where I am going to stay.

Is this relapse? Plus treatment lately and a new plan of action

*I will do my best, as always, to keep anything I believe is triggering out of this post; however, I want to put a warning for the general behaviors and thought patterns that will be mentioned. There are no numbers or specifics ahead*

So.. I don’t want to be writing this post, but then again does anyone? Is it everyone’s dream to slip back into something that’s nearly taken everything from them multiple times?

I don’t see this as so bad.. but I have been in denial before. The signs are there, but I haven’t been able to admit it yet. Instead I’ll write about it here.

  • The number of exchanges I’ve had is making K and R concerned. It’s below a percentage of my CFD mealplan that’s just not okay with them.
  • It’s scarier to eat the amount of food I normally do and the maximum has been lowered. This goes along with the above.
  • Other than when I’m at home (and even then, truly) I eat the same things over and over. I actually at the same protein for 4 meals in a row this weekend/yesterday… so that’s a pretty good explanation of where I’m at.
  • The possibility of a higher level of care has been mentioned more than once. I hate that. Bring on the guilt/shame…
  • I am hungry. I know this sounds weird to determine how well I’m doing, but I haven’t had hunger unless I’ve restricted since this summer.
  • Going along with the hunger, I feel full much faster than before. This has to do with the amount of food my body is used to which is much smaller than before.
  • Some physical symptoms have returned or worsened: feeling cold, hair falling out, dry skin, dizziness, headaches, weakness. I also have a hard time with concentration and thinking in general.
  • I’ve always loved yoga, BUT it may be getting out of hand at this point. The intensity has increased as well as the amount. My team isn’t happy about it and I see Dr. C this week so I’ll know of any changes then.
  • My weight is down. This is not an indication for everyone. For me, it is. Once my weight gets to a certain range, I end up in treatment. Note: this weight range is well above underweight, just proof that you don’t need to be a low BMI to be sick enough for a higher level of care. If it continues I know somehow I won’t make it outpatient. Still, I have a certain “healthy” goal for myself, so I’m stuck and Ed is enjoying this decline.
  • Many (most?) of my waking hours are controlled by ED thoughts. They’re in the background always. R once told me you can have close to 12 hours of disordered thoughts per day and I would say I’m getting there.
  • Rigidity is getting worse. I have to do things exactly the same to feel in control. This extends to everything from specific exchanges per day to amount of exercise.
  • The last time I ate out was on Thanksgiving and I felt like I was going to die just by going there. I was intent on skipping church 2 weeks ago because my parents wanted to do lunch out. I faked sick until they finally decided against going.
  • Once again, I am staying in my room more and more, I haven’t even gone to the library to study or something just to be somewhere else. I also have skipped all floor dinners and eat alone too. I was already pretty isolated before but it just gets worse when I’m more into the ED.
  • Rationalizing is my current superpower. It’s okay I skipped X because it’s close to X meal. This was just one bad day. A little weight loss is fine. I can find an excuse for anything and everything.
  • Spending time at home brings lying, manipulation, and lots of sneaking around. I don’t want my parents to know what’s going on. The idea of having to eat more there is terrifying, so instead I find ways around that.

I don’t know exactly what to do right now, but something does need to change. My future is on the line now. It isn’t like Fall 2015 where I could take off a semester for treatment. I’ve not yet come to terms with all of this. What I do know (and don’t want to admit) is that this is relapse. It isn’t just “not doing well” or “struggling some.” It’s time for me to get back to a stable point where I can start spring semester in the best health possible.


 

I’ve had 2 very hard days of treatment. Thursday was a little bit of a wake up call. R had some no BS words for me. On my red, yellow, green, and in between scale, she believes I am now firmly planted in the red. This means full relapse. I do have one category after red, which is when treatment becomes necessary and nonnegotiable. She also said I cannot stay here, especially with the real semester starting so soon. After this we talked about what my options are currently. I ended up deciding to step up groups on the two days each week I am already there. I don’t fully want this or believe I fully need it, but I’m agreeing because waiting will only make things worse. Spring semester is coming fast. I have to be stable. The only real goal she gave was to increase by 1 exchange until Monday and then add another exchange. That didn’t really happen..

Yesterday was rough. I knew it would be going in. I had no doubt that there would be difficult conversations and possible ultimatums. I wanted to tell myself this wouldn’t happen, though. I wanted to prove to my team that I didn’t need the extra support. That didn’t work one bit.

First, I met with R for lunch and therapy. I barely had the right amount of exchanges for the meal and had to many Ed thoughts to finish. In IOP I would have been given a supplement. Here, she couldn’t force me but reminded me of that fact anyways. She was concerned with my exercise. Her emphasis on weight is that it’s not the only thing they are considering. I know this logically, I just don’t believe it. Unfortunately, she will also be contacting Dr. C so she’s in the loop about my treatment plan and struggles. The message she tried to instill in me was needing to trust my treatment team. I absolutely agree here, especially with K. Why would I ever listen to someone if all I see if them lying? I’ve got to work through these Ed thoughts that tell me otherwise.

K and I met right after. I really liked a metaphor she used. If you imagine a raft in a river, it will continue floating down the river unless you do something about it. You can paddle slowly and stay in place, or work really hard to swim up the river. Recovery is like that. Without the hard work, you aren’t going to make it. She was not happy with my weight or the way that I keep rationalizing/arguing that it’s okay. I was pretty surprised to hear that, in her opinion, if I drop much more I could be put inpatient (or residential). My immediate reaction was huge disbelief. I still don’t get that at all, especially if it were inpatient. Like I’ve heard (and hated) before, my healthy weight for my body probably doesn’t fall here. It’s a bad sign if the only way I can maintain it is by doing what I am now. Another interesting point she made about weight is that she would never want me to continue gaining. Sometimes that’s all I have believed about dietitian’s goals for me. I need to bring up my exchanges, and even though it isn’t much I feel hopeless/fearful/disgusted about the increase. Like I’ve heard a lot lately, she ended with reminding me that I cannot survive here, at least not for long.

After both appointments I joined back into the group one of my favorite activity therapists I have ever met was running.  I’ll call her K-AT here to distinguish between her and my dietitian. She’s known me for even longer than R, ever since my first FV days. The other two girls left the room for about five minutes, and she took that opportunity to have a little heart-to-heart. The first thing she did was ask me what I am doing here. I knew exactly what she meant. Honestly, I don’t really know. It seems like It’s been getting worse for a long time but also all at once. She fully believes in me and said that I can turn this around, I have it within me, and I need to remember that I am going to be a nurse. She reminded me that I am a child of God and so loved, needed, a masterpiece, and fearfully and wonderfully made.Another thing I really appreciated was that she challenged my thoughts about treatment being a waste if I just ended back here again. Despite all of the encouragement, I felt like she was almost disappointed. It was a look that I saw before, right when I decided to go to residential. I don’t think she truly is judging me or anything. My guess is that’s just her concern shining through. Our conversation started the tears. I haven’t cried in therapy since summer when my grandpa died. It feels raw and vulnerable and a little scary. I’m very thankful I was able to spend that little chunk of time with her. I know that she will also be the best person for me to have lunch with Thursday.


My new plan:

  • Monday and Thursdays will be my treatment days
  • This Thursday I have lunch with K-AT, a group where a girl I was in IOP this summer is coming to talk about her strength in recovery, therapy with R, then group therapy and art.
  • Monday is lunch with K, therapy with R, then joining in for all groups of the day. I told her yesterday to make me supplement if I don’t finish, since that would happen if I did it in group lunch. That was the brave thing to say and I have a feeling it may happen..
  • Next Thursday is my first group lunch (not excited/totally freaked out) and the full day of IOP minus therapy
  • Up until the semester starts, I’ll continue with this schedule. After that, I have Thursday’s free. It may be a full treatment day, but nothing has been talked about yet.
  • Basically I’m doing IOP two days a week without calling it IOP and being pulled out for therapy/dietitian. This means no switching to the IOP dietitian though hallelujah!!

If you made it all the way to here you deserve a medal. It feels really good to write that all out and kinda process it here while doing so. I’ll be sure to update on how everything goes and just overall progress too. This feels different than every time before, so I don’t know what all will happen.

Treading water – recovery update

*Note: this does not mention specific ED behaviors, numbers, etc etc etc. I know how not-helpful that would be to anyone, including myself. It is, however, pretty negative. I think you can tell where my mindset is and that is more in the eating disorder. Proceed with caution if you think this is something that may be triggering, although I’ve tried my best to not make that an issue here

Honesty time: things haven’t been the greatest. I’ve had some slips and am more stuck in eating disorder ways than I was a few months ago.

Right now it feels like I’ve been thrown in the deep end of the pool and can’t swim. I’m able to tread water and stay stable, but I can’t remember how to swim and get myself to safety. It isn’t that I’m sinking or don’t know how to swim at all; it’s a lack of immediate knowledge of how to get from point A to point B. I’m also not really motivated to get to point B anyways, because point A seems like a good place to be. Another important thing to note is that I’m not drowning. I am not in immediate danger, but treading water for too long isn’t good either. I’ll get tired and eventually not be able to keep myself afloat. I may need someone to rescue me and throw in a life preserver.

This metaphor is about as close as you can get to how I’m feeling. I’m not in relapse. I am in the warning stage. On the scale from green to red, I am sitting at around an orange, so about a step above true relapse. The ED is trying to convince me that I can lose a few pounds. I can live off this amount of food. I can continue to use exercise in a negative way. Deep down I don’t believe that as much. K and R always remind me that it’s a slippery slope. What starts as some ED coming into the picture can snowball. It’s not really possible to believe the lie that you can get a little thinner, a little more into Ed’s rules.

My appointments with K and R have gotten.. interesting? Not as tolerable? More serious? Honestly just a mixture of many things. Today I met with both of them and as time goes on they seem more concerned.

K (dietitian)

  • I have a minimum that if I don’t reach I’m *supposed* to drink an Ensure (hahaha yeah not happening), but naturally I haven’t met that and am not forcing myself to drink a nasty bottle of chemicals. Now my maximum has been going down little by little. I stayed relatively stable this week, but it is lower to a point that my new goal doesn’t even include the minimum I’m supposed to follow. Basically it’s not realistic anymore because there’s no way I’ll do that when I haven’t hit it in maybe a month?
  • My other goal is to have more afternoon snacks. As always, my ED means cutting down on eating and morning and afternoon snacks are typically the hardest.
  • As per usual, I’m having a hard time with negativity. I tend to get in a place where I just feel like a complete failure. She had me try to list 2 positives from this week and it was honestly one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in the past week. (Is that sad? Perhaps.)
  • I’ll admit, I have been using yoga in an unhealthy way more and more. This isn’t new to me and I’ve been here before. Actually, the last few times I’ve relapsed with exercising it has consisted at least half the time of yoga. Anything can become maladaptive with an eating disorder, apparently. Given this, K wants me to spend one day doing completely “normal” and gentle yoga. I may or may not be too happy about this.
  • For the first time in a long while, she told me that weight is not even the most important factor at this point. It’s something I’m pretty heavily focused on, but she has other markers. For example: physical symptoms like dizziness, amount of restriction, amount of exercise, type of exercise, level of Ed thoughts, etc. For some reason this surprised me a bit because I tend to judge myself by weight or size.

R (therapist)

  • I am convinced that a certain weight I want to get to is healthy, because BMI-wise it definitely is. I feel like that is reasonable and would make body image better than it is currently. R went back through my weight history since I began coming there a year ago and told me that when I get into x range, I have ended up in treatment. I don’t want to accept that my body would be more comfortable at this higher weight. Note: I don’t actually know my weight (minus when I saw it a couple of weeks ago at the Dr) so all I really am aware of is if I’m losing.
  • I have a ton of distrust in my body and it’s somewhat carried over into not trusting my team. I feel like they could be lying to me and how would I ever know that?
  • She has seen quite a bit of downslide in the last month or so. It hasn’t been super severe and is generally slow, but it’s there. If it continues… (fill in the blank with options I am not too fond of)
  • I may not be able to continue EMDR much longer if… I continue restricting and/or lose weight, since it would lead to a state where I cannot concentrate enough or have the mental energy to work through things. As much as I have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with EMDR, I know that it needs to happen. I can’t be held back by this any longer. It’s frustrating already to feel pretty stuck on this target, but knowing I could be forced to put it all on hold is scary. It feels like I would be giving up entirely.
  • We talked about my goal once school ends (in 10 days!?!?!), which is to maintain how I’m eating and exercising. I don’t really want to challenge everything too much, even if I will be away from much of my stressors. Stability is safer. She is concerned about this, given how my body is reacting, but I think it’s better than alternatives like just giving up the recovery piece.
  • I may be closer to relapse than I really think. Last week she mentioned I may be in the orange, so this past week I wanted to prove that wrong. I checked off every symptom I have currently from each grouping (green, yellow-green, yellow, orange, red, rusty-red aka needs treatment). I have way less in the green and much more in yellow, orange, and even red. I am a little shocked. I get into the mentality of I’m not that bad and just ignore the signs.
  • Every single time I see her (and K somewhat), I end up convincing her and myself (one of us doesn’t quite buy it) that this isn’t anything to worry about. How do I master this? Comparison! I can look back at 2014, 2015 x2, 2016, and 2017 to compare now and when I’ve previously entered treatment. I am not doing as poorly with my mealplan/eating in general, still managing school, at a healthy weight, and not currently slipping at a fast rate (actually I’m relatively stable for the last week or so). No matter how many times I hear differently from them I just can’t buy it for whatever reason. I think the Ed voice is just so strong and convincing that I have a hard time considering the other side of this.

Although I haven’t done so in this long, jumbled mess, I have been making it a point to separate out the Ed voice vs my voice. I figured it may be a tad confusing for it to happen here. I can recognize the unhealthy side, although that’s getting harder. Once of my assignments I find helpful is putting Ed thoughts or rules and reframing them. That starts to give me a new perspective.

Reading this back now, I can tell that things aren’t all great and unicorny and whatnot. I am struggling; I’ll admit it. Treading water has not been a fun thing. When it goes on for over a month, nearing 2, exhaustion sets it. I have slipped some, with the most change coming in the past month (according to R and K). I’m finding it harder to stay afloat at this point. I think I know what happens if I actually begin to sink. I don’t want that at all. I can’t do that again. My goal, then, is to stay enough afloat and manage everything. I’m not truly aiming to get better, but if I at least maintain we won’t have so much to worry about.


That’s a wrap for now (and a long one, holy cow 1500 words). I wanted to get this all off my chest and continue to practice authenticity here. I can’t just sugar coat things. This is a true experience of my struggles. It would be a disservice to myself and anyone who reads my blog if I pretended recovery is always wonderful and the easy decision. It’s messy and that’s okay. Today my version of recovery isn’t where I or my team may hope, but that can all change. I want to document that no matter which way it goes.

What does a hard week look like in post-(lots of)treatment recovery?

This has been an extremely difficult two weeks or so for me. It has brought back old thought patterns, urges, and behaviors. I think a huge part of the “why” is stress. My first two nursing exams were this past week. I also have worked more than normal, so studying kind of took a backseat. Adding to this, I’ve had some pretty terrible body image, little to no hunger, and general frustration with food. These things are not an excuse to return to Ed, but it certainly is a factor.

While it can be disheartening that I am back in this space, I am (attempting to) treat myself the way I would treat my best friend. Recovery isn’t perfect and I need to accept that. I deserve grace. If I sit here and go “woe is me,” I will be stuck and feel more hopeless/helpless than ever.

Before, I had zero tools for effective coping. I turned to the eating disorder again and again and again. It was never “I can do this and it will take care of these urges in a healthy way.” Now, I do have a variety of coping skills to use when I need them, everything from mindfulness to journaling to using my kinetic sand. The problem currently resides in the fact that I’m not using them. While I am past the learning phase, application can be difficult too. It comes down to motivation at this point, which has obviously been lacking some.

One thing that I didn’t necessarily expect is how scary this all is. I am on the cusp of choosing recovery and getting back on track or continuing this downward spiral. It’s only a slip right now, leading towards a lapse. While neither of those are great, I’m not in a huge danger zone. I am leaps and bounds above where I was last fall or before residential. This doesn’t need to become a relapse, but it does remind me of the beginning of each one I’ve had.

For me, the main and most important thing now vs. pre-treatment is that I have a strong desire to turn it around. I don’t want to sit here and continue fading away. I have reasons to recover that truly matter (and aren’t all extrinsic). I have hope. I know my strengths. I may not have constant support like in treatment, but I can do this. I am not alone. I don’t need to recovery alone. That’s a beautiful thing.

To come out of this, I must apply what’s worked before. I haven’t had to really use these things in a long while, but now is time to bring them back out. Some pro-recovery things I will do from here on out:

  • Utilize my DBT corner when I’m having urges or very strong emotions
  • Phone a friend – the support I receive is invaluable
  • Journal, journal, and more journaling. It is something I need to do every day, whether I’m in a rough patch or not
  • Eat.the.food. Mechanical eating may be the only way I can go about this and that’s okay short-term. I can’t expect to continue recovery if I’m slowly starving myself. Also, that just fuels the eating disorder even more
  • Listen to and be honest with my treatment team and myself. This is huge. My team are not mind readers. It’s impossible for them to help me if I’m not telling the truth. I won’t get anywhere this way. What starts out as little lies quickly become complete denial. I start to convince myself of the “truth” as well.
  • Practice self-care. This is the last thing I want to do when I am in the ED/anxiety/depression, but it also has helped to bring me out of negative periods as well. Just 5-10 minutes of treating myself like I am worthy it will make a difference.

It isn’t easy just because I’ve been here before, but being here before means that I know how to break free. I am ready to do so.

3 months.

I’m having a hard time holding it together today. I’ve been on the edge of tears all day long (nearly cried while listening to someone talk at clinical). It could be many things: waking up at 5:45, a pretty long and anxiety-provoking day at the hospital, or the very stressful situation that came up last night. More than anything else though, it is because today marks 3 months since leaving CFD. That’s a quarter of a year (!?!?), 92 days. My feelings today really mirror what I felt back then. I want to insert my journal entries from my last day there. These will be in italics throughout this post to help differentiate.

The CFD journey is officially over. I am so blessed to have 34 days with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. This was and will always be the best decision for me. God knew exactly what I needed. This is it. 100% true to this day. I think I’m able to appreciate my experience even more now that I am removed from it.

I want to believe all everyone said. I want to remember it forever and ever. That I am: a light, the official Michigan guide, kind, RESILIENT, courageous, strong, worthy, that I have changed, I can do this, a fun presence in the house, going to recover, overcome lots of things in my time here, have a bright future, have made so much progress, have to keep opening up. 

I want to believe these things ^ More than anything in the world

I’ll admit, I’ve had a difficult time believing any of this. I think part of it is not making an effort to remind myself. My goal will be to write these down somewhere I will read it often. I want to make encouragement, mantras, and positive attributes part of my daily life as it was in residential.

J (my therapist) – if you give a mouse a cookie… she knocked on the door of all my shame but I am the one who opened up. That shows my growth. She has hope for me to continue this. I am grateful for everything she’s done for me. I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I never could have let the shame out if I hadn’t had her. Maybe I would have just carried it forever. While there will never be anything outpatient like J’s shame train (choochoo!) group, I am continuing to explore my shame. I don’t want to live with it forever. EMDR is the current answer to this. I’m hopeful.

What has changed? A LOT

  • I am using my assertive voice
  • choosing recovery over vacation, my parents, what I want my summer to be like
  • I am letting go of the shame
  • I see that my family has perpetuated the shame
  • I am nourishing my body again
  • I can be trusted to eat on my own accord
  • I am using skills
  • the thoughts don’t fully control my life and I can see beyond them
  • I know how to lean on supports
  • I am closer to who I want to be
  • I am equipped
  • I have 34 days of trials, tears, setbacks, frustration, feeling like a failure, steps backwards, resorting to old ways, giving Ed a loudspeaker and more bu also 34 days of discovery, fighting, using skills, so many successes, backing down from Ed thoughts, opening up, checking in, and getting support
  • I am the Challenge Queen

I want to recreate this. What has changed post-discharge:

  • I’m nearly a month into school and doing very well, all things considered
  • I am putting my recovery first by adding in as much support as possible during each week
  • feeling empowered enough to make strides in my recovery all on my own
  • honesty: some slippage, but this is a normal thing that doesn’t need to continue
  • being BRAVE and making strides I haven’t been able to do for a long time
  • I have been with only outpatient care for exactly 4 weeks and I didn’t start sinking right away like before
  • I am proud of my summer instead of embarrassed
  • slowly getting back into yoga
  • giving myself a break and time to rest
  • overall I have maintained the mood improvements that came in residential
  • I feel stronger than I have in a long time, outside of treatment
  • I have hope
  • I am listening to my dietitian and therapist (sometimes reluctantly)

I don’t think I could reflect on CFD without reminiscing. I miss it. I’ll think of memories and laugh, smile, cry, feel proud of myself or others, and experience pretty much every emotion out there. Residential is this life-changing experience. I get emotional thinking about it because my entire stay was full of finally feeling again. I was in a very vulnerable state while also being pushed and challenged. I haven’t ever been a part of anything like it. Right now, I can’t look back at my journal without crying because of the impact it’s had on me. I will never, ever take this all for granted. Instead, I am forever grateful for the opportunity and everyone who made my experience what it was.

These three months have been nowhere near perfect, and I am okay with it. Recovery is a process that’s led to more ups and downs than any rollercoaster. The difference now is that I am fighting like hell. My worst days still are better than any from last year.  CFD (and subsequently, PHP and IOP) helped me build a strong foundation. Now I am just building on to that and continuing in this process.

I will end this post the same way I ended my journal 3 months ago: This is the beginning of a beautiful, freer life.

Tag teamed by my dietitian and therapist

Monday mornings truly are something. I see my dietitian and therapist back to back, before heading to lectures at 10:30 and 12, then lab at 2. Yesterday marked the third week of this schedule. While I am extremely thankful to be back with my dietitian K, I did not expect how she and R work together each time.

It goes like this:

  • I see K at 9, talk about how I did with the MP, exchanges, challenge thoughts, and make ~3 dietary goals
  • R comes in at the last-minute or two and K tells her what we’ve talked about
  • I have a half hr session with R where we talk in  general sense of what’s going on and then make ~3 goals regarding whatever I need to work on

Today went a bit differently. I have been slipping the tiniest bit when it comes to number of exchanges. It has a lot to do with change and school stress, but it is still considerably higher than where I was last year. We talked about that and she stuck with my same mealplan, despite Ed’s protests. Side note: I was brave enough to tell her how I manipulated my dietitian last fall with exchanges. Our long-standing goal is my exchange values. The second goal is eating in the dining hall 7x, which means I get one meal off. I’ve done better the past week with this, compared to eating there maybe 7 times the first 2+ weeks. Our third goal I protested. After clinicals last week, we stopped at this farm stand/bakery/corn maze place right nearby. They have famous donuts and everyone there bought one, minus me. FV also supposedly has the most wonderful desserts. At lunch, I was the only one who didn’t try them. K and I went back and forth about which of these needed to be a goal. She voted both, but I finally decided on the donut. Neither of them are easy, but it seems more doable. I reluctantly wrote these all down and headed into therapy.

We talked as per usual, mostly about my weekend highs and lows, BB stuff, and then worries towards returning to the hospital. I brought up lunch again because that is one of my big stressors. I ended up mentioning the whole dessert thing, and I swear it was like a lightbulb went off in her head. She didn’t say anything, but the way she smiled led me to guess something was up. The second I got my paper out for goals she told me she has the first one: eat a dessert at FV. Usually her goals don’t deal with food, so I immediately tried to challenge it. I explained that I was already supposed to do the donut (which she already knew, of course) and this was way too much. R didn’t budge, so I finally agreed. She seemed pleased with that and we continued a few more goals involving talking more to a support person and using skills at the hospital if needed for anxiety.

The funniest thing was when I was walking down the hall to leave. K came out to tell me something and R immediately blurted out how I am doing a dessert in addition to my donut. They looked so happy and a little mischievous, ha. I get that I am supposed to be challenged and everything, but I’m definitely not happy like they aer with this week’s goals. I’m still going to try. At the very least I will grab/buy the challenge food.

My two team members having this close relationship in regards to my well-being is something I actually appreciate. I no longer have to be the one to explain what one said to the other. I know I’m receiving the best possible care they can both offer this way. I’m certainly not allowed to slack, though!

The end of summer.

Tonight is he last night of summer for me. I have a myriad of emotions regarding this, and over how I spent my summer as a whole. I want to take some time to reflect on this summer, namely my treatment experiences and what I’ve learned from it.

By the numbers:

  • 33 days in residential
  • 27 days of PHP
  • 10 days of IOP
  • 2 months away from home
  • 1,058 hours spent in treatment
  • 70 total days in treatment/110 days of summer = 64% of summer days

It’s hard to believe that so much of my summer has been taken up by treatment. I never would have wanted this for myself. I honestly didn’t expect my break from school to play out this way at all. I thought that I was handling the eating disorder and school perfectly, and that it would continue seamlessly into summer. That quickly fell apart and residential became the only option. I remember mourning my loss of “freedom” (when I clearly wasn’t very free). At the time, I thought 4-6 weeks and then I would be healed and could return to just outpatient. Every option for a slower stepdown was taken and my last day of IOP was this past Tuesday, only 8-9 weeks later than I originally thought. This time that I once felt was so important now seems trivial. I spent 64% of my 110 days of break in treatment and I wouldn’t have had it any other way, given the circumstances.

I had much guilt and worry surrounding my return to residential. I wondered if I would even be able to accomplish anything this time around. These thoughts continued as I began stepping down. Here’s the crazy thing: I grew just as much, if not more, than last time. I want to share some different things I’ve taken away from this time.

  1. Treatment is scary, no matter how much you prepare for it. I felt this strange confidence about returning. I had done so well before. All I had to do was follow the rules enough to deal with it, right? WRONG. It was much more complicated than that. I wasn’t some pro at treatment who could zoom through the process. I wouldn’t say every single step was near terrifying, but treatment as a whole was. It makes sense, given the goal is to eradicate this thing that’s been controlling me for so long.
  2. Knowing how to put my needs above: other people’s, what I “should” be doing, etc. I could have been away at treatment 4.5 weeks and then IOP for a month. I was not at all planning on PHP, especially not one that involved being away from home. Towards the end of residential, it became increasingly clear that home wasn’t a good option. My therapist and I both had many concerns about returning to that environment. Sure, I had a month of growth under my belt, but that didn’t mean I was 100% ready for the real world. I felt strongly that I needed a better option. I decided this the very last week I was at CFD. Once I was at ERC, I once again put my needs first and stayed an extra week there. I added a month away, one that was absolutely needed. Some people were not so happy with that decision, but it doesn’t really matter. What does is that I stuck up for myself and gained immensely by doing so.
  3. I didn’t truly “miss out” this summer. Sure, I wasn’t able to have the “normal” experience. I do/did regret that; however, I gained so much more. I had many fun adventures during all 3 forms of treatment (and pictures to show of parts!). My time in treatment brought inside jokes, exploring cities, laughs, tears, growth, and more. It was so, so hard at times. Overall, though, I wouldn’t trade it. My version of summer is a lot different than others but that doesn’t mean it was bad or wrong.
  4. I am stronger than I ever thought. I’ve been through countless trials this summer: losing my grandpa while at CFD, a specific weekend where every bite was a struggle and Boost was involved, dealing with family, living in a new city and having to navigate that, losing another family member while in Chicago, choosing to stay longer in treatment, financial issues. Through all of it, I have survived, even thrived.
  5.  I am more than capable of recovering. I have done some hard stuff this summer. I was in treatment a majority of the most trying times, bu it doesn’t discount my progress. I had to choose recovery, no matter what, and I did. Even with struggling a bit being home, I am still fighting because I do believe in recovery. Another reason I have this hope in from being lucky enough to hear Jenni Schaefer speak to us at ERC.

I am so thankful for all that has made this summer one of healing. I know I can continue this and have a better semester than ever before. Tomorrow is a new beginning!

(So many) tears of happiness

Last Thursday, I happy-cried the entire 50 minute drive to my school before IOP. I could stop for no more than a minute, then I would get thinking and waterworks started over. It seems pretty weird, right? What’s so amazing about a quick errand to school before going to eating disorder treatment for the day? The answer: everything because today, I picked up my scrubs and equipment for nursing.

If you would have looked at me a year and a half ago, as I dropped out of my first semester of school, there’s no way you could have seen this day coming. A year after that, I once again had to take time off school, this time just a J-term. Then came the absolute worst semester possible. Looking just at my academic performance and participation in school spring term, no one would think I could be allowed into the nursing program. Here I am anyways.

The first couple weeks at residential were brutal for many reasons, a main one being that I didn’t have my final grades in yet. I was accepted into the nursing program, but I had no clue if that was jeopardized or not. I was not proud of the semester and this kept me up at night. I was a wreck. I went over every moment, every mistake from the previous 4 months. The day I logged in and saw my GPA was one of the happiest since receiving my acceptance letter. I had hung on, but only by around a tenth of a point.

I am not ashamed. I never thought I would be saying that; however, I cannot keep focusing on what I’ve done wrong. I’ll admit, I’ve been a terrible student for a good chunk of my time at Calvin. That isn’t all on me though, because I wasn’t really there. Instead, my eating disorder was in control. I have spent too many years trying to live with the eating disorder when I only end up barely surviving.

I am proud of myself. I am proud of my recovery. Without this hard work I’m putting in now, there’s no way I would be starting classes in 3 weeks. I don’t know where I’d be. What I do know is that I’ve spent too many years trying to live with this disease. Now is my chance to change that, and treatment this summer is only the beginning.

I am going to become a nurse. It still feels surreal, and probably will for a while yet. I thank God everyday for all that has gotten me to this point. I know this is my calling. I almost lost the opportunity, but I am never going to stop fighting to make my dream come true.

Long, long overdue update.

I really hate not blogging for so long (besides one off topic post), but I also needed a break. I’ve been spending hours upon hours of each day living and breathing treatment. 4.5 weeks in residential, another 3.5 in PHP, and now I’m back at IOP. It’s exhausting, to say the least, but now I am finally ready to explain the last 2+ months.

I left for residential on May 25th. Thankfully, I was able to once again be admitted into the same SoCal location as before. It felt like returning home. Around half the staff is the same, so I immediately received half a dozen hugs. Knowing everything about the program meant a hell of a lot less anxiety compared to last time. At the same time, I had plenty of worries about the other girls. The time before brought some not so great drama filled days, so I desperately wanted to avoid that. I was blessed with 5 of the most amazing women I have ever met. They made the experience better than I imagined. More importantly, though, was the staff and what happened because of them. My therapist was a perfect match. She gave me the confidence and safe space to speak about the most shameful memories and past that I’ve never talked about before. She listened and believed me. She comforted me, inspired me, pushed me, and supported me. I could not be more grateful, so I still update her now. One counselor in particular was a complete blessing to me. She’s a strong Christian and compassion just oozed out of her. I also shared some of the same things I did with my counselor, and actually with her first. There are about a million more things I want to write about regarding resi, but I’ll save that for another post (or 20 🙂 ). For now, I’ll just end with the fact that I learned more than I thought possible. I knew I would change, but I guess I just didn’t expect it as much as I should have.

I discharged from CFD on June 26th. I panicked when I first found out the date around 10 days prior. Suddenly, going home was actually on the radar. An immense fear of the same environment came over me. I felt stronger, but not enough to handle everything so soon. We had always planned on just starting IOP three days a week after. That Monday before I brought up the idea of heading to ERC’s Chicago PHP program. It was a huge risk to go there, but ultimately it’s what was best. After spending under a day and a half at home, I was off to Chicago, with the support of my treatment teams from CFD and home.

I struggled immediately after admitting to ERC. The program was completely different than CFD: three times the size, therapy just once a week, a new mealplan I hated. Those first almost two weeks were miserable. I had pretty much given up hope of gaining anything. I wasn’t open in the least bit. Something changed in me, and suddenly I wanted to work hard again. I took notes and participated and challenged my ED 24/7. I realized that the chance to come was a privilege. I could have been home, but instead I worked hard to get more treatment. My original plan was just under 3 weeks of time. I used money as the main factor in why I couldn’t stay. The team didn’t buy it, and offered financial help to keep me longer. I accepted. I ended up getting more out of the last 2ish weeks there than I imagined. I settled in, made friends, worked hard. I again am grateful for the opportunity to stepdown instead of coming straight home. I left the 24th with even more growth under my belt.

I started IOP the day after my discharge. Now I’m there twice a week for the full day and therapy 2 days. It’s been almost two weeks and I’m mostly used to being home. This certainly isn’t easy. Adjustments aren’t my favorite, and here I am with some huge ones. I am just beginning to mourn leaving treatment. I am “treatment sick” terribly. I miss it all: the support, staff, girls, safety, weather, adventure, challenges, essentially just about everything. This may be the hardest part now. I am figuring out how to do it (mostly) on my own. I want this. I need this. I will put all that I’m able so I can finally live.

It’s just over 4 weeks until nursing begins. This last bit of summer needs to have the same amount of effort as the first 10 weeks. My life, my future, and my freedom depends on it. Spending all of summer in treatment wasn’t anywhere close to what I had hoped going into it, but this has given me a fighting chance and a will to live. I am blessed.

Goodbye for now!

Just a quick post, but I’m about 10 minutes out from Center for Discovery! I have all kinds of emotions and fears, but residential is what I need. Not sure when exactly I’ll have a moment to blog, but see you until then!