Last week, I turned 23. I truly can say that 22 was the fastest year of my life thus far. The days were long and full of struggle, but I sit here today (one whole week into my 23rd year) wondering how the hell it passed on by so quickly.
I’ve been in a reflecty/nostalgic sort of mood lately, so I wanted to look back on all this year brought.
- Made it through the first year of nursing school! And did better than I ever thought!! This one deserves all the exclamation points. If I had to name one thing that made 22 pass by so dang fast, this would be it. I started out still very uncertain in my ability to truly be a nurse. I knew I could probably handle it academically and I love learning anyways, but working with patients was the real unknown. I’m grateful for the progress I’ve been able to make. I feel a thousand times more comfortable with patients now. I can see the ways I’ve grown and I’m proud of that.
- Kept on going, no matter what. I’ve faced many obstacles this year. There were infinite moments I could have given up or given in. I did at times, of course, but overall I chose to fight instead. My stubbornness and resiliency helped me stay afloat in a pretty wide range of areas.
- FINALLY got on good medications. I have zero shame about being on psychiatric meds. I felt pretty ambivalent about them before, but I finally ended up changing some things around with a new psychiatrist and the difference is CRAZY! I am so so glad I listened and decided to make steps towards healthy.
- Giving up perfectionism in tiny ways. My nursing classes have naturally brought greater challenge and less likelihood of just acing a test without studying. This means I’m not the straight A student I once was. I’m learning to be okay with it, though. Test scores this year have had a large range, but I now can at least fight the negative thoughts that come with a B. It doesn’t have to ruin my day or week anymore.
- Lost my Challenge Queen title. My nickname at residential was always the “Challenge Queen” because I went above and beyond to fight back against the ED. This meant daily fear foods and completing difficult assignments, opening up more, etc. Ever since then I’ve tried to implement that same mentality. It has been seriously lacking this year. I have done pretty much the bare minimum (or less) and that’s it. I have no desire to try harder and make progress. This is frustrating and I feel stuck, but I also don’t want to make a change.
- Relapse and treatment. Well I couldn’t exactly talk about the bad parts of this year if I skipped this whole part. I spent nearly all of 22 in varying stages of relapse. It was miserable and probably a large part of why the days were so very long as weeks and months whizzed by. This relapse was bad enough that I ended up in PHP for a month, something I swore I would NEVER do again. I still carry around a great deal of shame for everything that happened ED wise when I *should* have been better by now.
- Isolation. This past year has brought way too many days with little to no human interaction minus what was absolutely necessary (think going to class and the dining hall). I sat in my room more often than not. If I did happen to do something socially, it was always support group or bible study or hanging out with treatment buddies. Most of the time i just felt too broken for anyone else.
- Less time enjoying. I didn’t allow myself to sit back and relax with a book or go out on a photo shoot. My days were filled with monotony and not much to look forward to. I also got very stuck in the “work, work, work” mindset.
- Giving up my passions. I’m pretty sure that my photo count for the year is in the hundreds (instead of thousands). I’ve also written way less than I had hoped/wanted to. Somewhere along the way, I just stopped caring about doing things I love.
22 wasn’t a bad year by any means. It certainly didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, but I have faith knowing that even the hard points are shaping me. I’ve learned and grown through it all, and that matters. I’m (mostly) ready to take on 23 and make it better than the last.
Part 2 is coming soon where I’ll explore my goals for the next year
2017 was a pretty rough year. Much of the focus (and problem) has been my eating disorder. I’ve spent around four months in treatment: IOP, a few month break, residential, PHP, and IOP again. Now, I’m struggling again. Amidst the hard things, growth has come too. I’ll talk more about this in a post soon. I want to make 2018 different and the best/healthiest year yet.
Goals for the year:
- No treatment!!! I have spent the past 4 years in at least one form of a higher level of care. It’s hard not to feel like a failure when I think of this. I don’t want my life to revolve around my eating disorder in this way again. However, I want to promise myself and my team that if treatment becomes necessary I will go.
- Thrive in nursing school – both semesters. I have so much to look forward to with school this year. Spring is pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents. I’m especially excited for this semester because my top choice is to work at Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in the NICU or pediatrics. I also have labor and delivery on my list. Overall I thing it will be a great time. Fall will be young, middle, and older adults. We’ll be doing med-surg. This should be interesting while working in the ICU. Overall, I have a ton to learn and work more towards my dream.
- Start to develop a healthier and relationship with and view of my body/self. This is a tall order considering I can’t remember a time when I felt too positive here. I want to make this more open-ended because even a small step matters. I know that recovery will help to grow here.
- Isolate less. Whenever anxiety, stress, depression, and the ED are stronger I tend to isolate. I spend so much time in my room that I get nervous to venture outside. I want to tart doing things with others again.
- Blogging much more – at least once per week. I feel good when I blog. It fills me up, whether it’s another TFHR, awareness post, or really anything. This is my favorite creative outlet. Being intentional about my time and penciling this in is important to me.
- Try to keep more on top of anxiety/stress. This is one challenging task while I’m going through school. I have to take more time to use skills and thought stopping. If I can manage this, I know it can decrease my ED at least a little.
- Get through this target/focus of EMDR. I feel pretty hopeless about this at times. 3 months sometimes seems like too long. I have to extend myself grace here and put my all into this. I have to believe I deserve freedom.
- Take more pictures. I haven’t picked up my DSLR in a year, maybe more. The motivation jusst isn’t there, yet I do truly miss it. I know that I’ll fall back in love with it again.
- Increase me and decrease Ed. Stop being one foot in and one foot out. Become intentional about recovery and make it a priority. How much I’m struggling determines nearly everything in my life. The ED has power over me. If it continues I will end back in treatment. I may never be able to finish nursing. Recovery will save me.
- Less “blah” time on social media. I tend to spend a lot of time scrolling through social media. I sometimes get a little lost in it. This isn’t the healthiest considering some things people post. Instead, I could read a book, blog, play sims, etc. I want to fill my time with these instead.
- Journal more. Journaling also benefits me greatly. I love to get out my thoughts and feelings on paper. This is also a really great way to remember events and look at both my growth and struggle.
- Take it one day at a time. I tend to be future and past focused. This keeps me distracted from the here and now. I can’t keep worrying about the future to the point of stunting my own growth. I think I could decrease my anxiety this way too.
- Smaller, specific goals:
- eat my meal plan to the best I am able
- have more meals in the dining hall
- attend floor dinners – at least 2/month
- reach out more to friends
- set study/school time and fun time as well
- go out with friends more often – at least 3/month to start off
- Be honest in therapy, dietitian appointments, visits with Dr. C, and meetings with my psychiatrist
- check in with my goals and intentions at least once a month
- use my DBT skills
- continue attending groups, biweekly therapy, and weekly dietitian appointments for as long as I need
- eat at least 5 times a day
- come up with more goals as necessary 🙂
Intention for the year: work on not allowing numbers to control me anymore. I set this 2 weeks ago in group. I definitely am controlled by a variety of numbers currently. My grades determine how I view myself. Weight (estimated mostly or accidentally saw at an appointment) shows how bad or good I’m doing. Amount of calories burned and time spent exercising show how close I am to my goals. Exchanges met show my progress. This will be a pretty huge shift in my thinking and behavior. It won’t be easy at all. Changing something that has significantly impacted my life for years is radical. I’m ready. Numbers are just numbers. They don’t prove if you’re a good or bad person. It doesn’t even completely show how I’m doing in recovery. They don’t really matter.
Word of the year: WORTHY. I also chose this 2 weeks ago. For years, my word has been resilient. I’ve tried to live that to the best of my abilities, although that hasn’t been simple or easy. I wanted to change it up (I’ll certainly still focus on resilience, though). Worthy extends to many areas of my life. For so long, I’ve never viewed myself as important enough to matter. I feel too inadequate. Deep down, I don’t fully believe I am worth of recovery. I’m not worthy enough to go through EMDR. People shouldn’t care about me. I need to change this all. It will be hard work. I’m ready, or at least I’ll try to convince myself that until I believe it 🙂
Do you have any goals or intentions for the new year? I would love to hear them!
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!
This slipped out yesterday when I was talking with my RA. We hadn’t really spoken about my recovery and how I’m doing for a few weeks and she wanted to check in. To be quite honest, recovery has not been all rainbows and butterflies so I told her that. I explained my wins but also struggles. The thing is, she sees me so much clearer than I can see myself. I am misguided by perfectionism. If I can’t do recovery, or anything, perfect then it isn’t good. My RA isn’t bound by this at all. What she sees is someone who is not at all the girl she met last fall. This one laughs and probably doesn’t stress her out so much and can eat what she’s supposed to without being told. This new girl is someone she’s proud of.
“I am doing the best I can.” I said it. She affirmed it. Most importantly though, I do believe that. I am happy believing that.
I’m not perfect and my recovery process is far from it. I have bad days. Sometimes it’s a whole week feeling less than great and falling into negative thinking. That doesn’t take away from my progress. Despite it all I continue to push forward and do the best I am able with where I am at.
Today in group we had an open art session. I struggled with what I wanted to do but ultimately decided to write “I am doing the best I can” over and over. I so need that right now. There are so many circumstances and responsibilities. Its not limited to just recovery. I can’t do it all and I can’t put that kind of pressure on myself. I will instead press on, meditating and living out this statement.
I’ve never been much of a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Why is it so necessary to decide on so many things you need to change about yourself in the new year when there isn’t anything wrong with you in the first place? So no, I won’t be committing to any resolutions this year. Instead, I am making positive goals and hopes for myself that I will work on from beginning to end.
- Practice self-compassion.
- Make meaningful relationships.
- Continue on my recovery journey.
- Be courageous (more about this soon).
- Use all I’ve learned at CFD.
- Grow closer to God.
- Find a way to give back to others.
- Share my story.
- Reach out when I need it.
- Be perfectly imperfect.
- Work hard to heal my body.
- Begin transforming my view of exercise.
- Bounce back from the hard days by being resilient.
- Use my own inner strength.
- Don’t let anything stand in my way, including myself.
- Enjoy life to the fullest.
None of these things I can accomplish in a day or without any effort; however, I fully believe I can and will do this!
I turned 20 yesterday. I want this to be the start of a new me. I will cling to these hopes for my next year:
- Work my ass off in recovery
- Begin to discover who I am, without any of my chains
- Develop meaningful relationships
- Let go and let God
- Be accountable for keeping myself healthy at school
- Show myself love, even when I can’t stand the thought of it
- Journal at least daily
- Spend time in God’s word/prayer/worship
- Allow myself to enjoy life
- Go out in nature more often
- Ask for help when I need it
- Learn deeply
- Actually use coping skills
- Grow closer to my mom
- Do yoga because I love it, not for exercise
- Fight back against perfectionism
- Practice resiliency
- Turn towards not away from God in the hard times
- Be a badass (thanks Sheri!)
- Procrastinate less