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.

Where I’m at – end of exam week 5/17

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I’m feeling vulnerable and raw, so here goes. This picture is real life right now. No filter, no editing, no posing to make things seem better than they are because it really has been a shitty time.

It’s not quite 6 am. I have been up basically two days straight, minus a few broken hours of sleep Monday night. I have barely eaten with all of the stress I’m under.  I am studying for my exam at 9 and attempting to work on a week overdue essay. I still have one more exam tomorrow and the task of moving out my entire dorm by 4ish.

I question myself constantly: how did I, a once straight-A, hardworking, enthusiastic, and successful student come to this point? The answer (almost solely): my eating disorder.

I always assumed that nothing could possibly get worse than Fall of 2015, before residential. I struggled hard my first semester at Calvin, but I gained so much momentum in recovery through treatment. Things went well up until the end of this past Fall; then enter IOP and groups, improvement, and once again relapse. I have never been so low on motivation, dealt with this amount of stress, had my depression and anxiety affect me quite this way, or relapsed so significantly so fast. This combination naturally compounded into a miserable experience, particularly the last 2 months or so.

I am surviving and that is it. I feel like giving up most of the time. My behaviors, thoughts, lack of following my mealplan, etc have lead to a pretty desperate situation. I had two choices: gain motivation and stay outpatient or enter a higher level of care. Nothing seemed to help where I was headed. Everything only intensified, leading to pretty drastic (to my treatment team) weight loss. Last week we made an agreement that I reluctantly obliged to: lose absolutely no weight through the week/in the future or I would be forced to have a phone session with my mom. Monday that’s exactly what happened.

The conversation itself didn’t end terribly. She was upset with my lies and hiding everything, but also offered her support. We mentioned a higher level of care, but she did not know I had already contacted CFD and found answers. Through the remainder of therapy and my dietitian appt my concern only grew. It clicked that even with my mom’s support I no longer felt confident in my recovery. I made the decision that afternoon to return to residential. I called her that night and began the truly difficult conversation.

Residential feels like giving up in ways. I hate knowing I need more help.. The one thing that has brought comfort is the support from those at treatment. My therapist and dietitian both are happy with my decision, although they wouldn’t make it for me. Group was also very affirming today. It is the right choice. There will never be a good time to go away for treatment, but this is my time. I am too exhausted, too sick, struggling way too much to function. It’s time to put recovery first and begin to break free once again.

 

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.

2015.

What I’m about to write is very personal. I have barely admitted these things to myself, much less shared them with anyone (including Jenny). It’s hard to even type it now, but I know it needs to be said just the same.

With only a few short hours left in 2014, I sit here in disbelief that I am going to make it to 2015. I’ve already mentioned a little on how I thought I would be put inpatient, and that’s not what I’m referencing now. For a very long time, I didn’t believe I would live long enough to see 2015. It gets even worse than that because I also had no interest in living that long. I never had a plan or a date necessarily, I moreso just wanted God to let the anorexia kill me or have one time taking pills be too much for my body to handle. Essentially I wanted an accidentally on purpose suicide.

Going into 2015 now is a weird feeling for me. I am grateful that God didn’t let me die. I’m consumed with negative thoughts a lot of the time but I do get times of looking past them too. I have so many things in my life that cause complete joy that make all of the hard times worth it. I am a youth leader. My photography skills are getting better. I have the best church family I could ask for. I am finally going away to college next fall. My family is still here for me even with the terrible things I’ve put them through. I am in recovery.

Life isn’t perfect, but it is good. I still have days where I wonder if this is all worth it, but then I get a text from one of my supports, read a meaningful bible verse, receive a hug or twenty at church, have someone thank me for inspiring them, truly enjoy a meal, laugh until I cry. I want to try my hardest to remember these things and many more that make this life amazing.

2015 is going to be a great year. I am going to come out of it stronger than I ever thought possible. I am going to continue to fight for full recovery. I am going to laugh and cry and smile and inspire and support and love. I am going to make this year better than the last. Most of all, I am going to be alive to see it.