I am going to be a nurse.

This statement may seem a little obvious, considering I am currently in nursing school. To me, though, it is very significant. I have never been in a place where I truly believed this. Now, here I am, nearly a month into the semester and that statement couldn’t be truer.

I want to focus a little bit on the times I doubted myself so much, since it tells the story of  where I came from. As is with many areas of my life, mental illness has greatly affected the possibility of me becoming a nurse along with decreasing my confidence that I ever could reach my dream. I have been in that dark place for much of my college career. I wondered if it was even worth trying when I saw little hope for anything, especially myself becoming anything worthwhile. My mind constantly plays tricks on me with the distorted thinking. It may be more difficult to reach my dreams, but that doesn’t mean impossible or that I am wrong for the job. In general being sick has brought low motivation, a lack of caring about what happens to me, isolation, and my life as a whole unraveling. I become a sad shell of a person when I’m far into my illnesses.

Another major contributor to doubting is my academic performance. I’ve had struggles three out of four semesters at Calvin. Fall 2015 ended in me leaving early for residential, spring 2016 was actually pretty good, fall 2016 brought plenty of hard times but ended up better than it could have been, and spring 2017 nearly disqualified me from staying in the nursing program since my GPA was so low. I never ever had a hard time in school until my ED became more severe. I never imagined I would be that person who was okay with C’s because anything was better than actually failing. Sadly, that has been my life the past couple years, especially this past spring. It’s hard to believe I managed to pull this all off.

I’m beyond thankful that I’ve fought so hard to get into nursing. I have persevered through it all. In a way, I think this struggle has made me stronger. There is nothing I want more than being able to say I made it as a nurse. In less than 2 years that will be my reality. I don’t think I have had so much hope for the future as I do now.

I want to end this with evaluating how different aspects of who I am will play into learning how to be the best nurse possible. I have plenty that has to change but also so many traits that will help in nursing. I want to be able to look back at this list and see how much I’ve grown.

 

Strengths

  • my experience as a patient will allow me to better understand what patients are going through
  • I am compassionate and truly care
  • my faith allows me to carry hope and see the good in others
  • I love learning
  • my medical knowledge and interest in all things medical
  • I want to be the person that others can come to and lean on in hard times
  • medical math and terminology knowledge

Things I need to work on

  • my extreme fear and avoidance of vomit at all costs
  • I am still pretty shy
  • I tend to feel awkward in different situations
  • I have to practice therapeutic communication, namely slowing down and taking in what the other person is saying v feeling rushed
  • overall, just a TON to learn, but that’s okay!

I’ll probably continue to update this as I think of new things^^

 

 

(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.

2016 -> 2017

11 whole days into 2017 before I finally was able to finish this post. I blame perfectionism and huge lack of motivation, but now I have the itch to blog again 🙂


2016 was a time of… change (so, so, so much change), joy, growth, isolation, discovery, friendship, grief, loss, struggle, faithfulness. I kept on living through it all.

The good

  • doing very well in my spring semester
  • attending my new church and growing close to everyone there
  • Ludington – the healthiest year in a very long time
  • a summer where I was eating well with tons of energy
  • work to keep me busy
  • finishing my Fall semester despite how much Ed tried to take it away
  • learning a ton about myself
  • practicing assertiveness to put my needs first
  • experiencing many days where the eating disorder was barely there at all
  • hugs, prayers, good conversations, and lots of love
  • slowly beginning to accept the changes in my life

What I hope to leave behind

  • Toxic relationships. There are many situations to which this applies, not only the people I must separate myself from. These are people I was close to, but it was not healthy for me at all. Carrying their burdens and triggering conversations hurt my recovery and added anxiety. I know that was a two-way street. I hope they also realize why this needed to happen. Deleting and blocking negative influences online has been just as difficult. I follow numerous accounts who are “recovering” or pro-ana, etc. The sickness in me looks at them as comparisons and inspiration. I get invested in their lives. This exists on multiple platforms: instagram, Facebook, blogs, Youtube. I am combing through them little by little. I feel connected to these people and the triggering information. Ed doesn’t want me to give them up, which is exactly why I need to. I have to detach from these negative influences in my life before they bring me down further.
  • Isolation. I can count on one hand the number of times I did anything with anyone last semester. Outside of class, appointments, or leaving campus, I rarely left my room. I would stay there from midafternoon on, adventuring out only to get ice or make a smoothie. It is a sad existence to be alone all of the time. I’m hoping to make small strides towards new friendships and experiences.
  • “Just scraping by.” Well, here’s something that applies to many (and most, as of late) areas of my life. I put just enough effort into my classes this year to get the grades I absolutely needed. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t screw that up more. I barely fought Ed enough to finish out the semester/year without being in residential or IP. This fall at work proved I am not myself on restriction
  • My focus revolving around the ED. I would say around 90% or more of my thoughts this last year (mainly the end of it) were on food, weight, calories, exercise, my body shape and size, weight, restriction, looking up all sorts of ED things on the web (tips, health complications, weight loss calculators, etc). I’ve been in a place where Ed consumes almost every waking moment. This left no room for anything else, good or bad. If I want to accomplish any of my dreams or simply live a better life this needs to change.

Hopes for the new year

  • Really get something out of IOP, even if (but hopefully not) that means a referral to a higher form of treatment
  • Grow closer to my mom again by letting her in
  • Start nursing classes in the fall while being in a healthy place to do so
  • Find meaningful friendships at Calvin
  • Self-discovery. Who am I really without my eating disorder? Who do I want to become?
  • Have activities that bring me joy: photography, reading, exploring, spending time in nature, going to the movies, trying new things,  and of course blogging 🙂
  • Turn to positive ways of coping when I need them
  • Making this year different in a good way
  • Prove to myself that I am resilient, strong, worthy, lovable, and capable of pursuing recovery fully

I really enjoyed making this list as an inspiration for myself. A new year is always a time to start over and make changes. I don’t want to call these resolutions, but they are certainly what I hope to work towards.

I wish everyone a happy new year and pray that you also can find positive change in 2017! 

The Future…

Ever since I’ve become stronger in my recovery and feel the need to live, I have thought more and more about the future. I have goals and dreams I never thought possible. Nearly every plan would be squashed by the eating disorder before. I honestly didn’t have many things I am meant to do that I felt I would be able to accomplish. I no longer need to plan everything around my eating disorder, but can reach for all life has to offer me.

I have had strong prompting about the future. God is directing me down paths I could never imagine. I have and will continue to pray over these things, of course, but I hope to listen to them all as I move forward. Some are rather scary and seem very overwhelming now. Many instances I’ve opened my heart to things that were once a “no way.” I trust that God will make a way and calm my fears. Hopes/dreams/promptings lately:

  • I want to get married. Ever since being so mistreated by my ex-boyfriend of 3.5 years I vowed to never marry. It didn’t seem right for me and the fear that I was unlovable and would only be abused paralyzed me. Suddenly I realized I really DO want a life partner and best friend. I truly don’t want to be a single mom and not be able to give my children the attention they deserve. I was planning on that because I want children more than anything and would do it alone. God has opened my heart to marriage and love, partly through a conversation with a friend at work. I trust that I will find a Godly man who will be exactly what I believed I never deserved.
  • I am going to York. Last April, I discovered a study abroad program to York, England through my school. It is held during spring semester. I had been very disappointed in myself with being held back one more year until nursing when I found the opportunity. Immediately I knew this was why I didn’t fast track to start nursing classes. I will probably write another post on it soon, but for now I’ll just end with how blessed I am. I would never be able to do this without the grace of God and recovery.
  • I will write a book (maybe 2 or 3, who knows!). I have a love for writing. My first story, and not the picture book kind, was written in 5th grade. Since then I have had countless ideas turn into drafts turn into chapters. Blogging has also been a way to write in the everyday sense v working on one thing for months. I’m not sure what type of book I will create, but I’m thinking either a spin on the memoir format, fiction based on what I have gone through, maybe even some sort of devotional. Either way I know that whatever I write will be exactly what I need to.
  • Adoption. Joni and Friends was going on at work for the last 2 weeks. The camp brings together those with special needs (physical, mental, emotional, etc) and their families. I have had some thoughts about adoption, and specifically special needs adoption for around two years. I read about an organization that helps place these children from other countries with families. I was horrified and so saddened by the way they are treated simply for having a disability, but that was it. Adoption has been more on my mind in general lately. I believe that God used Joni and Friends to show me that adoption doesn’t have to be for a perfect, healthy baby. These parents that I’ve seen are so strong and do everything for their children. The kids, no matter how “imperfect” or “unwanted” by society’s standards are loved, happy, and thriving. I saw plenty of the hard times too, of course, but regardless it has changed me. I’ve had recurrent dreams about my future daughter, a little girl who happens to have Down syndrome. I realize that is only a dream and reality may be much different and there are so many extenuating circumstances. That doesn’t change how strongly I feel about adopting a child with Down syndrome. I want to be a mother who can change my child’s life with love and opportunities where despair would have been. I pray that God will let that happen.
  • I will share my testimony/story. I’ve done plenty of sharing online, and even somewhat in person. This is something I love and is helping me (hopefully others too). While it is huge that I’m able to be open and honest with my struggles, this now seems pretty easy. I don’t like easy. I want to talk to others about it, but not in the way I have been. Previously, other than really just two people, I have shared about my ED when it was necessary. I told my roommate and RA mostly to have some accountability and warn them. It felt like there is something wrong with me that is a burden to others. I’m in a different place now and even though I do struggle and will in the future, I want to do this in a more positive way. I am in the process of writing my testimony and have rewritten my story. That is what I want to share with people. Here I am, here is what I came from, here is what I’ve gone through, here is what I am working on, here is where I am going to be one day. I have one dear friend in particular I plan on telling soon, and I am nervous and excited. One day, somehow I will do this on a stage or in front of a group. I will not be a burden but living proof that you can overcome.
  • Medical missions. At some point in my life I want to bring my skills as a nurse to a place that is in need. We are Jesus’ hands and feet. Serving others and bringing them healing is what I am called to do. I want to extend that out from where I will serve in a hospital and into an area with little medical care.

This is what dreams are made of.

Two months ago, I sat in residential with the assignment of writing my goals for treatment and the future. I had so many hopes. I would have been absolutely elated if only a few ever came true.

College was something I so desperately wanted to change. I lost all of my fall semester to the eating disorder. I didn’t get to build friendships, learn deeply, or simply have fun. My days were centered around food, restriction, deceit, and exercise. I honestly don’t know how I managed to go as long as I did. My hope was to one day experience college for real. I dreamed of staying up with friends late at night, engaging fully in my learning, enjoying random food, and being totally carefree.

Well, tonight and Saturday night I checked off part of that dream. Saturday I went skating with the floor at 10 pm and then out to get donuts and hot chocolate(!!!!!!!). Tonight, my friend and I spent our bonus bucks and drank hot chocolate together.

Never did I think back at CFD that I would have been able to do this by now. I allowed myself to enjoy the time with friends. I didn’t freak out even a little over the spontaneous food (and one fear food). Just like my other friends that were with me, I ate and drank and soaked up every moment.

Sometimes progress in recovery is big, but often its the little things. Warm drinks, good company, and a little hot chocolate with sprinkles.

Blind Faith

Blind: unable to see.

Faith: confidence or trust in a person or thing.

Together, blind faith means complete trusting in God’s plan when I cannot see the end. I’ve struggled with this a ton lately, but I am wholeheartedly giving up control. I’ve tried and failed time and time again. I simply cannot control my future, or at least not in any way that will end well. God has been waiting for me, a glorious plan in His hand, and I’m finally ready to let Him take the lead.

What will this mean when it comes to my life? In one word: peace. My worry and anxiety has gone down so much. I’m not spending hours a day wondering what bad things may happen. I am learning to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matt 6:34). I realize that things will happen in the future and they may not all be pleasant, but also that worrying now does no good for me. Even if there’s pain and discomfort, I will get through and learn something from it. God has a higher purpose than I will ever be able to grasp.

This huge shift and revival of my faith in God has already led to some decisions/changes in thinking that I am incredibly happy with. Firstly, I am going to NTS camp as a leader. I promised them I would and they’ve been so excited about ME leading them. Regardless of what uncertainty the future holds about me helping with youth group next year or not, this experience won’t be pointless. I know God will grow and challenge our relationship with Him and each other during that week and after. I am ready to lead and learn.

Next fall has brought nothing but fear the last few months. I have had doubts about my major, whether I should even go to college, how I would ever make friends, and more. I got to a point where I couldn’t even trust God could make the situation good. I spent a lot of time in prayer and He’s come through with some pretty straightforward answers for me. He’s shown me again and again that Calvin is where I belong. Even more, nursing is the right choice. That alone didn’t completely cement my anxieties but God continued to change that this week. Katie at work has been a huge blessing when it comes to anything surrounding living at college and making friends. She had no problem there and is a lot like me (a  tad socially awkward and not a lot of friends in high school) so my anxieties there are at a normal level. In so many other ways I’ve gained complete peace with all of my decisions with Calvin. I will have support there and nearby, including getting connected to counseling staff before moving in. I can still minister to others as a nurse and the career truly fits my strengths well. I am going to love being challenged academically and being in a Christian environment, a combination Calvin uniquely provides me. Overall, God has proven and continues to show me that next fall will be okay.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had mental health issues. I have negative behaviors and thought patterns that started when I was a child. It’s so easy for me to fall into hopelessness. That’s exactly where I was the past few weeks. Because I’ve never experience complete freedom from all these things before, I believed God couldn’t do it. I thought that I would be miserable forever. I am just beginning to trust that what I’m going through isn’t making my life terrible. I will grow from this somehow. I have no idea what good can come from this pain, but that’s because only God knows. All I do know is that if I build my foundation of recovery on Him I will get better. It might not be the pace I want but healing is going to come for me. Even if I never live a day without disordered thoughts in my life I am willing to fight past them each day to let God work through me. Depression, anxiety, BPD, and anorexia have NOTHING on God.

I have a long way to go on all of this. I’m not a perfect Christian and I certainly don’t have it all together. I’m not focused on being perfect though, that’s God’s job. Instead, I am spending more time in prayer, worship, and His word. The more I give up to Him the better I feel. He will take care of me and has a future bigger than I could ever imagine. I am not worthless or hopeless, but excited to see God’s plan unfold in my life. I am ready to blindly let Him lead.