Favorite residential memories

I was overcome with some serious CFD nostalgia while giving advice/calming worries of a girl going in there soon. Here’s some of the best moments 🙂

Podiatrist. Okay so this seems really weird, I know. Halfway through the first week I told my favorite nurse about my toe, which had been infected since before I left. We tried using neosporin and hydrogen peroxide but ultimately they sent me to a podiatry office a half hour away. I was dying to get out of the house and see San Diego so I took it. H, who would later be my favorite counselor, took me. We ended up talking a ton and joking (like how she had us walk really far across the parking lot “above my exercise level”). She was one of the first staff members I opened up more to but also it was lots of light conversation.

Equine. So each time I went to equine was well over amazing, but the first time was super special. I was the only one on a high enough exercise level to go, so it was just one of my favorite counselors, D, and I. Equine is about 45 minutes away up in the mountain(ish) of Ramona. Its absolutely beautiful driving there. I was amazed by all of the scenery: orchards, vineyards, huge sandstone boulders all over, farms, breathtaking views. It was the first time going there for both of us which made the drive extra magical. Once I was there I got one on one attention with the lovely equine therapists and the sweetest horse, No Name.That hour taught me so much about myself and I loooove horses so it was basically heaven. On the way back we nearly ran out of gas but found the one station in Ramona and always laughed about that.

NAPOLEON. He is the most majestic cat ever who runs the neighborhood. We went on walks every morning and without fail, he would be there, looking like a king and bathing in the sun. We’d call him and most of the time he wouldn’t even turn his head, clearly because he was too good for us. By the way, H and I named him that since it totally fits.

Flirty creepy old dude. So this may not be the greatest memory but it was still really funny. Also on our walks, we passed this guy’s house on the way there and back. Whenever he was outside or even in his car he’d go “hey ladies” or “mornin’ beautifuls” and it was disgusting. Most days H was walk us and our agreement was that we got to speed walk past his house and then slow once we were a good distance away.

Gym with L. The first time I was approved to have gym time (and the only time while L was there still 😦 ) was the best half hour of our lives. We played soccer and ran around and I felt like a kid again. I wasn’t exercising like I had been for years, just enjoying movement with a friend. The staff happened to be at a Christmas party in Amy’s office, so we thought it would be hilarious to throw a stick at the window then run away. Such adults, I know haha. So we did it and sprinted away, but they opened the blinds and only saw L running away. When they came out everyone laughed and we let them know I was in on it too.

A and I laughing like crazy in our room. The first night we were roomies (in the bedroom on the opposite side of the house than the other two), we spent a whole hour laughing until we cried. We made our “Mama ___” list, which you would have to be there to fully understand, but it definitely had some interesting terms. Her laugh was hilarious which would make me laugh then her laugh harder. My abs hurt for two days after. It was much needed with the drama we’d had with this one other woman.

R, A, and I in the formal. R was in PHP and she had a really difficult night and walked out before dinner. She came back and was struggling, so A and I asked the counselor T if we could all go in the formal. T is awesome so he let us. It started out with us supporting her and listening to everything, but not long after we began joking around. It was amazing to laugh and enjoy each other’s company after a few heavy days.

Christmas lights with M. Christmas was much different than I had initially expected (I was supposed to go home but ended up staying one more week). After dinner were able to go out to see a neighborhood that has 80 houses decked out in lights. The best diet tech M, who may be a little crazy in a good way, drove us in her Santa hat. She was a pretty wild driver and made the whole thing so fun. We actually had our phones so I have some great photos from that night. Rich people in California really go all out for thir lights!

Say anything. So one night we were really bored in the lull between the last group and dinner so D suggested a board game. There was one that looked really interesting called Say Anything. Basically you have everyone answer an open-ended question and then bet on which one you think will win. The judge then picks the one they like best. Since you get to answer whatever you want it can be really crazy and dirty too. D the counselor had the best/worst answers and it was amazing. We played nearly everyday after we discovered the magic of it. We ended up laughing until we cried so many times.

 

Torrey Pines. My last ever outing it was just me, A, and H the inappropriate nurse. We really wanted to go to the beach and watch the sunset, so we headed over to Torrey Pines. H showed us the college near there, golf course, and was our tour guide explaining all the cool facts about the area. After that we went to the beach. Since we had our phones we got tons of pictures. It was a perfect night and I still have so many shells and trinkets from there.

Meditation gardens. My first outing was to the beautiful meditation gardens. I went with L and counselor D. We explored and watched the surfers and sunset from a huge cliff. That was my first time out of the house minus the podiatry appointments and I loved seeing part of San Diego.

Mama T. There is so much I could say about nurse T. She truly is one of the best people I have ever me. Her and I had long talks at night after everyone else went to bed. We grew very close and she always told me about her sons and other stories. Mama T was also the first staff member I ever checked in with and she later cried telling me I was the only one ever to do so with her. Of everyone, I miss her the very most.

Making cupcakes with A. One day we found a box of cake mix lying around and decided it would be great to bake cupcakes. It was one of the funnest experiences. We let loose and enjoyed each other’s company and probably drove nurse S a little crazy.. Our cupcakes didn’t turn out exactly the pretty tie dye color we envisioned but they were darn good.

Making my famous chocolate chip cookies. I have a signature huge and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe.We (well everyone but one certain dramatic person) decided we wanted to make them for our fun food challenge. I actually led the nutrition class on baking Christmas morning and then made them together. We had them as a night snack and it was perfect. I saved some of the frozen dough and baked the others Sunday night to leave them as a going away present/thank you to the staff.

Leading all the groups!! This was the best thing ever, even if the same certain dramatic/person who hated me didn’t like it. I began leading groups before I even had a Journey contract to require it. I did nutrition on baking, DBT opposite action of emotion, core feelings, interpersonal effectiveness (my hardest one), medical on refeeding symptoms, body acceptance group with I love my ___ because ___, and creative journaling with a collage. Anytime a staff member asked me to do one I would accept, even if I knew it might be challenging. I loved being a leader and helping the other girls.

CBT pictionary. T was leading CBT group one night and we were’t feeling it at all. Being the awesome flexible dude he is, we decided to play pictionary with CBT terms (and lots of CFD staff/fun things). By far the most hilarious and fun group we had!

Table games. All of us had a love/hate with table games. We disliked basically every single one, except tolerating “going to the movies” and “1000 questions.” R thought of the absolute best thing for 1000 questions: reflection. We ended up stumping every single staff member with it during take out lunch the next day. Our answers sometimes got a little bit out there but it was all really great.

H the inappropriate nurse. She was a hoot! When I met her my first Saturday she introduced herself as the inappropriate nurse and she definitely was, in a good way. She had funny stories and used tons of tough love. Some of her favorite phrases included “don’t be a dumbass” and “please don’t die on my shift, that’s a lot of paperwork.”

Making Christmas cards. For the week leading up to Christmas we worked nonstop on cards fr all the staff. We had awesome candy canes drawn by A and both her and I colored, wrote greetings inside, used glitter glue, and made sure they looked amazing. It was really nice to give something to staff members and show how much we appreciated them all. Many of them cried while reading it and we got tons of hugs 🙂

T the only man of the house. He was the only guy staff other than the GP doctor, so of course we had to give him a hard time. We teased him every time we could and he loved it. His Christmas card was even colored bright pink and purple.

J and her heels. I have mad respect for her. She walked around in ~4 inch heels everyday! J always slayed in her outfits and shoes but holy cow. She even wore them whenever we had weekend walks.

My spot. From the moment I got there, R, L, and I had our spots on each couch. We were all possessive so anytime a new client came in we would make sure to sit or set our stuff down there. We helped each other protect their turf and even the staff let others know since we had seniority.

Wall work. For two whole weeks after I wrote my autobiography, C and I did wall work. She wrote down around 20 phrases when I read my autobiography. Next I free wrote about each of them. I arranged them on the wall in order from least to most significant, sorted them by main emotion, sorted again, and finally ended up with a picture of what led up to my eating disorder and my mental health issues. My one liners of my story were “I am not worthy” and “I will never be enough.” I changed them around to “I am worthy” and “I have always been enough.” It was an eye-opening experience. I had never dug that much into the causes of why I am the way I am and now I have more insight on what I need to get better.

Setting up Christmas decorations. It wasn’t the same without my family, but there’salways something magical about putting up the tree and ornaments. One girl was Jewish and had never celebrated so it was cool to show her what its like. The tree became somewhere everyone woud go to feel peace and warmth.

Food prepping. I loved being on food prep. It was great wearing the fashionable hairnets and joking around with some of the best staff. I also liked that I was the onlly one other than when L was there the first few days I prepped. It helped me feel less anxious for the coming meal.

Tie dyeing. At this point there was lots of tension between may people there. We got a tie dye kit and t-shirts to use. It was really fun an everyone was happy with how theirs turned out.

Passes. I absolutely loved being able to go out on my own and experience San Diego on my own. It was challenging for sure, especially the first two. I worked my hardest and didn’t use behaviors or restrict and I was proud of myself for that. I went to The Highlands (an outdoor mall), Encinitas and moonlight beach, and Seaport Village which was definitely my favorite.

Snack and meal challenge with C. It was so cool to be able to have support from my therapist when I was doing really hard foods. our first one was to Champagne Bakery where I was a hard but delicious chocolate chip cookie. The next week we went off to a mall and had Philly sandwiches while watching amazing ice skaters. She was the best therapist I could ask for at residential.

And that’s a wrap! I’ll probably add more if I think of them too because of course I can’t leave any out.

If you’ve been to residential or any other treatment, what are your favorite memories? Do you feel nostalgic about it like I do?

My Residential Experience – Day 1

Today marks two months since I was admitted to Center for Discovery, so I figured this was a perfect time to begin talking about my experience in more detail. I’ll be including pieces of my journal entries and anything I felt was important during my time there. It may get hard, confusing, saddening, joyful, frustrating, and silly. This is real and raw. This is my residential story.

I was admitted into CFD on November 19, 2015, but the story to get there began 6 days earlier. I was exhausted from searching and contacting so many different treatment centers. Every single one was a dead end in some way: long wait list, insurance wasn’t accepted, huge and impersonal, on and on. I decided on a whim and last effort I would contact the one Sheri had emailed me about, Center for Discovery. I sent and email and waited. Not even ten minutes later I got the phone call that would change my life forever.

Not only was the lovely admitting lady at CFD giving me a chance, she vowed to fly me out and have me admitted by the end of the week. I was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I finally had hope, although fear accompanied and nearly overshadowed it. I spent the  next few days preparing mentally and packing. Early the next Thursday my dad dropped me off at the airport.

The first flight felt much longer than two and a half hours. I grew more anxious with each passing minute, plus a rather irritating kid was next to me eating the whole time. My layover in Denver was pretty short and since I was so into my ED despite choosing to go to treatment, I didn’t eat a thing. If the first flight felt long the second was an eternity. I was actually shaking a little by the end of it. I really didn’t want to get off the plane at all. I knew my life was about to change. I wasn’t going to come back from California as sick as I was. Although I wholeheartedly wanted that with most of my being, part of me wanted to turn around and head back to my same sick life.

God sent an angel, AKA the the best house manager/one who keeps everyone afloat, R! Talking with her while waiting on my luggage helped calm my nerves at least a tiny bit. I immediately really liked her. She was funny and welcoming. We spent the whole half hour ride talking about different things, and she pointed out some landmarks along the way. I was amazed by the beauty of San Diego, and also grew more comfortable speaking with her. By the time we got to the house it felt less like I was going to prison and more like I would be at a home where people truly cared. She answered so many of my questions and calmed fears. I am forever thankful for that first hour after I landed.

Once we arrived at the house I was given a quick tour. I remember immediately thinking how lucky I was to be in such a homey and beautiful place. Every staff I passed gave a warm welcome. I was absolutely terrified of meeting the girls so I tried to hide from them as we passed by the milieu. Weird, I know, but I was certain they would hate me or that I’d be way much larger than them or any number o things that could go wrong. I think part of that was how some people at FV were. I didn’t want to deal with a situation like that for a whole month. Once I got through the tour it was time for all the assessments. I also gave up my cell phone and personal belongings so they could be sorted through.

I remember being very overwhelmed that first day. It felt like never-ending assessments with all of these people I wasn’t sure whether to trust or not. My ED was screaming the whole time that I needed to walk out the door. Those first couple hours at the house were scary. I began by meeting with the nurse, S, and Dr. S, the MD. I loved S right away and felt a little better. Dr. S was really nice as well. Next came a meeting with my therapist C, which wouldn’t have been too bad if not for the fact that they made me eat snack during it. I got to choose anything to eat (not a luxury in the ED world!) and I nearly broke down just from that. I ended up with a granola bar and spent the entire hour nibbling at it. It was only the second thing I’d had that day. I liked C, but I was consumed in the ED so I didn’t feel so great while we talked. All I know is that we managed to get through all o the questions and I was sent to the next person. The dietitian N was next. I immediately liked her, until she explained the meal plan. They work off an exchange plan where you’re able to split up your exchanges any way you please throughout the day, minus dinner which has a pre-decided entree and sides. It was so different from anything I’ve had in the past. I HATED it. I cried and struggled to plan even the one day’s worth of meals necessary. Luckily she was patient and helped me out. After N, I was done with assessments for the day and was able to go into the milieu and meet the other girls. Cue anxiety!

I didn’t actually sit down again until dinner. It was kitchen skills night which meant we got to help in the kitchen. I was put right in and began chopping veggies. That was a great intro because it allowed me to be around the other girls without the awkwardness of sitting there with nothing to say. The diet tech that night was also so peppy and friendly that I felt at ease. Dinner wasn’t terrible at all! I thought I was going to die beforehand, but it went fine. I really enjoyed that we ate family style with staff. We had conversation the whole time which helped with my strong ED thoughts. The meal went much better than I thought. I was supported and explained anything I had questions on. After dinner was free time in the milieu.

Thank Jesus for how amazing LK and RB are. I couldn’t have asked for two better girls to start treatment with. They answered my questions and offered support. We watched some good crime shows, laughed, and got to know each other that night. Looking back now, I am so thankful there were only three of us my first week and a half. It was so calm basically the entire time. We each had our own couch (its the little things :P), got along perfectly, were supportive of each other, and became close. If I was instead thrown into the chaos and craziness of 5 people who were neither stable or able to get along like my last week there, I would have ran right out.

I met and got to know one of my favorite staff members overall after dinner. T was the nurse for second shift. If I wasn’t sure that the staff at CFD were amazing before, she sealed the deal. I needed an EKG but we ended up spending a good half hour talking back in the med room after. She is one of the sweetest women I have ever met. She truly helped me relax and feel comfortable. At that point, without meeting even half the staff yet, I wrote in my journal that CFD has the best staff ever. Oh how much that statement would come true during my time there.

I went to sleep that night smiling and thanking God. Yes, I was at a treatment center for an eating disorder that I wasn’t so sure I needed to get rid of. Yes, I was about to embark on the hardest journey of my life. Yes, I was thousands of miles away from anything I knew. Even so, I fell to my knees, in tears, in awe of the blessing I had received in coming to CFD. I knew I’d made the right decision, both in seeking treatment and choosing this place to come to. It was the first time I realized that I would come home changed for the better and that I truly wanted that for myself. I cling to these hopes with all my being to this day.