Honesty time: coming back from a relapse

nhh

When these words popped up on my Instagram feed this morning (via @beatingeatingdisorders) I knew I had to finally talk about what’s been going on with me lately. I hope that by sharing my story I can give hope to others finding themselves in a slump like this.

Probably around 6 weeks ago now I was struggling heavily with body image and had basically no hunger. This led to guilt and plenty of crying before/after/during meals. I felt defeated and lacked much motivation to finish everything I needed for the day. I skipped out on snacks altogether, then restricted meals. To top it all off, I saw my weight after a doctor’s appointment (here). Then I wrote about not doing so hot two weeks ago (here) but I haven’t mentioned it since.

As I’m pulling myself out of this, I realized that this most definitely was a relapse. I ran full-force back to my eating disorder and went from engaging in some restriction but not a ton  to extreme restriction and compulsive exercise. I also isolated, hid everything from my mom, felt very depressed, slept a lot, and was plain miserable. My dietitian appointment last week Tuesday, I was doing so badly that she set my minimum meal plan at around 1/3 of what I left residential with. The next day I went into therapy and just cried. I felt extremely hopeless and I didn’t know how I was supposed to do this all. I was struggling, my dietitian and therapist were worried, and I had little motivation to change.

Last Thursday came news that has created a complete change in mindset for me. I will talk more about this soon (its very, very exciting I promise!). Suddenly, I had something to look forward to in the near future, as opposed to becoming a nurse years from now. I could never do this thing if I’m still sick. My motivation for a new shorter-term goal has grown to cover my entire life. Living with anorexia is not living at all. If I’m stuck in this place forever I will miss so much. I could die or at least feel like dying every second. My eating disorder is not worth having to give up all of my goals and hope for the future. I need to recover for me, simply so I can have everything I deserve.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I am going to fight with everything to stay in recovery. My whole life is ahead of me and for the first time in years I am genuinely excited and thankful for that. Anorexia is NOT holding me back!

Yesterday I was able to go into therapy as a completely different person than I was the week before. I left the session feeling proud of myself, thankful for her support, and in awe of my own power/motivation. I met with my dietitian today and that appointment also went so differently than either of us had expected the week before. We found a meal plan that will be so much more nutritious and talked about making sure I honor my hunger. My progress between this week and last is probably the largest positive change I’ve seen in myself. It is so much more than just eating again.

Going back to the words above, the eating disorder really does have a way of pulling you in with temptations of relapse. Since leaving residential I’ve somewhat been waiting for it to happen in a way. After coming out of this now, I never want to go through this again. The memories of your time in the ED is so different than reality. The misery comes right back and takes over as relapse begins. It hurts so much.

If you end up beginning to slip back into your old ways, take a moment to pause and think about where this could end up. You follow the eating disorder that either leads you to death or feeling like you’d rather be dead. You fight, which is much harder, and have the rest of your life, full of possibilities. You are worth recovery. Find some things to live for, create future goals, follow your dreams, but most importantly choose recovery for YOU.

Do or die.

Tomorrow is my appointment with L. I am terrified. I know she’s talked to S and that if there needs to be a decision made she would know. I’m not just playing here. I’m not flirting with thinness while looking perfect on the outside. I am putting my college career on the line. I could lose everything I’ve put into being here.

This is relapse. It isn’t struggling or having a hard time with stress. This is  full-blown relapse. It started a few weeks after college began, took the backseat when I was home after my injury, and now kicked into full gear.

I don’t think I saw how bad this really is until yesterday. First, I tried on my jeggings that fit my snug a few weeks ago. Now, they are baggy. I don’t even understand that because I still see the same thing in the mirror as back then. I decided to do yoga in the afternoon. About halfway through, I was caught by my RA and suitemate. I felt terrible. She warned me before not to even exercise but I didn’t listen. Instead, I got another lecture on how dangerous this is for me and why I shouldn’t do it. My anger for her stopping me later freaked me out.

So I will now end this jumbled post. Part of me loves the idea of staying and knows I can do this. The other part sees that I have some major things to work on that just isn’t possible while doing school. I pray to God that whatever He has planned will be accepted as right by myself and my parents. Neither choice is easy. I have to believe that there is more to life than this disorder though.

In the deep pit

Although I can’t yet predict the aftermath of it yet, my therapy session on Monday was one that will change my life forever. S dropped the bombshell I’ve always feared: the school may have to force me into treatment. She’s taking steps to see what my fate will be. I had to get blood drawn today, she now needs to know my weight, she’s looking into treatment offerings with my insurance, and talking with L. I am sitting here terrified.

I know I am struggling. I get that. I also realize what I’m doing right now is not okay. The stress I’m feeling that’s led me down this dark path simply isn’t going away. So, quite obviously, a change needs to happen, and fast.

I am beyond conflicted. There is no easy or straight path. I don’t even have 100% control of what will happen if I do xyz. But I do have an impact on what will happen. S put it that by not making a decision to fight this I already am losing the fight.

I have hope. The ED voice is winning by far but my real, authentic self can be heard despite the noise. If I would listen to it I have no doubt I could recover or at the very least do better than this dark pit of relapse. It also whispers that my health needs to come before school. That scares the hell out of me.

For now, I will do the best with where I am and anxiously wait for my fate.

“Safer”

I am surrounded by resources to recover. Within a five foot radius, there is one memoir on survivng anorexia, my bible, three books on eating disorder recovery (one workbook, one by Jenni Schaefer, and a Chrisitan recovery), my phone which has access to all of my support, and this laptop with access to endless resources on the web. Down the hall in my room is every handout, note, and therapy activity I’ve received to date. Yet, here I sit, stuck.

I’ve done well today, and the past few days. If you’re measuring wellness by amount of food eaten I’m doing amazing even. I’ve had s’mores, ice cream, peanut butter, fried food from a restaurant. I’ve gone well over needed calories. I’ve stayed away from most safe foods, given in to insatiable hunger, not turned down pizza at work. But beneath this healthier eating is a girl who feels completely out of control and confused.

I sit here at a crossroad. I have been here before, way too many times to count now. I can continue to try and recover. I can use all of my resources. I can fake it till I make it and continue eating as well as I have been. That scares the hell out of me.

Choosing my eating disorder is so much easier. Its safer. It may require more effort in certain areas, like hiding my restriction from others, but that disordered part of my brain is trying to prove how worth it that is.

Tomorrow, if I follow the ED, I will eat very little, spend the day with no energy or focus, maybe pass out at work again. It will send me backwards more. If I continue until NTS camp there’s no way at all I will be the leader the girls need. I may not be able to stop after that. It could jeopardize my college in the fall and send me back into the hospital. Statistically each relapse has a higher chance of that happening.

All I can think about is the weight, fat, inches I will lose. I’m freaked out about my hair and nails and some other things ED brings, but I’m much more open to the bad side effects because the promise of shrinking away is so strong in my mind.

Its scary being in my head right now. I really don’t know where I’ll be at NTS or college or next week. I pray I can fight this and continue to heal physically but most of all mentally. I don’t want the ED to be safe anymore.

On fighting

image

This quote easily could have been one Jenny said. I came across it while eating my lunch today and its perfect for inspiration. Today is the first full day of trying to recover again. I have to be resilient everyday. I often get discouraged because I feel like I am just going to relapse again. That’s not the point of recovery. You’ll have bad days, meals, maybe even weeks or months like I’m trying to come out of. No matter how long you’ve been down you can continue to get back up and push forward. That’s what I’m doing today. I will fight this battle as often and as long as I have to because I want recovery and the freedom that comes with it!

I hate the weekends.

The following includes disordered thoughts and while I try to keep it safe to others, please don’t read if you are easily triggered. Stay safe ❤

That’s pretty sad, coming from a college student with sophomoritis and beautiful springtime surrounding her.

My hatred isn’t about spending time with my family or the procrastination that tends to take place. I hate them because it means a lack of control over food situations. I don’t have much choice but to eat each and ever meal because my family’s always around. The only thing worse than having to eat is the chance of them discovering my relapse if I don’t. So, reluctantly, I eat (and sneak to fake meals and cut corners at every chance).

Today was especially terrible and I will be paying for it with immeasurable guilt for who knows how long. I made the mistake of heading to the farmers’ market with my dad just before lunchtime. Of course, my mom had to inform him we should get something to eat. And where, of all places, did he chose? Not Subway or even Firehouse Subs like I was hoping, but freaking Popeye’s (imagine me flipping out internally while also trying to show him how A-okay I was with this decision). I ate it. I didn’t die, but boy did I want to in that moment.

To a “normal” person, fast food once in a while is no big deal. Not to me. I’ve planned more exercise and less calories for the next X days. I’m punishing myself for indulging. I’m vowing not to go anywhere with my parents at mealtimes again.

I hate this situation. I cant deal with the spontaneity of any kind surrounding foods. I like my predictable schedule I’ve made for myself. I get that me hating weekends and the change they bring to my norm is bad, disordered, unhealthy. I’m just not in a place where I can change it yet. Right now I need to continue my consumption of food I’ve set for myself, even if it is restrictive, because the alternative of super-restriction after 1 unplanned meal is much worse.

Anorexia is…

Doctors visits. The look of fear on my parent’s faces. Disappointing people. Lies, lies, and more lies. Fainting. Not being able to concentrate more than a few minutes. Being cold, even in 90+ degrees. Exhaustion. Hunger that creates such a deep pain it’s hard to describe. Calorie counting. Having to wear leggings under jeans so they still fit. Putting on a fake smile. Heart palpitations. Wasting my parents money on all of my medical expenses. Eating only the same few foods. Hiding ED behaviors from others as much as possible. Relapse. Having the number on the scale determine how much I hate myself that day. Nightmares of growing fatter. Not even knowing what my favorite food is anymore. Feeling bad for lying to everyone but not being able to eat what I should. Crying over meals. Crying at the scale. Crying over what faces me in the mirror. Crying over how much I hate myself. Crying over everything. Therapy all the time. Anxiety. Feeling absolutely worthless. Contemplating suicide. Blood draws. Feeling like a burden constantly. Isolating. Barely surviving church dinners. Exercising at any cost. Constant food/calorie/weight thoughts. Labeled as “the anorexic.” Growing apart from God. Momentary fear of seriously damaging my body. Terrible low moods. Looks of disgust from my brother as I struggle with a meal. Failing at recovery. Hair loss. Wanting to go back to other bad behaviors. Uttering the words “I’m fine” when it couldn’t be further from the truth. Being told I have an exercise addiction. “You look healthy now” being the most triggering four words possible. Feeling overwhelmed. Having to rest after walking up a flight of stairs. Avoiding all social events. Not being the best youth leader I could be. Admitting that I’m sick out loud being one of the hardest things. Self-doubt. Numbness from sitting more than five minutes. Losing friendships. Being told I am killing myself. Sneaking to use behaviors. Dreams of exercise and weight loss. Looking dead and feeling worse. Depression. Feeling the fat forming on my body. No confidence in anything. Perfectionism. Fear of everything. Hurting people. Putting the ED before anything else. Not being able to “just eat.” Having no idea what my body actually looks like. Being misunderstood. Losing hope. Insomnia. Feeling unworthy of God’s love. Avoiding hugs for fear that someone will freak out over the bones. Realizing I have no control anymore. Feeling numb emotionally. Wishing I could just die from this. Letting ED thoughts take over times that are meant to be carefree and fun. Refeeding syndrome being like a punishment when I attempt recovery. Seeing the pain and worry in other’s eyes when I tell them the truth about restriction. Having mom and dad beg, cry, and yell at me to eat something. Feeling like a lost cause. A slow suicide. ED thoughts taunting me. Wanting to do better so badly but not being strong enough. Being alone. Having therapy sessions end with “I’m worried about you.” Anxiety in grocery stores. Throwing away food. Staring into the mirror for hours a day. Something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Reading statistics and physical side effects and thinking “not me.” Being filled with shame and guilt for too many reasons. Lectures from health professionals. Feeling like I’m getting nowhere. Breaking down only behind closed doors. Meal plans. Having no focus for school anymore. Not allowing myself to ask for help. Going right back to ED behaviors when it gets stressful. Being threatened with Ensures. Asking God to just take me. Low blood sugar. Wondering why. Ruining family dinners. Never truly enjoying myself. Taking two steps forward and then ten steps back. Hiding from the truth. Body checking. Being completely absorbed by the ED. Losing all trust from everyone. Asking about the food that will be somewhere before ever agreeing to go. Breaking down after being forced to eat a hard meal. Inability to even function. Not knowing what normal eating is anymore. Becoming a shell of who I once was.


If there’s anything I’ve learned the last few weeks during this relapse, it’s that I absolutely hate anorexia. I am going to come back and work ten times harder in recovery because I want to live. I am DONE with this disease.

Bad thoughts.

I haven’t updated my blog this week much because I am increasingly feeling/doing worse. Fair warning this is going to be negative. Also, if you’re one of my supports you can ignore this post because quite honestly I don’t need anyone to sit here and worry.

Now that that’s out of the way, I guess I’ll go into the how/why of how I am. I think my grandpa being sick and the tests/stress of school really amped up everything. I have a history of not dealing with stress well so it doesn’t surprise me all that much, I simply wasn’t prepared to handle it AT ALL. Other than school and my grandpa, I also had to schedule a doctor appointment for Monday that I wasn’t expecting. I think all of it happening at once gave Ed a huge opportunity to take over.

Basically since the day I made the appointment I’ve eaten less and less. I suddenly realized how much weight and at I’ve gained. I see myself in a way different light and it makes me want to vomit. All I want is to be back at the weight and body shape I was at my open house last summer. It was before Florida and before I was at the point where I scared my mom and treatment team. I wouldn’t consider it a perfect weight but it’s a thousand times better than this.

I feel like I’ve fallen off a huge cliff and went from near full commitment and trying in recovery to relapse. I really don’t care at this point what happens. I just need to be thin again. And have a perfect 4.0 this semester, make it into honors fellow, etc… If you can’t tell, perfectionism is at a high now too.

I don’t know where I was going with this post or anything but I just needed to get some of these thoughts out. There’s no way I’m telling Jenny or Kim or anyone. It’s going to be my secret.