My grieving process

This has been in the back of my mind for a while now. I always wish I could talk about it, but whenever I do nothing comes up. This leads to guilt and shame which then causes me to not want to mention it again. I am choosing to write about this because it is time to not fear what I am feeling or not feeling.

My grandpa passed away this past June. I was one week into residential.

I knew, leaving for treatment, that this would be a possibility. My grandpa was sick for a long while. He nearly died from pneumonia 3 years ago, went to a rehab unit in a nursing home, then lived in senior apartments for just about 2 years. We were lucky to have that extra time with him. He started getting sicker in 2017 and ended up moving into the nursing home then. In some ways, I think he gave up hope once his independence was gone. I visited him at least once a week, even when I was in school. I remember hating it sometimes. I just wanted to relax, not spend 2 hours at his apartment or the nursing home watching him sleep. Now, I’m glad I had that time.

I was in session with my therapist when the house manager knocked on the door. She went outside to talk to her. I didn’t even have to hear the words “That was your dad. Your grandpa passed away this morning” to know what happened. I broke down and cried for a while. The girls and staff all were wonderful and took care of me that week. Every single staff member was made aware so that I was met with constant support. I needed that. God knew exactly where I should be when it happened. I was unable to fly home for the funeral, and I’m not (completely) ashamed to say that was the best decision too. Instead, my dad skyped me so I could watch it. He started the video when he was in a room with all of my family, which was harder to watch than the actual funeral. I was allowed a little bit of time after it ended. I cried for a bit, but then went back to the group, where I received more support.

I still have some guilt and shame from wanting to be away from my family, but now even my parents agree it was for the best. When I heard my mom say that, I was so thankful. It was like she released this cloud hanging over me.

Ever since then, the guilt and shame have multiplied. Unlike my mom, I don’t think about him all of the time. We have his cat living with us now and I don’t even correlate him with my grandpa. It doesn’t feel like he died, just that he’s completely gone. My mom has reacted much differently than me. She cries all of the time. The holidays were extremely different without him there. Almost every day he is brought up. It is her dad, so that makes more sense. She’s also been one to show her emotions relatively strongly. Sometimes I get so annoyed. I just want her to stop. I want a break from hearing about it. Does this make me a terrible person?

I have not cried at all since the funeral. I am void of feelings. There is just nothing when someone brings him up. I feel numb. It’s like he didn’t exist. Nothing phases me. It’s actually made it hard to even support my mom. 

I don’t get it. Why don’t I feel something, anything? Am I just abnormal? Cold? Wrong? I know that grieving is different for everyone with multiple stages, I just have a hard time accepting where I’m at. 

I’m not sure where to go from here. Should I work through my non-feelings? That seems almost ridiculous and definitely unnecessary. I do need to come out of this shame train (residential term). I know it only feeds into the eating disorder and depression. 

It feels good to put this out there. Talking about it means that I can (hopefully) make some change soon. It’s a step to being ready for that. 

3 months.

I’m having a hard time holding it together today. I’ve been on the edge of tears all day long (nearly cried while listening to someone talk at clinical). It could be many things: waking up at 5:45, a pretty long and anxiety-provoking day at the hospital, or the very stressful situation that came up last night. More than anything else though, it is because today marks 3 months since leaving CFD. That’s a quarter of a year (!?!?), 92 days. My feelings today really mirror what I felt back then. I want to insert my journal entries from my last day there. These will be in italics throughout this post to help differentiate.

The CFD journey is officially over. I am so blessed to have 34 days with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. This was and will always be the best decision for me. God knew exactly what I needed. This is it. 100% true to this day. I think I’m able to appreciate my experience even more now that I am removed from it.

I want to believe all everyone said. I want to remember it forever and ever. That I am: a light, the official Michigan guide, kind, RESILIENT, courageous, strong, worthy, that I have changed, I can do this, a fun presence in the house, going to recover, overcome lots of things in my time here, have a bright future, have made so much progress, have to keep opening up. 

I want to believe these things ^ More than anything in the world

I’ll admit, I’ve had a difficult time believing any of this. I think part of it is not making an effort to remind myself. My goal will be to write these down somewhere I will read it often. I want to make encouragement, mantras, and positive attributes part of my daily life as it was in residential.

J (my therapist) – if you give a mouse a cookie… she knocked on the door of all my shame but I am the one who opened up. That shows my growth. She has hope for me to continue this. I am grateful for everything she’s done for me. I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I never could have let the shame out if I hadn’t had her. Maybe I would have just carried it forever. While there will never be anything outpatient like J’s shame train (choochoo!) group, I am continuing to explore my shame. I don’t want to live with it forever. EMDR is the current answer to this. I’m hopeful.

What has changed? A LOT

  • I am using my assertive voice
  • choosing recovery over vacation, my parents, what I want my summer to be like
  • I am letting go of the shame
  • I see that my family has perpetuated the shame
  • I am nourishing my body again
  • I can be trusted to eat on my own accord
  • I am using skills
  • the thoughts don’t fully control my life and I can see beyond them
  • I know how to lean on supports
  • I am closer to who I want to be
  • I am equipped
  • I have 34 days of trials, tears, setbacks, frustration, feeling like a failure, steps backwards, resorting to old ways, giving Ed a loudspeaker and more bu also 34 days of discovery, fighting, using skills, so many successes, backing down from Ed thoughts, opening up, checking in, and getting support
  • I am the Challenge Queen

I want to recreate this. What has changed post-discharge:

  • I’m nearly a month into school and doing very well, all things considered
  • I am putting my recovery first by adding in as much support as possible during each week
  • feeling empowered enough to make strides in my recovery all on my own
  • honesty: some slippage, but this is a normal thing that doesn’t need to continue
  • being BRAVE and making strides I haven’t been able to do for a long time
  • I have been with only outpatient care for exactly 4 weeks and I didn’t start sinking right away like before
  • I am proud of my summer instead of embarrassed
  • slowly getting back into yoga
  • giving myself a break and time to rest
  • overall I have maintained the mood improvements that came in residential
  • I feel stronger than I have in a long time, outside of treatment
  • I have hope
  • I am listening to my dietitian and therapist (sometimes reluctantly)

I don’t think I could reflect on CFD without reminiscing. I miss it. I’ll think of memories and laugh, smile, cry, feel proud of myself or others, and experience pretty much every emotion out there. Residential is this life-changing experience. I get emotional thinking about it because my entire stay was full of finally feeling again. I was in a very vulnerable state while also being pushed and challenged. I haven’t ever been a part of anything like it. Right now, I can’t look back at my journal without crying because of the impact it’s had on me. I will never, ever take this all for granted. Instead, I am forever grateful for the opportunity and everyone who made my experience what it was.

These three months have been nowhere near perfect, and I am okay with it. Recovery is a process that’s led to more ups and downs than any rollercoaster. The difference now is that I am fighting like hell. My worst days still are better than any from last year.  CFD (and subsequently, PHP and IOP) helped me build a strong foundation. Now I am just building on to that and continuing in this process.

I will end this post the same way I ended my journal 3 months ago: This is the beginning of a beautiful, freer life.

Long, long overdue update.

I really hate not blogging for so long (besides one off topic post), but I also needed a break. I’ve been spending hours upon hours of each day living and breathing treatment. 4.5 weeks in residential, another 3.5 in PHP, and now I’m back at IOP. It’s exhausting, to say the least, but now I am finally ready to explain the last 2+ months.

I left for residential on May 25th. Thankfully, I was able to once again be admitted into the same SoCal location as before. It felt like returning home. Around half the staff is the same, so I immediately received half a dozen hugs. Knowing everything about the program meant a hell of a lot less anxiety compared to last time. At the same time, I had plenty of worries about the other girls. The time before brought some not so great drama filled days, so I desperately wanted to avoid that. I was blessed with 5 of the most amazing women I have ever met. They made the experience better than I imagined. More importantly, though, was the staff and what happened because of them. My therapist was a perfect match. She gave me the confidence and safe space to speak about the most shameful memories and past that I’ve never talked about before. She listened and believed me. She comforted me, inspired me, pushed me, and supported me. I could not be more grateful, so I still update her now. One counselor in particular was a complete blessing to me. She’s a strong Christian and compassion just oozed out of her. I also shared some of the same things I did with my counselor, and actually with her first. There are about a million more things I want to write about regarding resi, but I’ll save that for another post (or 20 🙂 ). For now, I’ll just end with the fact that I learned more than I thought possible. I knew I would change, but I guess I just didn’t expect it as much as I should have.

I discharged from CFD on June 26th. I panicked when I first found out the date around 10 days prior. Suddenly, going home was actually on the radar. An immense fear of the same environment came over me. I felt stronger, but not enough to handle everything so soon. We had always planned on just starting IOP three days a week after. That Monday before I brought up the idea of heading to ERC’s Chicago PHP program. It was a huge risk to go there, but ultimately it’s what was best. After spending under a day and a half at home, I was off to Chicago, with the support of my treatment teams from CFD and home.

I struggled immediately after admitting to ERC. The program was completely different than CFD: three times the size, therapy just once a week, a new mealplan I hated. Those first almost two weeks were miserable. I had pretty much given up hope of gaining anything. I wasn’t open in the least bit. Something changed in me, and suddenly I wanted to work hard again. I took notes and participated and challenged my ED 24/7. I realized that the chance to come was a privilege. I could have been home, but instead I worked hard to get more treatment. My original plan was just under 3 weeks of time. I used money as the main factor in why I couldn’t stay. The team didn’t buy it, and offered financial help to keep me longer. I accepted. I ended up getting more out of the last 2ish weeks there than I imagined. I settled in, made friends, worked hard. I again am grateful for the opportunity to stepdown instead of coming straight home. I left the 24th with even more growth under my belt.

I started IOP the day after my discharge. Now I’m there twice a week for the full day and therapy 2 days. It’s been almost two weeks and I’m mostly used to being home. This certainly isn’t easy. Adjustments aren’t my favorite, and here I am with some huge ones. I am just beginning to mourn leaving treatment. I am “treatment sick” terribly. I miss it all: the support, staff, girls, safety, weather, adventure, challenges, essentially just about everything. This may be the hardest part now. I am figuring out how to do it (mostly) on my own. I want this. I need this. I will put all that I’m able so I can finally live.

It’s just over 4 weeks until nursing begins. This last bit of summer needs to have the same amount of effort as the first 10 weeks. My life, my future, and my freedom depends on it. Spending all of summer in treatment wasn’t anywhere close to what I had hoped going into it, but this has given me a fighting chance and a will to live. I am blessed.

IOP: a fate more difficult than residential

By Thursday, I still hadn’t connected with my emotions, broken down, or processed the fact that I am on medical leave with mandatory (if I want to stay out of further treatment and continue school) IOP. I had so much on my mind that I couldn’t handle it. The time came when I was meeting with the new dietitian. I was randomly called out in the middle of AT/process after lunch. Being under the impression that I was able to continue with L made it a surprise, one that I never wanted. I finally broke over the change and lack of control in my life now. It was then that new L (to make things more confusing of course, ha) confirmed what I had already been thinking about, “this is going to be harder than residential.” We talked about how much of an uphill battle I’ll be facing these next few months. I cried from being so completely overwhelmed. This is a harsh reality to face.

This may seem odd to anyone who has never experienced multiple forms of treatment. Residential means being stripped of your freedoms, weeks or months away from home, and a complete overhaul of your behaviors. It certainly is hard to make an abrupt change and carve out the time to do so, however, one that’s just as cushy as it is drastic. You are stuck in this place that has all of the support you could possibly need, 24/7 to be exact. It’s actually pretty difficult NOT to experience at least some growth, even if that may be forced.

IOP is a 180 from residential. In my case, I will got 3 times a week (M, T, R) from noon until 5-5:30. We have 3 groups plus lunch/snack each day, along with weekly individual therapy and dietitian appointments. The entire rest of the week we are solely responsible for following meal plans, avoiding behaviors, and applying all we’ve learned. There is no one to check in on us multiple times a day or monitor our meals. If I didn’t finish a meal in residential I would only get a supplement. On the other hand, not adhering to my meal plan or otherwise slipping backwards now can lead to forced inpatient or residential and medical leave. I have major work to do and much to lose.

I always assumed my time at CFD would be the most challenging thing I have ever done treatment-wise. How could it not? I traveled across the country and gave up school. Adjusting to the new life that is residential was unlike anything else I’ve experienced. As much of a struggle this all was, it really was the best environment for recovery. In no way is recovery ever easy, but the amount of support in residential makes it significantly more attainable and manageable.

I can fully see how different IOP is. The effort to show up for my recovery is substantial. I have just 15 hours a week in treatment with 3 meals and 3 snacks. I need to make every single second count. The work doesn’t stop there. I cannot go home and just return fully to the ED. Motivation is key and if I fail to find it I am looking at IP or residential in the very near future. No one can make me recover now.

Where do I go from here? I could become consumed by fear and hopelessness, knowing of what’s to come. Giving up is absolutely the easiest option; however, it is not the one I choose to make. I am going to fight. I’ve been through years of struggle – times where I never believed I could make it through, but I did. IOP seems impossible right now and this may be my hardest battle yet. Even so, I will hold on to hope for a healthier future.

 

I’m doing this all on my own.

A few weeks into residential, my therapist and I were discussing discharge plans. She asked whether I would be able to head back to Forest View’s PHP, then step down to IOP, and eventually go to therapy twice a week with a dietitian, etc. Right away I told her none of those things were possible. I started school the week after I left resi. PHP (and IOP) is 45 minutes away from home, and although it’s close to my school, I didn’t have a car at the time. Of course there is also the issue of school. I had to sign papers that I would come back for interim or forfeit enrollment at Calvin. There is no way I could give up my college career. Her concern immediately grew. Instead of having a month or more of step-down care, I went from 24/7 support to therapy once a week, and no dietitian for the first few weeks.

This was a hard pill to swallow. I knew all along that step-down care wouldn’t ever happen, but being so close to discharge it started to sink in more. I changed and grew immensely at residential, more than anyone expected. I was the girl I had never seen before in my sickness. Even so, the real word is scary. You aren’t in a bubble with people to help you through urges, meals, meltdowns. I no longer had groups with others who understood exactly what I’m going through. I dropped from a safe place into a world of triggers and little help.

I tried to be as optimistic as possible as discharge crept closer. There were looming fears I couldn’t shake: dining hall eating, being back at school in general, the food police, being so fat/bigger than before. I was originally going to leave the Monday before Christmas. That caused me the most worry of all. How would I be able to jump right back into a holiday after only four days out of treatment? My therapist pulled me into her office the Wednesday before I was supposed to discharge and gave me the best news possible: insurance approved an extra week. I cried feeling so blessed by this opportunity. We had to share my decision with my parents. That was a difficult conversation and is still full of negative emotions on their part. I mostly ignored it because to me getting the most time at residential as possible was going to add more confidence and motivation to my recovery.

Unfortunately, nothing CFD did to prepare me for the real world could fully do so. Coming home meant uncertainty and outcomes both good and bad. If I gave up or gave into anorexia I would just end up back where I started. On the other hand, finding the strength to fight with all I am meant finding the girl I had lost so many years ago.

Leaving residential and going straight back to completely outpatient has been challenging. I no longer had the cushy protection to help me not use behaviors or restrict. I wasn’t in treatment for 8 or 4 hours each day. No one was there to ensure I ate enough.

The thing is, by much less support (and more of a drastic change because of it) after residential I have had to own my recovery. Sure, I still had people cheering me on and did therapy, but that was only an hour of professional and then the meals I had with my family, as far as physical support goes. I so appreciate everyone who has been there for me; however, it never will be the same as being in residential or treatment in general. I completely am on my own now.

I have grown but also struggled these last almost 10 months post CFD. I miss it, or at least some aspects. Groups definitely top that list. I feel more alone now that I don’t have people to under­­stand me. (Luckily that is changing as I attend 2 support groups now). I’ve looked through my journals and pictures from residential sometimes and just bawl, longing for any part of that program to return. About a month ago I drove to Forest View and sat in the parking lot. I so wanted to have the safety, support, and even the dreaded ensures. Also, and really surprising/confusing/weird, I miss Dr. VH?!? He was a hard ass and somewhat mean but holy cow do I miss him telling it like it is and threatening me. I honestly thought about checking myself into inpatient and just riding it out for a week so I didn’t have to face reality. I know that’s really not how I felt about inpatient at the time and I don’t plan on returning ever. For whatever reason sitting there brought up all of the good things about my time in that building and blocked out anything bad (aka most everything I experienced). More than anything it was be realizing I was so close to what parts of treatment I missed the most: groups, 24/7 care, supervised meals, being with others the same as me.

I am currently taking some steps backwards as the fall goes on. My thoughts are very negative and consumed by ED, depression, and anxiety. I am doing my best to take care of myself by going to support groups, spending time with people I love, taking another try with a dietitian, relaxing some, and eating as well as I can. Realizing all I have and haven’t done since discharge gives me motivation to keep going. I haven’t had any sort of treatment other than therapy/occasional dietitian, and I have done well without it. I haven’t needed to return to treatment. I have had so much more energy and don’t look or feel like a zombie.

I am very proud of myself for this progress. I’m in no way saying that I’m better than someone who has had step-down treatment after residential. I wish sometimes (especially during lapses in recovery) that I would have been fortunate enough to. I felt that was unfair for a long time. Now, my feelings are very different. I am glad that I came right out. I am continuously choosing and working towards recovery each day because I want it.

I was so certain I would end up back inpatient or residential without any good aftercare plan., but I didn’t. I survived each day and made it through on my own. I continue to do this all on my own. Little by little, I am finding strength on the hard days because I came home from residential and went straight back to real life.

Life After Residential – 6 months out (!?!?!?)

Holy cow. 6 whole months since I signed papers, hugged the staff and friends, and stepped on a plane to enter back into the real world. It feels like just yesterday and a million years ago. There isn’t a moment where I’m not thankful for all I learned during my time at CFD, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Realizations in the past sis months:

Motivation for recovery lessens when things start to get hard after the “honeymoon phase.” Much like the spiritual high you receive coming back from church camp, the recovery high after residential fades away. Real life doesn’t come with 24/7 support, a ban on any diet/food/calories/exercise talk, distracting table games, lack of mirrors, others who 100% understand you, and therapy every single day. Without the extra push to recover it has been hard to keep at it. I start shifting toward using exercise to cope and believing a little restriction is okay. Thankfully I’ve now learned to keep motivation up by focusing on my goals and doing recovery for me.

I can get out of a relapse. I feel stronger than ever since beating my first relapse. Seeing my weight was a huge trigger, one that could have sent me into a deep pit I couldn’t get out of. Fortunately, I found my strength in myself through Him. I deserve recovery and I have so much life ahead of me. I don’t need to turn to my eating disorder to deal with things. I can fight urges. In previous relapses, I never wanted to or thought I would be able to fight. There was an entire year spent on the edge of being forced into treatment, FV round 2, and residential. I was sick and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. A huge factor now is knowing what recovery is like: freedom, joy, truly living, despite struggles.

I am capable on my own. I have relied on therapists, dietitians, friends and mentors, the entirety of treatment staff. While that was absolutely needed during residential and as I transitioned back to life on the outside, it isn’t at all realistic or healthy long-term. At some point I had to take control and responsibility for myself. I can’t have therapy everyday. Sometimes I have gone two weeks. Sure I have had days where I needed someone to rescue me, and then I did get support from others. As time has gone on that hasn’t been the case. I journal, manage my emotions in a healthy way, fight urges, talk to friends about anything but my eating disorder. Heck, today in therapy we didn’t focus solely on the ED and I was able to work through anxieties and other things. I really can’t explain how amazing and empowering it feels being able to stay healthy mostly on my own.

I can share about my eating disorder in a way that isn’t a sad story that I feel is burdening others. Before, I told others about my ED and MH issues out of necessity. I needed support and for people to avoid diet talk. Some relationships were built and consumed by my sickness. I felt guilty for sharing my story because I was broken. I haven’t actually told anyone new in person about this yet, but I am planning that very soon. I’ve prayed about it, and I am going to tell my favorite from work. She has noticed the difference in me now and I want to let her in. I feel such joy about all I have accomplished. Why wouldn’t I want to share openly how I have become resilient through God’s strength? Instead of “look what I am going through” it is “look at what I’ve conquered that’s made me into the person I am today.” I am blessed by this change.

There is no perfection in recovery; I am a work in progress. This is kind of cliché but also true. I have had countless slip ups, even in the past two months coming back from my relapse. Just like my self harm recovery, I have days where I follow urges and compulsively exercise/restrict. These things are normal. I can’t expect myself to be completely recovery-minded 110% of the time nor allow others expectations to affect me negatively. I have learned to forgive and accept my failures in the same way I celebrate my successes. It isn’t a linear process in the slightest.

I am different from the girl who left treatment 6 months ago. (Not talking about my body here). My dreams have multiplied as I realize how much more I am capable of now. I am working very hard to not let food be the main focus in my life. Sure, I probably think about it more often than the average person, but it in’t anywhere near when I first left treatment. Until a month or so ago I was still counting exchanges and being rigid in my diet.I have conquered many fears since coming home. Some examples: being able to eat a healthy amount around basically everyone without struggling (much), trying former fear foods, openness about my story, looking at my body in the mirror. I feel so much joy. I never expected or dreamed of this. I wake up happy, enjoy my job, talk with people, find happiness everyday. I definitely had more a more positive mood coming out of resi but not like this. I have grown in self-love exponentially. Overall, I have been able to discover who I really am along this journey (not what the ED made me).

He makes recovery possible. I have struggled in my relationship with God, especially during my darkest points in my eating disorder. I felt abandoned and unworthy of His love. I am just now seeing how wrong I was. He has been there since Day 1. My faith and relationship with the Father is my number one now, not my ED. It is such a blessing.

It’s crazy to think of all the progress these 6 months have brought. I learned how to deal with everything in a healthy way and without relying on the ED in residential; however, this time has been applying those things. Each day I continue on my recovery journey which all began at a house in San Diego.

When you leave residential ED treatment

You dearly miss the people at first and later the support you had.

Capture.PNG

 

You will eventually lose contact (minus social media) with those you were in with.

Just-because-were-not-close-anymore-doesnt

 

Everyone on the outside will have unrealistic expectations.

recovery-is-hard

 

You may have unrealistic expectations.

recovery-meme

 

You’ll wish you could add all the good staff on Facebook.

CdDrKkxApe-2.png

 

You’l miss all (or most) of the staff and maybe even write them letters.

Capture

 

You’ll be so grateful for the simple freedoms. Hello shaving when you please, long showers, flushing your own toilet, going to your room whenever you want, and leaving the house at will!

lolcat-freedom

 

You’ll be completely lost at times and wish you could give those freedoms right back.

MTM2MTk1NDcxNTg3NzA2Njkx.gif

 

You will absolutely need a good support network of friends – not just your treatment team.

attend_support_group.jpg

 

Suddenly talking about bowel movements and GI issues isn’t acceptable.

tummy-troubles-2

 

You’ll find the real world to be a scary place and forget how you ever lived in it.

pic1

 

It will feel strange not having or being able to share your thoughts and feelings constantly.

km1xxalfomu4zbv8cc7r

 

There will be bad days and lapses and relapses but this is normal, expected, and okay. What matters is that you get back up and continue to stay in recovery.

tumblr_nm39swekVb1tgaiy7o1_500.png

 

You will get “you look healthy” all the time.

tumblr_m4hsr37b0p1rropmdo1_400

 

You will also get comments on your body. Ignore them.

tumblr_inline_n9lo2y7jcg1qzbnsr

 

The worst possible advice will come from people who know nothing about recovery from an eating disorder.

eating-disorder-recovery

 

You’ll begin to find success in the little things, like having one snack, rather than only becoming proud of yourself when you have the huge fear food ten times and go 1000 days without behaviors.

tumblr_nh8ywaaRUI1s1ufedo1_500.jpg

 

You’ll realize all those “dumb skills” actually work in the real world.

I need my DBT Skills.jpg

 

You will need all the support you can get. Take the PHP/IOP, extra therapy appointments, and support groups. Not all of us are so lucky.

 

Yes, people will stop asking where you were (especially if you shared it on Facebook).

635830707108973807-18222869_Screen%20Shot%202015-11-13%20at%208.04.51%20PM.imgopt1000x70.png

 

Its healthy to distance yourself from sick people – even those you just met in treatment.

c49c3d31d500967cbc72decf45709b28.jpg

 

Every single example/memory/funny thing you think of will be residential related.

b7ff14b9990e6b93fe4977f8154792267bcbf48ab6d0631e71fe8fdd75b6c09f_3.jpg

 

You’ll oddly miss vitals checks. Yes there’s something satisfying about staff doing BP, HR, temps and asking you 10,000 times to rate your depression, anxiety, etc.

67849179.jpg

 

You’ll be able to recite any DBT concepts without missing a beat.

517y5ipi78L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

You will miss process group even though they almost always sucked.

'We are communicating better but we are still not out of woods.'

 

There will be a zillion and one mixed feelings about your time in treatment.

c5b6eb4d03a90086abafeccdbb95e1be

 

You’ll wish for more time to explore whichever city you were in.

0a426a05e3101a38991d82be12e0e691.jpg

 

The recovery high does fade eventually which makes things difficult.

keep-going.jpg

 

Some days you want to go back and others you wouldn’t without a tranquilizer.

CIxag.gif

 

The scale is never a good idea.

db9d88caa375684cd6fb9982cb747cd3.jpg

 

Diet talk is E V E R Y W H E R E outside of the treatment bubble.

tumblr_mxm6qqKxQH1rmzx8wo1_500

 

You’ll spend a very long time wondering if recovery is really worth it. (Hint: it is!)

7fcb85b3be3d280703cf0e4fa0fee824

 

You’ll miss every single part. (Yes, even the poop checks, being forced to face your biggest fears 6 times a day, and extreme boredom.)

51561825.jpg

 

You’ll realize that you CAN do this!

tumblr_ml8ht4bk4Q1r3n8pwo1_500.gif

Life After Residential – 1 month out

Well at this point I can definitely say it feels simultaneously like I was in treatment an hour ago and also that its been years. Today I will be sharing my accomplishments, set-backs, and what I’ve learned.

Accomplishments:

  • Followed 99% of meal plan
  • Use skills at least once a day
  • Attending social events at college
  • Finished interim and did well
  • Handling all of the change (dietitian, school, coming out of resi, therapist)
  • Using exercise in a good way
  • Surviving first sickness in recovery
  • Working on asking my needs to be met
  • Haven’t died of hypothermia yet in the not-California temps 🙂

Set-backs

  • Home life = meh
  • Not sleeping well
  • Finding it hard to get out stress
  • Body image making it hard to eat
  • Not good with boundaries

Life is full of surprises. Cliche, I know. This month of my life has been so messy. There have been lots and lots of blows. I was shielded from it in treatment. At the same time, the little unexpected joys make this worth it.

I have to put ME first. Okay so this one I’ve learned but have not put into practice. I realized that doing things for others and putting my own safety or recovery at risk never should happen. I deserve to say no.

College doesn’t have to be the same as last fall. God was I worried about this. Entering into the same place where I was on the path to dying is hard. Being in hose dining halls, with complete exercise access, and without supervision can be tempting. I don’t want that life back. I look at pictures and I see an already dead girl. I am worth more.

Not all ED effects will go away. My cognitive function, my brain, the reason I was so good in school, even following a conversation, they’re all difficult now. I’m not starving! This should be going away. I have to prepare for the worst thought and right now its where I’m at.

Its less shameful not hiding it. I am always worried how someone will react when I tell them about my ED. I’ve gotten a range of responses, mostly good, but the anxiety is usually most overwhelming. Since posting on FB and talking openly if need I feel so much better. I tell the parts of my story and move on. I try not to care what they may think.

I need to share my story. I am so itching to speak about it! I feel like I could help other while also giving me a reason to keep going. No one should have to feel alone in this. I also really want to lead a group or something like that soon.

Today is going to be a great day! Today I will focus and think clearly because I will nourish my mind. Today, I will remember that I am stronger and smarter than I think. I am not my eating disorder. Today I will flourish.

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.

Life After Residential – 2 Weeks Out

Wow wow wow! I’ve made it two weeks, which at one point seemed impossible. This time outside of CFD has allowed me to practice what was taught and also learn even more.

I can do this on my own!!! Why yes, this needs exclamation points. Part of me totally believed I would walk out of CFD and fall flat on my face. I doubted I would last longer than a few days without freaking out and using behaviors or maladaptive coping skills again. It hasn’t been perfect , of course, but I can honestly say I’ve done really well!

Skills work. Oh gosh, I never thought I’d say this. All those dumb skills I hated before in different treatments have become my best friend. I loved the DBT corner at residential so much that I created one here. I have kinetic sand, wax melts, lentils, frozen oranges and clementines, scented play dough, coloring books, stress balls, my recovery buddy, and essential oils. I use them at least daily, usually more. Just ten minutes ago I got done playing with the kinetic sand. Its funny because using skills has become something I do without thinking. I love it and I’m really glad they forced us to try out skills at CFD.

I can transform how I act in different situations. One of my biggest fears coming back to the real world was how I would react to being in the exact same places as when I was sick. All parts of my life were intertwined with the ED before. Although slowly, I am transforming what these things mean to me. Yoga isn’t about burning calories anymore; I do it for well-being, enjoyment, and healing. Going to the dining hall doesn’t mean getting some small variation of the same restrictive meal. Instead I reach for variety and what I want in that moment. Weekends at home don’t have to be full of restriction and lies. I spend the time enjoying my family.

I’m not where I was, and that’s a GOOD thing. Its easier for the ED to take control an begin comparing where I was and where I am now. If the ED thoughts had their way, I’d be on a one-way train to relapse and, maybe this time, death. I am not giving in to my disorder or any negative thoughts it brings. I am healthier, happier, more alive, closer to the real me, a better friend and daughter. Yes, I’m not as skinny as I was, but I’m also not living such a miserable existence anymore either. I am giving up this disorder to get everything recovery can give me, and that should be celebrated.

Part of my heart will always be in California. A good portion of my time after CFD has been spent mourning the time there. I still miss it. It was the best experience of my life, so it makes sense. I will always have love for those people, the adventures, struggles, challenges, successes, weather (really really miss that since its currently below freezing and snowy!), inside jokes, growth, all of it. I’m convinced I will be back, and the next time not as a patient. Until then, I can remember it all fondly, give staff updates, and keep in contact with my lovely friends.