College and Eating Disorder

First, I wanted to apologize.

The days of class I skipped.

The days I couldn’t pay attention.

Or, the days when I would skip your class, and you would catch me running around campus walking back to your office.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it was that I was just more consumed with burning calories and making my Eating Disorder happy that I didn’t want to sit in class.

I didn’t want you to take my struggle as apathy or anything like that, and for the professors that did know about my struggle, I’m thankful for all that you did.

It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to go to class, I physically didn’t have the energy to be there. I was freezing, exhausted, and all I wanted to do was go out and run this anxiety off. Running was more important to me than school, studying, or any sort of life.

Classmates would comment on how athletic I am, and how impressed they were at the distances I was running and how often I went to the gym. (Little did they know I had eaten an apple in maybe two days, and the violent shakes were from the Hydroxycut, not the coffee like I told people.) They didn’t see the girl who laid in her bed crying because of her electrolytes and her legs were locked up again, or the girl who ran to the toilet at 2 am because I had taken the laxatives too early and was up in the middle of the night.

College just seems like one big blur to me. Life was a half-hearted perfunctory routine of get up, run, go to class, run, go to work, maybe go to the gym, and start all over again.

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my professors. I had her class during the semester that I left for treatment. We sat outside, laughed and caught up on all that we had missed. She told me that I looked happy and she was so proud of me. That, was what I needed to hear. That I didn’t disappoint her, or had somehow failed at being a “normal” college student.

She went on to say that she talks about me frequently, how I never asked for special treatment, and did continue to show up and do well in her class. The only thing I ever asked was if I could take my final early, (I was admitted on finals week).

I was honest and told her that while I was in her class I was consuming more diet pills and laxatives than actual food, she shook her head in a concerning way.

The most difficult was a male professor, only because my senior research also included a food log, which I was sure would lead to me failing my senior research if I didn’t have any data to actually document. He was very understanding, and I missed half of the following semester since I was still in treatment. Returning in March to his Biostatistics class, he was shocked and surprised to see me walk in the door. I had three tests to make up, multiple practicals, and I was determined. He was willing to work with me and said I could take an incomplete and finish the semester when I was feeling better. I told him I was supposed to graduate this semester, and I wanted to catch up.

I did, I finished school on time and graduated on time, missing half of a semester of Biostatistics, Virology, and Biochemistry.

I am very thankful to have the support I did through my academic career. Both of those professors actually wrote me letters of recommendation. They believed in me, even when I didn’t think I could.

Who, Not What, Are You.

Who are you?

If someone was to ask you who you were what would you say?

Would you identify yourself with your flaws?

Would you identify yourself with the size pants you wear?

“I am _______.”

How would you fill that?

The world has told us to fit molds, stereotypes and to hold certain expectations.

As if your importance and worth in the world is somehow based on how you look; and God forbid we are open about our struggles and flaws, which could somehow make us less human or less worthy.

Who you are is not:

                What you do.

                A label set by others.

                A diagnosis.

                Mistakes you made.

Why would I accept a label set on me by others?

                I don’t walk up to someone and say, “Hi, I am a recovering anorexic.”

“Hello, I am anxious.”

                                “Good afternoon, I am depressed.”

Honestly, to me, this doesn’t sound bad. It would be more real. People may stop hiding behind the taboo shame that comes with these labels.

But, these labels, regardless of what they are, are not WHO we are.

I’m gonna say that again for the people in the back….

                Regardless of what these labels are, THEY ARE NOT WHO WE ARE.

1 Corinthians 10:12

1 Corinthians 10:12

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

Over the course of being in recovery, I have had the same goals.

1)      Be “normal”

2)      Find a healthy balance between working out and eating

3)      Be able to help and share with others

Some of you may read these, especially number one and think, “Come on, what even is ‘normal’, that is such a vague idea.” Others of you, I know because I have talked with others, are sitting there thinking, “Holy shit! Yes! She gets it!”  I’m not saying I want a job, a husband, a dog, a house with a picket fence, 2.5 kids. I already have two of those… I’ll let you guess 😉

What I am saying is I want to eat like a normal person, eat when I’m hungry, eat when I’m not hungry, put cheese on food, not count calories like a fiend. Eat cold pizza for breakfast, have hot chocolate, you know, what NORMAL people would do, and not think twice about.

While I am so thankful that I am not where I was, I know I have work to be where I want to be. (Even though you guys can’t see it, I’m finishing up a tofu taco salad- delish!) I still struggle with the morbid sense of wanting to be sick, and wanting to be back in treatment. At the same time, lately I have been able to take a step back and realize, “ok, I’ve been there before. Nothing will be different, so why do I want to go back?”

At this point in my life, I am 23 years old. Living in Pennsylvania, by myself, moving from NC to PA after graduation to pursue my career in Biochemistry. I feel fortunate to have a career with benefits, PTO, and in a field where I have my degree. So why would I want to throw that all away to go back to being weighed everyday?

I have made friends going to the support group, and through that I have had lunch, and gotten coffee, with some of the girls. It is eye opening that at times, I am the oldest one in the group, and I am not ok with this. I do not want to be tied down by this thing. Recently, I have reached out, getting to know some of the girls, and I want to be a support for them to reach out to.

I have been reminded of this verse lately, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” This is huge to me. I don’t want to reach out to help, if it may completely undo the progress I have built. I want to help and pull others up without worrying about being triggered or being dragged down. I pray this a lot, especially when I hang out with the girls, hoping for the best, for the right words to say and to remember to be careful.

 

Trust the Process!

xoxoxo

Use Your “Science Mind”

There are umpteen articles out there that are titled, “What Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder.” Or “What to Say to Someone Recovering.” “How to talk to someone with an eating disorder.” “What is acceptable to say to someone with an eating disorder.” Etc, the list goes on and on, some are probably titled the same thing, with a different font, different capitalization, different spelling.

One thing that I have been told, on more than one occasion, is to use my “science brain”. Some background on me, I hate compliments, hate positive affirmations even more, and was able to finish school and graduate, while spending half of my final semester in residential.

I am a Biology Major, with a Chemistry Minor. After graduation I got a job offer several states away, after interviewing, weighing my options, and looking at the hefty benefits that went along with it, I took the offer. I am currently working as a Biochemist, specializing in HPLC Method and Development. All of this to say, I have been called “smart” for as long as I can remember. I am nothing more than average. I got a C in Inorganic Chemistry, passed Virology with a disheartening B, and that is nothing to the hell I endured through Cell and Molecular Biology, with a professor I referred to as “Dr. Douche Fuck.” (Only behind his back, of course).

So, when people tell me to use my “science brain”, it, well, it pisses me off.

Yes, I can tell you that carbohydrates are needed for the cell, as well as lipids, protein, etc. I can tell you glycolysis, the one letter amino acid codes, the vitamins and what the body uses each for. Logically, I know food is fuel, that you can’t gain anymore than you consume, I know basal metabolic rate.

I know people die from eating disorders.

My science mind is great and useful for information about health, bacteria, the works. My mind is also great at using denial and deception, along with ED. I believe that I am the exception, I believe that it will never happen to me. I spent years in denial, I craved my morning runs and the lifting, I still don’t believe I’ve done any long term damage to my body. To some morbid degree, that bothers me.

I wish I could sit here and tell you that I was the frail, feeble, weakling with the feeding tube. Knees knocking as I wait for the elevator because I am unable to climb one flight of stairs. That I had some miraculous story to tell.

I don’t.

I fight with myself and my body daily. Wishing I was thinner, that my stretch marks would go away, that my thigh gap was more obvious and my collar bone would protrude a little more.

It is very difficult sitting in program, in a room full of sick people, comparing my body to theirs. She may not be allowed to take the stairs. He may need help carrying his tray.

Me? I did 5 miles before program. I did push ups, I did crunches. You name it.

I am the heaviest patient in the room, I am nearly sure of it.

I wouldn’t say I am “ok” with it- but I am accepting of this fact.

I could probably also dead lift their body weight no problem.

It is this morbid sense of comparison that is so difficult to me. You are the heaviest one here. Yeah, but I lift and run. Or are you justifying the reason you are fat? No, I tell myself. I wonder how they see me though.

ED’s never ceasing manipulation.

Looking Back on Life

 When you look back on life, what do you want to remember?

Do you want your life to be a flood of memories, experiences and people?

Is it a timeline of accomplishments/children/or jobs?

What about a timeline of all the programs you have been in?

Thinking back and remembering months at this facility, or when you were in that other program.

Is that what you want your life to be? Just a strung together list of the places you went for treatment?

 

I started IOP at Hershey. It was great for dinner accountability, but I am also thankful that I think something clicked.

Sitting in a room with various people, with different backgrounds, different ages, we shared one common thing, that had us all here for one reason. We, at one point or another, were probably dragged into treatment by the ball and chain that was around our neck, being led into the unfamiliar place by the havoc ED had on our lives.

We went around the room and I listened as people shared their goals.

“Finish school.”    “Get a job.”    “Move.” 

 

Then it came to me.  I wasn’t sure what to say. Something in me clicked. It had occurred to me before, but never like this. I had finished school, I had just started an awesome career as biochemist, and moved about ten hours away.  I felt like this might just be repeat. I needed something bigger, that is not to say these people’s goals were simple, and unimportant, not at all! I had accomplished their goals (which at one time were mine), but now what?   I had moved ten hours to what? Go back into program? 

I cannot have a successful life, or a life at all, while I am immersed in my eating disorder.

It is very disheartening though that there are many people in my life who don’t think I can do this on my own. I have flushed the Hydroxycut, cut down on purging immensely, and am really trying. To hear others say I need to go back to Hershey is discouraging. The hospital food itself is enough to send me into panic mode, when I could be eating stuff I actually enjoy.

That’s about it for now. I have a latte waiting for me.

Hershey- Not the kisses

Hey guys!

It’s been a while. Life has continued, the dog and I are still getting settled, and not sure where I left off on the blog.

So, I think I officially have a boyfriend, he is super great, super supportive. Also good looking. We talked about ED, figured I’d give him time to jump off the crazy train, but he hasn’t. We will go out to eat, he has spent the night. I really like him. He went to Florida this week, but will be home soon.

I found an ED support group and have been going to that once a week. Life has been great, my eating- not so much. After going to the group a few times, and enjoying it, I checked in with a few people, and didn’t think the group was enough support and accountability for where I am. My restricting got worse, my purging became the worst it has been in a long, long time.

So, with a loving push, I made an appointment at the Hershey Penn State ED facility. I wore my heaviest boots, three shirts and a hoodie, and walked into the office. We talked for a while about the usual introductory stuff, my family, my eating disorder, the behaviors, treatment, etc. She thought I needed to stop running and eat “at least add a tiny bit more…”, stop taking the diet pills. You have othostatic hypotension….. yeah, that was fun.

I finally thought I was about done. ED was still sitting in the front of my mind reminding me of how fat I was, how I didn’t, and shouldn’t, be here. The doctor turned to me, handed me a gown and asked me to change for a blind weight.

Ah, FUCK. Nobody said anything about a gown.

So, did that.

I was expecting some kind of nice rejection speech, “You don’t fit the criteria.” “I am sorry, but…” Anything that would reinforce the fact that I’m not sick nor skinny.

“Just curious, what was your lowest.” Uhh, I don’t know, probably between xxx and xyz.

“Ok, well you are sitting at xxx right now.  I don’t think outpatient will be enough. I’d strongly suggest PHP.”

Oh hell no, I thought. I don’t have time for that shit. I moved to PA to start a life and career, not go back into treatment.

I explained that my work schedule would not allow that.

“Well, I think IOP would be a good start. They have dinner together, group….”

 

Sorry guys, I’m getting bored and stressed writing about this…. I start IOP tomorrow.

On my fun-o-meter, IOP is sitting somewhere between Dentist and Gynecologist….

Besides ED, my life is great. Support group, making friends, boyfriend. I feel kinda useless at work still, but I love being a BioChemist…. Dang, so nerdy. Love it.

 

Anyway,

Trust the Process!!

To T, my biggest influence.

T,

I have debated writing something like this for a long time.

  • Couldn’t quite get my thoughts together.
  • Thought it might be kinda pathetic.
  • Might think I’m weak.
  • Or didn’t have the time.

Whichever option you choose to pick.

Quick question:

-Do you ever feel like a glorified babysitter?

-A ring leader at a circus?

I can see it now, standing in the middle of a flaming clusterfuck, head spinning a thousand miles an hour. Holding a flaming ring you are expected to jump through. Being torn in a thousand different ways.

                                                                                The dietitian needs you.

          Sally is refusing to eat.                                                                   Jill just threw up.

The director (what is her actual title anyway??) needs to see you.

                                                                                                                Phone is ringing.

                                Sue needs to talk to you.

Let’s reminisce for a second, because there was (more specifically) all of the hell I put you through.

Remember the time(s):

-You stood up to my mom for me?

-Sat on the kitchen floor to therapize me?

-The multiple times I threw up.

-When I would go hide on top of the shed, or on my perch.

-When I was gone for like an hour on my run.

-The time you thought I just left, because I missed snack and was on my perch.

-The night I called you crying over pizza.

-My self harm issues.

-Come to Jesus meeting(s).

-My smart mouth.

That could be it’s own post.

-Having to take me to the hospital.

-Watching you cry.

-The night B and I snuck out and stole that flamingo.

-(Oh, btw, the crayon splatters in the downstairs bathroom, to the right of the mirror. That was me too. I was trying to be artsy fartsy….)

-All of my ungodly honesty.

-Let’s not forget my concealed.

Also, some of my journal excerpts:

                12/11/14

                                “I hurried to the kitchen where I was told T was looking for me. “Oh Shit.” I thought.”

                12/16/14

                                “Then came group with T. We talked about feelings and safe places, she seemed to focus in on me for a while. I avoided and deflected for as long as I could.”

                12/23/14

                                “So, that’s about it. I had a melt down in T’s office about how everything is being taken away from me.”

                12/24/14

                                “After yoga I was informed I had to call T before snack-shit! The phone rang and rang I was so nervous. She answered, my heart dropped, she said she heard I had a rough breakfast and refused an Ensure.”

                12/26/14

                                “T asked me to come down off the roof, I tossed my journal and watched it fall, then climbed down. T handed me my journal and I followed her to her office.”

                12/27/14

                                “I was up tossing and turning at 2:30. The conversation between T and I played over and over in my head. ‘If you aren’t ready for you, do it for your sister.’ ‘Crying would have been better than purging.’.”

                12/31/14

                                “T began to cry. I began to get mad. ‘K goes to the hospital, she gets to stay. M refuses to eat, she gets to stay. C practically gives you the finger…. ‘You have made amazing strides and progress…’ ‘….not good enough!!’ I cut in between sobs.”

                1/10/2015

                                “The next thing I know, I’m eating my left over, clenching a frozen orange, and hearing the words: Talk, T and Consequences. Strung together in an anxiety provoking sentence.”

                1/11/2015

                                “T complimented me on what I did do right over pass. I began to cry and looked away. I admitted I went on a run, she had known something was up.”

                1/16/15

                                “T is so freaking great, she works her ass off for us and is just such an amazing lady.”

                1/28/15

                                “Shopping was just awful- some young vegan telling me what to do, then a brand new girl disrespecting T and talking down to her…Oh hell no!”

                2/5/15

                                “Feeling guilty. Skipped dairy with lunch, didn’t add extra fruit since I ran. Skipped fat with snack.      Came clean about the restriction, T made me drink an Ensure.”

                2/9/15

                                “I felt so discouraged hearing T’s motherly tone come out when I said I went to the guy for 2 hours. ‘What part of you thought that was ok??’”

                2/18/15

                                “T grabbed the letter from the back and began to read it silently. She rolled her eyes and I could tell she wasn’t exactly thrilled. T read the very last bit to me out loud and told me I didn’t need to read that shit. I bawled and bawled.”

                2/19/15

                                “I cried a lot today. I went to T’s office to read the letter from mom. I called A too for support. I’m so thankful that T and A were there when I read it.”

                                “T hugged me and wouldn’t let go. I felt, well, loved and cared about. She whispered how she didn’t want me to live like this- I said me either.”

                2/20/15

                                “I got told today I was being transferred to the hospital. I bawled and bawled. I got my phone, called A and went upstairs to pack. T tried to help, I didn’t want any help. She came back up and told me she would be the one to take me to the hospital, that was the only time I felt slightly relieved. I packed everything up, told the girls bye, cried with T in her office and headed out.”

                                “T just held me as I cried, she cried, she told me this was no way to live. After arriving to the hospital, T helped me get checked in and came with me to the unit. They took my b.p and weight. T was beside me the entire time, holding my hand. They took me to my room, T sat down with me and we both began to cry.

                                3/1/15

                “T,

                I’ve written you a note before, but this is different. I can never express enough everything you have done for me. With your humor, patience and intelligence, you are an amazing person.

                I walked into Tap feeling worthless and like a complete failure from our kitchen talks, to you holding the flamingo and watching me cry.

                As much as I hate being here, I still appreciate everything you have done. I look up to you and admire your strength, determination and love.

                Having someone during this time that is practically my motherly figure and supports me, means the world to me.”

 

Anyways, these are just blips of how much of an influence you have had, not only in my recovery, but in my life.

You do so much for not just Tap in general, but for each and every woman who walks through that door. Even a year later, I have no idea why you took me under your wing, or what you saw in me, but I am forever grateful, that no matter how much I tried to push you away, you just weren’t having it.

I genuinely believe you are my biggest supporter and believe in me and what I can accomplish. Lovingly pushing me to try neurofeedback, and our amazing breakfast outtings. I admire and respect you so much and all that you do. I also know, whole heartedly, that I wouldn’t be where I am today without your love and support.

Christmas of 2014

12/24/2014

I threw up a mouthful of coffee and raspberries, the RC caught me leaving the bathroom.

I refused to drink an Ensure and after everyone left for their pass home, I headed to the group room for yoga, just me.

After yoga was snack, the RC informed me that I had to call T before snack- shit! The phone rang and rang and I was so nervous.

She answered, my heart dropped, she said she heard I had a rough breakfast, I said not really, and told my side. “I ate, went upstairs to change for yoga and the RC saw me come out of the bathroom.”  “Well, what happened in the bathroom?” “Some raspberries came up.” “And you refused an Ensure?….”  “I didn’t refuse, I just didn’t let her get that far.

T continued, I told her I didn’t think my stomach was handling the coffee well, so gave up coffee…

T also mentioned how we might have to sit down and revisit if this is the level of care for me. Of course that freaked me out….

 

12/25/2014
                I had breakfast, watched Water for Elephants, snack time, did a puzzle.
                Showered, lunch time, took a nap, went outside and kicked around my soccer ball.
                Painted my nails, snack time, watched Frozen, watched Muppets.
I hate having “special treatment” no dishes because I may involuntarily hurl in the sink, tally stairs so I’m not exercising. This not moving thing is killing me! ERGH!
                I get so annoyed I’ve also been put on cleaning restriction too b/c I’m the only one who can manage to clean and take the damn trash out.

12/26/2014

We got a new person today, she is 33 and just came from the hospital. I’m discouraged and conflicted. I still believe I’m not sick enough to be here. I want to go outside, run, feel the sun on my back, breeze in my face.

Am I too young to be here?

                                                                                Am I too young for recovery?

Part of me wants to throw in the towel say fuck it, pack up and go home. Go back to treatment after I’ve hit rock bottom, when I’m actually sick.

T is probably so sick and tired of me. I hate feeling like a lost cause and I’m just waiting for her to say screw it about me as well and give up.

Honestly, I think I just want to pack and leave before I end up disappointing all of Tapestry.

Well, I fucked up, again. I’m not sure why I’m even here. I got so upset and stressed about snack and I threw up, and got caught.

I know in order to quit involuntarily puking, I definitely need to keep my fingers out of my throat.

What the Fuck is my problem?!?!

I don’t want to be here anymore, I want to go home, but I am so tired of throwing up.

 

While sitting outside on top of a shed T came out. She stood on the ground looking up at me and asked what I wanted to do, I told her, “cry”. “Well, that would have been better than purging.”  I began to cry and told her what would make someone want to throw up cashews and cherries??!!

I told her I knew it was a bad idea, and how discouraged I am.

T asked me to come down off the roof, I tossed my journal and watched it fall, then climbed down.

T handed me my journal and I followed her to her office.

 

12/27/2014

I was up tossing and turning at 2:30. The conversation between T and I played over and over again in my head.

“If you aren’t ready to recover for you, do it for your sister.”

“Crying would have been better than purging.”

My leash around here is just getting shorter and shorter, now on top of no running, no showers at night, sit down after every meal, no climbing the stairs, no coffee, but I don’t want all of this to be for nothing.

 

12/29/2014

I was being artsy fartsy last night, after snack. The RC came in and saw my glass    full of throw up on the table….

So, this morning was weigh in. I hid my Nalgene and Mason jar, full of water, in my room. So at 6:30, before the RC came in to wake us up, I sat on my bed and chugged the Mason jar. Sat with it, then started on the Nalgene.

I feel so conflicted about it. I don’t want my weight to go up, but it can’t stay the same, I hate being so stationary. Maybe if my weight goes up, I won’t have to sit after every meal, but I hate lying and being dishonest.

Dinner, well, I didn’t eat it. Unfortunately, I had an Ensure, but figured it was the safer bet.

T again mentioned that she wasn’t sure if I could stay. I feel so conflicted. I have had so much taken away and all of my Christmas break, I don’t want it to be for nothing. I’d go back home, run and starve.

When will I put my foot down and find that spark I need?

I almost came clean to T.

                The guilt is too much.

She said there was a positive change in my weight.

After threatening to see if I would be able to stay and her saying, “Your weight is the only ace I have right now.”

What was I supposed to say?

“Oh, that’s great, I mean I only chugged an enormous amount of water this morning to water load.”

Yeah, that totally wouldn’t get me kicked out.

 

12/31/2014

Around 12:30 this morning I got really hot and nauseous. I headed to the bathroom where I projectile vomited on my hand and the toilet. I woke up the RC to tell her, she got me some water, I swore up one way and down the other it was the bean burger I ate for dinner.

Everyone went grocery shopping after lunch today except me, because I thought I had a therapist appointment.    She came and got me…then we headed to T’s office. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, a “come to Jesus” meeting perhaps?

They both sat down and faced me and asked why I thought they wanted to talk to me. Oh shit, I thought and a stomach sinking feeling came over me. “We are thinking about discharge.” Oh fuck, what?! I began to cry. They went on and explained they were trying to have me referred to UNC. I just bawled harder.

“I won’t go.” I thought, I can’t! I have school, it was hard enough to get my ass here. I was still crying when I explained I felt like a failure, and explained how I had gotten physically sick.

The two of them didn’t really sound like it was an option. I was stuck between getting on my knees and begging and throwing my hands up and saying fuck it as I walked out the door.

“You can always come back here after Chapel Hill.”

“I don’t want to ‘come back’. This isn’t a vacation, I don’t want to come back, ‘Oh hey guys, missed you all.’” I mocked between sobs.

They told me this wasn’t a failure, I just needed a higher level of care. That scares the shit out of me. I was still crying, T began to cry.

I just began to get mad.

“KW goes to the hospital, she gets to stay. M refuses to eat, she gets to stay. C practically gives you the finger…”

“You have made amazing strides and progress…..”

“…not good enough apparently.” I cut her off

T was still choking back tears when she looked me in the eyes and said,

“you don’t have to do this anymore, you don’t have to purge anymore.”           I just looked at her and asked, “Why?”

T went outside to get the head honcho director, (can we call her Madame Shit Storm? I think that’s appropriate).

Madame Shit Storm and T came in, I was still bawling. They explained the medical benefits and capability UNC has that would be helpful to me if I was referred.

I admitted I got sick last night and that I’m still sruggling with the stairs but I’ve been honest. They mentioned I needed to be behavior free for so long, I was still crying when I explained that I would have gone 4 days if it wasn’t for physically getting sick.

More Than Just a Job

It is so crazy to look back and read my journal entries from last year. I was admitted into treatment on December 6th, 2014. I did not want to be there, I didn’t even want to acknowledge the fact that I had an eating disorder, or that I needed help.

It is also amazing to look back on all of the progress I have made. I am no longer crying over food, I have a love for peanut butter. Praise God, I am no longer involuntarily puking after I eat. The nutritionist and T have had such an amazing impact on my recovery and my life and can never thank them enough. It was the most terrifying and rewarding experience of my life.

 

12/13/2014

            Today has been rough. Struggled through breakfast and snack. Had DBT which was actually hard. For snack I had granola but didn’t even want to touch food so distracted myself with making a bracelet. Told Michelle I didn’t want to eat and nicely threatened me with an Ensure. I finally ate the rest of the damn granola.

            Had lunch, well, let me rephrase that… I had a mental breakdown during lunch. Today has just been a really difficult day. I wanted NOTHING for lunch, but decided to make a salad, sweet potato and cottage cheese. I sat down at the table and just began to cry after staring at my food. The RC asked me if I wanted to go outside, breathe, collect myself and come back.

            So, I went outside and cried. One of the outpatient girls saw me and came over to give me a pep talk. I told her, “No worries, just a mid lunch breakdown.” She told me, “It will get better, I know you’re so fucking sick of hearing that, but its true.” The RC came outside for a minute to check on me, then went back inside. I told her it was just an extra hard day and she gave awesome advice on it’s a step by step progress. Then she gave me a hug and went inside. A few seconds later my roommate came out and I began to just cry. I wasn’t hungry, didn’t want to go out tonight, no hunger cues, so don’t want to eat. The RC came out at about this time. I was crying, and just really didn’t want to eat. I told her that I think it finally hit me that I was really here, and really doing this.

            After some hugs, coaxing and talking, I went back inside, sat at the table and took a bite. The nutritionist did second table while everyone else watched me struggle.

Second table ended and everyone got up except the nutritionist and I. Slowly but surely I made it through lunch. Then, after doing my dishes, I was antsy and swept the kitchen. That was when the nurse came and got me, and said Dr. T wanted to see me.

            I went in and sat down, we talked about my vitamin D levels, and I told him about the involuntarily throwing up. He said that was not ok, and I explained the “swallow your vomit” motif and my logic of, “Eat what I’m comfortable with and get punished, or eat until I throw up.” He was not happy with that at all and said he would talk with the nutritionist about it.

            Oh God, I didn’t want to start anything, but I told him it was so much food…and the puking….

So, I went back to the kitchen, picked up the air vent and scrubbed it. As I squatted on the floor the clinical director, T, came in to fix her lunch and commented on me being a cleaner. Two residents came into the kitchen both bitching about how the nurse and Dr. T were taking forever. I looked up and told them, “They were talking to the nutritionist about me because I’m a pain in the ass.”

T looked down at me and inquired, “Talking about you? Why? What’s up?”, I replied with, “Nothing.” She squatted down nearly eye level with me. I told her I was really struggling today. She said, “You aren’t a pain in the ass. Your eating disorder might be a pain in the ass, but you aren’t.” I really, really, appreciated that.

            I sat down and began to cry. I told her I’m still throwing up. I had a meltdown during lunch, but she probably already heard about that, she shook her head, and had a seat on the kitchen floor facing me. I told her the story, me crying, going outside, etc. I told her it’s the fine line between eating quickly feeling full and sick or not wanting to eat at all. I feel anxious when I am the last one, but don’t want to hurl. I told her that I threw up again and was embarrassed and discouraged.

            She was understanding about this being my first week and tough as shit, she asked if anyone else knew, I said no. She expressed how she wanted me to share at process group about how I’m struggling. She said she was glad I was here and I told her about my very supportive roommate.

            I’m not sure I can express to T how much I appreciated my therapy session on the kitchen floor. I used to think this wasn’t bad, I wasn’t sick and I didn’t need to be here. Yet, I’m the one on the kitchen floor having a meltdown. It really meant a lot to me for her to take the time to talk with me and be supportive. T told me it’s a big jump going from not eating to eating so much.

I’m just so discouraged and embarrassed that I’m puking and don’t want to get caught or in trouble.

Guys, always trust the process. Sometimes we are way to close to realize what we need. It is so much more than a job to these amazing women. I am not where I want to be, but I praise God that I’m not where I was. Sure ED likes to knock, (pretty damn hard sometimes) and I may even periodically let him in when I think it may be helpful. But even these days are better than my laxative abusing, running obsessing, purging oriented life I was “living”.

Trust the process guys!!

From Residential to Hospitalization

It has been quite a long time since I’ve been on here. As most of you know, I went into residential treatment at the beginning of December (I will make another post for that update). Recently, I got referred to the hospital because of meds.

One week and 6 days until my 22nd birthday. I wonder how I got here, questioning everything at this point.

To myt left sits an ex heroin addict who overdosed on Benadryl; on my right is an 80 year old suicide attempt. Across from me is a lady who reminds me of Red from Orange is the New Black, minus the intimidating Russian accent and next to her is, what seems to be, the leader, loud, intimidating and she meant business.

Only a few hours ago I was still at Residential, taking for granted my friends and freedom. Being told, “You are being transferred.” is one of those gut wrenching moments. The clinical director helped me pack up while I cried. She wasn’t even aware, they had gone behind her back and made this decision. I couldn’t be mad at her, I loved her all throughout my stay there, quite an amazing lady.

She held me close and hugged me as she explained that the nurse was planning on taking me, but she wanted to take me instead. We reached the hospital, she held my hand and stood beside me through intake and was determined to come with me as far as they would allow her to.

After she left, my bags were taken, I was stripped down, searched and examined. I sat on my bed, crying, an RN came around and told me about group. That, was how I ended up stuck at the table in a looney-bin sandwich.

I was deemed “special” and put under their specific eating disorder protocol. At the time I didn’t know, nor was I prepared, for all that entailed. We had group where I was introduced to the other women in the unit.

Scared out of my wits, the leader, Kari, began to talk to me. Jan, the 80 year old began to crack a joke about a whore, Debbie laughed, Trish and Sharon began to compliment and talk about me as if I weren’t even in the room. We were offered an evening snack, which I politely declined.

That evening I cried myself to sleep, unable to get remotely comfortable on the hospital bed. I was woken up to the sound of my door being opened. I quickly learned that I’d be checked on every 15 minutes throughout the night.

Next morning I was bombarded at 5:30 by two nurses, an EKG, 4 viles of blood, a cup needing to be filled with urine, and a hospital gown.

I wasn’t given any other option besides to eat breakfast, and was greeted with an Ensure when I only picked at the food on my tray. Afterwards, I had to stay in eye sight, or more specifically, confined to the hallway, for an hour after I ate anything. Along with isolation in the hall, I had to be accompanied and watched when using the bathroom or showering.

My days consisted of eating unappealing hospital food and sitting in the hall. Kari, Sharon and Trish didn’t understand why I was sitting in the hall on the floor. I explained it to them, they turned and walked away…. and shortly returned holding crayons, a coloring book, pillow and blanket.

These women took me under their wing, they became my support system. Jan would pace the hallway and invited me to join her. She would compliment me and I would get sassed for “exercising” in the hall. I taught the women square breathing, yoga and tapping.

This group made the unit not as terrifying or completely horrible. Kari became the mother duck of the group and we were her ducklings. Then came Jennifer, she was a zombie of a person with the disposition of the female Hulk. Mentally unstable, she would mutter, groan or grunt, and stomp through the hall. Crying uncontrollably, then laughing hysterically, throwing tantrums in the hall, and chairs down the hall. I was terrified, scared that at any moment I’d be in her way and be trampled. All through the night she would have hysteric fits of laughing, sobbing and hallway pacing with feet of lead. On edge, fearful that at any moment the person to come in my room would be Jennifer, and not an RN.

In the morning I walked my runway of white institutionalized walls, and cold barren tiles in this seasons’ newest hospital gown attire. My wardrobe was a reflection of the immediate emotion that filled me; my ass exposed to the world.

Jennifer slept through breakfast, thank God. I ate the food placed in front of me, granola and yogurt with grapes and took my usual place in the hall. Kari and Jan both expressed concern about Jennifer’s behavior and all of our safety.

I didn’t want to eat, I wanted nothing to do with food. Filled with anger, hurt, a sense of rejection, abandonment and disappointment; I did what I do best, and I shut down. Closing out others and cutting out myself.

The hospital was freezing, I would wear two pair of socks, boots, leggings, yoga pants, sweat pants, a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and sweat shirt at the same time to keep me from shivering. At meals, I relied on my coffee cup to keep my hands relatively warm. In my room I would secretly exercise to burn calories, but to mainly get warm. Running in place, push ups, jumping jacks, burpees and crunches were just another way for me to try and stay warm.

Even with the sub-zero arctic temperatures of the hospital, it was no match for the rapidly spreading germs among the unit. Purell hand sanitizing wipes practically became a commodity and precious resource to smuggle across the lunch room border.

Talks of weight gained, weight needing to be lost, diets tried and failed, constantly filled the room as I watched the consumption of cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches.

While I’ve never been to jail, I can only imagine the similarities. Isolated to a hallway, one phone, constantly being watched, no clothes or shoes with any type of lace or draw string.

I shut myself out from almost everyone on the unit with few exceptions. Taking a nap in my room became ritualistic. One day while taking a nap I was woken up to Jan putting a blanket on me and tucking me in.

These ladies didn’t just have a name, they had a story. One by one, just as I had gotten to know them, they were discharged. Debbie, who became depressed after one of her pharmacies began to fail, and her husband hadn’t been emotionally supportive. She decided to close that pharmacy and put her time into the other one that was still doing well.

Next to go was Sharon and Jan. Sharon had a very successful career working in the medical field for almost 20 years. She got into pills and heroin, spending about $50,000 over the years to sustain her fix. She was struggling and took Benadryl one evening to help her get to sleep. By complete and total accident she had taken too much and was rushed to the hospital.

Jan, an amazing woman, threatened to kick my ass on more than one occasion if I didn’t take care of myself. She moved to the area many years ago and loved it up until recently. Her son left her to move to Florida which left her by herself at about 80 years old. She became very depressed and lonely and ended up here. Jan is a spit fire of a woman who took no cray from anyone and has a heart of gold. She plans on selling her place and moving to Florida. The last thing she told me before she was discharged was, “You better take good care of yourself, or I’m gonna beat your ass.”

Kari and I were the last ones to go. She would comfort me, stick up for me, cheered me on during meal times. She would sit by me in groups, talk with me in the hall and we shared our stories. Her coping mechanism had been alcohol. It had destroyed her marriage and relationships. Her mom showed no empathy or compassion in anyway.

The entire dynamic of the group had changed with discharges and new admits. Know-it-alls, grumpy women who took it out on us and attention seekers who never stopped talking. The irony of going crazy in the psych unit.

The director would periodically call and check on me, which I appreciated so much. She is such an amazing woman who has done an enormous amount for me that I will never be able to express enough gratitude for ever.

It’s funny, in a not so funny way, maybe more eye opening, that it took a hospital unit, full of addicts and depress ridden women and the amazing director, to make me feel like I had any worth.

I got picked up and headed back to residential…. then left in the middle of a blizzard. Tears streaming down my face at the same pace of the snow flakes hitting the ground. I had given the director an enormous hug, left her a letter I had written, cried even harder, and headed out the door.