If not now, then when?
The question was enough to fuel my morning drive to work.
Recovery has been filling my mind and thoughts, probably more than it should.
Life is going great, I have no more stress than the next person,
A good job an awesome dog
A warm apartment a running car supportive friends
Coffee benefits paid time off
The ability to run
Why does my recovery want to take a sudden stop?
I don’t think it was sudden, it never is, but the restricting became more and more, until my list of foods was as depleted as my ability to fight ED off.
I’ve begun seeing a nutritionist, after months and months of putting it off, not wanting to go, etc. I like her, she is a believer and advocate of HAES, believes in intuitive eating. Overall, I have enjoyed the experience.
Yet the battle in my head is still raging.
It isn’t as easy as the “talking back” that I hear others talk about so frequently. No, for me, it has to be factual.
Which kinda fueled the internal dialogue this morning.
On more than one occasion I have been in a room of people struggling with their Eating Disorders, whether it be in treatment, support groups, wherever.
I look around, (and no, this is not going where you think it is going), and sometimes I am almost the oldest in the room, sometimes I am practically the youngest. When I am at the upper range of age I remember being their age, being so filled of denial, and so full of my eating disorder.
When there are people much older than me, I think of that is how I want my life to be at their age?
Should my life be focused on my body and eating disorder when:
I have kids
Start another job
My kids are grown up
My siblings get married
So, if not now, then when?
I also have “Trust the Process” tattooed on my wrist, to remind me of recovery.
I’m struggling with following my meal plan given to me, and it is so difficult to listen to my body when I am hungry and not feel the need to run first in order to “earn” the food that my body needs.
I am telling myself that I wouldn’t want someone to tell/question me on how to do my job, so then why am I questioning and fighting her so much?
She knows what she is talking about and is on my side, so why am I fighting her?
I need to focus on Trusting the Process.
I may not always enjoy it or find it easy, but I’ve been here before.
With Eating Disorder Awareness week slowly but surely creeping up, there has been something that has really been bothering me.
The fucking before and after pictures.
I realize, that for some, they can be helpful. You can see how far people have come, the weight they have put on, etc.
For some though, it is a complete and total nightmare. Can we quit glamorizing the before and after pictures??! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LOOK LIKE THOSE PICTURES TO BE WORTHY OF RECOVERY.
YOUR WEIGHT DOES NOT INVALIDATE YOUR NEED FOR HELP!
I was one of those people who saw emaciated people and wished to look like that. I wanted so badly to be tiny like “those girls”. That was also my justification for not needing treatment. “I wasn’t THAT small.” “I didn’t look like THAT.” So in my mind, it made me less worthy of recovery.
As if somehow, my weight had a direct correlation on the amount of pain and suffering I had gone through.
Those before and after pictures do nothing but add to the stigma of how you are “supposed to look”
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!
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 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.
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.
Trust the Process!!
Overall, life is going great.
I can throw on the fake smile and explain to you how crazy it feels to have a career starting.
A career as a Biochemist.
Honestly, How fucking cool is that?
I can sit here and tell you about this guy. Not just the first date we went on, but two, within three days. How he makes me laugh, his gorgeous eyes and teeth.
I’ll go ahead and tell you how I love my apartment.
I’d even go so far as to take a picture of my fridge and all of the fresh produce in it and post it on social media, with the caption, “Not gonna lie, my fridge makes me happy.”
I can also sit here and tell you I ate under 800 calories today.
That the thought of buying laxatives and diet pills flooded my brain, more than once.
Feeling constantly torn and pulled in two completely opposite directions.
Thinking about higher calorie foods I need to get, so I can get the calories in.
Then making a bet with myself I can go the rest of the week without eating.
It has gotten to the point where I just don’t want to talk about it.
It annoys me,
it annoys K,
it annoys T.
I am waiting for them to say the “Just fucking eat.” Cure all remedy.
Not to be mean, but just because they are out of things to say.
This is how I imagine a two year old would have a fit.
In this case, it is a recipe, of pure denial, mixed with shame, sprinkled with a dash of apathy.
But hey, I can act like a two year old, ignore it, get upset when it gets brought up.
Then, act like a twenty two year old and completely immerse myself into my work to avoid anything else.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Currently, I’m pissed at the world.
Saturday was family day, everyone came. Grandma brought fucking cookies! Dumb ass! The primary therapist said something to my grandma, she got mad and left.
I felt hurt and pissed at her. She wasn’t even invited by me, but she came anyway and is in such a state of denial.
My sister and I were curled up on the yoga room floor the whole time and I loved it. Then yelling Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer while in the bathroom together. I struggled, didn’t finish dinner and had Ensure.
The next day Ridley came in, we had lunch, then wandered downtown. It was so cute and I loved all of the shops. That was super fun. We got back and I snuck outside for some soccer. I was juggling and kicking it around, then Anna came around the corner, she asked what I was doing, I told her I was being easy, but admitted I didn’t ask Ridley.
Anna wasn’t too keen because I had been “sneaky” before and she was worried about me being triggered. Few minutes later Ridley came outside to peak on me. Anyways I didn’t abuse soccer, yay!
Yesterday I thought I was going to be sneaky and play outside with some residents. Anna said I could get my soccer ball from my car, I was so thrilled. We got in trouble for running, so we were kicking the ball back and forth. Then I got cocky and went all goalie style. Diving andblocking shots, running, omg I loved it. My legs got all cut up, scraped and bloody- I loved it.
Then, I got a headache and got really dizzy. I struggled through snack, suffered nauseously through dinner. Then B and I went to talk to the RC. From diving so much I was so dizzy and B knew what it was. The RC had already seen my legs and probably knew I was being rough. I humbly admitted I was diving and being rough…and got reprimanded…and no more soccer…
I was so pissed at myself for trying to be sneaky, for fessing up, and for abusing soccer. I was finally given the ok and I cut off my nose to spite my face.
I cried during snack because I didn’t want to get kicked out and just feel like I can’t get my shit together.
So anyway, today. I woke up with plans to go to yoga, but the therapist came in the kitchen and wanted to meet today. I missed yoga but really opened up. Part of my breakfast also involuntarily came up and the RC saw, so I had to drink an Ensure during my appointment.
Cleaning was also taken from me, and I can’t do the dishes anymore and need to sit for 15 minutes after each meal. My body hates food, and just wants to get rid of it, like it has been doing for a long time.
I went to work, ate a Clif Bar, among many other delicious foodies, walked my dog, called people about trying to find a place to live since I am moving. I didn’t run today because I didn’t have time, plus it was raining.
Life is Good
Trust the Process.
It is amazing how much can change. I vaguely remember this, mainly because there were many, many, oh so many, mornings that I woke up and it took everything in me not to pack up before breakfast. Many mornings I laid in bed and thought “That’s it, my mind is made up, I’m leaving today. I can’t handle it here.” At one point I was the youngest in the house, I questioned if I was too young to recover, if I was even sick. I made excuses after excuses of why I was fine.
Even my treatment team today will tell you how I went into residential thinking I didn’t even have a problem. Makes recovery difficult when you don’t think you have anything to recover from.
I’m not sure what got into me, I feel awful. I want to cry but I can’t, I need to run but I can’t, I want to go home, but that really isn’t an option either. I don’t want to get fatter, I don’t want to “mindfully eat”.
Everyone is more concerned than me. I want to call it quits, go home, go run, but quitting isn’t like me.
I want to nap.
What if recovery just isn’t for me?
Why is it so much easier to slowly kill myself and starve than to actually feed and take care of myself?
How did I get to this point?
Eating once a week, running twice a day, totally fine, to eating six times a day and crying over a bagel and turkey.
I could leave ya know. Pack up my stuff, ask for my keys, walk away and go home. Not be forced to have a starch, fat, protein, or an Ensure if I refuse. Not hear, “Walk.”, “No running.” And “Second table” anymore. Leave and not be the reason we need bathroom buddies anymore.
Feel like a free, real person again. Not have to sing while I pee, be able to go down an aisle without being watched or reprimanded for going to far.
I could do it, just pack up and leave.
Return to all the people who believed in me, support me and called me “brave”, just to have to admit to them I am chicken shit and pansied out.
Continue stuck in this rut of spitting up stomach acid, running on empty, being weak and tired—
I’m not sure what has gotten into me lately. I’m really blah and in a slump.
This is so freaking hard.
Earlier I was so bored I swept outside, front porch, back porch, even part of the yard.
Yeah, I was sweeping rocks and leaves.
I guess, originally, I came to placate and shut everyone up. Now though, I’m at least partly able to see how bad this is. I don’t want to go home and continue this waiting game of being “sick enough”, but here it is so hard.