Trusting The Process With a Trust Problem

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

Get married

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.

Invalidating Before and After

 

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”

 

Eating Disorder and Getting Personal

This may just be the most personal post yet.

I despise pictures, but somehow seem strangely drawn to looking at old ones. Lately it has become nothing more than a morbid game of comparisons. While I am happy for my friends in recovery and all they are doing, it somehow makes me seem inadequate and I begin to question my own recovery.

I tell myself that my story doesn’t matter, that I really have nothing to say. I want to be an advocate and help others, but how when I am so drawn into denial. I am one of you, one of the people who struggles with an eating disorder, but was never hospitalized, never had a feeding tube, who believed she was never “thin enough” to have an “actual” eating disorder.

While many of these thoughts have become easier to grasp over the years, there are still certain ones that are more triggering than others.

Becoming better with understanding that “yeah, I was ‘thin enough’ to have an eating disorder”, because they don’t discriminate based on looks. I was still struggling, I look back on pictures from mission work, or a cruise, and the first thing that comes to mind is how I purged on the cruise ship many times, and spent most mornings in the gym on the ship.

My body has changed tremendously over the course of my life. When I look back I see a heavier girl with boobs, she didn’t eat at school, but would purge when she got home. She hid it from her family and would take the dog on a walk after dinner, or get in the shower.

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I believed, like many other children, that I was solely responsible for my parent’s rocky marriage, drinking problems, their fighting, etc. I was convinced that since my own father didn’t want me that somehow the problem was me, I was the common factor.

I was cursed/blessed/given boobs. It was many of the physical attributes I hated about myself, known as the girl with the “big boobs”. I hid behind big hoodies, hoping to go unnoticed.

When the weight began to really come off, and people became more aware that I wasn’t eating, it became concerning to some. Some people tried to talk to me about what I was doing, others tried to talk to my mom. It all fell on deaf ears, and I played dumb, using the typical, “I already ate” excuse.

I began running, told myself it wasn’t “that much”. 3 miles became 5, which quickly became 7, and so on. I was always rationalizing it by saying, “It’s not like I’m running ___ miles”, but it would inevitably become that number.

Some were concerned, others didn’t know me well enough to be concerned, they told me how great I looked, others wanted to know what my secret was. Still, I rationalized it by telling myself that “Sick people couldn’t run this much.”

If I was to sit down and be honest, I would say I went from a heavier girl who hated her body and was always self-conscious, to a smaller version of that girl. She still hated her body, but she was also poisoning it, giving it laxatives, not feeding it, and so consumed with the thought of running and restricting that she chose running over Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Virology classes. She hadn’t had her period for as long as she could remember, she was put on crutches from tearing her entire IT band from hip to knee, she had to have her gallbladder taken out since it was storing so much bile from not eating. She still believed she was completely fine, refusing any food she hadn’t made herself, fearing liquid calories, living on egg whites and veggies.

Sitting down I still struggle with believing that I wasn’t worthy of recovery. There are others who needed it more than me, who were worse off than me. I compare my journey, my recovery, my body, to those around me and while I know it isn’t healthy, I can’t help but believe that they are more worthy, more important than me.

 

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!!

Eating Disorders Impact Loved Ones, Not Just the Individual

I’ve been told, more times than I can count, that I need to “get mad at ED.”

The crazy thing is, I just can’t get mad at his impact on my life. It helped me cope, for years! Gave me something to cling to.

Would I go back in time and change it all? No, I’ve learned a lot.

Would I voluntarily go through it all again? Not Likely At All.

I am annoyed though. For the hell and havoc it put the people close to me through.

Unable to go out to eat with my best friend. Her standing outside the bathroom door while I puke on the cruise. Her concern for me and watching me day in and day out run and abuse her best friend. Watching me pick at the salad during our family dinners, or the look on her face when I make eye contact after I come out of the bathroom, ashamed of what I had just done. On our beach trips, when I would still get up and force myself to run, or would leave the hotel room at ten at night to go to the gym in an attempt to burn off what I had consumed.

To my brother, who no longer went on sushi dates with his sister because I was no longer able to keep it down. Fear of rice, cream cheese and by this point, foods in general. I never meant for this to get to you. You would ask me when we would go out, I would make up any excuse in the book. Please know, I was never avoiding you, I was avoiding food.

My dear sister, I hope you learn from my mistakes. Our 5k races were the highlight of our weekends. Do not run and work out because you “have to”, I want you to love and enjoy it. I hope and pray I never pushed you too hard or too far.

Mom, we had our ups and downs, many downs. You didn’t want me to go to treatment, I know this, you made it clear. ED became more important than you, or even life. I skipped Thanksgiving this year, and it meant a lot that you were understanding of it. Knowing I was in a good place, but didn’t want to put myself in that situation.

YOU, on the other hand, I’m not sure if I can ever forgive you. As long as I can remember you were my life, I was your princess. Grandma, you supported me when, at the age of 5, I wanted to be a vet. You believed in me at 13 when I wanted to become a lawyer. Thrilled, when I decided at 19 to pursue dentistry.

Then, practically disowned me at the age of 21, when I went into treatment. That was when I needed your love and support the most. We still haven’t talked and I’m not sure if our relationship will ever be the same. I think you hated ED more than I ever could. You were angry with my eating disorder and took it out on me.

To my professors, I never meant to worry you. Commenting on how I’m getting smaller, passing me on campus while I’m running, even though you just left the class of yours that I skipped- again. Some of you went so far to physically drive me to a restaurant for lunch just so you could watch me eat and help. I picked at the veggies. There was the time you offered me your lunch, “as long as you’ll actually eat it.” I declined your offer. Your support to keep me on track while doing school while in treatment. The shock some of you had when you realized I hadn’t dropped my classes, and was still scheduled to graduate on time. Yet, you guys believed in me and sing my praises to current students.

T, the times I was doing well, and the times that kicked my ass, you were there. You are so supportive, encouraging, and my biggest advocate. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not call you just crying, so unsure of myself and decisions. I fear you will think I’m too wishy-washy for recovery. ED has dug his claws into our relationship too many times. I visualize you doing the dance and cheers when things are good, and a disappointed lowering shake of the head when it’s bad. It is scary to question you own (well, seemingly own) thoughts and doubt your own capabilities.

You’ve seen the scars, the tears, the successes. We’ve gone on walks, gone to breakfast, lunch, given me reading material. ED still wants to fuck with you and I’m sorry.

There comes a time where you have to want recovery for yourself and your life- I’m there. I want a happy, fulfilling life, without an eating disorder. I’m scared to be given up on, lose faith in me. One day you will wake up and no longer care. ED will pipe up and blame my weight for the reason you left.

I can’t even write down the words, “I’m sorry” doesn’t cover it, and guilt doesn’t fully describe it.

When I take a step back, it hurts me to see how much ED has impacted you all.

That is what bothers me the most.

I was unable to hide it and protect you all from the ugly wrath of ED.

Left only to my imagination of the exhausting feelings you are left with after an encounter with my eating disorder and I. Being annoyed and hurt by my blatant snarky sass. Wanting to help while simultaneously wanting to throw your hands in the air in defeat. The uncertain feeling of helplessness. Wanting to help, to make it better, wishing it to go away for me. Yet, unable to do so. Knowing that through it all, it is left to me and my decision.

When your support and influence impact my next decision, I hope you feel a glimmer of hope, knowing I’m still under there.

 

Terrible Twenty-Twos

 

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.

Candles,

Decorating,

Cleaning.

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.

Beginning of the Year. 2015 vs 2016

1/7/2015

Monday was weigh in, new admits, and a lot of nothing.

Tuesday, Vanessa woke M and I up early for another weigh in. We were both freaking the hell out.

After Treatment team had their meeting M found out she was going home.

They had searched our rooms and M got caught water loading. I was pretty upset about it and miss her.

It is so weird to be the person here the longest. I miss B too, but guess I need to focus on me and getting better.

During T’s group yesterday I got slightly defensive and sassy. Another resident was arguing with T and talking shit about this place. T and everyone here have already done so much for me, to hear someone brand new come in and talk shit really pissed me off.

I told her we were going grocery shopping, everyone has to go, to calm down, etc. T thanked me for piping up.

So, anyway, today. We had yoga and I got super antsy. Yoga Kathy caught me trying to work out. I so badly want to run

We tried to make a grocery list, but it was a chaotic clusterfuck and I got stressed.

Got to carry the Sam’s stuff in through!

Was also put on anti-anxiety, just makes me feel tired.

Sometimes I wonder and get discouraged. Am I even making progress?

1/8/2015

I woke up this morning, I had been dreaming about my kids. I got really melancholy, miss them so much, their hugs, their love, their smiles.

I’m slightly discouraged that people are “passing” me in recovery. I know it isn’t a race, but people that came after me are leaving before me.

The guilt of water loading is still killing me. I had a realization this morning, I miss M, but I’m glad she is gone. I think I miss the familiar faces and the thought of her. She breagged about how many cups of water she had before weigh in, what she hid or smuggled in. I got defensive for her, when she was hiding cups of vomit in her room.

I think I realized I am only cheating or hurting myself and my recovery.

1/9/2015

Today is Saturday, I’m going on pass.

Yesterday, we had a group with T about feelings, emotions, etc. I tried so freaking hard to not cry. It was the hardest group yet, my mind went to New Years, how much I fucked up, all the memories, my home life and the voice of ED.

I looked at T as she lovingly drilled me with uncomfortable questions. Trying so hard not to cry.

I went to my room and just began to bawl.

T came in and saw. We talked for a bit about her group and how it helped, but was so hard.

Everyone left, I went outside and played with Chloe. It was so great to be outside laughing and playing with the dog.

 

2016

This week has probably been one of the hardest.

I went to back to residential, but only to visit and say my goodbyes. I walked in the familiar door, where a bunch of unfamiliar faces greeted me in confusion and curiosity.

Standing right in the doorway, staring through the hall of the house, T came out into the hall.

Literally everything else faded.

I headed down the hall.

Straight into her arms.

T expressed a lot of concern for me moving, and desperately wanted me to take care of myself and eat.

I talked to K, and she was excited for me. I gave her a hard time, and a couple hugs as well.

It is so crazy to me that someone I started off wanting nothing to do with, let alone hugs from, has become my biggest supporter and practically a mom to me. I love her so much, and don’t think I can ever fully express my gratitude for everything she has done.

I have moved from NC to PA.

I knew the transition would be the hardest, but I wasn’t anticipating it to be this rough.

After packing everything up, and an excruciatingly long drive, I am now sitting in my apartment.

It is odd, and still nerve-wracking. I do feel some peace about the situation though.

I am having a very difficult time eating though.

I strongly believe that I am just worried, stressed and nervous, and am restricting to compensate.

It isn’t smart, but it is what I know.

The dog and I go on runs frequently, and I am restricting pretty badly.

I am also fairly certain that my veganism is another way to hide my orthorexic tendencies. It isn’t only about the animals, or just the environment, it also has a lot to do with the chemicals. I have a huge fear of the preservatives inside the food, what else is in the food, and gives me an excuse to avoid fear foods like lunch meat and cheese.

I start my job Monday in a biopharmaceutical lab.

I’m not where I was, but I’m not where I want to be.

Trust the Process!!

xoxox