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.

 

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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.

I could do it, just pack up and leave.

1 year
                 365 days
                                 52 weeks
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.
12/18/2014
                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.
                                                                                Then what?
                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—
                                –until—
                                                                –until what?
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.
I try to end these past journal entries with a where I am now. Looking back, I had only been at Tapestry for about two weeks. I had no idea what was in store for me. I still had a very long ways to go. I wouldn’t be allowed to run for about a month still, I ended up having to tally how many times I was going up and down the stairs, etc.
                Today, I am trying to deliberately eat. There is a part of me that still thinks it is completely acceptable to skip meals, mainly because I get busy. So, I am trying to focus on deliberately eating and not making it optional.
                I will say this, it got more difficult before it got easier, but today it is easier. Eating is not an obnoxious chore that I avoid at all costs. There are even some foods I look forward to eating and even enjoy to eat! (Yes, I ordered two large boxes of gingerbread Clif bars… they are my favorite flavor!!)
Anyways, it gets easier. Do the next right thing!!
Trust the Process
xoxoxo

Crying Over a Bagel

I want to start this post off by saying that I ate quinoa with mushrooms, eggs, and a biscuit this morning. No crying over food, no Ensures. Looking back on this year is crazy, eye opening, and I am so thankful for my team and how far they have brought me through all of this. This time last year, there was no way I could look ahead and see my life how it is today. I feel very blessed and thankful to have so many people in my life who love me, a dog who doesn’t leave me, and a much healthier mindset.

I still struggle with urges, and body dissatisfaction, but realizing that purging and restricting won’t help with that, it will only make me grumpy and regretful.

12/17/2014

                “You’re gonna be here a while.” The sound of those words resembled a car screeching to a hault, nails on a chalk board of an unexpected shot of a gun. My heart skipped a beat as Susi said this.

                I hate this, I had another meltdown during lunch- fucking Ensure, stupid RC, stupid bagel. I made a salad and challenged myself with turkey lunch meat and part of a bagel. To cope with lunch I was coloring at the table, the RC told me to stop. I began to fill up with anger and anxiety because now I was so focused on this damn lunch. I asked the RC if I could go outside, collect myself and come back in a few minutes- she said no, I could breathe at the table. I got so mad and upset I began to just cry. Long story short, I ended up having an Ensure.

                We were gonna go grocery shopping, but I had an appointment with Susi. I told the RC after I had finished my Ensure about my appointment- she went and rescheduled my appointment until Friday. That royally pissed me off, I told her, “Why can’t I keep my appointment?!?! Especially with my meltdown at lunch today!!”

                So, I went to Susi’s office, bawling, and everyone else went shopping.

                Susi asked if lunch was hard and I told her about my meltdown, Ensure, coloring, my watch telling me to “MOVE!” We talked about how I just need to mechanically get throught the meals by any means necessary- including coloring. She asked about my watch, and told her it was a Garmin running watch, and just wasn’t helpful right now. I explained I tried to cope through lunch and don’t want to leave for “not following my meal plan.” Susi said I didn’t see what my actual size was, and I’d probably be in the hospital from heart issues soon, if I just left now.

                Watchless, exercise deprived, food focused, fat, depressed and angry.

                She also knew I’m really struggling with the urge to exercise and gave me something great to try for my hamstrings. We talked about how bad I want to run and being so conflicted and worried over Christmas. I told Susi if I go home I will run, and work out and not eat, and I didn’t need anything else to make me take steps backwards.

                After my appointment with Susi, I was in the kitchen coloring when T came in. I asked her if she had a few minutes so we could talk feelings. She said definitely and I followed her to her office. I was totally honest and told her that literally this entire place knows I’m struggling so bad with wanting to exercise- she nodded.

                I asked what else I could do to help with that. She threw out ideas of journaling, breaking sticks. I told her that it is so hard for me to not run in place or do abs. T asked me if I had been doing this, I admitted to it. Trying to sneak work outs in my room, but knowing it wasn’t hurting anyone but myself and my recovery.

                I explained I felt like a lost cause. T talked about “self-soothing” ideas, smell, touch, etc. She said I wasn’t a lost cause. We also talked about Christmas and she agreed I don’t want to start all over again because of a few days.

 

Don’t let a temporary setback, or feeling stuck where you are now, determine your future. Don’t live your life out of fear for what could happen. You may not be ready, but if not now, then when?

Day by day you may not see a change, but look back on months ago, a year ago.

Trust the Process!!!!

xoxoxo

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!!

One Year Ago

One year ago I was not able to eat real food. I was curled over due to the amount of laxatives I had taken. I was in my senior year of college and school was my main concern.

I lived with my best friend, the most amazing and supportive person ever!

I ate once every few days, and ran every day. I saw nothing wrong with what I was doing. I was shaky, cold, headaches. After reading old posts I can say that I was acknowledging I was getting worse, but had no clue what to do about it because this was my life. If I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night I had to sit up slowly, if I stood up I got dizzy and would fall back on my bed before finally making my way down the hallway.

The mere thought of treatment had barely been brought to my attention, if it was, I quickly brushed it off by saying, “I just don’t have time for that, I have work and school.”

I didn’t have time for treatment. I didn’t have time to stop what I was doing, it was too much work and too much of a commitment. I was too dedicated to my eating disorder to be unfaithful to it and change.

At the time, my family and I didn’t know how to talk about this. It was swept under the rug, or typically ended in an argument. Mom and I both didn’t want to deal with it, and mom was sure I was just doing this for the attention. I was puking in the toilets at work, school, wherever. In desperate times I would puke into a cup in my car. I wasn’t able to tolerate food, and was eating maybe a spoonful of yogurt.

I had plans to fly to Nebraska to see family for Thanksgiving where I would be participating in a race and enjoying family.

Within a week my entire life got flipped upside down. I had a doctor appointment where she told me I was losing more weight. She scheduled me with a new therapist and a dietitian on campus. The new therapist spent almost no time getting to know me and calling places to get me into treatment. She called Tapestry and put me on a waiting list. Jennie, from Tapestry Eating Disorder Treatment, would call me periodically, to get information on me, and try to get me to come. Part of me brushed this off, knowing I would never go, and the other part was frozen, wondering if this was really happening.

A year later, I have left treatment, and feel like I have done a 180. I eat foods I never would have dreamed of touching a year ago. I still struggle with body image issues and dysmorphia, feeling like I have blown up and gained thirty pounds over night, but I also know that restricting won’t be helpful. There are even some foods that I enjoy and look forward to eating!! My purging, which used to be every day, is now slim to none. It is amazing and I am so thankful for the many people in my life who supported me and helped me though all of this.

Praise God!

Trust the Process!

xoxoxox

Ahimsa, Mindfulness, Yoga, and ED

I can’t remember a time where I enjoyed something, in the past few years. It was the same perfunctory routine, wake up, run, class, gym, home, maybe run again, throw up if I had eaten anything. I prided myself on going a thousand miles an hour. I ran longer, quicker, more frequently. Went to school, work, home, etc. Never sitting still, never wanting to be with myself long enough to feel or acknowledge myself.

There was a time, a long time ago, I had fun. I enjoyed doing things. I would go out to eat with friends, go shopping, soccer, etc. As the years in my eating disorder progressed, the things I once used to enjoy began to diminish. I enjoyed running, but it had also become something that I NEEDED to do in order to feel any bit of accomplishment- it was no longer just for enjoyment. Then I was introduced to yoga.

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There have been several people in my life recently who have asked how and why I got involved in yoga. What am I supposed to say? “Oh, when I went to residential treatment for my eating disorder they took running and exercise away, but I got to do yoga twice a week….” For some reason, I just don’t think this is the answer they would be expecting.

I soon found my passion and love for yoga. Breathing, being still, sitting with myself (something I never would have done months ago). When I left treatment I found a yoga studio close to where I live. I hesitantly walked in. Almost a month later, I am still going, I love it and learn more and more everyday.

Being the youngest in the class, I am in such awe of the women in the class. They may be older, but I have such respect and admiration for them, the way they move, how they embrace their self and how they even push themselves while in different poses. I admire them so much and even hope I can strive to be like that in 30 or 40 years.

The body dissatisfaction I still have is ridiculous. Feeling like the fattest one there, trying to hide my body in large t-shirts, sometimes even hoodies. I sit on my mat, completely aware of my lumpy, rolley stomach. Going into Adho Mukha Svanasana (or downward dog), obvious to the fact that my thighs are touching. Bringing my hands to Anjali Mudra I am coached to set an intention for the class.

This concept was entirely new to me. I had brought my hands to heart, and bowed to my instructor, in residential, K numerous times, but an intention? The first couple of classes I went to my brain froze. Setting no intention for the class. Sometimes briefly I would decide last minute to focus on doing “yoga on my own mat” as to focus on myself and not compare myself with others. Eventually, my intention became to be more comfortable in my own skin in class. I began to wear a tank top and leggings, being so self conscious about my arms and body. My intention was to try and be comfortable, not be so self conscious, self critical.

Ahimsa is one of the lessons in the study of yoga, meaning non harming. When I read about this I immediately thought of the literal term of being non-violent. Is there more I thought? To not cause harm, I would be included in that statement, self harm, is still harm, and does not follow the idea of non-harming. It teaches us to not act, think, or speak in harmful ways. This would also include samskaras, or negative feeling and thought processes that can also be very harmful to ourselves. Which also ties into the cocept of Niyamas, or our attitude towards ourself.

While I am still extremely far from reaching self love or even acceptance, I have found something that I enjoy doing again. It doesn’t involve running my body into the ground when I haven’t eaten in a week. It doesn’t involve isolating myself.

ED is still with me on the mat, but even if it is only briefly, it is amazing to sit quietly with myself and be ok with it. To have him be silent.

I am able to challenge myself on the mat, in ways that aren’t self destructive or harmful. I have a growing respect for my body, the strength is possesses, the asanas it is able to hold, and the inversions my body can contort to. Yoga isn’t about how fast, how far, how much, but while you are all in a room together, it is what you, as an individual, can accomplish on your mat within yourself.

Iokah samatah sukhino bhavantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Namaste & Trust the Process

Sitting With Myself 10.5

For as long as I can remember I kept busy, I was a doer. I stayed occupied and went from one thing to the next, constantly. It was another way to numb out life.

Being perfectly content in the perfunctory routine of: Wake up, gym, class, work, gym, home, repeat.

Staying busy, never slowing down or stopping, I didn’t want to sit with myself, didn’t want to deal with myself, going 100 mph was my life. It was a way to not deal with life. Continuing on to the next goal or task at hand would get me through another day of avoiding food as well as myself.

One of the first times in treatment someone said just to sit with myself. Oh.My.God. the discomfort was ridiculous. No. I didn’t want to. I wanted to go outside, go do something, color, clean, anything.

I would scrub the air vents, the fridge would sparkle, the stove top- immaculate, sweep the floor-several times, windex the doors and windows, wash the kitchen sink. The smell of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and a clean bathroom was the highlight of my day. I couldn’t sit still long enough to be with myself.

Stopping, or even slowing down, long enough meant I would FEEL. Overtime, everyone caught on that I was cleaning to stay busy and move around, and they tried to redirect me.

I laid in bed one day attempting to read my packet I had been given, reading about DBT, affirmations, all of that good stuff. That was how the staff there that day tried to get me to “sit with myself”. That lasted maybe 20 minutes. I ended up doing crunches in bed, then went downstairs to make tea.

After a while it became easier to sit with myself. I’m not sure if it was partially from yoga, art therapy, or having to sit after meals, but something worked. It wasn’t EASY, but it got EASIER. I would sit outside on the upper deck, or my “perch”, and just people watch. I would sit and paint.

I began to feel- yeah, I know, cliché…..

The emotion I was used to was anger- always. I wasn’t sad, I was pissed, I wasn’t uncomfortable, I was mad. Everything came down to anger. I was snarky, sassy, snippy, and barely responded or contributed in group. “On a scale from 1 to 10 on how uncomfortable something is, how are you FEELING?” “10.5” That became my answer, I didn’t know, I didn’t want to open up, and I sure as hell didn’t want to take about “emotions” and “feelings”. I spent years of my life stuffing it down, hiding it, ignoring it, why in the hell would I want to deal with them? I would mock the director… “Oh great… feelings… my favorite.”

Somewhere along the way I began to answer honestly, my 10.5 washed to the side. When asked how I was or what I was feeling I wasn’t deflecting and saying 10.5 anymore. I don’t even remember when that happened. I remember the day I was sitting in the office, overlooking the front yard, crying. I looked up and admitted I felt hurt and sad.

Trust grew, my walls came down, I became more vulnerable. Opening up about me, my life, going further than scratching the surface. I cried. Being hurt, upset, nervous, excited, scared, loved, annoyed. The emotions were there, my mantra soon changed from “Stupid feelings.” To “Stupid, I don’t know how to handle these feelings.” I was still anxiety filled, but I started to be able to acknowledge it, and learned how to deal with it and what to do. Using a yoga forward fold (or green horse pose, is what I referred to it as) became beneficial when I was feeling antsy and anxious.

My bed was tucked in a corner in my room, behind a little wall, so only the end of my bed was visible from the door. Having a difficult group one day, I retreated to my room, where I sat with a box of tissues and just bawled and bawled. Of course, it was snack time, and within a short amount of time I had been located, box of tissues to my right, pile of used tissues to my left.

Even dealing with the hard emotions, Feeling and expressing them was one of the most freeing things. Admitting I needed help, or was struggling was something that took a lot of getting used to as well. I was able to sit with my emotions, figure them out, and attempt to correct them in a healthy way.

I can proudly say that even through with anger, sadness, anxiety, I feel ridiculously happy. My future is undetermined, my family issues are still present, I’m attempting to graduate college even though I missed half of the semester. Overall though, I am happy. My life isn’t where I want it to be, but it sure is a hell of a lot better than how it was.

Trust the process.

Making an Omelet, Touching Your Toes and 11 Other Things I learned in Treatment.

There are so many things I learned, and skills I obtained while being in treatment. Some are just silly and enjoyable, others are deep long lasting skills and opinions and mindsets I acquired.

1. How to make an omelet

Ok, this one is just kinda silly, but I had been doing it wrong for years. Now, I can make beautiful omelets, that taste amazing and hit all of my exchanges. It wasn’t only learning how to make an omelet, but the bonding over meal prep and meal time. It was always a stressful time for all of us, but being able to bond, teach, learn, and make cooking something more than just a chore, was great!

2. Yoga and how freaking kick ass it is

I am very, very competitive and very into sports. Of course, I was denied exercise privilege for weeks. I was going completely insane, I would workout in my room, doing crunches on the rug, step ups on a chair. It got to the point where I was climbing the stairs almost 20x a day because I felt so cooped up and antsy.

We had yoga twice a week, I always figured that yoga would be dumb. I had no clue what the hype had been about that my aunt had told me. At first I walked into yoga, skeptical, expecting this to be a crock-a-shit. I unrolled my mat, and attempted to breathe, “sit tall”, “lead with your heart”, “clear your mind.” I could not get into it, my mind was going a thousand miles a minute. I even attempted to do six-inches while we were supposed to be doing Shavasana. She came by and gently pushed my feet back to the ground.

After a week or so, I began to really enjoy it. It wasn’t competitive, but I enjoyed challenging myself with different poses. I wanted to see how far I could go into forward fold, which eventually turned into the teacher showing me scorpion pose and letting me try that and dancer pose. Part of my disorder was definitely over exercising, so being able to do something challenging and that demanded some sort of muscle, was amazing.

3. DEAR MAN the hell out of people

You need something? Have a problem with something? Dear Man the hell out of them. I also thought this would be a crock of shit, for the first month or so of DBT I was not very receptive at all. Once I began to listen though, I realized how absolutely amazing and helpful it really is.

Describe the situation

Express feelings and opinions clearly

Assert your needs

Reinforce you are listening and being receptive to their ideas

Mindful of the outcome you want

Appear Confident

Negotiate

4. Get off the train

The director is one of the greatest ladies I ever had the chance to meet, and I am so grateful she has had such an amazing impact in my life and my recovery. During my stay in treatment some of my family enjoyed attacking my progress and and making me feel like a terrible person. I received phone calls that left me in tears for hours afterwards, practically “Fuck You” letter, blaming me for everything and how I screwed up our family.

It was so ridiculously difficult for me to hear all of this and not let it effect me and my progress in my recovery. Hearing so many negative things directed at me. The director taught me to “get off the train.” Whether it was allowing all of the negative, hateful, nasty comments just float down the river and out of sight; Or getting caught in the negative comments and being trapped on my family’s bull shit train. I was taught to “get off the train.” and work on letting it continue to just fly by while you sit there and just watch.

5. Support isn’t always family

Kinda ties in with #4. Between letters, calls, texts, even emails, from some family members, I quickly learned they were ignorant, and not supportive. “You do realize walking in there they thought your mom was the patient and not you.” “How much longer do you anticipate on being here?” “You treated me better when you had an eating disorder.” “You shouldn’t take this ‘disorder’ so seriously.” “Is it because of school, you are probably just stressed out…oh, but please tell me you still plan on graduating.” Being told, once again, that what I do is nothing more than an inconvenience, selfish, etc.

It hit me hard that sometimes the people you want to be supportive, aren’t the people you NEED to be supportive. While my blood family was not advocating my recovery, I had amazing support from people. First of all, the clinical director. I cannot say enough amazing things about her. My best friend, she was there during my struggles, completely supportive of me going into treatment, and she continues to be one of my biggest cheerleaders through everyday in recovery. Her parents too, were both amazing, and continue to be there for me. They know how my family have been treating me, and try so hard to reassure me that what I have been doing is worth it and is my life.

6. Self care is not selfish

Growing up practically everything I did was selfish. If I did my own laundry, trying to be independent, I would get yelled at for only doing my laundry and not everyone else’s too. If I did anything for myself it was always selfish, get myself a drink before anyone else? Selfish. Didn’t ask if my brother needed to shower before me? Selfish. I would have to call my parents for a ride home after a soccer game? Selfish and inconvenient.

Through treatment, I learned that not everything I do for myself is selfish. Taking care of myself is necessary. Without self care I would end up right back where I was. Feeling selfish, worthless, all of the lies I was fed growing up. Yes, it is polite to see if anyone else needs a drink, polite to ask if someone else needs a shower. It is NOT your responsibility to ALWAYS look out for everyone else and their needs. Taking care of myself is something that has to be done. I cannot take care of others and help them if I am not willing to care and help myself.

7. You are worth it

You may not think you are, you may not feel like you are… feel again. I believed I wasn’t worth it, wasn’t worth the time, effort, attention. I walked into treatment because others were much more concerned about me than I was. I didn’t believe I needed help, or to be totally honest, I didn’t think I deserved it. My self worth and esteem were practically non existent. I was told, “If you aren’t ready to do recovery for yourself, then do it for your little sister.”

Honestly, that worked. Every time I wanted to give up, or not take another bite, or just walk out, I pictured her. In my mind my sister was right beside me asking me what I was doing, why I was quitting. I visualized telling her I was coming home and her responding with such excitement, “Yay! Are you better now?”. I would have to look into her young, beautiful face and tell her no. Even if you don’t feel like you are worth the shit to be shit on, there is somebody out there who has faith in you and believes in you.

The director sure did. She believed in me on a daily basis, even when I wasn’t able to believe in myself, she was there for me.

8. Hugs are pretty great

I hated hugs. I had a bubble. Nobody was allowed in it. Hugs were for the weak, the sissy, the girly. I didn’t want to mentally, emotionally, or physically allow anyone close to me.

That too changed, I would receive two or three hugs a day. They meant a lot to me. A demonstration that they cared. Even those few seconds of embracing, that was time they could have been answering their phone, meeting with a resident, typing an email. That time was time they agreed to allow me interrupt their schedule and acknowledge me.

9. Be open, honest, and vulnerable

One of the only saving graces I was able to stay in treatment so long was because of the honesty I possess. I was known around the facility as the honest one. I despise lying, hate being sneaky, plus, if I am going to treatment to get help, I need to be honest. Upon admission and for the weeks to follow, I was involuntarily throwing up food because my body wasn’t use to the amount I was consuming. I was throwing up at the table. I would receive a text from family, I would voluntarily purge in the bathroom. I would come clean, express aggravation, discouragement, regret. I felt like a lost cause with all of my slip ups. I was honest though. I told them when I made a mistake, I wasn’t being sneaky, and there was still a part of me that wanted to recover.

Being vulnerable was something I was never good at. The director looked my mom straight in the face when she came once and told her, “It has taken us nearly 5 weeks just to get anything out of her. We weren’t getting anything besides sarcastic comments and snarky replies.” Piece by piece though, I was being chiseled away, opening up about my family, assault, my disordered behaviors. I was ready for help and guidance.

Once I left treatment, I continued to be honest and open. Telling my best friend when I skipped, if I purged, she would check in with me. Honesty is key.

10. The sky is not purple

Growing up, if my mom said jump- I jumped.

If she said we had a yellow dragon named Frank. Then by God, we had a yellow dragon named Frank.

I defended her and my family, regardless.

The problem? You can only be told the sky is purple for so long until you begin to believe it. Whether it is being told you are stupid, lazy, selfish, fat, etc. It begins to stick with you.

I am learning that if my mom says the sky is purple, I am allowed to politely disagree and have my own opinions separate from her. Pretty sad it took me 22 years to realize this.

11. Trust the process

You may not understand the process, you may not WANT to believe in the process (I sure didn’t.) No matter how many times you fail or fall though, just continue to trust the process. It never set me astray, or messed my progress up.

Was eating 6x a day really necessary?

Not being allowed to work out, are you kidding?

I didn’t believe in any of it. I quickly learned that it isn’t my place to understand it or question it, but to just accept it and trust it.

12. Stick to the meal plan

This is so ridiculously important. I am still eating 6x a day even though I have been out of treatment since late February. It is a struggle everyday and I still fight the thoughts of restricting. I tell myself that the meal plan didn’t fail me for the past 3 months, why would it start failing me now?

I still don’t WANT to eat so often, and stick to ALL of my exchanges, but I do it because I want recovery and refuse to let 3 months go down the toilet.

13. Do the next right thing

I will slip, I already have. The key, is to not let one slip snowball into relapse. Recovery isn’t a poof situation, it is a process and a journey. When I purge, spend too long at the gym, or restrict. I don’t allow that one circumstance to impact my next day, or even my next meal.

Get up, dust yourself off, do the next right thing. Eat the next snack, meet your exchanges. A slip isn’t a relapse sentence.