Tag Archive | Recovery

What’s happening and where to next?

After slowly sliding down a very dangerous and icy slope over the last 8 weeks, this week I reached break neck speeds and eventually came to a not-so-graceful stop in the emergency department last night. Almost double over with some pretty epic chest pain and dizziness, it was the reality check I needed. With 6 hours of sitting around, with intermittant bursts of conversation with the ever-so-lovely Miss S, I had some time to think and realised I just need to let go. Just a little bit. I’m holding on so tightly to something I can’t even understand that I’m bringing myself down and making myself sicker in an attempt to protect myself. I’ve beel learning to find my voice and I’m trying to ask for help.

At the beginning of the week I made some calls and scheduled in some appointments with J and C. Yesterday I met with C who gave me some pretty scary ultimatums. Either I start to pick the pieces up myself or the control’s going to be taken out of my hands and someone else is going to have to do it for me. Being the control nut I am, I’m doing my best to work it out for myself. So I went to her. I sat. I talked. I asked her what I could do. She spoke to me about uni, how much it’s impacting on my life and how much of a toll it’s taking. She mentioned how much she wanted me to try the day treatment program. I brushed the idea aside because of uni, I don’t want to fuck up another semester.

I discussed why briefly with MissS last night, but it came up in conversation with J again today. She asked me why and I found myself explaining when I thought I really had no idea. Uni seems to be the only thing I have that is ‘mine’. It’s what I want, I worked my fucking arse off to get it. Nursing is what I want my life to be about and I don’t want to let go of that. It’s something I’m passionate about and strive to succeed in. It’s makes up my identity. If I let that go, even just to defer, for treatment it feels like I’ve failed. It feels like there’s nothing there that I need nor want to do, nothing that makes up my days that I feel like I have to get done. If I defer uni, then what am I going to do have there that I want? Even if I defer for the sake of recovery, it feels like I don’t have anything to put the effort in for. Even though uni is stressing me out and bringing me down, it’s my saving grace as well. It’s been giving me a purpose and I’m scared to let go of that, scared of where that will take me. So, after lengthy discussion, we realised that there needs to be a happy medium, where I can still have uni and have the possibility of engaging in stronger therapy.

My problem was I couldn’t work out any options. I could only see two, part time or defer. Neither of those I was too keen on. So I asked J what she thought about me talking to the dean. Whether I could see what ideas she had. She thought it was a good idea and off I went and hunted down my dean and organised a meeting. We chatted about where I was, what was happening, I filled her in on ED history and told her that I was struggling at the moment. She asked what support I had so I ‘introduced’ her to the team. She asked about a psychiatrist and when I said I was struggling to find one she said she’s speak to her partner, as he’s a mental health worker, and one of the other tutors and find me some names. I was blown away by how quickly she jumped in to support and how willing she was to help. I still can’t quite believe she was so cruisy. We sat and discussed a plan and the stress of how I’m supposed to do this is starting to relieve. I can see, if not light, then something that could provide the path to find that light.

So what’s the plan from here? What am I actually doing?

– Going to uni two days a week. This gives me room to negotiate potential day program for three days a week.

– Deferring prac. Even though I’m absolutely devastated about this, the option was taken out of my hands. The dean said by just looking at me she wasn’t going to let me go. This means I’ve got 4 weeks left of semester and then have a 6 week break, rather than 9 weeks and a one week break.

– Deferring my exams until winter term, this gives me some extra room to study and less pressure right now.

– Finding a psychiatrist to review my meds, because clearly something isn’t working.

– Making regular appointments with my team, working with them and fighting.

– Finding more geographically suitable housing.

– Staying out of hospital.

– Doing the absolute best I can to stick t0 my meal plan and build it back up to where it was not too long ago.

– Checking in with the dean regularly to make sure I’m okay and that I’m as supported as I can be.

This isn’t how I wanted things to work out, but reality says that this is how it is and I can’t fight it. I’ve just got to make the best of what I’ve got and try to get my life back into my control. I don’t want to be a frequent flyer in the emergency department and don’t want my life to spiral so far out of control I’ve got nothing left. I need to start picking up the pieces now before I completely lose sight of where I’m going. It’s going to be hard. Getting back on track is going to be terrifying and brutal, but I need to do it. Baby steps is all, and even if I take the same step over and over again, at least I’ll be doing something.

Now I’m off to class and watching the clock until home time. I’ve been awake for far too long and desperate for sleep!!

The Hardest Thing

I know the pain and heartache involved in fighting an eating disorder, I know how exhausting it is. I know how tiring it can be to face one of your greatest fears – food, and to attempt to push through that fear because, quite frankly, it’s life or death. What I didn’t know, however, was how hard and heartbreaking it would be to fight an eating disorder from the outside. To sit, looking into the pleading eyes of the hostage of an eating disorder and beg with her to do what it would take to potentially save her life.

“I know how hard it is, sweetheart, but please, please put the tube in your mouth. All it’s going to do is help you think better.” She looks at me, and with a voice both weak, but full of venom at the same time spit out two small words; “I’m. Fine.” She tells me. Legs bouncing against the foot plates of the wheel chair and her tiny, clammy hands clasped around the tube of glucose, she looks me in the eye. One pleading look before her eyes glaze over and it’s like she’s not even there, an empty shell. Repeating her name and pinching the space between her finger and thumb, I repeat my statement until she hears me. “You need this, honey, you need it to live. If you don’t have this you’re going to have a seizure, end up unconscious and they’ll give it to you in an IV. You’ve got the control now to eat it, if you don’t, they’re going to take that control away from you.” She blinks slowly, “Sorry?”. She hadn’t heard a word I said. It broke my heart to sit and try so hard to get her to eat the glucose, to see her so scared, so vulnerable and so overwhelmed by her illness. Confronted to be fighting the same illness I fight inwardly on a daily basis, wanting to scream at the eating disorder to shut the fuck up so I could get through to my friend, my big sister, to tell it to let her go, to give our beautiful girl a break so we could save her life. Wanting to do anything I could to take that pain away from her. N and I both at a loss, both worried. I couldn’t be any more thankful to have had N there with me to help our friend, to have had someone else who understands, to help talk to her, to try to get her to work with us. To help talk her into going to emergency, to try to get past ED and through to our friend.

It broke my heart moreso knowing that if our roles were reversed, the situation wouldn’t be much different. I absolutely hated sitting there getting angry at her for not doing what she needed to do to keep herself alive, but at the same time thinking to myself that I was the biggest hypocrite in the world. It killed me to see what this illness does, as an outsider fighting for someone who’s been like a big sister, getting angry with her, getting frustrated, telling the nurse to just “give her a fucking IV, ’cause she’s not going to eat this!” because I was at a loss as to what else to do. It terrified me to be standing against her bed, calling her name over and over, pinching and rubbing her arms to get her to come back to us so the nurse could do a proper assessment. Two hours and a bag of fluids later, you wouldn’t even know that the quick witted, laughing, smiling young lady in front of you was the same person.

It’s times like that make me realise how quickly these illnesses can take hold of a persons life. It makes me furious that this illness has taken away so much from so many. And times like this that make me thankful that I have so much support. I’m terrified of what this illness is doing to me and continues to do to me. I’m terrified that Ursula is so loud and intrusive today. I HATE that she’s got so much power. She doesn’t have the right to be running my life the way she is.

I know that there is never going to be an easy part of recovery, there’s never going to be anything that ‘just works’, it’s going to take hard work and commitment, it’s going to make me want to scream and cry and yell and run away, but it’s those times that I need to put in the most work and take the most from those experiences. It’s the times when I don’t want to do it any more, that I need to fight the hardest.

Never, ever stop fighting. You’re not alone, and you’re worthy of recovery.

Why keep fighting?

I went to see my psychologist at the ED clinic this morning. Flicking through my food diary she comments on how well I’ve done in the past week. “You’ve worked so, so hard to eat more regularly, eat better foods and to fight the urges that ED is going to bring up. You’re fighting, and you’re fighting hard – I can see that. If you look at this, look back at your entries, can you see that perhaps you’re stronger than ED after all? This is amazing. Seriously.”

I look at her, blink back the tears and resist the urge to tell her she’s full of shit. She asks me what it is that keeps bringing me back to her office. What is it that I keep holding onto, that I keep in mind when all I want to do is run away.

“I don’t know,” I whisper when what I really wanted to say was: “I want my life to be about nursing, friends, love and laughter. I don’t want every waking moment of my life to be about what I can and can’t, should or shouldn’t have eaten. I want to be the girl who can confidently walk into a room, scan her surroundings and strike up a conversation rather than avoid social situations as much as possible because she’s convinced she’s too fat and repulsive to put people through the misfortune of having to look at her. I want to be a 19 year old who has her whole life to look forward to, instead of spending her days planning how to end it.”

The last few days have been a blur. An emotional, exhausting blur. Yesterday, after spending an hour on the bathroom floor sobbing my heart out, I ended up taking my medication at lunch time and sleeping for 20+ hours. The black clouds continue to roll in, pushing what little blue sky was left away completely. I feel as though I’m walking around in lead shoes and I have to make a conscious effort to remind my heart to keep beating or to remember to take my next breath.

Yet, I’m keeping up the fight. I’ll keep getting out of bed most mornings, getting dressed and leaving the house. I’ll go to uni. I’ll go to my appointments. I’ll put food in my mouth, see friends, laugh, talk, live until it starts to come naturally again. I’ll go through the motions until I find the trick to making to black disappear. I’ll keep working towards recovery so I can be the girl I described, so the flowers have colour and the rays of sunshine make me eager to leave the house each day. I’ll keep fighting because I know that I couldn’t have better friends and family. I’ll keep fighting because the girl I want to be is hiding in there somewhere, she just needs to find the strength to kick ED in the groin and take hold of life once again. I’ll keep fighting because the benefits of living far outweigh the confines of an eating disorder.

Two Girls

Two girls, both similar age. Both studying at university. Both are of ‘normal’ appearance. If you passed them on the street there would be nothing to suggest anything out of the ordinary about either of them. Both girls are working in the kitchen, preparing food.

Girl 1 stands with the fridge door open, pondering the possibilities of dinner. She finally pulls out a piece of steak and slaps it in the frying pan. It sizzles and spits. She pulls out a loaf of bread and defrosts two slices, spreads it with margarine and waits for her steak to cook. Meanwhile, she talks to girl 2 about how much she has to do for university. Girl 2 responds with simple, one worded answers. Hardly hearing a word girl 1 says.

Girl 2 is carefully preparing her meals for tomorrow. Cutting up fruit and salad vegetables. Adding up in her head the nutritional value of each item she cuts up, ensuring she’s adding all the essential elements in order to adhere to her meal plan. Protein – 2 serves, carbohydrates – 3 serves, fruits – 2 serves, vegetables – 5 serves. She’s careful about portion size, content. She’s making tomorrow’s meals a night ahead. She’s following her strict meal plan.

Girl 1 walks into the loungeroom to sit in front of the TV with her dinner. Girl 2 stops what she’s doing to catch her breath. To settle the anxiety and to attempt to justify her emotions. Girl 2 is jealous of girl 1’s ability to “just eat”. Girl 2 is in recovery from an eating disorder and putting her heart and soul into preparing her meals for tomorrow to make the process even the slightest bit easier. Girl 2 mourns for the carefree adolescence she’s missing out on.

Girl 1 is totally oblivious.

Eating Disorder? Present!

Loud, screaming, horrendous thoughts. Obnoxious and tormenting. The Eating Disorder voice is loud tonight. Loud and strong. Stronger than I am at this point in time. I don’t know at what point exactly I slipped back into the black pit that is depression and shitty eating, but it’s happened without me being completely conscious of the fall. Writing up my food diary for this week to take to my appointment tomorrow I can see when it gets worse, not that it was any good at the start of the week anyway. From toast and cereal for breakfast to 1/2 a piece of fruit to a bottle of diet coke. Sugar free cordial, coffee, diet coke and chewing gum in place of a meal.

I started uni today. I found myself triggered by simple conversations with friends and other students. Flippant comments about exercise and weight. Statements about taking the stairs rather than the lift. Walking from the station rather than catching a bus. All of this stuck in my mind. Made me think about what else I could be doing, replacing bus trips with walking, where and how can I fit in more exercise? What can I fit in between classes so I’m not sitting around getting tempted to eat?

ED? Present. Loud and clear.

Logically, I’m more than aware that this is just a reaction to starting treatment with the eating disorders unit and the appointment looming tomorrow. It’s stress about being weighed weekly. It’s the fear of discussing what foods I do and don’t eat, why and why not. It’s guilt. Shame. The idea that I can’t possibly have an Eating Disorder, because I’m too fat. The thought of having someone else tell me how and what to eat. To be encouraged to start to take away behaviours, when they’ve been my comfort, my control for so long. I know it’s ED talking, terrified it’s going to lose control, but fuck me sideways I haven’t got the strength to fight it. I give in. She wins. Tonight. Last night. Yesterday. She wins, she’s happy. She doesn’t win, she’s furious and I’m miserable. The scales (no pun intended) are weighted (really, really bad pun! Unintentional, I swear!) in her favour. She’s won this war. For now.

Exhausted

Tomorrow sees the end of almost 6 months of holidays. I go back to uni, but not only that, I’m starting a new uni. New people, new classes, new teachers, new campus. New. Different. Unknown. I’ve been arsing around all night trying to put things on my desk just the way I like them. Nothing seems to be in the right spot. Not quite sitting right. Not quite how it should be. Trouble is, I have no idea what I want it to be like. I’ve given up for tonight. I’m writing this post, sending an email, taking a shower and crawling into bed where I’ll fool myself into thinking I can lie there with the blankets over my head and pretend this week didn’t exist at all. It’s Monday and I’m already tired of it.

Today I spent the day putting all my thoughts and energy onto someone else. Focusing on them, helping them, making sure they’re okay. Giving someone else all my love and attention. Holding their hand and doing what needs to be done to make sure they’ve got all the support they need. Helping to hold the safety net beneath them, or even to hold them up as they tentatively make their way across the tightrope that is recovery.

Now, I feel like I need… Something. Anything to detract from the lingering thoughts in the back of my mind. Anything to distract me from the suffocating black pushing its way into my head. The depression has set in harder than ever the last two-three weeks. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the appointments, the hassle of organising uni, the fear that a friend is struggling and I’m not going to be able to do enough to help them. This is where I throw myself into everything that opens up and fill my diary with commitments and activities. This is where I try to pretend that I can handle it. This is where I bite off more than I can chew.

The incessant nagging voice in my head at the moment is becoming unbearable. Screaming constantly at me, reminding me how fat and disgusting I am. Just in case I’m likely to forget. Which I’m not. Especially not when I seem to be constantly surrounded by reflective fucking surfaces. Reminding me that I’m not worthy of this position at uni, or my treatment team’s time. That I’m pathetic and worthless and useless and vile. That I’m selfish and greedy. That it’d be better if I fucked right off. So would everyone around me. I wish She would just FUCK OFF! It’s draining enough to get through the day without the constant chatter. I’m beyond terrified about starting at this new uni tomorrow.

Uni aside, this week is a big one as it is. I have my second appointment with the eating disorders service at a hospital near by. I’m scared of what this appointment will involve. My last one saw me leave in tears and being unable to recall what I did between leaving the office and making my way home. I’ve only partially disclosed to them my history of sexual assault. I’ve not told them who the perpetrator was. I haven’t told them the full extent of the effects it’s had on me. I’ve only mentioned it briefly before changing the subject. I’m not looking forward to that conversation at all. This time though I’m going to have someone come along for support before and after the appointment. Apart from that I’ve got to see my psychologist and GP. I’ve got to function like a normal person and drag my fat arse out of the house every day to avoid getting myself stuck in the trap I create when I isolate myself.

All I want at the moment is for everything to stop feeling so stifling and suffocating. For it to stop feeling like I’m dragging my feet through quick sand every day. For the dark to be lifted and the heavy black to subside. For things to be less of an effort and more of an experience. For life to come naturally and become exciting and interesting. For the pain, not only mine but that of my darling friends, to ease and things to become a little easier. I can’t help but feel pure fury at the universe for being so cruel. I want to be in control again.

I’m exhausted with needing to pretend all the time.

I’m exhausted.

Candlelight

I watch the flame flicker and the shadows on the walls move around me.  I sit and stare at the flame as it burns, ever so slowly, down the wick. I watch the wax melt, pooling around the wick, sending off the slightest scent. The flame dances, slowly, then flickering as my breath stirs the fire. Watching the flame, I brace my self for the inevitable – that flame will die, the light will be extinguished, the scent will eventually disappear. The wax will set and the wick will cool, almost, if not for the blackened remains, as if it had been untouched. Similar to a secret, one that’s been kept for so long & is finally brought to light. Finally acknowledged and accepted, and the hope that that secret will no longer need to be kept is the light from the flame, the freedom of the flame’s dance. The wax, slowly spreading as it melts is the truth that is being unveiled, piece by excruciating piece. Yet, after the initial furore that surrounds such an emotional revelation, comes the darkness. The cold that washes over you when you feel like the truth will spread no further. The wax has set, the secret will be once again kept within that small circle.

My candle, once again alight, was cold and dark for such a long time. The secret so big that the heat that emanated from the flame would be too overwhelming, too hot, for me to handle. No longer is this that case, I’m stronger, bigger, wiser. I’m in control of the flame, of my candle. The secret, the wick, is mine and I choose when it is to be extinguished, I choose who gets to put boundaries on how far I spread the truth. I’m  in control of my life now and the light and warmth from the flame, the shadows dancing on the walls are exciting, almost enticing. I want to see where this may lead, if I’m open and honest, if  stop running from my past, stop hiding and protecting the things that happened and talk about them, work from them and grow because of them. Will that change the person I am, better the person I could be?

Holding on to a secret is so tiring, pretending and hiding from the truth takes up so much of my energy. The effort that goes into pretending is no longer justified. Speaking, first to my doctor, psychologist and best friend and then to my family about my depression, eating issues and anxiety that are results of years and years of bullying and sexual assault, among other things has been somewhat liberating. Like lighting the candle once again, watching as the flame slowly takes hold of the wick, eventually consuming it’s entire being, then growing and dancing as it feeds from the oxygen around it. I feel like I, myself, am feeding from those around me, my psychologist, GP and youth worker, my incredible friends and family. I feel like as I redirect my feelings to the areas that it’s justified rather than containing them within myself has set me free to breath in all that oxygen and grow, so much. Each time I let go of something that I’ve been keeping inside me for so long and set it out into the universe, share it, speak it, cry about it, let someone else acknowledge my hurt, I realise that even though I feel slightly overwhelmed by the heat from the flame, it’s not impossible to handle, I’m strong enough to withstand the heat.

I’m not keeping secrets any more. I’m not pretending, I’m not hiding. I am lighting the candle to a better, brighter and happier life. Embracing the warmth like a hug from a friend, I smile in the knowledge that even though things are still a little dark and scary and heavy around the edges, the flame will grow and the light from the candle will spread further. The flame will probably be extinguished a few times in before it gets there, but it’s important that I persist, keep relighting that candle and protecting that flame from dark days so that I can allow it to illuminate the way out.