Journal #78

March 30th, 2016

Day 1/20 down! Yesterday, I successfully completed my first day of Spring Term ’16 at Oregon State. I went to all of my classes, faced the anxiety about walking back on campus head-on, and ate everything on my meal plan. It definitely helped that Mom was able to take the day off of work and come down with me for my first day (which was ESPECIALLY helpful for snacks and meals), but I still returned home feeling proud. Not only proud, but accomplished. I did it yesterday. Yes, my mom was there with me, to hold me accountable and help with conversation and reducing anxiety each time I ate. But I was still the one that did it. If I could do it by myself with her being there, then I can do it without her being there, too. Though it may seem ten times scarier, the actions I have to do are the same.

The anxiety was real as we turned off of I-5 and took Highway 34 to get to Corvallis. I felt my stomach approaching my throat as I envisioned the worst possible scenarios happening. Mom and I prayed, switched the Country music to Christian (sorry, Garth), and began to discuss the plan. When we pulled into campus, I was pleasantly surprised by a good friend of mine (and also my small group leader) walking past our car at just that moment! I gave my mom the keys, told her I loved her, and hopped out to go catch up with Laura. Conveniently enough, we both had our next class in the same building! We walked there together (past Dixon, which I was VERY glad to have a friend to conquer that crossing with), and then each found our classrooms. Afterwards, I called Mama and she came and picked me up and we went off-campus to Starbucks so that I could have my snack and a little later, lunch. I have a two and a half hour break between my two on-campus classes, which is really nice for me, in terms of not having to rush eating. We could’ve stayed on campus during that break, but I was feeling quite anxious, though nothing had happened, and felt like I just needed to “get out” for a little bit. Eventually, it was time to return to campus for my next class, and it went well, other than the fact that the three people sitting DIRECTLY in front of me were having a wonderful conversation about how much weight they’d lost/planned on losing for their “Spring Break and Summer Bodies”. Insert eye roll here. Once class was done, I called Mom and she picked me up again, and then we headed home.

I’m excited to go back tomorrow ūüôā

-Bridge

P.S. Sorry for the lack of detail here, but I’ve got to get to work on my homework! It feels so good saying that! ūüôā

Advertisements

Journal #77

March 28th, 2016

Happy (belated) Easter! He is risen!

Here I am sitting at (yes, I know) Starbucks, on a Monday morning. Today’s a little different, though. I came to work on my HOMEWORK! WOOHOO! It feels like so long since I’ve said those words. Last night, as I was sitting on the couch with my mom and¬†my laptop, I got an email notification that my class syllabus had been posted online. I’ve never felt so excited about being able to read about my upcoming assignments as I did in that moment! As I ran around the house, trying to find a notebook and pen, as well as my laptop charger, it really hit me. I’m returning to college this week. I’m a student again! My mom started to get really emotional when she looked over and saw me reading a power point and taking notes. It was so NORMAL. And it felt so, so good. She even took a picture of me that I didn’t like AT ALL, and posted it on Facebook (without asking me! :)), but I didn’t care. I was just so gosh darn happy.

I know I haven’t blogged the past few days, and I don’t really want to recap EVERY little thing that happened, but I’ll hit the major stuff. Thursday, I returned to the program, but with a small request. I wanted the next day off. Brad and I had had such a good time at the mountain on Tuesday, we wanted to go up again, and with Friday being the last day of his spring break, it seemed like a good day to try and make it work. So, I asked. And they said, “Yes.”!! Hallelujah. That made me ridiculously happy, and on Friday morning, Brad and I headed up to the mountain, by ourselves this time, with two snowboards and a sack lunch in the back. It was SO, so much fun (and Brad is an awesome teacher!) learning to snowboard, and by the time we came off the mountain, I¬†was¬†exhausted. That evening was spent having dinner at a very close friend, Nia’s, house, with my family and hers, and then we proceeded to another one of those Paint Nights I talked about a couple weeks back. The painting part was really fun, as was spending time with the people I love, but the eating was pretty challenging. Actually, I take that back. The eating what I ate part wasn’t that bad. I think it went as well as it could’ve. It was the preparation of the food that was challenging. It was my first time (well, second, if you count a bowl of soup on Super Bowl Sunday) eating outside of my own home, or at the hospital, and not being able to weigh out the amount of chicken I needed was very, very hard. In addition, the bread that my mom brought had a little bit of cheese on the top, and while now, I’m able to recognize that it was hardly any, it really scared me. Nevertheless, I ate the amount I portioned out for myself, but it may have been a little under my exchanges. Mom pointed that out to me before I sat down, that she didn’t think it was enough, but I glared at her and told her it was what I was having. I was also supposed to have butter on the bread, and didn’t. While I’m frustrated that in that moment, I didn’t just say, “Okay”, to my Mom’s request to put a little bit more chicken, dressing, and add butter to the bread¬†on my plate, I do think it went pretty well, given it being my first real dinner out of the house. Everyone else had cake to celebrate Nia’s 21st birthday, and I did not. My GOAL, is to eventually be able to join them in that, as well as with the meal.

Saturday morning was a rough one. I went from feeling “Okay” to “Awful” pretty darn quickly, and per usual, took it out on my mom. I hate that that happens so much more than I can put into words. It’s so not fair to her, especially when she’s my biggest, and most unconditional support I could possibly ask for. I essentially shut down on her, but the good news was, we were headed to my¬†therapy appointment! And this time, Mama was coming in, too.

The session went very, VERY well, and was filled with¬†multiple emotions. I’m so glad my mom was there, too, as we left in such a better place, together.¬†That evening, we went to Easter church service (Yes, on Saturday) with one of my really close friends from treatment. It was a wonderful service, and even better to share the experience with someone new, along with my family. Afterwards, she and my mom and I went out to Starbucks and had great conversation. It was hard to end it when we did, but she and I both had to get home to have our dinners; it was almost 8 o’clock!

Sunday, Easter morning, was great as well. Mom and I went to church and volunteered as Greeters before the 9:30 service, and then went home to change out of our nice clothes and into some stuff more suitable for the rest of our afternoon. Brad met us at 10:30, and we headed out for a hike! It was really fun (we were blessed with such nice weather), and diminished my anxiety about our upcoming brunch a little bit. The brunch ended up being significantly better than I was expecting. Not in taste (the food had been fantastic the year before as well), but mentally. I was okay. I had the amount of exchanged I’d allotted, and I was able to find food that worked for that. My omelette was cooked in oil, as were the things that were saut√©ed and added to it, and there was cheese in it, and I’m OKAY. The world didn’t end. My body didn’t double in size as a result. In fact, I don’t think I gained any weight at all. That was a really cool experience.

The rest of the evening was relaxing. After a slight detour as a result of our driver (Ahem…Bradley) not using directions to get us home, we arrived home about an hour and a half later than planned, but with good conversation, music and laughter. I had the rest of my meal plan, worked on some stuff for school, and went to sleep. And now today is a Monday. A new week, a new start, and a fresh beginning. I can even hear the birds chirping ūüôā

Thank you, Jesus.

-Bridge

Journal #76

March 23rd, 2016

The end of another week’s taper days. Tomorrow I will return to the program in the afternoon, and there I will be for six hours. After that, I’ll get to go visit one of my friends who discharged from the program a couple weeks ago to see her new puppy (Yes, discharge presents ROCK), and then head to the airport to pick up one of my best friends who’s coming home from college for Easter. The weekend will be spent with her, family, and celebrating the resurrection of our Savior…which of course, means food.

Holiday meals. Oh boy. It may as well be Thanksgiving for the amount of food that I will be surrounded with this upcoming Sunday. My Mom, Brad and I will be going to an Easter brunch at a winery called, “Eola Hills”, which is the same place we went for Easter last year. The food is served buffet-style, and it’s quite the lavish presentation. Last year, before it was known that I was¬†back in the depths of the E.D., I was able to eat a relatively normal amount at the brunch. How, you may ask? Simple. I didn’t eat the two days before it, or the two days after. I also worked out for double the length of time that evening. Eating the brunch that Sunday wasn’t THAT hard. I knew I could afford it. It’s eating the meal this year, when I will still have to meet the rest of my exchanges that day, as well as eat the day prior and the day following, that will be a challenge.

On another note, my friend Ian came to Family & Friends Support Dinner on Monday night, which was really great. It was fun (and funny) to have someone there who hadn’t “experienced” treatment, or been clued in to the intricacies of eating disorders. When we were sitting, he was asking about the food (mine being already prepared and waiting for me, as opposed to his, which he had to go order), and I was saying how it was what I needed and was on my meal plan, and how I had to eat all of it. He then asked if, “at least the butter” was optional. Ha! I laughed out loud. If only he knew…if the butter was optional, NONE of us would eat it! It was rather refreshing to have someone who didn’t quite understand there with me, as we all played games,¬†and tried to stay distracted from the meal.

Tuesday, Brad and my Dad and I went up to the mountain. It was awesome. It felt so good to ski, the wind against my face and the cold air in my lungs. I’m definitely not in the shape I was the last time I went skiing, though! I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day. I brought¬†a sack lunch, so the food wasn’t much of an issue at all, and I’m hoping we’ll get to go back up again this season.

I guess now I’ll try to enjoy the rest of the evening…what little of it there is left! Oh, also-my textbooks for spring term had arrived when I got back from the mountain yesterday. How happy that made me! Textbooks! Homework! School!

It’s the little things ūüôā

-Bridge

Journal #75

March 21st, 2016

The past 24 hours have been unusually great. I’m not sure what to credit for this uncharacteristically nice weekend-whether it’s Jesus, Prozac, good nutrition,¬†my support system, or a combination of all of the above (the latter is what I’m guessing), but I’m sure as heck going to take it. My mom said yesterday that I seem “Back”. Back to myself. Back to the old Bridgette, the happy, witty, joking and confident Bridgette who enjoys spending time with her family and friends, more than she’s scared of the conversation that may arise while doing so, or the food that may be present, or the questions that may be asked. The Bridgette that I know myself to be.

Two nights ago, we played the game “Sequence”. It’s kind of a running joke in my family that I’m not much of a game player, and I really don’t particularly enjoy board games. My mom suggested we play it, though, and we didn’t have anything else going on, so I was game. My mom had to teach me how to play, and almost as soon as she was finished explaining the rules, I cut her off. I’d been so entrenched in my thoughts about the meal I’d just eaten that I hadn’t heard a single word my mom had said. I asked her to please explain again, from the beginning, and I was really listening that time. She really appreciated my honesty about¬†having not been present or paying attention, and we proceeded to have a¬†fun evening.¬†Excited that we’d found a game I actually enjoyed playing, Mom and I pulled it out again yesterday evening while we ate dinner. I won four out of five rounds (which isn’t a pertinent detail, except for the fact that I always lose at games, so it made it all the more fun for me :)), and though we were initially only going to play one or two rounds, I kept asking to do it one more time. I was just enjoying spending time with my mom. I was engaged. We were laughing.

I think laughter is such a key component of being healthy, yet it so frequently gets skipped over. Never once at an evaluation for entering a¬†treatment program have I been asked, “When is the last time you laughed? Not like, forced a chuckle kind of laugh, but really, truly, laughed?”. My mom and I have both noticed how obvious it is when I’m not in a good place now, because I stop laughing. I chime in with a chuckle whenever I’m among other people who are, but I’m never laughing on my own, and never to the point where I can’t contain it. It’s like that switch is just turned off. I think a large part of it is because I’m not paying attention to the things that are going on around me 99% of the time, because I’m so preoccupied with the food that I’m not allowing myself, and the exercise that I’m preparing for, but there’s also a part of me that just doesn’t find anything funny. Even if I am paying attention. Someone could tell me the greatest joke of all time-Heck, Bradley could tell me he just had¬†his most embarrassing moment ever, and I’d probably respond with, “Mmm.” It wouldn’t even register to me as being relatively comical.

Going along with laughter, is the presence¬†of emotion. My mom and I went to see the movie, “Miracles From Heaven” yesterday with one of my close friends and her mom, and it was a tear-jerker. I cried at numerous points throughout. When I’m stuck in my eating disorder, not only do I not laugh, but I don’t show emotion. At all. Period. I’ve prided myself at times, to both my mom and to friends, at the fact that, “I’m just not an emotional person.” When in fact, I am. As a matter of fact, I’ve teared up at¬†the ASPCA commercials at times when I’m in recovery!¬†On the car ride back from the movie yesterday, Mom and I were talking about it when I brought up the movie, “The Help.” We saw that movie together with another family the summer before my Sophomore year of high school. During a time when I was struggling SO, so much. Right before everything went down and I went into the hospital. It hadn’t been identified exactly what was going on with me, but Mom knew something wasn’t right; I was¬†making that darn well clear. We discussed how out of it I’d been, how irritable and disengaged, and how I’d actually gotten in trouble for my response to the movie. If you’ve seen “The Help”, you know it’s pretty powerful, and I vividly remember afterwards saying, “It was fine.” Mom then proceeded to ask me a question about it and I couldn’t answer it. I didn’t know what I’d just seen for the past two hours. I couldn’t even recall the main character’s name. What a drastic change from then, to now. Mom and I talked about “Miracles From Heaven” for the rest of the evening, and then capped it off, with our five rounds of Sequence.

Thank you, Jesus.

-Bridge

Journal #74

March 19th, 2016

I just recently got asked “How things are going”, and I really didn’t know how to answer the question. How are things going?

It seems like such a simple question, but the answer certainly isn’t. It changes by the day, by the hour, by the meal….the list is never ending. Some days it’s all I can do to get myself out of bed, and asking for much more than going through the motions of eating a meal is a stretch. Other days, like yesterday¬†morning, I wake up amazed by the beauty of the sunrise, trying to take in the birds chirping, and feeling so thankful for this amazing world I get to inhabit.

And some days, I wake up in a great mood, feeling confident and ready to take on the day, only to have that feeling shattered the second I catch a glance in the mirror. That was the case yesterday. Today, however, I was in a good enough place to try on my swimsuits from last year! So, as you can see, it’s such a variable answer…hence, the beauty of keeping up this blog. It allows me to express how individual days are going, rather than trying to capture how my past week has gone in a¬†text, or two-minute conversation.

Right now, in this moment, I’m in a pretty good place. Mom was even able to be gone all morning this morning, and I didn’t have an issue with it at all. I had breakfast on my own, went to the gym, left after thirty minutes and abstained from cardio, came home and showered, took the dogs (Well, one of them…the other was being stubborn) on a quick walk, and headed out to Starbucks (Surprise!), where I’m currently sitting down at my computer, attempting ¬†to process the last five days.¬†I have journaled bits and pieces during occasional breaks at treatment, or in moments of despair at home. Speaking of which, I’ve come to realize that journaling is NOT always a positive coping skill for me.

Two days ago, I had a bit of a breaking point. It was my second day off from the program in a row, and the second day into eating ALL of my exchanges that I was being asked to. I felt very, very overwhelmed. The day itself went alright, I put things in place to help keep me accountable, like eating my morning snack with my therapist during our appointment, and having another one of my snacks with my friend as we went out to get our nails done. As the day was beginning to wind down, though, around 2 pm, I started to get a little bit restless. I was¬†home, and knew I was going to be alone for the remainder of the day, until my mom came back from work, at least. I tried to think of productive¬†things I could do with my time, and I remembered that we had an extra bed in the garage. Yes, a bed, from Ikea. It looked pretty cool, and my mom and I had been talking about switching up my room with Bradley’s, so I decided to see if I could build it. And I did! Talk about feeling productive! It took me about two hours, and¬†right around the time I finished, Mom came home. I decided I liked my room better the way it was, so decided to take the bed back apart and put Brad’s room together again. Mom was so astonished that I’d just built a bed, all by myself, without any help or anything, and especially that I’d been able to lift and move all the pieces! I was, too, and part of that felt really, really cool. It was physical proof that I’m getting stronger. It was also scary. In order to move the bed from where it was (in Brad’s room) back out to the garage, I had to pass our large, full-body mirror in the entry way. Each time. I probably passed it about a hundred times between bringing the bed in, and taking it back out again. Body checking wasn’t really an issue as I was bringing it in, but the second time around…man. It got me. I was unable to resist the temptation to see how much my body had physically changed, so much so that I changed from my Nike leggings¬†that I had been wearing during the day, into my spandex. It’s much easier to body check in spandex. Cue number one. Everything pretty much went downhill from there. Thursday was also St. Patrick’s Day, and Mom made corned beef and cabbage for the occasion. I wasn’t going to eat it (Mom gave me her blessing to opt-out of that meal :)), but Brad was coming over for the feast. Once the bedrooms were all back to their original state, I decided to get in the shower and freshen up a bit. Building a bed makes you sweaty!

Unfortunately, “Shower time” is just about the most problematic time for me in terms of body image. It is for a lot of people, I know, but especially those with eating disorders. While a “Normal” person may use a bath or shower as a way to calm down, people in the program have reported going for as long as two weeks without bathing, because seeing their body that closely is just too unbearable, and causes so much more anxiety than being clean would reduce. The costs outweigh the benefits. Well, genius me decided to hop in the shower, when I was already at a pretty vulnerable place, right before dinner. Sounds like a great plan, huh?

Yeah, so that’s pretty much how the rest of the evening went. I got out of the shower in a veeeeerrrrrrryyyyy poor mood, just about ready to punch a wall. I screamed into my pillow for a bit,¬†until Brad called me into the kitchen for dinner. Given that I’d missed my afternoon snack (I was so busy building the bed, I kind of forgot about it!), my dinner had to be more than it was originally planned to be. Great. I sat at the table with my mom and Brad, while they enjoyed this beautiful¬†meal my mom had prepared, and downed my meal, ready to blow. I asked to be excused almost immediately, and went for a brief walk, to clear my head. I came ¬†back into the house, not feeling any better. I plopped down onto the couch, while Mom and Brad were still finishing up dinner, just feeling sorry for myself. Then, came the journaling, which, as I mentioned earlier, did not help. At all. It actually made things worse, I think. I was so stuck in this state of disgust with myself, that remaining in my own head just prolonged the amount of time I was entrenched with my own thoughts. If it¬†hasn’t been made clear enough, I was in a very, VERY dark place. A place that, without having another person’s perspective or¬†insight, was impossible to get out of. I felt hopeless.

It scares me, now, to read the things I wrote in my journal that evening.

It scares me, because it’s not me. It’s not the rational Bridgette that I identify with, the one who loves the Beavs, who would do just about anything for her family and friends, who has a heart for the people of Colombia and Venezuela, and who lives to serve Jesus. It’s a whole different person, and it terrifies me how quickly she can emerge.

Mom and I ended up having another “Heart-to-Heart”, for lack of a better term, much later that evening. She and Bradley had gotten into a fight, which I was very much NOT in a place to handle, and ended up pretty much shutting down, and being quite nasty to the both of them. Brad didn’t say much of anything that could rub me the wrong way, so none of it was directed toward him, but Mom did, and my lack of patience at that point had me¬†responding in a cold and hostile manner. Fortunately, she came to me with compassion, and gave me a hug, and said that if I was in a place to talk, she wanted to, too. But if I was just going to stand there with no emotion, she would go to bed. Initially I told her that it didn’t matter to me, but after seeing that she really was going to go to bed, I told her to wait. I apologized. We hugged. And then, just as it had a few days earlier, emotion began to overflow.

The next day, Friday (yesterday) was much better. It’s so amazing to me, the difference that honesty and vulnerability¬†makes in a relationship. If I had come to my mom immediately after dinner on Thursday night, I don’t think my poor mood could have been avoided, but I think it could’ve been significantly minimized. I think that, at that time, journaling was one of the worst things I could have done, because it caused me to dwell on the negative things I was already thinking, and as a result, dragged me down even deeper. My mom and I made an agreement that we¬†are going to try and take ten minutes at the end of every dinner (dinners are always the hardest meal for me, the last meal of the day, after a full day of eating) and talk. It doesn’t have to be a long talk, and it doesn’t have to be emotional. But the intention is just to connect, to have that time to express how I’m feeling, and to avoid¬†isolating into myself. I’m actually just now realizing that we forgot to do it last night, but I do think it’s a really good idea, and I’m going to try to implement it until it becomes a routine.

In addition, quite a few cool things have happened at treatment this past week. Three people “Came Out” about having been deceitful about eating disorder activities they’d been engaged in, and they credited it to my disclosure on Monday. The therapists ended up calling it “Honesty Week.” I don’t say that to take credit for this awesome forward movement in each of these women’s recovery, but to acknowledge how one person’s positive movement can inspire a whole group.

On a sadder note, the Beavs lost yesterday to VCU. It was a sad game, but it’s alright. At least we made it to the tournament, for the first time in twenty-six years! You gotta start somewhere.

-Bridge

Journal #73

March 15th, 2016

Consequence.

It’s not my favorite word.¬†I don’t think it’s anyone’s, come to think of it. Every choice you make, results in a consequence. With this definition, I know that a consequence can be a positive. But I’ve never been told after doing something good, “Bridgette, thank you for cleaning my car. Your consequence is getting $10!”. The word, “Consequence”, has always been used in a negative context, leaving me with a¬†negative connotation of¬†the word. More like, “Bridgette, you didn’t clean your room. Your consequence is not getting to go spend the night at your friend’s house tonight.”

I received a consequence after “Coming clean” to my treatment team yesterday. Not some obscure, arbitrary consequence, but a natural consequence. A direct result of my actions.

I am not discharging on Friday.

Putting it onto paper makes it seem so much more real.

I’m not discharging on Friday, but I’m not in trouble.

I’m not discharging on Friday, but it’s still a good thing that I confessed. It will allow me to move forward, to pursue true recovery, allow me to have relationships with the people that I care about, and most importantly, it preserves my integrity.

But there’s still a consequence.

The reason my discharge date is being postponed¬†is not to teach me a lesson. It’s not to punish me, or to “Get back at me” for the extra work I’ve now caused the people who are in charge of my care. It’s to monitor my weight. To see how my body responds to the new exchanges I am assigned. To see how this next couple of weeks, of being honest, of following my meal plan, really goes. It’s the direct result of my lying about what I was eating.

I’m not discharging on Friday, but still, it’s a good thing.

-Bridge

Journal #72

March 14th, 2016

The past couple of days have been interesting, to say the least. Some things have been revealed that I didn’t anticipate would be, ever. I’m not sure what I was thinking in that regard… It’s rather striking actually, how someone with an eating disorder can be so smart in the way that they manipulate certain things to get what they want (most often, food, weight, or exercise-related), but be so not-smart as to think through the practicality of their plan. I’m very ashamed of the things that I confessed to my mom yesterday. They were lies that I was continuing to tell, even as I was going through the process of trying to recover. It wasn’t a planned confession, either. We were simply driving down 217, when my mom asked me a simple question. She wanted to see my meal plans. I knew in the back of my mind that this question would arise eventually, but had yet to figure out how I would handle it. It should have been a simple question requiring only a simple response. Yes, of course, would have been the appropriate one. But I hadn’t been being honest about my meal plans. There was a reason my mom wasn’t getting to see them, and it wasn’t because I wanted to “Have to have some self-accountability”, as I told her it was. She made it clear that that wasn’t a good enough reason, and when I continued to try and justify why I thought that was a good idea, she indicated that she¬†was done talking about it. She didn’t poke or prod, like I anticipated, or say that she would be bringing it up with Brian in our next family therapy session.¬†Yet, I felt so convicted at that moment. Why was I holding onto being deceitful about this¬†one part of my eating disorder, when I was doing everything else in my power to work to overcome it? It didn’t make sense. I felt God’s presence telling me that this was the time. I had to come clean.

So, I blurted out, “MomIneedtotellyousomethingrightnowbutIreallydon’twantto.” The decision had been made, I knew there was no going back now.

“What?”, she asked.

“I need to tell you something.”

“Okay.”

“You’re not going to like it. But I need to tell you.”

“Okay.”

“I’ve been cutting ‘X’ calories off of my meal plan”, I mumbled.

“What?”

“I’ve been cutting ‘X’ calories off my my meal plan”, I said, a bit louder this time. Still not loud enough, though, over the radio.

“What did you say?”, she asked, turning off the radio.

“I’ve been cutting ‘X’ calories off of my meal plan”, I said in a clear and confident voice, this time.

“Okay”, she responded, nodding, as though she finally understood.

We sat in silence for a minute, before I told her that I was so, so sorry. I went on to explain how it had happened, how I had initially been deceitful about what I was eating when I came back from Residential, and then once my exchanges began to get increased, I was already behind. I was caught in a cycle of lies, with no way out, unless I confessed to¬†ALL of them. I was far too embarrassed and ashamed to do that, and besides, there was no reason to, as long as Mom wasn’t seeing my meal plans. I would make them at the program and have Diane check them off, and then follow them at home, minus the ‘X’ number of calories. But there WAS¬†a reason to confess. My honesty. My integrity. My recovery. I didn’t realize how hostage I was being held by that last bit of deceit that I was continuing to engage in every single day.

“I’m scared to ask, because I don’t know if I can even trust your answer”, Mom said.

Ouch. That hurt, even though I completely understood. How could she trust me?

“What?”, I said, wanting to at least know what she was wondering.

“Well…is there anything else?”

I thought for a minute. I couldn’t think of anything, at first. And then, I could.

“Oh, yeah, there is.”

I’d already confessed to the group last week that I’d been water-loading before weigh-ins. Not significantly, but with at least 16 oz each time. But I hadn’t confessed that I’d been wearing¬†clothing (my jeans, in particular) under my gown, as well.

As I told my mom these things, I felt a weight lifted off of me. No joke, I actually felt lighter. Isn’t it ironic, that by working SO HARD to keep my weight down, I end up being weighed down by the lies and the guilt that plague me every single day? Yet, when I’m in a healthy place, being honest and vulnerable about what and how I’m doing, though I may weigh two pounds more, I actually feel lighter…

Our time out (we were headed to the mall to run errands) ended up being very, very good. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy, or it wasn’t sad, or that I felt 100% glad that I had told my mom what I had. I realized what that meant. I felt the E.D. voice screaming at me, telling me how incredibly stupid I was, how I’d just blown it, how there was no chance I’d ever have at freedom now. But you know what? This IS freedom. Being honest, is freedom. My mom being able to trust me, is freedom. Not worrying every single day about how I would cut ‘X’ calories off of my meal plan but still make it look like enough to my mom, is freedom. Consumption by eating disorder thoughts and manipulations…that’s not freedom.

The¬†hard part now, is that I’m going to have to tell my treatment team these things today. I’m going to need to get my meal plan adjusted, I’m going to start weighing in without clothing on, which may mean I need to gain another pound, and more than anything, I’m going to have to own that I was being dishonest, yet agin. Which will be very, very hard. The amount of shame I feel in this is hard to put into words. I definitely considered not including this in my blog. But, as I was scrolling through Pinterest last night, looking for some words of affirmation, I stumbled upon a quote that spoke to me.

“You’re only as sick as your secrets.” -Alcoholics Anonymous

The¬†number of secrets I’ve kept in conjunction with this disorder¬†have often felt insurmountable. But by claiming¬†each one, I know I’m bringing myself closer and closer to healing. My hope, is that letting go of these¬†last two pieces of the eating disorder that I was holding onto, will allow me to finally, truly, recover. I understand that it won’t be easy. I’m yet again, losing a crutch I was allowing to give me a sense of relief. But my hope, is that in being 100% vulnerable, I will finally feel a sense of freedom. That this “light-ness”, that I’m experiencing right now, will continue. And that I will continue to rely on the Holy Spirit to sustain me.

The less secrets I have, the less sick I am.

Moving forward, my meal plans will be visible for my mom. I’m leaving them on the island in the kitchen, and that will allow me to have 100% accountability. I’m also going to do them in pen, as opposed to pencil, because I know I will be temped to change them if they’re erasable. ¬†More accountability. Less secrets. More healing. Less sickness.

My mom made a really good point yesterday, as well. It’s hard to be living this life (engaged with the E.D.) when you’re walking with Jesus. I started a bible study with two girls this past week who are incredible role models for me. I call them my mentors, though they refuse to accept that title! ūüôā¬†They drove up to Portland from Corvallis this weekend, and we met up for coffee and to discuss our readings yesterday. I’m walking closer with Jesus right now than I have been at any point over the past two years. And yesterday, after we did our bible study, was when my confession occurred. I would’ve never done that a year ago.

The power of the Holy Spirit.

-Bridge

Journal #71

March 11th, 2016

I had a very challenging dinner last night with Mama. She made steak and fried potatoes…which I had alongside bread, and vegetables, of course. Oh boy.

It was really hard, and I really didn’t want to do it, but I did it. And I survived. My focus phrase for today at treatment on the check-in was, “Dinner last night did not cause me to gain weight.” Because it didn’t! Even though I felt like I was about to burst right afterwards.

I had to have a Gatorade this morning, which was frustrating. I’m reminding myself that it’s just one day though, it doesn’t mean anything.

Now sitting down after lunch, I’m feeling incredibly full and uncomfortable. A good friend of mine at treatment just left for the day after having a care conference, and I’m really scared for her. She’s been restricting almost everything the past few days, and there’s talk of her going to the hospital or residential. I’m incredibly sad for her. It also makes me very, very thankful that I am where I am, and I’m able to be looking a little bit on the other side of this illness.

This evening I’m going to a painting class with my God-Mom, which I’m looking forward to as something to get me out of the house that’s NOT treatment related.

-Bridge

Journal #70

March 9th, 2016

I’m sitting here at Starbucks, having a challenge breakfast, by myself. Yes, by myself.

This is the first time I’ve done a challenge of something (other than a snack) without anyone else here to hold me accountable. It’s a full breakfast, too-not just a pastry, or just a drink, but both. A drink containing milk, as well as the pastry component. Oh boy. What’s really cool to think about, is how there’s no way in h*ll I would’ve been able to do this even a month ago. I’m absolutely positive I would have restricted it. And while, yes, there’s no way now for my mom to know, or my therapist, or my dietician or psychiatrist, I will know. And hopefully, that will begin to be enough. Hopefully, I will begin to want recovery more than I want my eating disorder. I’m moving in that direction…slowly. Currently, there is the accountability that my weight will be taken again when I go back to the program on Friday, but that’s not¬†always going to be the case. At some point, I have to make the decision to own this recovery, and not be solely reliant on others to walk with me through each bite.

I got my discharge date yesterday, and that’s mainly what’s sparked my thinking about all these things. I mean, yeah, I was thinking about them before, but now, it’s at the forefront of my thoughts. I’m discharging next Friday, March 18th. As in nine days from now. WHAT?

I kind of knew this point was coming, seeing as this is my eighth week in the program, and expected duration of treatment is six to eight weeks. Obviously, recovery takes a lot longer than that (like, a lot longer; the typical time period for one to complete full recovery after developing an eating disorder as an adolescent is five to seven years, according to¬†Decoding Anorexia), but this intensive environment of treatment can’t be kept up forever. At some point, one has to reintegrate back into normal life. That is a very, very terrifying thing. Hence, my desire to begin challenging myself more with doing things on my own. I want to find out, while I still have¬†this incredible network of support, where I run into the most trouble, so that it can be addressed before I’m solely in outpatient care. Granted, my outpatient team will still consist of my psychiatrist (Yay for Dr. Rock! :)), the new therapist I met with a couple of weeks ago, and a dietician, but there’s something very different about having three separate appointments, once a week, for an hour each, than being in treatment for 20+ hours a week. That’s a big, BIG adjustment. Especially considering I’ll be adding in going back to school at that time. Saying I don’t feel like I’m ready would be an understatement. But at the same time, I don’t feel like I’ll ever be ready. Unless, I suppose, I remained in intensive treatment for five to seven years, but we all know that that’s obviously incredibly unrealistic. And also, what type of life would that be, anyway? Even if my eating disorder thoughts subsided substantially, my depression would probably skyrocket. Speaking of which, I’m really hoping my slow return into things I once found enjoyable, like school, hanging out with family and friends, participating in church and Young Life activities, etc. will aid with my depression and help my¬†desire to remain attached to the E.D. subside. I’ve got a good feeling that it will.

Last night, I finished¬†Decoding Anorexia. Wow. If I had the power to make every E.D. patient, family member, friend, doctor, therapist, etc. read that book, I would. I’ll likely read it over again, once my Dad’s finished with it. The amount of validation and insight that it provides into the many fascinating, as well as ridiculously frustrating components of an eating disorder, is beyond my ability to explain. I swear, I’m going to end up reading ¬†90% of the book out loud to my mom. I didn’t realize how incredibly frustrated I had become by not being able to explain what was going through my brain: Why I physically felt (feel, at times) that I CANNOT eat, regardless of when the last time I consumed something was; Why I begin to shake (and, as the book explains, experience the exact same symptoms as one with a drug or alcohol addiction does in withdrawal) and am CERTAIN that I will go crazy if I do not get to go do my workout, for the EXACT amount of time as my head is telling me that I need to do it for; Why I find such greater appeal in bodies that are emaciated than those with an adequate amount of flesh and fat/muscle covering the skeleton…the list goes on, and on, and on. The answer is¬†(almost) all biological. Eighty percent of it is, anyway. These feelings and thoughts that I’ve had, and tried to fight, for¬†longer than I can remember, are explainable. And it’s NOT due to the “Societal¬†obsession” with thinness, as so many of us have been taught to believe. Now, it’s about learning to counter those thoughts, and accept that while, yes, my brain may be telling me to do the exact opposite, I need to nourish my body, and allow it to rest at times. In the brain of someone with anorexia nervosa (AN) there is a crossover between the neurotransmitters than distinguish between reward and punishment. The brain literally feels that by eating, you are going against it’s survival instinct, hence why it is SO difficult for the person to eat. My brain is, in a sense, processing things backwards.

The chapter titled,¬†Gym Rats, was my favorite. In a person with AN who¬†has developed an exercise addiction in turn with the E.D., the exercise portion is often significantly harder to conquer than the eating. It’s recommended, in fact, to abstain from ALL exercise, including walking (!) for one year, to have the best chance at remaining in recovery. That’s almost unheard of! Hence, why there is such a high rate of relapse in AN patients who are dealing with an exercise addiction component of their disorder, as well. Because of the knowledge I’ve gathered from reading this book, I have made the decision that I’m going to remain on a break from cardio for a while. I don’t know about a year, but I’m not going to return to it simply because I’ve been “Cleared” to do it. This is huge for me. If Brian would’ve told me two months ago, that I would be cleared to work out while still in treatment, and would make the choice¬†to NOT¬†go run on the treadmill anyway, I would’ve laughed out loud! But this is a choice I’m making to help my recovery, and despite the majority of my brain that’s telling me how stupid I am for making that choice, I’m going to hold myself to it. ¬†I did go to the gym last night (the first time going alone) to do some weights and strengthening exercises, and it went really well. I struggled with comparing myself to others there, and a STRONG pull to walk right into that cardio room, but I countered the thoughts, and refrained from going where I knew I shouldn’t.

As I finish up this post, I’ve also just finished my breakfast. A major challenge breakfast by myself-the first of many, I’m sure, completed. I want to end with another fascinating fact I learned by reading Carrie’s book.¬†In recovering from an E.D., falling short of one’s target weight (which is determined by their doctor, after examining the patient’s growth charts, a healthy BMI, the percentile they remained in prior to developing their¬†E.D., a bone density scan, etc.) by as little as ONE KILOGRAM (which is just 2.2 pounds!!) dramatically decreases a person’s likelihood at remaining in recovery. That is amazing to me. And interestingly enough, it’s often that last 2.2 pounds that are the hardest to put back on. At that point, you’re already back to looking “Healthy”, you meet the diagnostic criteria for a healthy IBW (Ideal Body Weight), etc. But Carrie explained it well; Imagine you’re biking up a steep hill, and you decide to stop twenty feet from the top. You’re so close, why not just stop there? Because stopping there will cause you to roll backwards. There’s a huge difference between being at the top of that hill, and being twenty feet from the top.

-Bridge

 

If you’re interested in purchasing the book¬†Decoding Anorexia, you can buy it on Amazon here:¬†http://www.amazon.com/Decoding-Anorexia-Breakthroughs-Science-Disorders/dp/0415898676/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457549035&sr=8-1&keywords=decoding+anorexia

 

Journal #69

March 7th, 2016

I’m in Friends & Family group now. I just got off the phone with my best friend from Residential!!! It was really nice to be able to talk to her on my break. It’s so weird to think that they’re all still in Florida, though. I spent this morning at Starbucks after bringing Mama a latte to work. I thought I’d spend my time there reading¬†Decoding Anorexia, but ended up messing around with the idea of moving to Hawaii. The idea of sunshine, rainbows, lush grass, palm trees, the ocean, sandy feet and salty hair, and fresh coconuts just gives me this sense of butterflies. It’s like I’m…excited. It’s a feeling I haven’t had about something non-E.D. related in I don’t know how long. Just the possibility of it seems so surreal to me. It reminds me that when I’m healthy, I can do (virtually) anything I want. This past week, I haven’t wanted to do much of anything. Seriously, if I’d have been offered a plane ticket to Spain, I hands-down would not have taken it. So, I’m taking this fantasy of living the aloha lifestyle as a good sign. At the moment, the things I have lined up for me over the next month aren’t too exciting. As a matter of fact, they’re incredibly anxiety-provoking. Going back to Corvallis, which I keep realizing is coming sooner and sooner, is absolutely terrifying to me. I have so many disordered memories that originate simply by turning onto Highway 34, not to mention walking through the same halls I once walked through engaging in serious E.D. behavior. I vividly remember passing through the M.U. inhaling the scent of P.F. Chang’s, genuinely feeling as though I would die if I could just get a LICK of that Kung Pao Chicken on my tongue. And then, robotically walking away as quickly as I could, knowing I was only taunting myself, and proceeding downstairs to the convenience store to buy myself a Sobe Lifewater and three packs of sugar free gum. Even the girl who works at that store is a trigger for me. I remember sneaking by to see who was working, and if it was the same person who’d sold me the three packs of gum the day before, I’d have to wait until the next person started their shift. I remember a day that I was sick, and was supposed to open at work. I did open, but I looked (and sounded) awful. I was so exhausted, but the bummer about working at the gym, was that I couldn’t get away with not working and still getting to work out. So, I decided I would stay, because there was no way I was going to miss a workout. Unfortunately, my boss came to me and told me I could go home…so I had to go upstairs to the most crowded cardio room, and try to find a machine near the back that I could use and still remain relatively out of sight, in hopes none of my coworkers would see me. I’m still not sure if any of them did.

Then, there’s the whole issue of eating on campus. I’ve never eaten on campus. Never. Not once. Freshman year, it was only in my dorm room, during the 30 minute period I allowed myself between the hours I deemed appropriate that day. Other than that, the only time I met up with friends for something on campus was for coffee. Yes, black coffee. If I was alone there would occasionally be sugar free vanilla added.

It’s exhausting having an eating disorder. There’s so much work that goes into it. But there’s also so much satisfaction that comes along with it. There’s this sense of, “I’m doing what almost no one else can. I have willpower and strength like no other. And as distorted as that sounds, it’s really hard to imagine myself walking back onto that same campus every day and setting a whole new pattern. A new start sounds very refreshing. Does it sound like an escape? Maybe. But as long as the eating disorder’s under control, is that such a bad thing? To have an escape? To¬†completely start over? I don’t know. What I do know, is that the idea, that something like that is a possibility when I’m healthy, is very encouraging. And that, is something to be thankful for.

-Bridge