March 1st, 2016
Wow. I cannot believe it’s March 1st. Once again, the days have slipped away from me since the last time I posted! I’m sitting at Starbucks on Tuesday morning right now as I type this, drinking a vanilla latte that satisfies the same exchanges as the chocolate milk I’d have to have for lunch if I didn’t have this instead. And I enjoy sipping on espresso as I process the past few days MUCH more than the Nestle I’d just be forcing myself to drink during lunch. How’s that for listening to my body?
Quite a few things have transpired over the past couple of days. For one, I officially “Graduated” from PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) that I was in at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and moved into IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program), which I will still be doing through St. Vincent’s (with the same treatment team and the same people in my group), but is about half the amount of time I spend in treatment. This is a pretty big step, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cause quite a bit of anxiety for both my mom and myself. Now, in IOP, I don’t go to treatment until 12:30 on Mondays and Tuesdays, and I have Wednesdays and Thursdays off. Fridays are from 9:30 to 4. Given that Mom leaves for work before I get up on all of those days, I’m now having breakfast by myself Monday through Friday, and lunch by myself Monday through Thursday. I think my anxiety would be magnified times ten if I hadn’t had my two successful taper days last week. Yesterday, my first day of IOP, went well, though, so I have continued hope for today and the coming weeks. Typically, one stays in IOP for about three weeks before discharge, so we’re looking at March 18th as a tentative discharge date. Just saying (or writing) those words seems so frightening to me. But I have to remind myself, I couldn’t imagine I’d be where I am today three weeks ago, either. Also, it’s reassuring that I already have my outpatient treatment team in place. I’ll continue to see Dr. Rock as my psychiatrist, and he’ll take my weights and vitals, and then I met my new outpatient therapist last week, and I will resume seeing a dietician who I saw a couple of years ago. So at least I know what to expect in that regard.
Another positive thing that happened yesterday…I had my FIRST day of stable vitals!!!!!! That means I wasn’t bradycardic (having an unhealthily slow heart rate due to the body still recovering from the effects of malnourishment) OR orthostatic (when my heart rate jumps more than 24 points from a resting position to standing)!!!!! I’ve had a few days when I haven’t been bradycardic, but over the past two months, I’ve yet to have a day where my heart rate didn’t jump over 24 points, which is what causes me to have a Gatorade. I almost cried I was so happy. It’s one of the final signs that my body is returning to a state of health. Now, I just have to have a few more days of stable vitals before I’ll qualify to move to Level C activity! That obviously had me in a very good mood for the afternoon, and right around that time, Dad arrived for family therapy. I’ve had a couple of family therapy sessions with Mom, but Dad and I hadn’t had one yet, and Brian thought it would be a good idea to do one. I felt like it went really well, which I’m really thankful for, because it’s not very uncommon for someone to come back to group after family therapy in tears. That hasn’t happened yet with Mom and my therapy sessions, but since I hadn’t had one with Dad before, I didn’t really know what to expect. After that, Dad and I said goodbye and I returned to group, and then Mom came for family dinner. Poor Brad-he was SO, so bummed to miss it (it’s the first one that he’s missed!), but he had his first day of track and was running late. He asked if he could still come and just be late, but the therapists are pretty strict about no one entering or exiting the room during mealtimes, so I had to tell him to just miss this one. He’s such a sweetheart, I could tell he was really disappointed. I love how much he loves and wants to support me. I reassured him that it was okay, that Mom was already here, and that he could come back next week, and he ultimately accepted that and didn’t come. My dinner was kind of a challenging one, as I had salmon with a cream sauce (any sort of cream is a challenge for me), rice, broccoli, a white roll with butter (I don’t really like white bread, but it’s worth more exchanges than wheat, so it’s an easier way to get them in, and the butter was an additional challenge), and a bowl of cottage cheese. Not my favorite meal! It was okay though, I finished and was thankful to have Mama sitting beside me, and then we both headed home for the evening. Mom had told me that she was going to try to get to bed early, which I was very much okay with, because I was planning on writing in my blog and reading more of Decoding Anorexia. Obviously, the first didn’t happen, and neither did the latter! Around 7 o’clock or so, I was sitting on the couch, and called to Mom that I wanted to tell her something when she had a minute. I don’t even remember what I wanted to tell her, but it was just supposed to be something quick. One thing turned into another, and before I knew it, Mom was sitting next to me and we were both in tears. I don’t really cry when I’m at home…I’m not sure why, but I think I just like to kind of “Turn-Off” the hard and emotional stuff when I’m not at therapy. The days there are already so emotionally exhausting that by the time I get home, I don’t want to talk about E.D. related stuff unless I bring it up. Which, understandably, is very hard on Mom, because pretty much all of this journey has affected her, and she gets frustrated that I only want to talk about it when it’s a scheduled family therapy session, once a week, when I’m at treatment. As we were having an exchange back and forth while I was sitting on the couch, it came out that she was hurt I hadn’t told her everything I’d lied about while I was in the depths of my E.D., and that really caught me off guard. I’d already told her numerous times that she couldn’t trust ANYTHING I said during that time, because I’d say whatever it took to get what I wanted in order to further restrict or increase activity. She wanted me to come to her with remorse, though, and confess everything that I had been dishonest about. In this moment, I can understand that. But when it happened, I was angry. Angry that me telling her I’d lied throughout the whole E.D. time wasn’t enough. Now she wanted me to give her specifics? Didn’t she understand how humiliated I already was, and what a loser I felt like? Apparently not. My initial reaction was just to shut down, and after her talking to me for fifteen minutes about how hurtful this has been, and how much of her trust in me has been lost (which, of course, I took as her telling me what an awful person I was, and what a terrible Christian I have been), I told her “Good night.” I was still stone-faced at this point, refusing to feel or show any emotion. I’m not sure at what point something changed, but eventually, I cracked. I started sobbing, and couldn’t contain how terrible I felt, about all the lies I’ve told, all the damage I’ve done, and how I felt like I didn’t even know who I was or what I really wanted in life. I told her about all of the choices I’ve made that were eating disorder driven-that I dropped out of my sorority once I saw how much they ate together, I did cross fit at the gym I did freshman year because it was two and a half miles away and I walked both ways, even though I’d told her it was a fifteen minute walk, that after I got back to campus after cross fit I’d ride the stationary bike for two hours, that I spent my entire meal plan freshman year on coffee and sugar-free gum, that the whole summer while she was at work I’d make food and then put it down the garbage disposal so that it would look like I’d already eaten, because I knew we’d have dinner together when she got home…I told her everything. I let her know all of my secrets. All of my “techniques” came out, and that was a very scary feeling. I knew that once I said those things, she was going to be able to look out for things she didn’t know were E.D. behaviors, and that would make it much harder to revert to my older ways in the future. I would no longer be able to fool her, not as easily, anyway. The amount of guilt and shame I’d had by concealing those secrets all this time (since freshman year of college) was suddenly lifted off of me, and then the tears wouldn’t stop coming, from the both of us. We talked about how terrified I was to return to OSU, because so much of me felt like I was just going to revert to old behaviors. I know I didn’t write about my time going to Corvallis this past weekend, but it didn’t go quite as well as the past two times I’ve gone. This time, I drove down alone, and ended up having a minor panic attack on my way down and pulling into a parking lot in an effort to calm myself down. I couldn’t stop the memories of E.D. behaviors at school from flooding my brain. Mom and I talked about that, and how much of me is scared that that is what’s going to happen every time I go back.
Overall, it was a very hard night, but it was a very good night. Things that I hadn’t imagined disclosing to my mom, or to anyone, for that matter, were spoken, and there was healing in that. After we both recovered a little bit, we each prayed, and then Mom went to bed, and I had my snack. Blogging was obviously not going to happen…I was too drained. But now, here we are, a new day, a fresh start. Another day in recovery. As I finish my vanilla latte, I have a glimpse of the future that this new life could hold for me. I’ll keep moving forward, one bite at a time.