Journal #84-Edit

April 27th, 2016

In my attempt to capture a whole week in the thirty minutes I took to blog last night, I failed to capture much of the real emotion behind the experiences that this week bore. My mom brought this to my attention, and while I’ve decided to not delete the previous entry, I am going to expand, and perhaps add a little more truth to the things that happened. To firstly acknowledge the good-I really, really am loving my time at Oregon State. I’m having much less anxiety than I was even a few weeks ago, and am cherishing my weekly meet ups with a dear friend for lunch. The campus is so beautiful in the spring, and we’ve been able to eat outside all but one time (due to rain)! Passing by the gym continues to be a source of anxiety for me, but I’m hopeful that the more and more I continue to engage in recovery and not E.D. behavior, the less scary that place will be for me. I’ve RSVP-ed “Yes” to the End of Year Party for Dixon employees, which is a huge step in itself. I still haven’t seen many of my previous coworkers face to face since I left, but I think that I can, and should, be able to work myself up to doing it by the time the party comes around at the end of May.

I also vocalized to my mom yesterday how much notably easier studying has been. While I know I should remember each time I’ve relapsed, it continues to amaze me how significantly depriving your body of nutrients affects the brain. As I mentioned in the earlier post, I had a history midterm yesterday. I walked out of the exam room feeling good. And not like, “Yeah, I feel like I crammed everything into my head well enough that I think I will get an A”, but good as in, “I feel like I understood the material, and was able to demonstrate how well I understood it on the exam.” While this may seem minute and relatively insignificant, it’s so not. By the end of winter term my freshman year I’d decided to completely abandon the nursing route, which was what I’d gone into college anticipating majoring in. I made this choice because I just could not get through my science classes. I thought it was those classes that were killing me. I wasn’t aware enough to realize that it was me who was killing myself. I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but it’s pretty darn near close to attempt to do well in mathematical-based science courses when neither of those two subjects are your strong-suit, in conjunction with eating a very limited number of calories a day and exercising significantly beyond that. I look back now and think, “No wonder I didn’t think I had any chance in medicine. I didn’t have any chance doing well in a subject that didn’t come easily to me at all.” The success I felt after studying so much for this history test was a very welcomed change. While a history course isn’t the same as a science one, it’s also not communications, which has always come very easily to me. I still had to put in a lot of work to feel competent and prepared for my test, and it was incredibly rewarding to walk out of that exam room feeing like I truly had given it my all. I hadn’t deprived myself of anything to get there, but I studied as hard as I could, while still treating my body with respect. I know that it’s only going to get more difficult to continue this type of thinking in regards to school as I return to a more “Normal” life and get busier and busier, but I’m glad to have had this experience so I know what the ideal is. My mom asked what the biggest difference I noticed is, and it was hard to pinpoint it, but I think the greatest change is the retention I have of information. I know this is due to a variety of factors-not being preoccupied with how I’m going to get out of lunch with friends that day, or calculating how many calories I’ve consumed over the past 24 hours minus the amount I’d burned, etc., but I was able to read a page in the textbook, and then remember what I’d read five minutes later. At the worst in my eating disorder, I remember reading a page of notes up to fifteen times, because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t focus on what I was reading enough to comprehend any of what my eyes were seeing. Hence, this is a very, very welcomed change and increases the efficiency of my studying by about 10,000 percent!

Okay…another positive. I will get to the hard stuff, too, but it doesn’t seem right to skip over the fact that I get to go visit Carolyn over Memorial Day Weekend. To say I’m ecstatic would be (yes, you guessed it) the understatement of the century. I’m going to need to come up with a new way to portray how big of a deal something is without using that phrase…I feel like I’m turning into the boy who cried wolf! But anyway, I’m so beyond stoked for this trip. It was initially going to be over the Fourth of July, and I was going to go to her family’s lake house with them in Michigan, but it would’ve required me to miss a few days of school (since I’m taking summer courses), which I’m not very comfortable doing. So instead, I get to go stay with her and her family at their home in Columbus, Ohio, for three days over the long weekend! I’m also very, very thankful that my dad bought me these tickets with his frequent flier miles. There are a FEW benefits that come with him being gone all the time for work! The trip does bring up quite a few questions that would need to be addressed eventually anyway, but probably not this soon were I not traveling alone in less than a month. Such as, eating. Um, yeah, kind of a big thing for me. The flight to Columbus takes up a good chunk of the day, so I’ll have to really own my recovery during that time. That will likely be morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner….and a lot of opportunities to restrict. My mom and I are going to figure out a plan once the date gets closer, but it’s definitely something that is on the both of our minds as we talk about how excited I am for this trip. It’s worth noting that my mom is VERY excited for me, too. I wish she could come meet Carolyn with me! It seems so weird for someone whose become such a close friend as a result of this E.D. to not know my mom, who’s played the BIGGEST part in my recovery. In addition to the eating while I’m on my way to Ohio, there will be meals while I’m there (Duh). Carolyn and I talk on the phone a lot, and it seems like we’re both doing well. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that treatment providers are often very wary of patients forming friendships with those they go through treatment with. Eating disorders have an incredibly high rate of relapse, and especially in the first few months of recovery, it can be really hard to do what’s healthy for YOU and not fall into the bad habits of a good friend who’s not doing what they should be. I’ve had to set some boundaries with other girls from treatment, because things had come up that were not healthy for me to be a part of. I don’t believe my trip with Carolyn will be triggering to me at all, and the same goes for me to her, but the possibility that it may be is something that my mom and I will have to continue to weigh the cost/benefit of as the time gets closer.

Now, for some of the hard stuff. If you’ve stopped reading at this point, I understand. There’s a lot to share when I don’t post for a whole week! The play (The Pianist of Willesdin Lane) my mom and I went to really was very good. The restaurant was good, too. It was just a lot. We both had to work very hard to get through as much of that meal as we did, and Mom later expressed to me that she felt obligated to force-feed herself the mound of salad in front of her, in order to help me finish what I needed to. I don’t like this at all, and obviously, my mom did not either. However, I do think I should say that the restaurant isn’t “Bad.” Just because I (and my mom) didn’t like the portion sizes they offered-which was only one, very large bowl, it may be a good experience for some people. With my recovery though, and the things I’m learning regarding eating mindfully (portion sizes being one of them), the size of that salad seemed to be leaning towards the other end of the eating disorder spectrum. Not restricting, but bingeing. We now know the size of the salads though, and did mention that were we to return in the future, we could just share a salad.

In addition, the meal out with our HILARIOUS friend, Stacy, on Sunday evening, was wonderful. It was full of an incredible amount of laughter, smiles, and Snoopy dances. My mom loves Snoopy, and Stacy knows that, so she brought my mom a singing and dancing snoopy stuffed animal that sat at the table with us all evening long. Insert laughing emoji here ;). The issue between my mom and me was actually between us as well as my brother, but since I was the one in the car on the way home, I was the one who it was brought up to. Also, I wasn’t reprimanded initially. Mom shared how she felt about something that Brad and I had done at dinner (initially in fun, but it was taken too far), and my “shut-down” mentality didn’t take it very well…which is what led to the reprimand (if you could even call it that). The point is, I wasn’t arbitrarily called out by my mom, and then shut down. I was shut down as a result of eating a very challenging food, and that led to lashing out at my mom, which resulted in the “Reprimand.”

If you’re still reading at this point, props to you! And thank you for caring enough about my recovery to make it this far 🙂

 

In Him,

Bridgette

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Journal #84

April 26th, 2016

It’s been a week since my last post-that’s crazy to me. To say that time’s been flying by seems like the understatement of the century. I took a midterm today, and am over halfway through spring term at Oregon State.

While it’d be nice to say the past week’s been all sunshine and roses, that wouldn’t be very real. The past weekend was hard, and I found myself in a very low place numerous days. It seemed to be initiated by a one-on-one session with a personal trainer (long story, but I have decided that I will not continue seeing him) on Friday morning, and then continued declining from there. My mom and I did go to an awesome play on Saturday night, though the meal before was not so fabulous. We decided to try out the “Garden Bar”, which was my idea, as I’d seen quite a few posts on social media about it, as well as passing the restaurant downtown. The idea of the place itself is cool, it’s sort of like a Salad spin-off of Chipotle. There are a ton of ingredients, and you pick what you want in your salad while the person behind the bar makes it for you. They also have a menu with some recommended combos. Both my mom and I ended up ordering off the menu-the number of ingredients if you choose to make it yourself is quite overwhelming! When we were handed our salads, even my mom’s eyes got huge. The salads were ginormous. Easily enough to feed four people, and be a full dinner entree for two to split. I’d found the nutritional information online beforehand though, and calculated my exchanges for that meal according to eating the whole salad…I didn’t realize how big they were going to be. My mistake.

About an hour and two INCREDIBLY full stomachs later, we’d gotten as far as we were going to get with our meals. I could’ve forced myself to finish it, but I was already very, very uncomfortable, and as my mom pointed out-it almost seems more disordered to make myself eat a massive salad to meet my  exchange “Quota” than it does to be a couple exchanges under. We both really enjoyed the play, but I woke up the next morning still feeling way too full. Part of me thought it might be my disordered mind telling me how full I still was; could the salad have REALLY been that big? But I was pleased to know that I wasn’t imagining things when my mom told me that she was full as well, and did’t think she would be returning to the restaurant. I don’t think I will, either.

A large chunk of Sunday was spent downtown interviewing people who are homeless for a feature-story I’m doing in my writing class. I actually really enjoyed doing it, and returned the following day to continue a conversation I’d had with one man. The evening brought with its challenges though, per usual, as tonight we were going out to dinner with a good friend to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I ordered shrimp linguini, which I recognized was very good, despite the terrifying amount of oil the dish contained. We had an awesome time at dinner, but my mom and I got into it on the way home, regarding something that had happened at dinner (non-E.D.-related), which I was NOT in the mood to deal with. I was so consumed with feelings and emotions regarding what I’d just eaten, which was no doubt, the most challenging meal I’ve had to date, and did not want to receive any sort of reprimand. While we did end up resolving it (I eventually came out of my depressed funk), I spun myself into a pretty low place for a while.

Monday was significantly better than Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, as was today. While my mom are currently amidst some frustration regarding a pedometer she’s wearing for a challenge that’s going on at work (I understand that they’re completely healthy for the majority of the population, but the whole mentality of meeting a “certain number of steps” is quite triggering for me-which is probably something that I need to work on), today’s been a good day, too. I am thankful that my mom is healthy enough to walk, that I get to go stay with my best friend from Canopy Cove over memorial day weekend in Columbus, Ohio (WOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!), and that I felt good about my history midterm today. And so, so many other things.

 

-Bridgette

Journal #83

April 20th, 2016

This is hardly even going to count as an entry because of how short it’s going to be (hopefully). I have a lot of homework to do today, and not very much time to do it (Yay for NORMAL college-aged problems!!), and I know that blogging is going to be more of a tool for procrastination than anything. That being said, I want to jot down what a great day yesterday was. It consisted of being bored in history, having lunch with a very close friend and having very real, at times difficult conversation, and driving home with the top of my car down, enjoying the 85 degree sunshine. When my mom asked me in the evening how I’d rate it, I said a 5/5. What?! How is that even possible?! I’m not sure, but I do know that I’m going to take it and run with it. I’m feeling pretty darn good right now, and I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can. I got my haircut yesterday evening, which was really unnerving, because I’ve lost a lot of my hair over the years from being sick. That’s one of the “ugly” side-effects you don’t hear about a lot from restricting, but it’s actually quite common. My hair had gotten to the point (again) where I could only wear it up with a ton of bobby pins to hide how thin it was at the bottom, so I decided to go in and get it chopped off. It’s now a short little bob, which I’m happy with, and more importantly, that I can wear down without being self-conscious that someone’s going to see a chunk of hair hanging down that’s fallen out of a pin. Also, the woman who cut my hair, who I’d never had before nor did I know anyone who’d had their hair cut by her, happened to have graduated from my high school, gone to Oregon State, AND been a Theta! What a cool set of coincidences 🙂

Thanks, Jesus.

Oh…also, I feel the need to add-

I was doing my typical workout this morning (still just 30 minutes of strengthening, no cardio) at the gym, doing one-legged squats on a Bosu ball, when an older gentleman came into the studio and told me that I was “Amazingly strong.” I practically lit up, and texted my mom and Brad right away. As soon as I did, I realized that two awesome things had just happened. One, I was complemented on my strength, not my “tininess”, and two, I was HAPPY about it!!!

-Bridge

Journal #82

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. And birthdays, of course, mean food. Lots, and lots of food. Birthday cake, eating out, having friends over, celebrating…all things that are really fun, unless you have an eating disorder. Birthdays (and not just my own) have been something I’ve dreaded numerous times over the last five or so years. I vividly remember my birthday the year I was to be hospitalized and diagnosed with anorexia, and to this day it’s one of the most painful E.D. memories I’ve kept with me. My brother and my birthdays are four days apart in the first week of September. That year, it was such a struggle to figure out how I could possibly evade all of the food I knew I’d be faced with the entire week. Friends want to get together, family wants to go out and celebrate…and all I wanted to do was go on with my exercise regimen, and continue eating the few things I’d limited my intake to, with no one else present. The day before my birthday that year, I didn’t eat anything but a small amount of whatever mom made for me for dinner. I also exercised for four hours. The next day (my “Special” day), I woke up and went to the gym, came home for our traditional birthday cake breakfast (yes, you read that right), and we proceeded to go downtown. I’d convinced my mom and brother that I wanted to go for a bike ride-which wasn’t very hard to do, since it was a beautiful day out and my mom’s always up for a bike ride-but my sole purpose of doing it was burning calories. I remember feeling close to passing out on much of that ride. I was hardly there. My friend’s dad had told me the week prior, when I’d gone to their house after having not seen him since July that I was “disappearing.” I told him it was merely a result of all the training I’d been doing that summer, saying that I was finally getting that “runner’s body.” I knew though, that a “runner’s body” shouldn’t have developed that quickly, over just two months. The change in my body was a result of running the heck out of myself, while also depriving my body of nourishment. I took the comment as “positive feedback”, though, and went on my merry way…probably to the gym, actually. Anyways, back to the bike ride. I really was disappearing. It wasn’t just my body fat anymore, either, it was my brain. I could hardly remember anything, and every time I stood up I had to hold onto something to avoid blacking out. Bradley and my mom and I found a “Great Harvest Bread Co.” shop along our biking route that served ice cream sandwiches with freshly made cookies. I don’t think I’d ever eaten something so delicious in my life. I still remember feeling like it was my first drink of water after hiking through the Sahara desert. I don’t remember the rest of that evening, except for what I got as gifts. I only remember them because I have pictures of me holding them that haunt me. A pink lacrosse stick, from my brother, a pair of silver and black Mizuno spandex, from my mom (for running, but which I began to use multiple times a day for body checking), a white North Face jacket that should not have fit me, and a Victoria’s Secret suitcase, which I fit in. I know that I fit in it, because yes, I checked, zipping it all the way up. How disturbing is that? I proceeded to fast the next day, and then returned to my normal limited diet the following.

Yesterday was a birthday much unlike the one I just described. It began with a trip to the gym, which only lasted for thirty minutes and did not include any cardio. Following that, I had an appointment with my therapist, and then went home to join my mom and brother (and my mom’s sweet friend who came over to help) in working on the yard. I was present the entire day, and able to enjoy my family and laugh with them. Unlike the previously described birthday, I didn’t alter what I ate the day before to compensate for the meal out we would be having the next day. I won’t be altering my eating today, either. I didn’t have a piece of my mom’s birthday cake yesterday, but I’ll get there eventually. I did eat at the food carts we went out to, which was a really big deal. I had yet to eat out at a restaurant where I couldn’t watch the food being prepared (ie: Chipotle or Subway). After some evaluation with my mom this morning, I realized that I probably did eat less than my exchanges yesterday, but I didn’t use a meal plan, and I’m back on track today, so that’s okay. It’s a progression.

And who knows? Hopefully I’ll be eating cake on my birthday, come this September 🙂

-Bridge

 

Journal #81

April 10th, 2016

In order to avoid my upcoming (and recent) lack of posting looking like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, I’m going to say that my posting will likely be continuing to slow down as the rest of my life continues to speed up. School has been going well, of course with its expected challenges, but also with some unexpected awesome moments. I’m really enjoying two out of my three classes (But really, who ever enjoys history, anyway?), as well as getting to spend time with friends that I was unable to when I was in Portland full-time. Thursday was a particularly hard day, but it was following an exceptionally awesome day Tuesday, so it all balanced out 🙂 I’ve been experiencing the continued theme of frustration over not knowing “What I’m going to do with my life”, especially as it comes time to register for classes for the next term, and I’m still not even sure how I’m feeling about this one. I don’t know what to take for Summer term, or even if I’ll be ready to be living in Corvallis then! Ultimately, I did decide that I would register, and realized that if I end up having to withdraw because I’m not able to be living away from home come June, that’s alright. Fall term is only a couple months after that. Many of my peers are beginning to take their Upper-Division courses, and snag internships in fields that they’re hoping to pursue careers in, and I’m often feeling miles behind the “Life Train.” I think I’ve got the best plan possible figured out in the meantime though, and I’ve kind of had to come to accept that if I take some classes my Junior Year that don’t end up being anything near what I want to do for a living, that’s okay. It’s college. And, as my therapist keeps KINDLY reminding me, I’m not even twenty years old.

I recently disclosed something to my mom that she thinks would be of interest to anyone who reads this blog. I haven’t worn lipstick, ever, really. I’ve always just used the cover of it “Not really being my thing”, though I did think my mom knew the real reason why…but I guess not! The other day, we were at Nordstrom so she could buy some new MAC lipstick. There were samples to try on, of course, and my Mom suggested I try one. Since she obviously knows about my eating disorder now, I kind of chuckled and said, “Mom, you know why I don’t wear lipstick”, to which she responded, “No, I don’t?”. And then I laughed, as I explained that lipstick is made of fat, and therefore has calories. I would never put something on my mouth that contained calories, unless, of course, I was getting to deduct it from my meal plan. Well, didn’t that elicit quite a reaction! Mom did NOT think it was very funny, but she did seem to understand. Now it alllllll made sense, and over the past few days, a couple of jokes have been thrown my way about how she “Won’t be eating as much for dinner, because she put lipstick on.” Very funny, Mom!

Okay…I’ll end with that (kind of) funny story, and get back to my homework. I’m remembering what it feels like to procrastinate something other than eating!!

🙂 Bridge

 

Journal #80

April 6th, 2016

I don’t have much to report today, but I figured I should do an update before I get waaay behind and end up kicking myself for having to catch up a few weeks’ worth on the blog!

Yesterday at school went very well. It was definitely my best day at school thus far. I met up with a couple of friends, stayed on track with my eating (even having a drink at Dutch Bros. that wasn’t just an Americano…Major challenge!), and was able to be present in my classes. Today’s been spent doing homework with my dad in the morning, meeting up with my mom during her lunch break this afternoon, and then enjoying the sunshine at Brad’s meet. I hope to take some time to really write about some of the tough stuff in here soon, but for now, that’s going to be saved for the time I have with my therapist tomorrow. Off to finish my history reading!

 

-Bridge

Journal #79

April 2nd, 2016

Yesterday, I officially discharged from treatment at St. Vincent’s Eating Disorder Clinic. I am now in complete outpatient care! It feels so, so good to write those words. I can remember a time just a couple months ago (maybe even as recent as a month ago) when I was convinced I’d never be able to do this in outpatient care. “This” being recovery. How could I do something on my own, that I didn’t want? Where was my motivation going to come from? Over the past four months, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Significantly more than I did the last time I was in treatment, I think largely because of being an adult this time around. The focus last time, being in the adolescent program, was on how to rely on your support people. It was easier then, since we all lived with them. The thought of living on my own hadn’t even come into consideration at that point. I was only fifteen years old, a sophomore in high school. I had three years left living “at home”, and that was my life. In the adult program, that’s not the case. We’re taught how to overcome this illness largely on our own, while yes, of course, still using support people as a significant part in our recovery, but knowing that there’s no longer an eye watching over our every move. We have to want it, if this “recovery thing” is going to be sustained.

I’ve struggled a lot recently with feeling very behind my peers. So much of my life has been spent consumed by this disorder, whether it be in treatment or out, that a large part of me feels like I don’t really know what I want out of my life, in a number of different aspects. While many of my friends are embarking on exciting study abroad opportunities, leading Young Life, making life decisions regarding their education, and pursuing their future careers, I’m…well, not. I’ve come to realize though, what a blessing it is to have been able to learn so much about myself during this critical period in my life. I have, and still am, learning a lot of things about myself that will likely help me in the future, as a result of this experience, and the intense amount of therapy I’ve received over the past six years. In that light, I’m trying to look at this “Gap Term” I’ve taken as a self-growth opportunity, as opposed to just, “Treatment”. It’s a positive, not a negative. It was (is) hard, but I’m learning, and I’m growing. I’m getting stronger with each meal!

I had a weird feeling yesterday. It was like I had butterflies in my stomach all day, but I wasn’t nervous about anything. I couldn’t place what was going on. Then, as 3:30 pm arrived, and friends and family came to gather for my (and my friend at treatment who was also discharging with me!) synopsis, I realized what it was. I was excited. It’s been so long since I’ve felt that excited, in conjunction with feeling a sense of accomplishment, about anything. It’s a tradition at treatment to leave a painted handprint on the wall when you discharge. I’d already left a handprint when I discharged from the adolescent program, so I decided to do a footprint this time. Right above it, it says “B.T. 04/01/16, ‘You’re only as sick as your secrets’.”

We left around 4 pm, and Mama and I headed downtown. We shopped around a bit, got some gelato (which was the first time I’ve had dessert in nine months, may I add), and enjoyed each other. The sun was shining, and it was still 75 degrees as we drove back home, with the top down. It was wonderful.

Before I close this, I know that my amazing therapist, psychiatrist, and dietician, may well read this entry, so I just want to take a minute to publicly (if you call this publicly…) to thank them for everything they’ve done for me. I don’t want to say that I could not have done this without them, but it certainly would not have been the same experience that it was. I thought my mom said it perfectly at my synopsis yesterday-We thought the answer was residential. We thought that THAT was my best chance at getting healthy again. I flew across the whole country, to receive eating disorder treatment, and the reality was, residential wasn’t the answer for me. The answer was three miles from home. I am so, so thankful to the St. Vincent’s Eating Disorder program.

 

Thank you, Jesus.

-Bridge