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 🙂