A Yiddish Proverb

“Man plans, God laughs.” That’s the Yiddish version, the version which I see floating all over my Pinterest feed so frequently.

Or, biblically-

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s plan that prevails.”

-Proverbs 19:21

 

This verse has never seemed to ring truer to my life than it does right now.

I’ve shared many struggles and triumphs on this blog, and I’m sure at many times portrayed a more negative attitude than I’d like. It is a wonderful feeling though, to be overwhelmed about the number of options I have, none of which have to do with my eating disorder, and to be able to lean on God to ask Him which of the wonderful options, all of which I am excited about, I should pursue for this next stage in my life. Wow, that was a long sentence. I apologize!

Many times over the recent years, I’ve turned to God in frustration, in sadness, in despair. I turned to God to ask for peace that surpasses all understanding, to cry out about the injustices I was seeing around me, and to ask why His power wasn’t prevailing over the illness that I, as well as so many others, was fighting. I thank God a lot. And like I’ve shared before, I know how fortunate I am in so many ways. But I also complain. A lot.

I’ve always been a person who likes structure, plans, rigidity, and the like. I’m the girl who has three planners, color-codes her notes, and writes the following day’s schedule, from wake-up time to the time I’ll sit down and eat breakfast before walking out the door, in my Notes app on my phone before bed every night. I guess that goes hand in hand with me having anxiety; knowing exactly what’s to come calms me, significantly.

Even over the past two weeks, though I’ve been filled with a good amount of excitement as I consider my plans for the future — Do I want to transfer schools? Should I pursue nursing this next year? Where do I look; do I even want to stay on the West Coast? — I’ve found myself considerably anxious. I don’t think that’s that abnormal, as these are some pretty major life-decisions, but it is funny to me how often I get worked up over things when I say I believe that God’s in control of my life. If I so believe this (which I do), then why do I spend so much time and energy worrying about it?

This week, I’m coming to God with an abundant heart. I feel as though I can’t stop smiling, and I want to sing His praises from the rooftops. That might sound a little over-dramatic, but whatever. It’s my blog 😉

For the first time in a long, long time, I’m faced with making a decision that I feel can’t go poorly. I like all of my options. I trust that God will provide in each of them, whichever I choose. And ultimately, I believe that His purpose will prevail regardless.

Last week, as I alluded to in Tuesday’s entry, I had an interview for what is literally my dream job (at this point in my life, and without a college-degree). Okay, maybe I should say it’s my dream COLLEGE job. I felt good after I walked out of the interview, but I also knew how many qualified applicants there were, therefore making the competition incredibly stiff. I also knew that my resume wasn’t superb, given the gaps that have appeared for months at a time. I haven’t held one job for over a year, not because of being fired or anything of that sort but for medical reasons, and I knew my references would speak highly of me, but still. I was insecure about it.

Calling my mom after I walked out of the interview last week, I told her that it was awesome and went great, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up about anything. When I left, the interviewers said that I’d hear back in the next week. I went into the weekend on such a high from experiencing a glimpse of the reality of what that job would be, thinking that if I got the job, I’d likely hold-off the pursuit of transferring schools for another year. While it’s not quite as desirable in terms of efficiency, I felt that while the option to get a nursing degree will be there should I choose to transfer schools this year, or in the next two years, this job will not. I truly felt a presence that I knew could only be from God. Whichever way it went — if I got the job but didn’t get into the schools I applied to, or if I didn’t get the job but got accepted to transfer into a nursing program — I’d be happy either way.

Yesterday morning, I awoke to a voicemail from the first of the schools (there are three, total) that I’d applied to, saying that I’ve been accepted.

I was told about an hour ago that the job in Corvallis mine, should I choose to accept it.

I’ve yet to hear back from the other two schools, but I’m not even worried about it. I haven’t a doubt that God’s in control. His purpose will prevail. And it seems like, just in this instant, that His will and my desires may align just perfectly.

In Him,

Bridge

A Tragic Reminder

It’s really unfortunate how true the saying is, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

It seems to not matter if it’s a person or a material good, an aspect of one’s health or a passion for something that somehow disappears. Nine times out of ten, it’s missed a whole lot more once you don’t have it anymore.

As I’ve referred to a couple times in my posts, there’s a pretty solid E.D.- recovery community on social media that I’m a part of. Not all of the accounts are good (ie: recovery-focused) but the ones that are, can be really helpful and inspiring to someone who’s having a hard time. I will often go on my recovery account to look at the people I follow when I need a reminder that I’m not going through this alone, that everyone’s beautiful in a different way, when I’m looking for a word of encouragement, etc. and find it to be quite helpful. Of course, nothing can replace talking to my Heavenly Father, but sometimes it’s helpful to be able to physically look at someone who’s going through the same thing as you. Even more so when it’s someone whose made it to the other side, and is absolutely rocking their recovery.

Since I was in Ohio with Carolyn over the weekend, I didn’t really spend much time on social media, except for posting a photo of the two of us. Thank goodness, right?! How lame would that have been if I HAD spent more than a sliver of my 40 hours with her looking down at my phone.

Not being on social media though, I missed out on the news, until I returned home and spent a bit of time going through my recovery account’s newsfeed, that a prominent member of the recovery-community had passed away. Her death was a result of her anorexia.

Now, I’m not going to act like we were friends, or be dramatic and say that I’m absolutely struck with grief.

I am, however, incredibly sad, and for some reason, shocked.

Another young woman, in her early 20s, who, yes, as I witnessed from post after post, was actively engaging in recovery, died because of her eating disorder.

What a wake-up call.

As everyone throughout the community’s been sharing — and obviously, some people actually had become close with her — knowing the statistics about eating disorders are one thing. Yes, they are frightening. Eating disorders have a higher mortality rate than ANY other mental illness. But it’s so easy to say, “It won’t happen to me.”

What’s so much more impactful, is when a person is attached to that statistic.

It’s not just a number anymore.

It’s a girl.

A girl who had hopes and dreams, who had a family and friends, and who was fighting and seemingly getting better.

It’s unfortunate that it takes something like this to be a wake-up call, but I hope that if anything would come out of this incredibly tragic death, it would be that it would only push more people who are struggling to the side of recovery. Including myself.

The next time I’m tempted to restrict (which, let’s face it, will probably be my next meal), I’m going to take a minute and think about Anne. And then re-evaluate whether or not I really want to restrict that bite/piece/sip/morsel/meal.

I hope that everyone else within the recovery-community will do the same. Fight even harder against the eating disorder, in honor of Anne.

-Bridgette

 

*The young woman who passed away is not named Anne, but just like I do all the other name’s in this blog, I changed it for privacy reasons.

Journal #90

May 29, 2016

Well, here I am – I made it through the weekend! Actually, that’s not even an accurate way to describe my weekend. It was awesome, and I would’ve been happy for it to continue on. I think for my first “On my own” overnight (for more than one night) trip it was the perfect length of time, though. I challenged myself and was able to do new things I haven’t done in recovery yet, but still had the comfort of knowing my life would return to it’s usual routine come Monday morning.

Seeing Carolyn was great. Every fear my mind had conjured up about us potentially not still having a friendship, or anything like that at all, was immediately dissipated as soon as I stepped into the Columbus airport and saw her waiting for me. We literally ran to each other… I think I dropped my stuff right in the middle of the hallway! Whoops J Her mom was there with her to pick me up and take me back to their house, and we pretty much chatted each other’s ears off until we eventually fell asleep. Oh, and I don’t want to forget to mention that I had pizza when I got to their house. It was midnight their time, and they had of course already eaten, but I hadn’t (my flight in Chicago ended up getting MAJORLY delayed, resulting in us sitting on the tarmac for almost FOUR hours!!), so I had leftovers of the pizza they’d had for dinner. It was very satisfying, albeit being challenging – especially given how late it was and how soon we’d be falling asleep.

Saturday (which was the only full day we had together), we packed everything in. No joke, the two of us were so exhausted we fell asleep in church this morning, and then again after that! Car drove us around to all of her little hot spots in her hometown: the gym (which was great to be able to do one day, especially considering how much I was sitting on a plane over the three-day period), a little boutique-y area called the Short North where we stopped in some shops and had some cute pictures taken, and then drove around Ohio State University for a bit so I could see what it looked like. It was weird seeing OSU signs everywhere but not referencing Oregon State! Later in the day, some of her friends and her boyfriend came over, and we had a fun evening enjoying each other’s company in the basement, playing Just Dance and watching the movie Sweet Home Alabama (which I hadn’t seen, but loved!). It was a great and very normal-feeling evening. I even went upstairs and got my snack while people were still over. It had gotten to 11 p.m. by that point, and I knew that if I didn’t have it then, I’d just end up skipping it. So without Carolyn having one, I just told her I was going to go grab it and came back down to eat it! It was totally fine. All of her friends know how we met, anyway 🙂

I got to go to her church this morning and then we went out to Panera afterwards, which was a success. Car had asked ahead of time if I wanted to go to the gym both days I was there, and I (under quite a bit of distress) told her that, no, I didn’t think that seemed very normal to spend that much of our time at the gym when we only had such a limited amount to spend together. So we nixed the gym on Sunday, but did decide to go for a nice walk in the afternoon instead. It was really nice, despite how muggy it was outside (I didn’t realize Ohio is so sticky! Guess that shows how much time I’ve spent in the Midwest!), and then we came back in and fell asleep on the couch before playing a little more Just Dance and heading out to the airport.

Overall, I’d call it an incredibly successful weekend, especially considering it was my first real trip in recovery where I was having to be pretty spontaneous and go along with what other people wanted to do, too. When I land at PDX, I’ll get to run off the plane and give Lea a HUGE HUG because she’s on her way back from South Africa right this minute!!!

 

Ahhhh!! I can’t wait!

 

And yes – Carolyn is going to come visit me, too! She got a $250 Southwest Airlines gift card for her birthday last week just for that very purpose 🙂

-Bridge

Whole Milk

Sitting here in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, I’m FINALLY at what seems to be the correct gate — it’s changed a total of four times since I got my boarding pass onto my phone this morning, and am taking the final few minutes before boarding to calm some nerves. When I get off this plane, I’ll be greeted by Carolyn.

 

Holy cow.

 

This girl, who I connected on SUCH an intimate level with, will once again be (physically) present in my life. Yes, we’ve stayed in touch via our phones — texting, calling, FaceTiming, SnapChatting, and the like, but there’s a big difference between VIRTUALLY connecting with someone, and physically being able to feel their embrace. The last time I was with Carolyn, I was in what’s known in the eating disorder community as “Quasi-Recovery.” Outwardly, I appeared as if recovery was what I wanted, but inwardly, it wasn’t. I was still cheating the system every chance I got. Now, I’m in (what’s known as) “Realcovery,” meaning that I’m actually doing the things I need to do for my recovery, even without supervision. There’s a difference of internal motivation. Realcovery doesn’t mean it’s easy for me yet, but it means I’m doing it anyway.

As I enter into this weekend, my mind’s flooded with thoughts. My eating disorder is telling me that Carolyn won’t like me anymore, that she’ll think I’m fat, that we only connected because we were sick… All of which I know are lies, but still, they provoke anxiety. I’m trusting in Jesus that our friendship — which really, is rooted in our love for Christ, and just happened to begin when we crossed path getting treatment for our E.D.s is still there, and that if anything, being healthy will make it stronger than ever.

I know I’m going to be very tempted this weekend. Tempted to restrict, tempted to compare, tempted to cheat the system. It’s going to be a constant effort to do what I need to do, as opposed to what my head wants to do. But I’m hoping that Carolyn and my commitment to each other, and to each others’ recovery, will be stronger than any eating disorder voice that may present itself.

Oh, also, I probably should mention why this post is titled Whole Milk. I ordered a nonfat vanilla latte at Starbucks and they ACCIDENTALLY MADE IT WITH WHOLE MILK! And I’m drinking it anyway.

 

Okay, my flight’s boarding!!

-Bridge

 

The Value of Friendship

Sitting in The Nursing Home, I grow more frustrated by the minute. The Nursing Home, the nickname given to Lindsay’s house in Corvallis — a reference to her and her roommate’s lifestyle that involves NOT going to parties too often– has become my home for the evening, the first night I’m spending in Corvallis since December.

While many things feel different, a lot feels the same, too.

Memories that I wish would just go away have not, and staying on campus for longer than the five hours I normally spend — much of which is in class — is only bringing them to light more.

My frustration’s building as I sit at the table, trying to focus enough to work on my paper for history, but instead panicking about my appointment with my dietician tomorrow.

I KNOW I’m moving forward. Really, I do. I believe that wholeheartedly, maybe even more than my support people and treatment team would articulate. Still, it’s so frustrating to know I have this little bit of the eating disorder that I’m not surrendering. It’s like there’s this little remaining 1% that could make all the difference, mentally. I know I need to give it up, but I just can’t seem to do it.

I had a very rough time sleeping last night, due to a migraine that I think was onset by not having coffee until 4 p.m. Whoops…Guess I’ve got a bit of a caffeine addiction going there. I finally fell asleep around 3:30. My original plan of getting up @ 5:30 to work out was seeming less and less like a good idea, and more and more like a driving hazard. I fought the urge to go to the gym, knowing good and well that it was 90% my eating disorder talking (10% of me probably really did want to go to the gym), and that my body would be better off getting another hour of rest. It’s times like these that I’m so thankful for the vow I made to abstain from cardio for one year. I am certain that if this workout would have been the difference between me missing a planned 45-minute elliptical session, absolutely nothing could’ve kept me away from the gym and getting those calories burned. But because I’m only doing strengthening, I’m able to cope with this change of plans (and additional day off of exercise) a little bit better. I know that my daily workouts aren’t burning 300+ calories a day, and that’s okay with me. I’m learning how to listen to my body, and until I get that down, this is all my body needs.

A lot has happened in the past week or so that I haven’t shared on here yet. Largely because I haven’t taken the time, but also because nothing has really been finalized yet, and I don’t like the idea of publicly announcing something that’s not all figured out. The wonderful reality of my blog being shared with so many people — anything I say is somewhat of a public announcement! More will come in that regard later.

In a brief bullet summary, though…

  • I had my first sleepover in over a year on Saturday night. It was the most normal and fun night I’ve had since I can’t remember when.
  • I’m spending the night in Corvallis tonight for the first time EVER, healthy. This will be my first time EVER eating lunch, dinner, and breakfast here, consecutively.
  • I get to go stay with Carolyn in Columbus, Ohio for Memorial Day weekend (T-3 Days!!), and it will be my first solo-weekend trip in recovery. Without my mother. I’ve got high hopes!
  • Bradley and I are going to Macklemore on Thursday night. That’s not relevant, I’m just really excited about it 🙂
  • My high school best friend, Lea, returns from studying abroad in South Africa on Sunday night, 30 minutes before I land, actually. We’re both STOKED to see each other at the airport for the first time in five months.
  • I’m actively pursuing the possibility of transferring schools this fall to begin nursing school. Nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) has been finalized.
  • I have an interview for what is basically my dream job, in Corvallis, beginning this summer, on Thursday. Obviously, I would have to stay in Corvallis for this job to pan out. Hence, “Nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) has been finalized.”

So yes, lots of exciting things are in the works!

**Pause while Lindsay and I head out for a bit**

Lindsay and I just returned from a refreshing four-mile walk. It followed dinner at Chipotle which was…not as refreshing! It was nice having the company of Lin and Tara for dinner though, and as my mom always reminds me, the purpose of the meal is to NOURISH my body! Whether I’m eating a kale salad with grilled prawns, or fried chicken with ranch — it’s nourishment all the same.

Anyway, our walk was great. I am continually so in awe of our Creator, and there’s nothing to remind me of that more than walking the beautiful backroads of Corvallis as the sun sinks deeper into the sky, passing by pastures with cows and llamas, hearing birds chirp overhead, all while talking to an incredible friend who I can be real with, and trust to always push me closer to Jesus. I’m reflecting now, as I’m writing this, on how important relationships are to recovery. Pastor Ryan gave (another) great sermon on Sunday, this time about friendship. He used David and Jonathan as the prime example, noting how Jonathan always pointed David to his heavenly Father as opposed to the desires of his flesh.

It’s friends like Lindsay — and my friend Nia, who I had Saturday’s sleepover with — that I know are so vital to my recovery. It’s friends like these who help me continue to travel in the direction I want to go.

I’m going to close with one of my all time favorite verses:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” -Proverbs 27:17

In Him,

Bridgette

Journal #89

I know that I said I don’t want the entirety of this blog to be eating disorder focused, and I maintain that. However, that is where I’m at in my life right now, so sometimes, it’s going to be the most pressing thing on my mind, as it is today.

Coming off of what I’d previous mentioned was a pretty hard week, I’m thankful that today has felt like a breath of fresh air. Mom and I went out to breakfast yesterday morning after church, which was my first time eating breakfast out. As I’m sure you can imagine, it provoked a ton of anxiety, which was relatively kept at bay following the great sermon we heard before. We went to Insomnia, a coffee shop that I’ve always liked, but have never purchased anything but an Americano from.

IMG_5534
The latte and muffin from Insomnia

And what do you know? Their lattes are even BETTER than the plain espresso! I enjoyed (yes, enjoyed!) a lemon poppyseed muffin that had been baked in their kitchen, along with a latte. On Wednesday (three days prior), I had my first latte that was not from Starbucks (who has all of their nutritional info posted online), with my friend Nia at a shop downtown. That was a major hurdle to overcome-the drinking of the latte whose calorie content was unbeknownst to me. I did it, though, and somehow, the drinking of it did NOT cause anything radical to happen, so I went for it again on Sunday. And it was good! The muffin was by far the greatest challenge I’ve had this far, though. I initially opted for a bagel with cream cheese, which still would have been a challenge, but I could’ve more easily been confident with my estimation of the calories. The muffin, however, looked equally if not more appealing, and I can count on one hand the number of muffins I’ve had in the last five years. So, I trusted my gut (and my mom) and went with that. It was yummy 🙂 And, I didn’t have to cram a bunch of exchanges in throughout the rest of the day like I normally do! Talk about a win-win situation 🙂

Another small victory I can claim is my continued diligence to following the guidelines my treatment team and I have in place for my relationship with exercise. I still have yet to enter the cardio room at SAC. It’s now been five months. I think I skip over calling that a “victory” a lot, thinking that I don’t go in there because “I’m not allowed to.” But the truth is, if I make the decision to go in there, there’s nothing stopping me. I’m exercising (pun intended ;)) a great deal of self-discipline by walking PAST that room each time I enter the gym.

In addition, I’ve had quite a few interactions with people at SAC that I would have by no means allowed when I was in my disorder. The gym was for exercise, and that was all. I got into a zone when I walked through those doors. Conversation was strictly forbidden, and that hint was subtly (or not so subtly) dropped to anyone who tried to initiate one. I avoided eye contact with any and everyone I knew in order to discourage, God forbid, anyone speaking to me and requiring me to use any of the little energy I had on conversing, as opposed to the exercising I “needed” to be doing. I ran into a family I used to babysit for while at SAC last night, and allowed myself to step away from my workout and enjoy what ended up being a rather long conversation catching up with one another’s lives. This wasn’t the first time I’d spoken with someone at the gym since being in recovery, but it was the longest conversation I’d had yet, so it stood out to me as a noticeable difference as to where I am mentally and emotionally. Does this mean I want to have a full-blown conversation every time I’m at the gym? For time’s sake, definitely not. But it does mean that I’m not going to put up a wall in order to shield myself from others, just to satisfy my E.D.’s desire to exercise without any disruptions.

Small victories.

-Bridgette

Living Like David

Judging by the fact that you’re reading this right now, you’re probably aware that I switched my blog over to a new site! It’s been a goal of mine recently to transition my blog into less of a “journal entry” posting style into more of a lifestyle blog. It will definitely still be focusing on my recovery, since that’s where I’m at in my life right now, but hopefully less focused on living with an eating disorder and more living like Christ, while moving forward with my recovery.

Our pastor gave an awesome sermon today on the story of David and Goliath. He talked about how, even though the popular morals from the story are, “We can do all things with Jesus”, or “Never, ever, ever give up”, or “The bigger the enemy, the harder they fall”, the real point of it was that David had unshakeable faith. His unshakeable faith wasn’t because he believed his earthly self was capable-but because of his faith that God was capable. Since God had overcome and was within him, David could, in fact, do everything.

Never for a moment did David consider that he was going up against an unstoppable force. He didn’t tremble with fear, he didn’t ask if they could delay the battle for a day so he could “rest up”, he didn’t seek out the greatest protective armor so that he’d be shielded the best he could. He trusted Jesus.

This disorder feels a lot like how I envision Goliath. This past week has been no exception to the many others that have preceded it. It was hard. I did what I needed to “check off all the boxes”, so to speak, but I didn’t feel very victorious. I was also relying on my own strength and hardly depending upon Jesus at all.

This is a hard thing to accept sometimes. It would make me feel a whole lot better to write that all my faith was in The Lord, that whenever a destructive thought came into my head I countered it with a healthy truth or prayed in response, or that I didn’t revert to my own sources of comfort to alleviate my anxiety.

But that wouldn’t be the truth. I thought about giving up a lot, and though neither Tuesday or Thursday were “awful” days, I couldn’t see much of a light at the end of the tunnel.

I was filled with a renewed sense of strength at church this morning. Church at which, they served Communion, which ironically, was what caused my first ever panic attack when I was 15. My most recent one was two days ago, and I hadn’t had one in between. Seeing the crackers and the cups of juice when I walked into the congregation didn’t cause AS much anxiety as they had four years ago, but I was pretty on-edge. In fact, I was planning on just staying seated when we were dismissed to the tables and abstaining from receiving Jesus’ body and blood.

The sermon that Pastor Ryan spoke felt directed at me, though, and when the time came for us to go to the tables, I went. I went, and I took a cracker and a cup of juice, and I took them with remembrance. I continued to move forward, just as I continue to do each day, with Jesus at the forefront of it.

I will continue, to try and live like David. Because, as Pastor Ryan put it, my eating disorder may seem insurmountable, it may seem like an absolutely IMPOSSIBLE being to overtake at times, just like an average response would be to facing Goliath. But because I have Jesus on my side, it’s totally possible to over come it.

Next to Jesus, Goliath looked tiny.

And next to Jesus, so does the eating disorder.

-Bridge

Journal #88

 

May 11, 2016

Tonight, as I sat down to dinner with my mom, I was faced with a choice. I know-nothing new.

Was I going to eat the peach, or was I going to restrict?

It seems like SUCH a simple question.

I’d dished up my pasta salad without measuring it minutes earlier. This is very big for me. Not measuring means inexactness. There’s room for error. Not measuring means that, God forbid, I could have dished out 1/4 cup extra by mistake. Of course, were this to happen, the world would likely end.

Anyway, I dished out the amount I was supposed to have, and looked to Mom, asking for her confirmation that it wasn’t “too much.” Instead, she told me she didn’t think it was quite enough. This is usually the way meals go for us. I ask her if it’s more than I need, hoping to persuade her that I actually have a lot on my plate, and she says, “No, Bridgette-that’s not as much as you have on your meal plan.” So, the usual routine took place. I didn’t argue, and didn’t even pull out the measuring cup-which is what I normally do when there’s any sort of discrepancy. I simply added a bit more pasta.

It left me feeling very uneasy.

I was also supposed to have some fruit with my pasta. Given the anxiety I was already having about the entree, I decided that I could do without the fruit.

How thoughtful of me.

Mom and I ate our dinner (which was very good, by the way-and I made it!) and played Sequence per usual, and then she went out to do some work in the yard while I finished up and did the dishes. And then I looked at my meal plan on the island.

Yup, the fruit was still on there.

Darn.

I just did not know what to do. It would be SO easy to skip it. Mom hadn’t caught it yet, so who knows? Maybe she wouldn’t even notice it. It’s not like it’s even that big of a deal anyway…it’s just a cup of fruit.

But as far as eating disorders go, it’s the little things that are the most significant. It always starts out as something small.

First, the fruit at dinner.

Then, the fruit at my afternoon snack.

Then, afternoon snack completely.

Soon, morning and evening snacks are gone, too.

And so on and so forth; I trust you get the point.

Just like how it goes from one pound lost, to two, to five, to ten, and so on and so forth.

It’s a slippery slope when you’re dealing with an eating disorder. Nothing is ever enough.

So, you know what I did?

I went into my bedroom, leaving the lights off, and I laid down on my bed and prayed.

I prayed for wisdom, and I asked God to let his voice be louder than the voice of the E.D.

When I’d finished praying, I felt a word on my heart.

Obedience.

I’ve prayed over this word for my life a lot. It was my “theme word” in my bible study last year.

I like the word for many reasons, a big one being that it’s so versatile to fit so many different areas of my life.

I want to be OBEDIENT to Jesus.

I want to be OBEDIENT to my parents.

I want to be OBEDIENT to my treatment team and my recovery…

but, it’s a lot harder than it sounds! It’s easier to be obedient when the things you’re being told to do are easy for you.

Normally, the incentive of moving back to Corvallis in June is enough to get me to make the “right”, recovery-oriented choice. I was having a particularly hard time in this situation though, because it didn’t seem like a very big deal. It was a serving of fruit! A mere 60 calories. It wasn’t enough to actually do anything to my weight.

But the word “Obedience” brought me back to where I needed to be. If I was going to be obedient to God, then that meant being obedient to my treatment team, and doing everything that they deemed necessary for my recovery. Which included eating that one exchange of fruit.

So I got up from my bed, walked back into the kitchen, and I ate the darn peach.

-Bridge

Journal #87

May 9th, 2016

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month.

For a long time, I’ve been ashamed of the photos my mom has on her computer from the time I was at my lowest weight.

They’re only on her computer, because I deleted any such evidence from my own. I can’t stand to look at them. Or at least, I couldn’t, until I decided to do so today.

I opened up my mom’s laptop, clicked on iPhoto, and with great hesitancy, began to scroll farther and farther back in time, until I reached 2011.

The year I was hospitalized.

It’s really interesting, actually, to look at the progression of weight loss that occurred. As I looked back through each photograph, I recalled each experience, as if it were happening in slow motion. In previous times when I’ve done this, it’s been incredibly triggering to me. It brought me back to a time when I was living in a false reality, when I was a different person. Today, after a pretty tough E.D. weekend, it only made me want recovery more.

As I looked at the old photos that had once scared me so much, to the point where I would have nightmares about returning to that point in my life (nightmares which I still have), I was encouraged.

I’ve come so far.

Farther than I think I often acknowledge.

This weekend was hard. I had a very, very difficult day on Saturday, which I’m attributing to it being a rest-day (aka not working out). I had to take Saturday off because we were going on a hike Sunday for Mother’s Day. A hike which ended up not being much of a “hike”, in my exercise-obsessed mind.

All day Saturday, as I was struggling to cope with the fact that I wasn’t exercising, and still had to eat all the exchanges on my meal plan, I reminded myself that I would be hiking the next day. So I was (somewhat) able to justify my lack of activity, even though each meal was a challenge.

Sunday came, however, and a day that was supposed to be all about my mom ended up being largely about me. Not in the sense that I dictated others’ actions-we still did our hike, we ate lunch all together, and I ate dinner at home with my mom, but in the sense that my mind was somewhere else. It would be ignorant of me to say that that doesn’t affect my mom, or anyone who’s with me for that matter.

I put on my Nike running leggings Sunday morning in preparation for our hike, and was immediately convinced I’d gained weight. With the nice weather we’ve been having recently, I haven’t put on running tights in over a week. I also haven’t seen my dietician or psychiatrist (the two people that weigh me) in just over a week, the longest I’ve gone yet between weigh-ins. Having already struggled with the eating and not exercising the day before, and not having the reassurance from the scale that my weight had not exponentially increased, I practically had a meltdown.

It was only 6 o’clock in the morning.

The day continued on, however, and we went on our way to meet up with our good family friends for the hike. It was really fun, and as I pointed out to my mom, I was very much present during the actual hike. I wasn’t preoccupied the entire time, which is progress. The hike ended, though, and I was by no means ready for it to end.

That was my hike? It was nothing! I’d call it more of a 45 minute walk.

Not enough to justify everything I’d eaten yesterday and would be eating today, without exercise.

So, I came up with what I thought was an obvious solution. I’d just go to the gym when we got home. Problem solved.

As we all loaded into the car to head back home, my mom had the great idea that we all go meet up at a park on the drive back to Portland, and could sit down and have lunch!

It was 10:00. We would get to the park by about 10:45.

I normally (always) eat lunch after 1:00.

**Meltdown Number Two**

My mom tried to reason with me, and did eventually talk me into agreeing to eat my lunch with our friends, even though it was two hours before my normal meal time.

I ate everything I needed to, but much of the conversation ended up revolving around food and exercise, which was very hard for me. I started to shutdown about ten minutes into the meal.

I am, however, incredibly grateful for that experience. Because just like my shopping trip at Urban Outfitters the other day, it’s another battle I’ve won against the eating disorder. Another step closer to reaching a “normal” life, and being able to re-integrate into society. And as we all know, being able to talk about food and exercise is quite essential to functioning in our culture today.

When I returned home, and told my mom that I would be going to the gym, I was met with resistance. Mom didn’t think going to the gym was a good idea. In fact, she said the only way she would allow it would be if I compensated for it by increasing my exchanges for the day.

Well, I wasn’t about to do that!

**Meltdown Number Three**

The remainder of the day continued to challenge me, but I did make it through, albeit being quite grumpy. I was very eager to see my psychiatrist the next day (today) and see just how much my weight had increased.

So, I saw him today, and guess how much my weight went up? Not much. Not even as much as I’d lost between my previous two appointments (not sure if I’d mentioned that in here), so he said if anything, it needs to go up a little bit more, to get back to the weight I was when I discharged from treatment. Still, I walked out of that appointment feeling satisfied that I had not lost weight since the last time I’d seen him. Again, another sign of progress. Six months ago, if you’d told me that I would be walking out of Dr. Rock’s office, calling my mom with a smile on my face to tell her that my weight was up, I’d have undoubtedly not believed you.

Progress.

But anyway, back to where I started this post. Pictures.

A picture says a thousand words, and I can’t think of a better way to express how true that rings than by sharing this photograph below.

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The photo on the left was taken two days before I was admitted to the hospital for an unsustainable heart rate and unhealthily low body weight. More than the numbers on the doctor’s charts showed, the greatest thing I’d lost was my spirit. I was a shell of myself. I wasn’t loving Jesus, I certainly wasn’t loving anybody else, and I wasn’t looking to anyone or anything but the eating disorder for my sense of self, satisfaction, and approval.

On the right, this photo taken two days ago, is of me, the real me. Do I still have days that I’m pretty much tortured by the eating disorder? Absolutely, yes. Was yesterday one of the worst body image days I’ve had in a while? Yes. You know what’s interesting though? Even when the photo on the left was taken, my body image absolutely sucked. I was NEVER going to be satisfied with the lifestyle I was living then. It was a vicious, endless cycle of destruction. I can undoubtedly say now, that I’m moving closer and closer to being the Bridgette that God designed me to be each day.

And as one of my friends from treatment told me,

“If you’re going to dislike your body anyway (referring to never being satisfied even at the most unhealthy of weights), wouldn’t you rather dislike it and still be able to do all the fun stuff you want to do?”

Yesterday, we hiked.

In two weekends, I get to get on a plane and fly to Columbus, Ohio, to visit my best friend from Residential.

In a month, I (hopefully) will get to return to Corvallis full-time and resume a normal, college-student’s life.

I would rather weigh a few pounds more than I’d like to and be able to do all of these fun things, than weigh a few pounds more than I’d like to and be stuck in a hospital bed or treatment facility.

I love the quote,

“Mental illness is not a choice, but recovery is.”

I used to be so ashamed to look at the photos from the days when I was drowning in my disorder because I thought they showed how weak I was.

Today, I looked at those photos and thought, “Wow-look how strong I am today, and look how far I’ve come.”

That is something that I am proud of.

In Him,

Bridgette