The Writing on my Arm

If I had a penny for every time someone asked me about my tattoo, I’d be a rich lady! And for the sake of this college girl’s wallet, I WISH that were the case! Nevertheless, I get asked about my tattoo a lot. I love that. It’s part of the reason I decided to get it in such a visible place, because I knew it would be a great conversation starter. It definitely has been. I’ve been asked about it by strangers on the MAX, professors in a college class, baristas at Starbucks, sorority girls during RUSH…the list goes on, and on, and on.

I get asked about it so frequently, that I feel like I should have a pretty good handle on how I like to explain it by now. For whatever reason though, I don’t. It’s because of that, that I decided to write this blog post today. I want to finally express what the writing on my arm means to me.

I’ve never been much of a tattoo person. I’ve said from the beginning that this tattoo on my arm is the only one I’ll ever have, and I maintain that to this day…despite all the warnings from other “tattooies” that assured me I would get hooked after one. Not the case! I don’t care for the look of tattoos, and I’ve never really appreciated them as art. In my opinion, if I want a beautiful piece of art, I’ll get it printed on a canvas and hung in my living room, not on my body. Clearly though, I have a tattoo. So why the exception? Why is Ecclesiastes 7:5 written in permanent tattoo ink on my arm?

As with all bible verses, there are multiple translations of Ecclesiastes 7:5, but my favorite is the New Living Translation. It says,

“It is better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool.”

There are a lot of ways to interpret all bible verses, but the way I take this one, is that my eating disorder is the fool. For years (six now), it’s tried to convince me to trust it. It’s made my family, my friends, and medical professionals, out to be liars, when in actuality, they were just loving, concerned people…and rightly so. They were telling me truth, it just wasn’t the truth that my E.D. wanted me to hear. It turned me into a liar, believing that pleasing it was the only important thing in my life, putting to the side my relationships with all others, including with God.

This verse was shown to me at a time when I needed it most; the first time I ever went through treatment. I was fifteen years old. I was vulnerable, scared, and running on pretty close to empty. The eight months of treatment I entered into, was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through in my fifteen years of life (and I’d gone through some tough stuff). I knew that I had to fully surrender myself to Jesus if I was going to come out on the other side of this disease, if I was going to beat anorexia. It was then that this verse sort-of became my life mantra. It still is, and I’m reminded of it every time I look down at my arm. It reminds me in my eating disorder, but also in all other areas of life, that I am not the end all, be all. I do not know everything. And sometimes, what’s inside my own head is the fool. It’s up to me to take a step back, and decide who I’m going to listen to. Will I choose to listen to the voice inside my own head, the fool? Or will I choose to listen to the other voice, the voice of wise counsel, both of Jesus, and of those who He has placed in my life to guide me?

So, that is what Ecclesiastes 7:5 means to me. I guess it wasn’t that hard to explain after all!

In all other news, my recovery is going great. I had a fun week of celebrating my twenty-first birthday with friends, which included multiple instances of going out to eat. And guess what the crazy part is? I actually wanted to. Celebrating, even by way of food, sounded fun to me. I truthfully cannot remember the last time that was the case. My weight has continued to hold in the middle of my healthy weight range, and both my treatment team and I are very proud of that.

I think it’s going to be a great year.

In Him,

Bridge

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Finally Weight Restored, My First Run & That Oh So Coveted “Summer Body”

Well…I finally did it. I’m there. As of Thursday, June 29th, 2017, I am officially, 100% weight restored. I have never restored this much weight without re-entering inpatient treatment, and I am so proud of myself. To celebrate, that night my mom, brother, and I went to a Brad Paisley concert. I’d actually purchased the tickets for us a while ago (it was a birthday present for my mom), but it was quite convenient that it fell on the same day as one we wanted to celebrate! We planned on eating dinner there, but didn’t know what would be available. Yes, if you’re wondering, this in itself was a big deal. Spontaneity when it comes to eating is not easy for me! Anyway, we got to the concert and looked at the food options. There was the traditional concession food: hot dogs, pizza, french fries, etc., but there was also a food truck. It was Bunk Sandwiches, which is a pretty well known sandwich shop in Portland. I’d never had a sandwich from there before (frankly, the thought terrified me), but I realized that I had two options. I could have a probably not very good, overpriced item from the concession stand, or I could try something new, something unique that would probably taste pretty darn good. So, on the day I became weight restored, when it would’ve been very, very easy to restrict because I no longer needed to gain weight, I chose what I wanted. That was monumental. And yes, the sandwich was delicious. I ate the entire thing, even though my mom said I didn’t have to! I had wanted to order the turkey sandwich, but they were out of turkey…so, I had to change my plan. That was an additional challenge. But, I adjusted, and chose another that sounded good (albeit more difficult!): the muffuletta.

The next morning, I drove myself to Nike World Headquarters (the campus is less than a ten minute drive from my house!) and went for a run. Yes, you read that right — I went for a run. It had been 18 months and two days since the last time I’d done cardio exercise. 18 months and 2 days is a very long time. I was humbled at how difficult running for just 25 minutes was for me! It was incredible, all the same. And knowing that I’d waited until my body was really and truly healthy enough to endure it made it all the more special. I deserved this run, and I felt it.

One “side effect” of having now gained the weight that I did? My clothes don’t fit. Oh yeah. Clothes. Kind of important. My dad had told me a while back (when I was first starting to notice my clothes getting tighter) that he would buy me some new clothes that fit me at my restored weight once I got there. Today, he and I went to Nordstrom Rack to try and find some things. I probably tried on over fifty items, and I walked away with two. Everything else either didn’t fit right, or just plain didn’t look good. That was really hard for me. It was really (really, really, REALLY) hard for me to have to go up two pant sizes from where I was just a couple of months ago. It was really hard for me to try on a shirt and see it hug a little too snug in places where it didn’t in the spring. And what was most frustrating, was just not liking the reflection of the body I saw when I looked in the mirror.

My first thoughts were: Bridgette, you’ve let yourself go. How did this happen… You had a body you worked so hard for, and now you’ve lost it.

But then, I caught myself. I changed my thought pattern. I started telling myself these things: This body allowed me to go for a run on Friday morning for the first time in over a year and a half. This body was able to swim laps yesterday, something I haven’t been able to do in years. This body was able to enjoy a beach vacation with my family last weekend, complete with eating the meals that they ate, having a piece of my childhood favorite beach treat (dark chocolate seafoam!) and SURFING. This body, is my healthy body. It’s able to do all of the things my sick body couldn’t do and more.

Living in the world we do, there’s a lot of focus on getting a “summer body.” We’re inundated with advertisements for products that promise quick fixes, magazine articles that claim they have the top exercises to trim your tummy, and images of photoshopped celebrities who look unlike 99% of the population (many of whom don’t even look like the actual celebrity in real life, in the first place!).

What I’m learning, is that my ideal summer body doesn’t look like anything at all. My ideal summer body is one that allows me to live my life to the fullest. It’s one that’s healthy enough to go for a hike when a friend invites me to go on one with her family. It’s able to go out to a fair and enjoy a milkshake on occasion. And for me, it’s one that has a little bit of fat on it.

This summer has been great so far. It’s been really busy, but all full of good things. My internship with Medtronic is going fabulously; I’m getting to stand next to a surgeon as he implants a pacemaker into a patient’s heart, and I’m not quite sure what more I could ask for beyond that! I’m loving coaching the summer swim team, and my online class is going fine (let’s be honest, I’d be happy to not have that be a part of my summer!). I hope to write more later, but for now, that’s it.

🙂 Bridge

 

The Best Year Yet

On Thursday I said, “Goodbye,” to the house I’ve lived in since last June. I’d never lived in a house with three other girls, or any other girls for that matter, before. It was a growing experience in so many ways.

I didn’t expect to cry when I left, but I did. There were so many emotions running through my mind. As I told one of my dearest friends, and roommate, Claire, while we said our goodbyes (although we did clarify…it’s not a goodbye, just a see-you-later!), as she’s graduating from Oregon State today, the four of us did so much more than just “live” together. We learned together, laughed together, and most importantly, loved together. She was quick to point out how much we grew together, too, and I’d have to agree. It’s really weird for me to think back to this time last year and where I was mentally. I feel like I’m a completely different person. We laughed when I pointed out that I think all summer last year, I had five things in the fridge at all times. Five things, and only five things. All summer. I ate the same breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and evening snack, all summer. For three months. That’s a lot of the same! Now, I’m getting better at switching things up, and when opportunities come up that push me out of my comfort zone, most of the time, I take them. It’s still not easy, but it doesn’t cause me to break out in panic, and the majority of the time, I even end up enjoying it! I’m learning more and more that life is better without my eating disorder.

My mom and I were running errands last night, and I got teary eyed at the check-out of Home Depot. It’s going to sound ridiculous, I know… But you know where they sell candies and things on the shelf next to the check-out? I saw Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix, and sunflower seeds, all sitting along the shelf. Claire’s favorite things! Oh, how I will miss her! And that’s such an incredible feeling. To have grown so close with someone that simply seeing their favorite treats will bring you close to tears. I’ve never had that before. I’ve had close friends, yes. Lots of them, actually! But there’s something about a roommate that’s different. They’re there all the time. Especially during such a transformative year for me. They were there after each appointment, when there were tears of sadness and tears of joy. They were there when I lost Rocky, when Bradley played his last football game (they actually came to that game!), when I had to have two hand surgeries in six months, when I didn’t think I could make it through one more week of anatomy and chemistry… They were there through all of it. To give pep talks, hugs, share in the sadness or rejoicing I was experiencing, and just to be a listening ear. This year, more than anything, I think I learned the value of relationships. The value of truly living life with someone, or multiple someones! The coolest thing about that, is that it’s the exact opposite of what an eating disorder wants. It’s often said in treatment, eating disorders thrive in secrecy. They desire seclusion, delusion, and anxiety and depression. There’s a reason I’ve never lived with roommates before this year, and it’s not because I just prefer to be independent. It’s largely been due to my E.D. I feel so blessed to have lived with girls who were such positive influences in my life. They were each so healthy, in their own way. Some ate “cleaner” than others, some worked out more, but all lived a life of balance. Each of them was down to grab pizza at 8 o’clock if someone offered it up, none of them were scared to try a bite of someone else’s food, each of them worked out because it made them feel good. I’d be silly to think that being surrounded each of these girls’ healthy mindsets wasn’t critical in helping me develop my own. I know that Jesus placed each of these girls in my life for a reason, and I am so much more thankful for that than I can put into words. So, Claire, Anna, and Molly… Thank you.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I’d sort of forgotten (I’m not a terrible daughter, I had gotten him a present…I just forgot about the typical celebration part!), and had planned to go out to a smoothie bar with my friend, Savannah. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while… Honestly, something that I’ve been wanting to do for years (!): Go to Kure and get a smoothie bowl. It’s a pretty trendy thing to do in Portland, and honestly, I think I’m the last one of my friends to have ever not had one…but due to E.D. reasons, I never have. I’d gone to Kure, twice. But never have I gotten a bowl (it’s a smoothie base, topped with granola). It was going to be a challenge for me, but I was up for it! Anyway, the plan was to go Sunday morning. Then, my mom reminded me about Father’s Day. Shoot. We proooobably should go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner with my Dad. That was going to mean two challenge meals, basically back to back. Oh, and how had I forgotten? My mom and brother and I had made plans for a family friend to come over tonight to play games…and have dessert. Yeah, the D-word. Three things in 24 hours?!! Ohhhh boy.

You know what, though? I’m feeling up to it. And that’s the part that’s so cool about growth. Along the way, I didn’t notice how much each “challenge food” I’d done, each last minute things I’d said yes to, each “full-fat” thing I’d ordered, etc. thing was making me grow, but now I’m seeing the results of it. Am I still slightly stressed about the fact that I have all of these more difficult things coming up in such a short period of time? Yeah, it’s not ideal. But it’s life. And more and more, I’m learning to embrace that.

In Him,

Bridge

 

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Until it’s Gone

There’s a well known quote, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I’ve always heard that quote in a negative context, as in: you don’t realize how much you’ll miss something until you don’t have it anymore. I’m beginning to see it in a way I never thought about it, though — that you don’t realize how bad something is, until the weight of it is removed from you.

As the veil of both my anxiety and depression are gradually lifting, I’m seeing the light at the end of this tunnel more and more. Little things are making me smile. I find myself laughing — not forcing a chuckle, but actually laughing — frequently.

I realized late this morning, after having had quite a few frustrating things happen, that I was still feeling okay. In fact, I was still feeling better than I can recall feeling at any point over the last few months (maybe year). It’s like I didn’t realize how bad my depression and anxiety were until I was no longer held captive by them. I didn’t realize that it was my depression that was causing me to take naps most days, not because I was tired, but because I didn’t want to sit through the torturous thoughts that would come through my head, from after I’d finished breakfast to when I had my snack, and then again from that time to when I’d later eat lunch. And on a really bad day, again from lunch on through dinner. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to have to work so hard to smile, even when around people who used to make me truly happy. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to feel so drained of energy all the time, even when I’d gotten a full eight-hours of sleep the night before.

One of the hardest things in this recovery process is trusting. Those of us in treatment hear it all the time: Trust your team. Trust your dietician. Trust your psychiatrist. Trust your therapist. Trust your parents. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds! By trusting, we’re allowing one of the most important things in our lives, our eating disorder, to be taken out of our hands, and submitting to those who know better. There’s nothing they can tell us that’s reassuring enough. My team had told me many a time, “Trust us. It will get better.” And now, I’m finally seeing the fruits of my labor, the benefits of my trusting paying off. With that, I feel my trust I have for my team growing even stronger. I trust that they know what’s best for me, even if I don’t like it, and even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. I know that they have my best interest at heart, and I know that they’re walked this journey with other patients, too — patients who didn’t think it would get better, but for whom it did.

I’m stressed right now. Between going through training for my new summer job, finalizing details for my internship, studying for finals, still commuting Corvallis to Portland and back each weekend, etc., my plate is pretty full. But despite all of those things, I feel lighter. Not physically (my E.D. wishes!), but mentally and emotionally lighter. I don’t feel like I’ll snap if one more thing goes wrong, and I don’t feel exhausted when I wake up in the morning.

I did something challenging today. I got rid of about 50 pieces of clothing. Some of it will be sold, and the rest donated. My therapist has been encouraging me for a while to go through my closet and take out the clothes that are no longer fitting me, as they’re not serving any purpose besides reminding me that I’m gaining weight! The process of getting rid of clothes is challenging though. Not just because they no longer fit me, as I know that can be challenging for the average person as well, but because getting rid of them implies that I’m not going back to a weight where they will fit again. Ever. That sort of finality is scary, it means that I’m letting go of another layer of my eating disorder. As I shared on my recovery Instagram account (@balancedbridge), last week I said, “Goodbye,” to a pair of jeans that had a lot of emotional meaning to me. The quoted text below was how I captioned the photo.

Well, the day has come.
My body-checking jeans are officially too small.
My therapist has told me to get rid of this pair of jeans countless times, and I kept putting it off.
This morning, as I strained to pull them over my ever-growing thighs, I realized that the time had finally come. They are too tight.
It’s with great sadness that I say goodbye to these jeans. They’ve been with me through a lot. I told my therapist that I couldn’t get rid of them, because that symbolized really moving on from my eating disorder. I’ve used these jeans to body-check since I got them my senior year of high school. That’s four years. That’s a LONG time.
Today though, I am choosing recovery. Today, I’m moving forward. And today, I’m saying goodbye to these jeans 👋🏼

If you don’t know what body-checking is, it’s a term used in the E.D. community for measuring one’s body, and it’s always regarded in a negative way. For me, getting rid of the pair of jeans I’ve used to body-check (there were a few other items of clothing used for that as well, but I got rid of them when I was in the PHP program last year) is a pretty big step. I hope to never have to get rid of another item of clothes used for body-checking, as I hope to be ridding myself of that nasty habit.

I know I said I probably wouldn’t blog again before the end of the school year (and I meant it when I said it!), but it’s just such a great outlet for me! I decided to write a post because of today being celebrated worldwide as “National Eating Disorder Action Day.” If you want to read more about what this day means, click here.

 

If you’re reading this, thank you for supporting me and following my journey. Happy June, and I hope you’re able to enjoy this beautiful sunshine!

🙂 Bridge

 

A Great Day

Yesterday was a great day.

Nothing in particular “happened” to make it that way, but the way I’ve been feeling made it so.

I haven’t been cleared to do more activity, my period hasn’t returned, and I’m not yet done with classes for the term (TWO MORE WEEKS). Yet, for some reason, I’m feeling awesome.

My therapist said on Thursday that I seem like a whole different person. Dr. Rock concurred with her at my check-in with him on Friday.

And you know what’s cool?

I weigh the most I have in over three years. I feel the best I have in that time frame.

My treatment team has told me that as I got into a healthier weight range, I would probably start to feel better. I didn’t think they could possibly right. I guess that maybe they were! I feel the most vibrant, full-of-life, and confident that I can remember feeling since, honestly, ever. And that is despite a lovely zit that’s made it’s home in the center of my forehead!

I know that I’d be naive to think that it’s all going to be a downhill battle from here. I know it won’t be. My meal plan just got increased (again), due to my weight holding fairly constant despite the amount of food I’m putting into it. I’m handling it well, though,  agreeing to make the additions necessary and continuing to move forward. I also have begun to get intermittent cramps, something I’m really (really really really) hoping is a sign of my period on it’s way back. We’ll see!

The photos below are from yesterday. My mom, brother, and his girlfriend came down to Corvallis to go to a baseball game, and I was able to give them a tour of the Football center, where I work. We had a blast. As I said in my Instagram caption, “The sun was out, Beaver baseball won 11-0, and I got to show my fam around the ol’ workplace. Couldn’t ask for a better day!”

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, Everyone. Thank you to all of those who have, will, or are currently serving our country ❤️

🙂 Bridge

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An Unfortunate Reality Check

I had what I would call “an unfortunate reality check” yesterday.

As many of you know, I have been on exercise restriction for some time now (17 months, actually, but who’s counting?). It started back in December of 2015, when I was admitted to residential treatment, and has been in place (to some degree) ever since. Some of that, however, has been self-imposed. I made the personal decision to take a year off from doing cardio after reading Decoding Anorexia and learning about the increased success rates seen in patients who do so. However, once my year was up, I’d fallen back into a place of needing to restore weight, and so was advised to continue abstaining from cardiovascular exercise. This has been one of the most difficult parts of my recovery, but I am proud to say I’ve adhered to my medical professionals’ recommendations. There have been days (many, actually) that I have wanted nothing more than to get out my frustration, anger, joy, anxiety, sadness, glee — you name it — by running until I hit a wall…but I have refrained. It’s a constant battle between healthy Bridgette wanting to do anything and everything to get my weight up to a place where I’m healthy enough to exercise, and the eating disorder, who tells me if I go over my meal plan by a single ounce, then my entire world will fall apart. I’m thankful that more and more, the former seems to be winning out.

I will say, abstaining from cardio has had many benefits. For one, I’ve learned a lot of new coping skills. Coping skills that I know I wouldn’t have had to learn to use if I could’ve evaded my emotions by “running them out.” Secondly, it’s prevented me from relapsing farther than I already did. I strongly believe that I would be in a much, much worse place right now and would be having to restore a great deal more weight than I am already having to, if I had added cardio back into my exercise regimen once I was granted the “Ok” to do so. Thirdly, it’s helping me view my relationship with exercise more healthily. It’s no secret that cardio exercise is an instantaneous calorie burner, and for someone with OCD, anxiety and depression, and anorexia, that can quickly turn into a full-fledged addiction. I’m really proud to say that I enjoy each and every time I walk into the gym to lift weights now, (albeit wishing I could be there for more than 20 minutes at a time!), and that I feel strong when doing so. Fourth and lastly (though I could probably think of more things!), abstaining from weight-bearing exercise has helped maintain my physical health while going through this recovery process.

“What am I talking about?”, you may be wondering. “Exercise is good for your bones?”. That is true, but as it turns out, it’s only true under certain circumstances. Exercise increases bone strength when hormone levels (FSH, LH, estrogen, and estradiol) are high enough. Otherwise, it can be detrimental to the bones, causing irreversible damage to an already weakened body.

And that is where my unfortunate reality check comes in.

I’ve been dying (yes, dying) to go for a run, increasingly so as the weather has gotten nicer and I’ve seen more and more people out doing it. I talked in my last post about wanting to run the 5k that my roommates participated in at the Wanderlust mindfulness triathlon we did last weekend. I wasn’t given my treatment team’s blessing to run it, so I walked it…but that sparked a new conversation. How did we really know my bones weren’t strong enough to handle this? My weight is the highest it’s been in a long time, and actually a weight that I’ve had my period at before (years ago). Couldn’t my body just be taking a long time to start my period, but physically be ready to do so?

Naturally, I presented these questions to my team. They were understanding, and agreed to order blood testing to check my hormone levels. The deal was: If my hormone levels came back “normal,” we would discuss increasing my activity, as that would mean my bones were strong enough to endure more exercise without damage. It would also mean that my period was on its way to returning, but likely was just going to take a bit more time. What “increased activity” would look like was TBD, but you can bet I started brainstorming the minute they said, “We’ll see.” What would I do first?! Where would I run; which trails would I hit? Should I do my favorite loop around the Nike campus, or go back to where we did our summer cross country runs up on Wildwood Trail? Oh, and I could LAP SWIM! That sounds so nice, especially now that we’re getting warmer weather! Not to mention the drop-in gymnastics class I’d been so eager to try ever since before I hurt my hand… I was brimming with ideas, and I hadn’t even gotten the go-ahead yet. You could say I got a little ahead of myself.

Friday I had my blood work done, and I prayed. Oh, I prayed so much. I wanted this so, so badly. I knew that I still had to get to the new weight my treatment team had set, regardless of the outcome, but if I could just be granted the go-ahead to go for a run, I would be so, so happy.

I wasn’t supposed to learn the results until my follow-up appointment with my psychiatrist this coming Friday, but because I’m annoying and wanted to know the results, I called him over the weekend and asked if he could please call me on Monday to let me know; I couldn’t wait any longer.

Well, it turns out that I will be waiting longer. My levels were too low. Not a little too low, but quite a bit; low enough that he doesn’t think my period’s going to return in the coming month, and certainly too low to add in any weight-bearing exercise. To say I was devastated would be an incredible understatement. I got the call from him yesterday morning, and have spent much of the day today pulling myself out of what I know could easily become a state of depression. Despite the sadness, I went about the rest of my day as planned. I still went to the gym and did my 20 minutes of weight-lifting that I’m allowed to do three times a week, and I enjoyed every single second of those 20 minutes. I kept plans to meet up with my Dad, and then my friend Elizabeth later in the afternoon. I will go about the rest of my day, and week, and months to come, doing just what I have been: plugging away at recovery. I know that I can be proud of all the achievements I’m making, even if I can’t run yet. I know that in time (and with added body fat), my period will return. I know that one day, somewhere down the line, I will be able to go for a run — and OH, how I will cherish that day!

It was a really good reminder. I learned from my dietician that though my being at this weight was high enough to trigger my menstrual cycle years ago, it likely is not anymore. The reason for that is: research has shown that each relapse causes a higher body fat percentage needed in order for the body to have a period. The science behind that is that the body doesn’t feel “safe enough” to worry about using the nutrition is getting on non-vital functions, like hormones. Each time I’ve relapsed, my body has had the rug (i.e.: nutrition) pulled out from under it, and therefore, it doesn’t want to waste any unnecessary energy producing hormones. So, while X pounds may have been enough weight for me to have my period before I’d relapsed multiple times, this time, my body may decide that it’s not ready to have a period until I’m at X+Y pounds.

This has been sobering for me. It was an unfortunate reality check, but also a great reminder of the damage I’ve done to my body, and the damage I will work to never do again. I’ve put my body through the ringer and back these last six years, and now I am paying the consequences. I know a lot of people have a hard time reconciling these types of instances along with having a faith in God. I have a hard tine reconciling many things in my faith, but not this. The Bible tells us that God is just. It tells us that He loves us and wants what’s best for us, but also that he is fair, and righteous, and enforces punishment. I don’t believe that God is punishing me by doing this, per se, but I do think I’m paying the consequences for the actions I did to my body.

The one saving grace for me, in all of this, is that my treatment team is proud of me. They’re really, really proud of me — and I can’t even begin to describe how good that makes me feel. I’ve pushed myself in multiple ways over the past month especially, from going above and beyond eating what’s on my meal plan, to trying out new recipes, to being honest and owning up about when I’ve cut something out, and then making up for it, etc. All three of them (therapist, dietician, and psychiatrist) have told me individually how proud of me they are, and I don’t take that lightly. It means a lot, because they don’t always say it…  so when they do, I know it’s genuine. I know that I am doing a good job. I just need to keep at it, and I’ll get there, eventually.

I didn’t intend for this to become a full-length blog post, but I guess that’s just what happens sometimes. It’s hard to keep things short when there’s so much I have to say! There’s a lot more I could write about, but for both my sake and yours, I’ll cap it here. This week is week 8 (out of 10) at school, and as classes are ramping up for final projects and exams, I know things will continue to get more and more stressful. If I don’t blog from now until a few weeks from now, you’ll know why!

I hope you all have a blessed week, and as always, thank you for walking this journey with me.

 

-Bridge

Walking the 5k

Today, I completed my first mindfulness triathalon with two of my best friends. It consisted of a 5k, an hour of yoga, and a meditation. We registered for this a few months ago, and back then it had been my goal to be healthy enough to run the 5k. Yesterday at one of my weekly appointments, I broached the subject with my therapist.

“So, Becca…You know how my weight’s been going up pretty consistently?”

“Yes, Bridge.”

“Do you think, maybe…I could run the 5k with Anna and Claire tomorrow?”

“Bridge…You know the answer to that. Not yet.”

I was broken-hearted. I’d known all along that it wasn’t a sure thing, but I’d been doing so well! Why wasn’t I getting this one privilege that I wanted so bad, as a result of all of my hard work? It was just a measly 3.1 miles, and I was going to be doing it anyway, walking or running! But for whatever reason, my treatment team didn’t think it was a good idea, and I had to just accept that. After taking a minute to process (and complaining/crying to my mom for a while), I took a deep breath, and my mom countered the thoughts I was having, that “I’m not getting any better and I’m NEVER going to get better.” She reminded me that I AM getting better. I’m making progress every single freaking day. Last night, I had a burger and corn, and Hagen Dazs ice cream with my roommates. Today, I ate my breakfast two hours earlier than normal so that we could get to our triathalon, and then at the event I tried a sample of granola. All of those things are little things, but they’re huge to me. They’re things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing even six months ago.

Today at the triathalon, I walked the 5k, with two of my best friends. It may not have been what I wanted, but it was what was right for me. And I am accepting that 💗

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My registration bib

“Overcoming the Numbers Game”

As promised, here is the link to the article from the Beaver’s Digest magazine. I am thankful to my new friend, Adair, for sharing a part of my story with the Oregon State community.

I’ll get to posting a more in-depth blog eventually, but I wanted to post the link to the magazine article in before that time comes. I’m back in Corvallis as I write this, after another successful doctor appointment where I learned that my weight is continuing to go up. This is good. I know it is good. It does not feel good!

For the time being, my focus is on enjoying this final term of my Junior year with my roommates and friends in Corvallis, as well as getting through the anatomy, chemistry, and kinesiology courses I am taking (Whew! That’s a mouthful!), not to mention, my recovery. I look forward to blogging  the next time I have a chance 🙂

 

-Bridge

Even If

The song Even If, by Mercy Me, is one I’ve been clinging to lately. Mainly, it’s the chorus that resonates with me.

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone 

I haven’t felt a whole lot like blogging the last couple of days. 

To be completely honest, I haven’t even really felt like talking. 

I got some news on Monday that kind of rocked my world.

My treatment team did a little digging this past week and found my old growth charts, from before I had my eating disorder. My dietician was becoming suspicious that the target weight they’d set for me, the one I just got to, wasn’t high enough. My period’s yet to come back, but she must’ve had a hunch other than that, because even once at a healthy weight, it can still take someone’s body anywhere from one to twelve months to resume having a menstrual cycle.

So anyway, my psychiatrist pulled out my growth charts. He saw that the target weight they’d been using for me was determined when I was fifteen years old. It hadn’t been accounted for, over the last six years I’ve been in treatment, that I’ve gotten older as well — and, that according to the growth charts, my weight should’ve increased.

You might be wondering what the big deal is. What would the harm be in my target weight being just a few pounds too short? Well, according to research that’s been done on anorexia, it can be pretty detrimental. It actually may be to blame for me having relapsed four times over the last six years; I hadn’t been getting to a high enough weight. If you want to read more about the correlation between anxiety, eating disorder recovery, and why the last few pounds of weight restoration are so important, I talked about it in this blog post.

I’d anticipated that I may be getting some tough news at my appointment on Tuesday, because my therapist told me it might be a good idea to bring my mom to our appointment. My mom normally doesn’t come to my therapy appointments because she’s at work. For her to request time off from work is a pretty big deal, so I knew it was serious. I was not, however, prepared to be told all of this new information, including my new target weight range, at my appointment with my psychiatrist on Monday.

The news that I’m no longer weight restored was very hard to hear. I now have to gain as much weight as I’ve put on since I got home from Italy, again…and it’s more than just a couple of pounds. I have to get to a weight that I’ve never been before.

I’m scared. I’m also sad, and frustrated. I’m feeling a whole slew of emotions that I know I could eliminate with the help of my trusty friend, E.D. I’m not going to turn to him for help, though. I’m determined to make it to the other side of this. I know that I can, and I know that I will. But, it is going to be very, very hard. As uncomfortable as I’ve been over the last three months, I am now about to be even more so.

The reality of this new weight range hasn’t just been hard for me, either. My mom’s cried more than once this week. I know she knows how hard it’s going to be for me, and how hard it’s going to be for her. For one, it’s hard for her to watch me in pain, but it’s also hard because it means an even more extensive role for her as the food police. I know we were both so looking forward to that portion of our relationship becoming less and less prominent.

As much as I wish that this process was over (with every fiber of my being…), I firmly trust my treatment team. I know that they want what’s best for me, and I have to believe that they won’t lead me astray.

I was given permission to do a “freebie” of cardio on Monday afternoon, after hearing the news that brought me to tears. I chose to go to Sky High trampoline park, where I bounced around for an hour. It was really nice of my psychiatrist to give me his blessing to do that. I know it burned a lot of calories, and I had to make up for it by adding to my meal plan, but I think he understood the benefit of it for my mental sanity. After doing thirty flips into the foam pit and bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, I drove myself to Washington Square mall and bought myself a new jacket at Lululemon with a gift card I’d gotten for Christmas. According to the “incentive sheet” I’d made for myself a couple of weeks ago, that gift card wasn’t supposed to be redeemed until I’d maintained my restored weight for three weeks. Because of the circumstances, though, and because I wasn’t going to make myself wait another three months to use the gift card when I’ve been working so hard, I made an exception.

I’m back in Corvallis this week for work, but I’ve been on spring break since Monday . I am very pleased with my grades from this term, especially given what I’ve been dealing with, and am very eager for seven days of relaxing with my mom and brother. We’ll leave for Boise for Bradley’s lacrosse tournament on Friday and then drive to Bend on Sunday, where we’ll stay for the remainder of the week. I’ll return to Corvallis the following Monday and begin spring term of classes. I’m planning taking ten credits, which is a step up from the six I took this quarter. My goal is to slowly begin re-integrating into college living, hopefully staying in Corvallis for some weekends and not having to travel to Portland as frequently for more appointments. I will say though, this goal was made before hearing about how much more weight restoration I’d be having to do, so we’ll see how it goes. As my mom keeps reminding me: If I were in treatment right now (which I technically should be), I wouldn’t be getting to do any of this stuff that I’m doing. I wouldn’t be getting to take classes, I wouldn’t be getting to stay half of the week in Corvallis, I wouldn’t be getting to work. For this season of my life, my focus is recovery. I’m going to get myself as healthy as I possibly can so that I can live my life again. That is my real goal.

 -Bridge

The Last 24

If you’ve seen the show The First 48, you might have gotten my (intended) pun of a title. My mom and I are suckers for Dateline and other crime-TV shows (we actually have one on right now!), and I don’t turn down an opportunity to use a pun when I see one. The last 24 hours have been good. For that, I am so, so thankful. It’s moments like these, when I experience a bit of a break from the eating disorder, that I’m rejuvenated and reminded why recovery is worth it, and why I keep fighting.

I had my appointment with Dr. Rock yesterday, and it went well. He decided to stay vague and not give me the specifics of my weight, but he said that I’d held up my end of the contract, meaning it had gone up at least the amount we’d agreed upon. Instead of feeling anxious upon learning my weight had gone up, like I normally would’ve, I felt okay. It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around, seeing as moments before the appointment, I’d felt like I was going to puke, so conflicted as to whether I wanted my weight to be up (the E.D. didn’t want) or down (which would’ve meant disappointing my mom and providers, as well as losing them). My mom came to my appointment (Thanks for the snow day that allowed her to, Beaverton School District!), which I think helped, but I also just felt a sense of calm after the appointment that I normally don’t. It was very welcomed (Thank you, Jesus).

This morning, I had my weekly session with my therapist. My mom came to that one, too! I walked out invigorated and renewed after we worked through some cognitive remediation therapy, a technique used with the goal of increasing my brain flexibility, and reducing my rigidity around eating disordered thoughts and behaviors. We also talked about how my treatment is really, so simple if I just follow the plan that’s laid out for me. It’s only when I begin to listen to the eating disorder, and try to manipulate things that it gets complicated. I was able to identify that my automatic response to hearing those words “follow the plan” is that I need to be submissive, but my therapist reframed it as imagining I’m following a training program, and my providers are my coaches. That, of course, was right up my alley, and left me feeling excited to get home and get training! We agreed that I would look at this as a 30-day program, just to start out, and that for the next 30 days, I would follow my meal plan TO THE T (just as I totally would if it were an exercise program’s plan), checking in with my mom and my providers as I go along. So, I came home this evening and mapped out a little program for myself in a journal, complete with a checklist of my behaviors each day and a spot to record my highs and lows, mood in the morning and evening, level of motivation, and any other pertinent tid-bits from the day.

Tomorrow, I’ll go to church with my mom and begin Day 2 of my training regimen.

I’m excited.

 

-Bridge