Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Poem that Touched me…and travel!

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“Love After Love”
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

We watched a youtube video by Jon Kabat-Zinn in treatment tonight and he closed with this poem. It really touched me. It seems like a poem about eating disorder recovery in so many ways.

Tonight we also did meal planning. My nutritionist doesn’t seem to think I should be eating the same breakfast, same lunch, same dinner every day. So, we planned out some different meals. We have a sheet for a week’s worth of meals, but I only got through 3 days of meals. I am supposed to finish on my own. I also learned that my breakfasts and lunches weren’t meeting my meal plan. Oops! Well, I know how to fix them now.

In other news, I booked plane tickets to visit southern California in May and my hotel room for a trip to Albuquerque in April!

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Asserting Myself

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dv

Tonight we had art therapy. Ever since we talked about the wheel of abuse, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head that my eating disorder is abusive toward me. Tonight, I wanted to practice assertiveness toward my eating disorder so I drew the first panel where my eating disorder is being abusive and I am in a defensive position. Then, I drew the second panel where I am being assertive and wrote out all the things I want to say to my eating disorder.

It’s very similar to the Lies Kyle Tells exercise we did, but I am feeling very rebellious toward my eating disorder today and assertiveness is not my forte, so I felt the need to practice it tonight. I also wanted to visually represent Kyle as abusive as a reminder to myself for when I’m not feeling so rebellious.

Values

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values

On Monday, in individual therapy, I went over my values cards. It’s pretty neat, you have a stack of like 100 values and you start by sorting them by “very important,” “sort of important,” and “not important”. Then you get rid of the sort of important and not important stacks. You take the very important stack and sort it into “problems,” “shoulds,” and I can’t remember the other stack. Then you discard the problems and shoulds and start over with the other stack sorting into “very important,” “sort of important,” and “not important.” There are more steps, but I don’t remember them all. Anyway, you get down to 7 most important values, then 5, then 3 core values, then your single most important value.

My 7 most important values are: (in no particular order)

  • family
  • friendship
  • growth
  • connection
  • love
  • discovery
  • spirituality

My 3 core values are:

  • spirituality
  • love
  • discovery

And my single most important value is love.

I think it’s good to know your values as they can act as a compass to guide your actions throughout the day. Am I working right now toward one of my values of family, friendship, growth, connection, love, discovery, or spirituality? If so, I’m probably on the right track. If not, I may need to reassess. And is my overarching direction in life moving me toward love? Love of others, love of nature, love of my Creator, love of myself, love of learning, love of growth? If not, I’m going the wrong way.

My Auto

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Tonight I gave my auto, or my life story, in the process group. It was hard, but it was good. Below, I will share it with you.

Auto:

Some of my earliest memories were are happy memories. I remember my 2nd birthday. I got a giant coloring book and a box of crayons. I also got a baby brother. Yes, my brother was born on my 2nd birthday.

Some of my earliest memories are painful. Memories of sexual abuse by a neighbor and secrets. Memories of self-loathing even as a four year old. I don’t remember a time being aware of my body and not hating it. I’m sure before the sexual abuse started, I didn’t hate my body, but I can’t remember it. I remember being 4 or 5 and just hating my body. Feeling like there was something wrong with me. I would sit alone and cry and hit myself with my fists. I wanted my body to go away.

When I was 5, I remember standing on the bathtub so I could see myself in the mirror. I had just eaten a meal and my stomach was sticking out from it. After all, I was 5 and there wasn’t much to me. But I remember my mom saw me and commented that I looked pregnant. I didn’t understand why at the time, but I knew that wasn’t a compliment. I felt defeated. That comment has stuck with me to this day and is always a reminder that my body isn’t good enough, and never was, even when I was 5.

Much of my childhood was happy, despite those memories. I grew up with 6 siblings. I have 3 old sisters and 3 younger brothers. There was always someone to play with. Always someone who wanted to play the game you wanted to play. It was never dull, never boring.

My family was very poor. We lived in one bedroom motels during the colder months, and would camp out during the spring and summer because camping was cheaper and we weren’t all cooped up together. Because we were poor, I had an interesting relationship with food from a young age. We were on food stamps and by the end of the month, food would get scarce and we would live off of bread and peanut butter. Then, when our food stamps came in, we would have a special meal to celebrate. Also, because my parents couldn’t afford to buy us things, each month we got a special reward called our “one thing” where we each got to pick out a special candy or food item that cost a dollar and we got to eat that all by ourselves, we didn’t have to share with anyone. It felt really special as a small child.

When I was little, my sister who is 2 years old than me had the nickname Skinny Minnie. I wasn’t overweight as a child, but I wasn’t super skinny like my sister. However, I always felt like, being her younger sister, I should be skinnier than she was, so I always felt like when they were calling my sister Skinny Minnie, they were actually calling me fat.

When said sister was 9 and I was 7, she decided that we needed to go on a diet. I don’t know what prompted this, but I was all for it. We began comparing the calories on the foods we ate and eating only the recommended servings. She told me not to tell our mom we were on a diet. Again, I don’t know why, but since she was my older sister, I listened to her. That began 7 years of on and off secret dieting.

When I was 11, I had a secret boyfriend. My parents’ rule was that you couldn’t date or have a boyfriend until you were 16, but I had met someone in our motel that liked me and gave me gift and called me his girlfriend. I liked the attention, so I didn’t tell my parents. My secret boyfriend was 16. He would give me baseball cards and invite me over to his motel room to hang out. We weren’t allowed in other people’s motel rooms, but I went anyway because he was my boyfriend and I liked him. One time when I went over to hang out, he raped me. The next day, he gave me more baseball cards with a thank you note. The next day he was gone.

After the rape, my self-loathing grew worse and I began dieting more frequently. I stopped eating around friends and peers because in my mind if they saw me eat, they would know why I was fat. Even though I can objectively look back at photos from that time and tell you I wasn’t fat, I knew in my heart at the age of 11 that I was, and that I couldn’t let people see me eat because of it.

When I was 14, my parents went on the Atkin’s diet. Because of this, I began to believe that all carbs were bad for you. I began to live mostly on ham and lettuce rolls. This was the start of my anorexia, though I didn’t know at the time that’s what it was, and my consistent restriction, with intermittent fasting. I had long since wanted my body to go away and I finally felt like I had found the formula to make it happen. For 3 years I restricted and fasted. I became paranoid that people were trying to “poison” me with calories and thought they were even putting calories in my water. However, this was the era of super baggy clothes and wide leg JNCO jeans and if anyone noticed my weight loss, no one said anything. Not even my parents.

When I was 16, I was raped by the father of some kids I babysat for. After that, my self-hatred and loathing increased, and so did my depression. I attempted suicide. My restriction got worse.

When I was 17, I worked at a summer camp. The other staff quickly noticed I wasn’t eating meals and confronted me. I panicked. I decided that if I had to eat while I worked there, I would have to throw up my food. Then, on my birthday, the staff went out for pizza. At first, I refused to eat, but after being pressured by the whole staff, I gave in, knowing I would purge as soon as I finished. And I did. I left the table immediately after eating and, on my 17th birthday, purged for the first time. That started me down the spiral of bulimia. For the next few years I still mostly restricted, but purged everything I ate.

When I was growing up, I had repeatedly seen my mom refrain from eating so us kids could eat because we didn’t have much food money and she didn’t know whether we’d be able to get food again before we got food stamps again. When I was 19 and in college, my parents were going through a really rough patch financially and food money was again scarce, so I did what I had seen my mom do, I didn’t eat so that others could. I didn’t want to eat anyway, and I felt noble and selfless for giving up my food so my little brothers and mom could eat. However, I couldn’t go long not eating at all. Before long my hair was falling out, I couldn’t focus at all on my classes or work, I couldn’t stay warm no matter how I bundled up, and I got really sick (probably the flu) and couldn’t recover. I went from being the president of the honor society at my college, working, and pulling straight A’s to having to withdraw from classes. Despite all this, I still didn’t know I had an eating disorder.

After what I felt like was completely failing at college, I took a semester off, then went to a new school in Tennessee. I thought a change of scenery would help me out. It didn’t. Instead, it was the first time spending an extended time away from my family and I grew depressed and my eating disorder took over. I started avoiding the cafeteria and spent my hours studying in the exercise room. I avoided my peers too, because I felt too fat to be around people. My migraines, that had developed when I was 15, grew worse and worse until I could hardly function. I only lasted one semester before I came home to Colorado.

After returning to Colorado, my eating disorder changed and morphed into more of a true bulimia. I began to binge and purge instead of restrict and purge, with periods of restriction and intermittent fasting. I was able to “maintain” my eating disorder for a few years this way. Then, when I was 22, I came across an article online about eating disorders and that’s when I learned that I probably had one myself. I started to research eating disorders and found a message board for people with eating disorders. I befriended a woman on the message board who was in treatment and encouraged me to seek treatment too. She lived in Utah and was doing treatment through a program there. She offered to let me stay with her so I could afford to pay for outpatient treatment at the program where she was going.

I moved to Utah and started treatment for the first time at age 23. However, the situation wasn’t healthy. The woman I was staying with and I both had active eating disorders and got into an unspoken competition with the other over who could be sicker. We hindered each other’s recovery, and both ended up more sick over time. I lost a lot of weight while I was in Utah “trying to recover” but also trying to get sicker, and again my hair started to fall out and I began to get physically ill. My depression worsened and I attempted suicide. While I was in the hospital, the woman threw all my stuff out on the front lawn and told me not to come back. My dad drove to Utah to pick me up from the hospital and get my stuff. When my mom saw me after I returned, she told me I looked like a holocaust survivor. My sick mind took that as a compliment.

While I had dated on and off consistently, when I was 25 I entered my first long-term relationship, a relationship that would last 5 years. In this relationship I felt, for the first time, truly loved and cared for. Seen without judgment.

For the next few years I spent most of my time trying to manage my depression and my eating disorder. Finally, I felt I couldn’t handle it anymore, and when I was 26, I spent 8 months in a residential facility in California. After my stay, I finally felt like I was in an ok place in my life. I felt hopeful for the first time. I thought I was “recovered” from my eating disorder. I still suffered with body image, but I was eating “normally” and my family and friends all complimented me on my recovery.

Then, the next year, my sister died. Suddenly and out of nowhere. We had been very close and I didn’t know how to handle her death. So, I went back to binging like when I was bulimic, but I wouldn’t let myself purge because I was “recovered”. I gained a lot of weight in the year after her death.

At age 28, a year to the day after my sister died, I started purging again. I couldn’t handle the anniversary of her death and I couldn’t handle my new body and the two combined caused me to relapse into full-blown bulimia. At 29 I realized I had let people down by “failing” in recovery, so I went into treatment, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was still too wrapped up in the pain and too wrapped up in using my bulimia to cover that pain that I couldn’t give it up.

At age 30, I had a miscarriage. It devastated me. I blamed myself. I felt like I had spent my whole life trying to destroy my body and I had finally succeeded in the worst possible way.

I think the foundation of my eating disorder has been just that, trying to destroy myself, trying to rid myself of this body that I hate so much. So many times I have wished I could just crawl out of it. That I wasn’t stuck inside of it.

I can’t believe you said that

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knit

For evening snack Friday night, I had a challenge snack and at a half cup of ice cream. Earlier that evening, my dad had, I thought jokingly, told me I couldn’t have any ice cream until I moved a lamp he wanted me to move. The lamp isn’t in a place I normally see, and he always reminds me when I’m in the middle of something else.

So when he saw I had eaten ice cream, he asked if I had moved the lamp. I said no. He told me to go to the bathroom and stick my finger down my throat and throw it up. I was in complete shock, and didn’t know how to respond. I already wanted to purge the ice cream. And my dad knows I’m bulimic. He knows I’m in treatment for bulimia. He takes me to and from treatment every day!

I went to my room and texted my mom, in tears, and told her what happened and how I wanted to purge and how his comment just kept going through my brain. She told me that she knew my brain was probably being really loud, but to try knitting or watching something and distracting myself. So I did. I got out my knitting and I put on Parks and Recreation and I just sat in my room trying to pretend me father didn’t exist and I distracted myself for the next couple hours until I eventually went to bed, purge-free.

Murder

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Last night I had a very hard time with dinner and I couldn’t finish and had to boost. When the staff member was talking to me about it afterward, she asked me what kind of thoughts were going through my head during dinner. They were standard Kyle-lies, things like “I don’t deserve to eat” and “I’m too fat for food.” She told me to give her counter thoughts to the thoughts I was having like we had practiced before. I couldn’t. I could not say the counter thoughts out loud. I couldn’t get them to come out.

This, after a bit, made me really angry. It made me remember the wheel of abuse we discussed in group and how my eating disorder felt, in that moment, truly oppressive. Something about that made me really angry. And I don’t get angry.

After dinner, we had art therapy. The art therapist asked me what I felt I needed to work on and I scared her by telling her I wanted to kill something. I worked with paint, which normally scares me because I have no experience with paint and I don’t like to get messy. I painted the above 3 panels.

I painted the middle panel first. That is the death scene. There’s an explosion of blood. That panel, while simple, was intense to paint. In that scene, I killed my eating disorder. I murdered Kyle. But that son of a bitch had it coming.

The first panel represents my eating disorder. It’s dark and oppressive with words that represent my eating disorder.

The last panel is my life after the death of Kyle. It’s bright and hopeful and, yes, there’s a residual effect of his role in my life, but most of my life is filled with what I want to fill it with.

The Lies Kyle Tells

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Recently, in art therapy, I drew my eating disorder, and named it Kyle. Today in experiential therapy, we talked about abusive behavior and how our eating disorders are abusive toward us. Then, we wrote down lies and mean things that our eating disorders tell us, and then a neutral or positive thought to counter them. Below are some of the common thoughts Kyle tells me, and the neutral/positive thoughts I wrote down to counter them.

  • You are disgusting.
    • I am a beautiful human person.
  • You don’t need food.
    • I am a human person with physical needs.
  • You aren’t human.
    • I am a human person.
  • I keep your emotions in check.
    • Emotions are healthy and a necessary part of the human experience.
  • You don’t deserve to eat.
    • I am a human person with basic physical needs who deserves food.
  • You are worthless.
    • I have great worth and value to give to this world.
  • If you do what I say, you’ll be happy.
    • I am not happy living with my eating disorder.
  • Dying of anorexia would be an accomplishment.
    • Dying of anorexia would be a tragedy, and pointless.
  • No one loves you but me.
    • I am loved by many people.
  • There’s nothing really wrong with you.
    • I have a serious mental illness that needs to be addressed and treated.
  • You are ugly.
    • I am a beautiful human person.
  • You are too fat for food.
    • All people need food, I am a human person with physical needs. I deserve food.

 

 

Lack of motivation

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I went to bed early last night. Partly because I was up all weekend playing video games and drinking with my brothers, and partly because I just didn’t know what else to do. Today, I should be working on school, but I’m not. This afternoon I should be going to treatment, but I don’t want to. I could be knitting, but I just don’t have the motivation for anything. I barely got through a shower. And I had to really work up to taking it. And only because I knew I actually can’t skip treatment tonight because it could jeopardize my insurance coverage. If I wasn’t going anywhere (like I want) I wouldn’t have showered. I stayed in bed 2 hours late. I haven’t eaten today. I’m considering taking a nap, just to pass time.

I’m still here

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Letgo

Sorry for not updating lately. I’ve been super busy this week. I know I left my blog on a down note. It’s been a hard week, but I’ve been trying (with varying success) to follow my meal plan and stay recovery focused.

Last night in treatment, we had art. I decided I needed to work with clay because I wanted to worked with something 3D and tactile. I found I didn’t really like the clay because I wanted the objects to be smooth and pretty and I couldn’t figure out how to get them that way no matter what I tried. However, I’m happy with what I made.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may remember when I was dating the boy, and how he told me he didn’t actually love me and that he was only in a relationship with me because he was afraid of not being in a relationship. How I felt so used and broken. Well, the boy and I stayed friends since I broke up with him. I think because we were together for 5 years and I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it in some capacity.

However, I realized last night that by staying friends with him, I’ve been holding onto a hope that we would eventually get back together. That at some point, he would truly love me. I realized last night that I need to let go. I need to start moving forward. I need to have an open heart to what’s going on in my life right now and what can happen in the future and by doing that, my heart can grow, and can be open to something new.

I have a date for Valentine’s Day. I realized that even though I’m starting to move on, I was still holding onto the boy. I need to let go of him to fully embrace the new things that are happening. It’s not fair to the new guy and it’s not fair to me if my heart isn’t fully in it. So here’s to letting go, being open, and growing into new things.

Shame

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I hate myself right now.