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letting people in and accepting the reality

Well, the second week of school is done. My anxiety has significantly lessened from the first week thanks to time and Ben. I made it my goal for this past week to go to the involvement fair and I did and found a group called “Feministis On Campus Uniting Students” aka FOCUS. I attended their meeting on Thursday and really enjoyed it. It was a stretch to make myself go. I ended up staying on campus instead of leaving b/c I knew if I left I wouldn’t return. But this group is passionate about things that I am passionate about such as women’s rights in a variety of settings. It’s a small group which is perfect as I am not quite ready for large groups of people .

It’s been weird trying to decide how to socialize at school. How much to share. How to answer questions about Ben. What to tell professors and how to handle the fact that now on the outside I do look like I have a disability. I don’t like the term disability. It feels scary and real. I have such a hard time admitting that my life has been so limited b/c of my eating disorder, anxiety, PTSD etc. that I do fall under the category of disabled. I don’t want to be disabled. I don’t want any of the things that happened to have happened but they did and now I’m facing the very real challenge of acceptance and navigating my life.

Darcie (the trainer from Heeling Allies) warned me that it would hit me that by having Ben I am admitting to myself and the world that I am disabled. I don’t look disabled from the outside (it’s called an invisible disability) and before Ben no one would have known. Well except for the fact that i had a lot of panic attacks, flashbacks and had a tendency to fall down….However, by having Ben with me I am in some sense broadcasting to the world that something is wrong with me.

Some people ask. And depending on the situation I give a variety of answers. In one of my classes I was going to share that Ben was a mental health dog but the teacher went on a ten minute lecture about how she was stalked by a mentally ill person. The lecture was completely unnecessary and very demeaning towards anyone with a mental illness so needless to say I did not share that Ben was a mental health dog. I am afraid I would have been judged as crazy as that is what she was implying during her story/lecture time. So in situations like that I tell people that Ben is an alert dog. And he is. He alerts me to when my anxiety is high, is learning how to tell me to take my medication and does a variety of other alerting actions that alert me to my own emotions.

I have shared a few times that he is a mental health dog. In these, situations I explain that he is for my severe anxiety. I don’t mention PTSD or the eating disorder but instead focus on my panic attacks. And surprisingly people respond to this. They almost always have a story about a friend who has struggled or their own struggles. This has made me think that perhaps it is time to simply tell people the whole truth about Ben. Mental illness has such stigmas attached to it. I want to fight these and perhaps by being open I can.

I realize that as I write this blog that I am in a sense exposing everything about me. But I made a pledge before school started that I wasn’t going to censor my blog. It’s important to me and as I accept facebook requests from people at WSU (two this week) I am very aware that I am potentially opening up my life for others to know way more than I would normally share.  I’m selective about what friend requests I accept but I really believe I must continue blogging in order to let go of my shame. My past is my past and I have nothing at all to be ashamed of. I don’t believe this yet but this is where my blog comes in. Opposite action (for you DBT people out there). Someday, I’ll be glad I shared my story and I can look back at this time as a time of growth, change, transition and healing.

 

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Filed under coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, friends, Hope, life events, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, trauma

scales suck

Scales suck and you think I would have learned this by now but stepping on a scale is NEVER a good thing for me to do. I was at the doctors yesterday (routine appointment – everything’s great) and they took me to the scale and I hopped on. Now my other doctors (yes, I have more than one) know that if I’m weighed I am to step on backwards and not to know my weight. However, this nurse was new and  before I could properly think things through I stepped up face forward.

As soon as I saw the number blinking on the scale I freaked internally. I’m pretty sure I faked it fairly well as I sat through the rest of my appointment but to be honest I was quite devastated. My mind went immediantly to ‘how can I fix this. this can’t stay this way. what am i going to do”. Luckingly, I had the good sense to text C. who gave me a quick reality check which quite honestly got me through the next few hours without doing anything stupid or acting on behaviors.

The wonderful thing about having people in my life like C. and P. is that they know how I feel. C. reminded me that the number doesn’t matter but she also understood that as easy as it is to say that it is so much harder to believe. We texted throughout the day complaining about weight, body image and the horrible feelings our eating disorders causes us to feel. In now way did we promote or glamorize our eating disorder. In fact the opposite. Here is a snippet of our conversastion:

K: I just saw my weight. fml

C: Nothing about you has changed and changing the number will make things worse.

K: yeah it’s just ew.

C: No, it’s nothing.

later

K: Stupid eating disorder. Seriously, I think I could be considered insane. I’m like a mad woman when my eating disorder kicks ins.

C: We all are.

K: Yup and I’m not going down that stupid path just bc of my weight. I don’t want to be the girl who never recovers.

C: We WERE her for too long.

later

K: I’m fat. It has to get better someday right?

C: Yes.

C: Just believe yes.

K: I have too.

C. We all do. Your life is better now.

K: So is yours and we saw each others old lives so we know.

C: I’m going to happy hour…

K: I’ve never been Take me with you when I come visit?

C: OKAY!

So there you have it a peak into our crazy mixed up minds and how we handled the day together and weathered the storm. Our lives went on. We felt awful. We let each other know we felt awful and we understood each other. We didn’t trigger each other we just emphasized and was there for each other. One reason C. is so special to me is b/c during our time at CFC we learned how to sit with each other and just be. We didn’t need words. We just needed to be together to let the other feel. And neither one of us liked to feel anything so having the other there was comforting. She learned to read my mind and I think I learned to read hers (we got in trouble for that actually. Too many inside jokes and looks. The techs didn’t appreciate it and were pretty sure we were up to no good. Come to think of it, we probably were). C. just understood me and in turn I think I understood her.

I need friends like that. Friends who know how to talk me down but still validate my feelings. Friends who I can be honest about my feelings and in return they are honest with theirs. P. and C. are so important to me b/c we  can do this for each other. So the day was hard. Tears were shed and I honestly I’m still pretty convinced I’m fat. But, I’m pretty much ok. Not 100% but I’m committed to this thing called recovery. And onward I go. I know my weight but as C. said, nothing has changed.

I imagine in the next coming days that will become my mantra.

nothing has changed

nothing has changed

nothing has changed

nothing has changed

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Filed under body image, coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, friends, Recovery

Keep Holding On (recovery sisters)

My recovery sisters and I have been holding onto each other tight the past day or so. Even those who did not know the woman who died have been affected. It’s been a reminder how quickly lives can be lost and that we could become one of those women. As a result the girls I have talked to and myself have been reminded that it’s not the time to stop fighting but the exact opposite. We need to fight. We need to hold on. We need to stay strong. We’ll make it through and we will be there for each other.

Keep Holding On by Glee

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Filed under eating disorder, eating disorders, faith, friends, Hope, music, Recovery, Sunday Songs

back to the basics – round two

So awhile back I wrote about returning to the basics. However, this week I realized that I needed to do more than just calm my life down and fill it with less stressful things. I needed to be dilerbatly working on therapeutic issues and consciously applying my coping skills. I didn’t realize how far I’d gotten until I realized that I had fallen into the hole known as relapse.

Over the past few days I have been working to dig my way out of that hole and I’m on my way. However, it has not been without a ton of hard work, tears and hard decisions. I’ve had to go back to square one. For the first time in my treatment history I went back to where I started and reviewed things I had begun Laureate and continued working on at CFC. I look back upon what we have been working on in outpatient therapy and the tools I have added to my toolbox in that time. I have reviewed worksheets from my time at The Psychiatric Institute of Washington (DC): Trauma Program and realized that I needed to add so many of these skills back into my day to day life.

I reviewed relaxation techniques that I have learned over my treatment time, actually listened with an open mind to Belleruth’s lovely tapes and brought some Marsha Linnehan back into my life (humor tapes!!!). I looked at where I had slipped in regard to food and other behaviors and have begun to correct them. I opened up old documents on my computer that I had used to record emotions and feelings when I first left CFC and have begun to make checking in with myself a form of routine. I have been doing assignments that Beth has given me and allowed myself to begin to accept a diagnoses that I have been denying a long, long time (thus allowing me to begin to move forward a bit).

All of this has been hard. Really, really hard.  I had to take some precautions to keep myself safe and have had to ask for help from my parents, Beth and other people in my life. Most of all I had to once again choose hope. Something that I think I will have to do over and over again while I continue to live. So I have a lot of work ahead. I’ve done a lot of work but it still goes on. Recovery is a series of choices and decisions that when all added up come to mean recovery.

I’m having to be more deliberate in those choices right now but the important thing is that I have not given up. I’ve had help from family and accountability from friends. I have let a door close from my past and have begun to begin to move past that hurt and realize that I don’t need certain things in my life to be ‘ok’. And also that I can survive feelings of betrayal and hurt (thank you P. for helping me see that anger was appropriate and also validating my feelings).

So it’s been a week of hard work. And once again a week of returning to the basics. It will pay off. It already has in leaps and bounds. So once again I say goodbye eating disorder and symptoms – hello life. I’m back.

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Filed under coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, friends, New Life, Recovery

fighters by Kris Allen – Sunday Song

I fought my intial inpulse to post a Glee song. And instead chose this song instead.

It’s for my recovery sisters but espeically for P. and C. We can get through this time in our lives. And soon we will be reunited.

You say that this life’s wearing you out
and you need something to live for
I know what you’re talkin’ bout
Screaming out loud
top of your lungs
and I bet they’re not even listening
I know what you’re talkin’ ’bout

So raise your fears
and don’t forget
we were born
to be fighters
we are strong
we’re survivors

They could knock you down and make you fall
but we’ll get back up cause after all
we’re born to be fighters
and we’re fighting for life

Been through a war
put up a fight
and your heart is taking a beating
I can see it in your eyes
But I see the fire
I feel the flame
and it’s burning inside you
I can see it in your eyes

So raise your fears
and don’t forget
we were born to be fighters
we are strong
we’re survivors

They could knock you down and make you fall
well we’ll get back up cause after all
we’re born
to be fighters
And we’re fighting for life

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Filed under depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, music, Recovery, survivor

my one year blogiversary

The 21st was my one year blogiversary (aka I’ve had my blog for one year). My first post was called “A Start” and in it I included a vague description of  what I intended my blog to be:

I hope my blog will be filled with encouragement and progress but I am trying not to pass judgement on that fact. I am committing though that this is a recovery blog. I know if I begin to let myself drift into topics of sickness or behaviors I will only end up hurting myself and my recovery. So right now my goal is simply to let this be a place to write my feelings down, share what I have learned and honestly pass the time.

I think that I can say that my blog has been this and perhaps a bit more. I have talked about my recovery but also my struggles (the ones I feel comfortable discussing). I have also talked about the media and how it effects me as a person and the women I know who suffer from eating disorders. My brother also honored me by writting a blog post (my second most viewed post) from his point of view, “It Takes an Ocean not to Break” which encouraged and helped me to continue on in the ensuing posts which turned out to be the most difficult so far in my recovery. His post still makes me cry and extremely greatful and blessed for the support of my brother and other family and friends.

But I have great faith that she will weather this storm, even if it requires the assistance of her family and her friends and takes a while to find the right help. I have faith because my sister is strong. Because, it does take an ocean not to break: an ocean’s worth of persistence. You can’t just drain an ocean in one try, anymore than the horrible, terrifying, times Kate must feel can break her. Kate is a survivor, at the center of a web of relationships of people (her family and friends, my own friends who have never met her but do so much more to help her than I could ever have asked of them) whose great love for her motivate them to take actions at great costs to themselves without hesitation because they love her.

I shared my one year recovery (out of treatment) anniversary with those who read my blog and I wrote my second Letter of Hope (my first was written when I left The Center for Change) with those who follow/read my blog but mostly for myself so I could recognize where I have come from and also how far I have to go.

In the last year I have realized that what I am choosing to call recovery is actually called life. Life is a series of ups and downs (or so says what I have been told) but I never allowed myself to actually experience life so how can I know what life is like? I’ve learned my data on life that I learned for the first twenty years of my life really needs to be updated.

The post with the most traffic on this site has been my post “I Will Not Go Back to that World” written during NEDA week 2012. I intended it to be an informative post on what eating disorder are and what sufferers experience but instead it became an honest post of how my eating disorder still intrigues me and how I never, ever want that pain again.

I want what I had. But then I remind myself that I don’t. I don’t want the despair, I don’t want the hopelessness, I don’t want the weakness, I don’t want my voice to leave, I don’t want relationships torn and fragmented, I don’t want to spend another birthday away, a fourth Christmas in a treatment center, another year and a half isolated from the world. I’m not sure yet what life is going to look like for me now as a person in recovery and someday hopefully recovered but I do know I have to fight. I have to work. I have to come back from that cruel, cruel world in which I once existed.

I’ve blogged a LOT about dogs and shared my decision to receive a service dog through Heeling Allies. I shared the progress my family made as we fundraised and the fact that we miraculously raised all of the money through the support of my hometown, family and friends. And then I had the priveldge to share Ben, my service dog who will arrive July 31st.

I’ve blogged about a lot of other things. Some meaningless to everyone and possibly me (now that several months or a year has gone by) but also some “big” things that still matter a lot to me. I haven’t regretted any of my blogging entries and that is what I wanted most to be able to say. I’ve added other pages (see above) and updated my Gems of Hope page to contain a LOT of quotes. I’ve had a lot of Sunday Song posts and different pictures, quotes and pins of the week. A years worth in fact. 🙂

I don’t know if I’ll be writing a second blogiversary post. I hope so but who knows what a year can bring. But for now I’ll pass this milestone as I have all of the others this year. With friends or with family simply living.

And right now that means  a night of watching crappy t.v. with A. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Filed under eating disorder, eating disorders, family, friends, Identity, Independence, life events, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma

creating my own life

I’ve been home two weeks now. It’s seems like much longer though. In a month is my one year anniversary out of CFC. Also, my recovery anniversary. I can’t tell you how unreal that seems. I was talking to C. yesterday and we were remininacing about the time we spent together in Utah. Has it really been a year since I sat across from her and so many other girls complaining about bread bowls and ileagally eating their olives? So much has happened that I find it unbelievable. For instance…

 

– I never thought I could have a year in recovery. It seemed unimaginable to me that I would even be capable of giving up my eating disorder. WJ told me I could and that she thought that I was going to be in solid recovery going home but I doubted her big time. Another lesson that WJ is always right (oh except when she told me to buy a gun. she realized that that was a mistake).

– I’m getting a service dog. I have to repeat that to even begin to believe it. I’m getting a service dog. And what is almost more unbelievable is the outpouring of support and love that my family has received as we have been raising funds. We might be able to completely raise the $15,000 needed for the dog. That seems unreal. And very humbling.

– I have my own apartment. Yes, I’m still taking it slow (Friday is my first night back alone in the apartment) but I have my own place that I’ve decorated myself, cooked in my own stove and have my own key to. Whoa.

– I’ve worked and faced painful stuff in therapy that I never thought I was even going to be able to endue much less tell someone else.

– I’ve willingly gone to trauma treatment thousands of miles away and advocated for my own care. Again I owe that ability to WJ.

– I went to my first concert and didn’t freak out.

– I am in contact  (sometimes daily) with the girls I met at CFC. They are my inspiration, my role models, the ones who “get it”, the girls who know everything and still love me anyways. We’ve been friends for a year and a half now C. Who would have thought that we would still be friends to this day.

– I take my meds. Okay seems small but it’s a big deal. Every other time I’ve left treatment I have refused to take my meds. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea either.

– I have this blog. I write about my feelings. The events in my life and all without shame. I choose what I share and don’t share. I haven’t second guessed a post once. I really do love this outlet and chance to share my stuggles and triumphs though others. It also assures me that I’ll be able to write essays when I retun to school (although then I actually will worry about spelling.)

– I’ve shared some of my story in a big way and on Sunday more people than I ever thought would be aware of it will learn about the bulling I endured. And I”m not ashamed. Not one bit.

 

Like I said it seems unreal all that has happens. I have been beating myself up lately for not being more “productive” so this list was also a chance to remind myself that I have been doing something with my life. Maybe not the things that a ‘normal’ 23 year old would do but I have been forging life my own way. And isn’t that something we all have to do? Create our own lives separatly and apart from others without fear of judgement from the outside world. My normal is different from others but it is still my life. And looking back at that list I can see that I have created a life for myself. I have hope that that life will be enriched by school, healing, my service dog, visits to my soul sisters and a return to church but for now I think I can be content with what I have done and what I am doing.

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Filed under friends, Identity, Independence, life events, New Life, Recovery, survivor

missing CFC sisters; reasons to live

I found myself missing Utah today. Not the Center but the people who filled it while I was there. I communicate with many of them on facebook or phone and they never fail to amaze me with their friendship and love. I’m amazed that we have managed to transfer our friendship from simply a commonality based upon an eating disorder to a friendship based upon life, love and shared goals. It’s coming into the holiday season and I think this is one reason I miss them. During the holidays I want to be with people I love and I love my CFC sisters. And although the holidays were hard and out of the norm last year I was surrounded by girls I love. This year I’ll be surrounded by family but I can’t help but also miss my friends.

Anyways, all of this missing and wishing led me to my journal to see where I was exactly a year ago. I filled a journal while at CFC and while I journal less frequently now I still find it a way to get my thoughts out (much like this blog). I would like to share one section of what I wrote (the other section the wonderful W.J. made me cover up with sticky notes….long story).

November 4, 2010

What can I do to help speed up my recovery? What would satisfy Wendy and what would give me hope? What would be good enough? What happens if I start doing something that proves life is worth living…would that help? I could write lists of things to live for, I could write daily afirmations, I could write one reason every day why I deserve to recover.

There are some thinking errors in this (i.e. recovery is not a fast process nor should it be…I don’t need to worry about what would be good enough – trying is good enough) but also somethings that I can take away today. Specifically, the reminder that there are things that do prove life is worth living. The past week has been hard and I think it would help to remind myself that there are many things in life that can bring me joy and make life worthwhile.

So here is my list:

A Few Reasons Why Life is Worth Living

  • My two beautiful neices
  • My dog
  • The fall weather
  • The tortises at the zoo
  • My friends (L who makes me laugh; C who sees into my soul; A. who loves me through the worst and all the others)
  • My family
  • Lazy Saturday mornings
  • Papa’s chili (yes a food thing)
  • Good books
  • Learning
  • Modern Family
  • Music
  • Comfy blankets
  • Knitting
  • Puzzles
  • My apartment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under coping skills, family, friends, New Life, Recovery, survivor

birthday wishes

Before I begin this post I wanted to apologize for a strange notice you may have gotten. If you follow my blog you may have seen an email that I posted the other day and I accidentally did. I was trying to figure out how to integrate a new feature to my blog (which didn’t work…) and what you saw was the HTML (internet language) codes. Sorry if I confused you or cluttered up your inbox! 

My birthday is tomorrow. My parents says that it will be about exactly twenty-three years to the day since I was born on a Friday and tomorrow is a Friday as well (TGIF anyone?). Something you must understand is that I LOVE my birthday. I always have. I don’t know why. It’s not the gifts or being the center of attention. I think it’s just celebrating a special day. I love holidays and a birthday is like a holdiay. It’s out of the ordinary and the routine. It’s breaks up the normalcy of life and gives a person something to celelbrate.

I will admit I love presents. Not the gifts themselves but the unwrapping process. I love to open things. Cards, toothbrushes, dog toys, gifts. You name it I can open it. And I am relishing the opportunity of unwrapping things tomorrow.

On a more serious note this birthday will be the first one I have spent at home in two years. Last year I was spending the day on caution (aka prision) at CFC and the year before I was at Laureate. My birthday at Laureate was also my 21st birthday. The age that you become an ‘adult’. I spent the day making flubber, crawling around on the floor (I wasn’t yet released from my wheelchair) with a tube in my nose. For my 22nd birthday I spent the day on CFC’s highest level of care isolated from the other girls. However, on that birtheday I learned that even in the most miserablest of circumstances good could things could occur. The girls not only sang happy birthday to me (even though they were not techinically allowed to talk to me due to the strict rules of caution) but sang do-re-mi from the Sound of Music and completely took over the unit with signs wishing me happy birthday (I owe most of the happiness of that day to my dear friend C. Oh how I miss you). It was the first time in a very long time that I had felt that kind of love and allowed myself to receive it fully.

This year is different. I get to experience this milestone in freedom. And oh is it a  milestone. It will be the first brithday in probably more than ten years where I will be happy, healthy and safe. I won’t be locked up in an EDU or a residential treatment center but surrounded by family. I will actual be able to blow out candles since they aren’t prohibited due to health codes, I will enjoy my cake (well, Oreo Dessert actually) and be able to keep all of my presents since there is no restriction on items I can have.

I am grateful for my two birthdays away since they have led me to the place I am now. I still have every single sign the CFC girls made for me. I treasure the memory of how they strived to make my day special and even agreed to play the game Hug-a-pug which I got for my birthday (thanks Aunt Pam!). And in fact I’m missing all of those girls as I get ready to turn 23. But I don’t wish I was back at CFC. I so wish they were here and we were celebrating a year of recovery, hard work and happiness together.

So instead of a birthday filled with tubes, wheelchairs, tears over cakes, isolation and supervision I will spend my day celebrating  the blessings that have ocured over the last year: the unexpected miracles, the God things, new friendships, recovery, dogs, a new apartment and many many more.  I will be surrounded by those who know me best but still love me. I will get to open gifts and spend the day as I choose.

And if I believed in wishes I would be wishing on my candles for all of those blessings and more. For me and for my loved ones and friends. It’s time to shape my next twenty-three years around recovery, healing and happiness. I know if I do that thenI will be able to get through anything.

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Filed under eating disorder, faith, family, friends, Identity, life events, Recovery