So this spring I had a lapse/relapse. I mentioned it in a previous blog entry that it started a few weeks earlier in August. Looking back I see signs way earlier than that. Back to spring and winter but it took times for the thoughts and feelings to turn into full blown behaviors and when they did as my pattern is I sunk downward quickly. There were immediately talks of sending me back to treatment possibly to a transitional IOP program but I resisted this strongly. I have done a total of sixteen months of inpatient and residential and I couldn’t imagine putting my life on hold, leaving Gus and adopting that sick identity one again. So that left one option and that was to let my parents help me.
Now there is a type of treatment for adolescents called Family Based Treatment where the parents take control of the teen/child’s food and are responsible for their recovery (I’m simplifying here). The assumption is that parents know how to feed their child and achieving wellness can be done at home instead of in a treatment center. Now having been to treatment and in treatment with girls who “failed” Maudsley (aka Family Based Treatment – FBT) I was horrified to realize that my family would essentially be doing something like this. I had heard horror story after horror story about how awful it was to give your control of food to your
evil parents. I believe in therapy I wailed something like “I am twenty-five years old I will NOT do Mausldey. How pathetic is that? Also, it’s evil” – paraphrasing.
But if I didn’t wish to return to treatment it was my only option so with pressure from my treatment team I begrudgingly allowed my parents to begin to take control of my food. This meant that they fed me three meals and two snacks. We met with my dietician and agreed how we would tackle fear foods. We all compromised and my voice was heard which was very important as an adult. We did a ladder system (starting with easy foods and working up towards harder ones). My mother was to pick meals and snacks – I could portion myself at dinner but she would watch me and tell me to add more if needed. Snacks she portioned. I also did not eat alone. My parents showed up every morning to eat breakfast with me and then again at noon to eat lunch (dinner was always a meal I ate at my parents). This has gone on from August until now. I am at a point where I am eating independently again but not portioning all of my food. I get my own breakfast but my mother sends a packed lunch and snack with me. I eat dinner with my parents and she feeds me evening snack. Next week I meet with my dietitian and I expect to either be able to portion snacks myself or receive full control of my lunch.
How do I feel about all of this now? Honestly, it’s a relief. I’m so glad I didn’t go to treatment and leave everything here. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t want to give up my control around food but I’m glad I had my parents step in. At the time my malnourished brain wasn’t thinking correctly and loosing weight (aka relapse) seemed like a great idea. But it was presented firmly to me that this would not be allowed to happen. My therapist and parents made it impossible. I resented that. And at twenty-five I still think that I should be able to control this myself (not because I resent their help but because I am an adult who should be independent). But now I am so grateful for their help. It wasn’t easy for my parents. It took time away from work and their schedules. And I wasn’t always the most fun person to eat with. I’m also sure it was scary to hear the same talk coming out of my mouth that they heard five years ago when I plunged into the deepest parts of my illness. I’m also thankful to my brother who put up with a lot of moodiness and pouting as I ate (not proud of that).
Not everyone has the resources to be able to turn it around outpatient but I’m thankful I could. I also have a sense of security now that no one is going to allow me to get as sick as I was in 2009. The thought of that truly does scare me when I’m thinking correctly. I have been promised that intervention will be taken before then. And this was proven to me here. And as for FBT being evil (or at least my parents and mine modified version) being evil I need to take back some words…
I’ve been absent (again) on my blog. For awhile it was touch and go with things related to my eating disorder. I’m back on a more level playing field but I wouldn’t call it stable ground yet. I began to struggle a few weeks ago. For numerous reasons that would take a lot of time to go into here and honestly I’m not quite ready to share. Anyways, after a lot of days of little nutrition, negotiations with parents and treatment team I’m at a place where I’m eating again with supervision and my safe foods. We are doing a step by step approach to add on scarier foods each week but this week was safe foods.
I’m eating because I’m supervised but I do have a choice. I could sit in front of my parents and say “nope. not going to eat that” but I haven’t. I guess it’s because I didn’t go totally downhill. I didn’t loose enough weight for my mind to become crazy and everything rational to be gone. I could still think and what I thought about was Gus. If I had had to return to treatment (which at several points was looking likely as the amount of food I was consuming was not acceptable at all) Gus would not have been allowed to go with me. At this point in our relationship and his training it would be hugely detrimental. We would loose all of our progress and he could potentially not become a service dog. I know this because I’ve done it before.
In August of 2010, I had adopted a young pup from the shelter. I named her Shona which is the name of the native language my friend from Zimbabwe speaks. I was just back from Laureate’s eating disorder program and was in a fast relapse after being home a month. I loved Shona deeply from the first time I saw her but a month after adopting her I was off to Utah to The Center for Change for another 5 1/2 months of treatment. While I was gone Shona had a great life, living with my parents but it wasn’t the same. They purposely didn’t try to bond with her so she would know she was my dog when I returned and she did but important time was lost. Shona was never meant to be a service dog at that time but those early months of her first year where she would have learned basic obedience and manners were lost and we never quite regained that ground. Shona never quite developed the level of obedience I wished until she was much older. And I believe this was due to my leaving her at a young age.
If I left Gus now at 8 1/2 months of age when he is so impressionable and our bonding is so important not to mention his service dog training and obedience training I truly believe we could never make it up. We would never become a service dog team. The idea terrifies me. I love this dog more than most things in my world right now and to be without him seems unbearable. So I was close to going back to some sort of treatment be it full inpatient or a partial program with boarding but I managed to create structure with my parents and treatment team where we created our own sort of partial program where I am basically receiving the same support I would had I gone to a partial program. I have meal support and we have defiantly upped the therapy time and amount of time I’m spending with my dietician.
Without meal support would I be eating? I wish I could say yes, but I can’t. Not right now. My eating disorder is really strong and the grip it has on me seems to be unbreakable. But I’m learning that this can’t matter. I do what I need to do anyways just with help right now. I don’t give myself a chance to skip meals or restrict my intake because I have a support team around me.
So am I in a relapse? The answer would be yes – if left to my own devices as I was a few weeks ago. Now I’ve been pulled out by other people. I’m letting them do the work right now while I comply and follow directions. I’m letting myself go on autopilot for awhile. I don’t have the motivation for complete recovery. I do have the motivation to allow others to help me. And this is the first time I’ve gotten to this place and allowed others to break into the dark, isolated world that my eating disorder has created. Progress.
And so I’m going along. Still living and existing. Starting school. Beginning a pet sitting business. Working with Gus both on obedience and service dog skills. Teaching him to swim. It’s nice to keep these things going and not have to loose them all while I go sit somewhere and relearn how to eat in an artificial environment. I am hugely grateful that my family has made it possible for me to remain in my world and still receive the help that I need. Hugely grateful. And so thank you family. Thank you for allowing me to stay home and remain with my Gus.
Filed under dog training, dogs, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, Gus, Hope, Independence, psychiatric service dog, Recovery, service dog, Shona
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
Soooo the weekend is almost done and now since I am a working girl it really does make a difference whether or not it’s a weekend. Weird but good. I work a lot of hours tomorrow (my boss messed up my schedule again so we’ll see how many I really end up working). It’s a good thing I take my anxiety meds because this whole schedule thing makes me very anxious. Anyways, onto the Sunday song. I chose the song “I Run for Life” by Melissa Etheridge because I know some NEDA (Nation Eating Disorder Association) walks have gone on. A few of my friends joined in on the walks to support friends, themselves and loved ones who suffer from eating disorders. So, I thought this song was appropriate even though it was written to honor breast cancer survivors I feel it also honors my friends who walked for those who could not or did not have the opportunity available. Also, on a side note Oprah (oooohhh aaahhhh) sent the episode in which Melissa Etheridge sings this song on her show to CFC. So the song does hold some memories of the time I spent there. Enjoy your daily dose of country music. 🙂
I’m always learning. I think we all are and I think it is something that makes the human race incredible. I thought I would share a few things I have learned in the past five days.
1) Mental health breaks are a must. Without them I do not think I can be a healthy person. As my friend Lauren says I need to plan a day of vacation from life where I just relax and let worries go.
2) Speaking of Lauren…I have learned that going like four days without having constant phone access to each other really sucks.
3) Some people can see into your soul from your first meeting. This is rare and I believe God is defiantly at work when this happens. I experienced this recently and I have not felt more loved in a long time.
4) I (and I believe all people) seek to be understood and when you realize that someone does understand you it provides a relief so enormous I can’t even describe it. I have been searching for this without even knowing I needed it.
5) Again, I have learned that my friends and family are not going to abandon me.
6) Shona does not handle my absence well.
7) I have a lot of coping skills. I didn’t even realize I had that many. But thank God I do.
8) I can actually be assertive.
9) I am not the only one society and school systems have failed. Something has GOT to change.
10) Friends who bring you little things and are willing to sit and just “be” are the best.
I posted the song “For good” on Sunday and said that this week I wanted to talk about people I truly believe have been placed in my life by God. I believe that God does have a way of giving us people who we need in this life.
For instance when I was at CFC my family wrote to me everyday. My cousins wrote me letters, sent me postcards and quotes and gave me glimpses into their lives which I treasure and still do. My aunts sent me cards that made me laugh and wrote letters.My brother wrote heartfelt hand written letters. My Grandmother made me homemade cards and my parents wrote me e-mails almost every day.
I told my family before I left that what helped me was receiving letters and cards while I was away at home and they truly stepped up. They wanted to help. And that has to be because they love me. If I ever doubted their love I do not now.
And now that I have returned home their support has not stop nor I have felt any different. I feel surrounded by love and caring. My family knows most of my history now yet I have not ever felt judged in anyway. This gives me a gift that I find impossible to even put into words. Unconditional acceptance is a beautiful thing that everyone has the right to receive. And I am very blessed to have my family to give this to me.
I love you all.
Many years ago...
I think I finally moved into my room today. When I got home I was nervous about actually making that room my home. I don’t know why but it made me nervous none-the-less.It probably had something to do with the f act that I had really not had a “room” that I lived in and made by room since before CFC. But today mother and I moved the furniture, hung things on the wall, rearranged my nicknacks and just generally made it feel like my room. It feels safe, happy, comfortable and most importantly mine. Another aspect of life that is finally normal.
Thursday and Friday I had an opportunity to see friends from Southwestern. Ashlee (the campus pastor), John, Aaron and Renea were here for a conference. These friends are special. While I was a t Laureate Aaron, Ashlee and I think John (? – memory fails here) visited me while I was still quite sick and I have managed to remain in contact with all of them through my treatments. Ashlee especially has been a godsend. Anyways, it was so nice to see them in a normal setting. To share a meal with Ashlee and John which was impossible not too long ago, laugh over coffee (peppermint tea for me) and then go with Renea to the dog park.
I am realizing that as I move further into recovery I discover things that I lost through the eating disorder and had no idea that I had lost them. One of these was the simple act of sharing a meal. I think there was a reason that Jesus shared meals often with his disciples. Something about eating together brings people together. This was something I was not apart of while I was completely sick but it is now something I can treasure. My family has family dinners once a week where everyone in town on my mom’s side of the family gathers at our house to eat. I love it! Bonds grow as conversation flows and food is eaten. I would have missed out on so much if I was still counting calories or restricting but instead I can focus on family and the time we have together.
So tonight I am very thankful for good friends and that recovery allows me to form relationships with them that I have missed out on the last two years. I am also thankful that they have stood by me through my journey. I love you four who came and also many more (Verna that means you) and thank you for all your support. You are in my prayers tonight.