Tag Archives: treatment

nightmares of treatments past

It’s not unusual for me to have nightmares. I have PTSD. Nightmares are a part of the territory. What is unusual is the what the content has been about lately. I’ve been waking up in cold sweats and shakes having dreamt about treatment and the physically sickest times of my eating disorder. It’s been almost five years since I admitted into my first treatment center. I was deathly ill. Almost dead. And honestly this fact has not truly dawned on me until recently. I knew intellectually that I was close to death but recently I have actually known I almost died.

I don’t know why it’s finally sinking in. Maybe it’s because of that short lapse awhile back or perhaps because it’s simply the amount of time gone by. I know there is a part of anorexia where sufferers simply don’t comprehend how sick they are. Maybe I’m past that. I don’t know. But regardless it’s terrifying me.

I’m remembering things I have forgotten and finally connecting the dots of what things truly mean. The fact that I couldn’t walk because my muscles atrophied. I was tube fed because I needed nutrition and I needed it faster than could be done through eating (I ate too but it was supplemented every night by tube feeds). I was sent off the hospital campus for MRIs, CAT scans and PET scans too see if my brain was functioning normal because I was falling so frequently and there was no obvious explanation. Test after test. And all the while stuck in that damn wheelchair. I slept on a mattress underneath the nurses station for a long time. Partly, because they were scared I would exercise but also because I would fall out of bed. Did I do that? I don’t remember. I don’t remember a lot of things.

I do remember how scary it was to not know why I was falling apart mentally. My PTSD was undiagnosed and I had no idea what a flashback was or what the hell was happening to me when I vividly began to remember abuse scenes. And the dissociation. Oh my God. The dissociation was so bad. And I had no words to even attempt to explain that. A friend guessed but the professionals didn’t. They missed it completely. And if I’m honest I still resent that. They believed I was making things up. Attention seeking. So did the other patients. The feeling of total loneliness and isolation still terrifies me.

I won’t go into details about particular scenes I am remembering but there are ones that are replaying over and over in my mind. I apologize for the amount of details I shared. I don’t like sharing a lot about the depths of my illness for the danger of being misread as competing with others or triggering them. But I needed to talk about this. It just seems all so….unreal but yet all too real at the same time. I needed to write it down. Somehow I needed to see it on paper. Get it out of my mind.

Has anyone else who has been in treatment experienced these kind of intrusive memories about the worst of their sickness and hospitalization. Am I unique in this? Please share if you can.

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Filed under anxiety, eating disorder, eating disorders, life events, Life Story, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma

25

I’m turning 25 next Monday (the 28th). I’ve always loved my birthday. I love gifts. I love ripping open presents and finding out what’s inside. I don’t really care if it’s something from the dollar bin at target or something expensive from my Amazon wishlist I just love the feeling of tearing back the paper and seeing something I know I’ll cherish. I’m a stuff girl. I like my things and you can say that my apartment (soon to be house!) is more than a little cluttered. I keep what people give me.

Having said that –  this birthday is not one I’m particularly looking forward to. Twenty-five sounds old to me. A quarter of a decade. An age where it is assumed most people are through college, moving through graduate school, married, looking towards children, working on a career or doing a dozen other “adult’ like things. And me? I’m just not there yet.

Perhaps more unsettling is that I just can’t seem to add up the number of birthdays to 25. There was 16 spent on the field at Thursday band practice where the entire band sang to me, there was 17 at the Neeowallh marching band competition where my cousin tried hard to make it special but let’s be honest that whole school year just totally sucked, 18 was pretty lame also lost among band things but I did buy a lottery ticket, 19 was spent at college with the JACKASS, 20 was spent at college as well on a pretty sad day (but I wore a nice outfit I remember) and oh yeah 21 and 22. Those were the treatment birthdays.

Those are the two years I get hung up on. Where I loose the two years. Honestly, it seems to me like I should be turning 23 instead of 25. It’s not that those two birthday’s weren’t special. They were oh so special. My friends and family ensure that they were. My 21st birthday at Laureate was so unlike any other 21st birthday but was what I needed then. I spent it in a safe environment making flubber with other treatment friends, visiting with family who made a special trip to see me and even included a beautiful “cake” (see picture below – the nurse about had a heart-attack). I was very ill but I was happy. Happier than I had been for the past several birthdays. I had nutrition in my body, I felt safe and I had a future to look forward to. But the fact of the matter was – I was locked away from the world. Literally.

And then 22. That was at The Center for Change. Again, this birthday was special and unique. A memory I’ll probably cherish forever. I started the day on caution (basically isolation) but the girls made signs and hung them everywhere, sang “My Favorite Things” to me and passed me secret message throughout the day. My family left phone messages and I got off isolation late in the day and opened tons of well thought out perfect presents.

So the birthdays? They were great but nothing can erase the fact of the matter that I wasn’t living. I was existing and somedays fighting with the very people who were trying to keep me alive. And more days than not of those two years I either wanted to be dead or were making choices that were getting me one step closer to death. So you see I feel like I lost two years. I had two great birthdays but I really didn’t get to live into 21 and 22. And so when people ask me my age I often forget and do have to pause and think “oh yeah…I’m 24 almost 25”.

I could say that I’ll pretend that this is my 23rd birthday and forget that I’m turning 25 but I don’t think I’ll do that. I think it dishonors my past but more importantly I think it forces me to minimize the deadly consequences of my eating disorder. I’ve been too close to stepping back over that ledge into anorexia lately and I need to remember that the reality is that an eating disorder takes away life. Years of life because it wasn’t only those two years I lost. I really lost all the way from 16 on up. I just was coexisting with an eating disorder and the world instead of being hospitalized.

So I’ll blow out my candles and remember that I’m 25. I’m 25 not 23 because I lost some years to an eating disorder. But I’m also 25 because I survived. Because I found my way OUT of an eating disorder. Otherwise I wouldn’t be celebrating this birthday at all. I wouldn’t be celebrating any birthday. So there is a two edged sword to this birthday – both a celebration of life and a stark reminder of time lost. And I need both.

 

See…told you I’ve always loved my birthday

 

Sometime around one of my high-school birthdays - looking hot in the marching band uniform (Chris you can thank me later)

Sometime around one of my high-school birthdays – looking hot in the marching band uniform (Chris you can thank me later)

Blowing Candles

My sad (but nice outfit) college birthday

This was my 21st birthday "cake" at treatment. It's covered in notecards from  family with sweet messages, quotes and stickers. I still have the cards. One of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

This was my 21st birthday “cake” at treatment. It’s covered in notecards from family with sweet messages, quotes and stickers. I still have the cards. One of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

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Filed under body image, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, friends, Hope, Identity, life events, Life Story, New Life, Recovery, survivor, the past

my experience with mental health coverage

If you’re living in the United States you had to have been living under a rock not to have heard at least a little of the health care debate over these past few weeks and the ensuing shut down of the government. I’ve stayed out of the facebook comments, the name-calling, the blaming etc. I really dislike those posts. I hate the hate that they breed. I don’t understand it. But what I do understand is how insurance has effected my life. And this is what I want to share with you.

Currently I am on my parent’s insurance, which I will remain on until 26 years of age. This extended age period is due to Obama-Care and is one of the few points both political parties agree on. Without this extended age I would be off my parents insurance which would be terrifying and leave me with little to no coverage (at least before the Insurance marketplace opened up this month). Even with my parents insurance I have experienced first hand the problems with our health system.

Mental health is misunderstood. I think that is clear to anyone who has been in the mental health system.  In 2008, The Health Parity and  Addiction Equality Act added onto the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. The 2008 act:

 mandates that insurers define and make available specific criteria for medical necessity when it comes to mental health and substance abuse disorder benefits. In addition, MHPAEA also requires that insurers provide specific information and reasons in the event that reimbursement or payment for treatment is denied.

Okay, so this gave some required coverage to mental health. For me it came none too soon. I was hospitalized in September 2009. Less than a year from when this act was passed. Without it I never would have been able to have received treatment including outpatient therapy visits. However, even with this coverage what I needed was still not given to me. The insurance is still in control and even when my doctors advocated for me till they were blue in the face my insurance always cut out before I was ready or stable. Yes, they provided their specific reasons they denied but quite honestly they were bullshit. How can an insurance company claim to know more than my doctors? How can they who have never met me rule that I was in no danger of suicide, self-harm or relapse? How can an insurance claim to know my ideal weight or know what vitals are stable for me? And how can they know what exactly how my PTSD effects on a daily basis? They can’t. Yet every time I have been in some sort of treatment the insurance company does claim to know these things. And according to the law that’s quite alright as long as they provide proper documentation of why they are denying me further coverage.

In addition, my insurance doesn’t over me complete benefits. I have inpatient benefits meaning I can be hospitalized till I am medically stable but have no residential benefits. Residential is a level of care that provides a transition from inpatient to daily life. It is imperative in eating disorder treatment. It allows time for more therapy instead of just nutrition and weight gain. Residential allows the real “meat of therapy” to begin which can’t until nutrition is stabilized. By just leaving me hospitalized until I have gained some arbitrary number of pounds does nothing to aid in my recovery.

I am so blessed that my parents were able to pay out of pocket for residential treatment at CFC. But it came at a high cost to my family. Without this extra time I would not be able to be in recovery today. However, the insurance did not see it that way. They gave me two weeks. The center said I needed five and a half months. And over those five and half months I was placed on suicide watch multiple times. What would have happened to me if insurance had had to control my care? I truly do not know.

It doesn’t stop there. But to go further would get more into the politics than I want to and I’ve probably already delved far enough into that. Simply put – my experience with insurance has been one that teaches me that they care little for my health and more for their own profit. They skirt the laws and do the bare minimum. I’ve managed to survive in the system because I have a family that can help me with and that has some resources.   And honestly, I have one of the good policies. My mother has become a pro at navigating the insurance system and I’m lucky my first treatment center  did everything in their power to get me covered for as long as possible.

I don’t know what the answer to the problem of insurance is but to say there is no problem is not correct and is closing your eyes to the experiences of others. Without adequate (actually more than average, I need good mental health coverage) I will have no quality of life. I survive now because of a somewhat decent policies that I can benefit from until I’m 26 but after that? I face a future that before October 1st of this year was very scary. Now it seems somewhat less so.

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Filed under depression, Independence, PTSD, Recovery, social change, society

i am kate. i go to therapy. i am not ashamed.

I’ve gotten some questions/suggestions lately that perhaps I should pursue therapy. I’m not offended in the slightest. I think most of the comments came from a fairly good place and therapy ceased to embarrass me a long time ago. Because the truth is that I do see a therapist. Twice a week right now but this is actually the least amount of treatment I’ve had in four years.

In January 2009, after ending an abusive relationship I began seeing a therapist (a really crappy one but that’s another story). I was humiliated and embarrassed that my anxiety had become such that I couldn’t function in everyday life and that I had to seek professional help. The whole idea that I was seeing a “shrink” embarrassed me beyond belief to the point I went at great lengths to hide the fact from my college classmates that I was driving an hour once a week to seek help. I truly believed that it was “just anxiety” that was causing my obvious decline in my mental health but instead of getting better from treatment I felt downhill. Fast.

In September of 2009 I entered treatment for anorexia at Laureate’s eating disorder program. I stayed for ten months going through inpatient, residential, transitional living and back to inpatient for another short stint. I left OK (where Laureate is located). This was in July 2010. By September 2010 I was hospitalized again this time at The Center for Change in Orem Utah. This treatment stay was focused on my eating disorder and my PTSD. I left in February 2011 (after five and a half months) in a much better place, stable mentally for the first time in many years and armed with coping skills.

The next two years were rough. I was in and out of the psychiatric hospital. For a stretch of time I was in every month. In December of 2011 I went to Washington DC to The Psychiatric Institute of Washington’s Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I learned a lot here but it also opened a lot of wounds and closed memories and so my cycle in and out of the hospital continued until July of 2012. This is when my service  dog Ben entered my life.

Since Ben arrived I have been stable. I have not had to be hospitalized for my eating disorder, self-harm, depression, anxiety or PTSD. I receive the least treatment I have in four years, simply seeing my wonderful therapist twice a week.

I tell you all of this because like I mentioned at one time I was so filled with shame that I was in therapy. I saw it as a weakness, an embarrassment, a sign of failure and something that made me somehow “less than” everyone else in my life. I went so far as to tell professors when leaving college to go to treatment that it was due to heart problems (not a lie at that point my heart was severely compromised due to my eating disorder) instead of due to my anorexia (however they probably guessed anyways).

Therapy is so stigmatized. Especially by young people. I believe that this is due to a number of factors but a primarily one being the lack of information regarding mental health. This not only harms those who struggle with diagnosed mental illnesses but also those who need help but refuse to seek it out of shame. The media does not help. Crimes (such as the recent Naval Yard shooting) are blamed on mental illness. Yes, this may be the cause however the media fails to mention that the majority of people who suffer from mental illness are in no ways violent or dangerous. How can someone feel unashamed of their mental struggles when they unintentionally compare themselves to a deranged man who killed many people?

The reality is that seeking help is a sign of strength. I never would have believed this four years ago but working through treatment and recovery has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Much harder than making straight A’s in high-school, much harder than transitioning to college and much much harder than staying stuck in my illnesses.

So yes, I see a therapist and no I am not ashamed. Not anymore and I can say this:

I am Kate. I have PTSD, depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. I see a therapist. I have been hospitalized for my mental illness. I have a psychiatric service dog who without I would not be able to function. But I am no less a person because of these things.

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 7.23.51 PM

2009 – 2013 – happier and healthier thanks to therapy and treatment

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Filed under coping skills, culture, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, Hope, Identity, Life Story, New Life, psychiatric service dog, PTSD, Recovery, service dog, society, survivor, trauma

giving up the eating disordered life – guest post

This post is a guest post written by one of my best friend’s Pam who blogs over at This Tangible Certainty. I highly recommend you check out her blog. She is a fantastic writer who has some great insights into eating disorder recovery and life in general. She’s blogged for me before which you can read here. I first met Pam at The Center for Change. The funny thing was that at the center we really weren’t that close. We existed each in our own separate dissociated world and really didn’t talk much but sometime after we both discharged we became a huge part of each other’s lives. Today we talk almost every day about everything under the sun including the trials and tribulations of recovery from an eating disorder and trauma. The post that follows is a topic we have discussed many times and I am so glad Pam chose to write on it. 

 

Most of my life I identified myself with trying to be the perfect student, the perfect daughter, the perfect athlete. When I entered treatment at 17, that identity was gone. The only thing I had left was this “eating disorder”.

I was humiliated. I had gone from top of my class and a varsity athlete to sitting in a treatment center where I was not even allowed to walk down a flight of stairs. My eating disorder was suddenly the only thing I had left. Treatment felt safe. There were people who took care of everything for me and I really liked that.

It is an easy trap to fall into. My life outside of treatment was chaotic. I was playing volleyball and tennis year-round, I was taking 3 AP classes, involved in clubs at school, and was on the Board of Education. I have a document on my computer entitled “Checklist for Pam” that was sent to me by my parents during my first treatment stay. Here is a screenshot of the first few lines:

 pam'schar 

Is it a surprise that I didn’t want to return to this? I didn’t know how to stop. So when I found myself in treatment where it was completely okay to sleep and color all day, I was in complete culture shock. And then I realized that I liked it. It was comforting and easy. It was like I was a baby… all I did was color, nap and eat. Someone even watched me go to the bathroom.

When I got out of treatment, I didn’t know how to slow down. Slowing down was not acceptable and I thought if I admitted that I couldn’t handle the same workload, I would let everyone know that I was weak and incompetent. I didn’t have the voice to say “I need to slow down” and so relapsing became my substitute for words. My therapist likes to remind me of her conversations with my case manager and how they could not get me to calm down. I don’t think I even knew how burnt out I was. Either that or I was desperately trying to convince myself and everyone else that I could still do everything (and probably also convince them that I wasn’t sick).

I tell my experience because I want everyone to know that it is easy to fall into the treatment trap but it is really hard to get out of it. Treatment was safe and comfortable. I was in a world where it was okay to talk about feelings and fears. Outside of treatment walls, I had to invincible. I felt that in order for me to get my needs met, I had to be in crisis.

The thing with being in crisis is that the real work does not get done. Instead everything becomes about managing the moment. I have spent so much time managing a crisis versus getting into the deeper issues. Up until recently, I did not have the words to express the extent that I was hurting emotionally. I thought that if I was hurting inside, the only way to “prove” that was to relapse.

I have been stable for quite some time now. I am not yet recovered, but for once I can truly say that I am in recovery. In a recent session with my therapist she told me that I was being “weirdly quiet”. When I reminded her that I refused to talk for the first two years of therapy she responded; “Yes, but that was before you had a voice.” In thinking about that comment, she is completely right. I never knew how to articulate what I needed or how I felt. I would spend my sessions memorizing the order of the “How Are You Feeling Today?” poster leaned up against the wall (it has now been removed from her office… oops).

There are still some things that I have a hard time saying. The difference between now and two years ago is that now, instead of using my eating disorder to express them, I work through the difficult stuff with my therapist and she is working on learning how to read my mind (just kidding).

Part of being in recovery is giving up the eating disorder identity. It is not defining your days by how well you stuck to your meal plan or how long you stayed on the treadmill. It is reaching out, talking, and not using behaviors to express what is going on. It is okay to be hurting emotionally yet not take it out on your body. The real work does not begin until you stop trying to “prove” that you are sick enough to deserve help.

Being in a treatment center will never teach you how to live a normal life and a treatment center will never help you achieve full recovery. Treatment centers are great for learning skills, getting stabilized, and starting to do really hard work, but they are not a substitute for real life. Real recovery is about going out into the world, making mistakes, working through them, and realizing that it is okay have a full range of emotions and experiences without using your eating disorder to express them.

It is definitely not easy. Everyday I have to go about my day as a regular 22 year old but I also have to fight negative thoughts and behaviors. It is like living two lives at the same time and having equally demanding responsibilities in both. There was a time where I could not promise you that fighting was worth it. Now, even on my hardest days, the alternative is not what I want for my future. The alternative does not even give me the option of a future.

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Filed under body image, coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, Identity, Independence, Recovery, school, survivor, the past

ugly

Ugly

Who first called me that?

Was it me or was it them?

And when did it sink down into my bones and begin to strip away my flesh

Was it the first time it was uttered on the playground

Or a passing insult at age thirteen

Or none of those at all?

Was it something my mind simply whispered to torture myself in the wee hours of the night

And then drilled into my brain, then my heart, my liver, my kidneys

Trying to kill me and almost succeeding

One word.

So much power.

So much destruction.

So much…

ugliness.

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Filed under body image, bullying, eating disorder, eating disorders, Identity, Life Story, Recovery, the past, writing/poetry

war stories and sick pictures

I had a tube.

I was in the ICU.

I was on dialysis.

My weight was (insert two digit number).

I’ve been in 12 treatment centers.

I’ve been diagnosed as chronic.

My heart can hardly function.

My liver is failing.

I’m dying.

These are all statements I’ve heard from girls gathered in a circle in a corner quietly talking and periodically glancing up to see if the techs/baby sitters are near. No they aren’t stories to share sorrows or to share scary moments of horror. They are war stories. Stories these girls are proud of and they tell proudly each desiring to one-up the other. Each throwing out a lower and lower weight and a more dangerous story filled with medical equipment, EKG’s, ambulance rides, frantic family members and doctors predicting their death. I’ve heard these stories because I’ve been in on the inside of these war stories. I’m ashamed to say it but in fact I’ve tried to win the game.

It’s a sick, sick twisted component of the eating disorder world. Each girl wanting to prove she is/was sicker than the other. After all, we have to prove to ourselves we deserve help. We have to be the most well liked and admired. We have to show our pain somehow and the only way we knew how was to get the sickest we possibly could. And we have to be the best at something and for many that has been their eating disorder never-mind that being the best of all is being dead.

At my first treatment center I quickly learned the art of telling war stories. And that I had one to contribute. But I also learned it marked you. It marked you as non-recovery orientated, an attention seeker and someone who doen’t want to get well. You may have ‘friends’ but these are the girls who will stab you in the back to prove they were sicker. And you waste your time sitting in the corner telling your story. Everyone at that facility is sick. Really it doesn’t matter one bit what your weight was. What matters is that your life was out of control enough to be sitting after a meal waiting for the 45 minutes to be up so you could make your way to bed where you would be checked on every 15 minutes to make sure you weren’t participating in some ‘ilegal behavior’ such as exercise.

My second treatment stay I went in with the promise no war stories. No telling of how sick I had been in the past. No hints as to my lowest weight or my horror of hospital stays. I was going to be silent on all of that. Take me as I am. I was not going to participate in the sick retelling of ‘whose the sickest one here’. And it aided my recovery in ways that I can’t put into words. I made friends because I wasn’t focused on proving my sick status. I left attention seeking behind and was able to learn that being sick isn’t the way to get the attention and help each person is entitled to.

And now that I’m out of treatment? Now that my body is recovered and I look “normal”. Do I feel a need to tell those war stories? Sometimes yes. Sometimes I get an urge to prove I was one of those sickest girls. But do I? No. Where would it get me? I say I was sick. Does it matter how sick? No. All it matters is that I’m on a path to recovery. I have my ‘sick’ pictures. My pictures that show my bones, my pale face and lifeless eyes. They are in a folder on my computer and someday I’ll be brave enough to delate them but I can tell you now that I will never show them to you. Others make the decision to parade their sick pictures around. Some do so out of a genuine desire to remember where they were and to never return. Other girls? Well, I find it hard to believe that they aren’t simply continuing the war stories of treatment.

But I’ve made my decision. I don’t need to share photos to prove to you I was sick. You can take my word for it and really it’s not that important to this blog anyways. What is important is that I’m in recovery.

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Filed under body image, eating disorder, eating disorders, Identity, Recovery, survivor, the past

falling, falling

This poem/thing-without-a- proper- name describes some of my past experiences with dissociation.

Falling. Falling.

I’ve lost control of my own body.

My brain has once again betrayed me.

Not in thoughts. They betrayed me there long ago.

But in my movements, my mechanisms of survival.

I am trapped. Trapped in a body that won’t connect.

That skips flight and fight and goes to freeze and fall.

Holding onto banister and walls to walk willing myself to stay upright

But what good is will when the brain can trump all the willpower in the world?

They say – “walk. Don’t fall. You lie.”

I stand and walk.. But then – something happens. Something I do not see and suddenly the floor is rising up to meet me.

I cannot comprehend how my brain has forced my legs to betray me.

And neither can they. Attention seeking they call it. Despair I call it.

Wheelchairs, lectures, the silent treatment.

My brain has once again brought me to this lonely place.

A place I am familiar with. A place I am disliked and despised.

A place where my history has proven I belong.

A place where people hate little girls who have the wrong haircut

Sixteen year olds whose only crime was to play the wrong instrument

And an eighteen year old whose worse offence was to be born female

And now my brain has brought me there again – forcing my legs to slide and slip.

And so I’m back where I belong.

Alone. Hated and disliked for something I did not choose and cannot control.

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Filed under eating disorder, eating disorders, life events, Life Story, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma, writing/poetry

beginning to dig through the yucky, yucky past

I’ve been thinking lately about where I am at in recovery in regards to my trauma work. For those of you who don’t know I have a pretty significant trauma history. Go here to understand psychological trauma. And because of that I have a variety of diagnoses relating to my trauma. My trauma also occurred over a number of years so it spans a vast majority of my life. One of the main reasons Ben, my service dog is in my life is to help counteract the symtoms of my trauma.

Past trauma affects many of my recovery sisters (including myself) on a day to day basis. It’s hard to describe to someone without a trauma history how hard it is to function when you live part of your life in fear of the past or spend the days avoiding triggers that could take you back to a memory that feels as though it is happening again. The worst symtoms of my trauma appeared while I was at Laureate and capitalized at CFC. I will go into details about those at some point because I think it is important to realize just how much the brain can affect the body and the past can affect the present but for now all I will say is I relived nightmare after nightmare for months

And so now I’ve been asking myself exactly where I am at in my trauma recovery. Some significant things in my life have settled down, I have been stable from self-harming behaviors for six months now (the longest since 2009), I am learning how to cope with one of my newest diagnoses, Ben and I are beginning to work out just how we can help each other the best, my support system is growing, I have goals and dreams and therefore a purpose for life, I’ve had some huge triggers thrown my way but worked through them with lots of tears and grief but no harm to myself. In short, it looks like it might be time to begin to work on things.

When I left CFC all of my trauma work got put on hold. I couldn’t be stable and do the work. I wasn’t stable at CFC when we did it but my therapist and I did it anyways. They had the means to keep me safe (albiet uncomfortable ones – hellloooo caution and blue scrubs) and we got a heck of a lot done. Yesterday in therapy for the first time since leaving CFC I pulled out my HUGE binder and started reading through the work we did. The recounting of my trauma, the shame, the guilt, the grief, the anger, the details – the nasty, gory, horrible, disgusting, gut wrenching, details. I wasn’t okay when I left. Benny and I sat in the waiting room for a long time cuddling (he managed to fit his entire body onto my lap – how is that possible?) with his head on my shoulder while I breathed slowly and willed the world to come back but then I got up, called a friend and drove home. I had nightmares last night. And the intrusive memories are there but the difference is that I’m determined. I’m determined to work on this yucky, yucky stuff. I have a purpose and a plan, one which I can’t share yet. But there is a reason to dig through this horrible reality of my past. And now I think just maybe I can do it. With the help of Benny and my support system, I’m going to be able to look back into my past and dig through it and finally come through to the other side and be able to say “I Made It”. That is what I want.

 

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Filed under Ben, bullying, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, friends, Hope, life events, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma

escaping the “I’m fat” trap

On Wednesday I had a productive therapy session. Not every session is productive. I would like to say it is especially because the amount of money therapy costs is ridiculous (much less than they used to be thanks to Obamacare – yes, I know, I know, polotics, but seriously no matter where you stand on that issue my therapy costs has gone down so that’s helpful)  but the reality is that sometimes therapy is just not productive at all and somedays counterproductive. Sometimes those counterproductive sessions are needed. Sometimes you can’t get anywhere unless you take a few steps backwards and realize that you are closer to hitting rock bottom than you thought. That’s when the come to Jesus moments happen so to say and change really begins to happen.

Well, my last few months have been full of those counterproductive/not productive sessions. This is just a snapshots of how my sessions have gone:

Kate: I’m fat.

Beth: What’s really going on?

Kate: Nothing. I’m just fat.

Beth: That’s your eating disorder talking. What’s going on?

Kate: Um, no it’s a fact I’m fat.

Beth: Okay so let’s work on that feeling.

Kate: No, let’s not.

See what I mean about not being productive? No part of that get’s me anywhere. Here is another example of a session.

Kate: Please, please can’t you just let me go back to my eating disorder? I promise to only use it for a little while.

Beth: Absolutely not.

Kate: Whhhhyyyyyy noooottttt????

Beth: Why would expect me to give you permission to kill yourself? What kind of therapist would I be if I did that?

Kate: Please, please, please. I can’t stay at this weight.

Beth: Why? Why can’t you accept this weight? What’s really going on?

Kate: Nothing. I’m fat.

Yeah….that would also be a non-productive session. And to my mother and father I’m terribly sorry you have been paying for half my sessions to be spent in these round and round pointless conversations. But here’s the thing. I honestly thought that somehow the anxiety, overwhelmed feelings, memories, self-hatred, destructive thoughts would simply be fixed if I wasn’t fat. And honestly I can’t believe I let myself believe that. That’s treatment lesson 101!

The first thing you learn in therapy is that fat is not a feeling. And loosing weight doesn’t make any feelings go away. And here I was sitting in therapy and stewing at home believing that FAT was causing all my problems and I could fix them by you know restricting a little here and a little there. Thank God for my therapist who does not tolerate behaviors (she seriously would terminate my therapy if I began to use symptoms.Harsh yes? What I need? defiantly.) and thank goodness I valued therapy enough to stay in it. Otherwise I would probably be on a plane back to Utah or who knows where to treatment. Which would mean a fourth consecutive Christmas away from home. I would have been devastated as would my family. But instead I had a productive session. A session that went beyond “I’m fat” and into the real stuff.

I’m not entirely sure how I got there but suddenly I was reading Beth a journal entry. I have felt really alone lately and not like I could share some of the things that I have been struggling with with my friends who I normally convide in. Not because of anything they have said or done but because I have this perceived notion that I need to be perfect and strong in recovery. Let me be clear. NONE of my friends have given me this impression. It’s from my own messed up head. So all of these things have become secrets and things hidden from the main supports in my recovery life. Suddenly, I was reading a journal entry to Beth and they all just came pouring out and once they started I couldn’t stop. By the end of the session I had a headache from crying but my anxiety and the overwhelming feeling that I must, must do something (ie loose weight) was gone. I didn’t realize this until later in the week but my obsession with my weight has dwindled significantly. No, I am not happy with my body image but I do feel better about it and not as desperate to fix it.

Beth and I talked about how to proceed after I read my journal entry because they was so much content that indicated we have much to work on and we have a plan to get through the holidays. After that we’ll see. The number one goal is to keep me symptom free like I am now so I can avoid treatment but still work on issues.

No more of getting distracted by the “I’m fat” trap.

 

 

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