Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The "Cleanse"

I realize that I concerned some of you over the weekend when my facebook status indicated that "I really wanted to go on a cleanse." It was not my intention to worry anyone, nor was it my intention to go on a cleanse for ed reasons... not at first anyways. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am dealing with A LOT of stomach and digestive issues - and as I am trying to eat more food, those problems are just getting worse!!!!!! My body does not know what to do with this food and is not seeming to like it very much right now! I feel like my body is hating me and hating all this food that I am trying to feed it! So...out of frustration (and desperation), I was very tempted to give in and do a "cleanse" to try to feel better physically. I thought it would be a better option than simply not eating or taking laxatives - but after reading the comments that some of you posted on my fb status, and after I did a whole lot of thinking... I realized that in a way - it pretty much is the same thing as those other two options! And I also realize and accept that if I were to do a cleanse, I don't know how well my body would be able to handle it - considering everything my body has been through lately...
 
So not to worry - even though the urge is still there (I used to do cleanses all the time, but for ed reasons back then) I am going to do everything I can to not give in the the temptation that is trying to take over my mind! And I am sorry if I worried any of you, because honestly, that was not my intent. But I DO want to thank you for looking out for me and my best interests because it does mean a whole heck of a lot to me to know that I have great friends who love me and want me to recover and survive this bloody illness!!!

(I will be seeing my GI doctor again soon - so hopefully, we will be able to figure some more stuff out and what we can continue to do to try to repair some of the damage that I have done to my body).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

overwhelmed

Last night, one of my roommates cooked some dinner for her and a friend. A few hours later, when I went upstairs, she asked me if I wanted some of the leftovers because there were plenty. I usually say "no thanks" when any of my roommates ask if I want to eat with them or if I want any leftovers - and I just stick to my "safe foods" and take it down to my room to eat (I am trying to work on eating more often in the kitchen at the table but I still struggle with eating in front of people) - and it's not because I don't like them or don't want to eat with them because I do, and I wish I could!! I wish I didn't feel the way I do towards food! So, I was hesitant and was about to blurt out my usual "no thanks" but then that little recovery voice came into my head and reminded me that this would be a positive step towards my healing. So I said "sure, thanks!" and she came into the kitchen with me and showed me where the food was in the fridge.

I got it all out on the counter. The flour tortillas, the lettuce, the grated cheese, and the hamburger. I proceeded to put lots and lots of lettuce on a tortilla and I sprinkled it with a little cheese. I know I should have put more cheese on it and put some hamburger on it - even if it was just a little bit of the hamburger (since red meat is still a huge fear food for me! So is cheese, but I am slowly getting better with cheese) I know I also should have had something else to eat with it but I couldn't. I just couldn't get myself to do it! The fears have been so strong as I feel my body gaining weight and also all these intense problems I am having with my stomach and digestive system (which is so complicated and frustrating - and is a result of my chronic starvation/restriction and the years of heavy laxative/diuretic abuse...) please, please, please everyone out there - don't get caught up with laxatives because they will completely destroy your body!!! Please trust me! It has cause permanent damage to my body!
  
I notice that whenever I try to eat more more, I become a lot more obsessive and ritualistic when it comes to food and exercise. This always seems to happen (and is one of the big factors in my failing attempts at recovery). When I am just eating little bits here and there - its not as bad, but that's because the guilt isn't as strong about the food that I am eating - cause I am pretty much not eating, so why would there be guilt, right? It's like I feel like I need to balance it out...but balance what out??? The insufficient amount of calories that I am still eating -even though I am eating more than I usually do?  And I understand that my perception on how much I am actually eating is very distorted - but I can't help it! That's one thing that anorexia will do to you - it will distort the reality of things and it's like you are seeing things through the eyes and mind of the illness. I just can't let go of the control!! It's true, that whenever I am in various treatment programs or inpatient and I am being watched and monitored closely - those obsessions do tend to lessen the grip they have on me a bit, but when I am just doing outpatient - I seem to struggle sooooooo much!! And it's frustrating because I feel like I should be further into my recovery than I am, and that I should be doing better than I am, and it's just so discouraging. I don't want to be tied to this illness! I want to break the chains and just live a normal, healthy, & happy life.  

We talked about this in my therapy session this week and like always he stressed the importance of me making sure that I am seeing my doctor regularly (as in weekly) so she can monitor my labs, blood pressure, weight, re-feeding & attempts at weight gain, ect. And I also understand that I should be seeing my dietitian (whom I haven't seen since last October) but he hasn't been pushing the issue with that too much lately because I am in good hands with my doctor who is an ed specialist (so she knows what to look for, what tricks I might pull, ect.) and he also understands that my finances are extremely tight right now. So he is trying to be patient and understands that I am doing what I can with what I've got (financially).

Anyways, I have just been really overwhelmed and discouraged lately and I just needed to vent, so thanks for listening.

Friday, January 22, 2010

me and my books

I have a serious addiction to books! I love to read...a little too much maybe...but I don't care because it is one of my coping methods and a way that I can distract from the obsessiveness that is my anorexia. My favorite type of books are memoirs/biographies. But I also do love my novels as well!! I love how books can take you to places and run wild with all sorts of emotions. I love how they can inspire you and lift you up. I love how they can distract you (if even for a moment) from the chaos of your own life as you wrap yourself into the love story, mystery, action, adventure, thriller, tear-jerker - whatever it may be! I should take a picture of my bookcase and post it on here because the amount of books I have is seriously ridiculous and might very well be leaning towards the side of "unhealthy?" - but there are worse things to be addicted too (which I know all too well, unfortunately). But I don't care, because books make me happy and they are not destructive like a lot of my habits seem to be...

And since we are on the subject of books - I went and saw The Lovely Bones over the weekend with Leticia and it was so good! It is an intense (and sometimes hard to watch movie) but...so so good! And I was happy to see that it followed the book pretty dang closely! It definitely did the book justice (and dare I say, was maybe even a bit better than the book?) I mentioned to my therapist in our session this week that I saw the movie and he was like "What is up with all of you guys and this movie? What is this movie about? Because so many of my clients have told me this past week that they have seen this movie??" I think that he was starting to get concerned that this was some kind of eating disorder-related movie or something. And I just had to laugh cause yes, judging by the title of this book I can see why he was thinking that... but it has nothing to do with eds at all.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What is holding me back???

Ugh, looking for a job has been slow and frustrating. I will be honest and say that the reason why (I can blame the economy all I want - but the truth of the matter is that) going out everyday and applying for job after job after job after job after job... is waaaaaaay out of my comfort zone and especially lately because that comfort zone seems to have been getting smaller and smaller. And I don't like feeling or doing things that are out of my comfort zone (insert here: one of the causes of my anorexia) But! That is no excuse! And I need to step it up and step out into that crazy and scary world of job applications, interviews,and ... gasp...rejection! It has been so much easier for me to avoid and try to hide from the fact that I need a job than it would be to deal with and face my fears. I am not a super out-going person, especially when it comes to looking for jobs. But again, I need to remind myself that it's no excuse!!!
-
So, I am re-commiting to my job searching adventures right here, right now.

Friday, January 15, 2010

gymnastics meet tonight!

I am excited to go to the University of Utah gymnastics meet tonight! I love going to meets because it reminds me of my youth and my own training as a gymnast.

Gymnastics (and ballet) were a huge part of my life and even though I wasn't able to achieve all of the goals that I had for myself and my training...it's okay, because when I look back on my life and the role that gymnastics played in it - I mostly have positive memories. Gymnastics was (and still is) a huge passion of mine.

One of my favorite memories is of Christmas 1994. My best friend at the time, and I both got beams for Christmas! I can still remember how excited I was and how we both thought it was so funny and so awesome that both of our dads got them for us that same Christmas...hmm, I still wonder if they were in on it together! I loved that thing so much and when I wasn't at the gym - I was at home practicing on it (and the mats that I had gotten the year before). It was one of the best presents I have ever gotten for Christmas!

But sadly...a few years ago, we had to get rid of it. After I graduated high school and moved out - I tried taking it will me, and I did bring it to some of the apartments I lived in (remember my beam being in our living room Mandy?) But I moved too often and some places were smaller than others so I had to take it back to my parents house. Well, after a few years - they were kind of tired of storing it and it was really in the way - so, eventually...I had to say goodbye to it.

R.I.P. my favorite present ever!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

one of my favorite quotes


"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tunes without the words
And never stops - at all"
-Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

three years later...

This past Sunday was the 3 year anniversary of the day that I truly began my recovery. That was the day that I was admitted to an inpatient treatment center (where I stayed for the next 7 months). I had lived with this illness for so long before that day that it had become a huge part of me. It was me. It was my identity. It was "just the way I lived". I had been to many different doctors, therapists, & specialists and also different hospitals, but none of them had been able to help me... because I wouldn't let them help me. I refused to admit I had a problem (even though it was often obvious to anyone who witnessed my "strange" behaviors or even just looked at me and saw my appearance). When I would be sent to see these professionals by my parents, I wouldn't let them in and when they got close - I would stop seeing them and make up an excuse to my parents as to why I couldn't see them anymore. I was in complete denial about what I was doing to myself. I think I was in denial for two reasons: 1- my e.d. had been in my life for so long (since middle school) that it had become my "normal" and 2- I think I was terrified to really allow myself to see what was happening to me because deep down I was afraid and I knew I was powerless to let my anorexia go.

So, one month after my 26th birthday - my condition was so grave that I had no other choice but to go inpatient and I knew this. There was no denying it any longer. I had been seeing a new therapist for about two months prior to this time and she is the one who got me to admit and accept that I needed help. I credit her a lot for helping me start on this road to acceptance of my illness and my recovery. I truly thought that this was going to be the start of a new life. I guess I was naive to the reality of just how entangled in my anorexia I was. But I didn't know that at the time. All I knew was I had lived with my e.d. for so long and I honestly thought that this was finally my time to get better and move on. I thought that I would go into this treatment center and come out recovered. How naive and stupid I was... because when I was admitted to the center and started to work the program I realized that this was going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. At the center, I quickly retreated back into my denial thinking and was hesitant to let go of my behaviors. I was afraid to let go, and the e.d. was so much in control even in this place that I thought I was "safe". It took quite a few months of being there before I was finally really ready to accept the idea of letting go of my e.d. And it was then, that I finally saw that change in me and I started to honestly try to work the program and even stop all the behaviors I was still trying to engage in secretly (dumping out my feeding tube, hiding food, exercising at night, ect.) I was ready to recover, to get better, and to have my life back! 

I didn't think that I would still be in treatment (I honestly thought that was going to be the time I let my e.d. go for good!) and still be struggling as much as I am three years later...

A couple of days ago, I was looking through my recovery journal. I haven't looked through it for quite a while, and I came across this letter that I wrote. One of the assignments that we had to do at this treatment center, was write a letter to our eating disorder. When I wrote this letter it came from my heart and that place inside me that longed for freedom from this horrible illness. This is that letter:


Dear ED,

I am writing this letter as the first step towards my recovery from you. It has been 13 years since you first came into my life. I was a young, naive, and awkward girl and I fell right into your arms. In a world that felt so chaotic and unsure, I felt safe and in control with you. You were a place that I could escape to when things got too hard or scary. You promised to protect me, and not only did I believe you - but I defended you from anyone who told me otherwise!

But as the years went by, you became more and more addicting! And even though you were hurting me, I was so terrified to let you go. I just had to accept the fact that you would always be a big part of my life, and I would just have to try and live some sort of a "normal" life. But you couldn't even let me do that! So here I am in a freaking treatment center because of you!!! You have brought me so close to death more times than I can count - but I am still here and I am still going to fight! I know that I am not strong enough to fight you on my own, but I have an amazing treatment team and lots of people who love me and want me to recover.

You have deprived me of my innocence, my morals, (and above all) my health!! You have taken away my happiness, my right to make healthy and positive decisions, and you have cut off my emotions and replaced them with your own. You have convinced me that these harmful behaviors were acceptable ways to deal with problems and emotions. You have convinced me that these same behaviors would protect me from feeling any kind of hurt or pain. But instead, it numbed me of any emotion I was feeling! I thought that by participating in our "secret games" I was in control of my life and my feelings - but in reality, I wasn't in control of anything, you were!!!

You told me what I could and could not eat, to purge if I did eat, how long I had to exercise, and you even convinced me to take all sorts of harmful pills! And if I would start to question you - you would make me feel guilty and tell me that I needed to work extra hard that day! I thought that by listening to you and trusting you would make me perfect. I can't believe how naive I was to have let you into my life!

You took away my self-esteem and confidence. You have taken away my ability to handle simple everyday tasks, because of your controlling grip! You have wrapped me around your finger so tight, that every aspect of my life has to be cleared through you first! I believed you when you said that you would never hurt me or make me cry - so how come every time I think of our relationship, I can only remember pain, sadness, and countless tears as what you've contributed! You have kept me isolated from so many of my friends and family, and you have destroyed very special and intimate relationships. There was never room for three in these relationships, and I always picked you! Because of you, I am struggling to find out who I am and what my purpose in life is at the age of 26! Instead of 18 or 19 like most people. You have taken away so many years from me that I will never get back! I'll always feel like I am trying to catch up to everyone because you have pushed me so far back! You have taken away anything that once gave me joy. You have made me feel so shameful and guilty about so many things in my life.

So today is the day that I am finally saying goodbye! I will no longer accept your phone calls, text messages, emails, or any of your tempting "sweet" offers. I will not allow you to come to my home or visit with any of my family or friends to see how I am doing. I am cutting you out of my life!!! I know that it will not be easy, it won't be a clean break by any means, but I am prepared to fight! I have people on my side whom I do trust, and who truly love me.

Our relationship has spun so out of control - I am too dizzy!!! The longer I stay with you, the worse off I am. Every time I have managed to stand up - you have been right there in front of me ready to push me down again. But that is coming to an end. You have ruined my life in every way and you are not worth it! I am worth it!! My recovery is more valuable than anything you could offer me. So with all of my heart and soul, I am closing the curtain on our foolish and deadly relationship and taking my final bow.

Jennifer


When I read this, I started to cry because I feel like I have lost this girl. The girl who wrote this letter is not me anymore. Who I am now is a girl who is exhausted and beaten down by this illness. Who keeps trying to let it go but for some reason can't - the e.d. doesn't want to let her go... Or maybe, I am just not strong enough to let it go... I don't know, but what I DO know is that I want this girl back! I want to be the girl who wrote this letter! I want to feel like recovery really and truly is in my grasp and that it is achievable! I want to fight, and I want to win! But all I feel like lately, is that I am losing, and that I am hanging on to a rope that is so frayed and worn that I am not sure how much longer I can continue holding on before it breaks or before it slips out of my hands...Where is that girl, and how do I get her back?

Monday, January 4, 2010

5 Things I Want To Achieve In My Life

Hmm, I have always been known to be a rule-breaker ever since I was a little girl so...why stop now!?! So I decided to list 6 things instead of 5.

1- Have my own fashion line/clothing boutique.
2- Get married to my best friend (wherever you are...seriously, where are you!?!?) and raise a family.
3- Strengthen my faith and my testimony in God.
4- Travel around the world.
5- Get involved in humanitarian work and be able to help those less fortunate and in need.
6- Recover from my eating disorder and help others who are struggling to find their way to recovery as well!

Of course there are other things too, but I have been doing a lot of thinking about this because of the whole New Years resolution talk that is in the air. There are lots of other things I want to do in my life like write a book, re-connect with old friends and continue making new friends and lasting relationships, spend more time with my family, go back to school and get my degree, learn how to cook, start writing songs again... There are so many things I want to do!!! 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Beautiful Grandmother

This is another excerpt from the memoir Kid Rex. This grandmother touched me to deeply and she truly is an amazing woman to have been able to experience this moment with her granddaughter.

"On my birthday, with all of us gathered around the dining room table, I recieved a beautiful dress from my mom. The only problem with it was the size. The realization that my mom thought I was still a size "x" sent me into such a panic that I broke into uncontrollable sobbing at my birthday table. I felt like I couldn't breathe, and I experienced the same sensation I had on the phone with my parents that night at Renfrew. With everything around me deteriorating, the only thing I'd had left was my nonexistent size. Now, with that one dress, that was being taken away as well.

Seeing me in such a state, my family began to nervously walk out of the room after giving me a quick hug or pat on the back. My mom, dad, Fran, and Josh remained standing to one side, clueless as to what they should say or do. They simply stood there, watching helplessly. But when I lifted my head, I saw through a misty veil of tears my grandmother, facing me across the table, crying the same way I'd been crying, as though the sadness of the world now rested on our two shoulders and there was nothing left to do but mourn where we were and what we had become.

I saw my grandmother, and I immediately froze. I couldn't believe, simply didn't understand, how somebody could be right there with me, in that same dark space. I saw my grandmother's face and knew she was now feeling everything I'd felt. At that moment she was experiencing my anorexia, loneliness, and pain, and for a second I realized I wasn't truly alone. Somebody had shone a light into the tiny place where I was living, and I was momentarily brought back by this woman who loved me so completely. Without thought she threw herself into the depths of my despair. It was perhaps, one of the most lucid times of my life, but again, as with Gilbert's lesson, I needed much more time to fully comprehend it.

On my twenty-first birthday, when most people get drunk with their friends, I experienced a quiet moment. I was struck by my grandmother's face and by the love I'd always known existed but had never realized the true depths of. Even now when I feel isolated and unprotected I conjure up her image in my mind. Her beautiful, sad face, full of love and despair, that without hesitation says, "I am with you not out of obligation but because of that great, unknowable force called love." The fact that a woman as strong and unique as my grandmother could be so loyal and completely accepting of me engraved itself in my spirit, strenthening me in the depths of desperation and through my recovery."

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Eve

New Years Eve parties are oh so difficult. As anyone with an eating disorder can tell you - holidays and parties are full of anxiety, fear, and insecurity. Especially when you are really struggling with recovery.

At my house, my roommates were having a big New Years party but I was feeling a ton of anxiety about the whole aspect of a bunch of people and lots & lots of food everywhere. So, I thought that being with my family might be a safer option for a girl who is struggling so much right now (my first option is always to hide out in my room where I feel safe but the reality is - it's just lonely and gives the ed more time to play with my head and feed me lies). So I headed over to my parents house. My parents, two of my sisters, and their families were all there to have dinner, play games, and watch movies.

I did eat more than I was "comfortable" with - but my level of comfort and food are in pretty small amounts these days. I ended up going home about an hour after dinner (I had a horrible headache plus a ton of anxiety from all the noise, people, and food everywhere). After I said goodbye to everyone, my mom walked me to the front door and before I left she asked me "Now you are not going to throw up or take laxatives or anything are you?" And whenever someone says that to me, I always get panicky inside because people don't usually say those things or ask those questions when I have eaten only a little bit...And as soon as she said that - the feelings I had been feeling since dinner just multiplied in power! "Did I eat too much? I did, or she wouldn't be asking me this!!!" And I hate that every time I put something in my mouth - that is still one of the main thoughts in my head even after all of these years of therapy why am I still so fearful of this thought? What am I so afraid of?
 

Anyways, so my mom had me say out loud to her (and me) the reasons why I needed to let that food stay in my body. And that is something that I have noticed has been very vital throughout my recovery because those ed thoughts are constantly in my head and just ready to pounce and completely take over when I am in vulnerable situations. The eating disorder is constantly distorting reality and getting you to believe that the lies are the truth! - and that is why it is so important to try and counter-act those thoughts and feelings. Also, I have noticed that saying them out loud helps so much more than just saying them in your head. It gives the truth more power when you say it out loud. Even if you are alone, don't just say it in your head - say it out loud!

I went home - where my roommates were also having a huge party, and of course, there was food everywhere - and lots of it. I just snuck downstairs to my room, crawled into the safety of my bed, and turned on 30 Rock. So, thanks anorexia...once again, you have controlled and ruined another New Years celebration. Please please please don't still be my date next year! You have been my date too many times! I want to remember and experience New Years (or any holiday or party) without you there!

To end this post on a positive note. I am happy to say that when I left my parents, I did not purge, take laxatives, or try to burn off calories in any way. I just went home and crawled into my bed and let the food I had eaten nourish and heal my body.