Saturday, May 30, 2009

48 Hours

Has anyone ever watched that show on A&E? Good show....

Well, today has been harder for me. Until today I have not been eating much. I have a lot of anxiety around eating in front of other people, about gaining weight too fast and, most of all, about having to sit with the food in my stomach after the meal. The first couple of days I wasn't hungry (odd for me) and it was easy to just control what I was eating (or not eating).
So far today I have eaten 100% of my meal plan. The urges to binge and purge (especially binge) are pretty strong. I know if I wasn't here I would be acting on them. This is another reason I have been avoiding eating..once I start, I just want more and more. The time between meals seems never-ending and agonizing. I have tried mostly to sleep, but I can only sleep so much. My meal plan is at the 50% level, the lowest. That means that of a 'normal' meal, I am plated 50% of that (but expected to eat 100% of that 50%...confusing, I know). I meet my dietitian tomorrow and I am not sure if she is going to alter my meal plan. Part of me wants her to, I am just so damn hungry now, but the eating disorder part definitely does not want that to happen. That part is mad at me for starting to eat this morning and thus starting the whole cycle of hunger, binge cravings, and eating.
Tonight we are going on an outing to Borders. I am hoping I can enjoy that, but I am afraid that I will be distracted, or even looking for a way to get away with something....fortunately, I am pretty sure I have to stick with a staff member.
I have not purged since I have been here- the longest I have gone since in CFC. And I have eaten (and kept down) more food than I have in months, probably in at least a year. I know I am supposed to be taking this 'one second at a time' but it is just so damn hard.

Friday, May 29, 2009

24 Hours Down

Well, I have been at Castlewood for over 24 hours. The first couple of days are crazy, meeting with the dietician, therapisy, psychiatrist, signing forms and trying to lear dozens of names, rules and policies. I was sort of expecting this, and in truth it is going better than I thought it would. Everyone is very nice. During the day, besides the in-house residents, there is a jumble of day patients, step-down patients, cooks and staff. Today and the rest of the weekend are a bit different than usual because most of the staff is at a training, reducing the scheduling (groups) for us. I do not mind though, as I will seize the opportunity to rest and work on my therapy assignments.
The biggest thing that I cannot get over is how beautiful the place is. The house (mansion, really) literally sits on the bluff (the back porch is a good 5 stories from the ground) but the view is indescribable. The facility sits right on the edge of a national park or something so on three sides of the house all you can see is endless hills of rolling trees. The house has lots of sitting areas outside, places to journal or whatever, as well as a pool, hot tub and hiking trails. I am currently in the extra bed which is in the master bedroom. It is huge, with its own screened porch, high queen-sized canopy beds and a humongus bathroom complete with a huge whirlpool. AS soon as someone discharges next week I will be moved to my permanent room, but I am hoping I will move to one of the permanent beds that are in the same room I am in now.
Everyone here is very nice, although I am having a hard time remembering their names, where they are from and how long they have been here. The staff are great, too. My therapist seems very knowledgeable and I am told that he is the best around.
I am sort of struggling with the food protocal. I have not purged since I have been here. I have a 'fluid protocal' (must drink a certain amount of Propel) and am on 'couch rest' which means that when I am not in groups or meals, I have to stay sitting. Like all new admits, I am on '24 hour observations' which means that I am monitored in the bathroom 24 hours a day (excluding early mornings) and otherwise have to remain in staff eyesight when I am not sleeping.
I am use to this though, and it has not been a problem. The program does not seem at all punitive. I feel oddly at peace and optomistic, which I contribute to the gorgeous scenery and weather. The other girls do not seem to compare themselves to one another or to swap 'war stories' which is refreshing.
Today was a decent day. Tomorrow is a new one.

A (not so) Brief History

Well, I am not being as on the ball with this whole blog thing as I had planned. Typical me!
I am planning to chronicle my journey of recovery here, as well as other things, but I realize that some of you don’t really know me, so I thought I would give a brief history :)
I was born January 30, 1985 in Charleston, SC. My dad was an officer in the Navy, and for the first 7 or 8 years of my life he was frequently out at sea for months at a time. As a young child I lived in Groton, CT, Keyport, WA, Monterey, CA, and Silverdale, WA. My sister, Jaclyn, was born when I was 3 and my brother, Johnny, followed a year later. My biological mother was an alcoholic and was physically and emotionally abusive.
When I was 9, my parents divorced. My dad had custody of my siblings and I and we moved to Annandale, VA, right outside of DC. We lived there for a year before moving to Papillion, NE. In Nebraska my dad met Dawn, and her daughter, Katie, and they were married the next year.
Around this time, my eating disorder began. For most people, this change takes place over time. For me it was immediate. I decided one day that I was not going to eat, and I didn’t for days on end. I was overweight at the time, and although I have always thought I was always a fat kid, when I recently was looking at pictures from my childhood, I realized this was not true.
I don’t know why my eating disorder (ED, for short) began- that is the million dollar question. I tend to think that, like most diseases, it is a combination of nature and nurture, or genetics and environment. My biological mom had an eating disorder in college. Also, besides the typical identity crisis and awkwardness that accompanies adolescence, I felt displaced in my family as I was not longer the “woman of the house” and co-parent to my siblings. Personally, I am not a big believer that it truly matters why one develops an ed, or that there must be a concrete identified reason in order to recover.
Within a few months I had lost quite a bit of weight. The counselors at school noticed, and contacted my dad. My dad tried to handle my situation in his familiar militaristic authoritative way, but to no avail. It was a frustrating time for my new family. Eight months after I first stopped eating, I was sent to Menningers clinic in Topeka, KS, where I stayed for six months.
When I was discharged I was no better. In fact I had “picked up” some new behaviors from my fellow patients. It was decided that I would live with my grandma and I flew out to Everett, WA and finished my eighth grade year at the school where she was the principle.
That summer I made no improvement in my eating disorder. I became homesick for my family and decided to move back with them, although my dad had been transferred again, so we were all settling into a huge (9 bed, 4 bath, 7 fireplace) military home built in the 1800’s in Kittery, Maine. Katie and I began our freshman year in high school, but I quickly became more engrained in my eating disorder. The next couple of years were a mess of hospitalizations and treatment attempts, dozens of them, so only for a night or two, other times for several months. I was a difficult patient, not making any attempt to control my behaviors or really having any desire to get well. I missed most of my freshman year, and nearly all of my sophomore year. The few times I was home, between hospital stays, I felt out of place in my family, the black sheep. I became distanced from my siblings, most notably Katie, who had once been my best friend. Now we fought constantly.
The ed was taking a major toll on my family- financially, emotionally, and physically. I was very fortunate enough to have found a wonderful, incredibly knowledgeable doctor, Dr. Gladstone, and a great case manager, Nadine. Both treated me with a “tough love” approach, and neither let me get away with things. They were my constant recovery warriors, even though I wasn’t.
When I was 16, my parents decided that I needed a longer-term treatment program. They decided to send me to a year-long residential girl’s facility. I was appalled at the idea. A year?? No way. Knowing the program required that their clients be medically and psychiatrically stable, I developed a plan in which I would take a bunch of pills, overdose, in order to have to not go. The day before I was to be admitted, I swallowed a bunch of pills, as planned, and almost immediately let the school nurse know. My intention was not suicide, rather a way to avoid treatment. It worked. I did not have to go to the program. In recent years, I have some to realize that this was the biggest mistake of my life. I avoided a year-long program, but at what cost? Eight years later I am still sick. If I had taken that time, I possibly could have been in recovery all this time, saving myself and those around me from a lot of turmoil.
I didn’t have to go to the program, but I could not come home either. In fact, I would never go home again. After two weeks in the medical hospital, I was sent to another program, where I stayed 7 months, never really getting any better. When it was time for me to leave, it was decided that I could not go home. Instead, I was sent to a group home/ independent living house, Oliver Place, in Bath, ME.
I did relatively okay at Oliver Place. I went to school consistently, unlike the other clients there, and held down a job I enjoyed. I was still engaging in eating disorder behaviors on a daily basis, but they were relatively less disruptive to my daily life. Eight months after living in the OP house, I graduated to the independent living portion of the program, where I moved into my own apartment. I went to school every day, worked and manages other adult responsibilities. However, soon my eating disorder tightened its grip. I lost more weight, to the point where I was significantly underweight for the first time. It was a cold winter in Maine. In February I joined my grandma on a vacation in St. Thomas, where I spent most of my time in the hot tub. It was gorgeous and relaxing, but my eating disorder did not relent.
During this time and the coming year, I went in and out of the New England Eating Disorders Program in Portland several times. The trips sort of blur together. I know I went in November of 2003, and was discharged a couple of months ever, after making virtually no improvement.
I quickly spiraled, taking desperate measures to support my eating disorder. I stole food from stores, getting arrested twice within three days. I was so ashamed, especially since word spread fast in the small town of Bath and I babysat for one of the town’s police officers. I was scheduled to be readmitted to Mercy soon, and at my court appearance the judge took that into consideration and generously let me off only having to pay restitution and a small fine.
I did well this time in treatment- the best ever. I do not know what contributed to my success, but I found a medication that was helpful with my urges to binge, and I had an amazing therapist. I was going weeks without purging and was participating in the day program. I decided that I was going to move out to Seattle, something I had always wanted to do, but had never been well enough to do. I slowly started going to the Eating Disorders Program, and began working. I held down two jobs that I hated, but I was making (and saving) money. In November I was discharged from Mercy, at a healthy weight and with my behaviors under control. A few weeks later I graduated from Oliver Place, packed up my car and drove myself across the country.
I spent Christmas in New Orleans with my family. In January I started community college and fell in love with it. I would stay up until the middle of the night studying and working on assignments, more than was necessary. I became a Senator for the ASB and became very comfortable on campus. However, once again, my eating disorder resumed with a vengeance. At the end of the school year I interviewed for an ASB vice-president position that I desperately wanted, and got the position. It was one of my happiest moments. But my excitement was short-lived due to my worsening eating disorder. I had no energy to do anything. I lost complete control of some of my bodily functions, which landed me in the hospital. I was told that my body was literally eating itself, and an ED specialist gave me about two weeks to live. When I got home, I started frantically searching for a program to get into. Meanwhile, my entire extended family had planned a vacation/reunion at Yellowstone. Waiting to be admitted to a program ASAP, I could not go. Many programs would not take me because I was so sick. Knowing that I would not be able to do it, I relinquished my coveted ASB position. Eventually I went back to Maine and Mercy. They were shocked to see how bad I had gotten in the eight months since I had been released. My therapist there decided she could not work with me this time as she felt too attached. I floundered in the program for two months before we decided that I was not progressing and that treatment was ineffective. I returned home.
I sunk into a deep depression, living on my own place and sleeping on the floor in front of the heater. I cried. I tried to work several jobs, but didn’t stick with any of them. My family visited for Christmas, but I mostly avoided them. At the end of the year, I decided to return to school, knowing it was the best thing for me, despite my family’s reluctance to support my decision in my depressed state. For whatever reason, school helped. A lot. I rejoined the Senate, became very active in the ASB work, and was the president of the Psychology Club. I reapplied for the ASB vice-president position and again got it. That summer I took an intensive Spanish class, laughed, gained weight and slowly started eating again. I was the happiest I ever remember being. School began, and although I was a bit worried about my ability to handle my new responsibilities, I was excited. The first two months were great. I felt important and respected on campus. Then came the familiar pattern of relapse, slowly at first, but gaining speed. I applied to become ASB president, but was less passionate about it, and it showed. I was not offered the position.
Things declined over the summer, and in September I was admitted to Center for Change in Orem, UT. I was there for six months, and did okay when I was in the strict confines of the program, but as soon as I was out I would purge. I discharged at the end of February, knowing I would relapse.
I immediately began looking for a job and was hired by the City of Everett to work as a clerk for the Parks and Recreation department. I loved it. Besides getting a great pay, the job was easy and I got to meet and interact with lots of people. The job distracted me from my worsening eating disorder. By August my outpatient team was again recommending inpatient treatment. However, I was set to start school at Washington State University in a few weeks, and was excited and determined to go. I said that if things still were not good at the end of the semester, I would go to treatment.
The school year was miserable. As excited as I was to go and as much as I loved the school, it was no match for my disease. I kept to my dorm room, which I lied in alone, and engaged in behaviors. I often saw things or activities I wanted to participate in, but self-consciousness and depression kept me from doing so. In my entire year at WSU, I never knew a soul. Towards the end of the semester I stopped caring about my classes altogether and barley passed.
Towards the end of the year, I decided to once again look into treatment. I had always thought that I would return to CFC should the need arise, but I also began exploring other options. I honestly cannot say that my reason to enter treatment again is because I am 100% certain I want to change my life (to something I cannot even imagine) or because I want to give up my eating disorder. Instead I remember the way my life has become unmanageable, the tolls it has taken and the destruction it has caused. I feel like I will never be completely without it, but that maybe the ED can be a presence that is not so destructive.
I decided to come to Castlewood Treatment Center, in St. Louis, MO. Many factors influenced my decision- the fact that it is a small intimate program, has a heavy focus on trauma work (something I have not really done in the past), works towards a lot more self-accountability and independence and that they have a solid step-down program. I arrived yesterday, May 28th. The grounds are spectacular- words cannot even describe the view and the scenery. The people here are very nice. I can tell that they expect you to take more responsibility than other programs have, but this morning I found myself oddly welcoming the challenge. I do not know what the coming weeks or months will offer, but I guess I will find out. Right now I am just taking it one day at a time.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Welcome to my blog!
My life is not so exciting that I need to share it with the world, but I hope that maybe by sharing my life, I can help someone else. And, selfishly, I want to help myself, too.
This blog will chronicle my recovery from my eating disorder, but I want it to be more than that. I hope to share my thoughts and opinions, and just be able to connect with others. For those of you that do not know, I have been battling anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa for over eleven years. It has taken everything from me- my relationships, my schooling, my happiness and my will to live. I have been in and out of eating disorder programs and hospitals over 40 times, sometimes hoping my life would change, other times not.
I actually created this account a while ago, but wanted to wait until I was certain that I was going to recover before sharing it with the world. But why wait?? Will I ever be certain that I will recover?? How will I know when it is the beginning of that time?? One of my biggest faults is that I never want to make a decision until I am certain it is the right decision, at the right time. And often I wait so long that I don't make a decision, or allow someone else to make it for me.
So I cant guarantee that this attempt at recovery will be any different than the rest. I cant promise that every day I will be gung-ho about recovery or that I welcome a new life with open arms.
But I am hoping that whatever comes in the following days, weeks, and months, I will grow and learn.
So if you are up for the ride, I welcome you to join!