Outcasted at IOP

Last night I felt attacked at IOP.

Like verbally attacked, judged, misunderstood, alone, and invalidated.

Newsflash: I hate feelings. They make me HIGHLY uncomfortable, I don’t feel like it is acceptable to showcase them in front of others and I have spent the majority of my life since I was 8 hiding them, numbing them, burying them. In essence I am hypercontrolling my emotions. Like to the extreme. Like didn’t cry in front of anyone for over a decade.

Here’s the cliff notes version:

  • Ate dinner, felt like I had to eat too much, took plate to kitchen, really urged to purge into the trash or the sink because no one was watching
  • Went back into group, therapist asked if anyone needed to say anything.
  • FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER went out on a limb and just said “I really want to purge like now, like almost just did”
  • Therapist and the other girl who needed to process something (we’ll call her B) were like let’s process that first. Which I thought was really nice of B because I didn’t feel like I deserved to be able to do that and felt like I had robbed her of getting help (even though we still processed her thing too).
  • I say I just needed to say it out loud to give it less power (keep in mind our entire first group was about purging because a girl that has now been moved out of IOP purged the previous night during dinner)
  • Therapist asked questions about my feelings (which I hate) and this is what came out:
    • I felt guilty, like I was harming my body, like I was failing, ashamed of what I ate and how much, ashamed of how my body looks, afraid of what others thought of me and what I ate, and like a fraud.
  • Another person we’ll call them, L, then said we should all want to feel like frauds because we had gotten so much better and didn’t need to be at IOP. I explained that’s not what I meant, that I felt like I was both not sick enough and too sick for IOP and that I was a fraud within my own self– I really don’t know how to explain that part any better but it’s like I feel like there are two parts of me and I get really conflicted when they are at such odds with each other.
  • L then said that she thinks I should want to get better more, and I’ve been in treatment for a long time, and it doesn’t seem like I want to get better and how can I have all these downright delusional thoughts about caloric needs and food (which is actually a problem I have and I am on medication for it because even my dietitian and treatment team realized they are automatic and not made up) and that she thinks I “revel” (and yes, that is the word she used) and just went ON AND ON.
  • Another girl then chimed in about how I never used to (which is a lie because I ALWAYS do this except when my depression is so bad I can barely function) smile when talking about my behaviors and all this stuff.
  • Our therapist (THANK GOODNESS) realized what was happening and has known me long enough – she was a therapist of mine in another outside group m before I started at this program and she became our therapist at this program after I had been there for about a month or two- to know that I have INCONGRUENT FEELINGS. So she started to talk about those.
  • Another girl, P, then came to my defense and was like yeah that’s what was happening with me earlier (because it did, she laughed when talking about something really painful for her).
  • But honestly, I just felt completely alone, judged, invalidated, outcasted, tormented, lied to, like a failure, a disappointment, unsafe, unlikeable, ugly, evil and worthless. 
  • Our therapist brought up that the group doesn’t really know everything that has happened in the last month with me- which has been A LOT. And asked me to share, which at this point I was like EFF NO because I just been attacked for sharing my feelings in the first place but I trust our therapist so I did.
  • Fun Fact: I automatically numb out to feelings that are hard for me. Like kind of disassociate in a way. It’s like I am almost talking about someone who isn’t me. I get quiet and monotone and I don’t look people in the eye when I talk about these things.
  • So that’s what I did. And even though P and B felt way closer to me after I shared, I felt like L and the other person and everyone else were still just judging me.
  • When asked if I was okay I said “yeah” but inside I was like “OKAY? AM I EFFING OKAY? NOT A CHANCE!!! My biggest fear is being rejected and people making fun of me and judging me for how I act,what I look like, how I handle things, my life, etc. And now i am in a “SAFE” place and it happens here WORSE than ANYWHERE else in my life!??!?!! NO I DON’T FEEL OKAY, I FEEL LIKE I WANT TO CRAWL OUT OF MY SKIN, NEVER COME BACK AND JUST GO BACK INTO THE ISOLATED SHELL WITH THE FACADE OF BEING OKAY LIKE I USED TO.” but I still said “yeah”.

After IOP I just left. I didn’t talk to anyone on the way out, didn’t say goodnight. Didn’t anything. Just left. I got in my  car, got on the interstate and was so mad and ashamed and insecure and alone that I quietly cried the whole 40 minutes home.

Our IOP therapist texted me later and I was honest (for once) about what I was feeling so she called (DBT therapists for the win!) and we talked it out so that I didn’t have to wait almost a week to hash it out and I felt better but today I just hate myself again. I feel like everyone hates me too and I want to give up.

I see my outpatient therapist tonight and also the dietitian from IOP (who is also my outside dietitian) Saturday and she was filled in on everything after group on Wednesday by the IOP therapist but idk, I still want to discharge. Leave and not go back.

I’m a failure.






6 thoughts on “Outcasted at IOP

  1. Xxx I feel for you girl xxX I think you were courageous to take that risk and open up about your feelings, sounds like L has her own issues, I’ve been in similar situations and as far as I’ve come to understand it, in these kinds of groups everyone is under so much pressure, feels internal conflict about recovery, validity and vulnerability and sometimes we just can’t support each other the way we need each other to. I’ve been through a few recovery loops and it still makes me cringe or often I feel angry when people start trying to shame, bully , lecture or “finger-wag” one another into recovery – we just need to offer each other acceptance and have faith in each other – its hard enough that we have those internal demons and in general we tend to be too hard on ourselves all ready with expectations… I’m glad you stuck up for yourself and I’m glad your T was able to call you after xxx thinking of you and rooting for you xx Em


  2. Ps!!!! I almost forgot I also have this thing where I will suddenly smile manically or get the giggles when talking about upsetting and traumatic stuff! It’s gotten me in trouble with non-understanding therapists in the past – I never met anyone else before who does that too! How do you handle it? I tried to explain it to my last T but don’t think he really got it…


    • Awww thanks Em! My therapist said it’s more common than we think. She said it happens a lot in people who are overcontrolled with their emotions. I can usually not do it but only if I stare off away from the person and completely numb out, otherwise I am used to being the one who makes light of it. I’ve always just told my therapists that I don’t do it to distract I do it because I am really uncomfortable and laughing is the only emotion I’ve ever been comfortable sharing so it’s like a protection mechanism and they seem to get it better. My current therapists (at IOP and outpatient provider) both really get it so it helps. I’ve actually met a lot of people who do it (just probably not as much as I do) My IOP T says that it usually starts to diminish once you see that it is okay to vulnerable, says that it happened to her a lot during her ED recovery and once she dealt with everything she no longer did it automatically.


      • ah, that is really interesting, thanks for explaining how you understand the laughing response and sharing how you explain it. When I was growing up laughing and making fun of threatening, overwhelming situations was indeed the only ‘safe’ response so it makes sense to me that that would be where it has its roots. That’s interesting to hear that it happened to you IOP T too! Its so good to have these insights! thanks again 🙂 Em


  3. Pps!!!! You’re not a failure, you expressed yourself, cared for yourself and got home safe from a difficult situation, you’re not responsible for how the others reacted xx keep the faith 🙂


  4. I smile and laugh when I talk about tough things too- sometimes I’m smiling while I’m crying- it’s like I need to step outside it to be able to talk about it. I spent so many years not being able to voice it that the fact that I can speak up in anyway is still amazing to me. I’m so impressed that you spoke up for yourself- it sounds like a tough audience but Em is right that we do need to be supportive of eachother – recovery is not a set path- it shouldn’t matter to anyone else how long it takes- that’s probably the other people’s ED voice talking- it’s such a complex competitive messed up illness in that way. I hope you’re feeling better about it now X

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