Facing My Fear of the Scale

Got my weekend homework for IOP: Bring my scale to IOP on Monday.

Anyone with an ED can probably figure out why: we are getting rid of it.

Thing is this isn’t hard for me because I am getting rid of it, it’s hard because, well, I haven’t touched it in over 2 years. I haven’t weighed myself on it. Haven’t turned it on, haven’t anything.

Why?

(Trigger Warning Begin: Suicide, Depression, Self-Harm, Eating Disorder)

Because the last time I touched that scale I almost attempted suicide.

The number had gone up. I was a failure. I hated myself. My life. My body. Everything. I couldn’t live with myself anymore. I had to die. I wanted to die. I had failed and I deserved to die.

I prepped everything. I was in the bathroom, I figured it would be easier for them that way, easier to clean. Plus, there were no pictures, no reminders of what there was left of my life. I got the pills, I got the razors. I was done.

I didn’t go through with it. As I laid out the pills and brought the razor closer to my flesh I thought about them- my 4 year old niece and nephew. What would my family tell them? Would they remember me? Would they be at the funeral? Would they forget me eventually? Would they hate me for what I had done?

Touching the razor to my wrist and seeing the faces of those two little “babies” was all it took. I looked down at the razor, looked at myself, at that scale 2 feet away, at the pills in my palm and then fear surged through me, my thoughts racing through my mind so fast. It was like my mind was trying to get out everything that was rational before the depression, before Ed took back over.

(Trigger Warning End)

What are you doing? This is not okay? You need help. Don’t do this. They need you.

The fear coursed through my entire body so strongly that I threw up out of fear. I flushed the pills, I flushed the razor and then I turned and looked at that scale. I was hysterically crying at this point. Terrified to look at it, to touch it. Half of me was scared I couldn’t withstand the screaming voice in my head to stand on it, the other half was terrified that I would see the number again and not be able to stop myself against the suicidal thoughts.

I flipped the scale over with my foot, fumbled with the battery component because I was shaking so hard that I couldn’t steady my hands enough. I tore the battery out violently and flushed that too. And then I put the scale away, in the back of the closet. The “junk” closet. The one with the stuff we never use. And I NEVER touched it again.

Now, one of my IOP therapists wants me to bring it on Monday. Wants me to touch it during treatment and then get rid of it for good. I’m not even sure I can touch it to put it in the car so she said to have someone else do it for me and she’ll come get it out of the car.

That’s how bad my fear is.

Even getting weighed at the doctor’s office, daily in treatment and weekly now during IOP causes such anxiety that I have to take my anxiety medicine beforehand. And if it’s a scale that makes noise (like ones that aren’t digital) it’s almost too traumatizing to handle. (Case and point: Tuesday when I had to be weighed at IOP because my therapist wasn’t here to weigh me and it took my dietitian 15 minutes, music, stepping on the scale to hold it steady and a double dose of anxiety medicine to get me to even comply.

So that’s my homework. Bring my scale. Touch it on Monday. Getting it into my car will even be a challenge so I have to ask someone to do it for me- which is also hard because I feel like that’s embarrassing to admit and I hate asking for help but at least I have a few days to figure it out.

But oh gosh, I have to touch it. I don’t want to do it, I really don’t want to do it.

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The REAL feelings I hide

My therapist is back in town (thank goodness) and I saw her today for the first time in 3 weeks which was a longgggg time considering I see her at least once a week typically.

I have a hard time with feelings. Like a really  hard time, in fact it is nothing short of hate toward feelings. Today, Dr. B asked me what feelings I am trying to avoid so much. After attempting to get around that conversation I reluctantly answered with two (of the many) feelings I try and avoid sadness and anger.

The truth is, those are only two of the feelings I am trying to avoid. And not even the top 2. The real emotions I hate, the ones that I am so embarrassed to really say out loud, I have yet to tell her, to tell anyone. Why? I don’t know. I guess it’s because I am so incredibly ashamed of the feelings and thoughts I have that I have a hard time bearing the idea of actually saying them out loud. I mean they are bad, really bad. Like think of the worst thing you’ve ever thought about yourself and then repeat that in your head 24/7 for dozens of years in a row.

The truth is, I have hated myself since I was 9.

The truth is, the feelings I harbor for myself are horrendous. I am self-loathing, hateful, spiteful, ashamed, embarrassed, appalled, disgusted, angry, sad, depressed, uncomfortable and anxious about my body.

When I was 9 I began picking on myself, self-bullying I guess it can be called, the first thing was about my epilepsy. I hated myself for it. I felt defective, like a freak and convinced that people would make fun of me at school if they ever found out. I wanted to keep it a secret, I was so ashamed of it I didn’t even want my teachers to know, couldn’t look them in the eye because they knew and refused to go to meetings with them and my mom where it was discussed.

Things only got worse when the medication I was on caused weight gain, a lot of it. Couple that with the changes of puberty and it was a firestorm for a disaster. I was shy, uncomfortable, insecure, self-hating and refused to acknowledge my true feelings about myself.

Time continued. The hate grew. Even after I was taken off the epilepsy medication and told my seizures and resolved and medication was no longer needed I still was highly insecure and mortified, disgusted and appalled at what I looked like, weighed, my personality, style, everything. Nothing escaped my self-hate. College brought tremendous growth in my personality. I became extremely outgoing, friends with everyone, involved in everything, willing to try new things and put myself out there. But the hate I harbored for my body and my intense shame about my past, my weight and my entire self was still there.

Festering. Growing. Being buried by myself. Forcing itself into every crevice of my soul.

And then came life, my eating disorder and everything finally had an outlet. But even in treatment, those 3+ months I spent with 24/7 care I couldn’t bring myself to really truly, honestly express how absolutely deep and bad my self-hate is.

Treatment now, at IOP, has touched on it recently. Forced it out of me. It makes me want to quit. It makes me feel SO awfully insecure and embarrassed. But maybe they are right. Maybe it’s time to deal with it. It is after all, as I identified it, the one thing that I know will 100% cause me to relapse.

The thing is, sometimes I am not sure I want to recover.

Still, after months and months of treatment. I am still ambivalent. And that, that just makes this self-hate infinitely worse.

So when my therapist asked me what feelings I want to hide from I said saddness and anger. I have other reasons why I don’t like those but I don’t know how to say it out loud. How to tell her how BAD it really is, what I am REALLY afraid of. I feel like a failure, an idiot, someone who is weak, can’t handle emotions, is overly conceited and like a loser. A loser. Something I have always considered myself to be. How do I admit that? How do I tell someone that out loud and not expect them to judge me. Or for me to judge myself so bad that it becomes unbearable. The truth is I can’t, which I guess is why I haven’t.

Just add that to the reasons why I hate myself.

What I learned from a Runcation

 Runcation: noun. A vacation centered around running. 

 

At least, that’s usually what it means. In my case, however, runcation has taken on a different meaning.

Runcation: noun. A mandatory break from running instituted by medical professionals.

 

It’s been about 7 months since I have run consistently and in that time frame I have only run a handful of times. I used to run everyday, or at the very least 6 out of 7 days a week. I was a distance runner, my short runs consisted of 5-7 milers with my long runs being anywhere between 13-20 miles. Running was my time to be free, my time to be happy, my time to just be alone and process the world and life surrounding me. Running brought me into this amazing community of people that I never knew existed before I dared to start considering myself a “runner.” For over 3 years I worked up my goals: a 5k, 10k, 10 miler, half marathon and finally, conquering the full 26.2 mile marathon. I crushed it. I fell deeper in love with a sport that I had once despised and tried to get out of at every opportunity in PE during high school, it was ironic to me how I could have gone from hating something so much to cherishing it, having my life revolve around it and feeling sort of confident doing it.

I ran, a lot. I ran through rain, snow, unbearable heat, humidity, bad runs, good runs, birthdays, family dinners, nights out with friends, early mornings, injuries (and there were a lot of them), pain, hunger, tears, blood, astonishment from others, overexertion, concerns, and even through my own common sense trying to scream loudly enough to get me to hear it.

Thinking back on it, maybe through isn’t the right word, maybe it should be from. Maybe I was running from all that. They say sometimes the only way out of the storm is through it, I guess in this case that was kind of the truth.

 

See, the thing is that the running wasn’t the primary problem. Running just exacerbated the problem in a lot of ways, but despite what everyone else has said to me, I think running also helped me accept the problem quicker than I would’ve otherwise. Most of the proponents of my “runcation” can’t understand that, they see the running as part of the problem, the disorder, and the belief that you can love it that much a distortion. I think that’s a lot of the reason I have a hard time fully believing them. But I can agree to disagree on that, because despite disagreeing with them on it in it’s entirety, they do have a point; in some ways the running became an obsession, an obligation, a chore and a compulsion. And not just running either, exercising in general.

After the medical effects got entirely too severe to continue to ignore, after passing out daily for almost 2 weeks straight and having such severe chest pain most days I thought I was having a heart attack I knew I had to end it. The moment I had to jump out of an airplane for the first time was nothing compared to the fear I had when I set foot in my doctors office that afternoon. Ultimately the words came out, the questions were posed and a plan was established. My runcation was enacted with a two word diagnosis:

 

Eating Disorder.

 

See, the running wasn’t the only issue. The running perhaps would have never been an issue if there wasn’t a bigger problem lurking underneath it. Masking all the “strength” and “endurance” was a demon inside myself one who progressively restricted food further and further. At first it was just meat or just pasta then whole groups of foods were out: protein, sugars, fats, carbohydrates, fruits, until just one food remained and until a day consisted of 200 calories. No more. Ever. If I ran 15 miles on top of that, it didn’t matter. 200 calories, the same vegetable; Every. Single. Day.

 

I ended up starting treatment, being too severely ill for it and being transferred to an inpatient facility prior to being sent for residential care and to somehow regain “normalcy” with my eating habits. To say I was “onboard” with this whole process would probably be the biggest overstatement of my life. I was compliant but, as my treatment team often described it “extraordinarily ambivalent” toward the notion of committing to recovery.
For the 3 months I lived in Wisconsin. A new state, new treatment center, new “normal” and in all honesty, I learned a lot. Exercise was off the table indefinitely aside from a turtle-speed walk around the hospital campus once a day with supervision and my set diet and meals were quickly replaced by supplements and more substantial diet than anything I had done in years. After I got back home treatment continued, I am in no way “recovered”; I am not even sure recovered is a true state of being for someone with an eating disorder. I feel like being in a solid state of recovery is possible but I am not sure that these thoughts, feelings or other voice in my head will ever truly go away. Heck, some days I am not even sure staying in some sort of recovery is possible. Either way, there is still a lot of work to do.

 

Despite my ongoing war with myself I have come to realize that there has been some, and I repeat some (but not all) good that has come from the mandatory runcation:

  1. I was able to heal enough to be permitted to finally have my foot surgery (which not only has gotten me out of perpetual pain- or will eventually do that- but also will hopefully allow me to run more comfortably once I am able to do that).
  2. When you don’t run during all of your free hours, you get to see your friends more
  3. I have found new hobbies that I also enjoy doing and had time to plan my best friend’s bridal shower and bachelorette party
  4. There’s more to life than running, racing, sneakers, time trials, fartleks, and beating your own PRs
  5. I don’t have to run dozens of miles a week to be a Runner, to be “healthy” or to be fit (I’m still working on continuously believing this one but today I sorta can believe it)
  6. It’s nice to sleep in sometimes. It’s also nice to stay up late sometimes too and not worry about the early morning gym wake up call.
  7. Not running all the time makes the races I can do feel more special (not that I am allowed to sign up for anymore since my little 20 mile running escapade in February…)
  8. Running doesn’t have to kill me.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to run. I want to do marathons, I want to sit in a van with random strangers and relay race 200 miles through random cities, I want to race, I want to PR, but I have kind of come to realize that sometimes the thing you think is helping you hold on to everything you have, might actually be drowning you further- at least in this case it was.

I miss it. Every. Single. Day. When I go on walks my body instinctively gears up to shorten my stride and pick up the pace, I envy the other runners I see out there on my trails, my sidewalk, and posting their race sign-ups and finish times but I know that I’m not ready to go back quite yet. Not to the extent I was. I am still addicted (remember the aforementioned 20 miler…) still using it to not only be a fun hobby but also because it has the added benefit of burning those pesky calories I fear so much and to combat the weight gain I hate that the treatment team has forced on me.

I know they’re right. I’m not ready. It will cause a relapse. Heck, I’ve nearly relapsed many many times without running having to do anything, it’s too slippery of a slope and I don’t want to go back to the days when I couldn’t stay awake for more than 2 hours, couldn’t remember anything, cried on the floor because I was hungry but couldn’t pick myself up after passing out because I feared the kitchen so much and because I wouldn’t let myself “break the rules”. My life had to stop for over 3 months because things were so bad I needed 24/7 care by trained professionals.

So for now, I guess I’ll stay on my runcation. The definition of this runcation is not one I wish to be using but I’ve succumbed to the fact that it’s the one that must be used…for now, at least until I can get back to the real runcations.

 

 

I’m Back.

Well, it’s been a LONG time. The last post I “posted” I wrote as I was sent up north to Wisconsin for residential treatment. Long story short:

I got there.

Went to get medically cleared.

Failed.

Was sent into an inpatient lock down 24/7 medical unit.

Eventually transferred to residential.

Lived there for 3 months.

Came home.

Left PHP because the treatment method sucked for me at the time.

Did outpatient treatment.

Started relapsing.

Went into IOP in a different treatment facility.

Decided to start blogging again.

 

And here we are 🙂

My first post back will be up in a bit.

Side note: Eating disorders still suck but I am a LOT better than I was when I went to Wisconsin. Also it wasn’t as catastrophically bad as I pictured it and I even miss my “family” up there.

 

Chicago is better when you don’t arrive for ED treatment

I’m nervous but not all at the same time. Right now it feels like I am here for a vacation to see my family. Really though, it’s odd to be here so close to the marathon and not running it. 

More of my family knows now. Idk how I feel about it yet but whatevs it’s better than lying and they’ve been great. My aunt and uncle are stellar at keeping my secret and I love them for it. 

Tomorrow’s the day. Ugh already freaking about getting weighed. I feel like I’ve eaten a ton of food. I just don’t understand how if I eat x ounces of something how I don’t gain that instantly forever. I get it, but I just don’t too. 

I want to go home but I can’t. I’m really thankful for my aunt and uncle though they’ve been life savers and I wouldn’t be this calm if not for them. 

I’ll check in tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to suck. 

Airports smell the Best…usually

Typically the air is full of adventure, fun, excitement and travel dreams; today, however I am filled with dread and regret that I am trekking to Il and then Wi for these reasons rather than in 2 weeks for the marathon like planned. It sucks. I hate this. 

All packed. 

Taking a huge leap of faith tomorrow. I’m getting on a flight, heading to Illinois and well, going to residential treatment Monday.

I’m a bit stressed over the situation but it’ll be okay. I think. 

I’m going for the right reasons, my behavioral specialists at my current center trained with those ill be working with up north; I’ve got the inside scoop on the treatment center, I’ve been through some treatment so I kinda know what to expect and yet, I have no clue what it is really like. That scares me.

On top of that I went to the doctor on Friday, asked the treatment center if he needed to run tests and was told no, last night they called and said yes. Ugh. So now I have to go to the local ER by the center and get those done on Monday before I admit to the actual center. It’s really not a big deal just I would rather be at my doctors office when they do it. Oh well, I’m considering it an introduction into my new life in an ED residential facility 😏.

Anyway, after Monday I’ll be MIA for who knows how long. I’ll be finding myself, unplugging and getting better. So hopefully soon I’ll be back. I’ll try and post tomorrow and Monday before check in but I guess it depends on how overwhelmed I feel. 

Until then, my bags are packed, I’m all checked in to my flight (with an upgraded seat because, well, something should be extra comfy), I said goodbye to my niece and nephew who think I am on “vacation”, and to a few others who know about my ED and tomorrow my sister and mom will take me to the airport and drop me off. 

I’m not thinking about that part. 

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my current treatment center. The hardest was to the 3 teens who are like little sisters to me. One was being discharged for good-for which I was psyched- the other 2 will go back on Monday except we won’t get to catch up and bond we will instead be separated by half the country. It sucks. They cried, I held it together until I left and cried the whole way home. They are so sweet, they don’t deserve this disease, they are fighters though and they will conquer this, they inspire me. So T, S and B if you ever read this I hope you are well, that you stayed on recovery’s sometimes bumpy path and I hope you know I cannot thank you enough for being the brightest part of my day in treatment. 

And J, my friend in the adult program, got moved to IOP but she was really my guardian angel in PHP. I have no clue how I would’ve survived without her or have been strong enough to accept my fate and come to terms with going to residential. J I can’t wait to get back bc we are so going to catch up at the cafe our EDs have kept us from ☺️☺️

But to do all that I have to go, my behavioral specialists say the center is stellar and like a family,so while B, S, T and J and our behavioral specialists S and M and dietitian C are all back here, I’ll be thinking of them and working hard to get home to them. I am going to make the most of it though, I actually do like unplugging for a while and I have wanted to live up north for a while so this is sorta like a trial run, sorta. 

Until then, I am excited to see my aunt and uncle tomorrow and have a mini sleepover with my mom and sister tonight before they take me to the  airport