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 

Flying out Sunday,

residential begins on Monday.

😔😕😟😞😢😥😨😱😰😩😮😳😶

That pretty much sums me up.

I am thankful I am flying to Chicago on Sunday, a place that feels like home, and then my aunt is driving me to WI on Monday for treatment. I think it’ll make my transition easier, less stressful, and less sickening. At least, I hope. 

Right now, I alternate between being okay and being frozen with fear. 

I am still just astonished that I am this sick. Inpatient was mentioned by the doctors today in the event residential isn’t enough. I hope it’s enough, this is terrifying enough. 

Anyway, wish me luck today I have to tell my bosses beginning Monday I’ll be out continuously for 6 weeks probably. 😳😰😰

How did I get to this point?!?

A Little Luck and a Guardian Angel

A residential spot opened today. I start Monday.

I am flying 1500 miles away to be treated for my eating disorder at a well respected hospital for EDs.

I am lucky. I am blessed. I am terrified.

But I should be terrified; this is life changing and more importantly life saving.

************

I was surprised to get a spot so darn quickly. I mean when my psychiatrist estimated he said 2-4 weeks, finding out I can start in a week (which is more likely due to my logistically improbability of getting there sooner rather than availability) is a miracle. Ironically, I also go to a hospital that shares the same name as my dad, who passed away when I was younger. My aunt pointed it out Sunday but I had long realized it, since the beginning of finding the program actually. Now, however, it’s like he is really with me, helping me get through recovery and stick with it long enough to find myself again.

It’s comforting. Whether you believe in angels and God or not, it’s comforting, reassuring and makes me feel like this is possible.

So now I am searching flights, making arrangements and making phone calls tomorrow morning instead of going to work. I need this to be as seamless as possible and in order for me to feel like that I need to finalize plans.

I hear back from the residential facility tomorrow on if Monday is okay (or if they need a few extra days for the insurance, etc.) So, until then I am thinking, praying and semi-excited all while being terrified.

Also, today I tried 3, yes THREE FEAR FOODS!!!! #recoverywin

Going to Residential…

I am officially too sick.

That’s a thought I never once had before seeking help for my eating disorder.

It only became a faint thought when I talked to the admissions officer at PHP and then once I got in, I figured I was good. But starting with my tears over a pineapple cup and the realization that I wasn’t lying about my food intake they instantly began to raise concerns while simultaneously raising my calorie count as rapidly, safely and efficiently as possible.

To get me to the minimum 1000 calorie amount per day I am on 2 Ensure Plus’ a day and they let me bring my own safe food for lunch and dinner (which is the same 1 thing) and they work with me to get my snacks and other intake up higher. I purge too. Which has caused an abnormality on my EKG that is consistent and is requiring me to get EKGs every single week along with getting my blood drawn. The purging is scaring them, in addition to everything else, because they fear it will cause me to have a heart attack. I am scared but I can’t stop, I’ve lost control of everything. I can’t see what I look like, comprehend what I am supposed to eat or how much, know what’s normal and not about feelings toward food, know how to stop the instinctive purging and restricting. I just don’t know how.

So with that, they have officially recommended residential treatment.

I am too sick for PHP, I need more advanced care at a place with a doctor 24/7 and a full time staff to keep me from purging and restricting while I am not at the clinic like I am now. I have to uproot my life, go to Wisconsin (probably) and give up the “freedoms” I have (really they are my ED’s freedoms) and give them to someone else to try and save my life. It’s odd. I am technically not getting rid of my freedom since I guess I don’t really have any while living under this ED but still, it feels like I am giving up everything whereas right now I at least have the pseudo feeling of control and freedom.

My medical director at PHP has called the medical director at their residential facility in Wisconsin to see about getting me in ASAP. They will have a timeframe on Monday so I’ll know when I’ll be flying up. This will be an interesting flight. Instead of going on vacation to Chicago and DC in 3 and 5 weeks like I was supposed to, I am going to be in Wisconsin and not exactly on vacation. I guess that’s life.

Until then, I am on watch. My little sister is staying at my apartment. My therapist and dietitian and psychiatrist have all talked to her and my mom about how much I eat and how I am not allowed to use the bathroom for 30 minutes after meals and for the 30 minutes after that if I do, I have to talk to her the whole time (so she knows I am not purging). I have to eat multiple times a day (I eat small meals due to my GI conditions and because I have less urges to purge when I never feel full) and drink 2 Ensure Plus’. We try to keep me on the same time schedule as at PHP because they are trying to make this easy on me transitioning between weekend and weekday.

I feel like a newborn that they are trying to get on a schedule.

On top of that I went shopping today with my sister after lunch to distract me from food thoughts. I tried on a sweater that is long like a dress and would look good with leggings and I was showing my sister in the dressing room and she looked taken aback. I asked her if it looked okay and she said that you could see how skinny I was in it. She said to get the larger size, much to my EDs hate and the negative self talk went wild, but I did because she said the other one was scary how thin I was. The saddest fact is that I don’t see it. And she knows I don’t so she didn’t fight it but just said that they are supposed to be looser and it’ll be more comfy in residential and in winter so I did.

I wish I could see what she sees though.

So that’s how it is right now. Residential is my fate. I have both come to terms with this and not.  I waver back and forth but feel a lot better than I did Thursday when I deduced that the psychiatrist was recommending residential  after they asked if my mom could come to a session. That, I didn’t handle well because there were still so many questions. But I talked to a friend, we will call her M who has been to residential before we met and J, who is currently in PHP with me and who I’ve become friends with quickly, and she has also been to residential in the past and they both really made me feel better about it. So for now, this second, I am okay with the prospect of residential. Maybe it’s a chance for me to reassess my life and live somewhere new for a bit. I’ve been wanting to move up north for a long time now anyway.

But honestly, I never thought I would ever be too sick for treatment, I always thought I wasn’t sick enough to even complain about my situation but I guess, that’s all part of the illness.

PHP Recap: Week 1- So much doubt.

I have mixed feelings about recovery and treatment right now. I know I’ve been MIA the last week (sorry!!) but adjusting to being open and honest about my eating disorder is almost as difficult as hiding it.

2 things I would love advice on:

  1. If anyone knows/has experience with CBT focused on ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) treatment, please tell me I am on the fence as to if it is going to help (I don’t have any co-existing disorders). Do you find group therapy and more talk therapy helpful? Or no? Idk.
  2. I hate hate hate hate my psychiatrist.

Here’s my life since beginning treatment in a (quickish) recap:

Trigger Warning: calorie and food specifics. (I don’t want to trigger anyone but part of it is needed to make sense, and the other reason I am doing this blog is to remember it for myself so I want to be able to look at how far I have come. Please do not continue if you are easily triggered or pro-eating disorder.

  • I started Partial Hospitalization (PHP) on 9/3, two days after my birthday.
  • My program runs 8 hours a day. 8 *jaw drop*
  • I have cried every. single. day.
  • Day 1 I actually ate less than I typically eat in a day and they are now letting me bring my safe foods to make sure I am eating enough while they reintroduce food.
  • They think they want to send me to residential
  • I only had 1 safe food going into treatment, and ate 200-300 calories per day.
  • PHP requires we be at 1000 minimum *jaw drop* and they are trying to get me there ASAP
  • My therapy is CBT with Exposure Response Prevention being a BIG component of it I am still now sure how I feel about it, any advice is greatly appreciated.
  • I DESPISE my psychiatrist. I told my therapist and I am praying they let me see a different psychiatrist because this one is evil, mean and honestly I would trust a murderer before I trust him. Some perspective on this: I’ve only ever said I flat out dislike 4 people in my ENTIRE life. He is #4 so it’s not just me clouding my judgment.
  • I LOVE my dietitian!!! She has been so STELLAR about getting me adjusted to more than one food and up to the right number of calories and really doesn’t judge anything.
  • I wish there was more group therapy. If I go to residential I will need to find somewhere with more of this because I am a very, VERY social person and I feel like I am able to come to terms with my situation when I can talk it out with others.
  • I have had 2 EKGs and so many vials of blood drawn in the last week but the new medical doctor they make us go to was super nice and very trusting. I was petrified to go but I really liked him and in 20 minutes of talking to him I told him more about my ED than I revealed to my psychiatrist in 2+ hours.
  • Did I mention I have cried EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. !?
  • I have a family session tomorrow. Eek! My family is amazing but I am very unaccustomed to being vulnerable and sharing my feelings with them. I don’t like it.
  • I have lied about how much I purge and restrict out of fear of going to residential.
  • I am not sure what to do because part of me is realizing I need residential (one of the other ED patients even said she thought I needed it)
  • Part of me has no desire to get better even now that I am in treatment.
  • Part of me really wants to get better, especially now that I am in treatment.

But, things got better than they were day 1; however, I am still not sure about everything. Is it weird that I am more motivated to recover when I am there and not so motivated at home?!

I’ll be sure to write more now that I am semi-acclimated. Plus, I definitely will need to after my family session.

Twas The Night Before Treatment

It’s officially here; my admission to the partial hospitalization program is tomorrow. 10:30am.

To be honest, nothing feels different, scary, intimidating or anything like that when I think of treatment tomorrow. It just feels surreal. But, I know that once my alarm goes off (assuming I actually sleep tonight) that will all be different. I sit here, not nervous but the thought of tomorrow starts to stir up the fears.

It’s normal to be nervous. I know. That’s what everyone says. But there is nothing normal about this. There is nothing normal about having to drop out of school this term, to be going to a treatment center, to be going to one where I will be there 8 hours a day and be supervised during the entire time, there is nothing normal about having to stop working to go to treatment, there is nothing normal about crying around food, nothing normal about having side effects all the time, nothing normal.

But crying around food, not eating, the side effects all of that ED related stuff, it’s what I know. It’s normal to me. And I guess that’s precisely why I am dreading tomorrow,  because when normal is yanked out from under you it’s never an easy landing, never a flawless execution, and nothing ever ever goes like people plan.

So yeah, tomorrow is the day.

On top of that I am beyond stressed about not knowing what will happen, what to expect and what the whole situation will entail. I just wish someone could be like this was my experience “i did x first and y next and z then and blah blah blah.” But I can’t find anything online like that so I am stressing about that. And of being weighed. I am extra stressed about that part.

The anxiety over the minute details and new situations is so much worse these days. Since these stupid anti-depressants were prescribed I am always stressed. Always worried, always feeling like I am overwhelmed and on the verge of panicking. I hate it. I need to talk to my doctor about it but I just haven’t really been able to get there- because I am nervous about it. Go figure. Plus they make me not want to be around anyone. Not even myself some days. Whatever. I have good days too so maybe those will start to outweigh the odd ones.

I did drive to the center on Saturday- when they were closed. I parked in the parking lot and tried to piece together and mentally prepare for what is going to happen tomorrow, how I am going to get the confidence to go in, how I am going to open the door, say the words, and well, actually just go through with the whole thing. I’m still not sure I can do it.

I wish I could’ve gone to see my ARNP beforehand. She always says something that makes me feel like I can do this, like I am not alone, like it’s okay to be freaking out and honestly, I trust her so I can tell her and plus, I know it’s told in confidence which is relieving. These people at the treatment center, I don’t know them. I sure as heck don’t trust them and I can’t just open up to people about feelings. I’m not that kind of person. I’m not comfortable with that. I’m not going to do that tomorrow.

Secretly, though, my absolute biggest fear is that they are going to give up on me. Or, that I am going to trust them and then have their help yanked out from under me for one reason or another.

So, tomorrow. 12 hours, actually. 12 hours until this really becomes…. real.