The Middle

Why is it that no one tells you how bad the middle really is?

How the pain and feelings you’ve buried for so long will begin to resurface with a vengeance that can be far too strong. 

How you’ll begin to feel happiness again, smiling and laughing with family and friends

Despite the near constant exhaustion of battling your inner demons.

 

Why is it that no one tells you how long the middle lasts?

How you trudge through the hours and minutes of each day contemplating whether you did the right thing.

How you’ll feel like you have come so far and feel like you might make it to the end

Only to start going back to your old behaviors, steering towards complete relapse.

 

Why is it that no one tells you how the middle changes you?

How you’ll be unsure of who you’ll become and what will be left when all is said and done.

How you’ll feel relieved when the person you were meant to be is cautiously allowed to be seen

Yet petrified that the person you’ve grown into cannot coexist.

 

Why is it that no one tells you how hard the middle is?

How uncomfortable and painful it is to battle your thoughts and behaviors relentlessly.

How you’ll begin to conquer your fears and break all your made up rules

Only to realize your mind has formulated dozens more.

 

Why is it that no one tells you how lonely the middle is?

How you’ll be surrounded by people trying to help and still feel like your just out of their reach.

How you can be in a room full of people who understand sharing your struggle with them

Yet feel like you’re still hopelessly alone.

 

Why is it that no one tells you how agonizing the middle is?

How your formerly corpse like body begins to show signs of life so you pretend to be as okay as your body now seems. 

How you’ll be able to tell some of your most shameful thoughts and tattle on yourself when you engage in behaviors

Even though you’re still in agony behind your no longer lifeless eyes.

 

Why is it that no one tells you how bad the middle is?

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A Skeleton and A Skiff

Dear ED,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the decision I made to jump ship last year and take my chances against the torment of the ocean and storm; to watch you go down while trying to be rescued by those desperately trying to save me. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, to let go of everything I knew, and abandoning you at the helm and casting myself overboard. You’ve always been a perfect ship, like a yacht among a fleet of ratty old skiffs.

I painstakingly watched you slip further and further beneath the crashing waves and torrential rains as I tried to get to those coming to save me. But they were farther than I thought and the storm was worse. When I relayed my SOS calls they promised it would be okay, promised they’d be there for me, promised they would get to me. The life preservers are in the water, their spotlights are pointed towards me yet I’m still not getting any closer. I’m treading water. I’m retreating in the rip currents, and getting torn apart by the wrath of the storm.

I look out to them and I see the sun. I see ships that are steadfast, strong, and stable, like you once were. Why can’t I get to them? Why am I still sinking?

I feel like all I’ve done is thrash about as the waves collapse over me.Sometimes, I’m more skilled and can catch the wave before it breaks; but most of the time I don’t even see it coming getting pulled down by the undertow until the wave settles or until I realize I’m still grasping their lifelines and manage to resurface. I gasp for air, gasp for life, gasp for hope. More often now I want to let go of the ropes tossed out to me, the ones being tugged on with every ounce of sweat, blood and tears that those in the distance have in them. I hear them calling out on their loudspeakers but usually the sound is drowned out by the waves and emptiness in me since you sank. I look around at the bits and pieces left. I feel like I caused this, like I killed you. I’m guilty. I’m hurt. I’m scared.

I keep thinking I should just let go, let the waves overtake me and lose sight of the ships once and for all. I could surrender myself to the undertows and the serenity of what will be when I am shielded by the storm and at peace in the beauty of the ocean’s depths. Yes, letting go is scary. Yes, I know those on the ships will be disappointed. Yes, I know they will scream out to me and send out rescue missions, calling out my name in a desperate search for the soul they once knew or the glimpse of the one the see for my future.  And yes, I know the search might kill them. I’m inviting them into the storm, I’m letting them watch me give up and yet, sometimes I still feel like it would be better than making them continue holding onto that lifeline indefinitely. I’ve tortured them, exhausted them, failed them. They’ve finally seen bits of the real me. They’ve seen me fight against them, they’ve seen me betray their trust. They are battered and bruised from trying to pull my body back to them. What if I do managed to get to them and they see how damaged I’ve gotten through the storm and after years on the ship and cast me off anyway. I can’t blame them. I’m not deserving of their ship’s safety or to walk among them in the harbors.

I imagine what it’ll be like, when I’ve reached the ocean floor. After all the rain, all the currents and all the screams are gone. I imagine my magnificent yacht at rest and wonder how scarred and depleted you are from trying to stay afloat after I bailed on you. What it’ll be like to be reunited, to be free and able to lay in peace with you beside me. I know that I’ve left you for quite some time and I wonder if you’ll recognize me and I, you.

So I let go of the rope. I stop fighting the currents, the waves, the false promises of my rescuers. I am overtaken by another wave. I feel the water drowning me from the inside out. I want to scream, everything hurts but the pain is nothing compared to what I’ve been tolerating since I jumped overboard. I relax my body, think about the safety of returning to the ship I’ve lived on for so long. My eyes close and finally I can really relax. I feel free for the first time since I was a kid. The streaks of sunlight casting through the millions of water molecules dim until everything is just still and dark.

Finally I see you. My Protector. Your stern is leaning against in the ground, a crater in the once unruffled sand. The silt is glossing over your once sparkling body. In our solitude, without disruption of the storm, of the other boats or the thoughts that once raced in my mind I look at you. I really look at you.

You’re a skeleton.

You’re not the yacht. The one that once safeguarded me from the dangers of the world and made me indestructible in the worst of the storm.

You’re the ratty old skiff. You always were, I just never could clearly see.

But it’s too late, I can’t get back to the surface. I can’t grasp the lifeline any longer. I imagine what would’ve happened if I had just held on. Would I have made it? Would they have reached me? Would the storm have calmed? But I’ll never know.

And now all that’s left is a skeleton and her skiff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Dear Ed, You. Were. Wrong. (Telling dr #2)

Yesterday I was worried, immensely worried, about telling my podiatrist about my eating disorder (I feel so old having a podiatrist hahah). I am still really, REALLY uncomfortable saying it out loud to people who don’t already know- probably has something to do with the perfectionist part of me which also helped ingrain this beast in the fibers of my being. But, I had to tell him because my feet are almost always numb, my injuries have been less than healing and I get oddly injured a lot. (Part of getting injured a lot is just the real me, I don’t really always stop and think when I am deep into my bazillion of activities but not all the injuries are accountable from that).

Fact: I told him.
Fact: I was nervous as all hell
Fact: The nurse said my drop in weight was “definitely drastic and noticeable”
         (all I thought was “well, to one of us it is”)
Fact: Dr. C (we will call him) was really concerned when I told him I had to stop running because of “other things”
Fact: Dr. C was even more concerned when I was quiet and nervous (two things I am never when I am there)

Fact: When I told Dr. C, he looked at me and said “you know, that’s actually a LOT more common than you think” and told me if he knows anyone who can beat this and get better it’s me.

Hey, ED: YOU WERE WRONG. He didn’t judge me, he didn’t even flinch, he cared, he showed compassion, he didn’t think I was crazy, he didn’t treat me differently, he didn’t do anything other than be immensely supportive. He told me to call if I needed anything even if it wasn’t related to my feet, he told me that if the treatment center needed anything to just call and he will get it done, he told me I CAN SURVIVE THIS. He joked with me, he made me feel comfortable and you know what, ED, YOU WERE WRONG ABOUT IT ALL.ALL of it, ED, because you know what? HE PROMISED HE WOULD STILL FIX MY FEET SO I CAN RUN.

Although he said I need to continue to take the time off that I’ve been doing, especially when he realized how sick I am and when I told him the complications I am having. But he promised he would still get me back to my marathons. And I trust him. I trust him more than any other doctor (although my Nurse Practitioner is an angel and I trust her too now, Dr. C was the only doctor I trusted for a very very very long time).

Deep down I knew he would be supportive, I mean only a Grinch would be rude to your face. Plus, seriously, Dr. C has known me before I was skinny, before I started running, before a lot of things. He has never once made me feel crazy (and seriously, I have had crazy injuries), stupid, ridiculous, or anything negative. He fixes the issues, he jokes with me, he thinks my running is amazing and he said “You run more than any person I have ever met”– BEST. RUNNER. COMPLIMENT!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

So moral of the story: My ED is NOT always right, and I’m starting to think maybe it’s wrong more than right (?) Dr. C and my Nurse Practitioner are medical professionals and neither have taken my fears and dismissed me or them, they’ve done the opposite and have both showed genuine human concern, not just the your-my-patient-I-have-to-“care” disposition. And telling Dr. C was a HUGE relief, I trust him enough to know that no matter what I can count on him to support me, get me back running and to not treat me differently (my biggest fear). Also, My mom and sister were right (PS. Totally making a post later about my AMAZING little sister, we are best friends and she was texting me when I was nervous yesterday and made me feel infinitely better).

Still, you never know how people will respond but what I am starting to learn is the people you have in your life that are worth telling also think you are worth enough to be alive, happy and healthy and when they realize you need help and support it is instinctive for them to stand beside you and help you get there.

So, Dr. C. if you ever read this: Thank you. You put the awesome in awesomesauce and are perhaps the best doctor I have come to know. Best runner compliment ever: made. my. day. but your reaction to my eating disorder was exactly what I needed and for that there are no words that can express my gratitude. PS. When I make my running comeback: get ready because I am aiming for… an ULTRA and a Triathlon!!!!

And mom and little sis: *mumbles* Youwereright. SSsshhhhhhhh. 🙂 ❤

One step forward…

I took my closest step toward recovery today. I looked up psychologists/mental health professionals/ED specialists and nutritionists via my health insurance website to get an idea of what I am up against or what I’ll need to do once I decide on help.

(trigger warning) I still only ate 220 calories today and on top of that went to the gym for some HIIT and burned more than 2 1/2 times that but I didn’t purge any of it(clarification: I didn’t vomit any of it, I guess working out could technically be considered purging as well) and I looked at recovery options so I am going to consider that a win.

Thursday I head back to my podiatrist to see if I can get out of this air cast on my foot. I am hoping I can begin marathon training. I know how dangerous that sounds but marathon training and running keeps me motivated to keep trying to eat more. We will see though.

Dear Mom, I’m Sorry.

Momma Bear,

I just need to put this out there just in case you never find out in person from me: I’m sorry. I’m sorry I turned into this girl, sorry I didn’t ask for help sooner, sorry I am destroying my body in an attempt to protect it, I’m sorry I didn’t confide in you, I’m sorry for it all. Please know that it wasn’t anything you did or didn’t do. I’m not really sure when this started but it was some time after they told me to figure out how to fix the chronic pain and nausea with “trial and error”. After a year of error and hospitals and pain I couldn’t do that anymore so I eliminated the error but it’s like when I did that, this other person took over, took me hostage, protected me and cursed me all at the same time except I didn’t realize how bad it was until recently. I didn’t realize who I had become or what I had turned into.

I couldn’t ask for help. I tried so many times and I just couldn’t. I never thought you would turn your back on me or hate me so please don’t think that. In fact, I have many times thought you suspected something but didn’t know or wanted to believe the best in me. You stood by my side when I got sick initially so it wasn’t that I thought you couldn’t handle it, it was all me. It was this other person inside my mind.

I know there are two outcomes to this letter: I told you about this blog or you found out about it after I died. I hope it’s the former but everyday I feel closer and closer to the latter. It’s why I am writing this, just in case the worst happens, just in case you find out after I’m gone. If that’s the case know that you are the best mom in the world I’ve never once wanted a different mom or thought you weren’t enough. You were both a mom and a dad, a friend and role model and I’m so sorry for what I am putting you through whether it is the first or second outcome.

I hope one day i can say I am recovered and stable. That I can eat what a normal person would call a meal, that I won’t purge everything I eat, that I don’t live in constant fear of being in excruciating pain again and that I also don’t fear getting fat or being judged for my food choices. I hope one day I am strong enough to find love, get married and give you some rockstar grandkids.

I am scared to death that I won’t survive this- the side effects have been really bad lately- but please know I am trying so hard to fight back and live and that I am so so so sorry. I hope one day you forgive me.

Love,

(Your favorite) Baby Bear

Chest Pain

It’s 5:30am, my normal wake up time. Except today wasn’t normal because today instead of waking up to my alarm, I woke up to the feeling of severe chest pain about 15 min earlier. It was sharp and horizontal across my chest; It felt deep and almost like a stabbing cramping feeling. It woke me up from my sleep. What have I done to myself. Maybe I should go to the doctor? Lies,  I know I need to go to the doctor whether it wears off or not but I know I’d have to tell. Maybe this is my out?

Yesterday was a severe restriction day: 200 calories. No more. I know that’s bad but I felt okay yesterday aside from the lightheadedness and weakness after shopping all day. I wasn’t even hungry most of the time. But last night I couldn’t sleep. I was uncomfortable. Like I could feel my muscles cramping but never having them enter a full blown cramp. I’m not sure what was going on. Maybe I was just too hungry to sleep, maybe it was a precursor, a warning. Either way, I should really listen.

On A Sinking Ship…

Do you ever feel like you are on a sinking ship? One where you really have three options:

1. Jump Ship.

2. Wait for help to arrive, if they arrive, and force you off the ship.

3. Go down with the ship.

That’s where I feel like I am. I’m on a sinking ship. I only have three options and the conditions the boat is in are getting worse. The storm is getting worse, the waves are getting bigger and I am getting further and further from shore.

If I jump ship now I risk drowning, not being rescued in time, or being overtaken by the storm anyway but without any protection from the ship. If I wait and jump ship later the storm may be worse, help still might not be close and I may still face the same fate as if I jump now. But if I jump now I’ll be closer to help, closer to the shore, the storm hasn’t gotten as bad as it may and I can choose what I am jumping overboard with and maybe give myself a better chance at survival than if I wait. If I wait too long however, I’ll go down with the ship when it sinks, dragged down by the mass of boat being sucked to the ocean’s floor by the forces of the storm. Jumping now is probably best but, I still have to find the courage to jump when every ounce of me is screaming to stay on the ship.

If I stay on the ship I may still have to jump ship later but if help arrives they’ll be there to force me off the ship. I’ll still have to jump in the water, leave the safety of the ship and struggle through the storm but someone will be there to see me to safety, make it more likely I survive the storm. But what if they arrive too late, what if they force me off the ship but I can’t be saved, what if I just take them down with me?

And then again I can stay with the ship. I can go down with the ship. The ship has kept me safe for so long and is all I know anymore, the only friend I have, the only protection I have. It has kept me both isolated but in company during the last few years. How am I  just supposed to abandon it? How am I supposed to just jump off, leave it behind?  What if I am not strong enough on my own to face the storm? What if help isn’t there because I am too far away, too far gone? What if I die anyway?

What do I choose?

I don’t know what to choose.

Crying for Help

I need help.

I need help.

I need help.

I can’t do this much longer. I don’t want to. I want out. I want OUT. I want HIM out of my head, I want to stop thinking about food all the time, stop being hungry, stop vomiting everything I eat, stop chewing and spitting, stop the cravings, stop the side effects. I want to STOP IT ALL.

I’ve been pacing through my kitchen and living room contemplating going home. Home to my mom’s to ask for help, to spill my guts, and pray to God someone takes this serious and knows what to do and how to get help.

But as I type this, the voice is coming back. The one telling me to keep quiet, that this is normal, that I NEED this and not food. I feel trapped. I feel so trapped.

I wish I could go for a run but I can’t because this damn aircast is stuck on me for at least 2 more weeks. I wish I could burn all the calories off my body, shrink and disappear. I hate this.

I hate this.

I hate this person I am trapped inside of.

I wish someone understood.

I wish someone knew.

Time to Tri

Last Wednesday I was sanctioned to a month of being in an air cast for my chronically broken sesamoid bone and the sesamoiditis that it is causing. My doctor wanted to put it in a hard cast and immobilize fully but I promised that I would only take the cast off when I was (a) sleeping or (b) showering and that exercise will consist of upper body weights, swimming and biking (but no standing on the bike while riding).

To me, this seemed like certifiable torture. I don’t like biking because it hurts my bum and I don’t like swimming because I always feel uncomfortable in a bathing suit and I am just not efficient enough in my freestyle stroke to be good at it.

Last Friday I went to my gym, OrangeTheory and my trainer was AMAZING about letting me know how we would adjust the class schedule so I could still come to class. In case you don’t know what OTF is, you go take a class with x number of other people (no more than 24 usually), alternating between the treadmill, ergs (rowers), and a weight room (with med balls, dumbbells, benches, bosu balls, SBT bands, etc). So the predesigned schedule doesn’t necessarily work when you can’t do lower body, rowing (my fave!) or running (my ultimate fave!).

But while I HATE the bike, I decided to embrace it and swimming. And now I have set my sights on something I would never do: the Triathlon!!!

And, I am excited about it! I am starting to get used to the bum soreness after biking and swimming I am just practicing getting better. I am going to get a swim coach at least for a few lessons to work on my efficiency with freestyle strokes and breathing and get better at that. I am a solid swimmer, I’ve just never done it competitively and that’s the part I am most worried about.

Right now, I am aiming for an August triathlon! It’s a sprint tri so it will be a short tri distance and will have a 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. If I feel ready I may go to the full tri distance for this race which is double the distance of all of those (1/2 mile run, 20 mile bike, 6.2 mile run). I don’t have a super snazzy tri bike but this one allows road bikes, which I do have and I think it’ll work well for my first one at least until I decide if I like doing triathlons.

My only concern is changing clothes (?) I am not sure how that works or what but being in a bathing suit and changing clothes is something that makes my skin crawl. I hate thinking about me being at all exposed in front of people. Heck, I hate even being around people but I am just going to try and think of the bigger picture and focus on my goals.

For now, I am going to continue using the bike at OTF during my workout (as if I have a choice), jump back into marathon training once I am freed from the cast monster, and work on my swimming at my pool just doing about 30 minutes of laps every few days. Once I am out of the boot though I am going to take a swim class and try road biking a few miles every week too.

But goodness I miss running. I can’t wait for the trails, pavement and pounding of my feet.