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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

Insurance Sucks…Sometimes

AND THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES!!!! (*knock on wood*)

I just found out my insurance will cover my Partial Hospitalization Treatment in full. That’s right IN FRICKIN FULL. 100%.

I am crying. 

Thank you God. I have hope again. 

At A Loss

I just don’t have words anymore.

I feel empty. Pure emptiness.

I don’t want to be with people; I don’t want to be alone.

I’m not happy; I’m not sad.

I don’t want to be awake; I don’t want to lay in bed.

I’m not lonely; I’m not overwhelmed.

I want to cry; I don’t want to cry.

I want to confide in someone; I don’t want to confide in someone.

I want to live; I don’t want to live.

I don’t feel anything.

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I just don’t know what to do. I have to go see my doctor on Tuesday but I feel like I shouldn’t say anything because I don’t want to be a burden and I already have enough issues for them to worry about. I don’t even know what’s causing it, I mean life has just become so unraveled since I spoke up about my eating disorder. I have had to officially give up my marathons and completely stop running, drop my fall semester classes because PHP will prevent me from going to classes and the doctors said to medically withdraw from the term, I have had to tell people, i had to stop going to the gym. dealt with the stress of getting into a treatment program, go to the doctor weekly, start new medications and deal with the stupid side effects.

It’s a lot.

Maybe I am just over stressed. Maybe it’s the new medicine that is making me feel like this. Maybe it’s just in my head. Maybe it’s anything. Maybe it’s nothing.

I’ve just never felt like this before. Ever. Not even when I was alone in my struggle with this eating disorder but now I can’t get rid of the emptiness and I don’t know what to do to make it stop.

The one thing I do know: I am losing myself. I am barely inside anymore. I am just a shell of who I used to be but the fire inside me, my soul, my self is smaller and farther away than ever; and I’m not sure I can get it back.

Confession

One day I’d like to be able to go to the doctor without crying about it for a week because I am so scared of getting on the scale and what I’ll do if it goes up. 

When “Eating Disorder” becomes a description

Maybe it’s a double standard or me being overly dramatic (a word that has never been used to describe me) but on Tuesday I picked up a letter from my doctor to clear me medically for an ED treatment program and as I read the letter it was like being punched in the gut. Why? Not because the letter was mean or harsh or anything like that but rather it was because of the words ‘eating disorder’. They were used as a description and it was like this whole thing went from “an eating disorder” to “her eating disorder”. My eating disorder. MY. MINE. Like it is officially a part of me and honestly, I am not sure how I feel about how raw and real that is.

Now, I have (countless) times written on here I have an ED, used the words and typed them into Google but until 2 weeks ago I hadn’t ever said the words out loud and actually, when I came clean with my doctor I didn’t even say “eating disorder” I just described my actions and thoughts. Telling my best friend on Monday (last week) was the first time I ever said “I have been diagnosed with an eating disorder” but even then it was an illness, an invader, a foreigner. But “her eating disorder” just makes official that this is my disease, I have this, it is inside me, tearing me apart. It’s no longer a third party but rather it is ingrained in me, has become part (or most of) who I am, and is officially no longer something I can just brush off as me being a “hypochondriac” or “not sick enough for”.

And that’s a hard pill to swallow ( and worse than that terrible liquid potassium chloride I had to take yesterday bc of my terrifyingly low potassium levels). I mean it’s not like I wasn’t expecting those exact words in the letter because tbh, of course I was. I mean I have an eating disorder I’m not delusional about everything but still I still feel scared, raw and vulnerable. Vulnerable is the worst.

I think seeing it also solidified that I am going to have to start using it to describe myself in relation to my health. This will have to start sooner rather than later too and not just with the treatment center (who I have also managed to only say those words out loud to once as well) but also because next week I have to go to my fave doctor (totally serious). He is my amazingggg podiatrist and seriously I am a bazillion percent sure my feet would’ve been goners a longggg time ago if not for him, especially since I took up running lol. But he entertains all my wacko thoughts and ideas, like when he put me in a cast and I told him how I was going to finagle it so I could still skydive 8 days later (which I did successfully!). But I trust him enough to do surgery once and treat all my injuries well enough to keep running and now that I am facing surgery again for a different issue I know he needs (and deserves) to know. Plus, some of the extra issues I’m having are things dealing with my feet (constant numbness and my mom thinks the heel agony is bc of my calcium deficiency). But still I hate feeling vulnerable and I am still not comfortable with sharing that with anyone much less being the person saying the words eating disorder to describe me. But I have to because I know I need to and my appointment is next week.

I also have an appointment (again) with my primary doctor on Tuesday just to check in, do more lab work and make sure I am making headway in the admission to a treatment center (which I am). I am going to ask her just in case she says I don’t have to tell my foot doctor (which I doubt more than anything in the world) but still, I’ll ask. And hopefully, seeing her and being able to talk everything over will somehow help me get to the point where I am comfortable with telling another person about what’s going on (even though I know it is for the best, he will help too and that it is “okay” to ask for help).

So yeah, that’s where I am at. Not really sure where the post was supposed to go but I guess it was more of a ‘talk it out’ post since I can’t run right now and that’s normally where I have my ‘talk it out’ time within myself.

Confession:

When I eat and the hunger goes away even a little I  always feel like I have overeaten, like a failure and then when the hunger comes back I am always relieved and more relieved the sooner it does. This is one of the things I hate the most.