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.

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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

Dreading this.

its here. I need to leave in 15 minutes.

I’m not dressed. Haven’t gotten my stuff together, haven’t brushed my hair or teeth (both of which are taking longer since I broke my hand Sunday), nothing.

I have cleaned my apartment. 😬

I know I have to get up and get dressed and do this but honestly, I can’t just yet. I’ve gotten 6 texts since I woke up from family/friends telling me how strong I am and that I can do this but honestly, they have no idea how incredibly weak I am. 

I put on a good front, and yeah perhaps I was once strong but right now, I am weak, terrified, isolated and vulnerable. And I’ve said countless times how I HATE feeling vulnerable. I am sure this therapist will have something to say about that 😏

I seriously wish I could just go to my regular doctor, have them mediate this transition. At least I have become somewhat comfortable with them knowing. These people are different. They see countless people fighting this and I am positive I am not nearly skinny, sick or deep into this to even get their help. They are going to think I am joking. 

Besides I am not keen on losing all independence. Like I get you need to keep an eye on me but I am still an adult.

And I am not keen on eating. What if they don’t take into account my GI issues and what if they start up again? What if the food is gross? How will they really know how much I need? How can I trust them?

The answer: I CAN’T.

I feel like I would like this better easing into it. Like if I had met them before and then come back to start today. Why do they not do this?!?! The reason going through my head is because they are horrid, it’s awful, torture and not safe at all to trust them. And that, is just making me guard myself more. 

And has me planning my escape route. No joke. 

I have 5 minutes. (10 if I am pushing it) 

I really don’t think I can do this. I seriously wish I would’ve been able to talk to my dr this morning, she would’ve made me feel better about this and quieted the run away aspect that’s consuming me. 

I’ve got to decide to go. I have to. I’m just not sure how to do that. 

Admissions and Deferrals

10b40aca81f526f1a0945e315101192aThe call came on Friday afternoon, there treatment facility is recommending their highest level of care: Partial Hospitalization. I am both thankful and horrified. I know I need to get better but since when did I get sick enough to barely get medically cleared enough for the most intensive outpatient program available to ED patients?

The obstacles now: figuring out my work situation (I work full time) and get everything sorted out with FMLA and time off and money and insurance and admission dates, oh and the most challenging obstacle: figuring out some kind of plausible lie so that my whole (very gossipy) office doesn’t get into my business. That last one is by far the most challenging. But, I have to do what is best for me no matter what.

My ED has been just positively TERRIBLE the last few days since I heard from the treatment center and it doesn’t help that my body is almost screaming for food (it’s in one of its cycles where after I have been restricting for so long that my body starts to tear me down mentally to try and get food) but I can’t give in because my ED is just so much stronger than normal. I think it has something to do with knowing it is about to have to eat that makes my ED stronger, just trying to prove that I need to retreat from this “recovery” and run to save myself and it is taking every ounce of my being to keep going and keep seeking out treatment as the admission process progresses.

With this also came the very real realization: I am going to have to forfeit my marathons- Chicago and Marine Corps. I am so depressed I don’t even want to get out of bed when I think about it, I just want to sleep forever. I know for non-runners it’s impossible to understand why someone would want to run or run 26.2 miles for fun but for me it’s a huge part of my life and I feel broken and dead knowing I will have to defer those in the next few days. That’s all I want to say about that right now; maybe later I’ll post more about the process, training, what I look forward to about next year but right now I just don’t feel anything other than grief and numbness.

Maybe I should talk to my doctor, maybe the lows have something to do with the meds I am on but this blow of losing my marathons just feels like the last bit of me has been killed by the ED and honestly, I am starting to feel too tired to fight it anymore even though I am closer than ever to treatment.

So that’s where I am at. I’ve been quiet on here lately just because everything has kind of been in a standstill until I found out from the center and because I just haven’t wanted to deal with people in person or online as I processed this marathon thing, still just feeling numb and isolated but I’m trying to make the effort. My doctor is checking in weekly so I think she is set to call tomorrow or Tuesday but since i need some paperwork for her to fill out for treatment and my marathons I have to call tomorrow either way. I am going to go to HR first thing too about my benefits and time off for treatment and then call the Center. I guess I also have to deal with Chicago and Marine Corps Marathon organizers, idk.

Grapes & Gratitude

I made it through my doctor’s appointment and survived the encounter with… The Scale. Seriously, words cannot express my anxiety around scales and knowing my weight. On one hand, I want to know (but really, I think it’s the ED part of me that wants to know because I want the number to be lower); on the other hand, I don’t want to know (this part I think is the real me because it is the part that is scared of the self-hatred and self-harm thoughts if the number goes up). So yeah, it’s a complicated relationship and it won’t end well either way because either the ED part of me gets stronger and more satisfied or the real me gets beat up and bullied by it.

Today my ED was happy. VERY happy. I, however, was more than a bit ashamed of the happy thoughts flooding my body after seeing the drop in weight again. I could soon reach underweight status, my potassium is so low my doctor looked me in the eye and said “you are at risk of heart failure”, I can’t run off my anxiety, frustration or fear, I am too tired and disoriented to carry on conversation after a few hours of being awake. I am dying and yet, I feel happiness for losing weight but I also feel guilt for feeling the happiness. I am infinitely messed up, trapped and terrified.

However, I did actually have some REAL ME happiness today too. The kind that makes the ED part of me angry, loud and mad but only because it means that part of me is slowly being attacked by the old, happy, me. Today, I experienced two things: Grapes and Gratitude. Let’s start with gratitude.

I have from the get-go had so much respect and gratitude for my Nurse Practitioner at the doctor’s office. I always see her and have since I started going to this practice and she managed to get my trust (something that is very hard for medical professionals to do since my whole stomach debacle) enough to make me feel like I could trust her with my deep dark ED secret. And when I did go and tell her about it, she was nothing short of absolutely amazing, caring, concerned, trusting and non-judgmental. As I progress toward getting into treatment she has been so supportive and continues to be both honest but caring at the same time, never blaming me but instead working with me to try and figure out a solution for now until I can get to the psychologist, psychiatrists and other therapists. And perhaps what I am the MOST grateful for, she has never once made me feel like I did this to myself, never once made me feel like anything she said was condescending and never once made me feel like I am not sick. So yeah, complete and utter gratitude for her. I am, however, petrified because next time I go… I have to see the Physician Asst. instead because my amazing NP is going on maternity leave. She promises to be back soon and that the PA is stellar (she said this at two different appts so I am taking comfort in that she reiterated it) and said that she really likes her, herself. I, however, am scared to death. But still, I am so gracious for my NP and grateful that she warned me and talked to me about it before it happens so that I am not overwhelmed with surprise next time and she let me know she would talk to the PA about everything before she leaves too. Woo!

Also at the appointment she scared me to death when the ER, hospital and my horrifyingly low potassium levels were brought up. I don’t want a heart attack or to go into heart failure. I don’t want to die, that’s why I asked for help. Yet, I am on the verge of death. We had a very critical and terrifying conversation about eating more. I explained all my fears and we decided that trying to get  more fruit and veggies would be easier (she said she prefers fruits because I need more nutrients they offer and my 1 safe food is a veggie 😉 ) Until about 4 months ago there was one other vegetable and one fruit that was “semi-safe” but only in very limited quantities to ED. Today, I promised I would try and eat more and I am so gracious for all my NP’s help and support (in addition to my family) that I really did want to try and overcome my horrid ED thoughts which brings me to: grapes.

Seriously, I have been CRAVINGGGGGG grapes for weeks now. So after my appointment I went to Publix (best grocery store ever!) and the anxiety was so bad I had to call my mom on the way in and ask if grapes really were healthy and okay to eat. After she confirmed that and we talked about the appointment I knew the anxiety was only going to get worse. It’s kinda like when you skydive, the longer you sit on the edge of the plane the harder it is to convince yourself to jump so I went in, got a small produce bag (buying the whole thing of grapes like my mom suggested made me cry just thinking about it) and I just opened one of the bags and took a stem of the grapes and put it in the produce bag and tied it shut. I think I only tied it so I couldn’t put them back haha.

I am sure I looked like a crazy person, I called my mom and asked if grapes were healthy. I am a twenty-something grown-up lol I should know this; but when your brain lies to you for so long it gets to the point you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. Then I got in the car with my “unsafe” grapes. I knew I couldn’t just go home and eat the grapes because I knew my ED would get the best of me so I took a handful and as I drove I ate the first one. It was SO. DARN. GOOD. Cold and crisp on the outside and juicy and delish on the inside! The taste was seriously the best grape I have probably ever had! ED me was having a FIT and berating me but I ate a second one and eventually finished the whole handful! It’s not a lot- I know- but I was feeling full and didn’t want to make it worse. Also, I had arrived at my location– the make up store. I needed some new make up so I went in, went to the lady and asked her to demo the kind I wanted to try and it worked. Omgosh at first I could barely hear her over the ED thoughts but after a bit ED me gave up on getting me to purge the grapes AND I bought some new make up after I had a fabulous make over.

And that, even though it’s not a lot,  is my first REAL RECOVERY WIN!!!!

But seriously, my NP is the bomb dot com. LOVE her and I am still freaking out over her leave of absence but she hasn’t led me astray yet and I have to  believe the PA will be just as good.

Feeling my muscles dying

I have said this for weeks, it’s how I have known it’s really bad but now it’s official, after my initial diagnosis blood work my doctor wanted to redraw 10 days later so I Got another set of labs done yesterday, today my nurse practitioner (who is so amazing) called and said my potassium is….Worse! So now, it’s bad enough to need a supplement prescription. 😔 I feel like such a failure. 

Plus she called earlier after the first set of labs and said to start taking a multivitamin. I’ve been taking a gummy multivitamin bc the pill ones are so strong and I’m so malnourished that they make me sick so she said gummy ones are best for now, so that was supposed to help the potassium levels, but nope which logically I know means I am sick but I’m still struggling to “believe”. And what really sucks is now I have to take Rx potassium AND the gummy multivitamin. 

I hate the gummy bc (a) it’s gross. (B) there are 15 calories in the daily dose (2 gummies) so I have to cut that 15 out of my diet elsewhere. I know, I am in recovery but technically I am not. I am in limbo and without being able to get myself to overcome the ED voices (which I keep painstakingly trying and failing at) I don’t know how to get more calories bc it doesn’t seem acceptable, okay, painless, healthy or anything good at all. I know that’s the disease too but I just don’t know how to stop or lessen it and the guilt after is seriously verging on the point of wanting to die. 

So yeah, back to the dr next week for more labs. Glamorous. 

MEDICALLY CLEARED for Treatment!!!

This GIF pretty much sums up my feelings: a touch of relief/excitement mixed with sheer horror. One hurdle down and closer to getting into a program. My doctor (or rather, Nurse Practitioner since that is who I see) is the bomb dot com and called me back and said although my labs are consistent with being malnourished and she is concerned that they are still stable and she can clear me! I am both terrified and relieved.

I am going in tomorrow afternoon for another set of follow-up labs to check my potassium and other levels (because they are pretty out of whack) and I can get the letter and paperwork I need too. It’s all getting so real again whereas the last 10 days have had me living in a neutral state where I have been allowed to exist with my ED. Not that I mean anyone supports the ED, but where they are just trying to be supportive toward me while I get everything sorted out and they’ve been trying to encourage me to eat more but haven’t given much push back when I struggle or give into my ED brain. But now, now that I can get medically cleared it’s one step further. Now, I am going to have to talk to the treatment center again, have the case re-reviewed by the medical board, hopefully get this cleared by insurance (that’s my next major hurdle that I am freaking over) and then beginning treatment. But tomorrow, tomorrow is the next step and it feels horrifying, scary and slightly relieving at the same time.

Leap Of Faith (I TOLD THE DR!!!!!)

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The first time I went skydiving I was the second (and last) to jump. The plane had just enough room for the 5 of us (pilot, 2 instructors and 2 of us jumpers each jumping as a tandem pair). I remember being so nervous until I got in the plane and we started flying. It was strangely surreal, I was unexpectedly brave and convinced it would be okay. Then we reached altitude, and the door latch opened. The air rushed in at over a hundred miles an hour, the sound was equivalent to one of those hurricane simulation tubes at the museum and it was cold (I jumped during summer in Key West). Fear shot through my body, I instinctively pulled away and shook my head no even though a huge part of me wanted to do it. Then, the other guy and his instructor jumped in tandem. They were there on the edge of the plane and then….GONE. SUCKED out with a noise that is equivalent to what it sounds like when you put your hand against the hose of a vacuum cleaner but times a thousand. I am fairly certain I was saying no as we inched closer and as I breached the edge of the plane I prayed to God that I was doing the right thing, my parachute would work and that I would somehow survive this.

Today, as I drove to the doctor’s office the same emotions came back. I had the same sense of bravery and confidence that I did in the plane and then, as I got to my destination I was overcome with fear, horror, anxiety and a huge sense that I was not going to be able to do this but feeling it was too late to back out. I had already changed clothes into some of my most lightweight clothes that made me feel comfy and would add less pounds to the scale and I had already parked, I HAD to do this. It was raining outside- quite fitting given my mood and the rain was getting worse as I arrived at the office but I still walked slowly, like a preschooler tiptoeing to the closet to check for monsters. As I walked down the hallway I went from feeling numb to shaking with fear, visibly shaking. Writing my name on the sign-in page was one of the worst memories, my usually nice and neat name looked like I had written it while driving down a gravel road. The nurse/receptionist at the front was really kind and took my copay. I think she noticed how nervous I was because I was quiet and, well, shaking. The nurse came and got me not long after I sat down (I mean I did wait until 2 minutes before the appointment to enter the building…) and I felt sheer terror. As I walked in the back my biggest fear: the damn scale.

I got on and convinced myself to not look but then the other “me” won: I saw it. It went down quite a bit again, makes sense and was soooooooo addicting and made me want to lie infinitely more. We walked to the exam room. I sat on the chair and felt my heart racing as she took my pulse and BP. I think she knew I was nervous because I was fidgeting and my pulse was high compared to what it normally is. Then she said, “so it says you’re here to go over some concerns about a few issues, what kinds of issues?” I glanced over, nearly started crying and all I could manage was a slight chuckle (which I am convinced is only because I was trying not to cry), and to say “I’ve got a lot of issues,” before my eyes started tearing up. She then said, “you just want to wait for her then?” and I just shook my head and picked at my nail, knowing this was the end of my lies.

The wait for the doctor seemed like AGES. I wanted to get up and run away or at least pace the room but I couldn’t get up, I was too scared to move. I kept mindlessly staring at my phone hoping someone, something would jump up and save me from the Hell I was in but nothing did. I had put my sweatshirt on- I’m ALWAYS cold- and plus it felt comforting to have something familiar around me, protecting me. Then the dreaded knock at the door.

I started crying almost before she sat down. I think the nurse had told her something pretty major was up because she walked in and was instantly concerned. I was sitting cross-legged in the chair, with the sleeves of my hoodie pulled over my hands, hiding as much as possible. I’m not normally the person who shares their feelings, I think that’s why this was SO unbearably hard and inconceivable for me. A lot of it was blurry at this point but I do remember quite a bit. I remember her asking if it was something new, I shook my  head no this had been going on for a couple years. She asked if it was something we hadn’t ever discussed and I said yes. I remember saying this was hard, I didn’t how to start, and then she very very cautiously asked if anyone else knew. I hugged my legs and just knew I wasn’t getting out of this but too scared to do anything.

I just cried. No one knew the full extent, no one had ever been told in person, no one was there to support me. She continued to cautiously ask what was wrong, was it an issue with a boyfriend, an issue with drugs (she noticed the drastic weight loss from my latest decrease in calories), an issue with alcohol or depression. Each time she asked she would pause, giving me time to respond never be presumptuous or judgmental. When she said depression I took longer and said “sometimes but that’s not it.” She then said no matter what it was she wouldn’t judge. I cried then I decided it was better to just jump out of the plane once and for all. I told her I rarely eat more than 200-300 calories and I am petrified of food and I just spilled my guts. I made very little eye contact at this point, I felt ashamed, stupid, absurd, fear, and like I was some kind of freak. She listened, asked questions, “was I ready for therapy, what do I eat, how do I feel” and many more. I answered feeling lighter and lighter with each word, never feeling like what I was saying was wrong or judged. She offered to tell my family or to help me tell them, I said my mom probably knew but didn’t want to believe it and that my roommate didn’t know and I was honest when I said I had no idea how I was going to do that as I was crying.

Then she said it. She said “We need to find you an eating disorder specialist.” Those 2 words. Eating disorder. I honestly have never heard them out loud in reference to me, never from someone else and not from myself. Even though I can type it and use it to describe myself online, I’ve never uttered those words. To be honest, I felt numb. I’m not sure if that was because so many emotions were finally running through me or if it was a protection mechanism but I was numb. We talked about a lot, what got me to that point, the illness that led up to it (I just switched to this doctor 8ish months ago she she didn’t see me through the depths of it), what was going to happen, some of the side effects. She told me she would go look up treatment centers and sent the nurse (from earlier) back in to do an EKG and some other tests. Blood was taken, the EKG though was the worst because you have to have all these electrodes put on your chest which involves at least having some degree of your chest (and stomach by default) being exposed and I HATE MY BODY.

The nurse knew though, she tried to make small talk and I did appreciate it but I still felt numb. She let me keep my shirt on and let me hold my hoodie and she just rolled my shirt up while she did the EKG to try and let me be as comfortable as possible. I just stared at the ceiling, my eating disorder voice screaming at me for what I had just done and now, to be exposing my gross body saying my ribs weren’t out far enough, my stomach not small enough, tight enough. I laid there and tried not to cry, tried to not freak out or focus on what was going on. It was raining outside and had been since I started driving to the office so I just listened to the rain. It was over fast (I’ve had one before so I know it just felt long and that it didn’t really take as long as it felt). After all the tests she said the doctor would be back in. So I sat on the exam table and waited. Then I was dizzy and overwhelmed so I laid down and for the first time in days I fell asleep.

I only slept for maybe 5 minutes before my body woke me up but I slept and at almost 3 days of no sleep that felt amazing. The doctor had even commented at the beginning how I looked like I hadn’t slept in a while so I was grateful for the 5 minute reprieve. I laid there and waited, unable to move, unable to think, just staring at the wall. When the doctor came back she started talking about treatment options, Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization programs in the area. I felt for the first time in a long time a sense of support and… hope. She had called a couple of places that she wants me to follow up with tomorrow and Monday (one was closed until Monday and is supposed to be a really good place and we both laughed at the semi-ridiculousness of this). Then she dropped a bombshell: “I need you to let me call your mom or your roommate, I need someone to know so I know you are safe.”

Safe? I’m far from safe. I am freaking out. She reassured me my mom wouldn’t be mad that she would be concerned and want to help. She offered to call my roommate but my roommate has been back home for about 2 weeks while her sister is in town and I don’t want to tell her until she gets back. I need to tell her, I know she will blame herself for not seeing it and I need to be the one to do that. But my mom was a different story. For some reason it was harder to conceive how I would tell my mom. I agreed to let her call her after she promised it would be okay and she would talk to my mom. I never doubted my mom would be supportive but I just don’t want to be a burden, I don’t want her to be mad or be disappointed in me. But, I let the doctor call my mom. She stepped out of the room again and I pulled up my phone to text the only person I could in that moment…my mom.

I’m sorry ❤

That’s what it said. I waited 5 minutes or so to send it, I didn’t want her to get it before the doctor got in touch. I knew she would instantly freak when the doctor said she was calling about me. My mom got that type of call one time before- from 911 when they found me passed out on the side of the road during a run- and I know how terrified she was. Plus I was sorry, sorry I couldn’t do it, sorry I got into the mess, sorry I would scare her when the doctor called her and then disappoint her when she heard those two words associated with me, sorry that I’ll make her worry every day, sorry that she might think I couldn’t trust her- which isn’t true, sorry for just everything.

My mom texted back before the doctor got back in,

Nothing to be sorry for. I love you and nothing you do or don’t do will change that. We will figure it out.

The doctor came back with paperwork, a prescription, referrals for the treatment centers, notes, and the best thing I got all day: a hug. The words I’m proud of you and this is the hardest step were repeated again as they were earlier and she sat and went through everything again. I still felt numb but I also began to feel something else I hadn’t in a very long time: relief. I felt relieved.

At the end of the appointment I made my follow up appointment, promised I would try this anti-depressant she is giving me which is super scary b/c the one other time I was ever put on one I felt so suicidal it was unreal and the only time I actually got to the point where I almost executed the plan, and I told her I would follow up with the Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization programs. She gave me her email in case I need anything and of course I have the office number and I left.

Leaving I was still numb, as I walked out of the office though I noticed one thing: it had just stopped raining.  I cried when I got in the car because I just had no clue what the next step was. I knew the doctor and my mom wanted me to go home or to have my mom come to my place but I just wanted to run. To clear my head, to be alone. I’m an introverted extrovert and while I love being outgoing and with people when I get overwhelmed I need my space. I stuck to texting my mom for about a half hour not wanting to be suffocated, not wanting to be alone, not knowing what I wanted all at the same time.

When I got home I called my mom. I told her everything, she tried to convince me to eat or to come home for a bit and I couldn’t because I don’t feel safe there because of all the unsafe foods. She offered to come here but I didn’t want anyone here or around when it was 7:30 because I don’t like people seeing me eat. I think she realized how entrenched I was in this. She kept suggesting maybe eating 1 spoon of something and said to just focus on eating 50 calories more and I felt so overwhelmed and she could tell because I was crying and finally told her about the “voice” in my head. The one holding me hostage. I could almost feel her sadness and maybe a little helplessness.

I ultimately decided to be alone. I want to go to work tomorrow. I don’t want to go all day because I need to call these treatment centers and I am not sure I can do that alone and I think I want my mom to help so I might just “get sick” and go home early but I need to go back to normal life especially because I feel so abnormal right now. I think the routine will help with that, make it easier to accept my life isn’t totally over.

As I lay here and get ready for (hopefully) sleep, I am still scared, I still feel “not sick enough”, and lost but I also feel the best feeling of all right now: relief and support. I’m not alone and I know it’s going to get hard again before it gets easy but I just need to capture this feeling in my mind and no matter what realize that I’ve got support. I don’t have to bear this burden any longer alone and although they might not get it all the time or know what I feel inside, at least there is someone willing to sit by me, or wait on me while I text them. And I cannot express enough gratitude to for all of the support I have had here and from the girl who knows about my struggle and from my doctor because telling her was so hard and such a huge decision and there are so many fearful stories about idiot doctors and rude responses but she was nothing like that and never belittled or judged me.

So in the end, it was kind of like skydiving. Fearful as Hell as you jump out, a numb almost out of body experience as you free fall and a new perspective on the way down when you can slowly focus on the big picture and take a few deep breaths seeing how far you’ve come and how amazing life can be. It gave me a bit of hope, a lot of relief and even though I still have a ton of fear, I feel stronger than I was a few hours before. Here’s to recovery!

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This really is me (much heavier at the time) in Key West- or rather above Key West- during the free fall of my first skydive a few years ago.

The Waiting Room

UntitledAs the sliding door opens the cool air hits me causing me to shiver and get goosebumps from the stark contrast between the heat outside and the temperature inside. Actually, I’m not sure if the goosebumps are from the temperature or what I am about to do. I hesitate as I cross the threshold into the building and stare at the wall, at the names on the directory sign. I know where I am and where I am going but it allows me a few more moments. I head down the corridor to the second set of doors and walk through.

The aroma is familiar and fragrant, disinfectant and antibacterial soap. I hear my flip flops shuffle across the floor, past the chairs to my left to the closed glass window on the opposing wall. Nausea strikes my body causing me to grab my stomach out of instinct, even though I know it won’t help. I stare at the clipboard. In my peripheral view the receptionist is on the phone. Good. I don’t want to make conversation, I think. I pick up the pen, adjusting it in my hand and rolling it back and forth mindlessly until I see her looking at me. Slowly I begin to write my name on the next blank space. It doesn’t feel like me doing this, it feels like I am in a foreign body, like a robot just able to complete this task out of habit. I glance at the window, the receptionist is typing as she talks on the same call; It feels like she has been on that call forever but I know it’s just me feeling like time is stationary.

I turn and face the rest of the room instinctively looking at the doorway I just passed through, the one that leads to freedom and safety. Run, don’t do this, pierces through my mind instantly hollowing out the sound of the music playing overhead and the whispers from the few other people in the room. I stop in my tracks and stare for a second consumed by nausea from the whole situation. Fearing I am not able to take another step, I sit.

Nothing seems to be moving. I can feel and hear my heart pounding, the nausea is as strong as waves crashing on the shore during a hurricane. It’s hard, brutal and relentless. Leave NOW, is all I can think but I am frozen, frozen with fear. I hear a door open behind me and I can feel myself getting faint, the blood coursing through my body faster than if a snake had crossed my path during a trail run. I hear the nurse say something but my fear has overtaken me and I can’t comprehend anything. I see someone stand up on the other side of the room. Phew. Not me. I breathe for the first time in what feels like minutes and try and calm myself.

My head is all consumed in whether I should stay or leave before this goes any further. However, I continue to sit there, unable to move, unable to think for myself, unable to feel anything other than fear. The door opens again. My anxiety shoots back up past where it was before. There are less people ahead of me now, it’s time to make the decision. I hear another nurse utter more inaudible sounds but I can’t hear anything over the voices in my own head screaming for me to leave, to run straight out of here back down the corridor and outside to safety.

The nurse repeats the same inaudible message, I still don’t hear anything other than garbled syllables. I stand and begin to walk.

I walk briskly, with purpose and more confident than I am certainly feeling. I walk past the other chairs, the other patients and walk past the gentleman the nurse is acknowledging before she begins to escort him to an exam room. I walk straight to the door, only hesitating for a second as it automatically opens, and then down the coordinator. I never look back.

I feel relief as I cross the final threshold of the building and into the safety and security of the outside world, hiding away the secrets of my life. The last thing I think before everything goes black is, Maybe that’s not relief but actually regret. Then, darkness.

***

I open my eyes. I see the curtains and bedsheets. I look at my clock, 5:23am. It was just a dream.