I feel like its been ages since I’ve updated! IOP was canceled Monday so I didn’t get a chance to write. Yes, I could turn on my computer at home but I’ve gotten into the habit of writing before iOP at the cafe. When I was in college I studied in coffee shops; I wonder if that is what makes this an ideal writing environment. Weird, eh? I’ll do this day by day from last Thursday.
Thursday – compliant
There’s this one girl I’ve nicknamed “princess”, in my own mind of course. I know that sounds terrible but I’ve only ever met someone else in treatment that vied for attention the way she does. It’s not in a healthy way but rather in a manipulative, oh poor me way. What’s more, the coordinator has an unhealthy attachment to her, quite unprofessional. It’s also frustrating because the rules don’t apply to her. Anyway, whatever, I’m not here for her, I’m here for me. Last Thursday she did share something personal so I understood her a bit more and tried to reach out, be more communicative and all that. Everything was going well till dinner. There was a new girl who refused to eat, triggering all the anorexics. I tried to be a bit humorous with the princess and others as a way to deal with the stress. I joked with her at one point. I only do that with people I like and I was working on accepting and liking her so we could get along in future weeks. Well, she stiffened, set her jaw and walked away. Ugh… so my typical response if I’ve hurt someone is to run away. It’s not right I know but it so distresses me that I would hurt a fly that I just want to leave. I was devistated that I caused her so much distress that she seemingly shut down. I left the room and sat out in the waiting room. (Later, in therapy, I recognized that this response is an outward expression of my feeling like I don’t count. It was an unconscious feeling that she is worthy of staying and I’m not.) Eventually I saw her go in with the nutritionist so I went back into the group room to gather my things to leave. This is when the coordinator told me to sit down, meaning not run and deal with this. Sigh, alright. When the princess came back in I apologized to her again. The coordinator then asked us to both stay after so we could discuss this. Staying after makes it that much later for me to get home. Because of the delay I ended up not getting him till 1030pm.
Anyway, back to the discussion. Princess said that she has something called emotional sunburn (my therapist rolled her eyes when she heard this) so feels emotions 10 times what we do. Wow, like anyone with an ED doesn’t feel extreme emotions? Okay, so she’s just minimized my emotions but okay, lets go with that. She explained about how it made her recap family issues, which I can appreciate. When she devalued my emotions the coordinator must have seen my eyes go dark. I held my expression though. This is just a guess from what happened next.
She said that the princess was in the hospital and almost died from this (greatly shortened version of what she said). I was appalled and finally lost it. Talk about being devalued and ganged up on… I said something like, “Seriously? I’ve had an eating disorder for 33 years and you don’t think I’ve been close to death a few times? You’ve just invalidated me….” and so forth. “You don’t think my experience counts?” I can’t remember all I said but I most certainly got the point across. One thing I didn’t say (go me for restraint) was that I’ve had an eating disorder 11 years longer than she’s been alive. Just to note, I would never say this to anyone. As far as I’m concerned anyone with an ED is suffering, no matter how long a person has had it. Three months, three years, thirty years… it’s all as tragic. Back to the story, she defended herself by saying she didn’t think I was taking anything the princess said seriously. So I told her, “she’s been through residential and she is now her in iOP, clearly she has an eating disorder. I listen to what everyone has to say.” Obviously that means I listen but don’t necessarily have to take what they say as rote but that wasn’t the point.
Later, when I was telling my therapist about this she said the coordinator was absolutely in the wrong for that. That’s when she mentioned that she must have a kind of mother daughter relationship, that I mentioned earlier. She even visited her in the hospital and I’m not altogether sure if that is appropriate for a program coordinator. Defending one side over the other is just wrong, in any kind of therapeutic setting.
Moving on. I had mentioned that maybe I could confront the woman who keeps talking about losing weight and taking water pills, using the DBT person, who happens to be this same person, as an assist. Someone to sit in to help with communication, etc. I can’t confront people, it’s simply too scary at this point. My therapist said it’s probably not a good idea since the water pill woman has been here almost a year. She, the coordinator, would probably defend water pill girl’s position if something came up. Actually, come to think of it, she already did do that. When I brought it up outside of program she said that because it was a medical issue it was fine. Fine?! Seriously… talking about losing 20 lbs from a water pill… in front of anorexics is fine????? So yeah, not using her to help me. I’ll work on confrontation some other way, after program, or who knows when… maybe never. So that summed up Thursday.
Friday – noncompliant
I was traveling out to Elmira to visit friends I made in the treatment program I was in Feb/Mar. It’s an almost 3 hour drive so I packed my meals, well, most of them. After spending some time there I visited with another friend which through my time off. Instead of going home afterward I had to go directly to my dental appointment. The problem with that is I missed 2 more snacks, total of 3, at this point. Looking back I realized I was triggered by the water pill, by the situation with the princess and being invalidated completely, and probably something else I can’t think of. So Friday was a fail but Saturday I planned to get back on track.
Saturday – noncompliant
I was okay in the morning. At 1pm I went to a horse ranch with a veterans group. We groomed horses and walked them. They have a special way of walking them because they are therapy horses used for developmentally disabled children and geriatrics. It was amazing I have to say and I asked if I could come back as a volunteer. I rode horses when I was a kid but that was a long long time ago. Despite that, the moment I put my hand on one of the horses I knew I had to be a part of this organization: Equi-Star Ranch. They said I could come back the next day if I wanted. This was the first time ever I felt I had a reason to recover. Seriously, the only reason I’ve been recovering up till now is because my death would devistate my dad. But this… wow, it was something I could get behind. It’s something I could devote my life too potentially!!!
Oh, food… I did fairly well actually. The only reason I got back on track was so I could tell my nutritionist that “after Friday I was able to get back on track.” Um yeah. After I left the ranch I had no problem eating my snack. I ate dinner as well but missed my evening snack because I got overly busy. So not perfect, but better.
Sunday – noncompliant
I went to the ranch at 7am. I talked with the one guy, the one in charge of the horses, training and so forth, for a long time. He gave me a tour of the place and told me about the program. They had a group coming in after lunch so I helped with grooming the horses that weren’t going to be used for the class. The group would be doing that. I went home and had lunch then came back for the class. I walked along some of the guys that were unsure about leading a horse. Later I was able to get a wee bit more training too. It was great! I was there nearly all day. I ate my snack on the way home, around 345pm. When I got home I ended up eating my dinner right away. I didn’t feel hungry but all the walking probably depleted my body. Sadly I acted on feeling too full and purged. I had a few crackers later on and out they came up as well. Like OMG, what a terrible end to a perfect weekend!!! I was so baffled and discouraged.
Monday – compliant
Therapy appointment: My therapist reminded me that good feelings can create as much stress as bad ones I had an overload of good feelings. That might not make sense to people that don’t have PTSD but it’s true. I have to be aware of stress on both sides of the spectrum. She said that purging for me isn’t about weight or food. My thing is restricting and exercise. I don’t binge, I just purge every now and then. She said it’s about mood regulation. It’s the fastest way to bring myself back to center. It’s true, it’s so quick and I’ve used it for that for so long, it’s hard to conceive of anything else working. I have to find a new way…. but how? What?
Monday evening I wanted to get rid of my food again. It’s always so much easier as the days go by… or perhaps I ought to say it’s so much more difficult to stay on track once I’ve slipped. But despite the urge I managed through. So, success.
Tuesday – compliant
I went back to the ranch in the afternoon. They let me be a side walker in one of the classes. Each rider has a walker who leads the horse, and a sides alker on either side of the child in case anything happens. We walked almost continuously for an hour! Oh my freaking aching back! But it was worth it. My hope the reward of being a part of this program outweighs the significant increase in my daily pain. I mean, I can live with pain but over a long period of time it does get exhausting. I’ll see. When I’m done with iOP I plan on going in the mornings, hopefully as many days as possible. That will give me the afternoon and evening to rest. That’s a while from now, maybe, so I’ll wait and see. The “maybe” is because I really don’t know how long I’ll be here. I am always in fear of them telling me I have to leave. My therapist asked me to inquire but I just can’t, not after Sol Stone. She’s going to call instead. Food wise it was a successful day.
Wednesday (yesterday) – compliant
It was art therapy at iOP, which is my favorite honestly. Since last week had been a bit heavy, this week was light. We did a frame with a saying or quote inside. The first week I got there we had to draw something on a disc or something. I drew a tree. It’s the only thing I know how to draw other than stick figures, lol. So what do you think I did on this week’s frame? Of course, a tree – the same tree. I’m figuring that whatever medium the instructor brings, I’ll put a tree on it. Stick with what you do well, right? Neither picture warranted stick figures. Back in the treatment plan though I did vast armies of stick figures!
I see my nutritionist on Wednesday. I lost it and told him all my grievances of what has happened. I had, up to this point thought the person I mentioned was the director. I’m sure that’s what I heard her tell me when I first got here. Everywhere that says “coordinator” was written “director”, oops. Well Bruce corrected me on that note. He is, in fact, the director. I’m a bit nervous about what’s going to come of what I said. I did not generalize at all. I did mention being devalued, invalidated, and so forth. I also apologized to him. He asked what for? I said that I was trying and that I was sorry for failing all the time. I am so frustrated. Well, I was totally unprepared for his response. He said I was improving and that he was proud of me for not running away (in the Thursday situation). He said he did not get a memo that said I was to do everything perfectly. He asked if that was what I thought I had to be? He was quite stern about getting the message across that he was aware of how much I’m trying and appreciative of all the hard work I do. It’s hard to explain him in writing. I’ve never met anyone like him.
When I was in the treatment program there was thing he’d say to us. We’d be in the kitchen getting our meals together then show it to him to mark down in the book. If we needed more he’d say something or if we took too much he’d also say something. That’s why we trusted him so much. Our tendency was to bring our food to him and say, “Am I good enough?” (meaning enough food) All the other nutritionists would say yes or no but not Bruce. He’d say, “that’s okay and you’re always good enough.”
I asked if I ought to be telling him my ED related behavior? Up till then I had thought the coordinator was the director. We fill out sheets each time we come to program so thought she was the one to tell. Nope. So I told him how I find reasons to stay busy to stand up all the time. I need to sit down and rest but I don’t unless I’m, you know, writing. I told him I obsessively chew sugar free mints. He asked why, I had no answer. I confessed I figured the calories of the last batch of bread and muffins I made. I also read every single granola label in the store to find the lowest calorie one. And so it goes…. there’s others but that gives you the idea of how the ED clings on in whatever way it can.
My challenge this week: no mints and get bulk granola so I don’t know the calories. The thing is, I now know the calories of every granola type so can guess with a fair amount of accuracy what the bulk is but hopefully, over time, I’ll let that go.
He mentioned he’ll be increasing my food (ugh). Hopefully with the granola he won’t. Wishful thinking?
Thursday (today) – compliant
Had therapy today but I’ll save that for another post. I’m at iOP and desperately needing caffeine!