Temporarily Done!

Ten weeks ago I placed a request for some magic dust. I needed the help from someone divine to get me through to the end of the semester. My magic dust arrived in the form of my youngest son. He seemed to know all the right words to say at the time I needed to hear them most. My son knows me and he knows my heart.

During one of our intense conversations, there was a moment of silence…”Are you still there?” I asked. Michael then made a comment which I will never forget. “Mom, I don’t think I’ve heard you say one positive thing about this class since it started.” He wasn’t afraid to tell me that I had best change my attitude or quitting would be my only option.

I can say that I hung up the phone, tucked my tail between my legs and retreated to my dark bedroom to try to muddle through my attitude. I really didn’t like who I had become. I had nothing inside my mind but the horrifying realities that before too long I’d be tested again on things that just don’t come easy to me. Six classes, all expecting more out of a person than it may seem possible at times. Yet, somehow I managed to do it.

Three Saturdays ago, I sat down to compose a research essay. I took the entire day and did my best. I had to include references and quotes from others. It’s not the kind of writing I enjoy. Sunday morning arrived and I was about to put the finishing touches on the last couple pages. I turned my head to the left, looking for my notes, then turned back to my computer which was suddenly a blank screen. The small words written in the center inside of a box read, “pages has unexpectedly quit”… Due to a malfunction in  a computer program, I’d lost a full days work. My heart sank inside to the bottom of my bowels, I screamed a wretched scream that seemed to come from somewhere in another universe. Choking on each word I tried to type, I spent all day Sunday rewriting my once nearly finished essay, and therefore, was forced to put all other studies on the back burner.

The week started out with a swift slap in my face, and continued through to the end without losing a beat. By the weekend I had experienced a tire blow out, and, I was also locked out of my own home. I had to crawl through the attic via the garage, find the trap door in one of the closets inside the house, then maneuver my fifty year old frame down the nine foot drop to the floor without breaking a bone in the process.

Two weeks were left of the semester, and more studying than I knew what to do with. My son and his beautiful Bride stayed with me the night before Mothers day. I was up early studying for my final A&P exam I was to take on Monday morning. Tears continued to fall and I continued to try to concentrate on the insane amount of information I was to be tested on. Mid morning Michael walked past the living room where I sat with my open book. “Good morning…Happy Mothers Day…what’s wrong?”

“I think I’m having a nervous breakdown.”  He walked up to me, gave me a warm and inviting hug, and he said, “Put that book down.” He convinced me that I did not need to pressure myself as much I do. “A”,”B”, and “C”, are only check points. They mean only what you want them to mean.

We spent the afternoon together; we went to Fleet Farm and I purchased forty-eight bags of top soil to fill in sink spots in my yard. He took me to lunch to a nice restaurant, we laughed and I was in seventh heaven. Later on that day I received a call from my oldest boy who was in transit from Florida to Minnesota. I thank God for my boys. Spending quality time with them is actually more therapeutic to me than anything one could ever pay for from a professional in the medical field, if you know what I mean.

Monday morning came, I sat down in the same spot I’d claimed as my own since day one of the semester. With only a pencil in hand, I began to feel the pressure. It was go time, and I did my best using my power of elimination for most of the exam.  I looked over the exam only once after I’d filled in all my chosen answers. I changed nothing, and I reluctantly placed it on the desk at the front of the classroom. I never looked at the instructor, my chin sank to the “superior” portion of my chest. I was done. I was thoroughly and utterly finished, spent, and positive I had failed the exam.

I earned a C, I made it. When all was said and done I had somehow, by the grace of God, earned the final grade of “B” in the hardest class I’d ever taken in my life. I worked harder for that “B”, and lost more sleep over that “B”, and spent more time than humanly possible worrying about that “B”, than anything else…ever. Funny thing, For seventeen weeks that “B” kept me more captivated than my eating disorder.  That damn “B” almost caused me to lose my mind, but it also gave me something to be proud of.

Throughout the semester, I stumbled several times with ED. I stumbled and I cried, and I felt more failure than I have ever felt in a way that I have never experienced before. Yet somehow, someway, I have now come to the conclusion that I am far more capable of attaining a bench mark than I ever knew possible. As far as I can tell, ED will always be there in the shadow of my accomplishments. But I can also say with a gust of fresh air from deep within my soul, that ED will not gain control of the power over the rest of my days.

I am woman, hear me roar…

My Diamond In The Rough

ImageIt’s been three months since I moved into my new neighborhood. I’ve struggled, I’ve laughed, I’ve worked hard and I’ve cried…Now I’ve come to the end of my project. Through it all I’ve learned how to find my inner strength to make important decisions on my own. I’ve also had to search for peace within myself. Many, many nights have been wasted on negative thoughts clogging my brain. Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am at a place in my life in which I am destined to be. I have relied on the strength of other people to provide me with happiness and comfort. I’ve never been able to face my own demons on my own, yet now I’m forced to do so.

I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life as I am confident that it will be a positive experience for me. In less than three weeks I will be a full time student at our local College. I’ll be working the night shift and sleeping throughout the afternoon. I’m scared, I’m nervous, and I’m extremely excited to move on without the behaviors of my past interfering with my plans to reconstruct my future. Ties from my past have been severed, therefore the only thing I’m able to do at this point is to move on, move forward and excel in ways I’ve not yet done before.

My biggest cheerleader is that of my youngest son, he has given me hope in every form of the word, and I am the most fortunate mother to have been blessed with him. I thank you Michael for all your support, I love you dearly and unconditionally.

Mind you, moving in the forward direction without my eating disorder is the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, always struggling and fighting the distorted thoughts. In the same breath, my strength is even surprising to myself as I’m gaining ground every day that I pass over the desires to give in to old habits. Absolutely none of my success has been achieved on my own account. Dear God, I thank you for helping me to keep my eyes open and to realize my true potential.

Bigger And Brighter Days Ahead

A few days ago I was in a hurry to leave my house when I accidentally dropped my new Smart Phone face down on my ceramic tile floor near the garage door… As I knelt down to pick it up, I found the face of the phone shattered into a million pieces.  How on earth was I supposed to survive without my phone in working order? Needless to say, a quick trip to the Sprint store was my first stop. Today I experienced the pleasures of  my  little disaster. Unlike my old Smart Phone, with an alarm which caused me to jump to my feet out of a dead sleep, in turn causing my heart rate to catapult into a near cardiac arrest, I was now peacefully awakened by the soft sound of a beautiful melody from my new alarm app… It started out quiet and slow, then  began to crescendo ever so slightly to wake me from my slumber.

I’d set my alarm to be sure I was awake in time to get ready for my last therapy appointment at Melrose Institute. Yes, my last “scheduled” therapy appointment.  If I refuse to give the eating disorder the respect it needs, I’m sure to set myself up for failure. Therefore, I have to remember the power it possesses over me, that of which I’m not able to resist at times when I’m weak. I say my last “scheduled” appointment, leaving the door open for future needs, should I find I’ve forgotten EDs’ powerful persuasion.

My therapist and I talked about the day I arrived and the state of mind I was in at the time. I listened to him praise me for my efforts to shut down the behaviors I’d trained myself to live with for the better part of my life. I listened to him tell me how he witnessed how I’d managed to recover from the ups and downs of life’s highs and lows which continued to play a large part in my months spent in treatment. As I listened, I felt somewhat proud of my efforts…proud and at peace with myself for the first time in many, many years.

I recalled to him out loud, as I walked through the process of my stay at Melrose. I reminisced how it began all over again with my obsession for treading water…My semi-recovery from the last treatment program became interrupted. I was caught up in exercising to lose weight, not for the benefit of my health, big difference. My obsession for treading water, again, took control of my eating habits. I failed to support my caloric intake with regards as to how much I burned off in the water. My body was a shrinking shrine to the likes of anorexic thoughts and behaviors. I was falling into a trap which would have held me captive through to the end of my life at the rate I was going. Once more, I had been in denial, and refused to look at what I was doing as unhealthy. I was in the arms of anorexia and loving every minute of it.

That November day, the day before Thanksgiving, I was mad as a hornet. I wanted no part of seeing anyone who would try to get me to feed my face. I wanted no part of going to a treatment center where I’d no longer be in charge of what I placed into my mouth. I’d been hijacked, brought in to visit my therapist against my wishes, whom I hadn’t seen for several months, and had no intention to visit again anytime soon. My therapist was persuasive enough to make me realize at that time, how important it was for me to surrender to inpatient treatment at Melrose, if they were so kind to accept me. There was an opening and with reluctance inside my core, I agreed to give it a chance.

Melrose did admit me. I remembered in detail, how I would make my way into the dining room at the treatment center and find myself scared to death as to what was on my appointed tray before me to consume. Every time I sat down to eat, I cried out of fear, going against everything I’d believed in, everything I’d programmed myself to trust. Tears came to me as I picked up the knife and fork to slowly begin to shovel it into my mouth to make its way down to my stomach… I had to refrain from ridding the forbidden food from my body, enduring the agony of fullness and the fear of becoming obese in what I believed would be only a matter of days.

Over a period of time I began to feel less fearful of food, and I was able to actually enjoy some of the contentment brought on by the taste of real food. Real food, the stuff that didn’t only consist of chicken Cesar salad,  yogurt, or a smoked turkey sandwich with no cheese. I was now feeding myself a variety of foods which I’d forbade myself from doing for years. The kicker…I was still wearing the same jeans, they fit a bit more snug, but they were the same jeans nonetheless.

Throughout my stay at Melrose, my personal life was in an uproar. I was facing the reality of my second divorce and trying to shut down a lifelong relationship with ED all in the same breath. All the while, I was communicating via telephone and email with someone from my past, whom I’d always thought to be my soul mate; most likely, I always will.  I was torn between so many different emotions, all which seemed to just evolve around my new daily ritual of eating on a routine basis. In a way, I felt as though the routine eating pattern was a distraction from the issues of my personal life struggles. In equal measure, the personal life struggles were a distraction to all the routine eating I was forced to participate in.  Melrose became my safe place from the rest of my troubled world. I was safe from myself when I was in the treatment center, I was safe from making rash decisions that would surely change the path of my future. I didn’t have to worry about working or socializing or shopping or cooking or laundry or cleaning or anything ordinary while I lived in Extended Structural Living. Therefore, when I was discharged and  expected to do all the work on my own, I was scared out of my mind.  Thankfully, I still had the opportunity to utilize the outpatient treatment program; it gave me the stability I needed for transition into the real world again.

Time heals, and the reality of putting one foot in front of the other has had a way of helping me continue to stay in recovery. Over the  past few months: more than once, my heart had been broken, my future as I saw it, had been destroyed in any scenario I was to look at it, and my hopes for a life without ED at times, seemed to be somewhat of a pipe dream. Getting a grip on the realities I’m faced with, took much concentration and strength. Now I am in the process of practicing all that they have taught me on a day-to-day regime. Some days I’m still consumed with sadness, yet other days I’m finding myself singing along with the  radio as I go about my daily grind.  The eating disorder thoughts will likely never go away. It’s possible, however, to try to teach myself to refrain from acting on the behaviors, or listening to the thoughts that are destructive to my health and body. In the past month I’ve been able to witness changes in my behavior. I’ve begun to notice that whenever eating disorder thoughts enter my brain, an obstruction, almost in the form of a grey wall, appears inside my mind. This obstruction gently stops my thought pattern and replaces the destructive behavior urges with a halting caution sign. It’s as if I am coerced from within to refrain from “going there”, in reality, I’m actually retraining my brain and it’s working.

I’m back in my hometown visiting my sister and brother-in-law for a couple of days. I have to set my splendid new Smart Phone alarm tonight because tomorrow I have planned  to spend the day with my Realtor friend.  I pray he will help me find a house to call my very own… I’m hoping to find a house that’s just the right size for me, but too small for ED to enter into. I’m starting over in every direction of my life, so I may as well try my best to leave that pesky old eating disorder behind. There’s no bigger and brighter days in my future than those which are free from ED.

Here’s to waking up without the fear of heart failure from my alarm clock, thank you rock hard ceramic tile floor, I owe ya one…

A Brand New Day

I continue to look forward to the darkness of the sky so I am able to shut down myself for the remainder of the night. I look forward to the solace of sleep so I no longer have to deal with the reality of what my life has become. Yet, in the early morning midst of a very confusing dream, I was drawn to the idea of reaching out for a cup of my most favorite beverage before my body had a chance to even realize it was awake. I could smell the aroma of fresh brewed coffee at my bedside nightstand, and the pleasure it gave me to open my eyes was more willing to wake me than my dream was at keeping me asleep. My morning coffee, placed there by my husband, the same man who is ending our marriage. The difficult part of this moment was when I had the chance to look around, rub my eyes and take a few deep breaths, I knew that all my unsolved problems were still there staring at me. They were still alive and willing to challenge me throughout another day…That’s when I felt that feeling of struggle, frustration and depression once again come to life… A brand new day, with the same old complications as the one before.

I am struggling with more issues than I care to describe. I am struggling with the morals I believe in, the lies I’ve told myself, and the distortions of my outer appearance. I’m struggling with what I am going to do to try to live through the disarray I’ve managed to place in front of my daily grind. I’m face to face with the demise of my marriage and the start of a new adventure. Am I strong enough to endure all this that is placed before me, or will I crumble as I’ve done so many times in the past?

I’ve gone through the necessary steps to learn the differences between myself and the mind patterns of the eating disorder. Although with the addition of dealing with a divorce, and feeling the worthlessness of yet another failed marriage, I’m afraid I’ll lose my mind. In many ways I’ve already lost it; my integrity is shattered, my self-worth is next to invisible and my focus on becoming free from the haunts of the eating disorder are somewhere in outer space. At times I just don’t have the strength to fight it anymore. I’m tired and I want to rest. It’s become too much for me to handle and I have to give it all to my maker…I’ve lived through harder times, however, I was much younger then.

They say time heals a broken heart. They also say that you must give yourself time, time will pass, and time is on your side. I feel as I have wasted so much precious time throughout my life that, I’ve almost run out of time. If I could only make the next right decision, time could become the result of something positive for me. I have to get myself together, I have to concentrate on my future and what I desire it to look like. I don’t want to live the remainder of my life with the baggage of bulimia taking center stage. I do, however, have the desire to continue my relationship with anorexia…I have the desire, but I know in my own mind if I continue to hang on to the beliefs of the disease it will only hinder, disrupt and destroy any chance of a happy and fulfilling future.

Dear God, I wish I had a magic pill to make everything destructive in my life go away, and everything beneficial to my health and happiness blossom, like that of the wild flowers of the fields in Spring.

Week Three Post Discharge

I’ve now reached my  forty-ninth year, and I’m still trying to shut down the ugly side of myself called ED. The eating disorder is really only a negative force inside my brain which tells me fictitious lies about myself and others, all while trying to be my only friend in the process. I have to begin trusting in the positive persona of myself, yet it is the hardest thing in the world for me to do. For years I’ve listened to the negative thoughts, and believed them to be true. I’ve listened to the negative distortions of how others perceive me to be, without the addition of their thoughts or words expressed by themselves. I’ve been a fortune-teller and a professional mind reader for decades. I’ve believed the eating disorder to be my own personality, yet it’s an entity all its own. If I could just believe in myself, and be able to trust the person I know I am on the inside, I can overcome the negativity; I’ll be able to distinguish the differences in the two voices inside my mind without concentrating so hard. My new thought pattern will become as automatic as my old one, and my freedom from the eating disorder will be shut down for the rest of my life.

I’m coming to grips with the reality of going forward without constant support surrounding me. My weekend was difficult at times, although I continued to press through the learned behaviors of the eating disorder by being accountable to my husband who is still temporarily playing the part of my coach. My future is unsettled yet, as my belongings are slowly being divided and packed into boxes. I want to save my marriage but I’m afraid it may be too late. The bond of trust is a terrible misfortune to lose in a marriage. Even though countless others have strayed from the vows of marriage far more than I did, the trust has been dissolved and my chances to save what is left is more of a fantasy than a reality.

All of the personal struggles are weighing heavy on my mind. To mix it all up with the thought of shutting down a life long eating disorder is like that of holding down a full load in a College Semester, all while keeping a full-time job to boot. I’m shooting for the Deans list, but would be happy at this point with a B average.

The sun continues to shine and the seasons too, shall continue to change. With that thought, I too will emerge out of this mess with a greater understanding of myself and what I’m really made of. I pray I’ll find a silver lining in this big grey cloud covering my head. With perseverance it will happen, and it will be worth the wait.

Monday Morning Blues?

I can’t remember the last time I looked so forward to Monday morning. I looked forward to my commute to the treatment center where I’d be able to focus again and be free from the feelings of being alone. I found myself almost impossible to be with for the past two days. I woke up late, skipped my schedualed meals and starred out the picture window while curled up in a ball on the recliner. I thought about my life and how it’s such a mess. I thought about all the mistakes I’ve made and it overwhelmed me with grief. I tried hard to get myself to accomplish something but failed to do so. I spent my forty-ninth birthday crying in the presence of my youngest son, he now, trying to take care of his own mother. Yesterday I waited patiently for the sun to go down so I was able to crawl into bed at 6:30 pm, pretending it was already nine o’clock at night. What becomes of my life is all up to me.  I pray I’ll be able to see through the mistakes to try to make sense of my next step. I wish so bad I still had my mother to talk to. She was always able to help me through the mud in one way or another. For now I have to rely on myself…I have to come to grips with turning the page to a completely new way of life. I want desperetly to practice all I’ve learned the past couple months, however when my entire life is up in the air I simply don’t know which way to turn.

One Week Post Discharge

A week has now passed since the day they bid me farewell from twenty-four hour care at the treatment center for eating disorders.  For two months I was under the supervision of professionals. I had multitudes of twenty-four hour babysitters. I had formed relationships with others in treatment which I’ll treasure for the remainder of my life. I learned that I was not alone in the secret world of unhealthy learned behavior. I was in a safe place and found it to be most comfortable over time. Can I just say one thing about it? I wasn’t ready to leave.

As I turned the key in the ignition of my vehicle, “Three Doors Down” sung the words loud and clear, “Don’t make the same mistakes you did all over, you have to believe in yourself.” It’s as if fate was opening my eyes to the reality of leaving my safe house behind.

I’m now making the forty-five minute commute to and from my home, which is quieter than I care for it to be. History has a way of repeating itself, and so the story goes. I’ve always had a hard time trusting myself when I’m all by myself. No one was watching me, and no body cared. I listened to the dark thoughts inside my mind telling me I was a failure in every form of the word. I listened to the distorted thoughts that sprung into action the downward spiral of depression. I’d spent the past two months feeding myself regularly, and I didn’t fall apart doing it. I had all the support from those in charge and also those who were seen as my peers. With all that behind me, why was it so difficult to continue to move forward? I’ve come to realize the hardest part is still before me, not behind me.

In order for me to continue on this road to recovery, I have to press my restart button. I have to stop in my tracks and try my hardest to overcome unhealthy behaviors. I have to stop listening to my own voice which wants so desperately to get me to restrict. I have to stop listening to the thoughts of getting rid of my food for fear I’ll gain a pound or ten if I don’t. Today before I left my home, I prepared my breakfast for the first time on my own. I sat at the kitchen bar and watched the Today Show as I peacefully nourished my body; uneasy about feeding my face, but happy to know that I was able to do it alone.

I’ve had no communication with my husband and am facing the reality of my next step. I’m in a world of confusion and need desperately to be able to conquer this on my own, without the support of anyone else to hold me up in the process. I have to listen to the words on the stereo, “You have to believe in yourself”

Discharged And Scared To Death

After eight and a half weeks of inpatient treatment for eating disorders I was reluctantly discharged, due to the fact I was doing so well at following the rules. My insurance company was beginning to question the fact that I was still in need of twenty-four hour care. In my mind, I was not ready to leave. I know myself all too well, and I was well aware that if I were on my own, I would fall right back into the restriction habits. I left Melrose on Thursday, February second at noon. I drove without any music in my car all the way to my hometown, mesmerized by the sound of traffic just outside the confines of my car. I made a stop at the local Target store to fill my prescription and purchase a few groceries for the rest of my day. I had to feed myself lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, and another night-time snack before hitting the pillow. I grazed through the produce section, my mind not having a clue as to what I was supposed to buy… I settled for Lean Cuzine, chocolate milk and Activia yogurt. It would be simple enough to put a frozen dinner in the microwave, and I knew I would be able to eat it; the portions were adequate and I would be safe.

I arrived to an empty home, my husband now on the Caribbean cruise we had planned a year before. I was alone, and the house breathed a sound so cold I wasn’t able to handle it. I forgot about eating, and helped myself to three cans of beer instead. I cried from the inside of my heart, not knowing how on earth I was going to be able to live my life without the companionship of my husband. The following morning I’d lost two and half pounds and was now on my way back to Melrose to start my outpatient program. Upon arriving, I had my vitals taken and stepped onto the scale. I started out the day with an emptiness inside my soul and a longing for my life to take a turn for the better. I miss my husband and the warmth of his arms. I need desperately to regain my focus on the life I shared with Ken…he is my strength.

Dear God I pray that we will find our path, I pray that we will be able to conquer the disruption of the past few months of trauma…Please forgive me for all my wrongs and grant me peace with a long fulfilling life with my husband. Amen

Concentrating…One Thing At A Time

If I ever thought I ate too much in the past, I was mistaken. I’m following all the rules and gritting my teeth as I do it. In order to teach my body how to function properly, I have to feed myself every two and a half hours. It is the most miserable feeling I’ve had to endure. My body was used to being fed once or twice a day, very restricted food at that. I’m learning the value of variety, portion control, and the four food groups including how they work together. I’m full every second of the day, although, I have to trust the experts and believe that they know what they are doing.

My personal life is in turmoil, and I have to try to concentrate on becoming well, free from the eating disorder before I try to conquer anything else. This is far easier said than done. My thoughts stray constantly to a place in my future and what it may bring and or not bring. I pray that today I’ll just concentrate on today. The saddest part of the equation is that I have absolutely no desire to go home for Christmas. I feel that I’m better off in this structured environment, where I have to pay attention to protocol. It makes it easier when someone else is helping me to take care of my God-given body.

There are so many things I have to simply let go of and give it to the good Lord to worry about…I’m just too tired anymore to do it alone.

Treatment?

Since my eating disorder began, we’ve seen many changes in the way our society works. It started back when my only form of transportation was my white ten-speed bicycle, when the only phone we had, hung on the wall in the living room; I had to stretch the cord into the closet if I wanted to talk with any privacy at all. My alarm clock was a clock radio, not a smart phone with a GPS.  There’ve been several trips to the moon and countries have been to war…yet the blasted eating disorder has been able to live through it all, alongside me each and every step of the way.

I’ve struggled for thirty-four years. Three days ago I was admitted into the Melrose Institute for Eating Disorders in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The minute I walked in I wanted to run for my life. I wanted to go home and try to conquer this on my own, I felt I could…just like I’ve thought for many, many years. Fact be told…I am not as strong as the eating disorder. I’m getting the treatment now, which I should have had thirty-four years ago. I can’t go back in time, the past is gone.  I can only take one baby step at a time right now in the right direction. What I’ve learned this far is that I’m able to eat food and my pants still fit me…I wonder what I’ll learn tomorrow.

There were many different forces that led me to this place, sometimes when we continue to pray for help, God works his magic in mysterious ways. I praise him for all the grace he’s given to me.