Please Send Me Some Magic Dust…

There are nine weeks left. That means that I have sixty-three more days to try to keep myself from sinking inside my own head.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, the last hour of my Composition class before Spring Break would begin. I was dog tired as I sat alone at the far left side of the classroom, all the rest of the students spread out into the other areas. I sat patiently listening to the instructor while my eye lids became heavier with each breath. My entire week of respite was already reserved for studying for my second Anatomy & Physiology exam which I was to take the Monday upon return from our little vacation from school.

For the past eight weeks I’d been busy trying to juggle six classes and thirty plus hours each week of the PM shift. My time was not my own and it was starting to take it’s toll. I’d finished my research essay on time management, I’d kept up with all the online assignments and weekly tests and quizes… I needed a week off from classes, but what I didn’t need was more homework. I sat expressionless as I heard him assign the first fifty-eight pages of a small novel. There would also be a quiz which I would have to take before classes resummed on the 18th of March. I’d already checked the website and found more assignments for my A & P class, I felt myself filling up with anxiety from every aspect. The seconds ticked away and with each one I felt myself exploding from the inner most part of my core. There was nothing I could do about any of it.  So much for vacation…

I left the classroom and headed for my car parked in a frozen ice laiden, snow covered lot. I started the engine and let out a pletheral of pent up frustration in the form of a scream. Holding onto the steering wheel, I white knuckled it all the way through town, manageing to hit each and every red light. I was going to be late for work…The pressure inside my mind was ravenous. I have never in my life felt so much stress nor have I ever wanted to end it all the way I did that afternoon.

I will get through this, and on top of all the homework, I will continue to try and keep the snow from blocking me into my own garage. I highly doubt if I’ve ever shoveled more snow than I have throughout these past few months. As I shovel, I let out my aggressions. I brought it all on myself, I did it to me, no one else is responsible for what my life has become. I’m still trying so hard to learn how to live alone and not let my eating disorder take control of what I have left. Yet, in the past few months I’ve fallen so blatently flat on my face. I am having a difficult time trying to reload my ammunition to fend off the little bastard, but each day I wake up and see that God has given me another chance, I feel like I should try a little harder. Two steps forward, three back..three steps forward, two back…I need a small envelope of magic dust. I need to sprinkle it onto the ground before my feet so it will lead me into the right direction.

In the past I’ve tried to keep myself busy in order to fend off the enemy, yet I’ve come to know that being busier doesn’t keep the eating disorder from moving in on my mind. As a matter of fact, I’m begining to realize the busier I am,  the harder ED works on trying to find her comfort zone inside my busy little world.  I’ve been given all the necessary tools to help me through the chaos of ED. I’ve come so far. I will try harder, and I will give myself a hug.

There will be a day in my future when I will be in harmony with myself as never before. Then I will rest.

A Time For Concentration

I’ve been so busy trying to stay ahead of my game. I’ve become a person who is led by the demands of those in charge: my employer, and my instructors. The amount of free time I have is an absolute joke. Never, could I have imagined what I was in for when I registered for college classes last June. I’m beginning to understand the crucial importance of time management. Reality is, my time is not my own anymore.

In only a few short weeks I will be taking all the finals in my first semester. Have I grown as a person? Dare I say yes…or should I be prepared to say, it’s been a rude awakening. My youngest son put it this way, “I know you have a lot on your plate right now Mom, but in the end it will all be worth it, you’re just building character.”

“Building character”,  hmm…As I build character, under the stress of the situation, I seem to fall back into my old habits. I’ve stumbled, and because of it, I’ve beat myself up. Yet, in the middle of it all I’ve managed to get back up on my feet. I’ve managed to face another day in the classroom. I’ve managed to work my shift another night, and I’ve managed to finish my homework assignments with a few minutes to spare. This has been the hardest, most grueling year of my life. One thing I must hang onto is the fact that I am living alone, and I have not allowed the eating disorder to take control of the situation.

Stumbling is something I may very well do for the rest of my life. However, to be able to shut down the thoughts and demands of ED while trying hard to deal with what appears at times to be a hopeless situation, is more “character building” than my boy will ever comprehend.

I made it through Thanksgiving with a bit of secret suffering. For the next few weeks I will try to concentrate on my grades instead of my eating disorder. I find that the more I concentrate on other issues, ED has a way of lying on a soft pillow against the wall…always peering over at me, yet jumping up only when I give her a chance to speak. At this point, I choose to keep her quiet. I don’t need the baggage of ED to drag me down. I don’t physically have the strength to keep up with a full-blown relationship with my eating disorder right now. With the help from God above, at least for the moment, she will have to stay out of my path.

Feeling The Loss

My heart seems to go into hibernation for a split second. It’s as if I have a mini heart attack, momentarily, quick and short. My mind takes me to a place that I don’t want to go, yet the urges to roam into that direction are far too strong to ignore. The reality of what my life has become is too much to bear at times. I feel the pressures of paying bills that seem to arise when I least want or expect them; the ones that pop up out of nowhere when something goes wrong with the remodel plan making it impossible to bypass.

It’s been close to three months since I left my husband and my home. At this point I know my reconciliation with him is only another dream which will never come true. The process has been draining, although it’s been an experience I’ll never forget. I chose the right contractor for the job and have been able to develop a solid friendship with him who is soon to be my son’s Father-in-Law.

They’ve been my only companions for the past several weeks. They start the day with a friendly hello, and continue on with the task at hand. Now that the end is near, I sit here in a beautifully remodeled home…alone, with absolutely no one to share it with.

My lonesome soul is aching for human touch. I’ve never in my life felt so completely alone. I’ve even longed to be back at Melrose Institute for the pure satisfaction of being with people who understand me, and people who will take care of me.

Eleven pounds have melted off my body since the day I moved in. Food is no longer a staple in my daily routine. I tend to eat my scrambled eggs with cheese, or a simple  smoked chicken, deli style, on wheat bread. My freezer is full of the foods I planned on preparing for myself. I had good intentions of freezing individual portions of roast beef and potatoes, roast chicken, spaghetti, and the like. After my first attempt at a home-made dinner of Lasagna, I managed to rid the first portion the old-fashioned way, undigested, and flushed. The remainder made its way into the garbage can, so I was not tempted to do it again. I stumbled, and once more I’ve become afraid of my kitchen.

I need help, and I don’t know where to turn. The pressures of being alone are weighing heavily on my mind. The dark place is gaining ground and I am fighting with all my guns loaded to fend it off. Dear God, please don’t give me more than I’m able to handle.

Another Day, Another Ten Hours

Back in the car at 9:33 am heading west for St Louis Park and forty-five minutes of Brandy Carlile belting out the tunes which tend to take some of the depression to a different level. There’s something about her voice that simply pacifies my soul. When I arrive in the parking lot, I gaze up to the third floor windows where I used to play a little game with all the other girls in the morning hours, “Who is it?”. We would stare out the windows and watch people as they parked their cars and then proceeded to walk into the building for work.  Each day I look up, and each day I see no one there to wave to. I miss them and I miss living in my comfort zone. I was in the confines of the treatment center long enough to experience the routine of daily mundane life in a nine bed unit of wonderfully beautiful girls of all ages and a couple of guys, all dealing with the same demons as I have lived with for years. I look up to the windows and I have a feeling of discontent with my life; life has changed and I am not content with the differences it’s caused me to face. When I was up there on the third floor, I followed the rules and lived through it, regardless of how I was feeling at the time. I look up to those windows and remember the feeling of being safe from myself and safe from the world around me.

Now the windows are empty, maybe they stopped playing the game, or maybe I’m arriving a few minutes early…either way It’s still a feeling of discontent. I can’t visit my old friends up there on the third floor. I have to adjust to the outpatient program and sit in an entirely different room for my down time between group sessions, meals and snacks. Living is so completely different now. I’m responsible for taking the next step to recovery without the twenty-four hour babysitters and RN’s taking care of me. I have to rely on myself for stability and the assurance that tomorrow is yet still another day, God willing,  to do it all over again.

I’ve made it to the crossroads of my adult life. I’ve made decisions in the recent past that compromised my marriage, that compromised my recovery, that compromised my future. I’m dealing with all of it now in one lump sum. I can’t pretend it’s not happening anymore, nor can I put it on a shelf to deal with at a later date.  The choices have been made and the cards have been played. Dear God in heaven, I wish this was easier to do, but it’s not. I’m on an uphill climb and my horizons are a completely new color  and moving in an entirely different direction than they were only a few short months ago. It’s wake up time, and I’ve slept in way too late.

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

Still Pluggin’ Away

Six weeks have passed since I started treatment. I’ve learned that it’s possible to eat real live foods, meaning foods that were on my do not eat list. The foods which I restricted from my dietary supplements have shown to be safe for me to consume. I’ve been living on the straight and narrow for decades, forbidding myself to indulge in foods I considered junk, or too fattening. Fact be told, these foods taste good to me and they are not making me fat…I haven’t the desire to overeat, which simply leads to bulimic behavior, because I know I’ll be feeding myself again in only a couple hours. Regular feeding is starting to make sense to me. Even my body is enjoying the results of being fed frequently; digestion feels wonderful when it works properly. My mind is becoming more aware of the rights and wrongs…I’m beginning to think more clearly with less of the distorted thoughts clouding up my senses.
My personal life is still in distress, I’m facing the realities of being on my own, and having to monitor my behaviors all by myself without the guidance of my spouse to help me at the wheel. I have a tremendous amount of work to do before I’m discharged…I need my self-respect and I need the reassurance that I’m able to once and for all, conquer the issues that have haunted me in the past.

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.

Holidays…

Each year since the death of mother, the holiday season has brought on a measurable amount of stress, and underlying depression. I want this twenty-first consecutive year to be different. As the Holidays approach, closer with each passing day, I will try to stay in a positive frame of mind. If the thoughts of positive energy are front and center, stress and underlying depression will certainly have a more difficult time settling into their same old comfort zone.

My life has been on an uphill swing and I refuse to let anything stand in the way of overcoming the steady path I’ve been climbing. Holidays are hard for all of us dealing with an eating disorder. The temptations are staring us in the face from sun-up to sun-down. Temptations shouldn’t be so difficult, what tends to stand in my way is the sadness I feel for all those I’ve lost in my life; some to cancer,  some because we have simply moved on to a different area of the state, and some to unforeseen circumstances. I feel lonesome for my boys on the Holidays, and tend to try too hard to make things like that of a Martha Stewart Christmas…whereas, my good intentions always tend to fall short.

This year I have to go about my Holiday plans with the idea that nothing matters other than the fact we may all be in the same room sharing a homemade dinner and laughing with one another. I’m not going to let the gifts become the focus, my kids are grown adults and the mystery of Santa is long behind them. I want to simply be able to eat a meal with them and relax with the simple pleasures of being together, after all, that’s the magic of Christmas. I want the positive energy to overcome the creepiness of ED…it will happen, God willing, I know it will…

I’ve Earned It…

It’s time to take advantage of my second thirty plus day bonus to myself! My life is on an upswing and I’m enjoying the trek. I’ve managed to span more than thirty days without any sign of bulimic behavior for the second consecutive month now. I’m not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that surpasses more than sixty days straight! Maybe it’s my commitment to tread water in a swimming pool that’s taken over, or the fact my future seems to become brighter as each day passes. With the absence of bulimia, I am on cloud nine. I’ve managed to shed a heavy load of shame I carried around on my shoulders that seemed to weigh me down more with each episode I permitted to take place. As for the pendulum that continues to swing, my restriction side has gained momemtum…although I’ve gone out of my way to fight the urges to restrict, I’m determined to feed myself, and stay in this great place of happy recovery for as long as humanly possible. I want to live until I’m one-hundred-five years old and still be able to swim the length of the pool. I won’t be able to do that if I refuse to be nice to myself. I’ll compare it to that of someone who needs to take Lipitor for high cholesterol, it’s a life extending drug for them, just as learning to feed myself regularly is for me. I’m lovin’ life right now, and I’m going to make that appointment for the massage I so do deserve! Thank you God for making it all possible!