Feeling to old to have and ED

It’s been a long time since I put  my fingers on this keyboard to do more than just play games, zoom, or deal with unwanted junk mail. I think part of it is depression. It’s still there. The urge to do absolutely nothing. Blocking out that voice inside your head that gives great suggestions from getting up in the morning and showering to getting outside and going for a walk. I’m often the toddler, the one that just keeps saying NO, over and over, just to be defiant.

I made it through PHP, finally, then I tried IOP. Trying for me was zooming one night. I couldn’t do it. All the clients were under my daughters age. I’m not saying it was a bad program I’m just saying there weren’t any clients that I could relate to. They try to just say, “you are all dealing with the same thing” but are we really? I think the end game is all the same, or at least similar. The end game being the actual behaviors we choose to do, but how we get there is our own story. My story is over 40 years long. My why is my own. I’m not going to have too much in common with a thirteen year old except the fear of donuts and other carbs. 

I’m 50, which is bad enough, but I’m 50 with an eating disorder. My writing prompt answer might be really different than someone who is 20 or even 30. A few weeks ago in PHP I was paired up with someone who was more my age and we came up with some positive refrains that were more age appropriate.

THEY ARE NOT ROLLS, THEY ARE WRINKLES

GRAND CHILDREN LIKE HUGGING CHUBBY GRANDMA’S

THE MORE MEAT ON MY HIPS THE LESS LIKELY I’LL BREAK ONE WHEN I FALL

GET OVER IT, YOU WON’T REMEMBER ANY OF THIS TOMORROW

All therapists have their list of writing prompts. My favorite, just kidding, it’s not at all, is 

Write about a time that you liked your body.

The girls in IOP usually referenced some extracurricular activity such as soccer or dancing. Something that required a fit body. Often it’s the expectations of these activities that are linked to their ED. 

I can’t even fathom a reason that I would have liked my body as a teen.  I was a chubby kid. I didn’t wear dresses. I always hated spring and squeezing into my riding britches, feeling like sausage. Summer time I would wear an extra large t-shirt over my bathing suit. 

My first year in college, I still hated my body but found someone who didn’t and he did whatever he wanted while I tried to get away. After that, I hated my body more. 

Eventually, years later, my body served an amazing purpose. BABIES! I loved being pregnant. I loved the freedom that I felt knowing that for months I could relax and let my body do its job. Make a baby. I ate without worry. I stepped on a scale without hesitating, it was wonderful. Of course, I only had two kids and as great as it felt, I didn’t plan on being pregnant all my life. There’s no 19 and counting under my roof. Seriously, who wants to squeeze a melon out of your vagina that many times? 

Another favorite prompt of therapists EVERYWHERE is 

Make a list of your body parts and what they do for you

I guess my head is important, it does house my creative brain. To be able to keep and eye out on all the kids at recess, making sure they are six feet away, requires a strong neck. My shoulders and back can carry an overstuffed backpack that usually contains my lunch box, laptop, iPad, and a couple binders. To lazy to go up and down the stairs of my house requires my arms to be strong enough to hang three to four grocery bags off each. Cutting the circulation off to my hands which are great for petting my cat. I’ve got some cushion on my ass which helps sitting in those uncomfortable plastic chairs during staff meetings. My legs get me from place to place and my feet allow me to stand for hours at a time. 

Notice I skipped my stomach? That is a part of my body that does not deserve any credit. I get it, there might be some good in it but I hate it. Hey, It’s a fact, the BTK killer loved his kids but people still hated him. 

I do have one body part that I truly love. I even brag about it to friends, family and strangers. If I could take it out and show everyone I would. It would make a great pocket book (I don’t carry one of those, do we even call them that anymore?) 

The award for the BEST BODY PART goes to, my BLADDER! It’s HUGE. It has to be. It’s not easy to sneak away from class to go empty it. Either you stretch it out or you risk the chance of dehydration.

PHP in the Hundred Acre Wood

For days I’ve spent hours and hours on my laptop staring at the faces of others. Some I met in residential treatment and some I’m meeting for the first time. The schedule is the same, we have snack, then a group, then lunch, another group, snack, individual sessions, and you guessed it, another group. It’s insanely boring and most time is spent writing journal prompts. So many that I’ve got a file full of them, ready to be used again. 

Staring at these windows remind me of the Brady Bunch and also, Romper Room. I thought it would be interesting to write about what it’s like in a zoom with people with an ED but that’s serious shit.  My last post was on the serious side, it’s time for something more entertaining.

So imagine in those boxes are the residents of the Hundred Acre Woods. What if Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore we’re all in a PHP program for an ED. Also, as you know, people with ED’s tend to have other mental illnesses or behaviors too.  

***reminder here, if you are new to really understand what an ED is, it’s not usually about the food. Also, there are many types of ED’s and many types of behaviors.****

Let’s start with Pooh. As far as behaviors go, there is no denying that he is a binge eater. I would say, he also suffers with OCD with his excessive need to hunt for honey. Unfortunately, because of his ADHD, he can be a bit impulsive and might put himself in harm’s way. For example, using balloons to reach bee’s nests is a bit risky. During meals, he has a hard time portioning. His instinct is to over portion. Also, when asked questions in group, he spends many moments muttering, “think, think, think, think….”

Another character that suffers from ADHD is his friend, Tigger. Tigger is extremely impulsive. Because of this, he is more likely to self harm than the other’s.  He also doesn’t truly grasp the need of personal space. He is a people pleaser and wants to make everybody happy. Unfortunately, sometimes he can’t and he becomes anxious. He is aware that his ability to bounce causes him to stand out more than any other tiger. Sitting in front of a laptop all day is almost impossible for Tigger. Because of this, he is late for most sessions. His movement privileges only allow 30 minutes of bouncing all day which leaves him very cranky. Often you can hear Tigger’s annoyance in his voice when he says, “aw shucks!” 

Pooh’s pink little sidekick Piglet is just a mess. He might be the one who needs the most therapy. He suffers from general anxiety. He also has fears of being abandoned by Pooh and looks for constant check in’s. You will often hear him repeating the words, “Oh dear” when he’s nervous. Whenever called on during a group he often stutters and looks to Pooh for guidance. Sometimes, when extremely anxious, he will have full body tremors. Because of his eating disorder and lack of nutrition, even though he’s an adult, he lives in the body of a piglet rather than a boar. 

Kanga, the mother of the group. She’s a helicopter parent for sure. Because of her need to be the best parent, she shelter’s Roo. Worried about Roo’s diet, one of Kenga’s behaviors is to label foods as good food or bad food. In group therapy, she often focuses on the hardships of being a parent.

Roo, who suffers from separation anxiety and fear of abandonment, has a long list of fear foods. Often, instead of being free to play like a normal little joey, you will find Roo safe and sound in his mother’s pouch. When Roo does try to initiate conversation in group or is called on, Kanga often answers for him.

Owl, although he is intelligent, shows signs of dyslexia. He also is slightly narcissistic and believes he is wiser than the others just because he is an owl. Because of this, he doesn’t recognize that he has any type of disorder at all. He often skips groups and threatens to leave the program, AMA. 

Depression can be mild to severe and Eeyore’s, is pretty severe. His pessimistic attitude and negative self worth drives him into isolation. He lacks motivation and will. He spends much of his time under the supervision of others, worried that he might self harm or worse. Because of his lethargic nature, Eeyore is known to restrict foods and even miss meals all together. He is reluctant to participate in groups and will often turn his camera off.

The last of Pooh’s friends that we should discuss is Rabbit. Rabbit is very OCD and tries to control others. He believes he is always right and like Owl, has a few narcissistic behaviors. He’s a vegan by nature but also, because of his OCD tendencies, he’s a calorie counter. He gets very anxious if the groups do not start on time and requests any documents emailed to him ahead of time. He is often reminded that he is not the therapist or host of the group.

Of course, with each diagnosis, there’s got to be some kind of prescription that can go with that, right! Maybe a little Zoloft, Lexapro, and Wellbutrin for some. Piglet also requires a PRN of Xanax. Tigger is on a hefty dose of Ritalin. All of these medications are administered by Christopher Robins who himself suffers from schizophrenia.

But, like myself and so many other people in this world, they are getting by. They have the support they need. They are close like family. Yes, they will still have their days but we then again, don’t we all. 

Oh and by the way, after two rounds of TMS, Eyeore is now off suicide watch! Way to go Eeyore!

Time travel just might be a waste of time.

First, I would like to apologize for the seriousness of this post. Many of my posts really are related to serious topics but I try to put a humorous spin to them. This one, I just couldn’t find any humor in so read knowing that this might be a bit more triggering for some. 

Yesterday, in one of the groups on line, we were given a journal prompt. I’m up to my ears in journal prompts. So many that now, I don’t even need to write them because I have a whole fucking folder of them ready to be copied and pasted. Anyways, that was until yesterday.

Yesterday, one of the prompts was, “If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?”

I was pretty sure that I had written about this before a few weeks ago and yep, there it was. All this bullshit about being kind to myself. Letting myself know it wasn’t my fault, try to be compassionate… blahhh blahhh blahh… same thing we would all tell our younger selves. But this time I took it in a different direction and really got me thinking.

What if I went back and told my younger self to walk her five year old little feet up to my mom and dad and tell them what my brother did to me. Just the thought of that sent me into this weird anxious state. 

I mean, think about it. What would happen if I jumped into a DeLorean alongside Marty McFly. First, would they even believe me? I would hope so but then again, my sister did say that she thought they knew sooo… that might not go well. 

But if they did believe me, what would they do? Talk to my brother? Would he then talk about what life was like as an alter boy? Would my parents go to the priest? 

I think I can say with certainty, no matter what happened, the abuse would stop but at what cost? 

Yes, I grew up ashamed of myself. Ashamed of my body. Fucked up emotionally. But when I think about the consequences of what would have happened if I had told them, they seem so much worse. 

What should have happened and what would have happened are two very different things. 

Should… I tell my parents. They immediately talk to my brother.  Then they confront the priest. Then they call the police.  Then they find me some great therapist for all of us. But this was in the early 70’s.

Would….. I tell my parents. They do talk to my brother. My brother tells them what is going on. Without giving a reason why, they make him stop being an alter boy. We continue to go to church. We continue to act like angels. We continue to hide all what went on. We continue to be the perfect Catholic family and I grow up exactly the way I am. Ashamed. 

I think I would have to go back a little farther, to the memory that is so clear in my head and just stayed in bed. Safely snug between my sisters. The August air, hot and muggy. My PJ’s drenched with sweat. Avoiding my brother’s touch, but only for that one night. 

If you were to go back and time, what would you have said to your younger self? Would it have really changed who you are now? If you are suffering from any mental illness, could you go back so far to cure yourself? 

So before you go hunting around for Plutonium or waiting for that big ass lightening strike, ask yourself, would it be worth the travel? Would your life really turn out for the better?

For now, I’ll keep driving my Nissan and stay away from radioactive material. Also, getting your hands on Plutonium is virtually impossible and even if I could, it’s over $5,000 dollars a Kg. But if you want something a bit less radioactive and affordable, you can buy Uranium on Amazon!

sh*t happens!

I’m amazed at how much I miss residential treatment and all the people. That sense of security, all gone now, but I’m adjusting. I could have a direct line to free counseling 24-7 and be wrapped in bubble wrap, and still not feel as safe as I did in res. 

So today, I’m going to reminisce a little. Bring you back into res life, at least the res life I experienced. One of the funniest things that we laughed about daily was something you would never expect. Shit. Everyday we laughed about shit.   

But before I get into talking about shit, let me explain how in res, there is a language used but not taught anywhere else. In fact, you learn it only by immersing yourself into the res life and if you fuck up the language, you will be corrected. Sometimes, being corrected can make you feel horrible but that’s my own insecurities. Being corrected is just a way to remind you of what is inappropriate to say.

Basically, we avoided words that might trigger someone. I know most of them but there are so many others I’m sure. Things like weight, numbers, calories, abuse, rape, fat, skinny, ……..  If you do use these words, someone would “magenta you”. They say magenta which translates to, “Stop talking about ________ it’s triggering.” But if you are like me, I hear, “SHUT THE FUCK UP STUPID, WE HATE YOU ANYWAY.” So I tried very hard not to get magenta-ed. 

You would think that in residential it would be the safest place to use those words but we did our best to avoid them unless we were in a group. 

Now, how does this all tie into talking about shit? Shit is something that many people in res think about but don’t necessarily talk about. Many people with an ED have digestive issues. Often, with refeeding, taking new meds, taking extra supplements, and the enormous amount of food they stuff into you on a daily basis, many of us found ourselves constipated. In fact, all of us were prescribed Miralax and Colace when we stepped through those doors. 

When you finally do go, it’s really an incredible feeling but it also can be a real embarrassing moment. Not only are you sitting one stall away from another person, someone else will be flushing your toilet for you. 

I went five days without taking a shit. I found this really embarrassing at first until I decided to turn it into something funny. Humor is my go to when things get tough. I started to refer to my shit as children, my colon as the bus, and the toilet bowl different stops along the way. Sometimes, it was referred to as “the pool”. 

Soon, everyone was talking about their bus and their kids. We used this metaphor so well that we would even talk about it at meals. If you talked about your shit as shit, you would be magenta-ed for sure but referring it to school children, it’s just fucking funny. 

“I stopped at the pool, expecting kids to get off and no one did.” (Went to the bathroom, tried, but got nothing)

“Maybe they forgot their bathing suits?” (again, nothing but will try in a little while)

“I keep stopping but the kids are not getting off the bus, no matter how much I coax them.” (this is when you sit for a while, pleading to your higher power to help empty your colon)

“The kids are knocking on the doors but not moving.” (This is when you really feel like you have to shit but no matter how much you try, nothing is moving)

“My bus is really overcrowded.” (This is when you feel bloated)

“Damn kids, I slammed an arm in the door today. Or “I caught a kid in the door.” (This is sometimes referred to as a “turtle head”, your shit pokes out of your ass but won’t leave. You have to squeeze your asshole closed, hoping you will pinch some off but often, just to pull it back into your colon.)

“Today was emergency evacuation day! They did great!” (When you finally go and it’s a lot at one time)

“Damn, it’s a busy day. It must be the end of the school day because I’m dropping off kids at every stop!” (This is when you take little shits all day long)

By the end of my stay, everyone was referring to their colon as a bus. Some of us more than others. Leaving the kids behind for the Recovery Coaches to flush became a silly thing. Most days I was aware of everyone’s bus route. It actually became an acceptable conversation at meals!

You might think this ridiculous but go ahead, try it. Start talking about your school bus. Watch quickly how a topic that is usually taboo or disgusting becomes just fucking funny.

Well, I best get going, I’ve got a bus load of kids who are waiting to be dropped off at the pool and they are eager to go swimming.

After residential

Before I start I want to apologize and give one reminder. First, I’m sorry if what you are about to read seems chaotic, not sequential, and the topic jumps around a bit. Usually I try to keep my post to one topic, or at least similar topics. Today, I don’t know where this is going but I do know I need to jot something down.

Now, for the reminder. When I first started this blog I explained my reasoning behind it. I wasn’t looking for someone to fix me or to worry about me. I wanted a place to write my thoughts and hopefully, have a few people read them. 

After 8 ½ weeks of residential treatment in the sunny state of Florida, I’m now home, in the arctic New England to do PHP from home. Virtual. It’s kind of like watching paint dry, while eating. Oh and yes, I know that there are a hell of a lot colder places than New England but whatever, it’s fucking cold, that’s all I’m trying to say.

I’ve been thinking about a new art project, maybe a big button that I can stick on my chest. Or maybe make little business cards that I can hand out that remind friends and family that just because I’m home, doesn’t mean I’m fixed.

I went into treatment weeks after trying to take my life. Worked on trauma that I’ve been avoiding for years. Had my opportunities to restrict, binge eat, and purge ripped away from me.  There was no cutting, maybe a little punching and hair tie snapping on my wrist. (Which I had done so well that the bruise I left on my wrist was enormous and almost black) I finally took the time to mourn the loss of so many loved ones. I cried, threw tantrums, screamed and swore about “fucking banana bread”, grains of rice, and anyother tiny little change that was made in the schedule. Looking back, I do realize that a lot happened in those 8 ½ weeks, but a full recovery did not. That will take a while. But for some reason, people still don’t get it. 

No, there are not just two types of ED’s. Don’t you even dare rush me in the supermarket or I’ll bite your head off. Stop watching me eat. And yes, you will see me eating six times a day so back off and keep those comments to yourself. If you tell me I look good, I might poke your fucking eyes out. Don’t tell me I look the same because I know damn well that I don’t. Florida’s weather does not shrink clothing. (and the scale said that I gained 15 FUCKING pounds) Oh and don’t share with me the “diet” you are on. What works for you. And don’t assume my depression is gone.  

If you notice I’m grumpy it could be due to my home sickness, my homesickness for what I had left behind. The people. The therapists. My roommates. I met the most incredible supportive people down there. We understood each other. We didn’t judge each other. I could fall to the floor like a toddler, scream and cry, then curl up in the fetal position and they would just watch, wait, and support me in whatever way I wanted them to. I laughed more in the last two months than I have in the last two years. Some of them, I felt a connection closer than the one I have with my best friend. Some of them, I felt supported and loved more than my family. It was an amazing experience. I have incredible memories, and I’m glad that I had the chance to do all that. 

I also may worry a little. Maybe even appear sad. Partly because of my own depression but also, I worry about those I left behind. Hoping they are struggling less. Hoping they are getting ready to leave soon. Hoping that they continue to be the bravest people I know.

When I got home, sitting in the middle of my living room floor, was this big invisible box that only I could see. It is the fuzzy, cuddly, familiar coping skills that I was supposed to have left behind but tagged along, waiting to get the chance one last time to become my bestie once again. 

I left residential knowing that there were a few coping skills that I still felt were valuable so I set aside a couple to use and stuffed a few into my invisible closet. I know, I should have stuffed them into my invisible dumpster but my invisible room is getting extremely crowded.  So I decided to keep the need for me to weigh myself, keep the need for me to restrict just a teeny weeny bit of my portions, and keep the need to compensate with a tiny little bit of exercise. Yeah yeahhhh… I know, not very recovery minded right.

Let’s take a few minutes to celebrate the hoorays! I did take out and I successfully ordered an actual meal and listened to my fullness cues. We went grocery shopping and Felicia, my ED, was only allowed to voice her opinion on a few things. I’ve been sticking to eating six times a day. I’ve portioned correctly during PHP. I actually made a full meal, yes people, I cooked which I haven’t done in a long time. Goldfish and applesauce never required it. (weird, I haven’t even craved goldfish) I’ve been offered cookies and actually turned them down because I honestly wasn’t feeling it. (That shocked me) Yes, I did get on the treadmill BUT I purposely left my jeans on to discourage me from running and just walked for about 30 minutes. 

So let’s celebrate those few positives and ignore my little setbacks. Don’t remind me those setbacks might just be a catalyst to something greater. Don’t talk to me about the “slippery slope” let me figure this shit out. 

Oh and if you even think of coming into my apartment to confiscate my scale, I will fucking burn your house down. (um.. Okay, maybe a bit too aggressive but you get my point)

Residential Christmas

Shrinky dink ornaments

Years of a joyful wonderful Christmas are long gone for me. To many things happened, traditions changed, and the kids got older. After my mother died, we no longer went “home” for Christmas. After the divorce, it was only the kids and I, every other Christmas but Christmas Eves were still spent at my sisters house. Then she moved to the Carolina’s so Christmas Eve became just another day. Eventually, I recognized that the girls were better off with their father’s family for Christmas. It was a real celebration with aunts and uncles, grandparents, step siblings, and cousins. For me, it just came a day that I stayed home, watched movies, and enjoyed bowl after bowl of Capt’n Crunch cereal.

This Christmas was different. Christmas Eve we had a Yankee Swap (White Elephant) gift exchange. Christmas morning started with little poppers that contained a joke and a fortune. We sang Christmas carols. We got gifts. We made gingerbread houses. We even had Chinese food. Sounds like a beautiful Christmas doesn’t it? It was, it was probably the busiest and most entertaining Christmas i have had in years.

But remember, I’m in residential treatment for an eating disorder. Each one of these events had it’s challenges. Let’s take a look at those, in an orderly fashion, shall we.

Yankee Swap (White Elephant): If you are not familiar with this type of gift exchange, it’s when you are given a number then, you have two choices, you can A. pick a present from under the tree and open it and keep it for yourself or B. take a present that someone had already opened, right out of there hands. Sounds simple? Not for me. With a “stuck point” in my head that people don’t like me or an intense fear of people not liking me. Also, my need to be a people person made stealing a present from someone else impossible. Someone could have been holding a million dollars and a pony, two things that would peak my interest, and I wouldn’t have thought about taking it from them. I would be too afraid that after, they wouldn’t like me so much.

Poppers: Because we are not supposed to be using fire, this was a private event held between my roommate and I, in our shared bathroom, at 6:15 in the morning. The only time that we are allowed to use the bathroom unsupervised. It was fun anyways.

Christmas Carols: We played carols from YouTube and sang at the top of our lungs. We tried to dance a little but got scolded for TMM (too much movement) and were made to sit down. The best we could do was wiggle around on the couch. Then, songs must be picked carefully. Baby It’s Cold Out There is not one any of us wanted to hear. Of course, if you are not sure why? Well, he gives her a drink that she thinks he put something in. He begs her to stay. Even grabs at her. Can we say, “DATE RAPE”. Also, being away from home, some of the songs were triggering to certain clients. It was still fun.

Gingerbread Houses: I’m not sure I have to explain this to you too much. It is one of those activities that I do with my girls every year, so not doing this with them was tugging at my heartstrings. Then, it’s all the fixings that go into the construction. For structure integrity we needed to use a hell of a lot of icing. Then, there were gumdrops, candy canes, skittles, and more. All binge worthy foods. All things that Felicia, my ED, screams at me to stay away from. She was pissed off that I was touching these delicious goodies. My fingers, sticky and smelling of sweet frosting, was causing me to have this overwhelming urge to lick them but Felicia was having a tantrum in my head. Seeing other people eating bits of things stressed me out. There was nothing I could do or say to Felicia, she wasn’t giving me permission to have even a nibble. I had to walk away from the table towards the end, unable to put the final touches on it. My hands were washed in the sink, no sweets for me.

Gifts: We all received a gift from our therapist. It was a beautiful gesture but you knew it was not going to be socks with the words, “If you can read these, bring me wine” stitched in the bottom or a bottle opener shaped in a penis. We all got journal type books or self help books based on our needs. One about perfectionism and that is not attainable. Some will be reading about mindfulness. This is where my therapist hit it out of the ball park. I got the book, Zen As Fuck. Love it. Of course, socks with Fuck You on the soles would have been great too.

Chinese Food: Finally, the finale of the night. This was the ultimate, over portion challenge. This is when we are supposed to attempt to listen to our fullness cues to determine what portion satisfies our needs. My hunger cues are screwed up. I don’t ever feel hungry. But here, eating 3 meals and 3 snacks, I don’t know if I ever will feel hungry. Fullness, I can feel, but just a little. What I end up doing is eyeballing it. But, there’s one more thing I have to take in account. Before I can actually say, “all done”, an RC has to look at your plate and she will either tell you, yes you are good or you need to eat more. (I’ve also had them tell me that I ate more than I needed to and excused me from eating all my snack. This freaked me out!!!) Most of the time, it’s a no. So taking this account. I eyeball my portion then leave just a little bit more, knowing that they are going to tell me no, that I need to eat a few more bites. It becomes just a game and in some cases, depending how adamant I am, a standoff.

But all in all, it was a good Christmas. I didn’t expect to be here, so that was a bummer but I couldn’t have asked for a group of better people to spend it with. I truly feel loved and accepted down here. These are my kind of people.

Now, time to fake it to you make it so I can be drinking an alcoholic beverage on New Years Eve rather than sparkling water.

BYE FELICIA!

Still in treatment. I’m bummed that I won’t be home for Christmas but leaving AMA would be a big mistake. I’ve worked too hard to do that. Not to mention, I’m going to need a doctor’s signature to go back to work.  So here I am, days before Christmas, worrying about things that I can’t control. 

Everyone here has named their ED. Most are looking for that name they hate the worst. Some, like myself, think of names that just make you smile. That would be why my ED is now named Felicia. Of course, if your name is Felicia, I’m sorry, don’t take this the wrong way, but it tickles my funny bone when I fight back with a “BYE FELICIA!”

Felicia, is actually more than just my ED, she’s also much younger than I am. She came about when I was about 16 so it only makes sense that she’s still the same age. She’s rebellious, angry, devious, and a bit manipulative.  She thinks about running away, she wants to punch walls, she wants to hurt herself, scream, and push everyone away. All things that as a sixteen year old, you might get away with or maybe thrown in a psych ward but something, as an adult, I would definitely be locked up. Possibly lose my job. Most likely, thrown in some straight jacket. 

The kicker is, Felicia is what we are dealing with. I’m having a hard time adulting in this place. She’s fighting to be heard. Her ED voice is loud and according to the wonderful staff here, a bit of a rebel too. I’m surrounded by clients, half my age but I’m often the pain in the ass. I’m the one yelling out in anger. Pacing the halls with my fingers in my ears. Trying to get extra movement in when I can. As amusing this is to the other clients, the people that constantly have us under surveillance , flushing our toilets for us, monitoring all our meals, can get a bit annoyed.  Healthy Libby might be a little ashamed of this but Felicia finds it hilarious. 

So why now? This summer I wasn’t acting out like a juvenile delinquent. Okay, when I was drinking, maybe, but I’m sober here. The difference, this time I’ve been working on past trauma. My ED started the same time that I began recalling my suppressed memories about being abused. I was hurt, traumatized, ashamed, and angry and I took all those emotions and turned them into poor coping skills and behaviors. Now, this place has stripped me from those behaviors leaving young Felicia exposed and vulnerable and mad as hell.  

So today when I tried to say “bye Felicia”, she gave me the finger, told me to go fuck off, and stuck her tongue out at me. Teenagers…. UGHHHHH

It’s just a f*ing piece of bread!

Recovery is hard. I’m sure you all have heard that before. No matter the recovery, it’s a challenge. Here, in residential treatment, I’m struggling big time. Again, thank you to my treatment team for making it almost impossible to do all my ED and self harm behaviors, but Fuck You at the same time as well. Without all my wonderful coping skills, what do I have left? Positive thought, refrains, opposite action, DBT, CBT, CPT, ACT…  oh yea, we cover them all but sometimes, just sometimes something happens that those healthy coping skills are really hard to grasp. 

Let’s use the other night for an example. They claim we are all on our own food plan but when you look around the table, I see two. Average and above average. Of course everyone has their own exclusions but the size of the portions, just come in two sizes.  Because I’m not on a weight restoration plan right now, I get the average size. Sides are also available at your request, but not mandatory. That is unless you never take one and the recovery coaches (RC’s) start to take note and run to the dietician and tattle, then it might just end up on your plan. Desserts are also a side as well, again, same thing, you are best to take it once and awhile. 

Now, my portion to me, is still too big, but that’s why I’m here right? I’m supposed to blame this thought process on my ED but my argument the other day made a point. I’m 50, my calorie intake should be less than the average women here who are all at least 5 years younger than me. 

It was a pasta night. Chicken, pasta, a salad, and if you wanted, a side of garlic bread. It was all to my taste preference. Each bite was really enjoyable. I mean come on, how do you fuck up pasta and chicken. So feeling confident in myself I thought, why not have that bread? We were playing games like Contact, Smurf, Target, and Rabbit or Wrench, typical games of res life, to keep ourselves distracted so I asked for the bread. I’m not going to lie, it was fucking awesome. But, the minute I was done, ED started to speak to me. 

No longer able to focus on the game, I started to get jittery. My mind started to race. ED and I had a battle of the mind. He talked about the calories, reminded me that sides are not mandatory or necessary and too much. I tried to reason, stating that people have bread with pasta all the time. But ED came back with, “skinny people don’t.” He was louder than everyone at that table. I wanted to stand up, walk away, go get some thinking putty, just move but I didn’t. I felt like I was sitting there forever. The other clients, checking in with me, noticing my struggles. I was sure they too could hear ED. I asked how much time we had left, sure that we must have been almost done. 45 minutes for dinner was a long time and it had felt as if an hour had passed. 

“How much time do we have left?” I asked anxiously. When she told me a full fourteen minutes I was shocked. I screamed, so loud, the downstairs clients heard me. 

“Fourteen fucking minutes!!????? Really??? Fourteen fucking minutes!” 

Everyone looked at me. At first, eyes wide, but then started laughing. I started laughing too but it sounded more like a cackle as I tried to pull myself together. 

I did make it through that meal. I sat out that 14 minutes but it wasn’t easy. I felt as if I was going insane. 

After, I made sure to check in with the therapist. I rattled off to her, every thought that had popped in my head. Every contradiction. Every pro and con. All while pacing in a tiny ass circle in her office. When I was done, she just looked at me and smiled and blamed it all on ED. She allowed me time to vent, cry, and scream. 

As I walked down the stairs, I looked at the other clients and screamed,

“IT”S JUST A FUCKIN PIECE OF BREAD!!!” I yelled proudly as if I had just done the impossible.

Bean Boozled

It’s been over twenty one years since my ex-husband and I made the decision to have a baby. By then, I had eight nieces and nephews and figured it was time. My ex was down for it too. No, maybe not as much as I was, but he was on board. I was thirty when we had our first daughter and thirty three when we had our second. 

My mental state at that time was fine. I wasn’t on any anti depressants, I hadn’t seen the walls of a psych ward in nine years, I thought I had my shit together. Even my eating disorder was quiet. Well, it was loud but I was able to control most of my behaviors. At least the life threatening ones. 

I had no idea what my future looked like. I never thought about the mistakes I would make and how they might impact my children as they got older. I just wanted to have two healthy and happy babies who would grow up to be two happy and healthy young ladies. Was I naive to even think this was a possibility? Was my need to have these cute little drooling pooping machines just a need for entertainment and selfish on my part? Maybe.

I soon realized that babies were similar to that Bean Boozled game created by Jelly Belly, the jelly beans might look the same but taste so so different. As they got older, their personalities blossomed, and I was soon raising girls who couldn’t be more opposite. They both came with their own challenges. The oldest,with  an extreme anxiety disorder, that impacted our lives tremendously for the first ten years and the youngest, a stubborn streak a mile long. A sassy, controlling, manipulative, funny, sweet, rugged, adorable, little messy haired, sticky handed, one you couldn’t get enough kisses from, kind of child. The oldest, a momma’s girl, the youngest, a daddy’s girl.

But then, I turned their safe worlds completely upside down starting in their teen years. If you are going to fuck with someone’s head, no time is a good time but when they are teens, well let’s just say, not the best time. That childhood I dreamed for them, the mother I thought I would be for them, the father that I thought I had chosen for them, didn’t happen. Instead, they ended up losing their home that they loved, had to endure a very messy and long divorce, witness their father’s verbal and emotional abuse towards me, watch me sink into depression, angered and hurt by my two suicide attempts, and struggled to find a way to deal with my ED and the programs and treatment that stood and still stand between us. 

I’m afraid of the damage I’ve done to them. I’m afraid that my poor coping skills have been passed to them. I know my youngest now is struggling with some ED behaviors and we are keeping an eye on them. Both of them do suffer from anxiety. The youngest, bouts of depression as well. Yes, I know, I’ve been told that some of it can be genetics but I can’t help feel that I’ve fucked them up big time. I didn’t provide them with that stable, happy, home that I had planned for them. I feel as though I robbed them of the opportunity of an amazing life because the foundation that I built them is fractured and unstable.

I can only hope that modern medicine, CBT, DBT, CPT, and other forms of therapy will be able to help them find a stable happy future.

The plan here in treatment is to have therapy with them. A chance for me to really hear what they have to say and it starts with me writing them an “I love you letter.” The hardest letters I had ever had to write. We’ll see how this goes.

I guess my kids have been Bean Boozled too.

How many rounds can I go?

ED is a huge opponent and I’m at an unfair advantage.

Obviously, I’m in the middle of treatment so I’m not expected to be done with all my behaviors but I just can’t imagine giving them all up. To think that I’m going to give up weighing myself, weighing my food, counting my calories, exercising to burn calories, and body checking is unimaginable.  

Here, there are still behaviors you can get away with, if you are sneaky. I’ve not even thought about purging, but exercising in my bathroom in the early morning, I might have done a tiny little bit. Restricting during meals, we all do that once and a while. Body checking, all the fucking time! I’ve even tried to count calories by looking them up later at night. I think what I miss the most is my scale. I’m so curious to know how much weight I’ve gained.

Today is pizza night, so already I’m dreading it. My goal, or intention, should be to complete 100% but really, it’s more like 75% that I want to complete. Why? Well, because honestly, I think I’m taking in too many calories. I’m 50, older than most of these women and at the age where I need less than them. Is this my ED talking, maybe, but it is a proven fact. Also, we keep talking about Mother Nature’s genetic plan for me. That my body wants to look and weigh a certain way. Well, that sounds all fine and good but first, what if I don’t like what Mother Nature has in store for me and secondly, how does the dietician know that she’s pushed me past that already by feeding me too much!

As I said, they have done their best to take away our behaviors, but at meal time, the urges can be strong depending on the meal. Have you ever gone on one of those rides at an amusement park where you drive a car but the car never fully leaves the track. You can go a little to the left or right but you can’t jump the track, that’s what meals are like. I have a set amount that I need to complete but I have the option to have a side or a dessert. What’s frustrating is that I restrict and binge/purge depending on what’s going on or what it is. This becomes a real pain in the ass when they want you to use the, “Opposite Action” coping skill. Someone who restricts is supposed to do the opposite, eat. Someone who binges is supposed to do the opposite, eat less. I get into this fucking cycle. In one meal there will be components that I want to restrict and others that I want to binge so I’m having this constant war inside my head. Refraining is what we are all taught to do but sometimes, it’s so damn difficult.

So here I am, watching a movie with my apartment mates, knowing full well that in about an hour I will be staring at 2 slices of pizza and also have the option of having a small piece of chocolate cake. I’m already in pre-battle mode. Trying to hype myself up. Maybe talk down the urges. My plan is one piece, just one. 50% but what will happen is I’ll lose that edge and have half of the other. Then, I’ll beat myself up again and give myself the ultimative, eat both and go walk around your bedroom for as long as you can do it without being caught, or just leave it. Walk away. 

I’m a damn fighter, my opponent is my ED, and I’m not even strong enough to push myself off the ropes.