31 May 2010

The rollercoaster ride of anorexia rehab

Twists and turns. Ups and downs. Mood swings from being so depressed I can barely speak to feeling so restless I can hardly sit still. The inability to settle down long enough to read a book or magazine article. Thoughts flooding me until I feel so overwhelmed I wanted to run and hide.

My wild mind still isn't used to all this. Every day I have to fight to get out of bed, eat the freaking food and deal with both my raging emotions and physical pain. It feels like I'm going through puberty all over again.

I have learned many things in the past two weeks. I don't like confrontation. I am ultra-sensitive right now. I often can't even handle too many things at once (people talking and the radio on during meals makes my skin crawl at times.) I struggle to talk with strangers. I have a strong desire to flee, and I suspect that desire kicks in when anything threatens my eating disorder thoughts. My soul still has a death grip on anorexia nervosa. I don't want to let go and yet know I must in order to live.

But the worst thing I have discovered is that my feelings about recovery are ambivalent at best. I keep waiting for the recovery magic to kick in. I want the optimism I felt when I first started this process (i.e. before my two-week long fight with my insurance company, which caused me to lose both more pounds and motivation.)

I want to scream from the rooftop - I want to live, I really want to live! I want to embrace recovery as I once embraced starving. I want to channel all that energy into getting better and getting my life back.

The best I can manage is at this moment I want to live.

I have discovered at least one good thing about myself. I might hate almost every minute of this, I might want to run away and hide, I might be ambivalent about recovery and I might still want to stay thin, but I stayed. I stayed and went through it, and I suppose I will continue until ... well, either the insurance kicks me out or it's time for me to come home.

This has to be the hardest, most excruciating thing I've ever attempted in my life. I have done many things in my life and overcame many obstacles, and my friends and family tell me I am a very strong person and I will get through this too.

But right now I feel like I'm on one hell of a rollercoaster and I don't know where it's going next. I feel like I am being tossed and turned upside down.

I often feel so lost ... I often feel so alone. I don't know who I am or where I'm going. Forget taking it one day at a time. Sometimes I can only handle one minute at a time.

Starving was easy. Recovery is hard. That is all I can say.

29 May 2010

My story (is still unwritten)

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Angela who lived in a world of books and dreams and fantasies. As she listened to the fights and yelling and alcoholic rages swirling around here, she dived into this world where she was safe.

One day she packed her bags and left for the unknown world of college. She never returned to the land of her childhood. But the deep recesses of her mind refused to let the past go, and her life took on many twists and turns that she had not planned for during her childhood dreams.

These twists and turns took her through abusive relationships and lost dreams. She ran through life, always searching for that elusive dream life and the person she had hoped to become. She did many things she was ashamed of, and that she struggles to forgive herself for to this day.

But eventually she was able to find some sort of center and take control of the story of her life. She decided she was going to write the story of her life and create what she had dreamed of so long ago. There was love and learning and books and writing and all the things that she had pictured. She started to feel safe.

Safety turned out to be an illusion. Something strange and illogical began to happen. An illness called anorexia nervosa grabbed hold and wouldn't let go of me. Suddenly food equaled fear and I longed to disappear. I became smaller and smaller, and lost the grip I had on my life. The thinner I became, the thinner I wanted to be.

Anxiety grew, waxing and waning with the number on the scale. I felt lost in a world with no help and unable to find the key to unlock my mind and release anorexia from it.

I began to wonder if anorexia would be the story of my life.

Now I am trying to regain my grip on life.

But the center is lost and there is no normalcy when trying to recover from anorexia. Food becomes an obsession in a new way. I used to count how few calories I ate in one day. It was so easy not to eat and the lower the number, the better I felt.

Now I have to count and make sure I meet the number of calories in my prescribed meal plan. It is hard. I don't like food and anorexia still seems to have a strong hold on me. It physically hurts to eat regular meals and snacks after barely eating anything for almost six months. I keep waiting for the thrill of recovery to kick in, the moment of realization when I know I want to beat anorexia completely and I can say I am totally done with this eating disorder crap.

Instead, I cried several times today as I looked at my meal plan; the calories and fat frightens me, the amount of food scares me and trying to plan it all around a visit home overwhelms me. I just wanted to run away and hide somewhere, anywhere. Find a place where there is no anorexia, no food and no people. Just me and my racing mind that can't seem to calm down.

So I cried and yelled, said I wasn't doing this anymore. I said I wasn't going back to the River Centre, I was quitting, I want to be thin, the hell with it all and why can't I die of anorexia if that's what I want. My mind has just been swirling, swirling all the time.

Then I read Tara's latest blog post. She writes The Struggle Within and is also dealing with weight restoration while caring for three children and grieving for her deceased husband. Tara, thanks for the inspiration behind this post. And getting me to go into the kitchen and heat up the lasagna that's part of today's meal plan.

Once upon a time ... I will write the story of my life if I have to wrestle that pen out of anorexia's hands. I may get tired and I may want to give up, but in the end I will keep fighting.

The only other option is to have my story end with, "and she died of complications from anorexia nervosa." I've thought of writing that as the ending of my story. But I'm don't think so. My story is still unwritten, but I am trying not to give control of it to an illogical, horrific disease.

25 May 2010

Eating my pie (chart)

What makes up a person's identity? Relationships Interests Career Friends Education Beliefs Goals . . . Eating Disorders

Yesterday we explored our identities. Each one of us drew a pie chart, proportioning out what we felt made up our identities.

Anorexia nervosa took up three-quarters of my identity pie chart. How did that happen? When did anorexia slide in, taking over until it began to eat the other portions of my being?

And how can I stop anorexia from consuming what's left of me?

The other quarter of the chart has personality/outlook and spouse as the next biggest portions. That also saddens me. Depression and anxiety are scrawled in as the dominant features of my personality right now. When did I lose my ability to smile and laugh? When was the last time I laughed, really laughed with joy???

Then there is David. How could I allow anorexia to so consume me he only rated a small piece of my identity? I love him so much and think of him constantly while I'm here. I miss waking up next to his warm, smiling face in the morning. The safety of lying next to him at night, arms around each other and knowing nothing could hurt us, is gone. I go to be each night in a twin-size bed, wrapping the covers tightly around me in a pathetic attempt to feel held.

How could I let things get this bad again?

I have fought to keep the other parts of my identity. Squeezed into the chart are interests and my (sometime) strong belief in God and my Lord Jesus Christ and the importance of serving others. Friends and education are still there and both still mean much to me.

But anorexia nervosa is the demon swallowing all of it. Like a hungry monster, it is moving across the landscape of my identity and tearing chunks out of it here and there. Anorexia became larger as I became smaller. But why? Will there ever be an answer?

Now I am fighting back. Each bite of food I take is another step toward making anorexia's hold on my identity smaller and smaller.

Not that I like it. I hate every mouthful and the urge to just dump the food in the trash is strong. I fight urges to just jump up and scream, "I hate all of this" and then hurl across the kitchen my still-full plate with the hated food. I crave laxatives to cleanse my body of all this food inside me like a junkie craves meth or crack. I still want to feel the emptiness of restricting, the cleanliness of a pure body.

I become more depressed the longer I am here. My therapist here says that is normal and it will get worse before it gets better because my eating disorder is fighting back. (It feels strange to write about a different therapist — I am so used to working with Dr. Sackeyfio and will I ever meet with him again? My fear of abandonment runs deep.)

I keep waiting for the thrill of recovery, the sense of a new life to kick in. I keep waiting to feel and sound like the others here. But so far it's not happening.

But what would I be going back to if I left now? The ghost of myself, memories of a different life fading with each day of restricting and becoming smaller. And eventually, nothing.

Identity. When will I know who I am? I once was so certain — or was I? Am I too old to figure all this out again? It feels like being a teenager in some ways, with mood shifts and questions and answers elusive as wisps of dandelion fluff floating through the summer sky.

Identity. I want, no I need, a different pie chart. I am choking on this one, choking on anorexia and its relentless hunger for me.

Identity. And I am ... ???

22 May 2010

Bones and flesh

Do I really want recovery? I have had anorexia for three years now, and I have become used to the sharpness of my bones. The protruding collarbone, the feel of my clavicle, the jutting of the hipbones have become familiar. The leanness of my face, the prominent vein on the left side, the absence of flesh are all embedded into my soul.

What will I feel when my breasts become round and firm again? How will I handle the curvature of my hips, the roundness of my buttocks? My stomach already feels as if it is becoming rounder and more feminine, and it frightens me.

But my bones do not always feel friendly to me. It still hurts to sit. My hips hurt when I lie down, no soft layer of flesh to cushion against. I walk out of the shower each morning, and often am shocked by my reflection, not recognizing the emaciated frame as my own. I look at my arms, stripped of flesh and looking anorexic. My collarbones appear too prominent. A girl with anorexia on a proana site once said I “beautiful collarbones.”

What happens when my body once again changes? Being in treatment full-time so far has raised more questions than given answers.

I waver between recovery and wanting to let anorexia nervosa run its course. The first offers life, which is both exhilarating and frightening. What do I do with life once I have it? How do I continue without being anorexic, which has been my identity for years? Who will I be then? The choices are endless, but I have forgotten how to chose anything but restricting calories and love and living.

I could go home and let anorexia run its course. There is a part of me that wants to do that so badly. Just live with this identity, continue on until I reach the lowest weight possible. Then release. Sweet release from all the pain and hurt of this world. I would have no worries, no fears. I wouldn’t have to make any choices. I would be surrounded by beauty and love; the perfect love of God and my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I would walk in the sunlight and never feel left out. I wouldn’t feel sad or angry or disappointed in my many failures. Joy would suffuse my being, and it would be forever.

Flesh. I am scared of flesh. I am scared of gaining too much weight, of having too much flesh. Don’t people realize that the smaller I get, the safer I am? Now I have given that up by coming here to the River Centre. I will again have some flesh; the safety of being smaller and smaller is being destroyed by all this food and drink.

I still want to be small, as small as possible until I am floating into nothingness. I see nothing beyond that.

How could I have given up on my goal to become so small that nothing would ever hurt again? How could I have committed myself to this? I am so frightened by this week, every fiber of my being says to run as far and fast as I can.

But I am not being held here against my will. I could leave right this minute. I could dump my breakfast in the toilet and never say a word. I could refuse to eat.

I could leave right this minute. So why don’t I?

19 May 2010

Feeling under attack by three trolls

Recently I disagreed with one comment someone made after a blog post, and suddenly I feel like I'm under attack.

Most readers have done nothing but offer kind and supportive comments when needed, and challenged me when that is appropriate. But if someone challenges me, that does leave him/her open to also being challenged. It goes both ways.

It started with my posting about how happy I was with my first year of grad school's GPA. Someone without a link calling herself "Ig" posted that I should remember a GPA is just a number, too. I replied in my comment section that I felt that was taking away the only thing I felt good and positive about. I was so proud of that achievement I wanted to share with my friends and fellow bloggers, and now it feels like ashes in my mouth. It feels like nothing, the one thing I felt I accomplished this year. Now I'm sorry I ever mentioned it.

Then M and Trish felt the need to get into the act, calling me defensive and that I couldn't handle criticism (because of the recent comments another troll made about my blog glamorizing eating disorders - which most of my regular readers have either written or tweeted me that I do not do that in any way, but instead describe the pain and problems that come with having anorexia.)

Okay, first let me explain the picture of me with the NG feeding tube. This my blog and I put it up there for me as a reminder that I did not want to fall that far again and to show what having anorexia can do to you - it isn't pretty. I put it up there solely for my own visual reminder to try to stay in recovery. I have removed it since some people obviously find it offensive.

Now my posts in the past six months have not been positive because of my relapse and the reasons behind it. I became involved in proana websites and wrote about them in the hopes of alerting others to the lure that these dangerous sites can have, and also how the sites helped contributed to my relapse.

It is really unfair for someone who hasn't regularly read the posts of the past six months to come in and then lecture me about my attitude toward things such as comments. I think I have always been fair and have allowed comments to stay up that other bloggers would simply delete and then move on.

But I am not going to continue to defend myself to people who won't leave a name or link, who feel they can breeze in here and fan some flames and then waltz out again. It is too triggering and too upsetting for  me, particularly in light of the fact I am in PHP right now and am really really struggling.

I am fine with people challenging me, telling me they hate what I write, saying I'm wrong, etc. But please do me the courtesy of leaving a link so I can clear up a misunderstanding, or at least returning to see if I answered your challenges, etc. I don't like "hit and runs" where someone scoots in anonymously, writes something upsetting and then scurries away. That is cowardly and from this point on those posts will be deleted.

I have to stress I am really struggling right now. I am really hurting right now, and my motivation and drive for recovery is about at zero. I can't let a few trolls push me lower than I already feel and right now I am feeling ultra-sensitive. Anyone who has gone through the refeeding syndrome will understand that.

I started this blog for me, and feel like I shouldn't even have to write this post. I love that many people read it and follow it, and I would hate to have to close it to invitation only. I love the feedback I get, and then reading the blogs of other people who leave their links on my site.

But I must protect myself first and not internalize the comments of three people who haven't even tried to get to know me and my writings more in depth.

I will stress: I have to protect myself and whatever attempt at recovery I can make. That has to be first and foremost in my life, not defending every word I write and every picture I post.

16 May 2010

I am ready (for anorexia rehab)

I will be leaving tomorrow for the River Centre. I am both scared and ready. Scared to gain weight, scared to discover who I am underneath the anorexia nervosa. Scared of the hard work I must do and the things I must face. Scared to live, but also scared this illness could kill me.

I am ready. I am ready to live my life again. I'm ready to discover who I am and who I can be behind the obsessions with calories and weight and body image. I ready to rediscover the love and beauty of my marriage to my incredible husband, David; the hope and fun that comes with friends and learning and growing; the life that comes with being a healthy weight and not being afraid and anxious about that.

I could not have taken this step without everybody's support and love. All of you have lifted me when I felt I couldn't make it. All of you have given me hugs and kisses. I can't express - it is beyond words - what everyone's support has meant. To me, you all are Beautiful Bloggers and beautiful people and I would hug each one of you if I could.

I will have my laptop with me, and plan to blog as events unfold and I rediscover how to eat without fear and everything that comes with that. I also plan on keeping up with all of you. :)

I know I can be more. I recently found out my GPA for this first year of graduate school. In spite of my relapse, in spite of restricting and starving and dropping more than 20 pounds, in spite of the rapid increase of my ED symptoms, in spite of everything, including often believing I wasn't smart enough for graduate school and should just leave — I have achieved a 3.8 GPA. I am proud of that.

I wonder I could have done without anorexia screaming at me constantly. When I told my doctor my GPA for my first year of graduate school, he said, "I told you are much more than your weight."

I will leave it at that. Tonight I will say goodbye to everything around me; tomorrow I will take a deep breathe, drive forward to Ohio and the Centre and work toward becoming me again.

I am ready.

15 May 2010

Passionate and Beautiful Blogger awards

In the whirlwind of trying to get into partial hospitalization, I've just now been able to acknowledge and pass on two important awards to my fellow bloggers. I am going to choose six bloggers for each award.

Passionate Blogger awards:

I was awarded the Passionate Blogger award by Half Shattered, an amazing blogger dedicated to erasing the stigma of the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and who has incredible commitment to her recovery.

I pass on the Passionate Blogger award to these bloggers:

Carrie Arnold of ED Bites. Carrie has shown incredible passion both in her blogging (where does she find all those articles, anyway???) and her recovery. She also has shown such incredible growth in her recovery, opening up her feelings and bringing about a more personal feel to her blog. There still is lots of scientific information about eating disorders there; now we are seeing the more human side of Carrie as well. :)

Tara (aka Zena) who writes "The Struggle Within" against great odds — she just lost her husband and is raising three children and working on recovery from her eating disorder, but continues to both ask for help when she needs it and inspires others when she can (which is often.) I only recently started following Tara's blog, but am already touched by her dedication and willingness to recover for her children and herself no matter what.

Shawna Atkins is both an incredible artist and writer who writes "A Heart Tied with String is a Pretty Thing." She has taken recovery and run with it, and her art work will leave you breathless. Shawna, keep up the good work — you make one gorgeous Bonnie (of Bonnie and Clyde)! :)

Lola Snow is the well-known blogger of Marine Snow, and she has had her shares of ups and downs this year. But she never gives up and continues to move and impress me with her honesty as she goes through Therapy Thursdays and works through recovery from anorexia nervosa. Lola, you also were the first to ever comment on my blog and have always been a tremendous amount of support. You were the first person to welcome me to the blogosphere and encourage me to keep writing, "Leaving ED." Thank you.

Silly Girl is one passionate writer and journalist, and continues to work hard both on her work and her recovery in spite of some serious obstacles and being separated from her son during the week. She has embraced recovery from her anorexia and inspires me with her new found love of food. She also isn't afraid to admit when she need helps, and recently returned to therapy and medication to keep her recovery going. Keep writing — you will be one great journalist someday!

Marge of Lake LaBerge writes passionately about her art and school and living in Vancouver. She also isn't afraid of a fight, and backed me up and defended me against attacks from the pro-ana crowd. Your passion for life reminds me there is life after anorexia — and I will find it someday. (And I do plan to take up archery when I'm strong enough!)

Beautiful Blogger awards:

Lisa, where would I be without you? You have been so supportive, kind, caring ... there aren't words enough to describe you. Lisa is the author of "This Girl's Life" and the wonderful mother of two beautiful daughters. You truly are a "Beautiful Blogger" inside and out!

Sarah Lynn of "Not Doing this Anymore" has been a strong source of support and determined to beat anorexia, which took her mother at the age of 48. Your blog posts have really made me think and inspired me in my own recovery. You definitely deserve life without your eating disorder.

Splinterdones has been through so much and writes about recovery from dissociative identity disorder, and yet always sees the beauty in everything from the first green of spring to people's hearts. You truly are a beautiful person, and I hope you find the peace you deserve some day.

Tiger Bean — your support has been invaluable. What more can I say? (And thank you for validating my choice — I feel I did make the right decision.)

Jessie is the writer of Synecdoche and first caught my eye through a mutual love of the land and people of Haiti. It was a reminder that I am more than my anorexia, and that the world is wider and bigger than the issues I face. She also continues to ask herself the hard questions without ceasing, and faces her fears with bravery and hope.

Half Shattered: You truly are one beautiful blogger and person. I can't express how much you inspire me.

I believe all those who blog about mental health issues, whether about eating disorders or other mental illnesses, deserve these and more awards for their honesty, integrity and commitment to both erase the stigma of mental illnesses and bring about awareness. There are so many more out there I could mention. I have found more hope and more support in this world than pretty much anywhere else. Thank you all for your kindness and the hope and inspiration all of you bring me.

12 May 2010

I think I'll go to the moon ...

A month ago my insurance said the 30-day program at Renfrew was covered.

I filled out forms and underwent numerous medical tests. I made peace with being away from my husband for thirty days. I looked around at everything and everyone I loved and silently said good-bye.
I was ready to leave and start on the road to recovery from anorexia nervosa. I was already dreaming of my new life without the ED thoughts constantly gnawing at me 24/7. I felt a cautious hope.

On Friday the insurance denied coverage of the 30-day day treatment program at Renfrew. I had to cancel my reservation at the extended stay hotel, tell everyone I wasn't going anywhere and then cried myself to sleep. I kept thinking, but I'm supposed to be going to Florida tomorrow. My mind just didn't want to make the connection that I was not going anywhere the next day.

On Saturday I was heartbroken and doubled my dose of Ativan to keep myself from falling apart, combining it with OTC sleeping pills and one night, a glass of wine, just so I could remain numb. The few times I was awake I kept thinking, I'm supposed to be on the road to Florida. To hope. To recovery. I had invested so much of my heart and soul into this program. I was reluctant to go at first, but finally listened to my husband and doctor who continuously said I needed more extensive treatment. That I was getting sicker. That I was dying.

I barely ate anything between Friday and Monday, subsequently losing three more pounds and am now at the lowest weight I've ever been since I was in junior high school. I veered between despair and anger, and just wished the anorexia would kill me soon. Or something. A falling meteor. A caved-in roof. Anything to stop hurting and thinking.

On Monday the insurance company offered an alternative, the River Centre in Ohio. The company said its doctor was recommending IOP (which is only offered three evenings a week at the Florida program; an idea my doctor did not endorse) or partial hospitalization at the Centre. I looked the Centre up, learned that it had had some problems involving its director, but that all that had been resolved. But I was still scared - I had never heard of this place. On the other hand, ED Referral had a lot of good comments posted about the center.

On Tuesday I shook myself out of the fog I was enveloped in (thanks to everyone's kind and blunt comments!) and called the Centre. The person I spoke to sounded really nice and was very helpful, answering all my questions even though she knew the Centre was my second choice. The program sounded good, and the fact that they had a trauma-based group was a plus. The Centre also provides dorm-like housing (two to a room), so I would be around people in the evening after the program ends. Evenings and weekends are free, and some people commute and others stay there through the weekends.

On Wednesday (today) the insurance went through my second appeal; another one of their doctors talking to my doctor. He told them if I didn't get more extensive treatment, I was going to end up in the hospital.

Both my doctor and the insurance company called to tell me I was approved to go to any partial hospitalization program in the United States. I missed both calls because, ironically, I was making myself lunch - the first meal I had even tried to eat since Friday - and my cell was downstairs. I finally got angry and said I wasn't going to let any insurance company decide if I were to live or die. I finally had had enough. It wasn't much of a meal, but it was an attempt and a sign of hope and the fact that the despair was breaking up.

Now the question is - Renfrew or the River Centre? Each has its pluses and minuses. Renfrew is a seven-day, 30-day program. The River Centre is more open, but my planned stay there was going to be about 30 days. Of course, my total length of stay will be determined by the insurance. It will be reviewed every six days (something that is common, I am told). But now I am afraid, what if I get to Florida only to have to turn around and come back in a week? How hard is recovery going to be with that hanging over my head?

At Renfrew, I will have a room by myself - but I also will be alone each night, no one to talk to about how the day went. At the Centre, there will be a group of women around to talk to after the program day has ended. The housing costs are covered as part of the program at the Centre; I will have to pay about $1,300 out-of-pocket to live at the extended stay hotel while at Renfrew. I was looking forward to living alone, proving I could go through treatment and be an adult and handle all the stuff that comes with it.

I'm so confused. I was twittering at length to fellow blogger and good friend Half Shattered and she said I need to make the right decision for me. Not what will please this program or that center. Not out of guilt for putting the staff to trouble, only to say I'm going to this place instead. Putting myself first.

I need to choose the best place for me to start on the road to recovery. But my mind is such a jumble. This whole week with the insurance company makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland, where logic is turned upside down and twisted, where nothing makes sense.

10 May 2010

What recovery meant to me

I wanted to be free.

I wanted to be free of anorexia. Free of the thoughts. Thoughts that taunted me 24/7, telling me I didn't deserve to eat, didn't deserve food or life or happiness or love. Thoughts that told me I am worthless and useless and ugly and that I don't deserve to live.

I sit here, dreaming of what might have been . . .

I wanted to continue with graduate school, learning and writing and exploring new ideas. I wanted to continue to grow as a writer, and planned someday to use my skills to do all sorts of things: advocate for those whose voices have been silenced by society, people with eating disorders and other mental illness, the poor and those who live on the fringes; write children's books and poetry; teach and help others discover the gift of writing within themselves; and just write for the sheer joy of it.

I wanted to heal my marriage of the damage anorexia has caused it, and rediscover the happiness and love that were ours before I got sick.

I wanted to be able to be there for my family and friends; rediscover relationships that didn't always revolve around how sick or how thin I am.

I wanted to go out and eat and not be afraid, spend time going to the movies and concerts and other events without anxiety nipping at my heels.

I wanted to stop the daily weigh-ins and calorie counting. I wanted to sit down at one meal, just one meal, without being afraid of the food. I wanted to eat one piece of food without knowing or caring about how many calories were contained within it.

I wanted to be free.

I wanted to return fully to myself, not be halfway there and never fully recover. I reached out for help, called Renfrew and was ready to give my total self to the program and begin true recovery.

But recovery costs money. I sit here, fully expecting a final no from the insurance company today. I constantly check my cell phone, waiting for it to ring. It would almost have been kinder if the insurance company would have said no this morning instead of drawing out the agony all day.

Do they not realize what this means to me? That I felt this would start me on the path of recovery. I felt that it would save me.

I was supposed to be on the last leg of my journey to Renfrew today, heading toward hope and help and possible recovery. Instead, I am sitting here filled with anxiety and wonder how I will handle that final no. I'm sorry I ever called Renfrew. I'm sorry I ever gave myself that hope.

Everyone says if this doesn't work out there's something else out there? WHAT??? There are no support groups here, the hospital is only a place for stabilization and if my insurance isn't going to cover this - a 30-day day treatment program - it isn't likely it will cover anything else.

To them, I am just a number. That reality was brought home to me Friday when my doctor said not to take this personally. How in the hell am I supposed to take it?


I am a human. I had a life, and I want it back. But I can't do it by myself. I can't handle the thought of getting better, only to have the fear of another relapse haunting my days and nights.

I wanted to be free. But I guess I'm just wasting my time.

07 May 2010

No hope

I won't be going to Renfrew after all. The insurance denied the pre-authorization today. I was supposed to leave tomorrow for the three-day trip to Florida. I was all ready; I just had to pack. We even got new tires for the car and cleaned it out.

I have no hope this will work out, although the insurance company said they would review it and call me Monday. It's just their way of appeasing my tearful pleas that this was my last chance for recovery. I just don't understand what else they need - my doctor told them on the phone today that this was "essential" for my recovery.

I doubt that I will be blogging for a while, as I am devastated by this and can't think of anything else to write or say. There is nothing else to write or say, except treatment is only for the rich, I guess.

The worst part was that I was ready mentally. It took so much to prepare myself to go, to leave my home and my husband for 30 days. It took so much to admit I needed more help than I was getting here. It took so much to accept the idea of giving up control to get better, but I worked through it and was ready.

I was ready.

Now there is no hope. And I don't want to turn this blog into a hopeless, depressing mess. Because that's what I am right now - a hopeless, depressing mess.

04 May 2010

Halfway gone and feeling anorexic

A strange awareness came crashing through this morning.

The pale light of dawn was just appearing through the mass of green leaves. Cool air blew through the open window. I was in a land between dreams and wakening; luxuriating in that drowsy feeling where you feel safe and warm, the outside world not yet invading your mind or soul.

It is a feeling of safety. I feel this way when I'm drifting off to sleep, snuggling with my husband as I am able to slowly forget that I have anorexia, that I have any problems at all. I also feel this way when I am first leaving sleep; blessed sleep where I can rest and lay down my burdens for the night.

This feeling of safety was taken away this morning. I reached up and touched my collarbones. But this time, I really felt my bones. The protruding collarbones and the jutting clavicle. The sharp hip bones and the hard knees clicking together.

I couldn't breathe. I panicked. Where are my curves? Where is the feminine smoothness, the slight roundness of hips?

I touched my face, feeling nothing but a skull. My heart began to race. I realized I am thin. Thin. There is nothing to soften the sharpness. I felt like I could feel every bone pushing against my skin, the layers of muscle and fat eaten away by months of restricting and laxative abuse and enemas and suppositories. All the tools I used to keep the hateful food out of my body.

To deprive myself of life.

On Sunday, I went to our church for the last time in five weeks. I looked around, this group of people who have embraced me as a family and prayed for me for years. The church has a fantastic couple who provide music, and they played "Canticle of The Turning" for me. We talked about the changes coming to the church, how the Episcopal Church's rules won't allow our priest to retire there and so there will be a new person.

I felt sad and forced myself to nibble on a homemade muffin made by one of the members. Our priest will most likely be leaving about a month after my return from Renfrew, and I will miss him. I told him so, burst into tears and hugged him, then ran out in embarrassment.

I felt as if I couldn't stand one more change in my life and I choked down half my dinner. Later I proceeded to take a handful of laxatives, unable to handle the food and the feelings and the emptiness and the sadness.

I was sick all day Monday, constantly running to the bathroom with diarrhea. I had to go and get an EKG and blood and urine tests for Renfrew, and thought I really screwed up this time. Why did I do that? I knew what that many laxatives would do to me.

But my heart hurt. I couldn't stand the thought of more changes, and I was struggling with the thought of being apart from David for one month. It was the only way to cope.

Throughout the tests, I had to stop and run to the bathroom. This continued until I went to bed that night, exhausted and depleted.

Then this morning. It's not like I haven't seen myself in the mirror and realized I am too thin. But this time, I felt it. I felt every protruding bone. I was frightened I would die of anorexia, die of laxative abuse, die of a cardiac arrest.

Die at 44.

I feel as if Renfrew is my last chance. As I looked in the mirror, I saw the now-prominent veins and drained face.  I applied some makeup; a wine-color eyeliner that did nothing for my half-hooded eyes. Dead eyes from lack of nutrition.

I am halfway gone. I realize if I don't find a way to recover, I will continue to lose weight and everyone will watch as I fade away. My life will be over before I have a chance to get it back.

I decided this morning I don't want to live if I can't recover from anorexia. I'd rather be dead than continue to live with the realization of what I am doing to my husband and my family. I'd rather be dead than be anorexic.

01 May 2010

Getting ready for anorexia rehab

Anxiety Fear Hope Desire Love Beauty Depression Panic Fragmented Life Death Heaven Christ
Emotions and words swirl through my mind like a fast-moving tornado heading dead center for its target. "Left of Center" by Suzanne Vega is playing. The watery sun is setting on the deep, dark green grasses and newly bloomed bushes. Aliena sits in the window, ready to pounce on any stray bug which crosses her path.
I am cold. I am hot. I can't think.

I leave for Renfrew in one week. I'm afraid I will fail. I'm afraid I will succeed. I'm afraid ...
Thirty days. Away from my home. Away from my husband, my friends. I will be alone each night, trying to sort out each day as I work toward recovering from anorexia. There will be memories stirred up, things I would rather forget. I will face food I am afraid of and I will need to eat it. I will need to talk about how I feel.

How do I feel? My emotions are in upheaval right now. How am I supposed to feel? Should I continue to mourn the life I lost when anorexia hit me at 41? Or do I move forward, knowing that person died years ago and it is time for the resurrection of a new me? Do I rage against the neighborhood boy who sexually abused me? The uber-conservative church of my childhood which left me feeling dirty and knowing I was hell-bound? Do I continue to be angry because alcoholism and depression made my childhood feel unstable and rocky?

How do I let go of it all?
I believe I must let go in order to recover. I must let go of everything. Anger. Secrets. Laxatives. Cutting. Enemas. Restricting. Control.
Playing at recovery.
I will have to turn my entire life over to complete strangers for thirty days, and that will require a hell of lot more trust than I've ever been able to give anyone.

But I can't take it anymore. I will not be able to live much longer with anorexia. I can't take waking up each morning crying and hating life because ... because I'm me.