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.


Anonymous said...

yay! We are all pulling for you and praying for you!! And yes, in insurmountable odds you did incredibly well at school, grad school no less!! i am so proud of you for that! I keep praying Exodus 23:25-27 over you. Your enemies will all turn their backs on you!


Lou Lou said...

angela, you are a very incredible person, your strength and determination inspires me in my own recovery, I wish you the best of luck for the first little while of your stay and will look forward to your updates, keep going on your journey to wellness, you are really living right now, facing fears, showing true strength, courage, love for yourself, you deserve the best help and I believe in you

Anonymous said...

You're on your way to my state! :) I've heard a lot of good things about The River Centre, so I hope you have a good experience there. Of course you're scared...that's perfectly normal. But isn't it even scarier to think of "living" the rest of your life totally controlled by anorexia? You are doing the right thing and I wish you the best of luck. You deserve to be free.

Jenn Lynne said...

I am right there with ya! Take care and know that God is taking care of you.

Jessi said...

Congratulations!! I know its hard but its possible. Go you!

A Glass Half Shattered said...

You can do it!!! I will be thinking of you. Looking forward to your posts. You are so brave. And strong. And smart. And beautiful. And an awesome person. Congrats on the 3.8! And remember, you are more than your weight. ((hugs))

M said...

I've only read your blog briefly, and this is my first comment, so with recognition that I don't know you or your story in a comprehensive way:

Keep your expectations for treatment modest, open and flexible. My experience, personally and among patient peers, is that people can get caught up in thinking the place, the program, the people, the doctor, the food/meal plans, protocol, etc., has any real bearing on whether you get better. People get better in hell-hole treatment programs with little support, few if any groups/therapy, and rapid re-feeding with little regard for issues beyond symptom stabilization and weight restoration. Similarly, people cling to illness and leave no better for having been in a setting that seemed ideal, comprehensive, holistic and "healing."

The real healing and freedom that one might hope for in eating disorder recovery comes not with the "rehab" stint but with the behavior change that (hopefully) results and the dogged dedication to walking the walk forevermore thereafter.

I have experienced, seen, and read ... disillusionment with treatment and ongoing motivation to "recover" because what that really means is that you usually feel worse, emotionally (and sometimes physically, at first). And those feelings of "worse" may persist for a long time, which is when people are prone to saying: "Forget it ... if I'm going to miserable, I may as well be thin/not have to eat/feel like I have control of something."

Treatment, especially initially, often results in short-term relief in having turned things over, but the drive for control is fierce, and no program can force patient compliance if the patient wants to circumvent, manipulate or wait out the system. You're motivated and "up" now, but comparisons may set in; nostalgia for eating disorder behaviors; frustration that eating and gaining weight actually sucks when it's something that has been disruptive enough to result in an ED diagnosis; and days, weeks, months in treatment won't take that away.

Treatment is really just a stepping-off point for learning the coping mechanisms, the emotion regulation, the cognitive and behavioral action that a patient needs to develop and train for a lifetime of vigilance.

It doesn't matter what the genesis, triggers or issues are behind one's eating disorder ... the bottom line for everyone is that the only way out is through. And that means eating even if you think the food is laughable and nothing you would replicate on the "outside"; even if you think trauma, depression, anxiety or other issues aren't being addressed in a comprehensive or helpful way ... those are long-term therapy concerns, and "rehab" is merely an intervention intended to facilitate the ability to work on those.

I wish you the best ...

lg said...

M gave you some excellent advice. From past experience, I think everything she says is very valid.

Also, please remember with your GPA that it's also another number. I am also a perfectionist with a flawless GPA, but that number doesn't reflect my intelligence. I'm not that GPA anymore then I'm a weight. If I got less then a 4.0, I would still be smart. I'm not slightly your achievement, I work hard for my GPA too and have done so while severely emaciated. I got my grades in spite of the anorexia. But it's not who I am.

Best of luck to you in treatment. Work the program and remember you get out of it what you put into it, and that this is just the beginning.

Jessie said...

Just want to let you know that I'm thinking about you and I really hope that this will be the push you need to get you to the next step in recovery. I believe that you can do this. You are such a smart, talented person, and you are so, so much more than weight. And congrats on your GPA!

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...


Thank you for taking away the one thing that I'm proud of in a horrible year so far. And of course you couldn't resist pointing out that you had a "flawless" GPA while you were sick.

Please don't comment on my blog again unless you have something nice to say.

lg said...

Angela, you misunderstand so much of what people try to write here. You bite quickly and are always on the defensive. I think you could gain so much more support if you would *listen.*

I think it's fantastic that you got a stellar GPA. You don't think a 3.8 is flawless????? My first point was that I KNOW how hard it is to get a high GPA while sick. You have to work even harder. My point was that even if you didn't get a high GPA, you would be intelligent and amazing. Your GPA is not who you are. It's a grade. Our true essence is not just the accomplishments - it's WHO we are, not what we do or what we acheive.

Trust me, I won't comment again. You really hurt me by your harsh responsive when I was only trying to be supportive. I'm sorry it was taken all wrong. But you don't have to be so harsh. You aren't the only one struggling you know. We all have feelings.

good luck.

M said...

I didn't see the comment by lg as a blow, but as support to see yourself beyond numbers, accomplishments and external factors. With a public blog, you put yourself out there, which also means that, along with the "go-girl" rah-rahs, you're vulnerable to feedback that hits close to home, hurts, leaves you feeling misunderstood ... or maybe offers insight you're not open to or in a place to accept. I read back over the scuffle about whether you were/weren't glamorizing your eating disorder/similar discussion. What I took from that was a defensiveness and "quick bite" another reader noted. I personally think, despite what you may write about the deleterious effects of this eating disorder on your life or the philosophical musings upon the benefits of an ED-free life, the emotional and psychological angst of your experience ... If you post hospital photos and tube photos and refer to a mental illness as "Ana," that feels, sounds and looks like a less-than-healthy relationship with your eating disorder. To outsiders, it can sound and seem like illness nostalgia. No matter what words it's couched in, the louder message is in action and presentation. There are choices about how to share your experience, and you choose to frame your eating disorder as a somewhat devilish but deceptively attractive and dangerous, but irresistable, damsel of sorts. And you are a victim. If someone calls you out on reactivity, victim stance, malingering, etc., you get pissed. And why not? I'd be pissed. It doesn't mean there might not be some truth to it ... only you know whether you're playing games with yourself. And it may be only with time, treatment, perspective and introspection/therapy that you might see those comments differently. And maybe not. I suspect freedom and healing won't come, however, unless you can parse out the parts of you that respond to illness and eating disorder voyeurism of sorts, from the parts that want wellness ... and finding the openness and flexibility to accept feedback and break it down, examine the evidence, journal and talk about it, and practice responding vs. reacting. It's a key component of DBT and CBT, which are the primary and only evidence-based treatments associated with eating disorders. That, and treatment for any co-morbid conditions. I think you are lucky to have people who are willing to be honest about their perceptions of your words, your presentation of self, etc. Those albeit sometimes stinging comments can be powerful and valuable clues to the areas that may be continuation factors in maintaining your eating disorder. Best to you in your journey.

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...


I do listen. Don't pull other people into this - I only commented on what *you* said; nobody else. Everybody else congratulated me and had encouraging words to say; your comments were a GPA is just a number too. True, but it's a number I worked damn hard for through circumstances you don't know since you haven't been a regular reader of this blog (at least I can't tell if you have; you won't even leave a link so I can find out who you are.)

So don't come onto my blog and tell me I need to listen - the comment was directed solely at you and nobody else. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings and I'm sorry you are struggling, but how am I to even know that if you chose to remain anon under the name "Ig"?

This is *my* blog where I express *my* feelings and then people can comment if they like. Then I go to their blogs, where I read about their struggles, triumphs, etc. and give them support. That's kind of how the blogosphere works, you know. But you had no right to make your last comments unless you have been following this blog for some time and known what I have been through. Just like I wouldn't go to your blog and say such things until I read your posts and had a feel about how you have been doing.

Of course, this will probably never get to you, as you have chosen to hide your identity. That's the thing that really bothers me - I feel like you come in here, make a comment I don't agree with and then say okay, I'll just disappear. You leave with the misunderstandings still there because I have no way of finding out who "Ig" is.

This is really making me question how I allow comments on my blog, because between this and the incredible amount of spam I have to filter through that could trigger me and/or my readers (and the occasional attempts to start flame wars by anons.), I spend more time monitoring this blog than writing it or trying to recover.

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...

And M you have done the same thing. I am fine with comments that disagree with me; what I'm not fine with is people who chose to make those comments and then hide their identity so I can't contact them and perhaps explain my writings in context. It feels like a hit and run - you feel the need to confront me and then you run away, never to be seen again and no way to contact you or Ig.

If you notice, most people here leave a link where I can reach them if there is a misunderstanding, etc. There is one exception because she doesn't have a Google account, but we are friends on FB.

I don't want just "rah rahs" but I also don't want a significant achievement diminished when it is the *only* thing I feel proud about this year - a year of a probable miscarriage, a major relapse, a loss of a position because of my eating disorder, two denials from insurance for tx,, etc. ...

Let me make it so clear - anyone can say anything on this blog; say you don't like me, say you think my write stinks, say you think I glamorize the illness, etc - but then please come back and here my response, allow me to address what you have said and read it. Don't be just a hit and run.

M said...

No hit-and-run intended ... just don't want to broadcast email addresses nor my association with that address and an eating disorder (I *am* commenting under my Google account and not as "anonymous")

I keep parts of my life separate: I dont' have a public blog, and my Facebook account is ED-reference free. I have colleagues, clients and others as friends, and I choose not to be public about my ED struggles. I don't judge one way or another, but that is my boundary. Yourse could be moderating comments or having an invitation-only blog.

I *have* read your response, however, and heard you ... and have come back to acknowledge that, as you asked.

I suspect that if I say I *still* don't think lg meant to disparage you with her comment, it will make no difference. You seem committed to taking it in a negative way ...

I think the GPA is great; I think the comment lg left agreed that it was a significant accomplishment. I think it remains that lg wasn't putting her "flawless" self above you as a comparison, I read it as ... achievement is great, but it doesn't mean you're OK, not OK, a better or worse person, or that you need ED treatment any more or less just because you were able to maintain a high-functioning eating disorder.

I think it's an alert against allowing ourselves to be lulled into complacency or denial, minimizing, etc., because we have been able to keep one part of our lives together despite illness.

Since she came back and said as such that she didn't intend to defame or flame you, and I responded with similar feedback, what do you think is behind your sense of feeling attacked? This is pretty mild "confrontation" like you would have in any good therapist-led peer or therapeutic group.

Drama is a great marauder for distraction ... if you can get caught up in this or that issue or feeling upset or slighted by something or someone (and this probably replicates itself outside this forum in the real world), then you don't have to look at or work on the real issues that are driving and maintaining your illness.

It sounds like you're relatively new to treatment, but this interaction isn't cruel or unusual ... and maybe as you move through a program and possibly some outpatient groups, you will have more experience to take what's helpful, discard what isn't, and keep the nuggets that make you squirm to maybe consider later. Be well.

Anonymous said...

LG is right, you are always on the defensive and never sit and take in what people have to say. I have avoided commenting for that reason. I hope your sensitivity and defensiveness don't hinder you at treatment. You don't seem to be willing to listen to anyone here (no one is trying to attack you that I've seen). I hope you'll be more receptive to the people at treatment.

I truly wish you the best.


and since you mentioned wanting contact info, my email is truth1889@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I read what Ig said as kind of assuming that you treat GPA with as much unhealthy obsession as you treat your weight. Because that doesn't seem to be true, what she/he said probably came off s rather insulting to you. Some people need to have that number minimized because they put too much stock in it (Ig, me). Some people need to have that number magnified because they are prone to minimizing it, calling it a fluke or whatever. Most people should probably appraise it realistically: it is an achievement to celebrate, but they probably aren't going to focus on it for a long time. For you, I suspect appraising it realistically is what you are doing and rightfully, although you may focus on it longer to try to balance the negative stuff going on.

Mostly, I think Ig made an assumption that turned out to be wrong, but that you took his/her message to heart without recognizing that assumption. And when things are rough, that is easy to do. And on the internet, it is even easier.

paper lanterns said...

I could not imagine how hard it must be to live with anorexia. I once learned that someone that has it has a battle for life. good luck.