28 June 2010

Reclaiming my voice

How do I distinguish between that inner voice which guides each one of us through life and the eating disorder voice which attempts to lead me down the path of self-destruction and death?

The two voices are warring within me right now. For four years, I have battled anorexia nervosa and its voice. My fingertips have touched recovery only to have it slip out of grasp and spiral downward, dead as a withered brown leaf in the fall. Hope would rise and fall, and the rollercoaster ride of anorexia would continue even as I screamed at God and Heaven to let me off.

I recently completed about six weeks of treatment at the adult partial hospitalization program at the River Centre Clinic in Sylvania, Ohio. The above verbiage is the result of both my continued confusion about what led me to need more intensive treatment (will I ever know why I developed anorexia) and how to move forward in recovery.

It wasn't the most positive of discharges. My therapist there privately told me she had concerns about my ability to continue in recovery, particularly in the area of meal planning and eating. And frankly, I had concerns about that too. I am still concerned how to transfer RCC program eating into real life. My official discharge papers also said I was leaving AMA - even though I had said before entering the program I had to leave for school by a certain date. Leaving AMA (against medical advice) could hinder any future treatment options.

Several fellow RCC patients had kind and encouraging words to say during the graduation ceremony held on my last day. I was grateful to hear that I had helped several people and that others had enjoyed getting to know me as a person. There had been a lot of drama for several weeks in our small living space and I was led to believe much of it was my fault (was I too difficult? too opinionated? did I say the wrong things?)

I know I struggled with wanting recovery, and I'm sure my ambivalence was not helpful to others who were struggling.) I know each one of us made mistakes and was gratified that for the most part, we were able to move past the problems and support each other. Hearing others speak about me so kindly helped me see the truth through their eyes.

Still, I drove back home in silence. No singing along to the radio and rejoicing in the fact that I did stick with it. No happiness that I ate everything (except one snack) and gained ten pounds. Just confusion about the future and the fear I would never escape anorexia.

I met with Dr. Sackeyfio (my outpatient doctor/therapist) the day after I was discharged from RCC. I was unusually quiet. He kept asking me about my treatment there; the things that happened and how I felt about it.

I felt weighed down and oppressed, unable to talk. He gently confronted me, asking why was I afraid to express my opinion. I started to cry. It felt like it had been a long time since my opinion really mattered and didn't seem to cause trouble. It felt like it had been a long time since I was more than just a set of symptoms and urges to be fixed.

I opened up and my fears began to ease. He asked me to consider what I learned during the past six weeks and write about it. (What I learned and what my inner voice taught me through that time will be in a future blog post.) Our session ran over because he wanted to make sure I heard something before I left: "You have the right to your opinions. You have the right to your voice."

Immediately I felt the crushing weight lift, my spirit already feeling more free. I felt relief.

I am reclaiming my voice. It is separate from the voice of anorexia, and it doesn't always agree with everything I learned in treatment nor from my doctor. It is my voice.


flaweddesign said...

I love the honesty of this post. and that there was, i felt, a happy ending. YOU reclaiming YOUR voice. there will be a time when your voice is louder than anorexia's.

ambivalence is SO common. i believe there are very few people who can whole heartedly say they WANT recovery all the time. i became really frustrated with being told i couldn't be in treatment because i wasn't 'ready'. i used this as an excuse myself that i wasn't 'ready'. and then i thought more about it and wondered...what does 'ready' really look like. and in my mind i changed the word to willing. i may not be 'ready' according to the team's criteria of readiness but i was willing to try something different. to try recovery. you can be very far from 'ready' and quite ambivalent but still be willing.

some once told me "you don't have to want to to choose to." i keep that in mind often.

glad your home...sorry about the AMA stamp on your d/c papers...such is the system. be strong...you've been through a lot in the past 6 weeks.

Zena said...

keep talking, keep being you, know you are struggeling with all the same things we all do, you are not some annomaly...I will email you, more to say, not enough time and well you know, you DESERVE a proper response.

much love, Tara

Anonymous said...

"I am reclaiming my voice. It is separate from the voice of anorexia, and it doesn't always agree with everything I learned in treatment nor from my doctor. It is my voice."

Yes, yes, most emphatically, yes.

lisalisa said...

I'm sorry that they discharged you AMA, even though they knew ahead of time when you had to go...thats kind of lame. I'm glad your Dr was able to be helpful and sort of pull you out of the post-discharge funk. Hang in there hun!

Anonymous said...

"You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

Christopher Robin says this to Winnie the Pooh in one of the movies. It is incredibly dorky to be quoting Winnie the Pooh to you LOL, but incredibly appropriate! Every single human being has a voice that is our divine right to be heard and to speak our minds. You have that right too! I would much rather you speak your mind than to have it all build up inside, possibly leading to another relapse.

You are a beloved, precious, child of God. You deserve to be able to speak your mind and I insist that you do so around me, because I do as well, and it took me forever to believe that I had that right. Still praying for you in my daily prayers! Can't wait to meet up with you when it is feasible for both of us, and continue to use your voice through actual words and your writing!!!


brokenwords said...

Congratulations on sticking out six very challenging weeks of treatment. I hope you will find the strength within you to keep moving forward. I truly believe you have that in you, you just have to find it and use it. My thoughts, prayers, and hopes are with you. This was a beautiful post, and very inspiring.

I agree with the others - ambivilance is very common. The way through this is to keep moving forward *in spite* of the ambivilance. Anorexia is a tricky beast because in a sick way it can be comforting, even as it slowly kills us. It's very hard to leave it. Very few anorexics *want* to recover - at least not fully. It's a back and forth thing for me. Some days I want out so badly, and others I just want to give in and stay with the e/d because it makes me feel safe. In the end though, no matter how hard it is, "better" is better then sick. It just takes a long time to truly feel the benefits of letting the e/d go. It's scary and so difficult and emotionally wrenching to let it go, but I have to believe it is worth it.

My best to you.

Nicole said...

Your opinion matters. Your voice matters. You matter.

You are so brave and strong. I am proud of you, and I believe in you. Believe in yourself. You can do this <3


Caroline said...

i think it is so important that you've heard YOUR VOICE, because it so often get's consumed and beaten down by that other heinous voice. we can go so long without actually hearing our own voice, thinking the disorder voice is our own. the fact that you have heard your own voice is a really positive sign i think. keep listening... keep letting it be heard. maybe someday soon it will become the dominant voice :)

Anonymous said...

i love your blog. you are so brave and honest. my battle is with self harm, but i began harming myself as an adult. i too sometimes feel lost in a wolrd that thinks my problem is for teenage girls.

i wish you the very best,