Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things Fall Down

Since I've left cw I've been in a really good place. Classes are going well, I have at least a volunteer/internship at a drug and alcohol prevention program. they go to schools and teach kids life skills and other types of prevention. It is SO close to what I want my non profit to do. I am SO EXCITED. I'm doing stuff with friends and although exercise has been iffy I'm not giving in to the urges. I was actually starting to get worried. The way I get worried when things seem to be going to well... I was getting worried that maybe I'm so excited to be where I am that I'm completely ignoring or not even considering any negative emotions. Nothing bad has happened, I've been more stressed since school started but duh. I had anticipated all of the sudden having a complete breakdown in a few days or weeks because the energy was overshadowing and real feelings. But I don't think that's going to happen. First of all I know that I'm not using energy to cover something up. I know I'm a lot more calm in general and that isn't fake. But seriously I saw my therapist today and thought she would never believe me that so much has changed. She did because I've seen her for three and a half years, but this whole "not always feeling like death is right behind me" thing is weird.

It's hard too. It's hard to feel completely different, to know that I have to make decisions, to be in a place that makes relationships better- but different. I've been so used to feeling certain negative emotions that the better ones scare me. I have urges sometimes just because I don't like feeling happy/excited/unsure etc.

I know I'm still connecting with actual emotions though because I just cried for like an hour. I was talking to a friend from class about her practicum and somehow something reminded me of ro and what happened there this summer. I've felt A LOT about that. But I don't think I've ever been able to really cry about how painful it was for ME without factoring in things I thought were my fault. I hate to feel that much pain, but at the same time I'm able to feel it and not hurt myself. It's completely different feeling it now because I can feel the good energy that's behind the pain at the same time. That's the only way I can explain it. I know I need to write to them about what happened. It is the only way I will ever get some sort of resolution.

I know this is definitely something I need to work on- especially because a part of me is still so incredibly hurt by the people who don't think they did anything wrong, that it wants to show people how much it hurt. To show people how it feels to be completely alone even in a place where people are supposed to care. To show what true hopelessness looks like. To show people why I never trusted anyone. To prove that what they did hurts more than what people did to me who were trying to hurt me. I am still torn apart by this summer in so many ways. I know things are better now- I know there are things that aren't better yet. I wish everything was just better at once. It would be so much easier...until then I have to be ok with everything that comes with the ups and downs of recovery and life. This is one of the down aspects that I still need to resolve. But now I want to resolve it more than I want it to kill me. Which is something.

Things will be built up and torn down again and again. My life is proof of that. But when something is torn down it's also an opportunity to build it up again- to choose the same or new details, materials, shape and height. The things I lost this summer will take awhile to get back, but hopefully it won't get torn down the same way again. I think that is still the one thing I can see destroying me if anything like that were to happen again. And the fact that I can even still think that- reminds me of how many things I need to pay attention to to stay in recovery. Right now that seems exhausting, but in the morning it won't be as bad so I'm going to sleep. I need to stop staying up so late anyway...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why leaving treatment this time is different

I wrote this when I was trying to decide if I was ready to go back to school this semester. It was a really hard decision because if I stayed my insurance was covering things through april. A part of me felt like if I didn't take the opportunity I would regret it- and regret is the emotion/feeling I HATE more than any other. But I didn't want to stay if it wasn't what was best for ME. I was worried I was just excited to get back to life and I didn't want to leave and once the excitement wasn't there, just fall apart. Eventually I went with my gut- which was pulling me toward school and the new life I was ready to start creating. I knew that my decision was what I really thought was best was coming from a good place when I didn't get defensive when people raised concerns, when I started planning out meals, making schedules, planning ways to make sure I had time to journal and self care, planing time to cook, writing down warning signs of the start of a relapse and putting them in my planner, and a whole bunch of other lists and plans. I surprised myself when I wrote this actually, but I'm a little proud of it:

When I left cw to go to ro in Oct of 2008 I was leaving because I wasn't able to keep myself safe enough there. I was leaving knowing that if I couldn't come back to cw I would die. That is actually the most absolutely sure I have ever been that I would die- more than in the park when I was wondering if my body would be found if the guys killed me. I left cw re-traumatized by the meeting that got me sent away. I was motivated on some level, however, because I was on some level realizing that I was again going to do this recovery thing alone. When I left ro after 9 days not much had changed. When I left cw to go to iop in I was in a fairly good place with the ED, but less in other ways. I hadn't done as much trauma work as I thought- it was more getting the ED under control. I went to iop in Jan of 2009 and discharged in March because I was doing well and iop wasn't helpful. I left doing well, but a few weeks later the effects of having a new diagnosis got to me and I relapsed really badly for three months.

When I left ro this July I was again in an incredibly dark place- I had another trauma there and left suicidal and completely in my ED. I wanted to die, but knew I couldn't do anything after my parents had just paid all that money. (My sister is the main reason I haven't over the years and don't ever think I really could. She is the most amazing strong intelligent beautiful person I have ever met and she means the world to me. I couldn't do that to her.) I knew after leaving I still had a lot to work on. I knew I would ultimately still die of one of my addictions. After the ro trauma I had in many ways resigned myself to live with a partial ED, just enough to function. I was hoping school would bring my spark back and agreed to do iop to at least get the ED more under control, and maybe enough trauma work to have at least a few years left. My life looked fine and perfect to me- and that was what I focused on- so I never saw the ways I was
still in so much pain. I went up a level because I knew if I didn't figure out why some parts were still wanting to die, I would die even sooner than I thought. I don't really know exactly how I got to where I am today-I don't really know what happened, but I know I'm leaving treatment this time somewhere I have never been before (and that is for another post). I hate saying that too- I hate saying anything is going well because that makes me feel more vulnerable than anything else. Once you get what you want you have something to lose- but I guess I need to write this if even just for me.

I'm leaving cw this time knowing how much I've gotten done. In these five weeks I've worked on realizing the impact my parents had on me-I never thought they were at all related to work I needed to do. I was able to finally get angry and deal with that anger. I wrote an angry letter to my parents that was really helpful and I'm going to post realizations from that another time. (Apparently I have too many things to write about and too little time)...I've worked on my belief that I have to save the world to matter- felt the emotions related to why i believe that. I've been able to get all parts to agree to at least for awhile (a year) give me the opportunity to try to create the life I really want. I'm going to stop letting my parents make my decisions- stop letting my instinct to protect them kill me. I know it's going to be hard, to take a lot of work, but I'm willing to do it to save my life now.

Before I would have left knowing that if I want to do something like recover, I will. And I do know that ultimately that is true. But this time I want it too much to take chances. I'm realizing all of the small details I'm going to have to plan to out to make sure I stay on track. I'm making schedules and plans, changing friendships, and trying to work on feeling my reality- not just believing my external world reflect my internal one.I know what makes a relapse more likely. I know the order symptoms tend to come in and I'm going to do whatever I need to in my life so I don't go back. I'm leaving here knowing flexibility is the only way I will make it. Knowing that following my heart (corny I know but true :)) is the only thing that can save me.

It's going to be hard to leave. I'm not so hurt I'm running away like the first time. I'm not in as much denial about the myriad of ways my life needs to change like the other times. And I'm not glad to be leaving this community. I'm incredibly sad. I'm sad because these people have been there since day one. this community is more than I could have asked for- more kindness, more passion, more hope and more strength than I ever thought possible. Each and every one of them has taught me something and in some way inspired me. I can only hope I've touched them in even some way close to the way they have touched me.

I'm leaving here knowing that I have a shit ton of work to do still, knowing recovery will continue to be the hardest thing I will ever do. But I'm leaving knowing I am ready to. I'm not in denial about how amazingly hard this will be- but I am ready to keep fighting. I'm ready to find my own path, my own passion. I'm leaving feeling like for the first time ever I'm not destined to die. I'm not here to sacrifice myself to save others. I don't have that voice in the back of my head that says it has always been too late, that I will still die from this, that I will never be happy unless I am living dying from my addictions. I'm leaving knowing I will live if I listen to myself- and I'm finally able to do that.

So as much as I'd love to say I know I will be ok because I want it and I always get what I want, that I can do it alone, and that I will never have to go back to any type of treatment, that's not going to facilitate life. I know I will only be ok if I continue to be vigilant about behaviors and feelings. I know I won't be able to do it alone, and for the first time I don't want to. I know shit happens and I might have to get more help in the future- and I know it does not make me weak or a failure, but a fighter. I'm leaving excited for school and new friends, for a new opportunity and a new life.

But for the first time I'm also leaving absolutely terrified of how hard this is going to be, how many things will be different, and how many things I am going to have to pay close attention to. This time I'm EXCITED for my future and I'm TERRIFIED. And I think that's exactly where i should be.

Quotes I find relevant:

"The greatest gift you will ever receive is the gift of loving and believing in yourself. Guard this gift with your lfe. It is the only thing that will ever be truly yours."

"Just because its not what you were expecting, doesn’t mean its not everything you’ve been waiting for"

"Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved"

"Only one feat is possible: not to have run away."

Why You are Here

One of the questions everyone tries to answer is why am I here? Why me? What for? Etc etc. and I don’t think there will ever be actual answers to any of those philosophical questions, but I do know that if I make up my own answers that can get dangerous. I had decided from a very young age that I was alive to save as many people as I possibly could. That was constantly reinforced throughout my life and I think I knew a long time ago that that idea would end up killing me. I was in denial because I felt like it would make me a terrible person if I didn't always feel like I hadn't helped enough people. I was in denial because my goal of being a trauma surgeon wouldn't be what I would choose if I decided for me. I worked through the realization I wouldn't be a trauma surgeon when I was in treatment in 2008, but it wasn't until recently that I noticed I was doing the same thing. I have been planning on taking the almost non-profit I have and making it a national one that holds conventions and goes to schools to talk to school faculty about child abuse, eating disorders, and substance abuse. I know awareness is important, but sometimes the awareness is there- it's the knowledge of what can be done, what can prevent, what to look for and not ignore. I know this can be done. I know it will be hard. But the problem was that I was thinking if I didn't accomplish this and all of the exact things I had planned- I was worthless and I never mattered. I thought if I didn't save tons of people my life was pointless.

I still have trouble always convincing myself that this isn't true, but I worked on the anxiety around what it would be like to not have an exact goal- to be able to make decisions based on what I love and not what my parents want, society wants, or I feel like I have to do to matter. I still have the non-profit idea, but I have a lot of other ideas too. And I am- for the first time EVER in my life- not sure what I am going to do, what is going to happen. And I'm ok with that because I know that I can do something if I am passionate about it. I know I have a lot of passions, and that I will make a difference in whatever area I go into. I think I also looked around at how fast I was going down while still externally having the BEST semester of my life. I really felt how fast things were spiraling and at one point realized (yes I JUST recently realized this lol) that if I die before I can do anything, I won't be able to save anyone, and will have killed someone instead.

As I'm writing this I'm noticing I still feel the need to say "save" people. And in reality no one can save anyone else. I need to work on thinking of helping, not saving. I did go back to the MSW/MPH program I am in and I don't intend to change that because I LOVE it. And even though I'm not always sure if I need both degrees or if I will even use them, I know I want to learn everything. I love learning- yep I'm a nerd :)

So where does this leave me now? It leaves me in a place where I don't know I'm just walking toward death and can't do anything about it. I know there are so many things that make a person matter and saving the world isn't one of them. If someone saved the world and made it perfect it would probably be a pretty boring, mundane, repetitive, existence anyway. Imperfection is what makes things interesting, makes things matter, makes relationships possible. So I may end up with a non-profit. It may address the issues I planned on. I may end up traveling to third world countries to figure out how so many people are dying during times that the world DOES have enough resources to support everyone on the planet. I have always LOVED forensic psychology and toxicology. I would love to be a social worker in a hospital setting. I know I want to be a photographer and am almost done with my website so I can actually sell them! And yet I am so incredibly fascinated by infectious diseases and immunology that maybe I'll cure cancer instead! (or just love my job for what it is and how it fits into the life I create) :)

It's my birthday and I'll purge if I want to!

I wrote this last wednesday, my birthday, but didn't post it apparently...
On Monday I had the scariest urge I’ve had in a long time. I just KNEW I was going to binge and purge all day Wed (my birthday). I just knew it. And that feeling is the worst one I think as far as urges go. I hate to admit that I still have those urges. The ones where I just DONT GIVE A FUCK. I thought once I was committed to recovery those would go away because I would always care enough to stop the urges. But there are still those occasional days when I stop caring for awhile. Those days are hard and I'll write more about that later but at least I know they will be followed by days I remember why I am doing any of this.

Anyway I didn’t have any idea why the urges came on so fast and so strong. I seriously almost binged and purged after dinner just because I was thinking I might as well if I’m going to binge and purge all day Wednesday. I didn't feel triggered by anything; I wasn’t going to spend all birthday alone like I usually do. But for some reason I still thought about Wednesday and felt the complete and utter aloneness that I am used to feeling around times like that. It caught me off guard because things especially around people and friends have been really good. I don’t feel as alone as I usually do. I know there are always people there if I need them or just want them. I know I’m able to really be there for other people now because I’m not caretaking. I think it was just the usual rush of thoughts and feelings that came back, but it almost took me out. I wasn’t sure I could even try to figure out what it was about and almost gave up Monday night but decided that Wednesday could only be a good experience if I tried to do everything possible to figure out why urges were that high before that day.

I went home and had a snack and wrote a TON before I figured out what had been so hard. I realized I had a time in my life where I decided if I was still miserable and unhealthy I would overdose on my 25th bday. It was like I just suddenly had a part come in that wanted to be destructive because I would have only had one year left if I still felt that way. I hadn't thought of this plan in FOREVER. It made sense. It made me so incredibly sad that the person who I used to be felt that shitty all the time. It made me happy to be able to look back and say this is how I know just how far I've come. I was able to set up plans on my birthday that kept me pretty busy but honestly that day I just kept thinking that NOTHING about that day was anything like most of my previous birthdays- or days in general for that matter...I got a massage. I had a birthday dinner and PEOPLE CAME. Sadly that is almost never the case. I don't plan fun things and I don't have people who really want to come or are healthy enough to come.

I do think I would have used symptoms if I hadn't really worked on trying to figure out why I had such high urges. I think I would have had a part justify it because it was what I wanted to do on MY birthday. I had to remind myself all day that even if a part of me wanted that, the real me wants to wake up the next morning and still be able to say it has been five months since I've purged. And three and a half years since I've binged. I notice I often find myself thinking "THIS urge is the strongest one EVER". But I have also noticed that it helps if I tell myself to just get through THIS one, and the next stronger one I'm allowed to give in to. I say that knowing that in that moment that can usually be enough, and when I realize I have gotten through that urge I am so glad that I didn't act on it that I will say the same thing next time. It works for me sometimes and now I can also remind myself that I have gotten through two and a half years without purging and I can do that (and more) again.

Monday, January 16, 2012

lessons Learned, Bridges Burned (part 3)

So where am I now in the recovery process?
Although I was doing really well for two years there were still many aspects of my life that were not fully based in recovery. I think there are levels to recovery. I know I was in recovery, but I also know now that I'm in an even higher level of recovery after these last few weeks. After River Oaks I had pretty much resigned myself to helping as many people as possible, knowing it would kill me in the process. I didn't care anymore. I had worked on trauma and still had too much work to do around a number of things. I didn't think I would have the time or the resources to get better. But in only a few weeks I gained something that would change all that. And besides the realizations I came to I also gained people. I want to say family because my family of choice will have to be a strong source of support in my life. I've never really felt like I had people who cared about me as a person. They only cared about how i could help them or the sports team or with the group project. The people that I have met in these last few weeks changed all of that. I have been mourning the loss of a very important woman in my life- she and her husband and the rest of my university's volleyball team made me feel like I mattered inherently and not for what I could do or who I could help. When volleyball ended so did this feeling. I have only just found it again. Getting to know these people has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And I'm aware of how corny this all sounds, but when you have been hurt as much as I have it is a pretty big thing.

The people I've met recently have been some of the strongest most inspiring people I have ever met. They have been there for me through everything and I have been able to be there for them as well.

This time I'm able to believe more of the things I should about myself. I am starting to believe in the various ways I have intrinsic worth. I am starting to believe that I am strong and intelligent and maybe even funny sometimes. By seeing the beauty in these people I have come to see more of my own. I have come to realize the fear that is there if we begin to admit anything positive about us might be true.

I have people now- I've found the ones I used to have as well. And even more than that I have confidence that I will continue to meet healthy people and form relationships that I deserve. I know now that people really can care just about a person.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lessons Learned, Bridges Burned (part 2)

This last semester was the best one of my life. I know that may seem weird considering I was in treatment, but it's true. I LOVED all of the classes I was taking. I finally had people in my life who I could be myself around and friends who went out and did things together. I loved being around my friends and the teachers wanted us to learn more than focus on a grade. I actually got A's last semester, which is still strange to me because I've been in programs that were so hard and so much work that almost no one got an A. Last semester I did. Last semester I learned more than I have in awhile and got to write papers on topics I was interested in. I found new people to be around and figured out how to have a more balanced life. I thought I was as happy as my life seemed when I looked at it. I didn't understand why my mood would go up and down so fast and why people thought I wasn't ok when I was so completely convinced I was. I decided to stay there until school started just to make sure I was as ok as I thought I was. I really expected people to not know why I was in treatment. I thought I just had to figure out how to explain to people the level of my ok-ness. I never thought I would end up where I am right now. I have wanted recovery for so long. I had recovery and honestly didn't see how far I really had gotten from where I was.

I wasn't really able to let my guard down until I was done with school and sent all of my essays in because I can't do homework well if I'm in too vulnerable of a place emotionally. I worked intensely for only five weeks, but those five weeks have truly changed my life. I worked on the two things I see as the last major aspects of negative energy in my life. I had already done a lot of trauma work and symptoms were able to be controlled once I was more motivated. This time I was able to really look at the reasons parts of me still wanted on some level to eventually die from my addictions. I was able to figure out the aspects of my life that contributed to the belief that ultimately I would never be happy.

I also was able to finally look at the impact my family of origin had on me. I didn't know I needed to work on it. I always thought I had worked through what my parents had not done amazingly well and I was ok knowing they did their best. It surprised me to realize I had a lot of anger toward them still and that it was affecting me more than I thought. I've always known I was trying to protect my parents. I've been trying to my entire life. That's why I tried to fix everything in my family, why I didn't want to tell my parents anything was wrong or that I wasn't completely happy. I know they are upset that I never said anything but I know why I never did. People get hurt so much by each other there is only a certain amount I wanted them to deal with. I thought things were my fault. I thought if I never said anything they would at least not have to deal with what I was going through. I never wanted to hurt them- I think that's the irony in all this. They think I hurt them by keeping things from them. I thought I was protecting them. And now that I know they don't want me to I still can't stop. I can't stop trying to make everything seem ok. I can't stop trying to make them feel better about my situations. And if I can't stop trying to protect them I'm never going to completely recover. So I'm working really hard on that and am very motivated to change my impulse to protect everyone else, especially if it hurts me in the process.

The other main realization I had was the impact my desire to pretty much literally save the world had on me. I have always tried to help people even if it was at the expense of myself. I can't do that anymore but my goals in life are still tied into the belief that helping as many people as possible is the only thing that will make me matter. I know it is still going to take a lot of work because changing a lot of my beliefs will take awhile but I am finally realizing that if I don't do what I want to do and what is best for me I won't be alive long enough to help anyone else anyway. I'm realizing how close my addictions and beliefs have kept me to dying for most of my life. And I don't want to die anymore. I finally don't feel like a part of me knows I will still die from the ED or another addiction eventually. I finally REALLY don't feel like I am going to have to die in order to save or protect other people. I never thought this would happen, but I am so glad I kept letting people push me to figure things out more recently.
I have met amazing people who have changed my life through this process and for only the second time in my life felt like I mattered to others for who I am and not just what I can do. I'm going to expand on this in another post though because this one is getting long...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lessons Learned, Bridges Burned (part 1)

I didn't realize how long it had been since I've written. I guess that goes to show how fast time goes when you aren't really aware of it. I wasn’t aware at the time but I was probably slowly slipping back into aspects of my ED starting in May. The end of school wasn’t terrible but once I walked out of my last final I fell apart. I was really depressed and needed to call off work because I had such high self harm urges. The fact that I apparently couldn’t have a job without having to call off every few weeks because of a mental breakdown. All of the sudden I realized I might not be able to function in society. If I cant hold down a semi decent job how was I supposed to make money and live in general? I just kept thinking if I cant do this then how am I supposed to work in the field I want to? I seriously just kept thinking I was screwed. I really thought I would never be able to make it. I’m still really worried about that.

While looking back on this last year I realized that although I had done well for two years, to some extent I was still just holding things together. I was happier and healthier but at the same time there were still things I had to ignore because I had to be able to do school. I realized that before I went to grad school in the fall I needed to work more on the trauma in order to be able to really live in recovery. I started looking into river oaks and had to wait for weeks to hear if insurance would cover or if I could even get in. My ED started spiraling because I felt like I was waiting to hear so I would know if I was going to live or die. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to go to river oaks and I knew if I didn’t use a coping mechanism I would fall apart completely. I started restricting and purging and it got really bad in the three weeks before I went to river oaks. I had to down play just how bad things were to my therapist because she said she wouldn’t let me go if I was in my ED. I finally got to river oaks and freaked out the first day because we couldn’t use our cell phone. It got a lot better and I did a lot of work around several traumas. I had Dianne this time, which was much better than before. The second week I was really triggered by a client who had a flashback. I went into flashback myself and ended up self-harming with something I had snuck in. Obviously it wasn’t a good decision obviously I got in trouble- I was put on SVC for awhile. I felt bad enough already- I hated myself and was terrified about getting kicked out. I saw Dr. Lowe the next day and he was really mad. Everyone fought for me to stay and I got to, but after that I felt like I was always walking on eggshells and felt like everyone hated me.

For the next few days I just had to wait to see if they would kick me out or not. I knew on some level it would make sense but I also knew this was my last chance to really do trauma work. They let me stay but my psychiatrist would hardly talk or look at me the next few weeks. Eventually I was set to discharge and was really excited because I got a lot of work done on my major traumas. A few nights before I was supposed to leave however, I started realizing that although I had done an amazing amount of work there were still many parts of me that still wanted to die. I knew it wouldn't be soon and that it would be my ED or addictions that would kill me, but I still knew I would ultimately die from my unhealthy coping mechanisms. The nurse's and other staff told me i wasn't ready to go, that i had more to work on and i should stay. My therapist here said that too. But I knew my psychiatrist wouldn't fight for me to stay so i thought the only way I could get more work done and really save my life would be to say i was suicidal so they wouldn't let me leave and insurance would be more likely to keep covering me knowing I was struggling that much. BAD IDEA. I should have known that but I've never been able to trust anyone else to care about me. I decided to take matters into my own hands but my psychiatrist got pissed and sent me to another building. I discharged from there a few days later. The way he told me to leave was shitty. He walked out on me at one point. I felt like I did after getting kicked out of another center. I wanted to die more than ever. I can't go too much into that experience but it was really really hard and after I got back I continued to fall apart.

I was using more ED behaviors, I started drinking and self harming. I decided to go to iop more so to try to find motivation than anything else. I was getting stuck with the feelings about the treatment centers that had hurt me so badly. A part of me wanted to die just to prove a point. To show that people who are supposed to care can be the ones to hurt you more than anyone. So I started iop. I started grad school. And the next entry will talk about how amazing my semester went- at least on the outside. I finally had the most balanced life I ever had and it kept me from going backward. Unfortunately it also didn't move me forward so I stayed stuck in a pretty bad place.