Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Take your voice back and use it

Lonely

Someone’s status update on facebook got me thinking today, and it got me thinking only because I’ve seen a lot of similar updates.  They go something along the line of “My treatment team just isn’t seeing that I’m not doing well right now.”  Insert “slipping” or sometimes “sucking ass” or “failing miserably” for “not doing well” and you’ve got a significant number of status updates on the eating disordered Facebook community.

I can’t say I’ve never felt the same way.  And even right now, I feel like my treatment team isn’t “getting it”–but not “getting it” as in “I’m falling apart in front of their eyes and they don’t see a thing” but not “getting it” as in “I am trying my damndest to explain to them what is going on and my words are coming up against a brick wall.”

Do you see the difference?  In the first example, I’d be expecting my treatment team to read my mind and see what is going on in the hours and days that they don’t see me each week.  I’m not telling them anything.  Perhaps I may say, “Oh, things suck” but as if that’s not an overused phrase that doesn’t need further explication.

In the second example, I am telling them how I’m feeling and what is going on on a daily basis.  I’m letting them in on my week.  They don’t have to guess.  They don’t have to make conjectures.  They don’t have to be mindreaders.

I understand that it’s difficult to speak up, that it sometimes feels easier to use actions instead of words.  But if you choose to do that, you cannot blame your treatment team for not getting the whole picture.  Doctors and therapists, even though they are trained in the ways of the mind, are not mindreaders.

At some point, if you want to get better, you are going to have to take recovery into your own hands and talk to your treatment team and be honest with them.  They cannot help you if they don’t know what’s going on.  All they can do is guess, which usually leads to frustration on everyone’s part.

If you haven’t been honest and forthright, don’t blame the treatment center for failing you.  Don’t blame your doctor or your therapist.  Don’t blame the meal plan or the nutritionist or the unfairness of the situation.

The eating disorder took your voice away.  Take it back and use it.  It’s the only way you can expect them to help you.

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December 31, 2009 Posted by | Communication, Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

dare yourself

Here are some of my dance shoes: a couple of pair of pointe shoes (one pair was worn a grand total of one time before I knew they were totally wrong for my feet), some leather soft shoes and a lone pair of black canvas soft shoes.  And some extra ribbon.  My cardiologist has given me permission to take a barre class if I can find one that I like.  Perhaps in time I can build up to some center work as well.  So that’s one of my goals for the new year: find an appropriate ballet class.

I’ve noticed on Facebook the New Year’s groups starting to spring up.  Things along the line of “Kick Ed’s Ass in 2010.”  I like the intention of groups like this one, but I wonder if the focus is in the right place.  Fighting the eating disorder is certainly important, please don’t think I’m saying otherwise.  But for New Year’s Resolution groups, I feel like the focus should be on adding something to your life.  Because taking away the eating disorder is wonderful and necessary, but if you don’t have something to replace it, you will be left with a giant hole that aches something fierce.

I want people to start the New Year off looking for something to fill that hole. Even if you haven’t given up all of the eating disorder yet, start filling the hole.  You may have to draw on hobbies you enjoyed before you were sick, or you may have to pick up something new.  But there will have to be something.  Something you love to do, something that thrills you, something that makes you feel whole, something that maybe no one else enjoys but you do.

I know when I gave up  my eating disorder, I wanted one thing to replace the one thing I was giving up, but I found that there is nothing in this world that is shaped exactly like the hole the eating disorder left.  This is something that I don’t think is talked about enough, the fact that nothing will fill the eating disorder’s role in your life–and nothing should.  The eating disorder is a destructive force, and yes, it is going to leave one hell of a raggedy shaped hole when you finally let it go.  But that’s the beauty of being a well-rounded person: you can have lots of little things that can sneak into those odd shaped nooks and crannies and before you know it, that space will be filled, and you will have a lot more to fall back on.

I’d love for someone to start a group with the intention of trying something new each week or each month.  We were focused on the eating disorder for so long; now it’s time to open up the windows and doors and step outside of that closed off world.  Step outside, breathe fresh air, let the breeze roll over your skin.  Look around you and dare yourself to do something new.

December 21, 2009 Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Finally!

So it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, not because I stopped wanting to blog but because I had no access to a computer.  Or my cell phone.  Or a regular phone.  Or my own bed . . .

About two-and-a-half weeks ago, the depression got bad again and I spent about five days in bed or on my couch.  The medication change that they did in the hospital in October had to be discontinued because of intolerable side effects.  I saw my psychiatrist and, considering the level of the depression and how quickly it got that bad, we decided that the best course of treatment would be to do ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).  And to do that, at least initially, I had to go back in the hospital.

The main concern, again, was safety regarding my heart while doing this treatment, so I had to get cleared by my cardiologist and the cardiology team at the hospital and we had to talk with the makers of my ICD.  I had my first treatment on Wednesday and my second on Friday.  Everything went well and I get to do the rest of the treatments on an outpatient basis.

I had ECT a little over ten years ago, and it did help me get out of the worst of the slump I was in, although the doctor who administered the treatments then did not take me off of certain meds like he was supposed to.  And the way they are administering the treatments (bilobally rather than bitemporally) results in almost no headache or confusion or memory loss.  Both times, I remember everything right up until I fell asleep from the anesthesia and then waking up in the recovery room.  The first time I had a bad headache and jaw ache, but they adjusted my blocking medication for the second treatment and the only hint of a headache showed up around 7 pm that night.

I hesitantly say that it’s helping.  I’m afraid to jinx it by saying so this early, but my doctor said that some people feel a slight difference after only one treatment.  I’m afraid that if I say it’s working, it will stop working, however irrational that thought is.  But I do know that the fatigue and memory loss I experienced last time I had ECT is not present at all, and that is a blessing.  I haven’t had any arrhythmias during or after the treatment sessions, which is something they were concerned about.

It’s nice to be home, with peace and quiet and my cats and the freedom to drink coffee whenever I want!  The unit was a relatively loud one this time, with lots of drama, and when I’m not on my mood stabilizer (it’s a anti-seizure medication so they had to take me off of it for the duration of the treatments), my nerves tend to get raw rather quickly.  I spent a lot of time in my room reading, which is good for the book part of me but not the social part of me.

Being Bipolar sucks.  I hate that this is something I don’t have control over.  At least with the eating disorder, once I made the active choice to recover, recovery was in my control.  I chose to follow my meal plan and I chose to keep my weight up.  These were active choices I made multiple times a day until they became habit again.  But with Bipolar Disorder, I don’t choose to wake up happy or depressed.  Yes, I can choose to “act opposite” to a certain degree, but I cannot command my neurotransmitters to fire correctly and produce all the right chemicals at the right time.  A great deal of that is out of my control.  Even though I was taking my  meds as prescribed and going to work and “doing the right things,” the depression came back.  This is part of having a life-long illness.  I can manage the symptoms as best as I can, but there are going to be times in my life when I will have to make medication changes or, perhaps, have more sessions of ECT.  I don’t like this, but I know there’s no cure for this.

In the meantime, I have a great core of friends here who have helped me out and will take me to my outpatient sessions and will see me through this time.  All in all, things are good.  I could have waited until the depression returned to a suicidal level, as I did ten years ago, but I chose to take action now.  And I suppose, in some ways, that means I do have some degree of control over this.  I choose to take my medication and have ECT, which both help manage the symptoms.  So, in that respect, things are within my control, at least to some degree.  Knowing that I am doing all that I can to help myself is a comforting thought because it makes me feel less helpless.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

delayed giving of thanks

wordle.net

I have to admit that this whole giving of thanks thing was a bit more difficult this year.  I’m 1,000 miles away from my family because I chose to do the adult thing and have a job.  I will also be away from them on Christmas morning, but at least it won’t be because I’m in the hospital.  So there’s one thing of thanks right there.

On Thanksgiving morning, I drove to my friends’ house to feed their dogs and let them out for a brief run.  On my drive back to my own place, I saw several runners.  This did not help my mood at all.  Ever since I was a runner-around the age of 12–I would go for a run on all holidays.  I can’t really explain it.  New Year’s Day was the most important one–getting the new year off on the right foot.  My dad always runs on holidays, and I learned to run with him, so maybe that’s my explanation.  But over time it just felt right.

So I see these people running and this feeling of bitterness creeps up inside of me.  A bit of anger, too. “If I can’t run, then they shouldn’t be able to, either.”  I know that is highly illogical and unrealistic and I really do support my friends who are runners.  But sometimes it just plain sucks knowing that I will not run again.  It sucks knowing that it wasn’t really my choice.  I mean, I could go for a run.  No one is going to stop me.  But the knowledge of what could happen on that run does stop me.  It’s a part of my life I still miss.

But wallowing in self-pity over something that isn’t going to go away for the rest of your life isn’t always that helpful.  So here are some things I am thankful for:

  • I have an amazing group of friends, both here in Missouri and back on the east coast.
  • Even though I am taking a year off of school, I am becoming happier with this program.
  • I have a part time job I like, with coworkers who have taught me a great deal in two short weeks.
  • I love my cats!  (Their page has been updated, by the way)
  • I am healing.
  • I have Lily (the ICD), and while she may feel like a pain in the ass sometimes, it is a relief knowing she is there.
  • I can knit, crochet, and bead with the best of them and am almost finished making my very first pair of socks.
  • I can enjoy the holidays and go to parties without worrying about how much to eat and what to eat and who is watching.
  • I will always be thankful for life without an eating disorder, regardless of the time of year.

The list is incomplete, but at 8 am with only one cup of coffee in me, it’s a pretty good list!  It is the holiday season, and I’m going to make the best of it.  I have decorations up–the christmas moose are out in plenty and my two Build a Bears have their party get ups on.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments