Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

complicating more hospital waters


a hospital. can you guess which one?

Just because I like making matters more complicated.  I got the following message from someone (edited and condensed):

“I know the main reasons i’m wanting my eating disorder so badly, but that doesn’t make me want it any less. but even though i know all of this stuff and have all the tools or whatever, parts of me still just want to be “sick.” Like hospitalized sick. Is that weird? I feel embarrassed telling you that.
How the FUCK did you stick with it? how did you keep yourself from relapsing?”

I see two “questions” here.  Is wanting to be “hospitalized sick” weird? and “How the FUCK did you stick with it? “It” being recovery.

Here is my response to the first question (edited to fit this blog):

You know there’s still a significant part of me that is jealous of certain people who keep going back inpatient, even though I see problems with the inpatient “culture” I talked about before. These men and women are sick and they need help. We know that. Everyone around them knows that. So everyone takes care of them. And they get to go into treatment whenever life or recovery gets too hard or too threatening or too scary.  And in treatment, people are actually taking care of them.  They/we may bitch about how un-fun treatment is, but there is comfort in knowing someone is taking care of you.  This is the part of recovery where a lot of people get stuck: we never had anyone to take care of us as a kid, but then we got sick and went to treatment and people took care of us, and then we got better and most people assumed it’s all fine and dandy but we still need people to take care of us as well as find out how to take care of ourselves. In the past month, there have been so many times where I’ve thought in my head, “If I take this course of action then I could be hospitalized and I can rest and let other people do everything.” I don’t want to be sick. I don’t want to relapse. I don’t want to live in a hospital.  But I sure as hell want that hospitalization. How contradictory are those previous two sentences?  No, it’s not fun being there, but there is community and people who care and people who get it and people who don’t expect you to just smile and pretend you’re fine.

And no, I am not planning on doing anything that would result in me needing to go to the hospital.  The hospital for me is a mirage–it promises safety and order and protection, and to some degree, these things are provided when I’m in the hospital.  But then I leave the hospital.  And as I said in my previous complicating the waters post, the real world is always there when you leave the hospital.  The real world never, ever goes away.  And while hospitalization may have helped me and may have been necessary at various points in my life, I have ultimately had to learn to live in the real world and take care of myself.  Not just the “big girl” things of paying bills and buying groceries and cat food and cleaning (or not) but the self-care and self-nurturing things: knowing when I hurt and am in pain and need comfort and knowing where to find comfort (safely), knowing when I need rest, knowing when I need to reach out, knowing when a box of tissues really is the best way to handle things.

Taking care of yourself does not mean doing it alone.  I know whom I can call in certain situations.  I know who can provide me with what type of comfort I need.  I know when to ask for help and how to ask for help (although I fully admit I suck at following through with this at times) and when I need to respect other people’s boundaries and soak in the bathtub and take a nap with my cats.

I think there will always be part of me that believes that a hospital can offer escape.  After nineteen hospitalizations, how could I not feel that way?  The part of me that realizes life is better outside of the hospital is larger than the “hospital=escape” part, and it continues to grow.  But the desire for escape is still there.  I believe that’s normal.  For everyone.  It’s just that for some of us, escape became something unhealthy.

So, I will answer the “How the FUCK did you stick with it” question in another entry . . .

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November 14, 2010 - Posted by | coping, Eating Disorders, recovery, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Holy crap. I can totallllllly relate. How did you delve into the inner workings of my mind? I existed in the alternative universe that came with going in and out of treatment centers for years and years and years. You say 19 but I do not think it is possible for me to count the number for myself. Hospital = escape. Hospital = friends. Hospital = safety. Hospital = sense of belonging… etc. We got massages, went to art museums, painted pottery, did yoga, were cooked for by gourmet chefs, ate tofu burgers and yogurt parfaits, had our beds made for us everyday, sang songs, held hands, prayed with each other, vowed to be in each other’s weddings, learned how to walk again, had pig-tail and mismatch days, made art, did crafts, went to restaurants, went swimming, always had a shoulder to cry on, and rode freaking PONIES! Who wouldn’t want to go to this sleepover camp for adults? Me – that’s who. Because it always ends the same. Heartache and the real world. These people are being paid and these relationships are not going to last. These environments served a purpose for us at one point – but we can’t continue to live in this delusional fairytale forever. Well, we can – but at some point you have to wake up and smell the coffee (that you have to make for yourself). It’s not reality. It doesn’t last. I am tired of the let down after the party. Everyone leaves. They move on. It happens. This chick is 14 months “sober” from this “sick lifestyle” that will continue to suck you in and suck out your soul – if you continue to let it. Let’s be big girls, foster real relationships, and fight.

    Comment by me | November 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. I hope revolving rehab for EDS becomes about as “cool” as Lindsay Lohan going to rehab once again.

    Racking up hospitalizations is about as “cool” as single digit BMIs and the like.

    I missed all the Fall and Winter holidays last year due to being in the hospital–and I am elated to get to be part of life (and festivities) this year.

    I hope I am never sick enough again to need (or want) the hospital.

    Comment by emily | November 15, 2010 | Reply

  3. I have only been in treatment once, this spring, and I miss it because of the 24-hour support and care and love I got there. Which is what I’ve been wanting and needing and missing in my life since… well, since birth. My goal now is to try to replicate that feeling, that support, outside the treatment setting, back in the real world. Through friends, family, support groups, self-care, etc.

    Comment by Renee | November 17, 2010 | Reply

    • yay for real relationships! you should check out MentorConnect – where relationships replace eating disorders.

      Comment by me | November 18, 2010 | Reply

      • I agree–MentorConnect is an awesome place. I’m a mentor there.

        Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 19, 2010

  4. Have you ever wondered where these feelings come from? Who put them there? How are they created?

    What if it is within your power to take control of your feelings and thus control you behavior?

    Comment by Julia | November 22, 2010 | Reply

    • Julia–there is a very long history of bipolar disorder and major depression in our family–in rather intense forms. I had my first depressive episode when I was 12, my first manic episode when I was 18. One could argue that this is learned behavior–IF I had witnessed it ever. But no one in my immediate family has these illnesses. And I did not know how deep mental illness ran in our family until I was in my mid-twenties, long after I had started receiving treatment.

      No one put them there. My DNA did. I can tell the difference between a “normal” depressive spell (ie one that could be expected after a certain event, as is the case with the depression surround my cardiac diagnosis) and a bipolar depressive spell. The symptoms are different and they feel different.

      Feelings are feelings. We only have so much control over them. How we react to these feelings is the key. And I have taken a great deal of control over how I respond to feelings.

      Your last sentence implies that I am not in control of my behavior, but I have admitted here and in other entries that I do own my behaviors, that I am at a stage of recovery where a lot of things are my choice.

      But going manic or sliding into a depression–I have limited control over that. I can recognize warning signs and talk to my doctor and hopefully we can get things under control soon enough. But if you’ve ever had a true psychotic break during a manic episode, you’ll understand that that is not something I can control.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 22, 2010 | Reply

      • I wasn’t saying that you are not in control of your behavior. I don’t claim to understand what it is like dealing with your situation. It was just a “what if” question. I have started to ask myself different questions, and I want to see if others have too.

        For me it was feeling (bad / sad / lonely / rejected / …), followed by binging to cover up the pain. Trying to get away from the feelings put me into action. An action designed to keep me safe, keep me away from the pain. I spend many years trying to change the action I took in response to the feeling. Instead of eating, I would go for a walk, journal, exercise, …

        Then I asked different questions: Where are these feelings coming from? I feel feelings in my body, a tightness in my stomach, like my heart is being squeezed, etc. Does my body just decide to start producing feelings on its own?

        Hypothetical, if I could change what I feel, I would change what I do, naturally.

        You are doing great, and I know that you will find healing. I found mine and I’m trying to see if other can do it the same way.

        Comment by Julia | November 22, 2010


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