Last Friday was National Doughnut Day. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a National Doughnut Day!!! Naturally, I celebrated with a doughnut.


requisite selfie with pastry

Later that night, I went for a run. A year ago, this means I would have gone to the gym, set myself up on a treadmill, and watched the numbers until I had burned off every calorie in that doughnut. And then some.

But last week, those two things were completely unrelated. At no point during my run did I think, “I ate a doughnut.” Not even in passing. I went for a run because I wanted to be outside. I wanted to feel my body move. I wanted to explore the Greenway. So I ran (and walked). I pushed myself just far enough to know that my lungs were getting a workout, but I wasn’t out to prove anything. I was just having fun.

On an entirely related note, my therapist and I discussed termination today. Even having had three weeks between sessions, I had absolutely nothing to talk about. She said that after our last session, she felt really tired and bored. Like, she struggled to stay awake. And as I tried not to be offended, she explained what she meant.

I’m not bringing anything in to sessions. And that’s not a bad thing. I’m in a really stable place. I’m asking for what I need when I need it. (For example, the reason I had nothing to discuss at the last session was because I had talked with her on the phone the week before when I was freaking out about some flashbacks. Go me.) Sure, there are more things to work on, but A said that she’s not sure now is the right time. Furthermore, she said, when it is time to dig into that stuff, I may need a different type of therapy altogether than what she can offer.

When she asked what I thought, I told her that this conversation was not entirely out of left field. Just last week, I believe I said something to Alie along the lines of, “I don’t really think I need to be in therapy any more.” Of course, the prospect of not having therapy is just as terrifying. I told A that I am afraid as soon as we stop therapy, shit is going to hit the fan and I’m going to completely melt down. Her response? “If that happens, you know where to find me. I’m not moving anywhere.”

So we put together a schedule: I’ll see her in two weeks. Twice in July. Once in August. Once in September. And a goodbye session.

This is all assuming something major doesn’t happen and I lose my mind. Or, more likely, that I don’t do some sort of ass-backwards bullshit like throw myself into a relapse. But honestly, I don’t think that’s going to happen. While I really enjoy my therapist as a person, there are other ways to engage with her. Like getting my degree and license and knowing someone I can turn to for a consult.

To end on an entirely unrelated note, I have a birthday soon. My wishlist consists of: a vacuum cleaner, dustbuster, and mop.

Is this what being an adult is like?




Good News/Bad News

Good News: I seem to have figured out what is causing my stomach pains!

Bad News: It’s soy, which is a) my primary source of protein and b) in ev.ery.thing.

Good News: I have a new job caring for a young adult with special needs.

Bad News: He’s male, which I have some issues around, because trauma.

Good News: Only four days until the semester is done for me!

Bad News: Still need to write four papers, complete two presentations and not die from sleep deprivation.

Good News: I finally managed to say some very necessary words to a person in my life with the intent of ending the friendship.

Bad News: This was done in response to his calling ME to apologize for things I assumed he was totally oblivious to – and wanting to repair the friendship. So now I’m confused.

Good News: Since realizing how my lack of self-care was affecting my mood, I have been showering every day and feeling, on the whole, much better.

Bad News: No bad news there. Sincerely thankful for that.


On the whole, life is good. The only thing I really need right now is more time cuddling babies. Good thing I’m headed to my hometown this weekend. :)

One Year: Pain, Sadness, and Resurrection Life

So. On April 10, 2013 I checked in (voluntarily this time!) to Center for Change in Orem, Utah. In a lot of ways, Utah still has a piece of my heart. It certainly saved my life. And I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple of weeks about my time there. 

I didn’t refuse meals and boosts like I did my first time there. From day one, I went in to fight and eat and gain weight and health. Which means that I have been taking care of my body – consistently – for over a year now. I have been at a steady, healthy weight for almost five months now. I can count on one hand (nay, finger!) the number of times I have self-harmed in those same five months. I walk to school and play with the baby at the park, but rarely (if ever) do I step foot in the gym to pound out miles on the treadmill. If my body is tired, I sleep. If it’s hungry, I feed it. I am taking care of my body and treating it well.

This is, in part, the source of my great frustration these days. I am being good to you, body. When the hell was the last time I did that?! But you’ve decided that now that I’m treating you well you’re going to freak out? Stabbing stomach pains. Constant nausea. Never-ending menstrual cramps. (Never.Ending. I wish that were an exaggeration.) If we’re looking at this logically, I should be feeling really, really good.

But I’m not. The ultrasound I had a couple of weeks ago had no answers. A referral to a surgical specialist had no answers, just another referral. So I keep the pain and anti-nausea medications at hand, never quite breaking over to use them because I really need to be able to be coherent for the last few weeks of school.

There’s plenty of research about chronic pain and depression. And even in my last entry, I noted that the pain was wearing on me and bringing down my mood. I just don’t think I realized HOW depressed I’ve been until I woke up earlier this week with a bit of spring in my step. 

Thursday I was finally able to see objectively all the red flags that I should have been seeing all along. Wearing the same outfit for two or three days in a row because I was simply too tired (after 9 or 10 hours of sleep) to pick out a new one. Never mind the fact that it had been three weeks since I did a load of laundry. And while I’ve turned into something of a dirty hippie since moving to the mountains, not showering for five days should have set off all sorts of alarms. As strange as it sounds, the fact that I haven’t watched TV in three weeks is a bad sign. It means I’m not getting up early enough to have a sit-down breakfast and watch the news. It means that I’m spending all of my spare time in my bedroom, in bed, not in the living room. I’m isolating.

I met with my psychiatrist on Tuesday and we agreed that, so far as medication goes, this is as good as it’s going to get. The thing is, if this is as good as it gets – I quit*. There is not nearly enough joy and happiness in my life to make me want to stay around for the long-term. I feel numb and dead more often than not. When I’m feeling actual the feelz, it’s usually betrayal, sadness, guilt, loneliness, shame – all manner of negative emotions that leave me in tears. (Not that I’m knocking tears. That is progress.) I stand in church and sing and know that there was a time when I felt His presence deeply. I want to cry out to Him and yet it seems so hopeless. 

And I know this IS NOT as good as it gets. I just don’t know how to reconcile that truth with what I’m feeling now. I don’t know how to capitalize on those good days and try to stretch them out. I don’t know how to keep going when it feels like there is a block of cement on my feet, constantly dragging me down and back. 

I should know how, right? I mean – that’s what I’m in school for. There are very clear behavioural changes that I can make to try and relieve some of this depression. But how do you make yourself exercise each day when just the idea of walking to the apartment gym is exhausting? How do I eat “better” when I don’t have enough energy to stand for five minutes while I put together a salad? How can I possibly sleep more than I already am and still get things done? How do I pray when it takes me two and a half hours to put together a paragraph about how I am feeling?

Today is Easter – a celebration of resurrection life. I’m ready to feel alive again. 

Pray with me? Pray for me?


*Fear not – I have no intentions of “quitting life” any time soon. Based on genetic samples (aka parents and grandparents), it would seem you are stuck with me for at least another sixty to seventy years.

Sick Day

When I was a kid (and even a tween), sick days were like mini vacations. Sure, I might be vomiting occasionally or barely able to breathe, but I was in bed with my stuffed animals, reading away the day.

Sick days as an adult are not vacations. They are chances for your brain to stress you the f**k out because there are so many things you SHOULD be doing, but CAN’T. And three-quarters of the time, you can’t even take a sick day and you just have to push through and hope that your half-assed attempts at getting things done are enough.

I haven’t been feeling well for weeks. I mean, really, if you want to get down to it, I’ve had on-and-off sharp stomach pains and nausea for the last six months. It comes and goes. It will come for a week or two and make me really miserable, then quiet down for a stretch. This last episode started about a week and a half ago and I was pretty sure it was due to a lack of sleep and stress. But then I slept. And it was still there. I missed class this week. Profs were cool with it, no extra work to make up, but the pain was still there. I ate saltine crackers and chicken noodle soup and applesauce for virtually every meal. Still felt terrible.

It started to ease up a bit on Friday, but was back full force in time for the expressive arts showcase I was a part of. I had to ask the MCs to move my poem recitation to the very beginning of the program because I wasn’t sure I could stick it out through the entire thing. So my friend begins the showcase with a beautiful belly dance and I follow by reciting a poem I wrote for a friend a few years back. I get really positive feedback from the audience, notes of appreciation that I will treasure for a long time to come.

Things were going so well! Until about two minutes after I left the stage, when I began to feel the floor rush at me and I ran out of the cafe as quickly as I could, where I [literally and figuratively] tossed my cookies. We managed to find someone with a car to take me home (as I had ridden the bus to school), and within an hour of reciting my lovely poem, I was laying on the floor of the urgent care center about 2 miles from my apartment.

I figured I had finally come down with the flu, being as I like to take my chances by not getting vaccinated. Nope – not the flu. In fact, urgent care wasn’t really sure what was wrong, but were concerned about how intense my pain was. So a friend and classmate drove me to the ER, where we proceeded to sit for three hours while they poked, prodded, filled me with fluids, ran tests, and finally decided….they still didn’t know.

So – because I live in Small Town, USA, where the hospital isn’t fully staffed on weekends with unnecessary folks like radiologists – I am headed back to the hospital tomorrow (Monday) morning for an ultrasound. They think maybe it’s my gallbladder? Who the hell even thinks of their gallbladder these days? 

Like my dad said earlier tonight, I don’t necessarily want them to find something big, but I do hope they find something. Feeling ill constantly for “no reason” is really starting to mess with my head. The only times in the past few months that I’ve even had a fleeting thought about suicide were related to the fact that I did not want to be in pain like this everyday. It sucks.

I’ve tried everything to make the pain and nausea go away. Well, except ED behaviours. Or excessive drinking. Or self-harm. So I’m just left feeling sucky and it’s taking a toll on my mood. I’m definitely slipping into more depression than I’d like, though my psychotropic cocktail takes the edge off. I’m apathetic, lethargic, fatigued, pessimistic, and not really enjoying anything. 

This is a completely self serving post. I have no really wisdom in any of this, save that using eating disorder or drinking or self-harm behaviours isn’t going to fix anything. Just – if you’re the praying type, please pray they find something. Any answer is better than no answer at this point. I am just utterly exhausted by the not knowing. And the not being able to fix it.

Hold the Line

I struggle sometimes to decide whether or not to leave a post up if I am embarrassed by what I’ve said or no longer feel that way because the situation has changed. Ultimately, I choose to leave them because they were – at that moment in time – my reality.

On one hand, some things I mentioned in my last post were cleared up within an hour of writing it. I had not realized that the friend I mentioned in the first half of the post actually subscribes to my blog and thus, she was greeted with an e-mail of my blog which understandably seemed very passive aggressive. The lack of invitation to the baby shower was, of course, an oversight and I took it entirely too personally and, as I am wont to do, jumped to the worst possible conclusion. (My apologies again to this friend – who has never been anything but loving and gracious. Also – and this is for everyone – if I ever do that sort of passive-agressive bitchy move you are allowed to chew me out and/or slap me.)

On the other hand, even though things were sorted with that particular friend, it did not change the hurt and grief I felt over the other friendships. The immediate situation with the first friend triggered all sorts of feelings that I am not entirely equipped to handle. My coping skills have grown leaps and bounds even in the past two months (no self-harm, what what!!), but sometimes I am still at a loss for what to do with my emotions. My emotions seem to have two options: on full-blast or off.

Spring break in Florida was positively delightful, but I didn’t really deal with any sort of feelings aside from “Yay Disney! Yay friends! Yay camping and hiking!” I very intentionally left my homework/reading for therapy buried in my bag because I just did not want to open that can of worms. I noticed in therapy last Monday that this was a way for me to close myself off to any emotion. So when I prayed for openness to emotion….well, the damn broke. I was a weepy mess for most of Monday night.

Y’all, I just feel raw. The slightest touch hurts. I had to walk out of my Tuesday night class because the activity hit (oh so tangentially) an area I’ve been working on in therapy and I could not handle it. I stuck it out as long as it could, but the class and situation just continued to feel more and more unsafe. I bolted after class. A classmate told me when I saw her later in the week that she had been praying for me and that my professor was really concerned. So now I have that awkward situation to walk into this Tuesday night.

I texted my therapist when I got home. I had taken a detour to EarthFare, hoping that picking up a couple of things would be enough to reset my brain. It wasn’t, so I asked my therapist how I was supposed to shut off these stupid emotions so I could get my schoolwork done. “Because beer is currently looking like my best option,” I said.

“Hold the line,” she said. “Your healing is way way way more important than homework. It will stop. You will catch up. Keep going until…it is finished.  Jesus did.”  A brief exchange occurred, wherein I realized just how human I am and my therapist stated that she was extremely glad that I was in touch with that humanness.

I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing, how I am supposed to be feeling. I know that the nights when I am so sure I’m just flat-out going to die from THE FEELZ are progress. I am feeling. I am allowing myself to be broken. I am trusting my family and friends to hold me while my Saviour binds the wounds.

But first – I have to take off the crude bandages I spent so long putting together and feel the pain that was always there.

But which is silver and which is gold?

Make new friends, but keep the old — One is silver and the other gold.

Sometimes, I feel like I don’t matter at all to friends. A good friend of mine is having a baby in June and had a baby shower yesterday. I only knew because I saw a picture someone posted and asked another friend what I had missed. And I logged in to facebook tonight to see that some friends of mine are going to a shower for her next weekend. I was invited to neither.

I was tagged in a photoset over the weekend as well – a Sex and the City post:


The friend who tagged me said in the caption how this reminded her of college and all of our “couch therapy sessions”! I definitely laughed when I saw it, but it also hurt my heart.

I haven’t talked to the friend who posted it in over two years.

I sent her a card last year, a letter of amends for all the wrong I had done over the course of my eating disorder. She responded briefly saying she would respond further, but never did. But she has tagged me in a few photos of “the good times” recently and it has left me wondering why. When she posted this, I sent her a message telling her I missed her and this photo made me laugh and mourn simultaneously. Facebook has told me that she read the message over 24 hours ago. But she hasn’t responded.

I am in tears because I feel like I don’t matter to anybody. I’m not invited to your baby shower, for pete’s sake? That time when you invite people over to fawn over you and play games and give you free stuff? I’m not even important enough that you would ask me for free stuff?!

I realize that this is taking it to an extreme in thought distortion world, but it really does seem that pronounced at times. I feel like I can’t look anywhere without seeing the wreckage my eating disorder has wrought on my relationships over the past five years.

But then I remember that I have new friends. Friends who are willing to listen to me whine and cry about these old friendships. Friends who are willing to house me for a few days while I visit – the first time I’ve ever done so in an emotionally healthy place. Friends who gift me with inspirational collages they’ve made because they think of me when they see it on their wall and want me to have it. Friends who surprise me by sending me a ginormous tin of the most awesome silly putty ever.

I am so incredibly thankful for these friends. I would not have survived the past year without these friends. They have saved my life, time and again.

But so did those other friends. At what point do I become “too much” for these new friends, too?

Is life just one long series of relationships coming and going? It seems that it is. Some relationships stay, but plenty others fade in and out – including those you thought for sure would last to the end of time.

Life is this uncomfortable mingling of tears of joy followed by tears of grief.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now…

Four years ago today, I started writing on this little corner of the interwebz. That first post was a sort of tentative “well, I guess I’ll give recovery a shot.” A lot has happened in four years. And sometimes I wonder if I would go through it all over again. 

Four years ago, I had no idea that things would get worse and worse and worse and I would go to treatment three times. I had no idea that I would find myself in the ER more than once waiting for an admission to the psychiatric unit. I had no idea that I would lose friendships. I had no idea that recovery would hurt so damn badly that I’d rather have sutures than sit with the pain.

But I also didn’t know that it was possible to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then go along with the rest of my day. I didn’t know it was possible to just walk into the store and buy cheese. Just buy it – not spend ten minutes trying to figure out which was “best” only to walk away without buying any. I never would have thought that I would be stable enough to try to go back to school. (Shit, I never would have thought I could get off the treadmill long enough to fill out an application.) And I didn’t know that my friendships that survived would be deeper and more authentic or that I would pick up new friends along the way.

There is still that small voice in the back of my head that tells me everything would have been fine – would have been better – if I had never attempted recovery and just stayed in my eating disorder. Sometimes, I think that voice is very, very right. But on the whole?

Things are far better than they were four years ago.

And maybe, if I can remember that, I can hang on through the next four years. 

I Said “Breathe,” Not “Hyperventilate”

So, yeah. All that adorable optimism and chutzpah in my last post pretty much went out the window by Wednesday. I honestly don’t know that I even have the energy to hash the whole thing out, but suffice it to say, my recovery had a VERY close call this week.

Between Wednesday at about noon until I woke up on Friday morning, I was a hot.mess. I’m not entirely sure how I survived Thursday, honestly, as I was extremely dehydrated and undernourished and in a post-SH induced haze. Add a cup or two of shame and a dose of fear and you’ll understand why I was utterly shocked to hear my professor suggest that I go on to a doctoral program.

Me, the girl who had just met with her dietitian because she couldn’t fathom the idea of a meal. Me, the girl that went to health services for an SH wound and was not allowed to leave in the hour that passed between my arrival and the first available appointment. Me, the girl who had gone to bed at seven the night before because she could not deal with life any more. Me, the girl who had seriously considered ending her life for the first time in almost a year.

It started with a therapy session on Wednesday, though to understand the whole story, you need to know that these things were playing in the background:

  • I was at the state counseling conference and listened to a presentation about the new DSM-V eating disorder diagnostic criteria and discovered that they now rate the severity of EDs as from “mild” to “severe”
  • At the same conference, I made the mistake of sitting in on a session about working with traumatized women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where “trauma” = “sexual violence” and I spent an hour outside trying not to jump out of my skin

And I totally thought I had done a good job recognizing and processing it and told my counselor about it first thing during our [phone] session. What I did not anticipate was her pushing and pushing on the physical reaction I had during the trauma session.

Why was I so hypervigilant? I needed to keep an eye on everything. Why? So I don’t get hurt. Where did I learn that? …in college. When? …at the bar. When? …I can’t go there today. That’s as close as we’re going to get today, April. 

Everything in me was screaming under the weight of shame.

In a lot of ways, I have made a LOT of progress since I have come back from treatment. Unfortunately, after God-only-knows how many hours and thousands of dollars on therapy, I still believe that I came out of the womb a priori fucked up. My life has been idyllic, nobody has done anything to me, and there is basically no reason that I should struggle because my life has been PERFECT. It’s ME that’s fucked up.

On Wednesday, when I said for the millionth time that I’m just fucked up, my therapist refused to play along. She said that we are at the point in counseling where I need to either dig deep and challenge that (by acknowledging how people hurt me, failed me, missed me) or there’s nowhere to go. And if we don’t go there, what are we going to do in therapy? Keep me from going crazy; maintain the status quo, I said.

She won’t. Either we dive into my story or we need to consider terminating the counseling relationship. If I want a therapist who will help me to maintain my behaviours where they are, I need to find a new one. And while her motives are so pure (she wants true freedom and healing for me, but that means I’ve got to push ahead), I was (and am) upset nonetheless.

April has been my counselor for YEARS. She calls me on my shit. She knows more of my story than anyone else. She has cursed at me, challenged me, eaten with me, laughed with me, comforted me. The idea of losing her as a counselor is terrifying.

Equally terrifying is the prospect of acknowledging how and when people have hurt me and coming face-to-face with the brokenness in me. I insisted time and again in Wednesday’s session that I’m just not ready for that kind of work, and she repeatedly told me that she thinks I am. I cried as our session wound down and she told me that I needed to seriously think about if I’m going to continue therapy.

Above all, she said – it’s an issue of trust. Do I trust my friends, family, and community to hold me up when I’m so weak I can barely stand? Do I trust April to be a wise guide and to walk me through this? Most of all, do I believe that my God and my Saviour is waiting to bind up the broken places in me and heal them?

Yes. And no.

The fear is positively crippling. I feel like I am just barely keeping my head above water this semester. And if I messed up so much and so badly over the course of 36 hours just talking about the possibility of doing this sort of storywork…

How much worse is it going to be when I actually do it?



Just. Breathe.

Today marks the beginning of my third week back in classes. My course load is considerably heavier than last semester, which makes me unbelievably nervous. 

My favourite class last semester was Multicultural Counseling, which was also the most challenging class I was taking. Because I loved it so much (and because I did not know when this professor – whom I adore – would teach a class I could take again), I signed up for Advanced Systemic Multicultural Counseling. About a week before class, he sent an e-mail with the eleven-page syllabus for this class. I freaked. Actually, a lot of us did. This class overwhelms me a lot and last Thursday’s class was positively miserable. Most of the students in the class are second or third years in Marriage and Family Therapy, so not only do they have more education than I do, but they approach counseling from an entirely different theoretical perspective. I felt incredibly outsmarted in Thursday’s class and can only hope that my negative thinking cycles were due in large part to a lack of sleep.

My sleep over the past couple of months has gotten progressively worse. Waking up multiple times in the night, staying awake for hours at a time, inability to get my head to shut up long enough to even fall asleep. Last Monday I woke up at 4:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. By Thursday, I was dragging. I played the “everything is fine!” face as long as I could, but after class, my head was spinning with unhealthy behaviours I wanted to behave in and I didn’t know how I was going to make it safely through the night.

So I finally took advantage of my permission to do cardio. I hit the gym in the apartment office and pounded out a couple miles on the elliptical. I didn’t even spend my entire allowed time, only about half. But by the time I returned back to my apartment, my brain was slowed enough for me to actually use coping skills. My therapist and I had a long conversation last week regarding whether or not reintroducing exercise at all was wise, and she was not at all a fan of the idea. (My dietitian is the one who gave me permission to exercise again.) 

But Thursday night, I finally slept. Through the night. Thank God! I had done a handful of “new” things that night, so the rest of the week and weekend has been an experiment trying to figure out which of the three (or a combination) was the thing that allowed me to sleep so solidly. After a few days, it seems that ditching one of my pillows and taking one of my anxiety meds with the rest of my evening medications. I’ve woken up a time or two over the past two nights, but it’s usually just for a moment and I’m immediately back to sleep. It’s really delightful. The only kink in this plan is that my psychiatrist does not want to prescribe this medication for me – and I agreed with her initially, because I feel like it is more of a “crutch” and doesn’t allow me to actually work through the anxiety. However, if it’s going to help me sleep, I’m going to have to lobby for it. (I cannot take sleep medications due to a tendency to overdose and/or make “plans” with them, so I do not feel comfortable having them in my house.)

On the bright side, I am taking a class on music and the expressive arts and I am LOVING it. Unfortunately, it was canceled last week due to snow (it is a late night class) and this week I will be at a state counseling conference. I am truly bummed to be missing it. The class is so laid back! (Our syllabus is a list of books and ideas – no quizzes, no tests, no papers. Everything is experiential.) And the professor is amazing. In just three hours, he made me fall in love with music all over again. He retires after this semester, so I’m glad I’m having the opportunity to study with him now. (And – bonus! – he is also listed as faculty for our summer expressive arts institute, so I’ll get to have one more week of class with him.)

And now, I should return to schoolwork. Basically every moment of my day is scheduled this semester and I need to stay on top of things. The moment I fall behind it will snowball and everything will be off schedule. This is exacerbated that I just got an assistantship (10 hrs/wk), though on that note, it is extremely flexible, so I am hoping that it is just a good way to get my head off classwork.

Oh, and one of my semester-long assignments is to zentangle three to four times a week. I’m literally being graded on this. Twist my arm, will you?