14 April, 2008

Therapist #30869054

Well, I did make it to see the new therapist today. It's so frustrating seeing someone at the school counselling center, though... I can't develop any sort of rapport before they move on to a new internship! I'll only be seeing this one for four weeks, when the semester ends and she goes off to somewhere.

Actually, I'm rather peeved with them in the first place... The head of the counselling center told me that I'd be seeing a practicing clinician, not an intern, since I really need more intensive help than a grad could offer me. That and I have a tendency to intimidate interns. I mean, think about it: I've probably been in therapy far longer than they've been studying it! And of course there's also the little factor that I'm quite a bit crazier than the finals stress, break-up grief, homesickness, that most of the students at the school come in for.

The biggest problem I have with new therapists is called ACTIVE LISTENING. It's the therapy practice in vogue (I thought Jung started it but Crystal tells me it's way more recent) and it's a load of crap. No other way to put it. Basically, active listening looks something like this:

Me: Basically, I'm just having a really hard time adjusting back to real life. I feel guilty when I eat because I feel like I'm betraying an old friend but I feel guilty if I don't eat because then I'm betraying myself and everyone who's been supporting me.
Carol (therapist): I'm hearing that you're dealing with a lot of conflicting thoughts... That must be a very stressful thing for you.
Me: Yeah... It's like either way I can't win. It's so much easier to fall back on ED patterns because they're so familiar and simpler. I don't have to think about it to act on my anorexia but it takes constant effort to pursue health.
Carol: It sounds like you're pretty discouraged. I can see how it would be tempting to revert to the old, familiar habits.
Me: ....Yeah.

Me: Blah blah blah, something about the work I've already done in therapy.
Carol: I just wanted to say how very impressed I am by the amount of work you've done... You have so much insight into your thought processes and struggles! It seems like you have been working really hard to be serious about recovery.

Sigh. Active listening just pisses me right the hell off. If that was what I was needing from a therapist, I could just go talk to one of the empathetic robots that AI scientists are working on now... Active listening is easy enough that ROBOTS CAN AND DO PRACTICE IT.

If I'm paying a therapist to help me, I'd like a little more participation than an echo plzkthx.

That said, tune in next time for a discussion of my latest trip to the sex store and why I feel American society is hypocritical, prudish, and operating on out-moded Puritanical ideals! (Because I'm never on a high horse or anything.)

08 April, 2008

A dingy little window in

I'm having a Bad Day.

Yesterday was supposed to be my first appointment with my new therapist through the UCD counselling center. I've already done my intake and everything but because of spring break and some trip or other the therapist had last week yesterday was the earliest we could schedule an appointment. When the alarm went off at 8:30 I looked it over, thought about how desperately I wanted to sleep, and disabled the alarm.

Lora called me later that day and left a message since I looked at the phone, saw who it was, and ignored the call. In the gentle, unaccusatory therapist tone, she said how her schedule had me down for ten and it was now noon and she wondered where I was. She made sure to preface any sort of admonishment with an, "I know we haven't talked for a few weeks, so I'm sure you must have forgotten or something came up." Yeah, my anorexia came up. And it says it doesn't want any more therapy.

I woke up around 12:45, meaning I should have gotten my first meal around one. I finally decided to prepare something around 2:30. According to the clock on my cell phone it is now 2:51 and my two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and glass of milk are barely touched.

Every time I pick the first sandwich up for a nip (bite wouldn't be accurate today) I think about the list of "behaviors" I'm engaging in... Small bites, check. Excessive chewing, check. Eating in order, check. I've got a couple of sandwich rituals which aren't on EDC's list but those certainly fall under the behaviors category for me, too. Eat in a spiral until the crust is gone, avoiding any actual bread content if humanly possible. Once completed, eat back and forth from top to bottom. Rest sandwich on the back of the hand instead of holding it.

One of the few big annoyances I found at EDC was their list of behaviors, complimented by a thoroughly unhelpful list of ways to counteract those behaviors. Instead of taking miniscule bites, take normal bites. Instead of chewing too much, only chew necessary number of times before swallowing. Vary order of foods instead of eating safe foods first. Etc.

I feel like it's been forever that I've been doing this damn recovery thing. I'm bored with food and eating. I feel like I eat the same things over and over and even if I vary the way it's presented it's still the same basic food. Really, there are only so many choices. I don't know whether it's worse that I've been maintaining or worse that I'm supposed to be gaining weight... Every time I go in to see the nutritionist she does her little blind weigh-in with the somehow muted old scale, purses her lips and tells me that I'm not losing weight but I'm really not gaining it either. Really, though I feel like my body has exploded from its acceptable confines, I'm only about back to my pre-relapse-that-put-me-in-the-hospital weight.

As always, one of the biggest things holding me in check is the fear of financial detriment. I've got such a tenuous grasp on finances right now and if I start to hard-core relapse again my quality of work will be down, my energy and hours will be down, my medical expenses will be up. Aside from that, so much has been invested in my treatment over the last few months that it feels like a betrayal of the basest kind to just jump back in to my eating disorder.

Has it really only been two and a half months since I started up again with recovery? Crap. And I'm supposed to stick with this thing for the rest of my freaking life?

I miss the excitement of dying. That sounds ridiculous and counter-intuitive but it's true. As boring as starvation is, there is still a strong element of danger and thrill at the fact that I'm a few inches from death at any given moment. For one thing, when there's no food in my system I'm basically living off whatever adrenaline I can muster to get me on my feet. I don't know why it feels like such a testament to the will to be able to say, "I'm starving myself to death but I'm not going to actually die! Just you watch!" but it does. I guess in its own way self-imposed starvation is a David Blaine type of performance art.

3:06 and I'm almost halfway through sandwich number one.

My head hurts. I miss feeling invincible by being able to go without anything resembling food all day, for several days or weeks or whatever. Now I start to get tetchy and dizzy after maybe two hours. I feel weak, depending on food like this. I'm disgusted with myself for making this lunch in the first place and, moreover, for eating it despite all my convictions to the contrary.

Every time someone at work tells me they're proud of me I alternately want to sob or punch them in the face. I don't look "good". I don't look "better". Can't they see that I'm betraying myself to the weakness of 'health'? Why can't they understand the power and beauty of starvation? Why do they look at me like I'm crazy when I say that no, I'm really not happy with how my body is changing? The worst part of it all is that my metabolism is so revved since it's in organ repair mode that I have to eat twice as often and significantly more than normal, healthy people, so all these coworkers who knew I was going in for treatment for my anorexia now look at me eating a meal or large snack every two hours and think I must have been faking. Every time we make eye contact their expressions say, how can you possibly be anorexic if you eat so damn much?

It seems like all I do is grocery shop and eat. And then go back to work to earn more money for more groceries.

I saw Annie last week as I was leaving EDC from the nutritionist's, and she looks awful. My heart broke for her but I was insanely jealous at the same time. Erin and Crystal and I had dinner together at Red Lobster a few nights ago, the first time Erin and I have seen each other since we were in program together... It felt like all we did was watch the other one eat to see who had more and who ate faster and who showed better "self control". I desperately miss all my friends from EDC but what I'd been afraid would happen is exactly what's taking place: our biggest connection to each other was the program and now that we're out the bonds are broken.

Recovery is a bitch.

01 April, 2008

Is she alive? Or is this just an April Fool's prank...

Why has it been so hard to write? I don't know. Primarily, life lately has been work, work, work, work, AAAAH WORK WORK WORK!!! It's amazing what six weeks out of work will do to your financial stability, even with outside help. Actually, at this moment I'm having a mild freak out because our paychecks just came and they were (combined) a couple hundred less than I was expecting.

How do I begin describing life at present?

I miss the security of program, for one thing. I'd never been able to fathom Munchaussen before spending so much time under the care of others but now the appeal is pretty easy to recognize. If for no other reason than I didn't have to worry about planning, purchasing, and preparing each of my six meals a day the idea of PHP has a somewhat dream-like quality. I've probably said this a thousand times already but I had completely forgotten how damn expensive it is to eat as much as a normal person is supposed to (and then some, in my case). I honestly used to see food as a sort of guilty commodity, purchased only when my basest animal impulses could no longer be ignored. It's still hard to not look at the hundreds of dollars I spend as frivolous expenditures. I'm late on my car payment and will have to be a few days later still because I have no groceries left in the cupboard. One example among many.

Another struggle is that I'm once again facing the feeling of being absolutely bored with eating. I suppose that when one consumes as much as I do on as little a budget as I have it may be an inevitable thing... Or perhaps I'm short on recipes and ideas. (Hint, hint, dear readers! Lolz.) Or, as a third option, maybe I'm just weird. Either way, it's to the point that I open up fridge and cabinet and just stare at it all with distaste despite the hunger I'm feeling again now. My current staples are chicken, rice, potatoes, PBJ, cheese, yogurt, milk, and ritz crackers. Factor those out to six meals a day, every day, and it gets highly repetitive.

Okay, technically I probably shouldn't say six meals. It's three meals, three snacks. However, the snacks to me seem like meals... They've given me a snack list to choose from, and it'll have options like: 1 yogurt, one slice bread, two tblsp peanut butter or two servings fruit, 1 1/2 c. cottage cheese, one serving cereal. These, to me, are more than 'snacks'. When I think 'snack' I think a handful of crackers or a yogurt or a serving of fruit... Not this AND this AND this.

On the happy side of things, I am really working at this thing with an intensity and seriousness previously unseen. Crystal even admitted that I'm surprising her and surpassing the expectations she had for me and EDCD. Not that she was expecting me to fail or whatever, just that she hadn't anticipated I'd really try to get healthy and not just less sick.

Because I am who I am, artsy fartsy crap is a big part of this. We just purchased a dining room table and chairs a couple days ago (yay craigslist, fifty bucks for all!) and Crystal had the idea to turn it into a really recovery-oriented project... Since the dining room table is the main battleground for healing and all that schmaltz, she had the idea to collage over the top of it with encouraging images and words and such. I'd already stated from the get-go that I wanted to make the table all crazy and bohemian and absolutely insane looking but Crystal really gave it a direction.

Haven't started on the table yet but I started work on a couple of chairs yesterday... One I'm just painting and haven't got much direction on yet, but the other I've taken a bunch of my 'sick' jeans and cut them to pieces which I'm wrapping and gluing to the chair. It's pretty freaking awesome, much neater than the haphazard picture it suggests. Very Soho/Greenwich Village/Dupont/Eastern Market/San Fran/etc. I'll post pictures and progress pics as things come along. ^.^

Speaking of sick clothes, the things that fit are falling away slowly but surely. It's getting so that I hate going into my closet to pick something out... Much easier to keep one or two outfits readily accessible to avoid any possibility of pulling something on only to realize it fits like Spandex. I'm holding out for a while as the weather gets warmer, though, both to hopefully help stabilize moolah and wait to purchase clothes that will last me the season instead of a few remaining weeks or months. Mostly I alternate between work uniform and sweatpants.

Despite this, I'm still not gaining the way EDCD wants. I can tell my body is changing and am royally freaked out by it but whenever I go in to meet with the nutritionist she purses her lips a little and asks what I'd be willing to add to my meal plan. I'm not losing, she'll say after the blind weigh-in, but I'm really not gaining, either. Apparently I have the metabolism of a hummingbird.

The nutritionist's comments about my not gaining aren't enough to thwart mirror melt-downs on a regular basis. Any lingering BDD seems magnified now that my body actually is changing. Depending on the moment I'll be in tears because I think I've surpassed the girth of an aircraft carrier or because I see no change and think I'm a failure at recovery and shouldn't be bothering. There appears to be no win. Pulling on too-tight clothes which fit yesterday is not in the least helpful. Similarly, the day I pulled on a pair of jeans and realized they stayed up without a belt now caused one of the worst relapse-y days yet.

Well, I need to go find food for the day. I've yet to put something in... But then again I didn't get up until 1:30. (Restaurant closer schedule.) Blaaaah food. Why is something so banal such a complex, pain in the ass issue? I may never figure that one out.

Love and hope to all y'all. I'll try to be less negligent in the future!