Sunday, July 29, 2012

13 months...The Evolution of Me!

Anniversaries always spark a little drive in me to write so here we are at just over 13 months in treatment.

Mind = blown. Still.

One week until I venture on my next trip home. I cannot express how excited I am to see my family and friends (and dog!) as well as experience a variety of weather systems and speak a whole lot of very rapid English!! :) Those last two sound a bit superficial but I really am looking forward to those things!

I wavered about how I might approach this post and I'm going to take a bit of a risk, have a little more fun, and include photos because it just helps illustrate the process I have had to endure over the last year and a bit.  (As if you haven't heard enough about it, right??)

Some background:
The philosophy of the program here is that when one enters the program, there is an emotional mind in a childlike state that essentially needs “reparenting”. That is in absolutely no way a criticism of parents of people afflicted with eating disorders. The stunted emotional growth occurs at the fault of no one but it exists. The differentiation between emotional and rational minds helps explain how I, for example, was able to hold down a job, live independently, go back to school, etc. as a young adult before the eating disorder took over again and all but physical life was lost. My rational mind, as that of many of ED suffers grew exponentially over my life – often being referred to as beyond one's years – and “normal” life activities were maintained for some time (tragically, many people do not even experience a breaking point where people are finally alerted to that person's unbelievable need. Often one's rational mind carries them forward and through life but not truly living at the same time). Eventually, that childlike emotional mind couldn't take it anymore and it is proven that the emotional mind can short circuit the rational mind thus rendering the sufferer incapacitated in what can seem like an overnight event.

That's all pretty much what happened with me!

I can admit quite freely at this point that I arrived here last June extremely immature in many ways. The growth process was less than pleasant: imagine being 27 and throwing a full-blown tantrum about something as simple as not having the right kind of berries for my breakfast! The only thing different in me than a two year old at that point was that I was more versed in curse words!! Unpleasant is to put it lightly - it never felt good but it was an essential part of this journey.  In short, I needed to be able to express myself whenever, wherever, however, about whatever, and still be cared about.

This photo really say it all. Can you believe that this really was me, at 27 chronological years of age, previously working as a nurse and schooling full-time (combined)? I arrived in Portugal, white as ghost, hair braided in pig tails, and a few weeks later this photo of me delighting in the discovery of a “slide” in a park was taken. There were brief times of relief at that point as I remember really enjoying this goofy moment but what you cannot see in photos is the incessant reel of thoughts and fears usually simply regarding what gentle meal came next.

Eventually that stage ended, I carried on through what might be likened to primary and elementary school age of emotional childhood. It was during this stage when I came off all my meds completely and suddenly “saw” the world. Everything was such a fuller experience and I finally delighted in many simple things.

This was short lived relief! Between here and the next personal photo, I have few pleasant memories. Every moment seemed painful and unbearable. I learned how to cry and indulged in that ability frequently. I begged my family and doctor to let me come home as these “growing pains” were too much and I “just couldn't do it!”. Somehow I did! No, somehow, we did. I could never have done this part alone. There was nothing practical to it! It was only through the guidance of those around me and supporting from a distance that I got through it. Unfortunately, this is a point where many people are told they are not tolerating treatment and sent home. The place where we need to be held tightest through as arduous as it is for everyone involved. When we need the most love and support because it really feels like the world is ending, far worse than the acute stages of being ill!

The "motivation" never left but the idea that something beyond my previous hell could come of the hell I was walking through was extremely foreign!  (not my photo below)

Eventually, I entered an emotional adolescence. That was a lot more fun for everyone! I let out my inner brat (who persists, watch out!); I felt that I could take on the world (example: my extremely premature trip home to Canada in February! That might be likened to a 14 year old moving out into their own apartment because they definitely know better than their parents!).  Prior to that trip, I gained a bit more freedom within the program and "tested the waters" of being okay with my own company.

Next, I came into a place that might be late teens/early 20s where I was considering what I might want to be; who I might want to be (not the core that is me, that has always been there, but perhaps falling more into a style of me); etc. This was unsettling at times also but in an exciting way more often than not!

And now, here I am, ready to step into real life and the question is not so much “how?” anymore as it is “why?” at this point. Not why I went through what I did but the deeper whys of life...the kind that I hope to ask myself regularly for a very long time!

I have never felt more like myself in my life.  I had no idea!  Consistent in thought, feeling, behaviour, and belief. I can't even say how it happened but it has. It was painful (like having hot knives stabbed in my brain sometimes while being kicked in the stomach while having an allergic reaction or asthma attack while big hairy poisonous spiders are crawling all over me!); it was the most difficult thing I hope to ever have to go through in my life and what's next is largely TBA but without a doubt:

It was worth it.
  PS:  I still love a good slide, swing, or teeter-totter and delight in baby chicks!!!  :)

For a more objective discussion/explaination of the process that I went through, please refer to The Secret Language of Eating Disorders by Peggy Claude-Pierre

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Something apology and other thoughts

I hesitated for some time in posting this because there is a chance for misinterpretation despite my attempts at clarity in my presentation.  Perhaps I should include a disclaimer that this is completely personal (as all my entries are) and thus, largely subjective.  I am only speaking about myself in all sense of responsibility both negative and positive.  It is what I understand of my past and how I choose to perceive my future at this time.  I also know that there are many other people who were hurt by my illness in various ways and to them I am very sorry also but I speak more freely of that in face to face interactions.  This particular entry is directed strongly towards eating disorder sufferers that have known me over the years.  That it is!

I've had something enter my awareness recently and it feels a bit like I've been socked in the stomach when I think of it. I came across an entry by an ex-pro-ana blogger (if you don't already know, pro-ana is a dangerous mostly online movement of people encouraging and sometimes promoting eating disordered behaviours amongst each other. I became aware of pro-ana in my teens and spent hours on sites that have since been banned from the internet but I understand that new sites are being maintained and generated all the time. The idea is sickening and maddening.), This writer was expressing her deep regret in being involved in bringing other people down. Upon further reflection I realized that although I was never active in anything pro-ana I also owe many people – online and in real life – a sincere apology.

To those online who may or may not be privy to this: I am sorry. I also kept a blog through my darkest times. I thought I was keeping it vague as far as triggering information went. I thought I refrained from any sort of numbers: weight, calories, laxatives, purges, hours of exercise, etc. As I believed those were the most common triggers. True. For some people. I also kept it pretty tame compared to the reality in regards to any indication of behaviour. However, for the most sensitive of sorts who struggle with this, I believe that the “triggers” can often be those of: the actual sickness of others (not necessarily thinness, but physical unwellness and complications); the degree of medical and therapeutic attention being paid to them; and the absolute misery of their life. This is another, extremely sad, truth. And in that respect, I may as well have been pro-ana in the way that I possibly caused harm to others. I was the person people compared themselves to and said they weren't “sick enough” because Julia did x, y, and z and was still walking and talking and not in hospital. It is those lost souls, the meekest of people with eating disorders, the loneliest, the most self-loathing, that could have come across my blog and felt extremely unworthy. And with that knowledge, I have no choice but to express a most sincere apology.

My purpose for blogging at the time was largely for an outlet – to send to cyberspace the hell that I was living and wish that someone might hear and understand and maybe reach me. I did warn people that it could be triggering to read but I didn't even understand exactly what that meant. I didn't think that any aspect of my life would be remotely “desirable” to anyone – in their right mind. Clearly, I didn't think that through when considering my readers.

I came across an entry recently that I had saved to my computer explaining that I understood the sole reason for my life to be that of teaching people how to help other people with eating disorders in the future; those that I thought could actually could be helped as I firmly believed I was hopeless. However, my writing was not addressing or accessible to that audience.

I wanted to be a warning to others because I thought I could never be a positive influence so if I could make anything of my life, it would be helping people a) understand (which was more in my day to day life of revolving hospital doors at various institutions and interacting with practitioners) and b) scare those in the earlier stages of eating disorders or treatment enough to get help and stop the descent into hell that I had taken.

I believe I may have contributed positively in part B of that intent. I think that many people cruising actual pro-ana sites and stumbled across blogs of people who were actively losing their battles, may have chosen to seek help and grasped how terrible life with a “chronic” eating disorder was and possibly turned around sooner.

To those who were already deemed “chronic” or had given up on themselves, I was merely another person who was “better” at destroying themselves than they were. And to those people:

I am so sorry.

To the sufferers I interacted with in real life, I know now that I was a triggering person to be around. I was blinded by my own illness, consumed, and I know you knew that but that doesn't remove the fact that I, at times, played a role in contributing to your feelings of worthlessness and underservedness ( I believe I just made that word up!) and frustration; that in conscious and subconscious judgements of yourself, I was a standard that your illness held.

To any well person reading this, you may not understand. I had it all: I had a compassionate, ever-present team that cared about me and swooped into save me at every possible chance; I had the ability to attend my specialist appointments as they needed to happen and access to medical and psychiatric attention as frequently as I needed it; I had a family that refused to give up on me; all the while, I had my eating disorder still. I never had to fake being okay, there was never an expectation that treatment would “work” and I would just “get over it” and move on but there was always an ongoing belief that one day I would be successful and the pursuit of that from all the members of my team on my behalf is admirable (an understatement if there ever was one). I also had/have a very strong body that put up with a lot of abuse while maintaining functioning or reestablishing functioning quickly. Abuse that I could not even consider many people surviving to be honest and that at times, I know, this also became a negative “standard” for some people.

I was also a very good actress and skilled in keeping up appearances so to speak. I tolerated treatment, externally, much better than a lot of people. I did what I was told and if I was not, I hid it exceptionally well (from fellow sufferers – to any nurses or caregivers reading this, we can agree that I hid very little very well!). I attended groups, extended support. I brought smiles to people's faces in many dark times with my sense of humour. I seemed to make and maintain friendships easily. I kept my cool (though possibly only through extensive use of medication) in most situations. I was granted privileges based on my “cooperation”.

To people less actively involved in treatment, if I was not “triggering” as it may relate to behaviours but I was a drain of any positivity and that I was not aware of.  Furthermore, engaging with me at times may have brought about unwanted or misunderstood feelings that created any sort of internal and unpleasant chaos.
I eventually lost all shame when it came to my illness. I assumed the identity and radically accepted it within myself and thought that was a shared understanding. However, I have learned that was thought by no one to be “real” or ultimately lasting, but I was allowed to be exactly what I was in any given moment. Is that not what any human desires? To be allowed to be themselves and bring to the table whatever is going on with them and still be loved? I was that person.

So, to my friends and even those who did not engage with me on a friendship level but watched and possibly hurt themselves further because of me:

I am sorry.

However apologetic, and sincerely so, I do not necessarily assume blame for what I have described above for it was not the real me!

I was - and continue to be - fortunate in uncountable ways. When one person gave up, another grabbed the towel. How this all played out for me is a bit unfathomable: my parents separately choosing a little northern town to reside in; a compassionate and interested doctor all the way from South Africa taking over the family practice of another remarkable doctor and assuming my care with chutzpah; someone knowing someone who knew someone who my mom got in touch with that happened to have a brand new clinic starting and agreed to take me on. And simply, the gene stock that I came from that granted me the remarkable body and thus my physical survival and the recovery I have achieved. It's a bit mind boggling! And the boggling continues as I encounter more and more amazing, beautiful people in my days.

I have thought a lot about and noticed over the months the experience of the butterfly effect. This is illustrative of the possibilities in a more negative sense of which even the kindest of people are capable of if we are not aware. Things have changed now for me. I have been referred to on more than one occasion as an “inspiration” (not “thinspiration”!! Let's have a dark little laugh at the pro-ana term); as good company; as one that revives the spirit of others and brings joy to lives. I was allowed to be who I was and now, I am enabled to be who I truly am and with that, the potential for a greater and more positive ripple-from-me-effect grows stronger each day.

It's not a burden! It's not the drowning sense of responsibility to save a great portion of the world that I had in the past. It is actually quite brilliant realizing what potential my life holds just by living it with kindness to me and those around me.

It's as simple as wearing a real smile that the driver across the street sees and returns and as he shoulder checks, passes that lingering smile on to the person who nearly honked because he felt he was being cut off but refrains...thus not startling the nesting sparrow in the bush nearby who's just coaxing her babies out of the nest, one who takes their first flight and lands a little too closely to the sidewalk, that a pedestrian sees and observes because she was not distracted by a noisy traffic interaction and experiences peace from her thoughts as she watches the little sparrow gain the courage to try to fly again and then shares her experience later with a glum friend...and so on!

This is what makes life a serendipitous continuum!

It is a beautiful and a great responsibility as one is aware and capable. As a human collective, we have unbelievable power to better the world starting with the bettering of ourselves and choosing to “pay it forward”.

This is illustrated so eloquently in the words of Dawna Markova in a poem that is an old fave of mine:
I live
so that what came to me as seed goes on as flower
and what came to me as flower, goes on as fruit.”

I can't change the negative impact I had on some people for a number of years (though I do understand it and do not guilt myself as that would be entirely unproductive) but with that awareness, I can choose to spend the rest of my years promoting as much positivity in the world as possible – and that is a very exciting task at hand!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh, the greater understanding

I need to follow up that last post with the continued lessons and understanding that have occurred in just a couple of days.

It really is quite simple: I fell back on the familiar which happens to be eating disordered thinking (and no, not behaviour).

Something happened that caused a lot of change really quickly – the injury. It came with non-stop physical discomfort which, I think, drives any person - well or unwell - a little bit mad. I suddenly had to stop many of my activities that brought me pleasure (most importantly squash). I did not have the freedom to go about my days as I pleased, everything had to be planned. I had to make time to rest (not a strong suit of mine!), I had to seize the times when my pain was less to get the most crucial bits of daily living done: washing, dressing, meal prep, etc. This was unusual and completely out of my control.

(I hate to use that word “control” as people afflicted with eating disorders are so often labelled as control freaks. For me, yes, I was technically a control freak but only because I tried to create a practical structure that could keep me “safe” and possibly a little more sane and for no further reason than that. In that sense, I don't need control anymore, I just kind of like to be in charge of me after so many years of a) being ruled by the monster in my head and b) being told what to do by many other people.)

That's besides the point I am making right now, though.

Aside from familiar thought patterns, there is a part of me that is still terrified of relapse. I don't believe that I will relapse, I really don't see how it could be possible with the understanding I have come to have; but for the past 14 years of my life, I have been told that most people with EDs relapse at some point to some extent. The system I was treated in for so long has done be a great disservice in that way as now, being in a place where the philosophy is that absolute and complete recovery without risk of relapse is the only outcome, it's very difficult to unlearn what other practitioners presented as fact. I suppose, as much as I will prove to the people in my life that I am really okay, that I am well, I will be proving that to myself. And that's actually kind of exciting.

I'm a hard-ass when it comes to me helping myself, often a little too hard. It may not have seemed like it or have been understood by many over the years but whatever little bit of hope or help I was offered, I did my absolute best with. I also like to do things as quickly as possible and I am learning over and over that so many lessons take time to learn. Many wounds take time to heal. Thought patterns certainly take a lot of time to change. Being injured...I wanted to speed it up and to me that usually means pushing myself harder, in this case, it meant being far more gentle with myself which is still a very new concept to me.

I am experiencing improvement today. Maybe not physically but mentally. I still can do so many things and I'm focusing on appreciating those things, I don't have to be miserable because things have changed and because what had become what I looked forward to has to be put aside for now. I still have so much to smile about, to appreciate, and to engage in and do and enjoy.

It has actually been a blessing the have to slow down and really appreciate the little things. A song came on today and I started dancing without thinking and I got a few dorky moves in before my back said, “um...not quite yet, Julia” but those couple of mindless moves were worth it. It has enabled me to be so mindful of my body and appreciate all that it does and how absolutely all of it works together to function. Again, it is the wonder at life that has the potential to keep me ever entertained and in awe, and the loss of that focus that brings me down.

I know and believe greatly in the power of the mind. When understood and harnessed for the good, it has great potential and in this case, I am choosing the thoughts that will bring me healing as quickly as possible but only as it can be sustained.

Impatience, for me, is a great hurdle and I still need a lot of gentle encouragement to be patient with me and extend the same “courtesy in time to [me] as I do to others” as I was recently encouraged to do. I'm working on it, and it will take time, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to rush it except live. Hopefully I won't need too many more experiences like this, that literally force me to stop everything and wait until I can carry on. But, if that is what it takes for me to learn my lesson thoroughly, I'll remain open to it.

In the meantime, I suppose it's time to do unto myself as I would do unto others.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Longest post maybe ever. Injury, benzos, and life

I write this as flat on my back as I can be an still see the computer screen. While engaging in perhaps my current favourite activity – squash – I incurred a back injury. The doctor says it's just a pulled muscle and fingers crossed that he is right. This is day 3 spent mainly horizontal and I'm getting rather restless.

However, there is an abundance of lessons to be learned from this situation and it has given me much to write about.

I have focused as of late on writing mostly about concepts and thoughts and thought patterns and steered clear of very specific personal experiences but today, I'm going to share some specifics. They will all come together but let's start with some background...

About a week ago, I had my first panic attack in a long time. It seemed to come out of the blue on that particular day and instead of reaching out to those I have available – as effective as I know that is! - I reached in my purse and sought out my small stash of Xanax. I sat in the sun and let it dissolve under my tongue and said to hell with trying to figure out why I was panicking, to hell with talking it out, I wanted to escape it. It took the edge off. I attended my scheduled lunch with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. By evening, I was more depressed than I've been in about 5 months. When I thought about it, the last time I was that depressed was after I took Xanax to ease flight anxiety. I thought to take another because that would numb the depression or at least put me to sleep as I am much more sensitive to these drugs since I detoxed and came completely off them. I didn't take another. I weathered the low mood and slept naturally. The next day, I panicked again and chose to call someone and got through it. The rebound depression and anxiety have finally reached a point of not being worth the temporary escape of benzos because without regular use, those medications hurt my mood (and me!) more than help.

As I usually do, I needed to learn that lesson the hard way again.

This will all tie into my back injury....bear with me.

Later in the week, I came to the conclusion that I needed to hand over my small supply of benzos. I needed to have them out of the house so that not even in a moment of “weakness” (read: desperation) would I resort to those to numb out and escape my feelings. And I did just that. I felt a bit sick to my stomach as I slid the bag across the table to my counsellor. She said she was proud of me but I wasn't proud of me. I was scared. As that day went on, I developed pride in myself and realized, that I would be okay. More than okay!! It was my first time in years not having “something” on me. Even if I didn't take what I had, I always felt I had an escape if I needed it. As someone said to me that day, “You don't have 'nothing' now, you gave 'nothing' away. Now, you've really got 'something'” And isn't that so true...

Insert song: “I've got the Power”

Written out, it seems like a bigger event than it really was. I went on with my week and didn't think much about it at all.

Come Saturday, I had all but completely forgotten this event. I headed to my squash game eager as always. Within 10 minutes, I made one wrong move and suddenly couldn't stand quite erect. We called off our game and I hobbled home. I spent the day on my back but about 6 hours later I had to call someone and ask what I should do as my Tylenol and Advil were not touching the pain. I went to the hospital and spent some hours in emergency. They gave me numerous medications by mouth and IV. Nothing helped there either but I became impatient (the bane of my existence), clenched my teeth and moved around with a smile and said I was fine. The very kind (and young and good-looking) doctor handed me some prescriptions and sent me on my way. Three drugs to pick up. The third on the list: Valium.

I think I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Was this really happening? Had I not just handed over my benzos two days earlier so that I would NOT have access to them??

Granted, diazepam is a muscle relaxant and I understood why he was prescribing it. I had a choice: fill it, don't fill it. I filled it. The pain needed to be controlled and I was willing to try anything. I had to do a quick check with myself prior to going to the pharmacy: was I really safe to have this? Would I use it appropriately and only as long as needed? The answer was a sure yes.

I made it through the rest of Saturday alright, flat out on the couch and eventually my bed. Awoke Sunday in worse shape. As the day wore on, the pain was not so much the issue.

Enter: familiar negative thoughts.

I need to adjust my caloric intake because I am laid up completely.
Maybe I just shouldn't eat at all.
I should walk at least. Walking is good for back injuries isn't it? You need to move somehow. You've going to gain a lot of weight if you stay like this for very long.

On the flip side, my logic and true side fought a good fight:

You need to not only honour your hunger cues at this time because they may be skewed or impeded by the medication and distraction from the pain. You need to continue eating on a schedule if need be for the next while.
You need food to heal. Healing takes energy, you need to fuel your body so that it can heal in the most efficient way.
Walking will be good when you are past the acute stage of this injury. For now, the degree of discomfort is telling you to rest. It is okay to rest.

And so on. The battle waged in my head all day but I fought for the good and right. I treated myself as I deserve to be treated. But it caused me so much doubt:

Had I only been okay with eating how I do because I was exercising?
Do “normal” people adjust their intake based on their activity?

I know the answer to the second question. Of course, people who have never had an eating disorder eat according to activity level but I would say most often they eat more on days where they have been very active and otherwise maintain a consistent intake. It has been a wonderfully “normal” thing to happen to me where my appetite rages on days when I expend a lot of energy and it makes sense. It is a blessing because I believe it indicates that my body is working much better than it has in a very long time, if not ever. This hasn't worried me up until this point.

I had to look objectively at my exercise. I am not a maniac and I only do what I enjoy. So no, my eating has not been justified or made to be okay in my head only because of my level of activity.

When I look at my history, my major relapse, the one that really took me down as an adult occurred after sustaining a patella fracture and sprained ankle. I remember the anxiety of being so immobile. It took that one event to send me into a spiral. I have spoken about this in my sessions: what if that happens again? Maybe not specifically an injury but some other event that compromises something that keeps me okay? What then? Is that why people relapse? Will I relapse?

Until now, I felt solid in my ability to fight anything negative even in these hypothetical situations. I thought, of course I won't relapse, I am stronger than that and I know what I need to do to take care of myself and engaging in the eating disorder will not help me in any situation.

So here comes the silver lining of all this: I am having an experience right now, however uncomfortable, of a challenge that I may face in the future when I am completely away from any sort of program, when I am deemed well and recovered. I have the support here that I can reach out to and ask “what do I do now? How do I take this on? How can I expedite my recovery and maintain my emotional progress”. I have the wise people very accessible to me now to help me help myself get through this.

The reality is, I actually do not necessarily know how to take care of myself. This extends from this simple injury with which I have no experience to the rest of life. I have been absent from real life for a very long time and prior to completely escaping most of life (ie. Work, relationships, etc.) I was very irresponsible, reckless even, and did not treat myself with the respect and kindness I deserve and that will ultimately keep me well.

I struggle with the fact that much of the world sees people with eating disorders, when finally behaviourally well, as having all the abilities to carry on with life. Like it was merely a hiccup and one can just get on with things. Not entirely true! When one has been sick with an ED, not only those deemed “chronic” but anyone who has kept their emotional selves “protected” by engaging in eating disordered behaviours, despite how much of their lives appear(ed) intact, there are some major skills that are missing.

I could hypothesize about dealing with an injury but until it actually happened, I couldn't possibly actually know how I might react and how I did has been a big wake up call. It indicates to me that there is still a little jerk in my head that is waiting to bring me down and I have work to do to really get rid of it.

The same goes for wanting to go to school, go back to work, have a relationship, etc. Of course I and many people working towards and entering recovery want these things. We may have even engaged in them prior to becoming acutely ill or receiving treatment. After treatment, particularly after being active in treatment and making the painful changes one does, one is a very different person and despite having held down a job or been in school or been in a relationship, the experience of these things changes as much as we do.

Perhaps I should switch back to “I statements” and stop speaking for everyone. I have more than my own experience to base these thoughts on but I will keep it personal.
I had a great job. People were wowed that I was 21, living on my own in Vancouver, working at a giant hospital, and eventually doing all that and being in school and working towards a degree. Let us think for a moment: I had/did all those things and eventually broke. It didn't happen overnight. It wasn't just the broken knee that caused me to relapse. I wasn't “coping” throughout those years that I appeared to have it all together. Is it not only natural to have some fear of entering into these things again?

Consider falling off a horse. They say to get back on as soon as possible. When I fell off the metaphorical horse of life, my illness made it impossible for me to get right back on. Completely literally, after I fell off a horse when I was around 9, I didn't get back on for about 4 years and certainly not with any confidence until just last year! When I fell out of life, had my life torn from me and become 100% eating disorder (my job, my leisure, my relationship), my health made it impossible to get back into work or school or have a meaningful relationship.

Here I am more than four years of being full time anorexic/bulimic (with the 5 adult years of “functioning” after adolescent treatment) and I am nearing the time to re-enter life. Time to consider work and school and being an active participant in friendships and family life. I have never done any of those things AND taken care of me. It might seem inconsequential to a well person who has always considered themselves and held themselves in high enough esteem to have this be natural. For me, real life nearly killed me – literally. I cannot expect to be completely fear-free regarding returning to the real world. Yup, it makes me a little nervous!

So yes, I panic about it sometimes. I cry and I get scared. Does that mean I'm going to relapse? Absolutely not.

And back to the injury and what I am learning from it. I had a familiar negative war in my head for two days. That scared me because I thought I was over that. I thought the ED as related to food and activity was gone and that I just had to practice my skills of living and facing what I believed I was afraid of and treating myself with respect. Apparently that is not it just yet.

I am so grateful that this happened now. Not that I am laid up on my couch for an indefinite while but that I have this opportunity in this still somewhat protected environment to access the second opinion or reassurance I need. And, to have that all the while seeking out that same support in my real life people...that is a challenge mostly because of the distance between us.

I guess ultimately, I do know what I need to do practically, I just need some external soldiers to help me fight for what's right. And don't we all? I don't think there is one person who takes on life completely on their own. We all need people to bounce ideas, fears, concerns, off of. I realize my task in the near future is finding those people in my “real life”. I know they are there and I guess a consequence of being more active in my relationships will be asking for those people's support and input also. Not only asking, but listening. And that takes courage and humility on all parts. I'm eager to give that of myself and my bigger job is allowing myself that need.

The injury is also an exercise for me in patience with myself. I recently heard a quote: Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to have a good attitude while waiting.

Isn't that just the case and certainly a pressing task at hand for me.

So, with that, my back is requesting a change of position so I will sign off with a commitment to being patient with me; to suspending judgement for not being 100% “there” yet in my head; to letting go of the fear that I am destined to have these thoughts and doubts forever; and allowing myself the knowledge that a little fear at this point is completely normal and understandable and that in time, it will fade. And most importantly, that all things that I feel are okay.

I want to extend that ever present hope to anyone reading this. It takes effort but it gets better and I'll tell you what it's like when I'm there.

With love.