It has been very interesting to watch my reaction to my memories. There are many. Some I have/had predicted that I would react to and prepared. Some I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I did not react and the others seem to come out of left field.
Yesterday I encountered paperwork filled out my by doctor that had “Anorexia Nervosa” written in the Primary Diagnosis section. That was all it took to feel like I had been hit in the stomach. I folded it up and put it away and went on to enjoy a wonderful dinner party with a couple of key people on my old “team”. It was a fantastic experience to sit next to those who at times sat with me while I was only tolerating tube feeds or sipping Ensure or gnawing nervously on grapes or celery sticks. We ate, drank, chatted. I felt relaxed, it all felt natural, and I thoroughly and truly enjoyed myself. What a blessing to have those opportunities!
When I got home, I decided to “poke” at myself and look again at my paper work. There it was again Anorexia Nervosa in that familiar writing.
*flash* Hospital admission papers
*flash* Smells, sounds
*flash* Fear, dread, shame.
How long has it been since I have seen that diagnosis near my name officially? I suppose approximately 18 months. Yes, about 18 months ago to the day, I carried my last set of admission papers up those hospital stairs, less than 72 hours from my previous discharge, and committed to the next weeks in hospital to stay stable so I could make the trip to Portugal.
It seems like a different life – it really is. Yet my hands still shook as I looked at the words on those papers less than 24 hours ago. Despite the next pages filled with a declaration of an excellent prognosis and indications for continued forward movement, those two words made me feel like I was drowning momentarily.
What an indication of how far I've come. I felt disconnected as a patient from that diagnosis, those simple words. The rest, “ongoing assessment” “consults with...”, etc. was all okay. I can't always predict what's going to hit me and cause an emotional reaction. I can feel on top of the world and like my past doesn't exist and one slight thing can flip me upside down just to test me. This flipped and shook me and yet today, here I am back on my feet. I am refusing to allow too much continued ruminating, I sent the papers off to who needs them today so that I did not have to see that again. It was a combination: the words, plus my doctor's familiar writing (and yes, I can read it quite well, it is very clear!) that got me.
As I keep living, day to day, I encounter various situations that set off alarm bells in my head but I believe I am overcoming my momentary emotional disruptions with more ease each time or at least as time goes on - sometimes it takes a few tries around the same time. It's still very exciting, but some days, some moments, some memories, are still very hard.
Days go by and I continue to heal. I really do feel blessed to be where I am at and when I focus on that, the memories hold much less significance for they are only that...memory.