standingonmyowntwofeet

A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

Sneaky As Hell…

Here’s what I fucking hate about ptsd…it’s sneaky as hell.  It allowed me to convince myself that I’m doing well…I’m mostly meeting meal plan, I’m attending DBT skills group–where I actually set goals I try to reach (hence mostly meeting mp and drinking appropriate amounts of water–plus daily self-care goals), I’m keeping my appts with my psychologist, nutritionist and psychiatric CNP, I’m attending church…I’ve let a couple people into the “This is a tough time of year for me” world and I didn’t implode–and neither did they.  When the nightmares started popping up, I reminded myself I am safe…when flashes intrude, I remind myself to be here and now…

I’m doing it right.  I’m not harming. I’m choosing the next right steps.  Until I’m not…until that sneaky bastard starts to show itself…and my psychologist is out this week…and I helped support a friend, including daily “sitter” responsibilities following her suicide attempt 2 weeks ago, because I don’t want her dead…as much as she wanted it this moment.  I start thinking “You’re doing everything you’re supposed to do…and it’s not working…You know what might work? Yeh…remember that shady af Ed guy who was your friend until you realized he was abusive and trying to kill you by feeding you lies?  Maybe he can help…”.  And I take small bits of restricting…not full on, just enough to say “I’m following meal plan”-yet, I’m restricting within mp…then, it’s more…because I’m hungry and that scares me…and I worry that I am over meal plan (truth be told, I’m actually not–but that Ed guy tells me I am WAY OVER!)…so, I restrict a little bit more…then, seemingly all of the sudden, maybe it’s fasting…although Ed tells me it’s not…the healthy me–the recovering me–the me that wants to choose recovery knows better…and still, I try to prove otherwise…a missed meal or a snack is not going to cause a full spiral…it’s not going to mean I am relapsing…It’s just a little…it’s fine…

Except, I know it’s not.  I know I am turning to the keyboard instead of grabbing a fucking cheese stick or Boost…I’m processing through my own head because when I see it on the screen, I’m able to see what I am doing…and, it’s not next.right.thing.  That Ed dude is a liar.  Every single item of my clothing is not too tight. Eating meal plan will not cause me to gain excessive amounts of weight…and, even if it did, I know gorgeous individuals of many body sizes–inside and out.  And, now I can take the breath I’ve been holding…I can get back, step-by-step to choosing that next.right.step. I can choose recovery and realize I am recovering and perfection is not part of this progress.

So, Fuck You, Ed.  I’m grabbing a Boost and chugging it.  Onward I go.

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Fearless

I’m not feeling fearless…I’m fearful and uncertain…I’m worried that slips will become slides…I’m scared that I won’t care…I’m very much in an all-or-nothing world…this or that…eat or don’t eat…harm or don’t…choose recovery or don’t…I’m forgetting all the shades of gray…the next.right.step choices..not knowing what I actually need…And, as I battle myself over whether to do breakfast, an old post popped up from my FB page with the same name…I’ve attached the quote I’d shared…and, here’s my response to someone…

 

That little girl was one of the strongest fighters…I owe it to her to thank her for all her hard work and to let her know I am strong enough now to take the healing on myself and follow the treatment plan. I am a survivor…and I am so grateful that little girl fought…and that God didn’t let the adult me remember such horrible trauma until I was in a place to accept healing. (Jan 2014)

 

To get to wise mind, the question is often “What would I tell a friend?” or “What would X say?”…it helps me get out of my head and into a wise, compassionate place…As I read my description recognizing the “me” who was battered and abused, I remember that strength is there…that that little girl fought so hard to survive and who am I to starve her? There’s a wise part of me somewhere…I just need to find it.

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THIS Is What Recovery Looks Like

Two months ago I marched in Chicago for equal rights for ALL.  One of the call and responses was “What does equality look like?”–“THIS is what equality looks like!”.  It was this refrain that came to me 2 nights ago as I fought like hell against self harm…except, it came in the form of “THIS is what recovery looks like”.  What did recovery look like that night?

If I didn’t blog (mostly) anonymously, I’d share a photo…because I took one…my face red and tear stained, snot all over my nose, eyes squinched as I did a wall sit…back and head to the wall, in a squat…the advice that came from my psychologist as he received a frantic email from me.  Recovery isn’t pretty.  It’s messy and loud…it’s tears and snot…it’s skills and maladaptive responses…it’s reaching out and isolating…

 

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, have ever attempted…and the most beneficial.  Recovery is possible…it’s not easy…and, I can choose it…you can choose it.  Let’s keep fighting!

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Victory?

It’s mid January and my arms are not covered in scars of various shades…shame and guilt are not the cloaks I wear…I remember to breathe…and, I give a half smile…wondering if thinking I’ve won the battle is enough for ptsd or Murphy’s Law to pull the rug from under my feet.  But then, I look at the last 2.5 months…2.5 months that have, every year for the last 4 years, been a nightmare to live through…months where ptsd has a stronghold, where everything and nothing is enough to trigger flashbacks and nightmares, where my days and nights are a blur of the same, where hiding in a clothing rack when out has me realizing that there is nowhere I can hide where I’d feel safe…And, here I am.  I went into November with a panic…knowing what was coming next.  I coped ahead with my psychologist, I went to DBT each week, I met with my nutritionist and my psychiatric CNP, I was med compliant…and with each flash I was terrified and waiting for the other shoe to drop and be thrust back into 24/7 ptsd.  Yet, it didn’t.  I shook things up this year.

 

My best friend and I took a weekend getaway to Chicago in early November…and it’s what my soul needed…We laughed until our sides hurt and happy tears rolled down our cheeks, we were spontaneous and followed our body cues–without any worry that we’d offend the other-, when we were hungry-we ate, if we needed sleep-we slept, another cup of coffee–of course!, a restaurant without foods I could comfortably eat-we got up, left and found another restaurant that wouldn’t have me freaking.  I sat on the shores of Lake Michigan each morning, watching the sunrise over the waves…delighting in the beauty and feeling the cold…listening to the waves…it was the most mindful I think I’ve ever been…sitting solo on the beach…just being.  And, after arriving back at the airport and checking in for my flight, I snagged a ticket to Hamilton: Chicago–and, took the bump to another flight, bought my ticket and raced to the theatre to see an incredible show!  The weekend reminded me of who I am and why I want to live this life.  I came back determined to not lose that peace and sense of self…I remembered “me”…I’m not sure if I’ve ever received a gift so amazing. ❤

 

It is with that sense of me that I tackled November…not in one swoop, but in small moments and next.right.steps.  I even let go of all-or-nothing at times.  I tried to keep December simple…and did…with the grocery and monetary gifts from our church family going far to alleviate the financial stresses that this single mom on disability has.  I went into a neurosurg repair in late December and asked for support, accepted it…I’ve gratefully invited close friends into my fears and inappropriate hospital humor, eaten the meals that have been prepared…embraced my scar and the new-hair growth.  Step by step, moment by moment.  There were nightmares, although not every night…there were flashes and flashbacks, but not every day…and, I could reach out, choose to get a meal or snack in, use a skill (!?!…that’s actually working!?!)…instead of harm, restriction or other maladaptive choices that also “work” but only short term and with a haze of shame and guilt.  Have there been slips and slides?  Certainly.  I’ve been able to turn it around, though…and have been able to keep myself from falling off the cliff.

 

I’m remembering that healing is possible. ❤  Much love, my friends…keep on fighting…you can do this ❤

 

((Attached image is from watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan…the phrase “It is well with my soul” played over in my mind.))

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“Triggered”

Years of ptsd recovery and healing have helped me to live this life…A big part of this healing comes from recognizing triggers and in using skills in dealing with them.  Identifying triggers, in part, has allowed me:

-to sleep in my own house, in my own bed-learning which sounds are dangerous and which sounds are not

-to smell the scent of the rapist’s cologne and not fall directly into flashbacks (I use lemon essential oil to redirect the brain and move my body away from the scent)

-to learn the importance of “protecting” my right side from unknown sounds

-to not smell or drink certain tea

-to function in public settings and in private ones

…and millions of other moments…

I know that those who fight the ptsd demon understand.  And, I’m wondering if anyone else is struggling with the influx of people poking fun at those who are “triggered” with the US’s current political debacle.  As if being triggered is some sort of joke or source of weakness.  My friends, please know…You are the bravest, strongest people I know…battling always to live to fight to breathe… Keep fighting ❤

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“Did You Hear Yes?”

I was at a high school today for an activity for my son…as I looked for the bathroom, I came across the cutout of a person holding a stop sign with the words “Did you hear yes?”…and I paused…I stared…I thought…I became teary-eyed as I read it and reread it. Did you hear yes?

And, the memories flooded back…of my questioning “Does no really mean no?” and “I know I said ‘no’ over and over but I must not have said it forcefully enough…” and “He said I didn’t mean no…he said I wanted it…he must be right” and “I didn’t fight hard enough…if I had fought more he would’ve stopped” and “Stop must not mean no…because he didn’t stop.”

There is so much healing that has occurred in these last 4 1/2 years…I have worked hard with the trauma work…I have accepted it wasn’t my fault…that no means no…and a million other lessons I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy…

Yet…in all my reading about consent…all the memes and short videos teaching about consent, I don’t think I’ve seen it so clearly as “Did you hear yes?”…It doesn’t have to be kicking and screaming and fighting and no upon no upon no upon no and stop…please stop…please…no…

It wasn’t yes.  Did you hear yes? No.

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Hamilton

I’ve blogged before about the role of lyrics in my life…the soundtrack in my heart and mind…words that have allowed me to survive, to live…and, to live freely…lyrical wisdom is a go-to that keeps me from harming, a distraction from the bites I have to take to nourish my mind  and body, and in recent weeks-it’s allowed me a reprieve from ptsd symptoms.  In has walked Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton the Musical…with its hip-hop, rap, jazz, Broadway (and more) genre mix, I quite simply was thrown into it.  It takes my “distract” skill and multiplies it by a million.  I cannot not move, rap, sing along from the opening to closing beats and notes.  When hypervigilance and flashbacks and nightmares were ruling my days and nights, and as weariness washed over me, I needed something…and, in walked “AL-EX-AND-ER–We are meant to be.”

In giving a speech last week, I had to consistently remind myself NOT to fall into repositioning my speech as a Hamilton musical number!  I did do my car performances on my way to and from, however.

I’m quite certain that Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t write this to save someone in the throws of ptsd or an eating disorder or self-harm or anxiety or depression (etc., etc., etc.)…and, it’s surely helping me to change maladaptive thoughts from becoming maladaptive behaviors, to be that split second I need to choose recovery…and, I’m so grateful…because I needed something.  And, I’m thrilled to add it to my toolbox.

 

 

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Fuck you, PTSD

Of all the things I hate about PTSD, it’s the “Hey, you think you’re doing okay?  How about this new trigger??  Let me pull the rug out from under your feet!!!  HA!” aspect I hate the most.  Sure, I *should* radically accept that it’s part of living this life.  Yet, I still hate it.  Because, it sucks.  And, I’m especially fucking pissed at ptsd now (I’m tired of capitalizing it…lowercase gives it less power) because, just as I was thinking “We need to start coping ahead because November is approaching and ptsd takes an uptick”, mid-September was here…and in popped an unknown trigger.   In came the hypervigilance and spidey sense…the skin crawling…the shaking hands…and a new symptom–oral aversion that has me gagging through each bite…which does not make meeting meal plan any fucking easier.  My “FUCK YOU” comes with being spot on for meal plan…for 2 months today…never, in 4 years of eating disorder treatment, have I pieced together 60 consecutive days.  And, although I bow down to all who have gotten to or are at that point, giving myself praise (?) for it isn’t happening.  Seriously…I’m ready to be done with it.  Yet, I know it’s my strongest weapon.  It’s what allows me to fight ptsd and to chose skills instead of harm.  I carry my comfort kit with me now when I leave the house…with my tangle, magic sand, lemon essential oil…I try to be skillful…and, I supposed I am…after 3 solid nights of ptsd nightmares, though, I’m coming undone.  It’s the spideyness…and it’s the fear of what’s to come.  Fuck you, ptsd.  This sucks.  And, I’m going to keep fighting because  I’ve come too far to go back.

Keep fighting, my friends…you are not alone <3…We can do this together.

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Wiser Mind

In a heap of self-doubt and hypervigilance and shaking hands and “forget this…I’m done”-moments last night, I reached under my bed…in search of a folder from IOP 4 years ago that I knew held some help to figure out the massive equivs for a restaurant dinner out, I found what I was looking for.  My folder, with stickers earned from meeting goals on the cover, filled with diary cards, lessons, my relapse prevention plan and the equivs I was looking for…also contained my notes…notes about difficult meals and small milestones (they were all difficult meals!)…and encouragement…

You can do this!

You don’t have to fight this alone.

Numbers do not define you.

You have come so far! Healing takes time…Progress, not perfection.

Take a deep breath…you can do this…really-you can…it’s okay to feel emotion…you can be vulnerable and not pretend.  It is okay.

Hurting yourself doesn’t fix anything. You not deserve to be hurt.

Remember…you are safe right now…

Reach out, distract…do something for you that’s soothing.

 

Reminders and encouragements from me to me as I entered treatment for the first time…25 years into an eating disorder, expecting to be “cured” after 6 weeks of IOP…I read through the struggles and unknowns…AND, it’s the encouraging statements that had me able to breathe enough last night to work through that restaurant meal…remembering that recovery is *just* about making the next right step…I didn’t need to solve all the world’s problems (or my own) in that night…I did need to figure out the meal to see where I was for the day…and, contrary to everything Ed was telling me about how massive that meal was, I was still under for the day and made up those missing equivs before falling asleep.

Wise mind helps me to balance emotional and rational minds…I was struggling tremendously to find wise mind last night…and, apparently the “Wiser Mind” was hiding in me…I was reaching out and not hearing back…last night, reaching out meant “reaching under the bed”…Ahhhh…recovery.

Keep Fighting, My Friends!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Recovery Is NOT Linear

I always lose sight of this fact…I lose sight of it when things are going well and the carpet is pulled from under my feet…I lose sight of it as I spiral downward, terrified how much lower I can go below rock bottom.  My inability to remember the ups and downs of recovery, the naturalness of stumbling, falling, getting back up…has me panicked at many points of recovery.  I’m sharing a list I found yesterday, in an “Oh my God…I will never be “fixed”, my best isn’t good enough, why am I fighting like hell to no avail” moment.  I lost sight of the 37 consecutive days of spot on meal plan…because, “what does it matter?” when I’ve met plan when I’m still not cured?  What does it matter that it’s becoming “easier” when I still need to try with all of me, still need to record equivalents, email my daily totals…and still am not fixed?

Four years in recovery from this eating disorder and it finally hit me last night–It’s not *just* about food.  It’s not only about feeding my mind and body.  I know all the intricacies tied in eating disorders…many in my personal circle are battling and the commonalities among each of our ED’s are so similar.  The neurobiology is the same…it’s all there…not matter if Ed is anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS.  I know my experience in 25 years with AN/EDNOS (depending upon which points the diagnoses came and which DSM version was in place) and with 4 years in recovery.  It’s not about food.  Yet, I still thought–if I can get food in place (mostly because I didn’t want to deal with a higher level of care), it’ll all be fine.  I’ll be fine.  If I couldn’t bee fine, then at least I could pretend to be fine.  Right?  So I began piecing meals together…bite by bite…I bought foods that would allow me to meet my equivs…and protein powder that would allow me to catch up when I was still at 50% of protein for the day.  Bite by bite turned into meal by meal…and then into a day of spot on–actually, the first spot on day, 37 days ago, was announced in a “SPOTFUCKINGON!” email to J.  However, the days still included bite by bite…and that frustrated me.  When was it going to get easy???  When was I not going to freak out when eating a restaurant meal???  When was I going to be able to stop setting the alarm reminders??? When could I stop recording???  And I got discouraged…and, many times in these last 37 days, I thought “Fuck it.  I’m done.”…I sent emails to J saying “Fuck it.  I’m done.”  More times, I thought–and did–“FUCK IT!!  I am not letting Ed win” and ate the next bite.

DBT (Dialectal Behavioral Therapy) skills focus on Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness, Interpersonal Techniques…there are skills within each that I’m supposed to chart from week to week.  A skill that is not listed, but is the one I add and use the most is the “FUCK THIS SHIT” skill.  Because, although it may be being effective or one-mindfully or build mastery or distract or check the facts–it feels like “Fuck this Shit”–I’m eating lunch to plan.  I don’t think Marsha Linehan will ever add it to her DBT Manual AND, it works for me.  Skills use allows me to use skills other than harm or Ed.  They are a necessity for me…because, dropping Ed behaviors without having something else in place means I revert to self harm…cold turkey dropping self harm allows Ed back in–UNLESS I have healthy skills to choose…my toolbox of “Not this…How about that?” keeps me safe.

If I am being completely honest, I am in a better place than I was 37 days ago…my body feels better, my mind clearer…every bite is not a battle, even if I did stare down dinner for 1.5 hours last night before eating it…Recovery is not just one choice…although, it does come from a series of next right choices.  When I am overwhelmed and thinking “That’s it.  I’m out.”, I need to remember I don’t have to be doing this perfectly…it’s about progress, not perfection…slips and falls are part of this…this process isn’t linear…it’s messy and frustrating…yet, here I am…I’m still here.  With all the squiggles and expectations of “cured” not coming to fruition, my progress is moving towards health…I may not be in the percentage of people who can refer to their eating disorder in the past tense…and, I’m becoming okay with that…I can be “in recovery” and authentic…I am no longer the Greatest Pretender.  I am me…flawed and imperfect and trying with all that I have.

 

 

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