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Posts Tagged ‘eating disorder’

A text

A text from a friend regarding recovery from an eating disorder. I saved it because it’s so poignant. And sadly, many days I share the same sentiments.

It’s a losing battle, always. There is not a single person that I have met through all of my treatment that is better, or even doing well. Maybe they were for 2 months, maybe even a year, but everyone ends up sick again, in treatment, over and over again.

We’re a hopeless bunch yet so caught on the hope that we might get better, so we put in the energy and the huge sum of money, and the time. It never seems to truly get anywhere, except maybe a short reprise where we can function for a short time, at least well enough to fool everyone else. But we don’t fool ourselves.

 

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Sometimes the stats for my blog make me sad. No, not because I have so few visitors, I expect that. I am saddened by the ways people are brought to my blog.

What do you think is the most common search phrase that brings people to my blog?

“Why am I such a screw up?”

That never fails to surprise me. And make me sad that there are people out there hunting for the answers to this on the internet.

But it’s only the top in terms of precise search terms. The top category is a combination of eating disorder plus some term related to medical/grad school (MCAT, medical school, medical school interview, grad school). I’ve googled these before. It’s nearly impossible to find any answers. Eating disorders in medical school (and to a lesser extent, grad school) are not talked about. They are not written about. They are hardly mentioned at all. Which also makes me sad. It also makes me think that I should write more about that and how having an eating disorder does fit (or not) into medical school. My struggles, the decisions, my successes. Making this less personal (I know 99% of the people reading this probably know me) and more helpful for others like me who feel alone in this struggle.

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I feel like I just posted yesterday, but it’s been over 3 weeks. In those 3 weeks I have watched my brother run in the state track meet, drove to Denver and back, spent time at my parents, went to graduation parties for my brother, cousin, and a few others, worked, and even managed to fit in a few alone days at home. I also have gone back to see E—.

I have now seen her 3 times. The first time I went I was terrified. Maybe terrified isn’t the right word. Ashamed is probably more accurate. Really I am ashamed every time I see her. Probably 90% of the emotions I experience are some form on shame. I am ashamed of what I eat. I am ashamed of what I weigh. I am ashamed of when I eat. I am ashamed of not exercising enough. I am ashamed of being fat. I am ashamed of having a huge stomach. I am ashamed of my fat fingers and thighs and arms.

But the difference this time is that even with all this shame I am fighting. I’m not always moving forward, but I’m fighting to not move backward. I would say that although I’m not jumping in to the work of recovery, I am dipping my toe in.

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It seems to go faster every year. As a child I always heard adults saying that and equated it to being old. Does this mean I’m old now? Regardless, where am I in life right now?

I am not seeing anyone from my treatment team. E (therapist) suggested a break at the end of September. I had initially kept an appointment in late October to check in after that. I canceled it. I stopped seeing my dietitian and physician too. Honestly, I feel more settled than I have in a long time. I still have eating disorder behaviors, I still worry about weight and calories, but I no longer have this pull between doing what the eating disorder wants and what my team wanted to hear. I have a new normal and I no longer have the nagging in the back of my head that it isn’t right or the exhausting struggle to change.

I have completed all the work for my MPH although I’m still waiting to see if I passed my [pass/fail] practicum to officially graduate. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I still have a lot of anxiety about not passing and therefore not graduating.

Next semester I will be taking one class for several reasons:
1) The hospital (my primary job that supplies benefits) will pay for me to take up to 4 credits of a “work-related” class
2) There is a class next semester in the college of public health that I have been wanting to take.
3) My job at Student Health is officially classified as a student job, so to keep it I have to be taking at least one class.

I interviewed for the medical school at my current university just before Thanksgiving. I haven’t heard anything more. It is by far my first choice school but since this is my fourth time applying I’m not particularly optimistic. I have two interviews at osteopathic medical schools next week. In many ways osteopathic medicine seems to be a better fit for me. It has a greater focus on primary care, prevention, alternative medicine, and caring for the whole person. But I hate moving and the closest osteopathic schools are 2 and 3 hours from where I currently live 😦 Not to mention M absolutely refuses to move or go to one of the places (currently my 3rd choice). And allopathic (MD) school rejections have been starting to come in. It’s somewhat depressing. Additionally, osteopathic schools have a much faster turnaround time so in a month I will almost definitely have decisions from both of next week’s interviews.

On the home front. My house is a mess and it drives me nuts, but I’m completely overwhelmed about where to start with cleaning and decluttering. I have been shelling out some money for a new dog trainer. Zef had been having increasing behavior and aggression problems. It was getting to the point where I was avoiding walking him and dreaded just taking him outside briefly for the bathroom. And when I did take him on a longer walk or run my shoulder would hurt for a day or two after. This trainer was recommended to me by my academic advisor. The trainer has raised Australian shepherd for years. She comes to my house and works with Zef and I in our natural environment. She has come 3 times in about a month and a half and although progress is slow, there has been significant progress.

I’m sure there’s more, but that seems to be enough for now.

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Breaking Out

I’m taking another break from my therapist. This time it was mostly my decision. Last time I did this (January) it was E’s idea, I was pissed, and took it out on myself. The break led to a downward spiral where I lost weight, returned to purging, and began lying more. Last week, E suggested that I was not prepared to change and if that was the case then there wasn’t much reason for us to continue.

That night I cried and cried. I was and still am torn about what I want to do. Part of me wants to continue with E and continue to fight, but as a lifelong people pleaser I don’t know if it’s because I really want it or I just want to please E. Another part wants to go out on my own, leave the hassle of doctor and therapy appointments behind, along with my “identity” of an eating disorder. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that a small part of me wants this as a way to run all the way back to the disorder and lose even more weight.

But there are so many things that I don’t want to lose in my life right now. I am so close to my mater’s I can almost taste it. I have a great job at student health. I have a medical school application on the line. And I have my boyfriend, M.

Time will tell how this experiment turns out.

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Still a student…although not the type I want to be right now.  I didn’t get into medical school off the waitlist. In fact, I never moved from 5. Instead I’m still an MPH student because I managed to screw up my graduation.

In my last post I was given relatively few options. Four days after that I was at student health for an follow-up appointment for my IUD. I hadn’t been there for an appointment in a long time and my weight was significantly down. The nurse (who sees me much too frequently) noticed the weight and mentioned it to the doctor. Who freaked out and, because my regular eating disorder doctor was out of town, took bloodwork and contacted my doctor the next day. I went to see my doctor the next day (Tuesday) who told me I needed treatment. Then on Wednesday I went to see E and she told me that I would be going inpatient–no questions, no excuses, no delays. I cried all evening and spent all of Thursday trying to figure out how to get out of it. Unfortunately, the only treatment program my insurance would cover is at the hospital I work at. Friday I took a genetics exam in the morning and was admitted on the inpatient unit that afternoon.

On the unit with people I work with. My resident doctor had worked with me when she rotated through my unit. My nurses had floated through my unit. The aides either floated through my unit or went to “violent patient” incidents with me when called. I had taken care of several other patients. This hospital has a very strict eating disorder program. My days were nearly all the same and went something like this:

6:30 a.m.–get woken up for daily weights

7:30 a.m.–breakfast in the dining room

9 a.m.–activity

10:30 a.m.–psych ed group with a nurse

11:30 a.m.–lunch

1:30 p.m.–activity

2:45 p.m.–afternoon snack

3 p.m.–group with a therapist

5:30 p.m.–supper

8 p.m.–evening snack

10 p.m.–bedtime

As part of the eating disorder protocol we are required to be supervised continually from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. This means when we aren’t at activity or in groups we have to stay in the dayroom with a staff member dedicated solely to watching us (up to 8 patients, although no more than 5 when I was there). We are not allowed to go to the bathroom on our own. We have to show the toilet to a staff member before flushing. We are “redirected” for standing, walking, crossing our legs, or jiggling our feet. We are not to discuss food, calories, weight, exercise, or other potentially triggering topics. Because it is a general psychiatry unit with non-eating disorder patients we cannot have anything with metal and our makeup/personal care items must be checked out from the nurse’s station. We cannot have cell phones or laptops.

26 days and too many pounds later, I discharged to the partial program. Where I’ve been for the past 4 weeks. Gaining more weight. Weight that makes me sick at the sight of my own body. Weight I can feel every night when I walk my dog.

But I’m done with the partial next Friday. Done whether I’m at target or not (and I am fervently hoping that I will not be there yet). I haven’t set up any follow-up therapy appointments. I’m hoping that no one will notice and I can go through the rest of my life without people bothering me about my weight and wielding the threat of inpatient or partial over my head.

The only requirements I have to finish for my MPH degree are 60 hours of work on my practicum, a paper on what I did, and a poster presentation. The work will in less than 3 weeks. The paper and presentation can’t be done until December, unfortunately so I cannot get my diploma until then.

However, student health has offered me a part-time (20 hours/week) position to do one-on-one counseling with students who are at risk for problems with alcohol. I will begin that the week after I finish partial and continue working my 20 hour weekend job at the hospital.

And because I didn’t get into medical school I have to begin forcing myself through that laborious process yet again and now I am also considering PhD programs in clinical psychology.

I don’t know how many more rejections I can take.

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I feel like I am entering a new phase in my life. It might be short lived (as in only lasting until I start my next degree) but it’s both exciting and scary. This week I started my final practicum for my MPH degree. I am working at the student health service at my university.

It’s exciting to be doing actual professional work. It’s taking me some time to get used to it though. My weekend job is as a clerk at the hospital where I just do basic tasks people need: ordering, making phone calls, helping patients, etc. At student health there are undergraduate students hired to do that. This week I have created a social media presentation, written fitness video scripts, made a strength training handout, began a literature review on sleep awareness campaigns, answered anonymous medical questions from students, and began a review of self-care data on the website. Next week I’m learning SPSS- a statistics software that I haven’t used before. I will also be working information fairs for new student orientation throughout the summer.

It’s scary because the medical doctor that oversees my eating disorder works there. I haven’t gone for a couple months and I’m scared to go see here again as a patient. I see her as a coworker every day and I put on a face like things are going well, but I’ve lost weight since I last saw her. My weight has been pretty consistently low this semester anyway. I’m just scared for her to know that I’m not doing well and still see me working there every day. It’s a difficult situation. Especially since right now I’m doing some work on exercise and nutrition.

In other news I’m up to 9 on the medical school waitlist. Hard to tell if I will get in or not but I’m a whole lot closer than where I began.

Also…I knew I forgot something when I clicked publish.

Last week on the unit an eating disorder patient was making comments about how people looked and commented on how skinny I was. And I sort of freaked out about it. I mean, I should have expected it. I am constantly comparing myself to others in terms of body size. I couldn’t leave work with a clean conscience and have her think that I was just naturally (and healthily) thin. So I told her about my own eating disorder. I really don’t like to do that with patients but I didn’t see any other option at the time. However, it got me thinking. I want to work in mental health, ergo I will probably be coming across other eating disorder patients and this is likely to come up again. Do I want to spend the rest of my life either having to tell patients about this or having to lie about it? Telling patients now isn’t quite as bad because I am just a clerk/nursing assistant. I am more on their level than say a doctor or therapist. If I were a patient who thought the doctors just wanted to make me fat (as most of us think) and my doctor had an eating disorder, I would be pissed and think that he/she was just trying to make me fat to make themselves look thinner or that they had impaired judgement in regards to my treatment in other ways. I need to realize that this issue isn’t going to go away for me. In fact, as I get closer to my ultimate educational/career goals it will simply get bigger.

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