I want to share another journal entry with you from my time in treatment in Chicago. It’s the day after Christmas — my wedding anniversary. This was written while doing a virtual partial hospitalization program just a few days before being moved to a residential program which is a higher level of care. Our program was virtual due to a Covid outbreak at the treatment center. I was being treated for symptoms of anorexia, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and rumination disorder. I kept detailed journals of the whole experience. I was discharged last February.
This entry includes thoughts on meals, body image, values, goals, and even a little poetry.
12/26/21 Day Eleven
I had a dream last night that I did a bike tour again like when I was younger but this time I didn’t finish. I felt defeated and embarrassed.
Every morning I look in the mirror and touch the underside of my belly – especially on the sides closer to my hips. I did this back home, too. Is that body-checking? Because I told them I don’t do that.
I wish I could just be at peace with my body. How do you do that?
I don’t want to be really thin – I like being curvy. Just take some off my belly. That would be enough for me. That’s what bothers me the most.
I’m about to give up (again). I just attempted breakfast. I opened the container and there were two hard-boiled eggs. I started gagging pretty hard just at the sight of them. There was no way I was going to put those things in my mouth. They’ve been sitting in the fridge for two days. I could smell them.
Then there was a bagel with cream cheese which normally I would like, but it was a plain bagel and there was very little cream cheese. It was like eating a plain piece of white bread only thicker and harder. As I chewed it got bigger in my mouth. With my first bite, I chewed and chewed and chewed. Then I gagged so I decided my second bite would be smaller but I still chewed and chewed. Then the bagel ended up in the trash.
The only good thing about breakfast was that I had orange juice to wash that crap down with.
Will I ever get better? Will I always be picky and that’s just how it is? It’s like I’m not even trying but I can’t help it. I have a very physical reaction to food.
The treatment center gave us little gifts for Christmas – a coloring book and a sensory toy. It might seem childish but everyone loves the sensory toy – myself included. It’s a squishy, stretchy centipede with little legs and a bumpy texture. Mine is the color of my favorite Sharpie, “sky”, so it feels kind of special to me.
AM snack was white cheddar popcorn. I tried my best but didn’t get very far.
Lunch was a turkey and cheese sandwich and a cookie. It was okay. Happy to have mayo.
I named my centipede Fred.
Cheez-Its are disgusting. I only ate one cracker and I don’t think I’ll ever get the taste out of my mouth. Unfortunately, they smell how they taste. Now I can’t stand to be around them. They’re like rotting vegetables.
Now I’m smelling something my roommate made. I feel like my olfactory sense is really sensitive right now.
I’m organizing my pills like my psychiatrist suggested. Going to CVS to buy the pill minders was the first time I left the apartment in five days.
I don’t like going outside. The city kind of scares me.
I was finally able to see the results of my Covid test from the 21st – negative. However, since then I’ve developed a cough, runny nose, and dull headache. Hopefully, it is just a cold. It’s just quite a coincidence that it happened right when so many people I was around have covid. I mean, within just a couple of days. I have to do a test tomorrow, and then another one later in the week. Hopefully, we can get back to in-person programming on the 3rd, but I kind of doubt it.
Just Door Dashed Jimmy John’s and got a turkey sandwich. I gagged and spit it out twice. Most of it ended up in the trash. It’s so stupid. I could have made a turkey sandwich here. Why didn’t I get something different? I didn’t think it was possible, but I think I’m actually sick of turkey sandwiches. That’s one less safe food. I don’t have much left.
I am really struggling with meals and snacks. I’m clearly not equipped to handle virtual PHP. I mean, this all went down on my fifth day here. I still hope they move me to residential.
I’m a little scared because during process group today many people said they would never go back to residential or they will do everything they can to stay out of residential. I really didn’t think they should be allowed to talk like that during group. I think residential is the best move for my recovery but now I’m pretty nervous.
I hope I hear from my case manager tomorrow.
I really haven’t eaten much today. This is getting really difficult and I’m struggling. I want to eat but I can’t. I need some serious help. It’s too easy to have behaviors sitting in this apartment all day. At this time, it’s too much freedom.
One of my favorite motivational phrases is, “move forward from here”. It’s hard to say that when I’m slipping backward every day.
I thought it was really interesting during ACT group when our pro-T said values can change – like when we get older or meet new people.
Values important to me when I was young –
Values important to me now –
I think becoming a mom is what changed my values the most.
I haven’t learned too much about values yet at the treatment center, so I referred to a list of values I Googled. I’m really looking forward to doing the value sort activity in the next week or two. I think it will be interesting.
My Goals as a Mom –
Color more with my daughter
Help her with homework/popcorn words
Make a strong recovery, be a good role model
Be honest with her
Make sure she bathes every day
Teach her to be kind and to respect others – even if they are different than you
Teach her to love, respect, and take care of her body and mind
Make sure she gets enough sleep
Make sure she has clothes that fit
Make a safe, nonjudgmental space for her to talk and express herself
Let her be her own person
Support and encourage her passions and interests
Let her decide her own post-high school plans
Teach her about money and be realistic
Teach her you don’t have to smile
I’ve been here a week and a half and I have yet to shave anything. Today I finally plucked my eyebrows but that was only because I noticed a few hairs in the middle and growing down my nose. I don’t do much to my hair but I still wear a little makeup every day. I don’t dress up. I don’t go out. This is about as casual as I’ll ever be. I think it’s the same for many others here.
My husband seems to have this fantasy that this place is filled with cute, high-maintenance skinny bitches and that I’ll have my first lesbian experience here.
Well, I’m sorry to burst his bubble.
There’s a little bit of everybody here – fat, skinny, all genders, LGBT, straight, etc. And I’m not thinking a lot about sex right now.
I have yet to meet one “high-maintenance” person here. Honestly, I might be the most high-maintenance person here.
Tripping over my feet
while trying to reach
for the stars.
The floor is only
six inches beneath me
but I bruise
just the same.
It’s the middle of the night and I’m up worrying about how I’m going to get my stuff to residential. I have two suitcases. Do I make two trips? Do I ask for help? What about getting an Uber? I’ve never done that before.
My anxiety is killing me.
Also, the apartment still smells like whatever my roommate made for lunch yesterday and it’s making me gag.
Now I’m up crying because my family is having another holiday gathering when I get home because I was sick on Thanksgiving and in treatment on Christmas. My family is amazing. I already miss them so much. I’m so lucky.