Cha-Cha-Cha Changes

Wednesday I started seeing a new therapist.

A few months ago my old counselor, who I had been seeing pretty much the entire duration of my outpatient treatment, told me she wanted to me to go to an extensive residential program, or sign a contract stating if I did not make a certain amount of progress by such and such a date, then she would no longer see me/I would have to go away. The agreement would be signed by my mom, husband, herself and me, since I technically do not have the right to make these decisions alone (that went out the window last year when I would continually beg to be signed out of facilities early).

When I brought the proposition home to my family, they suggested it might be time to see someone else, and get a different prospective considering I was still in the same ED mentality I had when I first started “recovery.”

It took me a while but I found someone through a referral that worked with out insurance and was willing to give me a try.

I was pretty hesitant because this doctor is a man.

I have nothing against men, but I have never worked with a male counselor before, and as we all know, I totally fear the unknown.

I was also skeptical because he is not labeled an “ED therapist.”

I personally never thought anything of it. A therapist is a therapist, but when I told some of my loved ones he didn’t work primarily with ED patients they all seemed to think it might be a strange fit.

Honestly, I am just ready to get a fresh outlook, and after our first hour, he made me think about things I never even considered before that point.

Maybe it could be the start of a good relationship?

The point of me telling you all this is because after I asked for advice, help, etc. and apologized for my round robbin year of posts, I started to realize my way of recovering is kind of “broken.”

You know the saying, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Well since I am in serious need of being “fixed,” and I am obviously not anywhere close to being whole, it is time for some new methods.

Method change 1, my Wednesday appointment.

That was a relatively easy one, but upon reading feedback from all of you, there are a ton of other areas that need work.

*Obviously I should have known this, but like I said yesterday, I think I was/am in some major denial.

1. EAT

I need to eat more. Duh, right?! I mean this is not rocket science, and I am definitely consuming more than when I was in my phases of restriction, but there are times during the day when my stomach starts to grumble and I ignore it because I know lunch is in an hour, or I panic because it isn’t the right “time” to eat, or heaven forbid it would make me go over the amount of calories I think is sufficient (which, as you probably have guessed is less than what my actual nutritionist suggests).

During these times wouldn’t it be sensible to have a snack? Or perhaps I should go back to a timed food structure. Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, night snack…

I completely disregarded my old schedule because that wasn’t what people did. People don’t eat like that…it’s too often…too much…not practical, what if I am not hungry?!

I had every excuse in the book, and since I didn’t have 24/7 accountability, it was pretty easy to abide by my own way.

2. Get out of my box

I need to leave the safety zone in a lot of ways.

I have tried more fear foods lately, but as I also pointed out yesterday, I then make up for it in other aspects of my recovery and believe that’s ok.

Well, it is not.

I need to not only get more comfortable with scary items, but also provide myself with enough to get my body back to a healthy state, not just pick one or the other.

And as much as I hate to admit this, I must challenge my beliefs that a person NEEDS to exercise in order to deserve food.

I legitimately do enjoy working out. Activity is a big part of Ryan and my lives, but if I am sick or extremely exhausted, I shouldn’t have to compulsively wake up before the sun to get on the treadmill.

I wont lie to you and tell you I am going to eliminate my walks, or stop going to Zumba once a week, but it is time to re-evaluate what is truly appropriate and necessary for me getting well at this point, and that could mean taking a stroll with my husband and our dogs, rather than my iPod and an inclined machine.

3. Suck it up

Admitting and accepting are two vey key components to conquering any form of addiction. I learned that day one in health class during the drug and alcohol unit and it is pretty damn applicable to a lot of things in life.

As far as the admitting part goes, words, especially my words, don’t always mean much.

I have “acknowledged” my problem for a long time now, by going to clinics, paying seriously hefty doctor fees, and even playing along in the recovery game, but have I ever truly embraced and accepted my behaviors were unhealthy?

No. I consider them to be “my normal.”

This is just the way it is…as good as it gets….

But I am hoping to God that is not the case.

I am hoping that not every normal sized lunch of a sandwich, pretzels and a Luna bar isn’t completely traumatizing.

I am praying that I don’t even think about those things beyond, “oh my goodness that was tasty and now I have the energy to move forward with my day.”

And although that will not be the case tomorrow, or even probably next week, maybe each time, meal, snack, I practice, it will get easier.

That being said, the inevitable outcome will be weight gain.

This sucks and I hate that it has to be that way, but after seeing some pictures from my future step-father’s birthday party a few weekends ago, my body COULD stand to gain a few pounds.

I hate the feeling that comes with increased calories, less exercise, etc.; the feeling that everything is sitting right on your midsection, bloating, flab, excess fat, but I need to focus on the fact that it is temporary, weight will redistribute and someday my legs wont look disgusting anymore, and my tummy will no longer look pregnant.

But I will be an overall happier, more pleasant, productive, young woman, who isn’t at risk of dying from her own devices every second of the day.

More specifically this means…

  • 2500 calorie minimum plan
  • A goal weight of ____ that will get me to at least an 18.5 bmi
  • Checking of foods on the fear list without further restriction or over compensatory movement
  • Eliminating obsessive-compulsive exercise tendencies
  • Honesty and open-mindedness during therapy sessions

Are these too vague?

You guys have done a fabulous job of helping me be a little more truthful with myself, so if you have any input I am open.

Thanks again for everything. Have a wonderful holiday and super long weekend 🙂

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20 thoughts on “Cha-Cha-Cha Changes

  1. You know I how always felt about the previous therapist. Her and I just never got along. Glad to see that you are finding your new therapist helpful. So important to have that stability and that you feel secure and trust them.

    Have a wonderful weekend darling!

  2. “I would have to go away” may have been how you felt, however knowing that therapist, I believe what she was saying is that she would be robbing you by continuing to see you when your malnourished state continues to interfere with your ability to really engage and benefit from therapy.
    I find it very interesting that both the M.D. And the therapist you have chosen do not specialize in eating disorders.
    In looking at your plan, it appears that you met with a dietician not a therapist. Yes, dear, your “specifics” are way too vague, and in many ways not really measurable, in particular 3&4.
    I absolutely do not want to squelch any enthusiasm, but there have been some brutally honest posts on here lately in an attempt to have you look at your repetition that has not worked. This appears to be more of the same…
    I love you girl, and am only sticking my neck out and saying all this because I do!

    • I support both this comment from jmakeen and the one to the post on Thursday.

      While I agree that lpodolsky410 is correct in identifying that liking and trusting any therapist is critical in having the process be of any value, but I think your family may have missed an important opportunity to support your previous therapist’s efforts to create a structure and urgency to recovery that is lacking at the moment.

      To be blunt, it appears as though your family may have lost sight of the almost indiscernible line between support and enablement. You do not need a different perspective or more professional input (be it ED specialists or otherwise). You need to have the process of re-feeding and the cessation of all exercise removed from your purview and responsibility as soon as possible.

      A starved brain is completely incapable of doing much more than anxiously and repetitively chasing its own proverbial tail (ED or not).

      I had an extremely pithy conversation with a dear paramedic friend who simply doesn’t have to pretend to care what a patient thinks about his or her condition because trusting the patient’s own assessment is simply foolhardy and against all the protocols. Plenty of diabetics about to sink into a coma will be belligerent and insist they are fine. Plenty of patients with head injuries will state over and over how they feel fine, until they drop to the floor unconscious.

      No one in their right mind would continue to attend zumba classes and get on a treadmill every morning in your condition and that’s just the point. You are not in your right mind. You are the angry and argumentative diabetic or the anxious asthmatic about to dump and yet there is no one nodding politely at your protestations all the while strapping you into the gurney and getting you the emergent care you need ASAP.

      I don’t have the answer. I don’t know why we somehow push anorexics to make decisions for themselves that we would never ask of any other neurologically compromised patient, yet we do.

      This is not meant to be your call because you are too injured to make a decision that will be in your best interests. If there is any part of your brain that can register the need to handover the decision then I hope it can make that happen because there is no one who is strapping you into the gurney to protect your life when your brain is too compromised to see the urgency or the need to do so.

      • I agree with this also.

        Plus “lpdosky410” above, while well-intentioned is also amennhoreeic, struggling with many physical issues that compromise fertility and health, yet working out with a trainer daily, exercising, eating cereal with 1/4 cup cereal, 2 tbsp yogurt, and a tsp of nut butter.
        You need to get out of the fire by losing some control. When you better fed and rested , however long that takes, you can then take back more control all you wish.

      • I completely agree and have said so many times myself that the only reason I am doing well in recovery is because it was no longer a choice to exercise or to cut back on foods. My family held me accountable and trusted me that I did NOT set foot in a gym and had to store away my tennis shoes for at least 2 months while I worked on getting my weight back. I also had family members help me prepare meals and always ate at least 2 meals with my family since I was again living at home with them.

        CJ, you keep saying that taking away exercise is out of the question. Why? Because “you love being active” and are an active person in general. I would venture to say that if you cannot give exercise up in order to get your weight up and be healthy again simply because you like exercise too much, is NO reason for me and is in all sincerity an excuse. You won’t give it up because you think you would go crazy from the “inactivity” and would gain weight “too fast,” whatever that means, because for someone in your state, the faster the better so you can focus on a normal life asap!

        Like Gwyneth has said, a person in their right mind would be okay in giving up exercise for a certain amount of time in order to get healthy again. People who hate exercise are willing to take it on in order to get healthy. But it’s clear that in your state, exercise is so connected to your ED that it is not negotiable. No one is saying give up exercise forever!

        Trust me, you would see all this and not fret about it NEARLY as much if you were healthier… (Take me for example, I haven’t exercised for a week and have been taking 3-hour long naps every day because I’ve been sick with the flu! I’m getting over my sickness, and what do you know, I didn’t even gain a pound from the inactivity. Nor did I drive myself crazy for not working out at all — my body needed this time to get better!)

      • Jess, when you were in the first stages of eating more, did you sleep a lot? I find myself napping every weekend day, even after my body has gotten a good amount of sleep. when you said about taking 3 hours naps, i was reminded of my curiosity about this. i have increased my calories pretty significantly the past few weeks and since then its like i am always tired. just wondering if this was normal??? i hope you have a great holiday.

      • Gwyneth,
        thank you again for your wise words. my husband read this today and almost cried. he feels he has been trying to hard with minimal support from the rst of our family and that is hard when he has to deal with a stubborn person like me all day every day. as a nurse in the MICU many of his patients dont have the ability to make medical decisions for themselves and thats why he is trained specifically for his job. it is hard for him to come home and have another patient. perhaps i am being selfish for being home and trying to recover but i feel like i have exhausted the other options and tried them all. its up to ME to want it. i just need to relinquish the ridiculous rules i have and eat. it just scares me that my hunger wants more than my rules have ever ever said was appropriate. today for example i was hungry literally every two hours…listening to that has been one of the hardest things in the world to do. sounds pathetic, but its true.
        thanks for all your feedback and suggestions. it makes me feel like i am not as crazy as my mind makes me out to be.
        have a great holiday.

  3. I hope that you are able to connect with your new therapist, perhaps this will provide the jumpstart to the next phase of your recovery. And although you have been/are resistant to inpatient i would strongly suggest an IOP several evenings a week. Professional help with accountability is this only way to make progess at this point
    I also am suprised/disappointed about your comments of feeling hungry yet not feeding yourself. You should absolutly be following a “timed” meal plan including multiple snacks and liquid supplements/smoothies/shakes to meet your caloric needs. Right now the food is your medicine and waiting until you feel hungry is not a luxury you get to have for a while.

    • i agree that i shouldnt always wait for hunger, and honestly i think i am way more hungry than i let on. today, as i did feed myself with every hunger pang, they seemed to come very frequently, almost every 2-3 hours! maybe my body is desperately crying out for me…whatever it is, i listened for the first time and it was SO scary and caused a ton of negative self talk, but i just kept trying to counteract that with thoughts of a better life.
      thanks for your feedback. it always helps to get other opinions.

      • About your above comment it is very normal for your body to be exhausted and need much more sleep while trying to heal itself right now. Also with your hunger i suspect you are starting a hypermetabolic phase of refeeding. PLEASE google “hypermetabolic state and anorexia recovery” and read about this, it is critical that you keep increasing your calories at this point because it is your body trying to heal itself from trauma. Keep up the heard work, it sounds like today was hard but a great success for you.

  4. Exercise and loving to be active is totally healthy… when it doesn’t get rigid and non-negotiable, when you are fueling your body properly for the activity, and when you are not in NEED of gaining weight to gain back your health and strength. I remember a nutritionist once telling me when I began recovery, “Any exercise you are doing right now is ONLY hurting you, eating away your muscle, killing your body a little bit more.” That completely shocked me, completely invalidated what I had deamed my hard work to get really good at running. It is hard to hear and hard to realize… but when you are in the throws of anorexia and trying to get out, exercise is nott healthy anymore, not until you can consistently keep up your intake to not only support the exercise but also to aid you in gaining weight… I can see that NOW; it was really, really hard to see then.

    What about cutting out exercise except for a walk around the block with the dogs/husband when you are in need of some fresh air & some movement? Intense cardio walks every morning does not sound like “I love to be active” type activity… it sounds more associated with your eating disorder, and it is no doubt holding you back in the recovery process. One thing you are passionate about is being active… but your eating disorder has stolen the healthiness of that passion away (and turned into a risk to your health as well as a “if i don’t do it, i feel GUILTY” type thing)- a motivator in your recovery would be to get back to a state where exercise is healthy AND enjoyed. It’s great that you enjoy it right now, but it is not healthy right now.

    You shouldn’t “perhaps” go back to the structured breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack – I would argue that you NEED to look to that type of structure. Also, as you said and know, fighting off hunger until a meal is not an option if you want to recover. You are not just trying to eat like the average, normal person (whatever that is?) right now… you have to eat A LOT. It takes a lot of food to recover and gain back NEEDED weight.

    CJ, also the fact that your past therapist recommended residential treatment shows that the place you are in is not something to be taken lightly. If you want to do this on your own, you need to be as serious with yourself about it as if you were in inpatient treatment. When you say you feel like this is your normal, remind yourself that your normal is NOT OKAY… it cannot last. And that is why people want you to get help. Because you need to take strict action fast, before it is too late. If you want to recover at home, you can’t negotiate or slack or make excuses.

    Also the fact that professionals have told you that residential treatment is a good idea shows that you NEED to gain (probably more than) a few pounds… this is more serious than “I COULD stand to gain a few pounds.”

    I feel like maybe that is your eating disorder telling you that “a therspist is a therapist” and choosing a therapist who does not specialize in eds… in my opinion, it would be MUCH more beneficial to have a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and has studied and understands (as much as they could) them. But I’m really happy for you that you feel comfortable and productive with this new one.

    I hope you know that I point this all out to help you realize the reality of your situation, to help you fight the voice in your head that tells you that what you are doing (when you engage in your ed) is healthy or right – not because I am angry or annoyed or anything slightly like that. I really want you to be healthy because you are stronger than this thing and you very clearly have so much and so many people to live for and love. It’s just that sometimes it doesn’t seem like you are taking recovery as seriously as is necesary… what you say often portrays the seriousness of it and your understanding of how unhealthy a lot of your actions are, but what you do (like exercise daily and continue to restrict) doesn’t reflect your understanding of what is at stake. And it’s HARD to convert so many ways of thinking, especially at such a malnourished state. But if you really say you are going to and want to do this on your own, you have to take drastic measures and make way bigger changes, sit in the discomfort and possible anxiety, and just keep pushing on (and talking a lot with people who support and understand your battle) day after day.

    • jocelyn,
      i truly appreciate your constructive feedback. you have aheart of gold for trying to help someone like me who seems so stubborn and impossible most days. i do need to take drastic measures and sometimes i convince myself what i have been doing is drastic and enough when it very obviously is not. people like you are very helpful to me and i cant tell you how nice it is to have a friend who is trying to encourage my recovery rather than bring me down with negative or mean comments.
      thanks jocely. i hope you have a great weekend ❤

      • Thanks for your so sweet words. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. You are a seriously beautiful person; i KNOW it even though I’ve never actually met you in person.Keep fighting… and let yourslef sleep and relax and heal and love. ❤ Happy Easter!

  5. “. I don’t know why we somehow push anorexics to make decisions for themselves that we would never ask of any other neurologically compromised patient, yet we do.”
    Gwyneth O.
    I think that truly just puts everything we have been discussing in a nutshell. As I have been saying for quite some time this whole eating disorder, as well as choices regarding treatment has become bigger than you and what you can do on your own.
    And as Jocelyn said we do not say these things because we are angry or annoyed at all, but because we truly care and only want what is best for you. I pray that someday you will really believe that.
    When i read your FB status this morning, “ZUMBA”, Gwyneth’s post rang loud and clear……

    • Mary – if you are her family – CJ should not be writing this blog or on here influencing others. It is HORRIBLE. Half of these people – including “Tara” are very ill and thinking that if “CJ does it, so can they”. Just another excuse. ED’s are selfish, selfish, selfish and keep you like a child. Part of being an adult is accepting responsibility for your mistakes and life and not running to your habits and comfort zones Saying “I want to exercise, eat this, do this…everything else scares me” is just child-like and unacceptable. GROW UP and accept what you have to do. And stop this blog – it is a horrible horrible influence and will never help you get better.

      • thanks for your insight, mary isnt my family, but a dear friend who i love very much. i appreciate your opinion but this is my journal and i am sorry you feel it is detrimental to some people, but i hope to be helping some others by showing them that this is hard, and they are not alone. i never ever say people should adopt my habits. in fact i try to deter people from every doing things my way. i hope you have a nice holiday.

      • “me”, you are very rude. An eating disorder is a mental illness… one that involves much more healing and treatment than just simply being told, “GROW UP.” Also, I would argue that processing one’s thoughts and being honest with one’s self through writing can help in healing & recovery.

  6. Hey CJ,

    Yes, I did find my energy level decreasing, and I’ve heard/read somewhere that it’s pretty normal because your body is kind of put into overdrive in mending things back in your body that you probably had no idea needed mending! Also, it’s not used to taking in more calories, so any increase can make you sleepier simply because your body is doing more work internally… (which is why some people lose weight in those initial stages because their metabolism gets a kick start!).

    As for me, the sleepiness in general has subsided, except this past week because I was super sick! 😛

    And thanks for the nice wishes for Easter!

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