October 19, 2018
“I don’t know how I can physically feel so exhausted but not be able to sleep,” I wrote in my journal on day two of treatment. I had tossed and turned, wide awake, until about 3am that night. At 1:30am I got up to ask the nurses for a second pillow. I’m not really sure why, but this actually helped a lot with my anxiety.
I had no idea who this stranger, my roommate, was, sleeping in the bed a few feet away from me. Every hour the nurses did their rounds to check on us so I’d jump awake any time I heard them crack open the door. Even the tiniest noises of the wind outside and the trees brushing up against the window made me jump. I didn’t have my phone to mindlessly scroll and distract my mind. I couldn’t text Lauren or my therapist from home. I didn’t have Benadryl to knock me out. I didn’t have food to ground myself. I tried to read one of the books I brought but kept reading the same sentence over and over again until I gave up. I thought about how much I missed having Beau sleeping against my back. I wondered if he had driven my parents crazy yet.
A nurse came to wake me up at 5:30am to get my weight, labs, and vitals. Laying down, my pulse was 100bpm and sitting up it was 110. I tried to take some deep breaths to calm down, but I felt so uncomfortable in the medical gown with these strangers. I just wanted to bolt.
I went right back to sleep after vitals and my roommate woke me up at 7:55, five minutes before breakfast. I jumped awake and rushed to change, not quite helping my anxiety levels.
Breakfast was a huge muffin, a cup of orange juice, peanut butter, and a glass of milk. The girls told me I wasn’t allowed to cut the muffin into small pieces or even eat it with a fork. I finished the muffin. A psych tech came over to tell me that I was supposed to put the peanut butter on the muffin so she brought me a banana to eat it with. I would have happily eaten the peanut butter by itself but apparently that is disordered. So many weird rules.
After breakfast, I met with a financial coordinator to finalize some of those details. After this I had a session with my new psychiatrist. For the fourth time in the past two days I had to bare my soul to a complete stranger. It didn’t feel like it was getting any easier at all. I cried the entire session and had to stop every few minutes to calm my shallow breathing down so I wouldn’t go into a full panic attack. She suggested medication, which I’ve always denied. I decided to give it a try, especially for sleep. I needed sleep.
During my free time I again escaped to my room to lay alone in stillness and silence, which was becoming my new favorite hobby. This panic felt so constant every second of the day. All I wanted was to just be able to breathe easy again.
Following lunch, I met with a nutritionist. When I had my assessment with Renfrew before admitting, I asked the woman on the phone if there are any males on staff. She said that with my team, I wouldn’t have to work with any and there would be no male patients. I felt comfort in this. But when I walked into the nutritionist’s small office, I panicked. A tall, built, blonde guy, maybe a couple years older than me sat behind the desk. I walked in and sat down. He went to close the door and I asked him not to. His office was getting smaller and smaller. He left the door open and sat down. I had to give him an entire history of my disordered eating, which I began to describe to him from when I was only 11 years old.
As I progressed in my timeline, the description of disordered eating patterns got worse and worse. As did my current panic level. I got to the point where I was describing the events happening in my life in the past couple of years and how they affected my eating. His office kept growing smaller. I couldn’t make eye contact or look in his general direction. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. The hyperventilating started and tears came. I got up, rushed out the door, and took a seat on the stairs outside. He came out and told me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth and to breathe from my diaphragm. He tried to comfort me while standing a few feet away, giving me space. I begged him to do the rest of the assessment on Monday. He apologized and said no. My nutritionist needed this information for when we would meet next week. I felt relief that he wasn’t my nutritionist and I worked to calm down enough to just get the rest of the assessment over with. The nutritionist I would meet with for the rest of my time here was not a male. I just needed to get through the next few minutes.
I sat in the community room with the other girls. My therapist came and got me for another session. We sat outside on the porch again. I liked her a lot but I still had a hard time opening up. She kept asking me questions and I tried my best to avoid all of them. I just lay my head down on the table and said, “I don’t know. I’m just so tired.” She looked at me with sympathy. “I am gathering that you don’t really share much,” she said. I told her that it took almost three months for me to really open up to my therapist at home. I had a really hard time imagining opening up to another person like that and so quickly. She told me yesterday that I could have sessions with her practicum student too if I wanted. I was very weary. How am I supposed to open up to two people when all I can do is just stare at her in silence? I also felt so much pressure to bare my soul so they could help me. I felt very conflicted. I couldn’t make sense of anything in my head.
My nutritionist needed my menus completed for the next week, so she sat at a table with me outside while I flipped through the packet and checked boxes. I had to choose things from every food group. I was taking a really long time to make my decisions, but I finally gave the completed packet to her. She flipped through it and changed a few things she noticed. I never picked cheese so she picked it for me. I picked the exact same thing for breakfast every single morning, so she gave me some variations. I didn’t check boxes for any of the desserts, so she checked them for me. She explained to me all her motives behind the changes and I began to panic. I continued to realize they wanted to take all control from me here.
Our last group of the day was before dinner. I read on the schedule that it was called “This is my story,” which made me nervous. I had yet to say a single word in a group and I was worried I may have to share my story with all the other girls. Fortunately we just had a worksheet with questions like “What is your name? Where did it come from? What is a goal you have in the future? Who are people you look up to?” I enjoyed hearing these trivial facts from the other girls. When it got around to me, I shared that my name is Anna Olivia Dyer. Anna is my great grandmother’s name and Olivia is after my grandfather Oliver. I shared that a goal of mine is to someday adopt and/or be a foster mom. Kelsey looked up and said, “I’ve always wanted to be a foster mom too!” It felt nice to say something, to share tiny details about myself with these girls who don’t know me. It felt nice to make a connection in this place where I felt so trapped and disconnected. It amazed me that this tiny thing comforted me so much. I genuinely want to talk. I had so much to say. But fear overpowered all of that.
At dinner I was able to listen to the other girls talking and even laugh a couple times at what they said. The rest of the night was for movie night and the girls chose a scary movie on Netflix. Sophia asked if anyone opposed and internally I begged someone to speak up and say no, but no one did. I hate scary movies. Being this panicked and on edge by itself was bad enough. I knew bad dreams were likely tonight. But they started the movie and I sat frozen there, watching. I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t want to watch the movie or to ruin it for anyone else. It resulted in me having to leave and take deep breaths alone in my bathroom. I had another panic attack. The third full, overwhelming panic attack in two days. I was so exhausted. I wanted this to stop.
I recovered, showered, and called Lauren in a phone booth with my calling card. I tried to tell her it was hard but it was difficult to find words. I told her I might be there longer than my anticipated 30 days. It was nice just to hear her voice and hear her say she loved me and it would get better.
I wrote in my journal, “Today was really really hard and it makes me nervous for the next 30+ days. But I’m trying to only think about one day at a time. I still have consistent panic and want to skip all the meals and lose weight but I’m hopeful that some day I won’t.”
I went to the med window and took my sleeping medicine. The exhaustion caught up to me. I was asleep in minutes.