I’m having trouble writing. This time last year, I could sit in front of my laptop for hours upon hours with words just pouring out of me. Now I have all this time to write and I don’t even know where to start. I feel like I’ve fallen behind with my life and I’m desperately trying to catch up.
So we will start with today, right here, right now. I am sitting in my twin-sized bed at Eating Recovery Center in Denver, Colorado. We just ate lunch and we have an hour of rest time. Paintings line my window sill, adding my own touch to the white walls. Another twin bed sits parallel to mine on the opposite wall. There are two dressers and two small, bedside shelves. My roommate is transitioning out of residential treatment so she programs with PHP all day, so I have the room to myself.
I’ve been here in treatment for eighteen days, almost three weeks. And generally I’m feeling much better than the weeks previous. Before this I was in residential treatment at the Recovery Ranch for five weeks. The sting of homesickness is dulling a bit and I find myself feeling content and hopeful most days.
But it’s hard. There’s a consistent barrage of screams from my brain every second of every day. I need to lose weight. I am disgusting. I’m not thin enough to recover. I’m not thin enough to even have an eating disorder in the first place. Only a few more pounds and I’ll stop. I’m ten times the size of every other patient here. Any amount of food is too much. I am huge. I need to be smaller. I don’t have an eating disorder. It’s not that bad. If I eat bread or starches I’ll gain weight. All I should eat are fruits and vegetables. Everything else is bad. If I eat anything else I am a failure. I have no self control. I am fat. My thighs are huge. My arms are flabby. Clothes will look better on me when I lose weight. People will treat me better. If I start eating I won’t be able to stop. I will lose control. I will be a huge disgusting piece of shit that no one could ever possibly love. I am already a huge piece of shit that no one could ever possibly love. I shouldn’t eat. I should starve. That is what I deserve. I deserve to waste away into nothing until I disappear. I want to disappear. I want to melt into the ground and cease to exist. I need to be empty and numb and clean and transparent and invisible. I hate myself and I want to die.
The words I hate myself and I want to die rang through my brain last night after dinner. So. Loudly. At dinner I ate slowly, not wanting to eat at all. I ate a small cup of vanilla yogurt for over ten minutes. Then cut my broccoli into tiny pieces for another ten minutes. Picked apart my sandwich, cutting the tomatoes, taking small bites. Time ran out with half of a sandwich left on my plate. And the thought of eating it or anything else made me want to bash my head into the table. The Behavioral Health Counselor (BHC) brought out the supplement for me since I did not complete the meal and I stared the white, vanilla, milky substance for ten minutes, untouched, before heading to group.
After group I retreated to bed. from 6:00 to 8:00 I lay in bed, lights off, listening to these thoughts that were extra loud today. I wanted to throw my phone into the garbage, never reply to a text again. I would not go to snack at 8:00 pm. I would not go to breakfast in the morning. I couldn’t. I would never eat again. I would never leave this bed again. I don’t care any more. I don’t want it any more. I’m done.
However, 8:07pm came along and the BHC let me know it was time for snack. And I said, “Okay,” got up out of bed, and walked to the cafe, and I ate my snack. I ate my breakfast this morning. I completed my morning snack and my lunch. The thoughts are a bit quieter, but they’re there waiting for another time of vulnerability.
My team will probably move back to level one, after only accomplishing level two a few days ago. Since I moved up a level, I got to go on an outing with my therapist to a bagel shop a couple streets down the road yesterday morning. We sat in the sun, I had a decaf americano. My bagel was an everything bagel with chive cream cheese. It wasn’t so bad and my therapist was nice to talk to. The conversation remained light and I didn’t feel the screams deep in my muscles like I usually do. I didn’t feel the weight on my chest or the shaking.
I felt completely detached from my body, like a vegetable. I could not identify any emotions, feelings, sensations. During the 10:00 group, I stared at the floor, all consumed in my thoughts, which were so fast I cannot even relay them. After group, I lay in bed, slightly shaking for an hour. And then they called lunch time.
The flood of emotions and feelings and thoughts raced in. I am disgusting. I am huge. I should not be eating. Tremors shook my hand as I picked up my water glass to take each sip. And I pushed through tears to finish the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my plate.
I want to be able to eat a bagel with a friend in the sunshine in my new blue floral jumper from Target. I want to sip on my Americano and talk about traveling and my goals without having a sideways panic attack hours later. I don’t want a spiral to land me in bed, restricting food for days on end, listening to my brain scream at me. I don’t want any of it. But that’s where I am. Right here, right now.