First Letter from "L" to F.E.A.S.T.:
"Despite the fact that I sit here, fading in and out of denial, a REALLY BIG part of me just KNOWS that I have to say "yes" to honesty and "yes" to support and "yes" to my therapist/nutritionist/MD talking to my parents practically more than they talks to me. I can't yet find a good reason to say "no" to all of this support... so I'm saying "yes.""
I hope you've been doing well!
I just wanted to give you an update. Since I last e-mailed you, an eating disorder MD, my therapist, my nutritionist, and my parents have all been in daily cell-phone contact. I sit here, thinking about my situation, thinking "Oh, I don't know... maybe I have no problem... I mean, I don't purge or binge and although I restrict and I've lost weight, I'm not at 85% of my ideal body weight I don't think, so... what eating disorder?" Even though I think that, everyone else (parents and professionals alike) are just acting like a team, mobilizing efforts, and telling me it's normal for me to be doubting this.
They're saying, "don't worry, even if you go into denial, we never will." Despite the fact that I sit here, fading in and out of denial, a REALLY BIG part of me just KNOWS that I have to say "yes" to honesty and "yes" to support and "yes" to my therapist/nutritionist/MD talking to my parents practically more than they talks to me. I can't yet find a good reason to say "no" to all of this support... so I'm saying "yes."
(Does this make any sense?) Anyway, so for the next couple of weeks, I've agreed to see my therapist and MD every other day (alternating days) to finish up my job up here. In two weeks, I'll be moving back in with my parents (at age 25. It's okay. I've come to terms with it. I've never lived at home since high school, so I feel I'm allowed to go home now). At home, I'll be attending a day program that has a strong "family-component." But I'll still be eating 1 meal and 1 snack at home on the days that I'm at the program + spending every Sunday entirely at home. As the program progresses, I'll spend less and less time in the program and more and more time at home. My parents will be my support the whole time.
Everyone knows that I'm going home to "Get healthy." My parents told me that I'm coming home, getting healthy, and remaining healthy, program-free, independently for a while, and that is a priority over "advancing in my career" or "getting a phd" etc. I am really committed and I truly feel like all this support is just such a gift. My family has gone from not at all believing anyone that I had an eating disorder (despite friends and coaches calling them) to believing it to finally understanding it as an illness to finally being empowered to take control of the situation and be part of the "healing process." I KNOW that this will make such a difference.
My family has never been involved (yet I'm so close with them in all other ways). They've never been included. They've never understood. I've never LET them be included. I've never let them be educated. It wasn't until I had a therapist who didn't care that I was over 18 and called my parents anyway that they became included and... I just know that this will make all the difference. I know... KNOW FROM THE VERY BOTTOM OF MY BEING... that I am ready... and I WANT WANT WANT to give this up and.... despite the waves of denial..... I HAPPILY ACCEPT THE FAMILY SUPPORT..... and I KNOW KNOW KNOW that I will look back at this time of my life and think "Wow, that all happened for a reason.
What an amazing gift the eating disorder brought me and my family - the gift of communication, of love, of acceptance." And I also know that, after this phase is over... I will be such a better woman, so much more capable, so much more comfortable with myself. I am looking forward to this phase. I might have pretended to fight it for a long time.... but, deep down, I always wanted it. I'm rambling, but one more thing.... Before, I'd say, "Mom, dad, I dunno,,, this is all just stupid... I'll just eat more... I really will... I don't need any more help." And they'd say, "Oh, good, glad to hear that. And they'd believe me." Now, I say that same thing, and they don't believe me. They know they need to help. And ---- knowing that they don't take my "bullshit" is SUCH a relief. IT makes me KNOW that this will end. Knowing that I can't convince my parents that I can do it on my own makes me know that I will be able to do it with them - and it all will end.... thank goodness.
I don't know if any of that made sense. But I wanted to tell you this. you were the first one to explain to me that the ED was CAUSED by dieting (not by some trauma that i never experienced). You were the first one to open my eyes to the fact that maybe I'm just not giving my loved ones enough credit - maybe if I let other people teach them how to help, they would rise to the occasion. So... I let other people teach them. I have 3 professionals whoa re literally in more contact with my parents than I would ever believe. And my parents... the way they speak about eating disorders has totally changed. For once.... I can't convince the 2 people I care about most (my parents) that "it's a phase." For once, everyone knows, everyone gets it... and I'll be okay.
Second letter from "L" to F.E.A.S.T.:
"I didn't even know it was possible to feel this alive! I feel marvelous! I keep telling my therapist and dietitian how wonderful I feel, how alive, how present,..."
December 14, 2010
I have you to thank for making me feel cared for, for giving me hope, and for giving me the gift of self-understanding. That's why I originally reached out to you over e-mail. Back then (in April I believe), I was slipping. I had had an eating disorder - anorexia - for 8 years, but, in the month that I had e-mailed you, it was spiraling downwards again too fast. I wasn't thinking clearly, and I was restricting extremely. My therapist had intervened (as she had in the past), but this time, she called my parents (even though I was over 18).
In our last correspondence, you had told me that you hoped I would let you know how things turned out for me. Well, I delayed applying for grad school. I left my job. I spent the last SEVEN MONTHS of my life in residential, partial, and IOP treatment. I am now living at home for the first time since high school and attending therapy 2x a week and RD appointments 1x a week. I also go to psychiatry appointments. And... I am happy to report that I am doing SO, SO well. I didn't even know it was possible to feel this alive! I feel marvelous! I keep telling my therapist and dietitian how wonderful I feel, how alive, how present, etc. and they tell me its biochemical. When the say of that, I think of you often. It is... I eat a 3 meal, 3 snack meal plan that is more food than other people in my family (I'm weigh restored though). My meal plan is pretty high in fat and protein, and that's how I like it. I really just can't articulate how I feel. I feel awake for the first time in so long. Sometimes, when I'm struggling to eat, I wonder to myself: What do I want more - no weight gain at all costs OR the recovered life? And the answer is simple. I want the recovered life. My heart is just overflowing with appreciation for life. I cry easily now - I never had before. I cry out of joy, out of gratitude, out of appreciation. I feel strong and comfortable in myself. I feel like I've sunken into myself. I feel okay being me. I feel like I'm becoming the person I really am. I feel like I'm living authentically. Today my meal plan got raised, and I'm fine with that. The better I eat, the better I feel, the clearer I think. I'll eat some extra calories if that's what I need to keep feeling this present and this empowered. I just feel so empowered. I feel like I can trust myself. I feel like my opinion matters. I feel like I have found my voice of self-protection, which had been missing for so long. I just feel really alive.
I also am finally out of denial. And I'm more open with those around me. My parents know my full meal plan. They know it got raised today. They cook to meal plan standards now - where as before, they used to eat too lightly at dinner (they were big afternoon snackers). Even my friends ask me if my mp got changed on days after RD appointments, and I tell them. I'm doing really well with the eating and I look back at where I was, and how I lived my life for eight years, and am astonished at where I am now. I'm amazed. And I'm so, so grateful.
I even invited friends over for a cookie baking party this weekend. We made 5 different kinds of cookies (and ate them too!). THen we ordered pizza for dinner. I handled the event just fine and had a great time. One friend said, "I'm just in disbelief that YOU initiated a cookie and pizza party!" :) We all had so much fun!
I'm doing great now... and it's no coincidence that this is the first time in 8 years that I've been experiencing full nutrition in a non chaotic, sustained way. I truly believe that full nutrition for an extended period of time has really been the turning point for me.
I also wanted to tell you something else about ATDT. I read the forum every day, and I wanted to say two things:
1) I wanted you all to know that reading the words of loving mothers and fathers on that forum has helped me enormously. About a month ago, I remember that Charlotte had posted something about "just keep eating." Soon after that, I had a day that, for whatever reason, I found it harder to follow my meal plan. And I thought to myself, "Charlotte said 'just keep eating,' and so I did." This type of things happens a lot. I read what you all write, and it helps me stay on track. I wanted to let everyone know that.
2) I sometimes wish that I was allowed to comment on ATDT only to talk to the parents who write in concerned - to tell them my perspective in hope that it might give them some insight into what their S or D is thinking. I want to be able to provide these parents some reassurance. I want to tell them how I experienced the process. Tonight, I want to tell Maux about all the BN people I know who yell horrible things at their parents and then come into group the next day to say how they hate how they keep yelling at their parents and how they know they're being rude but they just keep doing it. I want to tell Polly that I didn't say "I want to change" for quite some time because, doing so, would imply that I was admitting that something was actually wrong. I also want to tell her that, at first, my motivation was simply to "not go backwards." Later, I didn't want to admit to being motivated only because that was expressing emotion of wanting something... which I was uncomfortable doing. I wasn't used to admitting to wanting things - especially in regards to myself. I felt embarrassed to say it. Anyway, I think these things a lot when I read the ATDT forum.
I guess that's all I wanted to tell you for now.
Keep doing the good work you do.