"Listen to the words that others can't speak; speak the words that others can't hear."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Beginnings!

     It's been a long, long time since I posted anything. I almost started to believe that I couldn't write anymore it's been so long.

     As the year comes to a close, I can't help but wonder where I'd be if I hadn't reached out and gotten the help I needed. It's been a rough road, but it's been totally worth it. I've met so many genuine and loving people, one's that truly do not judge and are always there to support me. It's interesting how I've been able to count on strangers more than friends. Although the strangers become friends in the process.

     I'm about to shed light on my year more than ever before.

     Last year at this time I was making resolutions for a better year, a better life and a stop to my negative behaviors. Two months later I almost took my own life. I was referred to eating disorder treatment and kept getting moved around from one place to the next. I started in Dallas as outpatient, they sent me to Florida for inpatient, then Cedar Springs in Austin for outpatient and finally I came back to the same place I started, here at Renfrew Dallas. I was doing well until my self-harm got out of control. I once again almost took my own life, this time by an unintentional "accident". I need to get stitches and wasn't able to control myself from then on. I was cutting practically every single day. One day I felt so out of control that I felt the need to tell my therapist at Renfrew about it in order to keep myself from doing something really stupid.

     Of course, when you tell someone that you don't feel like you deserve to live, they're going to be extremely concerned. I had the cops called on me, got arrested and taken to Green Oaks Hospital. The worst most terrifying place I've been in my entire life. During the twenty-four hours I was there I saw people attempting to kill nurses, beating down doors and throwing themselves against the wall; these were things I'd only seen in scary movies.

     As soon as I got out and returned to Renfrew, they told me that my case was too difficult for them to handle and I was not able to return until I got help for my self-harm; they didn't even send me off with other options, I was left to deal with it on my own.

     I was out for about a week while my parents and I looked for other options. Lucky for me, I had been in treatment with a girl that works for Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas who recommended I start the eating disorder program there. I was inpatient there for two weeks.

     I wasn't even out for three days when again, I cut too deep and needed stitches. I had done it the morning, wrapped my arm and went into treatment like there was no problem. About halfway through the day my doctor asked me if I had made it through the night okay and I lied and said yes.

     She didn't believe me.

     Of course she asked to see my arm and I was sent down to the emergency room immediately. I was put inpatient again and I wasn't going to get out until I was fully recovered. Well, it turns out that people don't always fully recover even on twenty-four hour watch and I kept on hurting myself in other ways. The last time I cut was October 2nd. But that wasn't the last time I harmed myself. On October 29th they told me that I was being transferred to a trauma treatment center in Louisiana. Finally, my psychiatrist (who was amazing by the way) found the root of the problem. It wasn't my self-harm or my eating disorder, it was that I was holding in too many awful memories.

     I got to Louisiana on Halloween. By this time I had been to so many treatment centers that I knew how to work the system so well that I figured I'd be out soon enough and be left to my own devices. I planned to take my own life as soon as I got out.

     This was the most intensive treatment I had ever been in. There was no way I was getting out until I learned the skills that I needed to learn and worked through some difficult traumas. As much as I tried to avoid the difficult topics, they knew what to do to get me to work. I wasn't getting out of this one so easily.

     I hit a wall the first day I was there and bruised my arm very badly. From then on I was on constant watch; I wasn't even allowed to sleep in my room or go to the bathroom alone. About a week in the took me off strict visual contact and allowed me to start going outside and take care of my personal needs on my own. I was also allowed on smoke breaks and of course when you have nothing better to do, you do what you can to get away from the intensiveness of treatment.

     I had my first dissociative experience and continuous flashbacks while I was there. I also lost my car because I honestly just couldn't pay for it anymore but as time went on things seemed to be getting better. Most importantly...

I found reasons to live again. 

     I got discharged on December 7th and I never felt more ready than I did then. 

     Since being home, I've covered my walls in positive affirmations, I've told my parents all the secrets I had been keeping in, I've reached out to friends, taken my medications as prescribed and kept up with my therapy appointments. I already found a job working with kids and I've felt happier than I ever have before. As cheesy as it sounds, I have seen the light and found freedom. It feels amazing. 

     I can finally say that I've accomplished last year's New Years resolutions. I am so proud of myself. 

     I want to thank every single person that has stuck with me and prayed for me through these experiences. You've showed me what true friends are made of. 
     
     I haven't quite decided what my resolutions are for this coming year but I'm excited to see how much more positive they are than last year. I'm ecstatic about starting over, I've got a clean slate. 

     One of the main things I learned is that if I do have a relapse, it's not the end of the world. Shit happens sometimes and you have to learn from each experience. You take it one day at a time and sometimes on minute at time because really, every second is a chance to start over. Everyone has their bad days every once in awhile, it's just important to not allow a bad day to become a bad week, month, etc. 

     Learn from your mistakes, ask for help when you need it and always remember that it's never too late to recover. You can do this, I know you can. 

Affirmations (take what applies and read them to yourself everyday):
1) I am worthy of life and recovery.
2) I can love and protect my inner child as she risks exposing our secrets to the light. 
3) I fill my mind with peaceful thoughts.
4) I deserve to feel happy. 
5) I am naturally beautiful when I am myself. 
     

     With Love, 
               
                    Bella

video


   

Sunday, September 9, 2012

No weights, calories, numbers or body talk, ever.

I've gained weight.

I've been to several doctors lately and it is only natural that they ask me for my weight. Truth is that I have absolutely no idea how much I weigh and as much as I want to know, I also know it's best if I don't... but I feel like shit because I know I've gained and nothing scares me more than that.

Not my health status,
Or a car accident,
or finances,
love,
or even death.

Nothing scares me more than gaining weight.

For the past few months I've stopped wearing fitting clothes and jeans and blouses... and practically everything in my closet; I've resorted to buying Nike shorts and stretchy pants. Elastic has become my best friend.

I knew that recovery meant eating again and keeping it down, I knew it meant talking about feelings and fears and such, but I never figured that I, someone who has managed to stay in my "ideal weight range", would have to gain. I mean, I knew that I'd probably gain some due to dehydration and whatnot, but... well, you get my point.

Tonight I decided that it was about time to wear 'real' clothes again... My favorite size 5 jeans don't fit me anymore. I remember the day that a friend complimented me on my jeans and asked what size they were. I remember how she congratulated me and she told me how awesome it was that I wasn't a size so and so anymore and I'd finally reached an ideal size. I had lost a lot of weight by then and I really wasn't healthy, but that day those jeans became my favorite and my goal was always to fit in those or smaller.

For some reason or other, as I fought strong urges tonight, Evita (what I've named my eating disorder) told me that those are the jeans I should try on first.

I shouldn't have done it.
I shouldn't have done it.
I shouldn't have done it. 

But I did. And I don't know where to go from here.

Questions like "Do I look different?", "Can others see?", "How much?" and "Why?" are storming my head right now. I feel like I can't breathe and I really want to cry. This horrible disease builds you up in recovery and makes you think you're doing better then all of a sudden it tears you down and leaves you stranded. I hate this... but even Evita doesn't scare me as much as weight gain does and I don't know what to do.

I write this now not for attention, I write because I want others to know what this is like. It's not a diet, it's not something someone can just 'get over'. It's not about grabbing the bull by the horns and it's not about responsibility. It's just so much more than that.... so so so much more.

If you read this please don't answer any of the questions I asked above... Please don't try to convince me that it will be okay or that things are not as they seem. Right now, my truth is what my mind is telling me. Right now, I refuse to believe otherwise but hopefully tomorrow will be different.. hopefully someday these thoughts won't run through my head.

I believe that someday it will be insignificant.

Someday.

Someday I'll be free.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Path To Recovery

So I realize it's been a very long time since I posted anything, and I shouldn't apologize because as most of you know I have good reason to not be posting (plus, I really couldn't even if I wanted to!) but I'm sorry either way! I will try to post more frequently now that I'm getting settled in to my new "home". Temporary home anyway. 

Florida was absolutely amazing. I went in not really expecting anything and came home with so much love and support from so many people that were honestly complete strangers beforehand, I don't think I could find such genuine people anywhere else. 

There's something about being 'stuck' in a facility for an extended amount of time that brings a sense of togetherness to a group, it's just so hard to explain! I was able to be more open and honest with everyone there than I have been with any other person... ever. Don't get me wrong, it was not all that beautiful while I was there; it was very hard work, but it was so so worth it! 

I had an amazing therapist named Ingrid. I could swear it was by the grace of God that I got her, she was fantastic and seemed to really know what she was doing. She is a part time therapist at Renfrew and has a private practice on top of that... plus she's a mother and a wife AND is faithful to her religion. In my opinion, it takes a lot of strength and commitment to handle all of that and not be absolutely insane... Well, she was only halfway insane. ;) I love and miss Ingrid so much more than I thought I would. 

My aftercare coordinator, Gina, walked with me the entire time I was there also. We met every week (although she ran groups as well) and she set up all my discharge stuff for me as well as helped me plan for the future and helped with relapse prevention. She was also just a really great listener and honestly means so much to me. She's almost like a sister to me, I really really do care about her. 

There were many others that helped along the way. Gillian, Deb, Erin, Maya, Cassey, Casey, Karen, Katy, Rebecca, Ruth, Sandra, Anyika...  and SO many more! It almost feels like I went in with no one to lean on and came out with a whole new family... well, one that I will probably not see again but at least we can keep in touch via email!

On my way home from treatment today I saw two girls about my age stopped at a red light enjoying a fast-food dinner together. They looked so happy, and like they were truly enjoying every minute they spent together! I want that so badly... Why is it still so hard? 

I know the path to recovery is a long one and I know there'll be some ups and downs, but I feel like there should be more ups and less downs now that I've been through treatment. I'm just not seeing that since I got back. 

I've moved from six-hour day treatment to 10-hour days to see if taking smaller steps down is easier than going right ahead and leaping for the next step. I know it'll work, it has to. "It works if you work it so work it 'cuz you're worth it!!!" ...Right? 

I'm not going to get ahead of myself and instead trust my new treatment team. As long as I'm honest about everything I need to trust that they have my best interest in mind and they truly know what they're doing... So far they've done nothing to prove to me otherwise! 

I keep telling myself the little things that Ingrid told me... 

"Your brain is stupid, that silly little thing doesn't know the difference!" 
"Do you think my life was all rainbows and sunshines? No. I could sit here and cry about things in my past but instead I chose to wake up everyday and do something different."
"Society teaches us that we have to do the things we love; I say, sometimes we have to do things in order to love them...remember this next time you face a challenge!"

Cedar Springs Austin is different. The girls here are different (not that it's a bad thing at all!). My therapist is different and quite honestly, I've come home to an entirely new world. A world I've decided I want to be Ed free. Now it's time to go out and make it that way, but it's up to me to make it happen. It's up to me to do what I feel like I hate in order to learn to love it. I can do this. I can do this. I'm going to do this. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

My first ED Experience.

     I have always thought that my eating disorder started somewhere towards the beginning of my senior year when I stopped eating altogether after a friend told me of how much weight she had lost through starvation. I've recently realized that actually, the disorder changed that year; it was present at least a year before that. 
     It's been years since I've flown back home to visit family and friends, and as much as I keep telling myself it's purely for selfish reasons (i.e. Puerto Rico is too hot, I have to work, don't like the beach anymore, etc.), I know it stems down deeper than just that. 
     Last time I was home was the summer of tenth grade. I will never forget how awful that summer was. I was ridiculed for liking Christian music, anytime I expressed that I actually wanted to go to church, I was made fun of and told that someday I'll end up saying that I'm going to be a nun. I had panic attacks often after seeing someone that I hoped I'd never have to see again, and was put on a very strict diet because my uncle thought I was too "fat" and it was simply unhealthy. 
     I knew I wasn't skinny, but I was never the kind of girl that wanted to be. I enjoyed myself with food, I exercised enough to be able to do that, and although I didn't have the most ideal body, I was proud of who I was. 
     I remember being confused when one day, my aunt and sister went shopping and when they came back and showed me what they bought for me, my aunt (who by-the-way is no longer my aunt due to divorce) told me that I needed to start wearing spanks to go to sleep because they would help me tuck in my stomach. I remember looking into the full-length mirror wondering what was wrong with the tummy that I had. 
     Not too long after that, after I had eaten dinner and wanted some dessert my uncle yelled my name from his bathroom and when I went over there he asked me to stand on his scale. My eyes began watering as I let out a soft "no" and looked away. For the first time ever I was ashamed of what I had eaten. He asked me to step on the scale because he wanted to know how much I weighed and this time I screamed "NO!", ran to my grandmother's bathroom and locked the door. 
     I sat with my back against the door, crying for what seemed like hours when really as I hyperventilated the minutes felt longer than they actually were. After I calmed myself down a little bit I got up and looked at myself in the mirror. I was disgusted. 
     I leaned over the toilet and did what I had seen in movies and my favorite show at the time. After I purged that evening a sense of satisfaction washed over me. The food was gone, I didn't feel as heavy and it was all over and done with... Only it wasn't over; it was only the beginning. 


3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
     1 Peter 3:3-4

     


     

Friday, March 16, 2012

Life lately and the future..

     Although I don't have to apologize, I feel the need to do so because to many of you it must seem like I have disappeared off the face of the Earth and left nothing to show for it. This blog might do some explaining but I need to warn you now that it's not an easy post. If you aren't in a good place yourself you may not want to read this because I have a feeling it's going to be one of the most honest posts I've ever shared. 
     I'm not going to explain where I've been or what I've been doing but I will say that depression, self harm, eating disorders, etc. are the worst things that could ever happen to a person. These diseases tell you that you're okay when really you are dying inside. They tell you to lie, hide, isolate, eat or not eat, cry or not cry, be real, be fake; they tell you how to feel, what to feel, when to feel and how much. Until you've experienced one or all of these I don't think you'll ever fully understand. Depression is far worst than sadness and self harm goes much deeper than a cut. Ed is much more complicated than eating or not eating and the worst part of this all is that they can take over anyone at anytime and when the door opens for one of them, the others are free to enter as well. 
     This past month has been the hardest month of my life. I have been forced to be more humble than ever before and learned that it truly is okay to not be okay. It's not over yet though...
     Next week I am being admitted to the Renfrew Center day hospital in order to more forcefully address my ED. It's a 4-6 week program that I will be attending from 9-2 daily. I am scared out of my mind. I've been facing a lot of emotions lately but I don't know if I'm ready to face this. 
     Ed has been in my life for almost four years now and I can't say that I am fully prepared to let go. There are days that I'm done with it, ready to see it go and never return. But then there are days that Ed holds me tight and tells me that everything will be okay. Ed tells me I'm not alone and he's there to catch me when I fall. Ed came into my life after I left behind my blade and I've noticed that when Ed is gone my blade isn't. That makes my insides turn over and over. 
     Ed tells me that everyone is lying to me, that they don't love me as much as he does. "You don't have a problem," he whispers in my ear, "they just want to hurt you." He drags me deeper and deeper into my depression and separates me from my friends and family. 
    He tells me not to call my grandmother back who calls me everyday wondering how I'm doing. He tells me not to tell my sister how bad things really are. He tells me that if I tell anyone about the urges to hurt myself they'll just put me back in the hospital where I will feel like no one really understands and everyone's just looking for a magical cure. 
     Ed tells me that I will fail without him. He tells me that I'll never be good enough... that my brother is right when he tells others that I'm "faking it". He tells me not to reach out and build the support that I need. He tells me to stay at home all day because any friendship or relationship that I might build outside of these walls will end up hurting me anyway. Ed has taken everything from me. 
     I feel like I've lost my identity within his. And as much as I want to believe that everything will be okay, that God is fighting for me harder than ever before, I can't... Because a lot of the time, Ed takes away the one thing that I've always had to rely upon. 
     So yes, I'm scared... more scared than ever before. But I'm also thrilled. I'm thrilled that my doctors have finally seen how badly I need this. Thrilled that they're not letting go back to work or school until I'm firmly on the way to recovery. I have a new puppy to look after and I'm ecstatic about that as well. I don't know what Renfrew will bring, I don't know if I will like it or even be able to afford it, but the thought of finding myself again pushes to go through with this. 
     I've been doing everything I always said I wouldn't do and I can't wait to get started on something new. 


I can't promise a post to come soon, but I will try to keep them coming! Until then, keep loving, living, and fighting. You're worth it. 

21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin."
Romans 7:21-25

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unconditional Love

     One of my college professors mentioned recently that unconditional love does not exist. It took me a minute to realize what she was saying, and then another minute for the fact to sink in and although it was surprising to me, everyone else in the classroom was in complete uproar within a matter of seconds. 
     The professor says that from a sociological perspective, unconditional love does not exist because no matter what you do, or how you look at love or whatever it encompasses, there will always and as she said, "[she] means ALWAYS be a condition". She used her daughter Dori as an example. She spoke about how on a particular morning Dori did not want to get ready for school. She told Dori once to get dressed and the four year old said no as she kept on playing with her dolls as little girls typically do. Awhile later Dr. Clark-Miller walked by again and told Dori to get dressed and once again Dori gave a firm no and did what she does best, but by the third time, when her mother walked past her bedroom and told her daughter to hurry up and get dressed for school the little girl put her hands on her hips and told her mother that "No! [She will] not get ready!" 
     The professor explained that as much as she loves her daughter, at that specific moment, her love for her was bound by certain conditions. That even though she would do practically anything for her children, her role as a mother is to teach them right from wrong and that in order to do that properly there are strong boundaries that need to be set. 
     Needless to say very few students agreed with her that day, but I have to admit that it was a great topic for discussion and it has certainly kept me thinking these past few days. 
     From a sociological perspective, I can agree with my professor. Love has conditions but is it fair to say that because some types of love has conditions that ALL love does? Is there no form of unconditional love? What about God? Are there conditions on the love that God has for us?
     Certainly God wants us all in His kingdom, but sometimes that's just not the case. How good do we have to be to make it to Heaven? How many times can we mess up before it's too late? I'd like to think that unconditional love exists depending on the definition. 
     In other words, sure... a parent may not always be able to love without condition but their love is unconditionally there for that child. I think that conditions to the conditions placed on unconditional love will absolutely always exist.
     I'm no sociologist and I'm certainly no God, but if I were to lose hope in the love that God has for me I'd be losing hope in humanity altogether and I'm simply too young for that. We'll save the crazy cat-lady stuff for years later, I have to figure out if I'm ever going to be married first! 


"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
~John 16:33

P.S. We've also been looking at statistics in that class and I simply cannot believe that facts that I am seeing that I never knew about before. Open your eyes and look around people, single parents stigma vs. married couples (whole 'nother blog post!), poverty threshold, etc. It's kind of scary when you look at the numbers.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grandparents and such.

     I've come to realize that I tend to talk a lot about my mother's side of the family and forget to mention my father's half. I've never put much thought to why that is, but I think it's just because they say that grandkids are usually more attracted to the mother's parents than the father's... No offense to all father's or father's parents out there. ;)
My father's shoes and bracelet- 1-2 yrs. old. Spain. 
     My grandparents are Cuban born and raised. My grandmother was a stay at home mom of 3 boys (the fourth was born in Puerto Rico, I believe) and my grandfather was a bank owner. When Fidel Castro came to power and had all banks closed and taken over by the government my grandfather was allowing people to empty out their accounts and hide money at home or elsewhere; needless to say, as soon as Castro found out, Abuelo was taken as political prisoner and my grandmother was given a one and only chance to leave the island with the three kids. They were forced to leave on the same ship as the Catholic priests making their way to Spain. 
     As soon as my grandfather was let go, warned never to return again, he met up with the family in Oviedo, Spain and together they decided to start anew in Puerto Rico. 
     Welcoming them to what would soon be their new paradise and home was Teté, a woman who I don't know much about other than the fact that she's been there for them since 1962 and she was my uncle's Godmother. 
     I really didn't want to make this story too long but I feel like it's worthy background information. Long story short, they worked with the CIA (no joke, ask me in person!), had their youngest son, bought a house, bought a beach house, helped get people out of Cuba, retired, moved into their beach house, lived happily for several decades and have just moved to Houston. My dad and I visited them last Thursday. 

The Drive
     I always dread long drives not just because they're long and boring, but they tend to get awkward and I have a really bad habit of falling asleep at the wheel... Yeahhh, something I should work on! Anyways, as soon as  I turned on the car and sports radio came on I knew it was going to be a horrible ride. I didn't get to take my car, we were leaving in the middle of rush hour, and sports radio was on... I mean, really?! To my surprise, my dad turned off the radio completely and just sat quietly. After a little while we were talking and not once did we turn on the radio during the whole four hour drive. In fact, the only time we turned the radio on was during the last 45 minutes on the drive back, and by then I think we were both talked out! 

St. Dominic's Village
     My grandparents are staying at a place right across Medical City of Houston called St. Dominic's Village. It's in the same place that the Diocese of Houston is and as horrible as this sounds, because I'm warning you right now that it sounds REALLY bad, it's like my sister says: "They're staying at a place where all the priests go when they think they're ready to die". There's a Nursing home in one building, Independent Living (where they're at) on the first two floors of their building and Assisted Living on the top three. The place has a nice souvenir shop and a dining area as well as a chapel but to me it all smells like hospital and I can't help but feel a knot in my throat as I walk those halls. Their "apartment" is more like a hotel room, with a mini fridge and a bathroom no bigger than an airplane lavatory (okay, maybe a little bigger)...

Are they happy?!
     They seemed ecstatic to see us! My grandma immediately started pulling stickers and magnets out of her drawers to give me as a late Christmas present and my grandpa was showing my dad his new TV and how their names show up since they're new to the building. It wasn't long before I realized that I had gotten the same magnet three times and my grandpa was showing me the TV all over again, but I enjoyed just the same. We went and sat outside and talked and one thing that struck me was the way they kept repeating that everything they left in Puerto Rico was 50 years left behind and forgotten, that all that did not matter anymore..
     We sat quietly for a little while and then Abuelo turned to me and asked if I had seen the movie The Gardener. I told him that I hadn't and he explained that he loved it because it was about a man who was mentally retarded and all he knew was about gardening, so when people asked him anything he would answer the question as it pertained to gardening and everyone thought he was really wise. Both of my grandparents were practically rolling as he told me about this movie, I don't really get what was so humorous, but I can't help but giggle at the thought of their laughs, so silly. 
I wanted to see a monk while visiting St.Dominic's, Abuelo
made sure I saw one! 
     They then decided to introduce us to Tony the maintenance man who also has a granddaughter, but not one like me, "the most beautiful of them all," Abuelo says. 

The Bad News
     They received the bad news on Thursday evening that Teté, the woman that had got them settled in to their new home in Puerto Rico had passed away less than one week after they left that place that they will forever call home. I still don't know who that is but even I wept for that woman because if it weren't for her only God knows where I'd be today. 

All in All
     I'm not one to decide if they made the right decision by moving here. I can say that in my opinion, the person that convinced them to move here will realize what they caused when that time comes and I hope they get what they deserve, but that's not up to me to decide and I only pray the best for them. I'm also not one to decide if they're happy. I know that watching my grandma open and close drawers as if she was looking for something new or simply to do was driving ME crazy, I can only imagine what it will do to her in a matter of time. With that being said, I also know that they were looking forward to the daily outings that St. Dominic's had to offer, such as King Tut's museum and Bingo nights. All in all I guess we'll just see how things go from here on out. They're safe, they're closer to us now, and the drive is not half as bad as I thought it was going to be. Since I want to be the one to write my grandfather's biography, I guess I better start planning some summer driving schedules for Tuesdays with Abuelo or something. :P 



"The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy."  
~Sam Levenson