It's crazy, my life. I've been home 12 days. I've had diarrhea of the mouth, stuffed my emotions deep down to my toes, carried burdens, fucked off people who don't care to understand, eaten food even when it tastes like cardboard, and as always, been looking for my smile and laughter. . .
Reasons Eating Disorder Center had it's ups and downs. An up was my comrades. We had all different, unique stories that individualized us, but the emotions were almost copacetic--am I enough just as I am, broken, wounded, and seemingly unworthy? Through our traumas and marred pasts, we took care of the world but never ourselves. Our recoveries literally had our lives on the line and I often observed my new little family, wondering were we gonna make it? We all had brick walls, trying our damndest to take one down at a time, finding the reason why we battled with eating disorders. It was no easy task, spending hours a day processing our lives. The witty, steadfast(and often leader) of our group had jokingly announced the numbers in which we grappled our inner most secrets: 31 hours a week of group time, three hours of individual time, and two hours with our dietician. A full time job. I took it a step further and one week I counted how many boxes of tissues we went through in just group--five. There was never a question that we weren't trying, or took the recovery as a nonchalant, if-I-get-around-to-it kind of thing. We got nitty-gritty.
They also taught me how to socialize again, what nonjudgmental looks like in action, and how perseverance trumps bravery and courage. They accepted me--the good, the bad, and the ugly. They endured my idiosyncrasies with humor and I think, even love. I will never forget them and will always say a little prayer for their journeys.
An obvious plus to Reasons, is they make you eat. Mostly junk food. But it helped me gain some weight. And that's the point, right?
Last, but not least, was certain staff. Elizabeth, my straight shooter, and Sue, my English "mom" who doesn't like sweaty shorts in her dryer. I always felt heard and helped when they were around. They treated me like a person, not a prisoner.
What I didn't like about Reasons is almost a loss of words, but you know me, I'll find the words. Inconsistencies and safety were the themes that had me guarded and in constant survival mode. The hospital, fit tightly on two city lots in the ghetto, didn't just consist of an eating disorder center, but a full fledged mental health hospital. There were the crazies, the insane, and the adolescents. Oh, and a cafeteria--famous for there scrambled eggs in water. I felt like I was always looking out for my companions so that the cat callers left them alone and even looking over my own shoulder, fearful of being snuck up on by an unmedicated schizophrenic. I was generally the oldest patient and I felt compelled to stand between the insane perverts and my young "campers" (you girls know what I mean--everybody hop on the struggle bus!) I am older, these guys weren't interested in me, they wanted fresh meat and my girls are already vulnerable and raw, almost so much so that they were unable to stand up for themselves if push came to shove. Nobody was getting hurt on my watch. I didn't say or emphasize that or share how I felt because we were constantly being accused of a eating disorder behavior--care taking. We tend to take care of everyone but ourselves. I did good at keeping my care taking under the radar. They will never know what things I did and said to staff to make sure they were okay. But still, in all my attempts, I failed. And I've carried that burden everyday since.
During my stay at Hotel Alahambra, there was this guy that I instantly disliked and belonged on the other wing, what we called A2. There, he was being under observation for whatever brought him there, probably watched also for medication affects, as is common on A2. But he knew one of our patients. Two, actually. One patient he talked to frequently, coming into the hallway of our wing, where he didn't belong. I told our patient repeatedly to talk to him not on our side and regarded him as a friend and was unconcerned. I saw him as a threat and every motherly instinct in me was screaming Code 3. My fellow patient knew him from another treatment center and he talked freely of sex he had with past patients at other treatments centers and was vulgar and ugly on how he talked about women. He also shared he would be joining our group in three days. My fellow patient laughed it off; she had a lack of boundaries and I don't know why, but thought he was funny. Theoretically, I blamed it on the before-mentioned--she was raw and vulnerable and instead of asserting herself as being uncomfortable, she put on a façade that she was all good with his perversion, so everything would just be okay. Even if it wasn't.
I was pissed. I went Momma Bear and straight to the director of Reasons. I told him that I had a bad feeling. I told him that he was bad news. I told him that if he passed through the Reasons doors, I was out of there. He replied with okay. That's it, just okay.
Then I heard another conversation with the same fellow patient and the same creeper. Now he was talking about what did the "goods" look like on our side, who would he be interested in. He made inappropriate gestures with his body and thought he was the funniest fucking thing on earth. I wanted to spit in his face and punch his lights out. And again, I alerted the director and again, he replied with a nonchalant, "we'll look into it". My worry was growing and I felt we were all unsafe. I had nightmares and umbrella-ed my girls like no other. They probably thought I was a creeper because I was all up in their kool-aid, quiet and ears open.
Then one day, I was with another patient getting meds, one I was particularly sensitive to and he talked to her. Apparently she knew him, too. He bragged again about his dirty deeds, and she flipped through a magazine, trying to dismiss his words. But I saw her hands shake and her body language was all wrong. I went Momma Bear and said something to make him go back on his side. And I stood between him and her. I was ready to go down swinging. I had enough.
At this point, I was complaining until I was blue in the face and getting nowhere. I felt unheard and my premonition was filling my head so that it was consuming my thoughts. Something wasn't okay. This was at the end of a week.
I was finally told on the following Thursday he would not be attending Reasons and was discharged from the hospital.
The following Saturday, my "inmate", the one who had flipped through a magazine, shared in a small, intimate, group that she had been sexually assaulted. Guess who by? I was irate. Livid. I felt responsible. Could I have done more? What? She told her story and all the dots connected of what I had observed, the staff finally, after the fact, telling me he was gone, the interest he had in her, the intensity he had in wanting to be on our wing, our assaulted patient not with the group on a certain day. I swear if he had not already been discharged, I was going to go find him an go A1 on him (crazy with violence and holding nothing back). I wanted the kill. My girl did not deserve it, already so raw and feeling like she was worth nothing. She had one more tally to hate herself. I just wanted to hold her, like my child and soothe her, but all I could do was go to my room and cry myself to sleep. Why, in a place that was promised to be a safe haven for recovery turn into a hell hole?
That had not been the only instance of inappropriateness--although, by far, the worst. In the evenings, when we would bring our dinner trays back to the cafeteria, there would be a group from A2 there. In the group were some of the creepers that cat called my girls in the morning line up. As we walked by, on of the guys was slapping us on the butt saying, "Good game." I avoided the contact, but was upset nonetheless because staff was right there doing nothing. (The same staff that would frequently yell out on other evenings, "Make room for the skinny girls!") And the girls I was with said nothing, being so caught up in their insecurities of fight or flight. One girl even laughed and I asked her about it later. She explained that she was so accustomed to being used for her body that this was no big deal. And I, of course, went tattle-tailing to the Director. And this was way before the serious injustice.
I made headway in my recovery journey, but I didn't take advantage of the full allotted time my insurance was allowing me. I bought a ticket on Sunday, October 27th to go home Monday, November 3rd. The place was becoming toxic. I was becoming triggered in a non-eating disorder way. I had to take care of me in all aspects and my time at Reasons was done.
I left with the promise of my insurance providing follow up care of an out patient care facility near home. They pulled the plug. So we alerted our congressman and are trying to get the care I need because at this point, being thrown back into the world, I am statistically set up for failure. And I want to take it a step further. . .I want others to not go through what I have done to get care. I want to blaze a trail for the future. And I filed a complaint against Reasons for inconsistencies and not following policies and procedures in their care for patients. Hopefully, it will make a difference and protect future comrades.
Here at home, I am slowly adjusting. I got my goats back yesterday and I was beyond thrilled that they snuggled with me, remembering me. I buried my face in their winter coats and just breathed them in. I almost cried, I was so happy. How can anybody not love a goat? (Just kidding.)
I eat, but like I said, sometimes it's more like eating cardboard. I have a hard time finishing meals. I am using a scale to make sure I am at least maintaining and not losing weight. I was so proud that I had weaned myself off from sugar after my bariatric surgery and now, after Reasons, I'm back in the sugar boat. I'm giving it my all, doing what I can. My dietician at Reasons would be highly displeased that I have Starbucks TWICE a day. Ha! That's right, it's happening. Take that and Like It on Facebook! ;) Thanks you-know-who for those words!
Emotionally, I am a wreck. My moods are all over the place. I am easily irritable. I laugh one minute, cry the next. I am being reevaluated for yet another mental health diagnosis. The proverbial "they" are saying that I am Borderline Personality Disorder in conjunction with Bipolar, Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, and Disassociative Identity Disorder . Why don't they just make me wear a t-shirt that says, please walk on eggshells, major fuck up coming through? That's what it feels like. I researched all these "illnesses" and I was surprised to find a common denominator in symptoms of these diagnosis. You guessed it--eating disorder. And it comes full circle. Damn it all.
I have so much work to do on me. . . I feel like I will spend the rest of my life fixing me instead of enjoying it. It brings me down and I wonder what's the point? I want to be a productive human being and instead, I'm going to spend years just trying to survive. If it weren't for my husband, children, and yes--goats, I'd just quit.
And on that note, I leave you to your day. Relish the little things and find your peace.