My sister is yelling at me and my brother is running upstairs because he can’t handle the stress. She says I’m a big liar and that I caused a lot of stress and broken relationships in our family. She screams that she can’t believe how fast I felt back into the anorexia without admitting it. I can’t stop crying and I’m so anxious that I sink under the table to hide myself.
This wasn’t the first Christmas which was a disaster, but it is one which had a huge impact on me. My sister was right, I was lying. Maybe it wasn’t lying, but denying the truth. I always told I was fine when I felt awful. I didn’t know I had turned my personal problem into a family-wide problem. Everyone told me they suffered a lot from my illness. That was the moment I decided to seek psychological help again. So, I went in therapy. This time in a treatment center in which they also offered a special program abroad. I thought this was what I needed. The therapists agreed on this, but the doctor said I had to gain weight first, because my blood pressure was too low to travel safely by plane. I was very upset, and so were my parents… How on earth do I have to gain weight when gaining weight is my biggest problem? They didn’t listen to our arguments, so it took me several months to get my weight up to their weight-requirement and I was finally allowed to go.
Treatment abroad, 2015
In this treatment, I met the most wonderful people I know now, (which I already told about in this post). I never believed it was possible to meet people who were just like me. It wasn’t only the eating disorder I recognized in them, it was so much more! The sensitiveness, the anxiety, perfectionism, fair of failure, the feeling of loneliness, etcetera. It was such a warm feeling and I never felt so good in years. I couldn’t believe it; I had been so afraid of being homesick, but I wasn’t! In these weeks, I slowly took off my mask, because I finally dared to show myself a bit.
After these weeks abroad, I was very much afraid of losing this feeling. Losing my new friends, my safety and the love. But…. I didn’t lose it!! We’re still in contact and we meet each other every other month. These days with them give me so much power and love!
Back to reality, 2015 – 2016
Back home in the Netherlands, I had a hard time. It was as if I came back into the harsh reality of life. I felt homesick for the safety of the treatment center abroad. Terrified of the real world. I still saw my (favorite) therapist from this treatment center back in te Netherlands, but now ambulatory for 2 to 3 hours a week. Slowly, my anorexia kicked in again. Because of all the time and old friends that I had lost, I didn’t know what I wanted in life anymore. I switched a lot between therapists in this treatment center, but this wasn’t my choice. It made me feel completely out of control. The only thing I could control was losing weight and eating little amounts of ‘safe’ foods. In the meantime, I opened up to my psychologist about my traumatic experiences that occurred during my puberty. For me, it was unbelievable what happened next…
Is this really true?!
My psychologist seemed to totally understand me! She made me tell the story in short to my parents. They reacted so intensely, with so much love and respect. They hugged me and cried as if I was back from being away for decades. From 2012 until now, 2016, I hadn’t said one word about it, because I was afraid people would blame me. It was a shock for my father, but for my mother it was the sad confirmation of what she had always suspected. All those years I believed my own thoughts, but they turned out to be total nonsense. This was such a relief! It felt as if I’d lost 10 kilos in one day. (Fortunately, this wasn’t literally the case 😉) My parents suddenly changed from enemies into friends. I could now find the love which I had felt in the foreign clinic. After denying the truth for years, I’d completely lost my parents: they said they weren’t able to get in touch with me despite many attempts. As if there was a wall between us, they said. Finally, I didn’t have secrets anymore and this made me open and honest to them. The love I was looking for was there!
A second label
Unfortunately, my anxiety wasn’t gone and a new diagnosis was born: PTSD. Together with my therapists, we found a clinic where I could go to work on this. I was admitted for two weeks and learned a lot. Every day I wanted to escape this clinic, but I never did. I finished it and I can now talk about my past without hiding myself behind the nearest bush or under the table. These kinds of things happened a lot before, but now such panic attacks only happen occasionally. I felt kind of reborn and people said they finally saw the real Mary after years. My sister cried with happiness the first time she saw me, only because of my sparkling eyes. Yet this therapy turned out not to be enough to overcome my eating disorder as well. I kept thinking about food the same way as I did before this treatment.
This is still not the end of my story! I continued fighting the battles inside my head.
Read the upcoming blog to know what I did after this PTSD therapy
Lots of love, Mary
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