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Positive Action, Self-Harm Prevention, and Recovery Club!

Welcome!
This is a space for VWers of all walks of life to come and share their experiences as We work toward recovery from self-destructive behaviours, such as eating disorders, substance abuse, and self-injury.
Of course, this thread can't replace the help of medical professionals, but I think a lot of Us would benefit from this little bit of therapy. YOU set goals for Yourself, share Your progress (and setbacks, when/if they happen), and We'll all be here to cheer You on!

This is also a place where You can come when You're tempted to do something self-destructive (like self-injure, binge/purge, get drunk, etc.) and You need some distraction. Even if no one else is online, come and vent and just type away/post pictures/whatever instead of engaging in harmful activity.

Don't be ashamed if You're struggling with meeting Your goals or keeping Yourself out of the cycle of self-harm.... We've all been there, and this isn't a place for judgment. But be ready for advice and maybe even some tough love--We want to see everyone through their struggles, but it's important that We all remain open to absolute honesty and constructive criticism.

So if You're new to this discussion, feel free to share some information about Yourself--however much/little You want--and tell Us what exactly You want to change. We'll help You set up some goals, p'raps give some advice on how to work on them, and cheer You on as You work toward self-betterment.

;)b

Thanks guys for the encouragement and the wonderful compliments!  :)>>>  You guys give such wonderful feedback and are so supportive.  vegweb would not be the same without you.

aggplanta congratulations on having only a few classes left!  That is awesome!  I at least have all my generals done so it's just the technical stuff to tackle now.  I am taking three classes and working 24 hours a week so I hope I am not taking on too much.

I have experience with trauma but as amymylove asks, there is such a broad range of "trauma" that it may look different for each of us.  My trauma was a total hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries (unexpectedly) at the age of 33 six  years ago Monday.  For some this wouldnt be a trauma but it was for me because surgical menopause was and is so terribly hard on my body.  My whole personality and physical appearance changed overnight due to huge hormonal changes that affect the mind as well as body.  It took three years of hell and four doctors and many experiments with hormones and without to find at least some semblance of my old self back and to recover from the fibromyalgia type pain and migraines brought on by the surgery and loss of ovaries. I also still had to have another surgery to remove debilitating scar tissue left from the hysterectomy.  Right away though I had recurring nightmares that I was murdering my baby (I never had children).  I would wake up in a cold sweat and sometimes crying or screaming.  I still have those dreams but far less.  I went through a lot of therapy and finally wrote my former gynecologist that did the surgery a long letter stating my experience after he castrated me and how I felt.  Not a mean letter or accusing, just firmly expressing my pain and voice so that he might consider this the next time he decides whether to save an ovary or take it out of a woman, especially when she is still in her prime.  Of course I never got a response but it was a very healing experience for me to at least get it all out on paper and send it.  After that I was able to forgive him.  I still have not forgiven myself 100% but I am working on it.  The whole ordeal retriggered my eating disorder that had been dormant for 16 years.  The first few years I couldnt even deal with the emotional baggage.  My anger and frustration was too great.  I focused on the physical ailments and trying to overcome them or at least find a way to live with them.  Once my health was at a more stable place then I could focus on the emotional pain.  I believe I still have some uncovered trauma from my past to work through.  I have a terrible fear of loss of control and am repulsed by sex as well as afraid of it.  I have been this way for many years and I don't understand if this is just a genetic trait or something more.  I have never really explored sexuality with any therapist.  Due to health problems my partner suffers and the fact that we still arent married after 13 years (he is on disability and marraige would mean he gets penalized and loses his disability insurance because of my income...sigh) there are some things we simply don't do and it has provided me a good excuse to avoid it.    I do believe that past trauma can manifest as depression or anxiety if not delt with.  Repressing emotions, withdrawing from others, preoccupied with intrusive thoughts or obsessing about something seeminly totally unrelated to distract oneself, unable to enjoy living in the moment.  Or just that feeling of suffocation, not being able to breath, like you are going to jump out of your skin or wish you could.  I dont think I have ever had a full out panic attack myself.  Just anxiety attacks.  My way of dealing with my anxiety and depression nowadays is to spend countless hours obsessing about food and making menus and food lists.  It has a lulling affect but is also keeping me from enjoying life and living in the moment and spontaineously.  I am trying to figure out how to let it go because I wont have time to obsess when school starts.  I even do it at work and I know it has slowed my productivity down.  I exercise to help manage stress but even that can go both ways...it can be positive but can also become obsessive and punishing.  This goal of meditation I hope will be a better way to help manage. 

As usual I have rambled on too long.  I hope this helps.  Those panic attacks sound horrible aggplanta.  I wonder if something like meditation just before bed would help.  Or some time of sleep type medication or antidepressant with a sedative effect.  Lack of sleep can magnify struggles that's for sure.  Also, it sounds like you are dismissing your past experience of trauma as not significant by not considering it as a "real trauma".  You are not giving yourself permission to fully feel your pain and acknowledge what you have experienced.  The more you try to repress your feelings the more they come out sideways in other ways, such as nightmares or anxiety attacks.  I know its much harder to just let go and feel fully than it would seem.  There is no right or wrong way to feel.  I worked with my therapist on this for a while before loss of insurance forced me to put things on hold.  Just giving myself permission to feel like shit some days and good others.  to feel fear when I need to and anger too. Not even question it, just feel it.

I better get back to visiting with my Dad.  Have a great weekend everyone!

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Naturebound, I am the king of rambling on, so no worries here. Thank you for sharing that. It took courage. I am not sure I've heard anything like it, but "castrated" helped with my perspective of it, I think. It left me with some impressions that will challenge me for a while and I thank you for that! Letters like that can help, even simply burning them I have found can help.

On trauma and managing it...hasn't everyone, each of us had trauma in our life? I don't mean to minimize anyone's particular experience but question rather the nature of trauma. Are their degrees of that trauma? Are their levels of psychological hurt that makes one painful experience a trauma and another not a trauma? Aren't the degrees part of the division that creates the problem? To a bird, a jet plane flies unimaginably fast and high. Yet a bird in flight is magical.

Without tremendous upheaval how would we learn anything, how would we even consider the possibility or necessity of change?

As for panic attacks, sleeping or awake, that fear is crucial. It is an indication of the deeper problem, thus part of the solution. It is the way we deal with it, and in our societies we have so many ways of escaping and repressing it, that kicks off or perpetuates the problems. It is the attempt to end fear that strengthens fear. If I don't call it "fear," or "panic attack," or "trauma" what happens? Because these labels are all designed to do away with it, to explain it away and call the label understanding, right?

What if I don't try, whether with medication or meditation or therapy or church or pills or drink or whatever, to do away with it? What happens then? Don't I become interested in it, and in that interest the problem is already solved, an answer is already being presented? If I am interested in something I am no longer burdened by it. The burden is in trying to put it away, the futile flight from it. To understand a problem I have to care about it, come very near to it, watch it closely, be interested in it and let it tell its story to me, not me tell my story to it. In that genuine interest and the resulting stillness and observation the problem is solved.

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Naturebound, I am the king of rambling on, so no worries here. Thank you for sharing that. It took courage. I am not sure I've heard anything like it, but "castrated" helped with my perspective of it, I think.

Exactly, that really helped me grasp, well try to grasp, what happened... So wait, the surgery wasn't like life or death this had to be done?! I am glad you were able to write that letter and let go a bit, I'm really sorry to hear how tough things have been on you hun, wish i could give you a big hug <3

I wonder why the sex thing though, have you been with anyone besides your current partner? I can see at this length in time sex with your current partner would probably not be an everyday event anyways. (If you don't want to answer you don't have to)

Hope you have a great weekend with your dad <3

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Charlie, wow, what you said makes so much sense.  You write with such clarity.  You really expanded on what I was trying to get at but took it to a much higher level.  I am going to print your post and read it often because it really challenges me to look at my struggles from a different point of view.

Yes the word castrated does tend to raise eyebrows and it has a sting to it.  A lot of people become offended by that word used when talking about a woman's reproductive organs because we are used to hearing it refered to when speaking of non human animals being neutered or as a form of punishment toward human males.  However, my own gynecologist used the word castrated to me several times after my hysterectomy in refering to removing my ovaries as if it were no big deal.  I guess when you consider that over 600,000 women a year have hysterectomies, the majority for benign reasons, and half of those are "castrated"  meaning they lose their ovaries too it wouldn't seem like a big deal to a doctor.  I just think the scientific term for removal of both ovaries "Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy" takes away from understanding what it really means.  If you look up castrated online you get a variety of dictionary definitions (all of which include men AND women and human and non human animals) and a few definitions mention "loss of vitality" when describing castration.  This nails it for me.  I always wondered why the dogs and cats I had spayed or neutered over the years seemed calmer and less energetic or agressive afterwards.  Now I know. 

amymylove,
My hysterectomy was for endometriosis.  It was not a life or death situation, just very painful.  I could not find a doctor willing to just clean the endometriosis off my uterus, ovaries, colon, bladder.  My insurance refused to cover an endomtriosis specialist who are quite skilled at the type of surgery I needed that would have preserved my reproductive organs.  But even mainstream gynecologists usually have some experience with removal of endometriosis before resorting to removing the entire reproductive organs.  This gynecologist, when he did my diagnostic laparoscopy, did not even so much as attempt to clean any of it out. He said it was too extensive.  He put me first on birth control and then Lupron as a way to try to manage it.  Both made me very il and didn't help at alll. Looking back I am willing to bet had I gone vegan then and cleaned up my diet it would have helped a lot.  A vegan diet or at least a more plant based one is actually recommended by alternative practitioners as a way to heal endometriosis without resorting to surgery or drugs/hormones.  Meats and dairy foods have inflammatory properties and tend to aggravate endometriosis more. Interestingly before my diagnosis I had been labeled with IBS for years and I did find that the pain was less severe when I avoided dairy and heavy fat greasy meats.  Endometriosis is also hormone receptive and meat/dairy is loaded with hormones which also doesnt help.  As far as other partners, I had one other partner many years ago who was an active alcoholic and he was my first time and it was horrible.  He was quite rough and insensitive.  I guess that didnt help.  Lets just say its been a very long time since I have been physically intimate.  Having an eating disorder and then being in surgical menopause has made it doubly hard to find any interest on a physical level. 

ps I am enjoying seeing my Dad again.  We had some good talks today!

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Charlie, wow, what you said makes so much sense.  You write with such clarity.  You really expanded on what I was trying to get at but took it to a much higher level.  I am going to print your post and read it often because it really challenges me to look at my struggles from a different point of view.

true words... i read his post when i had the morning brain fog going and couldn't really comprehend it... i read it again and wow, yep, gonna print me some of that :)

NB... crap all that is a lot to swallow, i am so sorry about the past and i know the future will be bright for you dear child, hang in there <3

i see that you specified "other christian religion" in your profile... i go to saddleback church where rick warren is the pastor (he wrote purpose driven life)... right now the topic is "the invisible war" http://saddleback.com/mc/archives/ it has really helped me gain some perspective lately, check it out if you want :)

some things rick said tonight that i wrote down were:

- you don't know God is all you need until God is all you got (this is where i am right now)
- focus not on what is lost but what is left -> the attitude of gratitude

good luck hun <3

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NB, it's great to hear that you've been having a good time seeing your Dad :) Keep up with positive interactions!

amy, those are some very encouraging words spoken by your pastor! I am not religious myself at all (Spiritual, not religious), which is why buddhism seems to be filling a void for me. For a long time I felt well...hopeless. And I think since I've started Buddhist practices, I've slowly been becoming a more tolerant, patient, and content person (there is still work to be done in these areas, but anyways...). I really like how it provides the moral fundamentals and a stability that a "religion" offers, while at the same time isn't reliant on a deity, something that has always bothered me about religion (no offense to those who believe in a god of sorts. I don't judge your views, you all have every right to believe what you want). I like to constantly remind myself of the four nobel truths when I am getting really down. They basically say that yes there is indeed suffering in the world, and that we will all suffer at some point in time. However, life is not just about suffering - there is a way out of it. Suffering is not forever. Nothing is forever. Everything this in a constant state of change, whether we like it or not. Once we accept change and its inevitability, then our suffering is alleviated. Also, how can there be joy without suffering? There is no way one could appreciate a joyous moment if there was no juxtaposed moment to compare it to. It is most important to be present.

Also, the outline of your pastor's speech reminded me much of a book by a Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, it's called "When Things Fall Apart." She describes all throughout the book how to face your fears head on when you feel like you've hit rock bottom. Once you do, you realize what you're really fearing and will know better how to handle that fear in a situation and no longer run away from it. It may be uncomfortable, but it's a necessary process - something that I am working on with eating a little more.

Anyways! I'll stop rambling. I've been trying to make some positive steps lately. I've been sticking with having at least 50 more calories  a day. Last night I had 100 more, and I don't feel too too bad this morning. And on Friday I took a day trip to Farm Sanctuary, which was a two and a half hour drive away. I was kind of freaked out because I wasn't exercising all day long, but it was a nice break. I had planned on trying to consume 800 calories that day but wimped out and only stuck to 550 as usual. Still, I tried to eat some food out (a few spoonfuls of mum's vegan soft serve ice cream!), and ate outside of my usual scheduled times (yes, I'm that regimented). I felt anxious, but not unbearably so.

Hope everyone is doing well!

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yay danni, glad you took something from what i posted... church has really helped me these days, it's changing my focus and what i consider important... and i believe it is helping bring me closer to the human i want to be...

danni, i'm glad you were able to break your normal routine for a day and deal with it... i know how hard this is and i am very proud of you for getting through it... i'm glad you want to change, that makes me happy :) keep taking those baby steps love <3

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danni,
Sounds like you are working hard to take better care of yourself.  Though your changes may seem small, they are indeed significant.  I know how hard it is to break out of the chains of an eating disorder.  I'm so glad that you are also exploring your spirituality and finding something that works for you.  That is so important.  I wish that eating disorder treatment centers would include this aspect of recovery in their programs, exploring ones spirituality.  I was involved with Celebrate Recovery when I began one of my recovery attempts, and have also explored my spirituality in AA in the past with other addictions.  It made a difference.

The reason I put other for my christian denominatin is that I struggle with traditional "christianity" and what a lot of churches teach.  In fact I am turned off more and more by it and I feel like I am almost in a crisis of identity as I have questioned so much of biblical interpretation and what I have traditionally been taught in the church.  I can not and will not fathom a God that approves of ruthless killing of animals for our appetite and survival.  It simply isnt necessary.  There are other things too...slavery, sexisim, violence, intolerance to others beliefs, politicizing christianity to manipulate votes and involving the church on "political" issues.  I just finished reading "The Myth of a Christian Nation" by Gregory Boyd and it resignated with me.  It did not occur to me until recently when talking with my sister that I really know nothing about other religions...hinduism, buddism, others.  I would like to learn about them.  I am drawn to the idea of Ahimsa.  I also find the most peace when I am out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.  But I understand that spiritual peace comes from within, not ones surroundings.  Still there is something about being out in the elements away from material possessions that helps me  understand my vulnerability and brings my senses to life. 

amy,
I tried that link and it said the particular article was no longer available.  I will explore the site more and see if I can find it.  I am familiar with that church and pastor as I went through Celebrate Recovery.  Thank you for sharing that!

My Dad left yesterday to go visit my sister for a few days.  I feel sad but am happy I got to see him again.  It always unnerves me to see my parents aging.  My Dad seemed so frail.  He is almost 70 now.  Today I took the day off work to get some stuff done and ready for school next week.  It is also the sixth anniversery of the day I had my hysterectomy...August 15, 2005.  So I am a bit emotional today.  It's just a silly date, nothing more I tell myself. 

I believe our collective strength, intelligence, compassion, and willingness and desire to live meaningful lives will help us through these hard times.  I am so glad to have this place to share.  Blessings to you all!

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amy,
I tried that link and it said the particular article was no longer available.  I will explore the site more and see if I can find it.  I am familiar with that church and pastor as I went through Celebrate Recovery.  Thank you for sharing that!

i just heard about celebrate recovery this past weekend and was planning on going to it... do you recommend it? i like saddleback's style of christianity, it is very laid back in my opinion, which i appreciate. there are going to be hypocrites and morons in every aspect of everything... not just religion unfortunately.

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I would recommend trying Celebrate Recovery!  The program is somewhat similar to the steps and principles of Alcoholics Anonymous but it is based on 8 beatitudes and is obviously Christ centered.  You go at your own pace and generally work with a small group on the steps.  It is open not just to people trying to overcome chemical addictions, but for people with eating disorders, depression, going through divorce etc.  The Celebrate Recovery I went to had a dinner, then an hour of worship, and then broke off into small support groups.  We even had a group just for people with eating disorders.  Most were struggling with binge eating but there was one bulimic in my group.  You find that underneath the particular disorder we are all struggling with the same things.  I would also go to a step group once a week.  It was quite helpful because it works on your spiritual self which most treatment programs for eating disorders lack.  I had a lot of support at the meals because I was open about my struggles.  of course that was when I was an omnivore.  I was also able to volunteer to do little things like reading introductions and steps at the beginning of the worship service.  It really helps you get outside yourself.  And it's all FREE!  I say you have nothing to lose!

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Glad to hear that NB... Sounds exactly the same as the one here... They have many different groups... The ED, chemical dependency, and codependency ones I wanna check out and ya the structure sounds the same as well: food, worship, groups... How awesome that you have been :) ill let you know how it goes <3

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I had my first acupuncture session. I briefly told Timothy about all the crappy things going on and he agreed that a stress focus should help. I must say I feel more like myself this evening. :)
Hugs to all.
Eric

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yay eric,

i am glad you are feeling better :) how much did that cost to do?

amy

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Eric, I'm glad you're starting to feel more like your awesome self.

I hate feeling optimistic about feeling better. I really hate living in fear of my brain letting me go again. For now I'm feeling good. I'm pushing myself to not be so introverted all the time. According to personality profile, I am a 100% introvert. Talking to people and learning names is so exhausting for me. Just being around people drains me. It's hard, but I'm making myself do it. I'm trying to make myself smile more, because I've been told I have trouble outwardly expressing how I feel, and apparently that unsettles a lot of people.

How is everyone else doing?

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Eric that's great that you found something that helps you!

Courth you sound so much like me.  I am 100% introverted also and struggle around other people.

I am really really sick.  It started Sunday with nonstop vomiting and diarrhea all day.  It has gone on all week, although the vomiting has gone down some.  I have unbearable nausea and no appetite at all (in fact I hurried to the forum page so as not to be triggered to vomit by seeing pics of food).  I have not been able to keep any food down at all, just water and watered down apple juice.  My weight has dropped significantly.  All this while I just started school again Monday for the first time in a long time.  I am so utterly frustrated I could scream.  In just ONE more week from today my health insurance will be reinstated but I can not wait that long to get some help so I am going to have to shell out of pocket and go in today.  I havent been able to work and studying has been hell to concentrate.  I am going at least 20 times a day and all night too.  Has anyone else had a stomach virus that has lasted four or five days like this?  When does it end?  I tried to go into work yesterday but it just made me worse again.  At least one other person at work has been out sick so there must be a virus going around.  The coworker who is out sick also happens to suffer with anorexia nervosa.  I imagine both of us have weaker immune systems than others. 

I better run off to the bathroom again.  Ugh...

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Awwww.. ((((Naturebound)))) That sounds rough.

I haven't had that happen to me before. Not for that long at least. I usually keep Immodium handy and that fixes it immediately. Bananas, white rice, applesauce, and toast is all I can suggest!

I hope you get better by the time your classes start!

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i'm glad to hear you're feeling better courth, i hope it continues <3 maybe just find more people you don't mind conversing with and it will become easier from there... or join a group that has people of similar interests (like how you are in band)... most people i find mildly irritating but there really is no avoiding them...

NB... you said you went out to eat with your dad right? maybe you accidentally ate something bad? i dunno, just a thought... the other girl at work told you she was A or you could just tell? i never tell people about my B in fear that they will tell everyone or something... i really hope you feel better soon! how did your doctor visit go?

eta: i'm going to celebrate recovery tonight with my sis i'll let you guys know how it goes <3

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It's by God's grace that I didn't have to drink whiskey today. For that I am truly grateful.

That said, glorious day until tonight before dinner, then sort of a regretful night so far. How can you only have a dog in your life and all your relationships are still all F'd up?! I won't bore with the details - wrote them out but they seemed too petty, so I deleted them ;)

Thanks everyone for being here!

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celebrate recovery was kinda "nar nar binks" status... i am glad my sister went with me... there were a lot of groups to choose from and i went to the "chemically dependent" one...

it being my first time in the share group session, i wasn't expecting to be put on the spot right away, but sure enough, right away i was supposed to share with a group of randoms "Hi, I am Amy and I am... fill in the blank... being the second one to say this, i said, "I am Amy and I am not sure yet"...

Anyways... at the end of everyone sharing in the circle what they "were" i got called out pretty rudely and said i wasn't allowed to be in this group unless i had a "chemical" problem... thankfully, i think since my sis was right next to me, i said "i'm sorry, this is my first time, i suffer from all sorts of things including alcohol and prescription drug addiction, and i have an eating disorder"... thinking, thanks for making me stick out like a sore thumb when i am just getting the feel for this! witch!

well that was done with, and the "wicked witch" piped down... i really want to get involved with this, but that was pretty rude and unwelcoming in my opinion... people should not force you to speak out until you feel comfortable, geeseeeeeee!

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Amy I am so sorry your first experience was so horrible!  Wow that was terribly uncalled for, putting you on the spot your first time there.  You shouldn't have had to share anything at all.  I can see on the one hand that a lot of the people there (due to the nature of the program) are going to be emotionally a mess and maybe socially they lack some skills, but on the other hand it is the responsibility of the program and group to ensure that no one is judged harshly or forced to share before they are ready.  The groups I was involved in, there were group rules and guidelines that were shared before the group so people knew what to expect.  And there was a moderator.  Did this group have any of that?  You have a right to complain to the director of the program so that this doesnt happen again.  What a bummer.  I know any time I have started in a new group I am VERY scared and extra vulnerable and it is ten times harder when you arent welcomed or treated nicely.  I'm so glad your sister came with you. 

celebrate recovery was kinda "nar nar binks" status... i am glad my sister went with me... there were a lot of groups to choose from and i went to the "chemically dependent" one...

it being my first time in the share group session, i wasn't expecting to be put on the spot right away, but sure enough, right away i was supposed to share with a group of randoms "Hi, I am Amy and I am... fill in the blank... being the second one to say this, i said, "I am Amy and I am not sure yet"...

Anyways... at the end of everyone sharing in the circle what they "were" i got called out pretty rudely and said i wasn't allowed to be in this group unless i had a "chemical" problem... thankfully, i think since my sis was right next to me, i said "i'm sorry, this is my first time, i suffer from all sorts of things including alcohol and prescription drug addiction, and i have an eating disorder"... thinking, thanks for making me stick out like a sore thumb when i am just getting the feel for this! witch!

well that was done with, and the "wicked witch" piped down... i really want to get involved with this, but that was pretty rude and unwelcoming in my opinion... people should not force you to speak out until you feel comfortable, geeseeeeeee!

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