Friday, May 22, 2009

"flashback 2000"

As I have had alot of free time lately, I have been dwelling on the past quite a bit like I tend to do, rehashing scenes from more tumoltuous times in my life. This, of course, brings up alot of feelings that range from anger to sadness to embarrassment and regret. The last time i felt like this, i wrote about it on my blog ("flashback 1998") and it helped alot, so I think i will do that again. So if you dont feel like reading a long one just now, this post is not for you:)

It's early Jan 2000 and i just spent a rather lame turn of the century new year's in the EDU at the University of Iowa Hospitals And Clinics (under committment, of course, otherwise i wouldn't be anywhere near that craphole!). I've reached target weight and am ready for discharge but there is a bit of a problem: the social worker can't find a placement. Even though i'm 21, the powers that be have decided i'm not to remain at liberty and am in need of constant care/supervision/maintainence/whatever. But, due to my history of not staying put, the adult group homes are all saying "no". Finally, the social worker works some magic and gets me into this place called the North Iowa Transitions Center. Sounds pretty good. I like that word "transition", makes it sound temporary. But it doesn't really matter what i think, I'm going whether i like it or not. So, my commitment is transferred, two sheriff's deputies come to pick me up, and off we go.

Did i mention that the NITC is in Mason City, 3 hours away from my home and family? The social worker is happy about this; says we are all "enmeshed". I think she just hates my mom cause my mom helped me escape from her crappy EDU the last time i was there. Anyway, As I roll into town in the squadcar, I notice that this town looks pretty small and borring, and it hits me that here i will be pretty isolated from friend and family, so this place that i am going to had better be pretty damn nice, or at least bearable.

It is not. I can see this right away. The North Iowa Transitions "Center" is really just a row of shabby old houses that are all connected San Francisco style, but not as cute. Very run-down. I am taken into the office by the lady who runs the joint (she looks like a crackhead!) and we do some paperwork and she tells me the rules. Then she takes me to my room. The room is pretty decent, but my roommate is highly emotional, resents me being there, and decides to sleep in the closet until i leave. I wander around to meet the other residents and am dismayed to find that, once again, i have been placed among a more severely handicapped population. The highlight of everybody's day seems to be getting their allowance and going to the corner store for cigarrettes and candy. Then they smoke and watch t.v. all day. Except for doing their L.B.D.'s.

L.B.D. stands for Learning by Doing, and it's basically chores. Like, sweeping the floor and cleaning the bathroom and stuff. I feel incredibly insulted and childish as i mark off my "L.B.D" on the chart every day, but i have to remind myself that maybe some people have been helped by this and need to learn these skills. Just not me ! Where is the vocational rehabilitation that the social worker in the hospital gushed that this place was known for? When was i going to transition out, back to my home?

After a few days, they noticed that in fact i was higher functioning then most of the residents and decided to send me to their "life skills" classes. Apparently this was the voc rehab i was promised, the training that would get me ready to live on my own, a functioning member of society! And today's class: how to tell if something in your refridgerator has been there too long and needs to be thrown out. Seriously. This is what we talked about the ENTIRE class time. So i did not go to any more of those classes. The next day i went to the mall.

This was one of the saddest, loneliest trips to the mall i have ever taken. I had to go because i needed new clothes, because none of my pre-hospital weight restoration clothes fit. Ideally, on a trip like this, you need support, a trusted friend or treatment center staff person. I had noone. For the first time in months, i confronted my body in a full lenght mirror and just cried. It was too much, just too much. The body. The situation. The isolation. Everything. Plus, i was purging again, had been from the first day i had gotten there. I had no therapist, no friends, i missed my family. I tried to tell myself that everything would be ok, but i didn't feel it would be. I felt trapped in a hell that i had created for myself, from which there was no escape.

That night, i tearfully called my aunt in arizona, who had been following my "case" and was wanting to help. She knew someone who worked at a beautiful new eating disorder treatment center in arizona called Mirasol, and she was able to raise the funds to get me there. I went to sleep that night with a tiny hope that i might find a situation better than this one. But the next day when i talked to the NITC director about the going to Mirasol, she said it was out of the question. Arizona was "outside of the jurisdiction of my commitment" and they would not release me. I was furious! How could they deny me the treatment i needed and keep me instead in a place that was so obviously a wrong fit for me?

I'm not proud of what i did next, it was a very "borderline" thing to do. But i was desperate. I told the director to take me to the hospital, because i would either kill myself or run before the day was out. She was angry, but she had no choice. i don't know if i would have done either of those things. All i knew at the time was that i had to get out of that place that instant!

I spent 2 weeks in the psych ward (most of the time in the lockdown section, for trying to escape) because once again they could not find a place for me. Then low and behold, a breakthrough- the social worker got me an interview with my old "friends" at the Abbe Center. They were very hesitent to take me back, since i had run from there before, so i had to "sell myself", say all the right things, about how i was committed to working with them, yada yada yada. Well, it worked, cause once again papers were signed and i was transferred. But when i got to the Abbe, i was suprised to find that i was not on the "persons with mental illness" ward. I was on the Residential Care Facility ward, with the people who were mentally retarded, autistic, or had head injuries. I learned that this was because it would cost the county 11 fewer dollars a day to keep me here, since there was no programming on this unit. I didnt care, though. I never planned to be there long.

In the end i only stayed there 3 hours. After all the paprework was finished, i was left to unpack, and i phoned my mom to let her know i was ready for her to come get me. To the outsider, this might look like bad, like i manipulated her, or she was enabling me, or some other bs like that. I can see how it would. But in reality, she had seen some of the places i had been put in by the "system". She knew that my heart, my mind, my spirit didn't belong in those places, that i had the capacity to get better but i just needed the right support. And, whatever reason, i wasn't getting that from the so-called helpers.

So what happened next? Well, i was in a shocked and traumatized state due to all that i had been to ( i didn't even get into what went on in the psych ward while i was there, sheesh) and relapsed with the anorexia and the bulimia full force. i stayed a few months with relatives and then went to Mirasol. Maybe i will write about that another time.

I know that this post was long, but it is very helpful for me to write about this, to get it out. Sometimes these days i worry that my ED is getting bad but then i think "wait a minute! You ate today! You went to the grocery store! You took care of kids (and hubbie)! You vaccuumed! You took your own damned meds! Noone handed them to you in a little paper cup after scanning your wrist! Look at all the things that you do now, that you never used to do, that lots of people, family, so-called proffessionals, never, ever, thought you would do! Go Lisa! You rock!


Zena said...

Lisa you do ROCK!!!

I cant believe all you have been are a tropper...

Keep fighting

love, Z

Kara said...

I agree with Zena - you do ROCK!!!!!! I've been through some similar hellish places too so I understand the major suckage.

You have taken major strides. You are a superstar!

Thanks for writing about this.