(Image from abcnews.com)
Sitting in bed this morning, my mind and senses took me back to a moment in Tahoe when I was just a kid. I was hanging out in Myers which is a town just outside of South Shore at my friends’ house (two gals my mom cared for) and the rain had just ended. We all enjoyed some cream of wheat and the fresh smell of the after rain air! The grey sky, the mist that remained in the air over the greenery that surrounded the area, the warm and sweet taste of delicious cream of wheat… (deep breath) I can almost feel, smell, and taste everything about that moment! There’s something so healing and beautiful about this memory! How my spirit longs for those times when things seemed so simple, when eating disorders didn’t exist, when all that mattered was that sweet and fragrant air and that big bowl of warm goodness covered in butter, sugar and milk, when my stomach could actually handle those things without cramping up until I nearly curl over in pain, and when my body was free to run, hike, sled and ride bikes all over the Lake Tahoe area. I was always an active kid until my move to Las Vegas and sexual abuse started over, making me so depressed and not really want to do anything. In that moment in Tahoe, I was safe. No predators, just good friends, good food, and the sweet after rain air! Today, I’m definitely battling pain. I’ve gone from being able to run anywhere from 2 to 14 miles and training for what was supposed to be my first marathon back from forced retirement to finding it hard to walk and run again; However, I found out why oatmeal tends to be my staple food. It’s the closest thing to that warm and comforting bowl of cream of wheat that my stomach can handle and it brings me back to one of my most cherished memories and one of the few that I have that were free of emotional and physical pain. It also brings me back to the days when I was running and racing as it was my choice fuel each morning. Anyhow, I’m going to take advantage of this time, attempt to go on a walk (run if my body allows) and continue to share my journey with you!
Now, I left off in my last post as I had just finished my summer semester biology course with and was struggling to walk again. Now… on to part 15 of my journey.
My Journey Part 15
Now, I never intended for it to take this long to share my journey! To those who have been reading so far, thank you so much! I will try to keep details as minimal as possible and get through the rest of this as quickly and painlessly as possible!
Fall semester of 2015 definitely had its battles! Classes started only a few weeks after summer classes had ended, however those few weeks were a much needed break during which worked extra hours at Kmart and got a little surprise! As I mentioned before in my last post my sister was pregnant again and was just about to have another baby. Apparently she had cleaned up and, this time around, it looked much more hopeful being that the babies father really had his life together. The problem is, she had her baby on July 10, and because of the circumstances surrounding her firstborn son and my mother having custody of him, I was unable to see the baby. Shut out, from the beginning. As much as it affected my family and me, I had to press on and move on!
I was originally signed up for a full course load of, I believe 13 units, however due to the pain I had to take care of me, cut back to working 2 days at Kmart (doing housesits to make up for the lack of hours) and drop a class. My fall class lineup included experimental analysis biology, intro to probability and statistics, Gym, beginning swimming (as I was released to do balance and water workouts), and comparative religion (philosophy). I absolutely LOVED philosophy as it gave me such a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast other faiths with my own and really see and connect the truth of God using it as a basis for all of my coursework. In essence, I was ministering to everyone who read it! What an honor!
(Evening swim where I enjoyed working off the stress from classes despite pain)
I was approved by medi-Cal for another round of treatment from the same physical therapist which was a relief. However, I was still battling a lot of the same aches and pains. Her treatment continued through the first month, but then… due to my coverage, had to come to an end. There I was, just barely through the first portion of my fall semester, and I had to use the tools that all my physical therapists had given me over time to do what are known as “self adjustments.“ With these adjustments, I had to learn how to use muscle energy to move my hips and spine back into place. However, these only worked for so long and I ended up in even more pain. During this time, I had become friends with a very kind lady who referred me to her chiropractor in El Cerrito. Meanwhile, in our visits together, she did make note of how thin I was. I took her comments as attacks assuming that she was just jealous. Yeahhh I was prideful! At the same time, I couldn’t understand why SHE would be jealous of ME because she is so beautiful! I used some of my grant money to go to a couple visits with the chiropractor she recommended and things begin to somewhat look up. He encouraged me to just ice and keep moving as it was the only way I could properly heal. Move and let the body adapt to being in alignment. That made sense! After a few visits with him, I continued to use my muscle energy exercises and combined that with his treatment in order to help me make it through the semester.
In the month of October, the pressure from classes, finances, not knowing what was going on with my sister and the new baby, and anorexia Athletica took their toll on me!
After spending several hours a week at the gym and in the pool along with all the studies and running around I had to do in order to get things done being that I didn’t have a car….. I became exhausted, depressed, and nearly lifeless. I was staying at a housesit, caring for the dog, studying till I couldn’t think straight, and on October 11, 2015, I was so exhausted from everything that I stayed home from church for the first time in a very long time. My mom came to pick me up and I was just sobbing telling her I just needed to be left alone. Even though I was dressed, I went upstairs, fell asleep, and cried when I woke up. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to live, but I ate anyway and spent the day resting. That evening, my godmother gave me a call and invited me to go swimming with her at her gym since the following day was a holiday and we both thought that my swimming class would not be meeting. (As it turned out it was meeting but thankfully my professor let it slide).I accepted her offer and met up with her the following morning. There. I spent over an hour in the pool and got out. Afterwords, I showered and met up with her in the main part of the locker room where she said, “I think I’m going to go and weigh myself.” “ yeah,“ I said, “I like to stay OFF of the scale, it can be a danger zone for me.“ The thing is, the Holy Spirit was using her to coax me onto that scale! After she got on, I felt the urge to get on and found out that soaking wet, after eating a huge breakfast and swimming, I weighed just over 84 pounds! NO WONDER I FELT SO LIFELESS! That evening, after she dropped me off, I started an Instagram page right away to log my journey. I decided I was not going to allow 84 pounds to kill me. Little did I know, the battle for my life was only beginning.
(I originally took photos w/ out my face showing to keep myself anonymous)
Though I was stepping into, my eating patterns were still out of whack! I still ate very few fats and was still eating way below the caloric intake that I needed to. At the same time, I was being a little more open about what I included in my diet. I started eating more grains and proteins from fish, eggs and even chicken (I later found out I’m allergic to chicken). At the same time, I drenched everything and Stevia, salt, and lemon juice or vinegar.
Meanwhile, I continue to drive every bit of energy that I had into classes, jumping from housesit to housesit, counseling appointments, doctors appointments, chiropractic appointments, constant issues with illness and all dealing with financial issues and my moms car having some issues as well.
Thankfully, I made it through and finished once again with straight A’s! It seemed like the only thing going for me with school! Though during the semester I was given the opportunity to take part in filming by doing some narrative in the school orientation video, outside of that, I didn’t really get to act. Physical exercise was painful, but I did anyway and really didn’t enjoy as much. However, it definitely helped clear my mind from all the craziness that was going on!
That year, just before classes ended I was singing in the choir in the annual “Singing Christmas tree.” Once classes and the show were over, I found myself having hard time walking again! I sucked it up, enjoyed the little time of Christmas break that I had and prepare to head straight into my Spring 2016 semester. During the break, my godmother got married and at her wedding, I sang “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters. Still thin and frail, I had no idea how closely resembling my life and Karen Carpenter’s had quickly become (thankfully… I’m not dead).
As my spring semester started, I found myself plunging completely into classes.
I found it was a sanctuary away from my home life. It was a place where I could study and be away from the chaos at home. I found myself preferring to be at school drowning myself in studies rather than staying at home and facing my reality. My spring class lineup of 13.5 units included human anatomy, pre-calculus, acting on film and television, lab, assisted tutoring, swim, and Pilates. At the get go, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to take better care of myself. You see, in anatomy we had to look at cadavers throughout most of the semester. One of the cadavers just happened to have died from cancer that triggered anorexia nervosa. Her main cause of death was anorexia.
At the beginning of the semester, I began to get sick… repeatedly. I continued on with my classes. Despite the injury, I continued to do what I could to just keep pressing through. I started seeing a different chiropractor in El Sobrante. He was Very first one I had ever seen. While his treatments did help a little, I found myself still in a lot of pain. Medi-Cal was supposed to cover one visit a month and I found out later that he wasn’t taking Medi-Cal, so a bill was piling up. I was misinformed by his secretary, so unknowingly, I racked up a relatively large debt. Meanwhile chaos hit in my personal life!
You see, just as suspicions had arose, my sister had been using drugs again! As a result, she ended up in a situation that put both her and her new baby in danger and my mom and I ended up having him in our care for three days. Though this was an answered prayer because I hadn’t even met my new nephew yet, at the same time, it was me who had to stay home and inside with a traumatize child yet again!
I did the best I could to look past how the situation effected me, did what I could to emotionally hold it together, do my schoolwork, and be as loving to little guy is possible even though I was in pain. After all, it wasn’t about me, it was about my nephew who just really needed a lot of love. Soon, the little guy’s dad came to pick them up and he was taken from us once again. My heart broke! This was just another reason for me to dive even deeper into my studies and unknowingly into bad eating patterns. After all, though I was including new foods, I was not getting enough calories for all the energy that I was putting out.
Shortly after the situation with my sister and the baby, my mom’s car broke down which meant I had to take the bus to and from school and pretty much anywhere else I needed to go. It wasn’t so bad considering that I could spend the hour or so that I spent waiting for or on the bus to do my studies without interruption. The problem was that I was already putting out a lot of energy with studies and gym classes and was not eating enough to even maintain that let alone walking (carefully) to and from the bus stop and putting out more energy going from stop to stop. Along with that came trying to just maintain my health and not get hurt again. All the running around just increased the pain that I was in. To make matters worse, nearly 3/4 of the way through the semester, I received news that my grandmother on my dad side who I was not able to see and barely able to talk to over the previous two years due to the restraining order that I had on him and the fact that he lived with her had passed away! Not only that, but upon calling my Aunt D… I found out that she had suffered from severe abuse from some family members (Who I’ll keep nameless) until just a few months prior to her death. I had just gotten out of class, had been studying all day and received the original news of her death via Facebook! FACEBOOK OF ALL PLACES! No one had called me to let me know that her health was deteriorating, no one informed me of anything despite the fact that I was still in contact with some of my relatives on that side, I had to find out through Facebook of all places! I completely fell apart so much so that I ended up missing my swim class.
The next day, I Called my professor for swim and explained to him the situation with my grandmother passing and he totally understood!
(Empty pool all to myself was just what I needed to relieve the stress)
He allowed me to go to the pool and make up my class. The pool was empty, and I pretty much had it to myself that day. I think maybe one other person was there which was a total godsend! After my swim, I stood in the shower, half lifeless again, and began to weep hysterically. I then pulled my things together, finished up the little homework that I had left to do at the transfer station on campus, then caught the bus and went on with my day.
Throughout the semester, I found so much joy in learning anatomy! Professor Coatney had so much life and passion for what she did! Along with that, my acting in film and television course (taught by the amazing professor Mccarty-Shwab) gave me such an incredible outlet! I was acting, working out, and learning… I was pretty much doing everything that I loved to do! On top of it, I was just granted some help financially with getting started on my dream which is a clothing and jewelry line called “Messenger Gear” that help spread awareness and raise funds to stop human trafficking. The only problem was, my self-worth was in the toilet! The devastation from everything going on around me between my mom’s car breaking down, barely being able to afford to eat at times, the battle with the eating disorder and the death of my grandmother had finally taken their toll on my body and the Friday before finals… I was rushed to the emergency room with severe chest pain.
The ER team let me in immediately and I was placed on the scale to find that I weighed only 190 pounds. At 5 foot 4 1/2 inches, though I had gained 6 pounds over the semester, I was still not carrying nearly enough weight especially considering everything I was doing. As I sat there waiting for the doctor to come in, I obsessively went over my flash card cards for my Anatomy final exam. Then, a dear friend of mine that I had worked for as his personal assistant came in and saw the mess that I was! I was completely embarrassed!
(Yeaaahh I thought I was fat)
The doctor told me that I needed to be at 118 pounds so that my body can heal. My mind did not even want to wrap itself around the idea of gaining nearly 30 lbs. to me, 110 (which was recommended by my general practitioner) was OK, but one 118 was completely out of the question! Yep, I was definitely sick!
Finals week came and went and I came out victoriously by the hand of God with, he straight A’s again! Only by the grace of God was I able to even accomplish these things! Yes, I put in the hard work and the hours of study, but it’s only by His grace that I was able to achieve anything at all!
Summer break came and along with it came the invitation to go to my grandmothers memorial service with my cousins! This was such a bittersweet moment! My father had apparently moved back to Hawaii making it possible for me to go to the event.
(My beautiful cousin Natalie)
While there, I stayed at my grandmothers home and the PTSD set in more than I could’ve ever imagined! I repeatedly kept asking my relatives if they were sure that my dad was not coming. Around every corner of the house and everywhere I went, I watched cautiously, I panicked as my uncle took me from place to place in his car, and at the memorial I had a mini face off with my Aunt V who grabbed me by my wrist and made me feel like crap for staying in my grandmothers home while visiting. Despite what I felt in connection to the confrontation with this person, I decided to enjoy the time that I did have with my family.
The ceremony was absolutely beautiful! The thing is, the eating disorder reared its ugly head again! Though I tried to gain weight, I wasn’t eating enough again. I was very guarded about what I ate the entire time I was there! I didn’t let anybody in! I tried to work out, but my body just flared up again!
On the way home, my cousins wanted to go out to San Francisco which is just about a half hour to 45 minutes from where I live. So, in an effort to redeem the mess that my birthday was, they took me out for a day on the town!
(My cousins Josh, Brianna and me enjoying SF)
It was so refreshing to have sushi and to walk all over the city with my amazing family that I had really not even gotten to get to know until that day! Honestly, I wish I could do it all over again! That day, I experienced a lot of food freedom that I didn’t have before and was even able to do a nice long hike with them!
Then, at the end of the hike, my body acted up once again! All the sitting from traveling and the hiking up and down hills had taken it’s toll on me. Just prior to my visit out there, I had began to go to a place called the joint chiropractor in Pinole. After my cousins dropped me off at home, I rested for the evening. The next day, I tried to go for a walk and my body locked up on me. I quickly went to the chiropractor and they helped me figure out a way to help me recover. There I was again.. at ground zero, about to start summer classes and in pain. On top of it, as loving as the majority of my family was at the memorial, the whole visit caused a severe psychological set back. My being in the same area where a lot of the traumatization happened with my dad just really messed with my head! At the same time, I tried to hold onto any sign of hope that I possibly could which meant facing summer classes regardless of how I felt!
For now, I will have to leave off here! What I will say is that to give you an idea of what I’ve had to face in the healing process, it’s not just that I’ve had to go from practitioner to practitioner to practitioner, but if you all understand the fact that I’ve been traumatized by abuse repeatedly throughout the course of my life… to have to face different health practitioners who are supposed to help me only to have my health go down the toilet once again has been, to me, emotionally like being abused repeatedly. While I’m 100% sure that they all mean well and are doing the best they can by me (for which I’m eternally grateful)… Different hands touching my body, sometimes in places that aren’t quite comfortable in order to get the healing process to go through and being told by each practitioner that I will most definitely will be able to run and race again only to be left time and time again struggling to walk, crying out to God for help… I’ve just come to my wits end with the whole situation. Again, I’m at Ground Zero trying to figure out just what to do. Also, if I can be brutally honest with you all, throughout the semester even though I was doing things that I like to do, I was completely miserable! So much so that there were even times that I nearly checked myself into a mental hospital. The pressure, the pain, the trauma, emotionally and physically I just had enough! It’s only by the grace of God that I didn’t check in and that I am where I’m at today! Do know that whatever you’re facing, that God is with you! If you ever need help, don’t be afraid to reach out! I’m so grateful for my counselor and my mother that have been there throughout this time. Without them, I don’t think I’d be alive today. Until next post.. God bless and stay strong!