Journals from TK: Week 1

“Bad news: You’re growing and it’s uncomfortable.
Good news: It’s uncomfortable, but you’re growing.”

I’ve mentioned before that I kept a journal during treatment and wrote in it every day. After posting my entire entry from Day 1, I decided to continue sharing some of the most vulnerable entries I wrote, just as I wrote them. No edits, no censoring. I have chosen a few paragraphs from each day that I will share over the next 4 weeks. You’ll be able to read details about everyday life at TK, struggles I went through, and breakthroughs I made. My hope for this series is to give an even deeper look into how that month in a random town in Illinois changed everything.

Feb 27 – Day 2: Let go and let God. 
Meals here are even more stressful and hard. I wish every meal could be drinking something. I was going to go to group at 9, but was pulled out to meet my dietician. I felt good about our meeting, but we didn’t really accomplish anything. Like we didn’t get a set plan. I guess she just expects me to eat everything and I can’t. She said she’d start with less portions. I can’t just be expected to jump into all meals. Totally unrealistic. 
Dinner was terrifying. So much anxiety. It was the first meal in the dining hall instead of on lodge and I didn’t know what was going on. I need more help and support for meals. I don’t know what exactly that looks like, but I need something. I ate almost a full piece of pizza, but that’s it. I felt so sick for awhile after that. After dinner I went to Celebrate Recovery. That was a Christian group provided by a local church. I loved it. It gave me so much peace that I should be here.

Feb 28 – Day 3: Progress is progress.
Today was my first process group. Girls were so vulnerable about their experiences. It made me feel awful because I haven’t had anything close to that. It made me question again if I really deserve to be here. 
My next group was application of DBT skills. That could’ve been more helpful if I knew some DBT skills. I don’t even know what DBT stands for. 
Then lunch. Definitely a low part of the day. I could not eat. I didn’t want to eat. I ate about half a sandwich and yogurt. Then I felt really sick. Meals are absolutely miserable. I’m miserable before, during, and after. I’m not ready to give up ED. ED is so comfortable. ED is familiar.

March 1 – Day 4: Recovery is a process. Relapse is part of it.  
I don’t like going to snacks. I usually just don’t go. But this morning I was called out, which is what I needed. A BHS (Behavioral Health Specialist) asked if I was coming to snack. I couldn’t say no. I told a BHS that I need someone to practically drag me to snack or I won’t go. I’m learning to stand up for myself. I was frustrated in the first few days because I wasn’t getting the help I deserved. Then I realized they don’t know I’m struggling if I don’t tell them. One thing I can thank ED for is teaching me to advocate for myself. 

March 2 – Day 5: Give yourself grace.
Today was a hard day. The hardest since Day 1. But that’s ok.
Every meal today was really hard. I didn’t complete any of them. Today was full of tears and food related anxiety. Not fun. I didn’t go to a lot of groups today.
After lunch, my therapist was here. That was much needed. We talked about possibly having all of my meals brought down here instead of going to the dining hall. I don’t want to do that, but I might have to. It will feel like a failure to me, but the dining hall is just too much.
After group was afternoon snack. I wasn’t going to go, but a BHS encouraged me. I was totally panicked and all sorts of anxiety. I just cried. Hard core. A BHS was there and we talked about baby steps and how it was good to even go in the kitchen.
Dinner was the worst. I could’ve been more mindful going into it, but some days you just can’t. I was anxious from the start. I went in and immediately sat down. I didn’t even get food. A BHS came and talked me through it. We decided to at least get food and try. I wasn’t feeling very optimistic.
I went to 3 meals and 3 snacks today. I went to all of them. I didn’t eat at all of them and I cried a lot, but I went.

March 3 – Day 6: God bless the BHS’.
I really tried to be open minded today. Put yesterday behind me and start fresh. It worked for a bit.
We went to church today. It made me think of NAVS and CMU and then I got sad. I miss them. I’m not homesick, I’m schoolsick. 
At snack I was overwhelmed and stressed and upset, then a BHS brought in a bouquet of flowers. For me, from my friends at school. I don’t know what I did to deserve them. Yesterday and today were incredibly hard and I somehow still got support from everyone back home. 
Dinner, oof. I got my food, sat down, and cried. Luckily, my 2 favorite BHS were there. They talked me through and I ate like half a sandwich. It was so hard. I barely made it through. I felt so defeated and like such a failure. Very discouraging. There’s no way to win. If I eat, I’m disappointing myself. If I don’t eat, I’m disappointing everyone else. ED Voice is strong. It knows it’s being extinguished, so it’s fighting back so hard. But I’m gonna fight back harder. 

March 4 – Day 7: Everyone’s Recovery Matters.
Breakfast is getting easier. It’s a lot of food, but I’m usually able to eat most of it. My first group for the day was process groups, which is basically group therapy. I don’t think I’ll ever share in there because I don’t have any problems significant enough for that. 
I saw the doctor today. She suggested me eating down at the lodge for meals. I just don’t know, that feels like such a failure. It makes me feel weak and embarrassed. 
Lunch. Ugh. It was actually a food I liked, but I couldn’t let myself eat it. Not all of it anyway. They asked me to eat more, but I couldn’t. 
4:00 was graduation. That was really sweet. It was kind of inspiring, really. I want to be up there with everyone showering me with love and saying how proud they are. But that feels so far away. 
I’ve just been in a weird mood tonight. It just got progressively worse. I went to snack. I tried, but panicked. I just got up and left, without saying anything. I had never done that before. I just went to my room and totally shut down. I couldn’t even cry. I just feel like such a failure. Thers’s so much expectation to get better and I’m just afraid it won’t happen. I’m not getting any better. If anything, this is getting harder. I don’t feel like myself. I feel like I don’t belong here. But I don’t have a lot of other options. I don’t have any other options actually. That’s where I’m stuck.

Week 1 at TK was a whirlwind. Looking back, I don’t remember it being so hard. I remember the whole month as such a positive experience full of support and growth. Rereading entries from week one reminded me of how much I struggled in the beginning. I ended week one feeling more discouraged than I went into it. But, slower than I would have preferred, things started to get easier. It took a few days, but I started to believe that I deserved to be at TK and I deserved treatment. After a few weeks my stomach got used to food again and I could eat without feeling physically sick.

Even on my hardest days, I was able to find something positive to title the journal entry. No matter how bad things may be, there is always something positive.

1 week down, 3 to go.

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