|I don't mean this kind of roller coaster.|
|I mean this kind of roller coaster (the longest inverted roller coaster in the world). Yikes.|
In addition, if I have learned anything throughout the latest portion of my journey, it is that my experiences are not as uncommon as I thought they might be; they just seem that way because few share. If I can help even one individual by sharing my experiences, this story will be worth telling.
So, here we go.
In the interest of full disclosure, the roller coaster ride really begins back in high school when I first began binging and purging. Disclosure #1: I am a recovering bulimic. The eating became worse during my first year in college, and I finally found the courage to tell Nathan about it. We worked together to battle ED (My endearing name for the disorder - it also concidently stands for Eating Disorder) in the only way we knew how: stopping the behavior. I didn't seek professional help at that time, and now I know I was never really over it.
Life was going great. My pregnancy was a little rough, but I delivered the most beautiful, perfect, happy baby girl in October 2014. I fell in love with motherhood immediately.
|Greta at about 3-4 weeks old. I miss those snuggles; now she doesn't have much interest in snuggling, she would much rather be moving!!|
|We bought an infant sling so we could start running with her in our Chariot. She looks sooo tiny here!|
|Beast 2 Feast 5k at 6 weeks post partum!|
- My knees and hips started hurting to the point where I couldn't train without significant pain. My dream of a second trip to the Trials was becoming more and more impossible as each day passed... and as that dream slowly slipped away from me, even the thought of trying to stay in shape via the elliptical fell to the wayside.
- Nate was gone more frequently because of the nordic ski racing season, which meant for longer days and weekends where I was home alone with Greta. I made a point of getting out of the house and doing something or meeting up with someone every day, but it wasn't the same...
- I stopped breastfeeding, even though I didn't want to. I was just a terrible milk producer at that point; I remember the last day I pumped I spent about 2 hours pumping and got just an ounce...
- All of a sudden I couldn't start on the most basic of tasks. I'd walk past our sink, piled high with dishes, and couldn't get myself to start on them. I knew I should do laundry as well, but that task seemed gigantically impossible. I felt so awful...
I started working with a doctor and we tried adjusting and changing medications but I steadily began to feel more and more depressed. I felt worthless and hopeless, and on March 16 I wanted to end my life. Luckily family and friends intervened immediately and I was admitted to a psych unit on a 72 hour hold for the first time. Within a week of getting out I was admitted again.
Changes in medications by the psychiatrists I saw in those units helped, but life was still rough. I walked around in a continual "Eeyore fog". For some reason, I thought self medicating would help my mood and situation. For those of you that know me, you know that I have ever been much of a drinker. Heck, I drank just once before I turned 21, and even my senior year in college when I was able to drink legally, I rarely did.
Before I knew it, I was drinking daily. Disclosure #3: My name is Nichole, and I am a recovering alcoholic. At times it would get so bad that I would pass out in our basement and Nate would carry me to the car to take me to the emergency room. My highest blood alcohol reading was a 0.46 (nearly 6 times the legal driving limit in Minnesota). People die with a BAC that high. I enjoyed three different stays at the Hennepin County Detox Center. I spent my 32nd birthday and the 4th of July in detox.
But, I was fortunate. My family stuck by me, and they encouraged me to start a 28 day inpatient program. I chose to go to Beauterre Recovery Institute, an addiction treatment facility in Owatonna, MN. I am so thankful I received all of the help I needed while there. I am continuing to stay vigilant with outpatient treatment and AA meetings, and I have been amazed at how far I have come. Today marks my 72nd day of sobriety!
As a side note, if you have to be admitted to a psych ward (and I now have experience with 3 of them), the U of MN is the place to go. The psychiatrist, doctors, pharmacists, and medical residents that were on my care team were brilliant. Absolutely, astoundingly brilliant.
|I was fortunate to be able to be seen by one of the country's leading experts in bipolar disorder here|
|Yes, this is actually THE workout dvd I ran and jumped in place to at the New Ulm Hospital Psychiatric Unit. How cool am I?|
Each of these disclosures is worth exploring in far more depth than this post was able to cover, but I wanted to get all of this out there up front, so that as I find time to elaborate (I have some good stories I want to tell!) there will be some context. I hope to link future posts that fill in more details back to this post.
I have been in hospitals or treatment facilities for a total of over 2 months since March, a dismal statistic if there ever was one. My heart sinks every time I think about it. Instead of focusing on what was, I am turning my energy to the days, months, and years ahead that are going to be even more fulfilling and joyful because of what I've been through. I have learned SO much about myself through this process, and know that I have family and friends that I can count on through anything. I want to especially thank my husband Nathan, both our families, our friends Craig, Jeff, and Teresa, and the many others who lent a hand, cooked a meal, or watched Greta when we needed it.