Lot’s of things have happened in the past that were really hard for me to deal with at the time. In the past few years, whenever I am going through a tough time with food or anxiety; whenever I am worried about how my decisions will affect my life or those around me, I have these horrible nightmares. I’m assuming that these nasty dreams occur because somewhere in my subconscious, I am returning to the past and events that took place there.
Often, the dreams are a sort of flashback to an experience I had. Let me share a few memories that I think these nightmares stem from.
I went through several rounds of attempts at treatment. I say attempts, because none of them gave me a lasting reprieve. For a time, I was seeing a psychologist that seemed to help some, but then she said something that offended me, and I refused to see her again. I was a patient at St. Luke’s in a nearby town for a while, doing some outpatient work. But unfortunately, despite the fact that I got along really well with the nutritionist there that was working with me, she put me on a diet that was too calorie dense for me, and I ended up in the hospital with pancreatitis. I think she was then pulled from my “team” of doctors or something, because I never went back to see her, though I did see a licensed therapist at the hospital out-of-town for a while. I was put on some medication that seemed to be beneficial to me, but I flaked out and talked my parents into letting me try something different. I asked if a doctor in our town couldn’t be just as useful as one out-of-town. They agreed to let me try that, as long as I didn’t lose ground.
Jump forward several years, and I am standing on the back porch talking to my dad. Okay more like sobbing into my own arms. “I won’t go!!” I said. “you have to, you have to get better” said my dad. I knew I was making a scene. I knew my sisters were probably cowering in the living room, rolling their eyes at their big-little sister and her theatrics. I couldn’t stop myself though. My doctor had just told me that she had called a hospital in a nearby town, and though they didn’t have a bed for me, when one opened up, I would be admitted as a severely underweight anorexic. I was on my dinner break from my job at the library. At this point, my eyes were red and puffy and my nose was runny. I had about half an hour before I had to return to work. I was a mess. “I won’t go. I can’t go. If I do. I won’t come back.” I wailed. “What do you mean? You will come back, your job will still be here. We’ll come and visit you. You just have to get better.” Answered my dad firmly, but lovingly. “I don’t want you to visit.” I stated bluntly. And then I started to cry even harder than before, imagining what my life would be like during a stay in the hospital, and after my stay. How would I read? (That was honestly the question that was most important to me, besides what my life in hospital would be like.) During this last bout of sobbing silently, a big, red splotch appeared on my jacket sleeve. Then another, on the floor. All of a sudden the droplets started coming faster and faster, and my bare hand was covering my nose, out of which blood was spurting. I started to feel light-headed. I knew I had to pull myself together so I could return to work, but I just couldn’t. I was being sent away, my nose was bleeding, and I felt like I was dying. What better time to cry?
That’s one of the times that I think carry over into my dreams. Another is the night after I was rescued from my impending doom. That night after my bloody nose, and returning to work, I sat in my car and wondered who I could reach out to, who might rescue me. I reached out to my husband (he wasn’t my husband then of course) and told him what was going on. I think my situation was really scary for everyone involved. All of the people around me knew that I was at a very low weight. I had also just started on a new medicine, and it was giving me hell as far as side effects go. I wasn’t stable, mentally or physically. I don’t remember how things panned out exactly. I’m sure I am quoting people out of context ,and that my timeline isn’t perfect. But somehow, after several talks with my parents, I was no longer headed to inpatient treatment. On the night of the “good news” my dad said he had a surprise. We were going out to est to celebrate. I was immediately nervous, as anything to do with food made my anxiety flare up. I asked my dad if I had to go? He said yes, we were all going to go out to eat somewhere special. Unfortunately, he had chosen a restaurant other than Subway, which was pretty muck the only place I could eat at and not feel like killing myself afterward out of guilt. When we got to the restaurant, I became like a moody five-year old. Even though there were hamburgers and chicken strips on the menu, I refused to order. My parents and sisters ordered their food, and I didn’t even order a soda (which is totally unlike me. I am addicted to diet Pepsi). My mom and dad exchanged uncomfortable looks. I think one of them told me I needed to order something. I shook ,y head vehemently. I was not backing down. This last week had been enough, I couldn’t take any more hard work on my part. I was done. My mom suggested I at least drink some of my water. “What are you going to eat?” she asked. “Nothing. I’ll eat when I get home.” Once the food came and my parents realized I really wasn’t going to eat, my dad had had enough. Looking back, I can totally see where he was coming . This man who enjoyed a good, hearty meal just could not understand what his daughter was doing to herself. His frustration had probably been manifesting for hours, if not days or weeks. But to my mind that was sick and bent and scared of what I needed most, the words he said cut like a knife to my already bleeding heart. I can’t remember what he said word for word so I won’t even try to relay the words here. I stared at him for a second, not quite believing what I had just heard. Then I pushed back my chair from the table, and walked out of that dining room, and navigated my way into the bathroom, tears streaming down my face.
These are the things that from my night-time terrors. I’ll wake from a dream of me shouting at my parents, or my parents yelling at me. I don’t ever remember what the fight was really about, but I know it was about food, and that I was worried they would be disappointed in me. Obviously, I know I have some deep-seated issues with food. This just drives the point home further. When these dreams visit me, even sleep isn’t a safe haven.