Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You can't keep a good girl down

Sunday went fairly well for DJ, as well as for Bulldog and me.  She slept in until a luxurious 8 in the morning and followed that with a good breakfast.  Timely mealtimes and snacktimes are a requirement for her program.  The goal is to gain weight in a healthy manner so as to encourage healthy eating habits even when her weight has reached a healthy weight.

We are changing many of our habits to accommodate DJ, which really will benefit us, as well. For instance, I tend to wolf down my food.  This is not good for anyone because it takes roughly 20 minutes for our stomachs to tell our brains that we feel full.  If we eat quickly, we will eat again, and again, sheesh, and again, until we hit that 20 minute mark, at which point we may have eaten double or triple the amount required to actually feel full.  When I eat with DJ, however, I am aware that she is uncomfortable if she is still eating after we have finished.  Consequently, I have slowed down my eating so that we are at the table for roughly the same amount of time.  Maybe I'll drop a few pounds in the process since I am also avoiding helping myself to seconds, or, I can be a glutton.

Also, DJ's program advocates paying attention to portion size and eating from the various food groups.  Bulldog informed me the other morning that DJ informed him an apple in the morning will make a person feel more alert than a cup of coffee.

 "That's nice, " I replied, "but will it do anything for the headache that will follow when I don't have my cup(s) of coffee?"

"No, but you just have to withdraw from the caffeine," Bulldog replied.

"No way.  I tried that once and it's just not worth it."

Anyway, Bulldog has now discovered apples.  This is hilarious because it's like he's stumbled across buried treasure that's been right under his nose these past (nearly) 50 years.  The man doesn't really like fruit, until recently, unless it's slathered across a cheesecake or baked into a pie.  Oh wait, he will eat fruit in its raw form if it's part of banana split.  But DJ's healthy eating habits rubbing off on her parents,  is a good thing for her two aging parents.

DJ's outing with her friend was a bit of a letdown for both of them, I think.  I suspect each of them had expectations of the other that weren't cemented in what was realistic.  They are so young, and naturally a bit immature, so they are fearful that this could signal a problem with their friendship.  Both Sister Chromatid's mother and I are encouraging our daughters to ride it out. They have each been through some tough times lately, and often, given a little space, friendships can rebound from disappointment just fine.

DJ is finding more and more activities that she wants to explore to keep her hands and mind busy when she is not engaged in a finite pursuit of something.  Mimi will be thrilled to know that DJ wants to learn to crochet and knit.  And this will be a great opportunity for DJ to spend some time with Mimi without feeling self-imposed pressure to keep a steady stream of conversation going, which is something DJ has been worried about with nearly everyone she knows and hasn't seen regularly in the past six weeks.

What is most encouraging is seeing her have a "bad" or "tough" day, or part of a day, and watching her help herself by finding something to keep her occupied.  She doesn't realize what a huge and important step that is, but apparently, that is part of the problem underlying anorexia-she is very aware of her "pitfalls" but is "indifferent" (to use her word) about her successes.

She's talking about and asking about being discharged.  She's not expecting or wanting it immediately, but is hopeful about it, which is really encouraging. That DJ is one plucky girl.

Monday, February 27, 2012


A friend has been on my mind today.  She and I exchange e-mails on a pretty regular basis.  Her family has unfortunately not accepted her as the young woman she truly is.  They cling to the idea of the "son" they feel they are losing or have already lost.

I had remarked to her that I think that parents often have a hard time "letting go" of our expectations of our children and that perhaps we should "drop" our expectations to having no expectations.  The word "drop" was an unfortunate one because it implies lowering one's standards, in effect.  However, what I am suggesting is not that we lower our standards, but that we only have one standard, well, two actually.

My friend, who is transgender herself, replied to my e-mail and had (as always) some incredibly thought provoking comments.  I will not pretend that the comments are always comfortable because thought provoking comments usually lead to the reader having to challenge their long held beliefs.  Once the reader challenges herself, then she must either decide to keep the status quo and accept she is not willing or able to change, or she must endeavor to make a change within herself.  Neither of those options is comfortable, per se, but at least we can probably agree that one of them offers change in the name of growth.

Her more insightful comments included:

"So although you might think "dropping" your expectations to be a good thing, for us, it's a sign of disbelief and rejection, that we aren't worthy of the same expectations and treatment you'd have of a "normal" daughter, that through no fault of our own, we aren't entitled to a normal life, and simply because it might hurt our parents to change their dreams and expectations to something they'd have been perfectly happy to have if we'd been born "right" in the first place."

Now, it had not occurred to me that NOT having the same expectations for DJ as I would for a natal daughter could be construed as non-acceptance, on some level.  In fact, my friend had expressed a similar thought when she pointed out that my "hoping" DJ might actually be a lesbian was contrary to what most parents would hope for for a daughter;  instead, most would focus on the wedding/wife/mother dreams for our daughters. And that my deviating from the common path could be construed as not true acceptance of DJ as a girl.   Before anyone's eyes bulge out of their heads in fury over what sounds like a stupid/insensitive comment regarding "hoping" DJ might be a lesbian, let me explain:

Right or wrong, I believe that a lesbian would not give a damn how a woman came to have a vagina.  I think women are hard wired differently than that.  I just do.  Sue me.  However, while a straight man might not care how a person came to have a vagina, I think most straight man would have a real issue with the fact that there USED TO BE another type of genitalia in the location of the present day vagina.  My perspective was strictly about playing (what I think of as) the odds of the likelihood of DJ getting hurt in the romance department.  I figured she might have a lesser likelihood of "rejection" from people who don't have issues about being gay, because they already know they are gay, compared with the people who actually might be afraid they are gay because they are attracted to/having relations with a person who was born with "male" genitalia.  My statement is actually more about homophobia than anything else.

Anyway, my friend made the astute observation that DJ could easily construe that my thoughts about not having the same hopes for her that I would have for a daughter who was born with her outsides matching her identity, meant that I didn't truly accept her as a young woman.  And that makes sense to me BUT, and this is a BIG BUT-what if my "dropping" my expectations is a result of realizing that pretty much any expectation, some call "hopes", for our children, are, after all, pretty unfair across the board for any/all children:  straight/gay/asexual/transgender/questioning/college bound/non college bound/church-going/non get the idea.  

I have an aunt whose "hopes" for her children included that they all would marry other Irish Americans.  One of them married a woman not of Irish descent, another married a woman who is a native of Thailand.  Her last child is also NOT marrying an Irishman.  I originally envisioned all of my children being white collar workers-and before anyone gets their undies in a knot, keep in mind I AM BLUE COLLAR MYSELF, as was Bulldog for most of his career. Why did I hope for this?  So they wouldn't have to experience the struggles I did financially.  Most of our "hopes" or expectations for our children are not rational and usually have something to do with US, and not a lot to do with THEM.  UNLESS, we only hold out for one, or two expectations or hopes for them:

1.  I hope that they are happy in the lives they lead.

2.  I hope they don't intentionally hurt someone else to achieve #1.

If I commit to ONLY those two, I have them, and only them, in mind in imagining their future.  If I apply this to all my children, and NOT just to my transgender daughter, then I am truly accepting all three of them for the people they are.  

Now here's the funny part.  I am going to compare this thought process with Jesus.  Yes, I know that I am treading on blasphemy AND seemingly promoting myself to deity status, but bear with me for a second.

In the Old Testament, we had the ten commandments.  All in all, a pretty comprehensive, simple to follow list of dos and don'ts.  (Interesting that homosexuality is NOT mentioned.  One would think if it truly were the abomination many zealots believe it to be that God would not have committed such an oversight in omitting it from his TOP 10.)  Yet, Jesus came along and trumped the Top 10 with his Golden Rule/s.  He basically said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Now, I can guess that he must have had a "hold on a second" thought, because then he added, "Love one another as I have loved you."   Jesus and I are alike in this way: (Holy Water is drying up all over the earth as I type this) less is more.  Why have boatloads of expectations and rules when really if you KISS, (keep it simple, stupid) everyone is WAY more likely to be happy, not disappointed, and willing to accept everyone else?  THAT is what I meant to say by "dropping" expectations-not less than, not different, just fewer and, thereby, more equitable for everyone.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I must explain to God that I was just making an ANALOGY before He smites me....just kidding.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Home (for a day) Sweet Home

Tomorrow DJ will be home with us all day.  All of us are pretty excited.  We can actually sleep in till nearly eight in the morning, which is a huge treat and long overdue.  We've been getting up at 5-6 every morning for 6 weeks and spending anywhere between 2-4 hours a day in the car, every single day.  I imagine our fuel costs have doubled in the past six weeks, but that is offset by the fact that Bulldog and I have only had cereal, sandwiches and soup for most of our meals for most of the past 6 weeks.

We have not been home together at dinnertime more than a handful of times in the past month, so we each grab whatever is easiest and handy, so our grocery bill has steadily plummeted while our gasoline bill has skyrocketed.  We've gone from emptying the dishwasher every single day to once or twice a week, which is also a bonus.  Housework has taken a decided backseat, as well.  I don't want to even think of vacuuming the ain't gonna be pretty since that is where our german shepherd spends much of her time when she's indoors.

Tomorrow will not be spent playing catch-up on household duties, however.  We've planned the day carefully since DJ is a little apprehensive about not being surrounded by peers and staff that keep her busy for most of her waking hours.  This will fall to us and to her, tomorrow.

Art and music have been a haven for her so she and I will mess around with some hemp-the kind you thread beads onto, not the kind you smoke.  We'll schedule a little chore time so that the house is more of her home than her hotel, but we will avoid having her clean the toilets.  Her therapist points out that the toilet is the tool of choice for purging and DJ doesn't need reminders of that by diving into it for cleaning purposes.  Tidying her sink, her room, and throwing in a load of laundry are a great start.

All meals and snacks will be consumed on the same schedule she has been following in the hospital.  The routine brings her some relief from the anxiety of eating, so we don't want to rock the boat.  We'll pick up Sister Chromatid and head out to the movies in the afternoon.  This is DJ's first meeting with a friend since she went into the hospital.   She worries that she won't be able to keep the conversation going, or that they will have little to speak of since Sister Chromatid is not struggling with an eating disorder.  What if her friend doesn't understand what DJ is going through, DJ wonders.

"You can always educate her," her therapist replied, "Or you can consider that you are SO much more than your eating disorder.  Whatever you two talked about before, you'll be able to talk about again."

This is an area DJ struggles with-the hospital has been such an insulated and safe environment.  All the girls there are struggling and they support each other.  DJ even came out to them and shared that she was transgender, and they supported her.  I can imagine that she is frightened at returning to the world that made her feel invisible, but it's important for her to see that she has a support system at home, too.  And no, she will not be returning to her small town high school where everyone knows everyone's business and where if you don't fit in, you're "invisible."

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and she can take her guitar down to the lake and enjoy the outdoors and her music.  Her day off this week gave her a taste of the possibility of a happy life outside the hospital and she wants more of it.  We're keeping our fingers crossed for a good day.  Wish us luck :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Seeing the light

Bulldog and I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  DJ earned a "day off" from the eating disorders unit which she made use of to check in with her surgeon. This was a day long process since the surgeon is two states away. As result of the length of the trip and DJ's eating disorder, we had to plan the day pretty carefully.

Anorexia, or any eating disorder is way more complex than a person trying to be thin, or attempting to limit their caloric intake for the sake of looking good in a bathing suit.  I don't understand all the ins and outs yet, but there is way more to it than that.  And it's not something so simple as having control either.  There are social aspects to eating disorders that I am aware of, but do not understand.   For instance, DJ has incredible anxiety about eating in public, or with almost anyone.  This, apparently, is a fairly common phenomena in the eating disordered population.  Again, it's hard to comprehend, but I have to accept that it is a truth for people facing the disorder.

What motivates DJ more than anything is knowing that she must be healthy to withstand the rigors of gender reassignment surgery, which is not that far off and is still a "go" at this point. It seems that folks who have considerable experience with the transgender community understand that these kinds of issues often go hand in hand with living in the wrong body. This is not to say that most transgender people will struggle with anorexia, but it is very common for transgender people, particularly those who have lived as the gender identified on their birth certificates rather than the gender identified in their brains, to have other underlying issues or disorder to include anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders.  One doctor told us most transgender children who are struggling to conceal their true identities will suffer from tics, as well.

So, instead of looking at these kids as depressed or anxious individuals who just happen to be transgender, why don't we instead say, these are transgender people who are experiencing other difficulties like anxiety and depression because of the stress of living in the wrong body?  Or because of the stress of living in a world that denigrates them because of their condition?

There are folks who never even got a chance to live the life they envision in their heads-and not because they can't travel to the Bahamas every year, or drive a luxury car, but because they feel like the body they are inhabiting is foreign to who they are, and the gender with which they identify.  These folks had so many inhibiting factors in their lives, that overcoming them just wasn't possible.  Yet, they have somehow found a way to live with the incredible disparity between body and mind.  How, I ask, did they manage?

I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to cross paths (cyber paths) with folks who have shared details of their lives with me.  They applaud DJ's strength, which I appreciate.  But I am in awe of their strength, as well.  One person has done every step of her transition as a very young adult with no help, financial or emotional, from her family.  Another has managed to maintain a long, happy heterosexual marriage and raised a family and has still found a way to honor her feminine feelings when she travels for her job; another person has accepted the life that he leads now, in spite of feeling very strong feelings of being a woman.  I marvel at their strength because I see how my own strong and supported child still stumbled.

Her mistake, and ours, may have been overestimating the "acceptance" of her former friends.  DJ honestly believed they would stand by her, and when she returned to school full time, it took about three month before her expectations, and her feelings about herself, were crushed.  So, she resorted to some unhealthy methods to help her feel better about herself, or more in control-hell I still don't get all the ins and outs and whys of what has happened.   But I know my girl-she managed to stay strong for a decade before she came out.  I really think what crushed her was the disappointment of finding out that some of the people she loved and shared her childhood with wouldn't return her love.

Now she's learning to depend on herself for support.  She'll always have our support, but we can't be with her every second of every day.  She has to find a way to talk supportively to herself, and a way to listen to herself when she is being supportive.  Simultaneously, she must learn to not listen to her own "distorted thinking" that is common with eating disorders.  We're seeing more and more of the daughter we know and love.  It's been a long haul, and it's not over, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mr. Preparedness feels unprepared

Bulldog worries he's going to say the wrong thing to DJ.  He expressed that today after dropping DJ at the hospital.  He is ultimately worried that he'll upset her and that she will revert to self injurious behaviors to cope with her feelings of anxiety and stress.  It's an easy trap to fall into, trying desperately to avoid pitfalls so that your loved one will not have to face them.

We want so badly for DJ to succeed that we can easily become part of an additional problem if we succumb to our fears.  I've made this mistake so many times-attempting to do the coping FOR my children instead of letting them figure it out, painfully, on their own.  Bulldog, historically, has not made this mistake.  Believe me, he's made other mistakes, but until recently, this particular type of mistake was specifically my domain.

This, in due course, leads us to walk on eggshells, which only makes her feel more "burdensome" and "fragile," neither of which serves any of DJ's purposes, whatsoever, and gets in the way of our being grounded parents.  I can see this clearly only because, for today anyway, I am not in Bulldog's shoes.  Check back with me tomorrow, though, and I may feel differently.

Flying Pig gave me some excellent advice:  "Stick with doing what you would ordinarily do as her parents."  She continued by saying, "If you guys were not parenting well, I would not advise that, but you are, so don't change your parenting."  I'm so shaky on trusting myself lately, that I am glad to follow what others tell us;  since Flying Pig and the folks at the hospital seem to think we've got our heads screwed on relatively good enough, I will accept their assessments since they give us some direction.  It's so easy to feel like you don't have your head screwed on tightly enough though....

Which is why I think Bulldog is questioning himself right now.  Luckily, he and I take turns with falling apart.  Last week, I cried my eyes out and he felt positive and hopeful.  Other days, his voice quakes multiple times in a week, and my outlook is calm.

The tricky part will be accepting that DJ will still have "off" days without our outwardly assuming that she will resort to self injurious behavior.  We worry, of course we do.  Since DJ has only recently been forthcoming about what's going on in her cute little head, when she explains her crankiness by saying she feels irritable but doesn't want to talk about it, we (naturally) assume, or worry, that this might be the first slip down the slippery slope to self injurious behavior again.  We want to hover and nag.  We watch her, surreptitiously, like hawks.  Our "fight or flight" systems  are still considerably heightened.  Then, one or the other of us checks the adrenaline at the door, clears our head, and looks at the situation again.  We remind ourselves that we've taken all the steps to keep her safe, even if she tried to NOT be safe.  And as importantly, if not more, she has taken the steps to keep herself safe.  Our job is not to keep her from falling, but to remind her to catch herself when she starts to fall.  If she can't, then we WILL be there to catch her.  We just have to keep reminding ourselves that we are prepared....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Taking down walls

I haven't felt like writing in weeks but it's amazing how two days in a row at home, in conjunction with some long overdue marital relations and a decent nap can make a person feel so much better.

This week has been an interesting one.  It's funny how something really unexpected and, well, crummy, can serve to wreak important and positive change.  We are going into week 6 (?) of DJ's hospitalization.  She is, again, being treated as an outpatient.  She has been coming home in the evenings for over a week now and it seems (knock on wood) that the self injurious behavior is becoming a thing of the past.  She has found multiple other ways to help her cope with her feelings of stress, anxiety and occasional feelings of despair.  Four days ago, however, she was only on her third night home and was still having to work hard to share her difficulties with us....that is, until I hit the house with my pickup truck.

I started a new job teaching 3 paramedic courses and Tuesdays are one of two 14-15 hour days, during which time I am on my feet nearly the entire time, talking, teaching and thinking.  Thinking is not my strong suit, so when I am required to do it for extended periods of time, I tend to be quite taxed at the end of the day.  I had taken my shoes off for the drive home, and on turning into my driveway, I leaned down to grab my shoes, and thought, "Don't be stupid, wait until you've come to a stop," but during that pause, I can only guess that my feet lost their orientation because when I stepped on what I thought was the brake, I felt no resistance whatsoever, AND the house kept getting bigger in my windshield.  Obviously, I didn't hit the brake.  Either I just tapped the accelerator, or my foot was completely disoriented, and I hit the clutch, because I was moving fairly slowly when I hit the house.  No airbag deployment, and I missed the load-bearing corner of the house by a foot, thank goodness.

Bulldog hears me hit the house, but after multiple years of overseas missions where he actually has heard explosions, he thinks he has heard/felt an explosion from our neighbor's house.  He immediately pounds on the bathroom door where DJ is showering to tell her to dress quickly, as there has been an explosion.  The poor girl has been subject to so many of our stupid 12/21/12 doomsday conversations that she actually thinks (albeit only momentarily) that Armageddon has begun.  Within minutes, however, both Bulldog and DJ realized that there was no hazard, especially since their wife/mother had removed the keys from the ignition and applied the brake after rebounding from the impact.

Bulldog begins to shore up the garage door opening with lumber while I lay down with DJ to make sure she's not rattled since it's time for her to get some sleep, as she must get up early to be back at the eating disorders unit the next morning.  I hear her sigh and she says,"I feel so guilty.  You guys are already paying money for my hospitalization and now this."

"This is NOT your fault and besides, we have insurance for these things," I reply.

"Yeah, but you'll still have to pay for my surgery....." and then she went on to say how she feels responsible.  She continues by saying how much she loves us but feels like she doesn't show it enough and how she thinks she is selfish.  I guess she needed a catalyst in the form of a 2000 pound vehicle hitting a stationary object to propel her to share some of her worst feelings with us.  I'm happy to put a dent in a wall with a pick-up truck if it helps DJ put a dent in her emotional walls.

Seriously though, I was so glad that she could say what she was thinking and how she felt.  It gave me a chance to set her straight and to remind her that "distorted thinking" is one of the hallmarks of anorexia.  "You are a joy to Dad and me," I told her.  "We are prepared for all of this, so don't worry.  Besides, this is what people who love each other do-they stand by each other because each of us is going to need someone at some point in our lives."

Since then, she doesn't seem to have anywhere near the same degree of difficulty in sharing her feelings with us.  And she makes use of art and music to support her, and she's even started texting a couple of friends again.  We are movie geeks around here and quote movies all the time to get our points across, so in attempt to illustrate the importance of her realizing her success, no matter how seemingly slight, I quoted a line from the movie, "Contact" to her: "Small moves (DJ) small moves."  She grinned.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

All voices will be heard at the round table

Maybe I'm wrong with the observation I am about to share.  Perhaps I should do some research before I share my perspective.  Aw hell, I'll do research later.  For now, I'm going to share my thoughts and maybe some of you will have experience or a perspective you would be willing to share.

I think cutting and anorexia act like addictions.  They both seem to offer a short term "cure" or means of handling your stress, while offering the person nothing in the way of truly dealing with her pain and furthermore, can cause additional problems.  We all know the hazards of drinking and drug use-they are short term crutches for long term issues and they destroy the body of the user, as well as their finances, and relationships.  It is the same with anorexia-when you control how/when/where/with whom you eat, you are essentially keeping the demons at bay-for the moment- while wreaking havoc on your body, your relationships, and your checking account.  And the same could be said for cutting.  Like any other addiction, eventually, the "little bit" of cutting won't suffice and you'll have to cut more, or deeper to get the same effect.  I've transported many people who swear they weren't trying to end their lives, they just accidentally cut too deeply.

So, DJ and I were discussing this yesterday.  Because not only did she attempt to hurt herself in this manner, but she also attempted to huff bath salts.  Seriously?  Yup-I've transported folks who have done that too-one of them jumped out of the back of my unit after attempting to beat the crap out of me and my partner.  Luckily, the ambulance was stopped at the time.  He was found 15 minutes later and brought back to the ER in a wheelchair with his hands zip-tied behind his back, covered in his own mucous, vomitus and blood. Yeah-that method worked to assuage his fears really well-didn't it?

No, I'm not openly mocking people who engage in this behavior but I will pseudo mock the behavior itself by pointing out the preposterousness of it and the fact that it's a fantasy.

DJ is learning this.  They did an exercise where they acted as if the anorexia was a person and they role played.  DJ describes the anorexia as a "good time friend" who is actually a crappy friend.  We've all had friends like that-they are completely one way and don't give a damn that they drown you while they attempt to exist. Goodwrench had a roommate like this-"C'mon dude-stay up and party with us. You can call in sick to class/work tomorrow."  

DJ is learning to view the anorexia as that bad "friend" who is not worth having.  I hope she learns to view cutting in the same manner.  She explained yesterday how she feels a sense of "peace" after cutting herself.  Yeah, all because your body dumps endorphins into the blood stream on injury in an attempt to help control pain.  Your "peace" is just a chemical reaction.  Hopefully, she'll see, in a purely intellectual and cognitive way, that cutting is just another bad friend who serves no good or lasting purpose.

I feel hopeful today because I think that will be DJ's way out-her cognitive abilities.  When she can disengage that part of her brain to analytically view the part of her brain that is in control when she's stressed and then see the errors that that part of her brain is committing, then maybe she can LEARN to think her way through her stress to help modulate the overwhelming FEELINGS that are knocking her on her ass.

I have to relate everything to my limited knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the body and the brain.  When we work well-when we're in a state of homeostasis-or balance-opposing functions in the body and the brain are both at work to keep us in balance. If DJ can see that her emotional aspects of her brain have taken the intellectual parts of her brain hostage and that both parts have a rightful place at the round table, then I think she will start taking more control of her life.  Conversely, the same could be said of the cognitive aspects of our brain-there are times when we should listen to our more "rational" parts of our brain, and there are times we should not: if "reason" is telling us we're being ridiculous when our gut is screaming at us to leave the secluded alley and get into a well lit area, ignoring our "gut" might mean getting mugged, having the crap beat out of us, or worse.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying or overcomplicating.  I'm just trying to make it make sense in my head.  But she saw something yesterday.  I asked her if she felt like hurting herself at that moment. She said no, she did not.  So, the urge passed, I said.  Yes, but it will come back, she replied.  Yeah, but it will pass again, was my retort.  So, sit tight, speak up, hunker down and wait it out.  No it's not easy, but it's an important part of getting on with your life.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Wow-it's been a tough week for our family.  Romeo had a crisis (of his own making), Goodwrench's girlfriend broke up with him and, worst of all, DJ had to leave the eating disorders part of the hospital and go back to the self injurious behavior unit.

She was discharged as an inpatient last week and has been going to intensive outpatient treatment at the eating disorders unit for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The first couple of nights she was home were good, but then she started tanking again.  I've been sleeping with her to ensure her safety through the night, but she managed to find sneaky ways to harm herself nonetheless.  Her therapist called this morning to let us know of her transfer.

I am so discouraged and surprisingly, really angry with DJ.  She will not, or can not, ask us for help when she is with us.  She feels like a burden, a failure, and would rather keep all that to herself than tell us. When the feelings become so strong,  she finds (inflicts) a source of pain that she CAN take, rather than experience the emotional pain that she feels she simply can't endure.

Yesterday she was able to share a bit of her feelings because we talked to her via conference call.  I had a feeling the relative "hidden-ness" would allow her to be more verbal and it did.  I felt hopeful that we had found a means for her to share her pain with us so that in those moments when she felt the worst that she knew she could come to us.  But she can only explain her inability to share with us by saying she had to lie for so long, and stuff her feelings for so long, that she doesn't really know how to do anything else anymore.

Maybe she's angry with us for the time she's lost.  OK-bring it on.  Tell me-I can take it-and then maybe you can move on with your life.  I don't know, I'm just guessing.  I don't think it's anything we've done since she's come out, so maybe it's from before.  I want to shake her and yell at her, "All you have to say is 'help' and we'll stay up with you all night, hold you, watch you like a hawk and keep you safe.  We'll rock you to sleep until you can face the morning."

But she won't even do that.  She just suffers silently.

When she comes home, we will do even more to create a safe environment  and continue to mirror what the staff at the hospital does.  This means "sterilizing" her bathroom and bedroom of pretty much anything that she could use to cut herself.  I was actually pulling thumbtacks from the wall a little while ago.  She will have to lose more privacy as well until she can demonstrate that she will come to us when she is feeling badly enough to want to hurt herself.

Parents of transgender teens or young adults-if you haven't faced this, consider yourself lucky, especially if you have yet to accept the true gender identity of your child.  Consider they may be hiding their pain well, too.  Does that frighten you?  It should.