IMAlive – My Review and Experience Using A Crisis Chat Line

This post contains mentions of self-harm, suicide, homelessness, and disordered eating. Read at your own discretion.

I’m writing and posting my experience contacting IMAlive, a crisis support chatline, to hopefully help people use it if they need to. I almost didn’t contact them, myself, because I didn’t know what it was like. However, this is only my account of the one time I used IMAlive and everyone won’t necessarily have the same experience.

About a month ago, my partner, birds, and me ended up having to sleep in a hotel lobby for a night, not knowing what we were going to do the following night, because our resources to stay in the hotel had run out and we still had no income, despite our best efforts. I had already relapsed on self-injury several times during our stint in that hotel due to the extreme stress we were under, I had lost a significant amount of weight because not only was my ED triggered but we usually couldn’t afford food, and I was fighting suicidal idealizations on a daily basis. That night was one of the hardest of my life and I didn’t get much sleep because a disturbed older man woke me up in the middle of the night to ask me where he could smoke (our state has a ban on indoor smoking in public buildings so I told him he couldn’t and he got irritated with me).

The following morning, we desperately tried to find somewhere, anywhere, to go so we wouldn’t end up on the street in the middle of winter. We didn’t have any word back yet and I was actively planning suicide at that point so I went to IMAlive’s website because I knew I was in crisis.

I’d tried to use them in the past but every time I tried previously they were closed and I never could find hours posted anywhere. But this time I was taken to a page I hadn’t seen before. It asked me to enter my age range, zip code, and gender (I selected “other”). You could remain as anonymous as you can when entering that information or put in your email address. I chose the former.

Within minutes (two or three), I was typing to one of IMAlive’s trained volunteers who called themselves Alex. They asked what they could call me and I told them my name. They also asked about my situation, how I was feeling, and generally just listened and offered support. I could tell they had been trained in how to deal with people in crisis and that made me feel better, especially because I tried another chat service (NOT a crisis line) that left me feeling less than helped at the end since the people on that service weren’t trained.

I don’t remember the details of what we chatted about but I felt more hopeful by the end and Alex asked me if I would like it if they sent me a followup email in a few days. I said yes and they asked for my email address, which I supplied.

My friend helped us get into a new hotel that evening and then a couple days later, Alex emailed me to see how things were. I updated them but didn’t hear back; I’m unsure if that’s policy or what.

So, that’s my review of my experience using IMAlive. I hope this might help someone feel more comfortable using the service who otherwise might not because they don’t know what it’s like. Please, please, if you’re thinking of hurting yourself, contact IMAlive or another crisis line. You’re worth than you think you are in those moments.

Personal Update: Eating Disorder Feelings. Plus News Article

Content Warning: This post contains detailed discussion of eating disorders, disordered eating patterns, and dysmorphic body image.

 

Our living situation remains pretty much the same. B is frantically looking for work. We’re awaiting word on SNAP and his unemployment payments but it’s likely the shutdown will further delay these things. We’re trying to make it on ~$50/wk and it’s brutal. Some of my friends have helped out by sending/giving us money for food/gas but it’s been difficult to find a way to eat enough, especially since the food bank we usually go to often only has random things like bread and veggies; nothing to really make meals with. We’ve started to go to the Salvation Army food bank, which we haven’t gone to before due to their policies on LGBT+ and non-Christian people, but they give out food boxes to the needy that you can actually build meals with.

Dealing with my eating disorder during this time continues to be difficult at best. I’ve lost weight. I can tell because my clothes are looser on my body, not because I’ve weighed myself. Part of me is thrilled beyond words because I hate how my body looks at the weight I’m at but then I try to remind myself that I hated how I looked and thought I was “fat” when my ribs were visible. I’m unsure if I’m really as heavy as I see myself in the mirror or if my ED is lying to me. Probably the latter.

We’ve had more access to food the last week or so but we’ve not been eating more as a result. I don’t want to yo-yo between this starvation mode and gorging myself on food to the point I feel sick and B just hasn’t noticed when he’s hungry lately so neither of us realize it’s been more than seven hours (or longer) between meals. It doesn’t help that B recently confided in me that he has disordered eating thoughts and has for years. I’ve suspected for a long time but I haven’t pestered him about it. We’re quite the pair.

The stress we’re under is causing my other health issues, such as my fibromyalgia and eczema, to super flare, too. Something has to change soon.

 

Now that I’ve updated on personal things, onto the news video I found that infuriated me: An 11-year-old girl in Florida was sent home with a letter from her school recently. That letter stated that she was “on a trend” to be overweight according to the BMI and her health is at risk. This girl is incredibly physically active and doesn’t look overweight at all. Her mother’s fighting it and talking to the media. The media, in turn, is talking to doctors who buy into the BMI hogwash, despite all the evidence that it’s bunk and is not a good indicator of health.

Here‘s the link. Watch with caution due to discussion of weight, BMI, and doctors harping on how being skinny is the best way to be healthy.

Housing Update + Eating Disorder Discussion

This post contains discussion of homelessness and eating disorders.

The last week has been super rough. We lost our housing and my fiance lost his job within 12 hours of each other. It’s all been really scary and difficult. The first night, before we found out he’d lost his job, we slept in B’s little Saturn coupe with our birds. We couldn’t even partially lay down due to how small the car is inside and the birdcage. The second night and for most of the others, we’ve slept in a tent we acquired from a local homeless and at-risk group. We’ve set up in my friend’s back yard and they’re letting us use their kitchen, bathroom, and wifi.

Sleeping in a tent is weird. I’ve never camped before because I just didn’t understand the appeal. Apparently a lot of people like it but I have trouble sleeping with the knowledge that it’s just a couple layers of fabric between me and the outside. I get a bit paranoid about what could be lurking out there and every little noise sets me off and wakes me up. I have to be super exhausted to fall asleep.

But, we’re safe and with people who genuinely care about us. So that is something of true value.

Food has been difficult. The stress has my eating disorder running away with me and every meal is a calculated effort to eat. Eating makes me feel sick to my stomach ’cause my ED doesn’t want me to eat so I have to chew very slowly and not be left alone while I’m eating now. I’m very concerned about food, like, how we’ll get food and other things.

I don’t know. I don’t want to talk more about this. I just thought I should update.

Personal Update About Housing Plus Mental Health/ED Talk

This post discusses disordered eating, self-harm, and mental health. Read with caution.

 

I’m beginning to think we’re never going to recover. Apparently last Monday, after our landlord/roommate C (he’s the husband), tore into me over our birds being our of their cage in our room he told B that we need to be out later today (feels like tomorrow because even though it’s 3:40am I haven’t slept). No amount of reasoning with C will change his mind. We told him we’d get the carpet cleaned when e move out, we put down a drop cloth and blanket in addition to the large area rug we already had; nothing has made a difference. What he’s doing doesn’t seem legal because we paid through the end of August and they said the birds were okay with no stipulations (we do have proof) and he’s also refusing to prorate the rent we’d overpay.

I’m not doing well at all. Thinking about food makes me more panicked than I am and eating in of itself makes me want to throw up. Each time I chew is an argument with my eating disorder and I’m not sure if I can fight it when everything else is crashing down around me. I self-harmed worse than I have in over a year and a half less than a week ago ’cause I just can’t take any more. I’m so terrified.

We still have nowhere to go. We had a promising lead but they stopped responding. Yes, we’ve contacted the police but they didn’t get back to us and no one answered when we tried again. We’re supposed to get a call back from Fair Housing later in the morning.

Incidentally, does anyone live in the Loveland/Greeley/Fort Collins/Windsor/Evans area of Colorado and would be willing to rent a room to my fiance and our two pet birds? We don’t have much (any, really) money right now but my fiance gets paid weekly and we could work something out. If so, please leave a comment with information on how to contact you. Thanks.

AMA’s Decision To Classify Being Obese As A Disease + Article Critical Of The Decision

This post contains discussion of weight-shaming, weight, and body types. Use your discretion while reading.

So, I don’t know if you all saw, but last week the American Medical Association announced it’s going to classify being obese as an official disease, like diabetes or lupus. Many more eloquent people have written about why that’s a bunch of hooey (and I will be linking to an article about that in a moment) but I wanted to talk about this issue and why it’s bad for people who have eating disorders or disordered eating tendencies. According to anda.org, up to 24 MILLION people in the US have an eating disorder and eating disorders have the highest rates of mortality of any mental illness.

As it is, there’s A LOT of pressure to be skinny. It’s all around us from the media, fashion industry, family, friends, an entire industry dedicated to it… And those attitudes definitely contribute to our society’s eating disorder rates. Now add a major medical group telling a third of the population they suddenly have a disease and there’s even MORE pressure to be under that arbitrary pound limit.  As someone with an eating disorder (in recovery) and who’s at the heaviest weight of my life, I find the AMA’s decision terrifying, sickening, negligent, and dangerous.

Now onto the article that I read that reminded me to post about this. I’m just going to directly link to it. It talks about a lot of the stuff I just talked about but with related links and more research. I want to put an additional caution for the article because it discusses weight loss surgery and other weight loss hooey.  Fat People: #IAmNotADisease and here’s the non hyper-linked version:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/25/opinion/wann-obesity-disease/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

WordPress Anniversary and Hard Times

WordPress tells me my blog here is two years old today. So that’s cool.

I’m still having a hard time with my eating disorder. My fiance’s parents, who have disliked me for our whole relationship for no reason, came into town with little warning and totally disrupted things; made a hard time even harder. I’ve been trying to fight disordered eating patterns but it’s getting to the point I don’t think I can much longer.

I’d write more but I’m so emotionally drained.

Not Doing Okay

This post contains discussion of disordered eating patterns, manipulation and psychological abuse, housing instability, self injury, and gender dysphoria. Please use your discretion when reading.

As I’ve posted about before, I came to an epiphany lately about how if I’m experiencing gender dysphoria, it triggers a miniature eating disorder relapse. I got to kind of test that theory this last week because I tried to gently, politely and calmly correct my father when he used the wrong honorifics when referring to me and he blew up at me. I did it through email ’cause I think it’s ridiculous having to schedule a meeting to talk to someone who emailed me in the first place.

Historically, email hasn’t been the best platform to communicate with my father because he twists my words and finds meanings in what I wrote that I never even thought of when I started typing. And, historically, my dad’s had a major martyr complex. So, I guess it shouldn’t have surprised or shocked me when he reacted poorly but I never expected him to react the way he did. He took this gentle, polite correction (I had a few people read it before I sent it ’cause I have to walk on eggshells with my father) and somehow decided that he does everything wrong and he doesn’t want to talk to me (for my own benefit, obviously, ’cause he still gets to decide that for me even though I’m 26 and have my first grey hair).

His initial email and the one that followed sent me into a major panic spiral plus made me feel so completely wrong in my body. B had to bribe me to get me to eat that day and the day that followed because my head was so messed up.

Then a couple days later, the property management company that owns the house we’re subleasing a room in sent a letter informing the people on the lease that they won’t be renewing the lease and everyone needs to be out by the end of the lease period (July 31). This made me panic and further pushed me into a relapse because we’ve been looking for alternatives to where we’re currently living since DECEMBER and haven’t been able to find anything, that combined with the trauma of getting evicted in September just really pushed me over the edge.

That night when my fiance and I tried to talk about what to get to make for dinner, I had a full blown panic attack and started crying and screaming because thinking about food like that just wasn’t something I could do at that moment in time.

Yesterday, we were told that the property management company is going to be having a walk-through with potential renters today (two appointments). That… I lost it. I haven’t melted down like that since December when we were given 10 days to move out of where we were staying. B’s cataplexy decided to act up right then, too, so he was unconscious off and on all night. By the end of the night, I was sobbing so hard I kept almost throwing up and I was so overwhelmed and panicked that I kept hitting myself in the head repeatedly.

Earlier today, B mentioned he was trying to think of something to make for dinner and I lost it on him. I lashed out and told him that he can’t talk to me about food right now because I’m so triggered. He apologized but it wasn’t good enough for me (at the time) because my brain just isn’t processing emotion properly and I’m just so messed up.

I need to wrap this up because I need to get ready for the last walk-through but I needed to vent somewhere about the gender and eating disorder stuff.