Thoughts on 2017
You have been a year of joy, challenge, pain, fulfilled dreams, and unrealized dreams. The challenges and disappointments you have sent my way make me want to throw you in the garbage and forget you ever happened, but deep down I know that the bright times you gave me provide hope for my future; and the disappointments and pain will make me stronger and more faithful.
At the start of the year, I declared that my word for you would be “manifest“. I had several milestones I foresaw occurring during the year, and I was eager to experience them. One milestone did manifest-my graduation from pharmacy school. One very unexpected milestone also manifested-the move home and commitment to recovery. Other dreams that I held very dearly did not manifest. While I am heartbroken, I will take these experiences you gave me as I move forward to 2018, which I vow to make a year of change and overcoming.
I started the year in Phoenix, Arizona fresh off watching Clemson shut out Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on NYE 2016. New Year’s Day was spent doing one of my favorite things–hiking in the great outdoors. Other highlights from January 2017 include Clemson defeating Alabama in the National Championship and celebrating my birthday at Sushi Neko. I enjoyed a surprise 70-degree in late January day with a Sunday afternoon bike ride around Lake Hefner. Professionally, I had my hospital rotation at a small local hospital and met some inspirational and supportive preceptors. I made a difficult decision to only pursue local Oklahoma City residencies and declined interviews at distant programs. I also had two of my four residency interviews for OKC programs. The interview season was rough on my health and relationships, and I drew further into the valley of my eating disorder.
I am sad to say I remember little about this month—I was deep in one of the lowest points of my eating disorder and was numb to the world around me, moving like a zombie. I did enjoy a fine dining experience at Broadway 10, which was fun. I completed my final two residency interviews and had a rotation in academic pharmacy. After my last residency interview, I remember returning to my apartment and being so cold that I had to put on my warm bathrobe and crawl under my covers for over an hour before my body temperature came up. I knew that that was absolutely not how life is supposed to be and that I deserve more, but I still did not want to give up my restrictive eating and maladaptive behaviors. At the urgent behest of those dearest to me, I made arrangements to go to residential treatment up north in March.
I awakened from my zombie-like state after a week or two in the residential program. Highlights from my time up north include spending quality time with my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, falling in love with yoga, establishing that I am capable of weight restoration and “doing the hard things”, and receiving feedback from my family that “my personality” was coming back and that I was becoming “vibrant” and “alive”. The lows include feeling alone and hopeless in an unfamiliar space, the extreme physical discomfort of refeeding, being away from those I love the most, and being told I needed more than one month in the program. Ultimately, I decided not to listen to the professionals, which turned out to be absolutely the wrong decision. Midway through the month, I received my residency match information and vowed to use it as motivation to continue toward recovery. I ended March in a healthier space and returned to Oklahoma convinced I would continue to restore.
Ah, April. You were a good month. I love spring and spring came to Oklahoma. I enjoyed multiple bike rides and found a new-to-me yoga studio that I loved. I continued to strengthen my yoga practice. I celebrated a birthday at Red Rock Canyon Grill on Lake Hefner and learned that others aren’t as familiar with the term “Adirondack chair” as I am 🙂 . I attended a fun paint your pet event at a local food truck garden. I was able to continue to weight restore and can honestly say I was truly happy this month. Professionally, I had an ambulatory care (e.g., outpatient clinical pharmacy) rotation at one of my favorite practice sites with some of my favorite preceptors and patients. I looked forward to going into work every day and became more confident in my ability to provide patient care. The close of the month meant the end of my fourth year pharmacy rotations. All that remained of pharmacy school was graduation!
Rather than enjoying the bounties I had at this point, I became fixated on studying for my pharmacy boards and handled the stress from studying with excessive movement. I unfortunately began to backslide during this month. May highlights include getting my “crow” posture in yoga and attending an airplane festival.
This was the month of 2017 with the most changes. The month began with my pharmacy school graduation. My parents came for it and we did the prototype family “victory” pose afterwards. After living in OKC for 4 years, I finally went to Vast and enjoyed a fancy meal. I continued to study for my boards and struggled with unhealthy behaviors re-emerging. I moved out of my apartment in to a house, which brought the unexpectedly difficult challenge of living with a dog and no longer living alone. I prepared to start residency.
I started my residency with an orientation month. I took the pharmacy board exam and the Oklahoma pharmacy law exam. I spent little time enjoying what I should have been enjoying—like the fun of the 4th of July holiday, my fun new backyard, the playful vizsla I was now living with, or taking pride in discovering that I passed the boards. All I can say now is that in the future I will make a concerted effort to be more present and joyful and not overlook the simple pleasures in life.
I had my first difficult rotation in residency: adult internal medicine. I did not handle the stress well. My days were spent getting to campus excessively early, engaging in too much movement both during rotation and at fitness classes, and pouring over my computer doing more work in the evening. Let this be a lesson of what not to do. By the end of the month, I was physically and mentally fatigued.
I did have a fun weekend adventure in mid-August at Lake Overholser. I went kayaking for the first time and discovered what an arm workout it is. I was sore for days afterwards!
My sister visited Oklahoma for Labor Day weekend. I traveled from OKC to my parents’ home to spend the weekend with my family. I enjoyed a long outdoor stroll on the Bartlesville pathfinder, one of my favorite places. My parents and sister expressed concern over my physical health and encouraged me to return to residential treatment. I stubbornly refused to go back and we developed an alternative plan to prevent further regression. I began to eat greater amounts and regularly checked in with my mom regarding my progress and recovery. I had an ambulatory care rotation in HIV pharmacotherapy that I enjoyed.
I started the month with a Sunday morning at the farmer’s market, shopping at Penn Square Mall with my mom, and a meal out to Picasso Cafe. Mid-month, I went to “Pumpkin-Palooza” in Myriad Gardens with an old roommate from college (where we proceeded to paint pumpkins next to children 🙂 )Despite whole-heartedly wanting to get better, I became paralyzed by the fear of change and continued to engage in ineffective behavior. I hate to admit this, but I passed out twice on rotation at an outpatient cancer facility and was sent home for rest once. Despite the physical warning signs, I did not make the changes needed to get better. I completed a public patient case presentation and received positive feedback from professional mentors. Professionally, I was performing well, but mentally, I was beginning to crack.
I jumped on the “This is Us” bandwagon about a year late and quickly finished the first season and started the second season. I spent Thanksgiving in South Carolina, where I was fortunate to spend time with two different and incredible families. I explored Greenville, South Carolina and was impressed by the beauty of the Reedy River and the fun downtown scene. While at the Reedy River, I became enthralled with a young man that was rock climbing on the waterfalls and became stuck when he arrived at a rock with no obvious next step. I left before seeing what became of him, but had fun coming up with a make-believe ending on the car ride home. 🙂 I started the Christmas season with nighttime lights at the Columbia zoo. Professionally, I had my first rotation in pediatrics. I was impressed with the residents and attendings that I worked with and continued to grow in my professional confidence. I listened to nutrition advice from my new R.D. and first-hand experienced how much better I felt and performed when I was appropriately fueled. Unfortunately, I had already done a great deal of damage, and despite my efforts, I struggled to reverse this damage.
Ah, the best worst month of my life. I attended the ASHP national convention in Orlando and felt totally lost and in despair about the next step for my life. While at the conference, I prayed to God to make my path clear. I did not know what my future personal life, professional life, or geographic life should look like. I wanted so badly to break away from the chains the eating disorder had placed me in, but did not know how. I broke down to a close friend that I got to see at the conference about these concerns and to my father over the phone. The night I returned from the conference, I received part of the answers to my prayers and I became determined to seek recovery. The next day, I developed a 3-month plan for recovery and took the steps to make it happen. (That is absolutely not to say that I expect to be done with the recovery process after three months!). I spent the final three weeks of 2017 with my parents, put a down payment on a dog, and started Pursue Tenacity. Despite the difficulties December brought, I learned how loved I am by so many people. I had three close friends come visit me in the time I was home and my sister made an unplanned trip home as well. Many of the big, scary “life questions” that I had in Orlando persist, but I have a better idea of the short term plan, and every day work to be patient and avoid fear of the future (a tough pill to swallow, the perfect expression for a pharmacist!)
By writing the individual month summaries, important patterns have emerged. First—I had little adventures to report during my relapse months (August-November) compared to my recovery months (April-May). Next, the monthly recaps from the months after I started residency discuss little besides work. I remember less and am less present in my life when my eating disorder is loudest. Lastly, I have so many important reasons to recover—amazing family and friends, a zest for outdoor adventures, and a desire to help others, both as a pharmacist, as well as a Christian and advocate. As I move forward to 2018, I will take the word that was given to me this morning at church for my theme word—overcome. In 2018, I will be an overcomer. I can’t wait to share my journey, joys, highs, and lows with you all in 2018.
2017, thank you for making me strong, bringing me to change, and showing me that no matter how much I plan my life and try to control outcomes, I am ultimately powerless and can only control my reactions.