Let’s have a chat 


This right here is a hat I received at the NEDA Walk in Chicago today. This hat is now a symbol of a day full of gratitude. 
I captained a team of about 30 people and our team raised over $3,500 towards NEDA. I have gone to this walk for 4 years and captained 3 years, and this year was the very first year that I didn’t go there with a heavy heart and fake smile. 

I went genuinely happy, hopeful, encouraged, and (dare I say it?) confident. I have only ever gone to the walk and realized how sick and hurt and angry I was. But, and I can’t say this enough, this year I went and boasted in recovery and gratitude. I saw some of the ERC staff members who changed my life, I saw friends, and I even brought my mom. 
I also had a very overwhelming sense of peace. I promise you I do not say this to sound condescending, I just couldn’t get past this feeling of knowing where I’m at in my recovery and knowing that I’m on the path forward. I know people struggled to see friends that are still sick, or go out to lunch after, or converse about life in general. And that is 100% valid. I am just at peace knowing that I had those struggles too and I made it. I made it to a point where I ordered a Denver omelette and chose pancakes as a side instead of toast because I friggin love pancakes. Guys, it gives me hope because I hurt to see my friends hurt but now I’ve come to know that recovery is real. 


This year’s walk was the first time I’ve celebrated recovery and not the multi-tasking/multi-masked front that I put up.  
As the speakers got on stage and walked the crowd through a mindfulness I overheard chatter from people saying “oh goodness, I haven’t done a mindfulness in months!” And I paused. You see, the great Dr. Ellen Fletcher once said in a group, “when people discharge from treatment and come back they tell me mindfulness was the first thing to go.” I’m not sure why, but, I held on to that statement. Well, maybe I do know why… I had returned after being discharged just 3 months prior and, you guessed it, definitely had not even considered mindfulness after I walk out of those doors. Well, I think Dr. Ellen was on to something there. I discharged on July 3rd and it was probably 2 weeks later that I started incorporating mindfulness into my week. Then, somewhere along the line, it became daily. I now do at least one guidedmeditation each day. It’s the self care I never knew I needed.  

It was hard today too. I walked in memory of so many people who’ve passed away from this illness. Some of whom I called friends. Before I went into treatment I was obsessed with learning about eating disorders. Probably to find some way to argue that I didn’t have one. I saw all the statistics and that’s all they were. Numbers. But now? Now I know the heartbreaking truth that those numbers have names and faces. I refuse to sit by and see more faces and names build those numbers. 
This is not easy. This has been nowhere near easy and it’s painful. I also know that not everyday is this powerful. But I’ve come to the realization that I am powerful enough to conquer those bad days and keep going. You can too, I promise.

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When does it get easier?

I’m part of a Facebook group of former patients from the treatment center I was in. We often post questions, encouragements, and inside jokes. 

Today someone posted the question “when does it get easier?”

I wonder, too, when will it get easier? I responded, keeping my own recovery in mind;

I don’t know the “when” but I promise you it will. It might come on the day when you wake up to the fresh air that hits your skin just right and the sounds are still in a peaceful way, or, it may come on the day when the snow is on the ground and the you see a clump of snow drop from a low tree branch, or, when you get that call from a friend who just says one right thing to give you hope to do the next thing you can. And maybe it happens on all of those days. And maybe the next day it hurts again. But those days where it does get better are the reminders that they do happen. 
Now, what I failed to add was my own experience. 

For me, it got easier when I let it get easier. I got to a point of acknowledging hope. For so long the idea of “hope” was intangible and far off. But, once I allowed myself to think that one day it might get easier, it did. Of course, it wasn’t a sudden fix or cure. But I noticed the little things I did that I used to hold anger towards became things I enjoyed. 

For example, I hate winter. The snow, the cold, the ice. Yuck. However, the past 2 winters I’ve spent in residential treatment in the city. City winters are much different than suburb winters. In the city, snow turns to brown and gray slush and icy puddles. In the suburbs, snow accumulates and the aesthetic of leafless trees become visible. 

In the past, to me, those would be things that irritated me. The thought of snow accumulating meant shoveling and dead trees meant broken branches to clean up. 

Not to be that person, but, I feel like I took it for granted. 
That’s when things get easier for me. When I find a new way to hope. A new perspective. 

I know it’s not easy. And I’m sure I make it sound so much more dreamlike than reality. I’m sure this winter will bring days where I dread trudging through the snow. But even then, it’s an experience and feeling I’ve missed out on for two years now. I am letting myself experience it in a new way.
What are you allowing yourself to experience easier? When does it get easier for you?

Why we shouldn’t call scars beautiful.

Here’s the thing… we’ve all seen the posts and heard the phrases about the self harm scars from the dark moments in life being beautiful.

They’re not. 

Those scars, on me, are from a time in my life, yesterday- today- whenever, where I felt so uncontrollably broken that I thought I had no choice but inflict pain on myself. 

Those were the days I rifled through my family’s things to find something to use. The days I cried behind a locked door so no one could hear my gut wrentched moans of mental pain. Those were the days I made the choice to limit my fashion until I could pass them off as “old ones” and avoid questions that came from a place of care. 

I cringe when people say things like, “you’re scars make you beautiful.” Or, “those make you who you are today.” 

I’m not saying this to shame anyone who has scars. I have scars too but they do not make me beautiful and they do make me who I am now. 

I am beautiful with my scars, not because of them. I would also be beautiful without them. 

They did not make me who I am today. In terms of the accomplishments I’ve made with my mental illness, I am who I am today because of the work I’ve put in and the things I’ve learned. I could still have done that if I had no scars.
I promise, I am not saying this to shame scars. Because, yes, goddammit you are beautiful. But you’re more than that and you don’t need to base your worth off of the healing skin on your body.
Recently, I’ve seen a lot of stories that include seeing someone else who has scars that have healed and suddenly feeling some type of kinship with them. The “you too? me too.” mentality is dangerous.
I am more than my scars. I do not need to feel ashamed about the scars I have. I do need to realize that these scars were not from a place of forming bonds rather from a place of deep pain. 

I’m sorry you went through that pain too, and, I would rather connect with you by hearing about the life you’ve had outside of that pain. I will not sit by and let people unknowingly (or knowingly) glamorize depression by scars a trend as something beautifully tragic and nostalgic.

More.

You are more than beautiful.
More than beautiful you are kind.

More than beautiful you are intelligent.

More than beautiful you are funny.

More than beautiful you are witty.

More than beautiful you are strong.

More than beautiful you are courageous.

More than beautiful you are capable.

More than beautiful you are loving.

You are more than beautiful.

More than beautiful you are worthy.

Well that went uphill real quick.

So a couple days ago I wrote about a very rough day and night and conversation and thoughts and yada yada yada.

I don’t mean to invalidate my past self, actually I want to praise my past self for ending that knowing a new day was just around the corner.
So let me tell you how things went from shitty to laughter and joy.

Thursday I had a session with my dietitian where we actually went out grocery shopping. Something I haven’t done in a while because anxiety around food. So her there was a good buffer and I got foods that were good. And by good I mean that they met what I need nutritionally without me falling into my organic/low cal kick. Friday, I cooked. I cooked breakfast; eggs and cheese on toast with a side of my favorite sausage. I baked; homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I even cooked dinner for me and my family. I also went to an improv show with a friend of mine at our job.

I started making my meals. Like, cooking and baking again. I went to work. I came home to my niece. And I spontaneously went out with some friends. I bought a pair of heel boots that I would’ve never gotten because of my “tall and thin” beauty ideal that I couldn’t be taller unless I was thinner so I can’t wear heels. GOT EM ANYWAY. And we had a bonfire and made s’mores. 

I’ve been very intentional about self care time. 

This is what comes of it? This is what taking time for yourself and the ones you love does? Count me in. 

Pillow Talk

She yawns

She rubs her eyes

She grabs the nearest blanket.
With eyes shut,

Her head hits the pillow.
Hours later she opens them and hears,

“You must’ve been pretty tired.”

Nothing but a sigh escapes her lips.
You see,

She just spent hours,

Literal hours,

Convincing everyone she was asleep.

But she spent that time fighting

The voices that stole rest:

Don’t rest your hands on your stomach, you’ll feel rolls. But don’t cross your arms either because you’ll then be grabbing what shouldn’t be there. If you lay on your side the entirety of your stomach fat is shown. Don’t put your hands to your cheek unless you want to be reminded of its excessive roundness. Now, let’s think about this. If you really wanted to sleep you’d work for it. You’d go to sleep proudly knowing you’re in a state of shrinking. Since you’re not, I guess you’re not that tired.


Tired.

For some reason that word cut

Like a knife.

She wasn’t tired.

If anything, it was then that she felt energized

And motivated 

To go the 24 hour gym

Or risk a midnight run 

Or keep everyone awake 

Because her room was the only gym available 
No, she certainly wasn’t tired.

It was exhaustion.

Listen.

Birthday week.

Friends, family, food, fun. 

Food.

Calories.

Bites.

Too much.

Be sick.

Recover.

Stay better.

Ups and downs, spins, whirlwinds of the mind.

Stay up.

Stay late.

Don’t go.

Do more.

Do less.

Hungry? No.

Yes.

Me? Okay.

Words. Sounds. People. 

Heart.

I feel it beat. I hear it beat.

Legs twitch.

Face itch.

Scratch.

Not too much.

Scratch more.

Deeper.

Blade?

No. Why? Yes. But no.

Good.

Body.

Body.

Body.

Body.

Where’s the air?

Can I breathe? 

Am I breathing?

Am I alive?

Is this living?

I’m doing well. Really. Truly.

But it’s 1 am.

I feel heavy.

The thoughts come at this time.

Go to sleep.

Stay up. Do more. Do less.

Up.

Down.

Eyes heavy.

Eyes and body.

Eyes are body.

Make sense?

Of course not.

Breathe.

Stop breathing.

Stop living.

Start living.

Living living.

That’s it.

T minus one week

Monday July 3rd. 7 days away. 

I will finally be discharging from the treatment center I’ve been at for over a year and a half. And I just really feel like sharing some of my story.
In January of 2016 I left my dream internship at a wonderful summer camp. I cried more than I imagined I would’ve as I handed my set of keys over to my boss. I felt so much hurt leaving that place, thinking I could still go back sometime. A few short days later I hopped in the car and my dad drove me downtown, into the heart of the city, to be admitted to residential treatment. I spent about a week and a half completely self isolated. I ate what I needed to, spoke very superficially, and slept all the time. I finally started opening up and being kind of vulnerable. I was there for 6 weeks and stepped down to PHP, 8 hours a day 7 days a week. I showed up but I wasn’t present. I flew under the radar. I mean, I was noticed but my behaviors weren’t and so I kept using them. It was fine. Then I was stepped down to IOP, 3 hours a day 7 days a week. It got bad. I got scared and the behaviors caught up with me and I was sent inpatient for 8 days. I came back to do more PHP. That was where I started doing the real work. Unfortunately, insurance saw it a different way. I was cut from PHP and stepped down to IOP. I was managing. That’s the thing though, I portrayed such progress when, in reality, I was planning my relapse. 

I discharged the day after my birthday and immediately filled my time with work, theatre, and school. I did something every day and left no time for myself. So, it’s no surprise that 3 short months later I found myself doing another assessment. I came back and did IOP 3 days a week, because that’s all I could fit into my schedule. My first day back in IOP I was sent to the emergency room due to the amount of laxatives I had taken that day. 6 days into IOP I was told I needed to be stepped up to PHP. This meant quitting my job, which I had just started. I cried and screamed and had a terrible panic attack. But I did it. 6 days into PHP I was told I needed to be stepped up to residential again. It was rough but, after another 6 weeks, I stepped down. For 2 weeks I did PHP and was literally going days without touching food. They very quickly stepped me up to residential for the third time. This time, it was hell. After a day and a half I was told I would be given a feeding tube. My eating disorder was thrilled. However, I was not. It hurt so bad physically and caused me to act in rebellious ways that I had never imagined. That time in res was when my life changed. I was at a dark place and the staff surrounded me with love and light and I pulled through and chose life

I did PHP for less than 2 weeks before insurance decided to step me down. Instead of self sabatoging I did something crazy… I continued to choose recovery. 

So now, after 7 months of treatment last year and spending 3 months in residential along with 4 and a half months in other levels of care, missing Christmas and New Years and Valentines Day (twice), I am one week away from discharging.

The difference is I am ready.

Today I had a session with my therapist and I mentioned how last year I was still waiting for my eating disorder to give me what I wanted and my therapist asked me “why aren’t you waiting for that anymore?” And I said “my eating disorder never had anything to give me. I believed it did when in reality, it has nothing to offer.” 
So here’s to moving onward and upward, accepting thoughts and feelings as they come, acknowledging bad days will happen, and making damn sure I never get sent to the ER for IV fluids ever again. 

Goodbye to my life saving therapist

In just a few short weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye and heading to the elevator to descend to the lobby of the world. The real world. The world not coated in acceptance and care. Although, truly, that’s not the hard part. I’ve been taught how to handle the, sometimes cold, real life outside of treatment. But over the past year and a half that I have been in intensive treatment, you neglected to teach me how to say goodbye. I mean, how do you? How the hell do you say “Thanks for over a year of endless support. Bye now!” 

You, you specifically, are the hardest person to say goodbye to. I swear to God, I have never experienced so much anger as I have towards you at certain times. Step ups, ER trips, exposures, you name it. Sometimes I was playfully angry, usually to avoid, and sometimes I was so furious I had no idea how to cope. You helped me feel that. I also have never felt so much validation than I have with you. Even when I was irrantional, you validated the fact that I still had a right to feel. 

I’m not leaving just yet. However, because of how much you’ve helped me, I had to get a head start on your goodbye letter. I was on the train and I started. I literally just wrote your name and it hit me; I used to be mentally writing a much different type of goodbye letter. After a year and a half of truly, genuinely, thinking I would not have lived to graduate the program, I am writing the most heartfelt thank you to the woman who saved my life. 

I don’t mean that lightly. I was very determined to either end my life or let this disorder kill me. Now, I’m still alive and I’m happy. Happy.

I’m nauseously sad. My stomach is twirling and I know that a few months ago, maybe even weeks, my response would’ve been to self sabotage. Start restricting, purging, self harming, wind up inpatient. But I don’t want that. 

I’m almost hurting because I’m not sick. This is hell, feeling emotions. But this is life and this is recovery and this is beautiful.

Suffice it to say, thank you.