Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My father passed away.

On February 15th, my father passed away suddenly.
He was 65 years old. In the days before his passing, he had complained of "indigestion" and pain in his back and shoulders. I told my mom, those are signs of him having had a heart attack, or being on his way to having one. I told her, make him go to the hospital.
He refused to go for four whole days.
My mom said on Saturday, he was having trouble breathing. He couldn't even walk from the family room to the bathroom. She coaxed him into speaking with our neighbor and friend, who is a nurse. She convinced him to go to the walk-in medical center where she works.
He tried to drive himself. But halfway down our street, he said to my mom, "I can't drive."
She took the wheel, and one block away from the clinic, he went into sudden cardiac arrest. He died next to my mom, in her car. She ran into the clinic, crying for help. They tried to revive him on the ground, in the snow but there was no bringing him back.
This last week has been incredibly difficult. I miss my dad. And I'm going to miss him the rest of my life. There will be events - like my upcoming graduation - that will make me miss him even more because I'll wish he was there. And I'll be angry at him sometimes, because if he had just gone to the hospital when we'd asked him to, he might still be here. But that is life. He thought nothing was wrong. He didn't think he'd die, either.

Just five years ago, I was really struggling with my eating disorder. One night my father took out his 72" folding ruler.  He unfolded it and said "This is the Ruler of Life. We call it that, because if you make it to 72, you had a pretty good run. You lived a long life, and a good one hopefully." He indicated the 20" mark on the ruler and said "You're all the way down here. You're not even past the second fold. You've got a long ways to go, and a lot of living left to do." Then, he indicated the 60" mark. "I'm here. I'm almost at the end. I want to know you're going to be okay before I get there."

I don't think he knew that when he told me that five years ago, it would be something I thought of often, and encouraged me to keep trying. I can't believe it was only five years ago. I wish he had made it to 72, like he wanted to. I wish he could be here to see the great things I want to do with my life. I wish he could be here, to tell me when he's proud of me, and to tell me he loves me and not to cry anymore.
At least he knew I was going to be okay before he reached the end, even if the end came too soon.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quarter of a Century later and I'm still talking about this crap? Yep.

I turn 25 in two days.
My birthday always brings about a certain sadness for me. Yes, I know. I should be proud of myself, happy that I am still alive. Believe me, I am. I am grateful for the chance to try again. 

Sometimes, I remember the things I used to do to myself. It makes me cringe. I wish I could tell 14 year old me that I didn't deserve the pain. That when I was 24, I'd be embarrassed to go swimming with my boyfriend's family because those cuts were so deep they would leave inches-long raised scars on my rib cage and thighs. I wish I could tell 19 year old me that running 6 miles in the dead of winter through snowbanks would be more dangerous than relieving. I still don't know how I pushed myself up that last hill, to get to my house. I still remember how cold I felt, how sore my legs were. I remember thinking to myself "I have to make it up the hill because I don't want to die here. I will die here, on the side of this road, if I don't make it." I suppose its a rather morbid thought, but boy was I determined.
Some of these scars are 10 years old. They won't be fading any more.  I often consider tattooing over them. But, there is a part of me that likes having them there. I guess they're a part of my past, and I have a hard time letting go of my past. I wish I could. But I am afraid to. I am afraid that if I let go of what I went through - I won't appreciate what I have now. Or at least not as much as I should.

Five years ago, I would never have believed you if you said I'd still be here today. I did not think I would survive recovery. I had developed dumping syndrome when I first started to eat again. My weight went down even further. It was very depressing and I just figured "Well. If I die, I died fighting."
My mother showed me which dress she was going to bury me in when I was 19 years old.

I really don't know how I got to where I am right now. It's still hard. For instance, I have been losing weight. Not intentionally, just from stress. And I'm really just not motivated right now to put it back. I know I should, but it's a tough choice to make. Do I go back to counting every calorie and worrying about everything I eat, or do I just eat and let it be?  I also have no idea what it is I even need to weigh. I don't know what my adult weight would have been without anorexia. I don't know what I would look like, what I would have chosen to do with my life. There are so many questions I ask myself and I know there is no use in trying to answer them.
It is just very frustrating to reach a point where I'm really not counting calories anymore, not worrying about what I'm eating very often  (if ever) and BOOM I lose 15 pounds.
Sometimes it just feels like I will never be truly free from this hell. I feel like I am just pretending to be better, and that everyone can see right through me and that they know I'm just a sad, damaged fucked up person who will never really lead a normal life.
I just wish I could erase it all.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Recovery is NOT a Paved Road.

In fact, if recovery was a road - it would be an overgrown dirt path. With boulders. And ravines. Up a mountain. Perhaps the mountain is a volcano. So when you get closer to the top, the terrain is a bit easier to navigate but you're still going to get hit with some fiery lava now and again. At least there's not ashes in your eyes as you stumble around. But its still really inconvenient. I think when you reach the mouth of said volcano - one metaphorically throws anorexia into the molten core of the earth. LMK if you get there, I want details.

It is very difficult for me to admit this. But there are times when I don't feel like I've recovered at all.
I suppose some might argue that my ability to recognizes my weaknesses is a sign I have progressed quite well, but I digress.
I do not handle stress well. At all.
I find myself feeling such great anxiety over the coming weeks - my internship, school, my weight, my gym schedule, etc - that I actually have had to leave my boyfriend's apartment and go back to my parent's house. Where I feel safe. Where I can count calories with ease. Where I feel like I can hide. Here, I know my parents won't judge me. They won't get upset with my ridiculous fears of being fat, of eating, of even getting dressed in the morning. Well, they will. But to the extent my boyfriend would - because they've dealt with me for years. I'm not afraid of scaring them in that way. I know that while it annoys them when I go back to measuring cups, they will always be glad to at least see me eating. They know its a phase and it'll pass again.
There are times when I look in the mirror and I just know. The beast is angry. I see it in my eyes when I wake up in the morning. There is a certain hollowness that comes into my gaze as I look in the mirror while washing my face and brushing my teeth. I feel it creeping up inside me. And then I panic.
I don't feel I've ever really learned how to deal with anorexia. I only learned how to stuff it down. I put my eating disorder in a box. I ignore it. I continue on with my day. I do what needs to be done without looking back.
Perhaps that is the only way to deal with it, I don't know. I do know that when you stuff it down, it tends to become volatile. Every time I ignore my eating disorder - there is both a victory, and another inch added to an already lit fuse. You can keep adding inches to the fuse, but it's going to explode eventually.
There is a trifecta of events that usually leads to this explosion. I recognize it. I am aware of it. Unfortunately I've not yet learned how to stop it. I'm busy. I run myself into the ground. I get sick. I get stressed. I start to feel inadequate and insecure. And then, there she blows. I look in the mirror. And the string of thoughts ensues. I know how to block them out. Sometimes it will take longer than others. It might just be a passing thought. Most of the time, they are just fleeting things that can be brushed off and dealt with. But when I am beaten down, it is harder to do. Sometimes, on this level, anorexia wins. I won't let myself go back to the way I was. I won't restrict. But I will want to hide. I become afraid of being seen, of being touched. Its a painful experience. I will go sit in my car and cry to avoid having anyone ask me what's wrong. I don't want to burden anyone with these things, because I know they will fear the worst. I don't want to be abnormal. I am often afraid that I may never be anything but that. It doesn't feel like it will ever get better.
 Anorexia taught me to suffer. I learned to suffer in a different way. I learned to do what I needed to do, no matter how terrible it felt. I still abide by that. But there are times when these feelings are so strong, it is hard to suppress them fully. It feels like I failed recovery. In treatment, the doctors and therapists make you feel like once you get better - there will be no more pain. I never believed that, but it does stick in my mind. Like, maybe I'm not really better at all because I shouldn't still be dealing with things. But I do. And I'm not sure if it'll ever go away.
I know there will be good days and bad days. I don't know if I'll be truly free. I know if I don't keep going, I may never find out. If I were to put a positive spin on this, I would say this internal conflict is a good thing. It means that I am pushing anorexia further out of my life every day, and that I am doing things with my life - things that have no place for it. I am tired and stressed and sick because I do something with myself every day, going forth in the face of apprehension and fear. I would surely rather continue to make something of myself, to do something meaningful with my life - than to waste my time in a limbo of chances never taken.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Good Fight

this something I wrote recently. I wrote it about a friend of mine. I'm sure she'll know it was written for her, but I'm okay with that.

"The Good Fight"
I know your pains
I know your strife
I've been stuck down there,
Strangled by that same hold.
No way out, never to feel the warmth of the sun again
I fought for my freedom, 
I earned my pride.
I took back what was mine. 
You say you lost everything, 
There's nothing left.
But for as long as your heart is beating
As long as those veins are pulsing
There is always something to fight for. 
For your life,
For the love of it, I know you can find
A reason to keep reaching. 
Earn your freedom,
Fight for your pride
And take back the life
That should have always been yours.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Not My Week. At All.

Sunday Morning: Funeral. One of my best friends' moms died. Everyone cried. She was a wonderful person - hard working, smart, and one of the friendliest people I ever met. She was the kind of person you would never forget, even if you only met her once. I miss her, and she wasn't even my mom.

Sunday night. I'm driving Robert and I back home.
I stop at a red light.
30 seconds later, BOOM.

I got rear-ended by a drunk driver. Slight damage to my vehicle. None to me and Rob, thank goodness. Still, a big inconvenience. I also ripped the woman who hit me a new one after she stumbled out of her vehicle insisting that she "didn't do anything wrong and there was no damage anyways so who cares?" REALLY. No. You drove drunk, and even if you didn't hit me - that is wrong. But you did hit me, and you didn't even apologize. Fuck you.
Rob called the police and she was arrested. My only positive spin on this was that we got her off the road, and if she hadn't hit me - she could have hit and killed a child crossing the street or something.

Monday- Today: I am sick. Sore throat, swollen tonsils and fever to start. Then we added nasal congestion. Now we also have chest congestion and I can hardly breath through my nose. I sound funny, it hurts to talk from coughing so much and I can't even enjoy my last three days of vacation because I'm sick.

Today, my phone company also deactivated my phone. I called FIVE days ago to update my card information. Nonsense. The man I spoke with 5 days ago apparently misspelled my street name as well as my last name - causing my card to be denied.
Need I mention that I spelled everything out to him at least three times, in NATO Phonetics, and he still got it wrong.

I'm sorry. I have no patience for these kinds of things. Especially the being sick. I have shit to do. Haven't gone to the gym all week. Been eating nothing but chicken soup, oatmeal, and ice cream. I have to have a thyroid examination on Monday, I start my internship on Tuesday, and I am just all around grumpy.

Is it over yet?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

To be alone.

Sometimes, I just want to be alone.
I don't want to go to work. Too many people. Too many faces. Too many questions when you can't seem to fake a smile. And customers have no problem telling you to your face that you look unhappy. My favorite is, "If you don't like your job, you should just quit. Let them hire someone who's grateful to have a job." Just because I'm not able to smile doesn't mean I don't appreciate my job. It just means that today, I am not feeling so hot. I have my period. I get these cramps about every six months - they're so bad I feel like I can't stand. So no, I am not going to smile so you can pretend that I am content working at a minimum wage job where I get paid to have creepy men try to hit on me while my mangers do nothing except tell me to "suck it up and flirt back so they keep shopping here." Nope not today no thank you. Its depressing. I know, life is tough. But in my job description, nowhere is the phrase "be objectified on a daily basis." If it was, I'd be on a stage wearing pasties and twirling around a pole. And on that note, I'd probably be making a hell of a lot more money. K? Okay.
But that's not the point of this.
Sometimes, I just want to pull my favorite blanket on over my head and hide. I don't want to be looked at. I don't want to be seen. I don't want to feel inferior to the world around me, which I so often do. I don't blame my awkwardness on anorexia. But I have never really found a place in life where I felt like I belonged. I know I'm only 24. I don't have one person IRL that I feel I can talk to, except my own mother. And even she brushes me off from time to time. I love my boyfriend, I really do. But talking to him is kind of futile. He does listen - I think. But sometimes I feel like me talking is just an annoyance to him. I'm sure its in my head, but I can't get around it. I don't fit in at work - which I admit to be a good thing because really, who wants to belong in retail. I thought maybe when I started my RD program - I'd make friends. And while I converse with other students and people seem to like me, I'm not in on the circle of friendship. Many of my classmates have exchanged phone numbers, Facebooks, etc. They study together, do homework together. I'm not really an aggressive person. I'm afraid of being pushy and being seen as some whackamole who insists on talking to people that don't actually like her.  And sometimes, I notice myself shying away from conversations. Sometimes I talk. And wish I hadn't. Feel like I said too much. Feel embarrassed. This happens a lot in class. We've been discussing things that I have experience with - bradychardia, hypotension, osteoporosis, malnourishment. So of course, before I can think to stop myself - open mouth, insert me being smarty pants. And then I feel self-conscious - (Am I answering too many questions in a row? Do I sound like a know-it-all? OhgodIdidntmeanto!) Or, if I don't start talking or answering questions, I sit in what feels like awkward silence with my thoughts.

And sometimes, even now, I just wish I had died because life after recovery is hard too. I know that's terrible of me to say. But honestly - there is no real reason why I SHOULD have survived what I did. And that still boggles my mind, I guess.  I don't feel like I know how to relate to people. I don't know how to be in a long term relationship. I don't know how to  let things go, to not have hurt feelings over things that seem trivial but I see as a sign of my worthlessness. I just feel generally uncomfortable with my life sometimes. Not that comfort is happiness, or a sign of success. Quite the opposite from what I'm told. But, I still find myself wanting to just put it all on hold - work, school, boyfriend - and get my shit together. Then again, I probably never will feel that I have it together. I have a need to be in control - to know everything I'm doing or going to do in advance. I like to have plans. You can't plan life. And that scares the hell out of me. I'm afraid of failing. Of quitting my job, regardless of how unhappy I am. Of not doing well enough in school, of not getting a job in the field next spring. Of ruining my relationship with someone I love. Or of staying in a relationship I'm unsure of at times, because I don't know what love really is.

I never know if I just want to be alone and deal with things, or if its better to distract myself. Its like there is so much going on inside my head, and I know most of it doesn't need to be there. But the only way to turn it off is to talk about it. And writing it down is the only way I can talk about it, uninterrupted and without feeling like an ass. Well, I still feel like an ass. But hey, you can't have everything.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Well, in my opinion...

Today was a struggle for me.

I was in class. It was our last day. My professor brought in juice boxes, cake and donuts for everyone.

#1. I do not like fruit punch. Never have, never will.
#2. I do not like jelly donuts. See above.
#3. I did not really want to eat less than two hours after my breakfast.

The majority of my class picked up both a slice of cake and a donut along with a juice box.
I ate nothing.
I received multiple offers. I politely declined.

And then the anxiety set in. Do they know I was anorexic? Are they thinking that right now? Are they judging me? Am I being rude?

I had feelings of immense guilt for not eating and it occurred to me, my feeling of distress was because I felt like I was drawing attention to myself. Because, well  I was afraid they would somehow know. That they'd think something was wrong with me. Because all my life, all I've ever heard when I experience any sort of food related anxiety, all I get told is "You're skinny. Shut up and eat."

It can be really frustrating and hard to know, is it my choice or is it anorexia's choice? Sometimes, its a mix of both. I think the actual fear of possibly having ED thoughts is more anxiety provoking than anything. I knew eating something like that at 10AM would probably upset my rather sensitive stomach. So, I asked myself some questions. Is eating this food so people will stop bothering me worth the potential repercussions? I know I've been having some bad days - is it worth me possibly not eating enough today? What if I feel shitty afterwards? Will I even actually  feel more comfortable right now if I eat this?

I like to think of it as risk-assessment. The obvious answer here was no. And if we're going to be really honest, no one in that room probably gave a damn one way or the other, but I felt uncomfortable so I removed myself from the situation.

I'm pretty sure any therapist or ED specialist would insist I did the wrong thing and should have eaten the cake. But I didn't want it. I didn't really feel comfortable with being pressured into having something I didn't want. And ya know what? If I want cake, I will eat it. If I want pizza, I will eat it. If I want a crispy chicken sandwich and fries, I'll eat that too. But if it's being offered to me, it doesn't mean I have to have it. That's still something that's hard to grasp for me, I think, because eating is so often a social thing. And we all want to be part of the group. But is it really normal to make yourself eat something you don't even like, because other people are eating?

I really think that normal eating is a myth. Well, maybe not a myth per say. But it's not what they make you think it is when you're in treatment. Three meals and three snacks a day? Once you start living your life, you don't reaaaallly have time to do that in many cases. I mean, I still have a snack at night before I go to bed because I sleep better. And if I'm hungry, I eat. But I don't schedule it out anymore. I hardly think about it most of the time - unless I'm starving, in a boring class counting the minutes until I can go somewhere to get food. But that's a special scenario.

Back to my point: normal eating is really just a fancy name. Its more a state of mind than an actual thing. Normal eating is eating when you're hungry (or sometimes just because you have a yen for chocolate) without overwhelming anxiety. Can you eat a few slices of pizza by yourself and not hate yourself for a week? Do you need to eat certain things every day at certain times, or will you be just fine if you eat at 8PM instead of 6PM?

Congratulations. You're normal. Not because you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday, and not because you eat 2000 calories a day. But because you aren't afraid of these meals or numbers or what time it is anymore. I can remember a time when I was eating my 3 meals and 3 snacks. I used to eat with my mom. I would panic if it went past a certain time, for anything. Last snack had to be had by 8:30, etc. What a different life it is now.

So to summarize my rather lengthy post: After your weight-restored I am almost positive there will still be times when you feel uncomfortable in social situations pertaining to food. And that's OK. Just because you don't want a jelly donut doesn't mean your ED is usurping control of your brain. That's something I learned today. And other times, just the fear of possibly having an ED thought popping up might be enough to say "Nope not worth it." As long as you're healthy and doing alright,  do what YOU think is right for you in the moment, you're doing just fine. And normal eating is really just an evolution from following a meal-plan every day to not following a meal plan every day. Not so scary after all right?

I personally came home from school and had a brownie with my lunch. Brownies trump donuts any day in my book. And I was much happier with my brownie than I would have been eating a donut I didn't even like with my classmates, whom I was not terribly fond of either if we're going to be blatantly honest. And you all know that's my strong suit.