Hope.

For the longest time I’ve been miserable. Unwilling to believe that anything good will ever come into my life again. It felt like my life had manifested itself into The Series of Unfortunate Events. The future was coming for me and everything about it was bad.

Recently though, that’s changed. I’ve found myself with things to look forward to again. And that’s not to say that there aren’t big scary things in the future that make me want to run in the opposite direction as fast as I can. But they feel more manageable now – as long as I don’t think about them too hard.

I’m still in a bad place with my eating disorder. With the threat of hospitalization looming over me if I can’t get it together. But I’m really trying to get it together now. Harder than I ever had before. And in all honesty that’s probably because my parents are currently trying to take over my recovery, and I will do anything that I can to keep them away. Which means that I need to recover by myself. Soon. I’m not waiting for anyone to do it for me anymore. I’m not waiting for some magical cure. And that’s a pretty big change in my mindset.

Aside from that though, a lot of good things have come into my life recently. The guy that I’ve been casually seeing took me on a Valentine’s Day date. To see the sunset on the top of a mountain. How perfect and romantic is that? And even though it was an hour drive there and back, we talked the whole way with no awkward silences. It was the first date that I’ve been on in a while where I felt completely safe, comfortable, and myself.

I’m also almost excited to have my first appointment with my new nutritionist tomorrow. Which are words that I never thought that I’d be saying. But I’m really looking forward to have a set meal plan that I can follow. To eliminating most of the uncertainty surrounding food. I think that it’ll be a lot harder for my eating disorder to talk me out of things if it’s arguing with a nutritionist approved meal plan. The nutritionist knows what she’s doing. I don’t.

And after my nutritionist appointment tomorrow, I finally am getting my tattoo. That I’ve been thinking about for three months. And even though I’m definitely anxious about how much it’s going to hurt, I’m really excited to have something on my body which is entirely my choice.

Talking about my tattoo has also recently led me into conversations with a handful of people that I had let fall out of my life. And I’m not feeling so isolated and alone anymore.

My big and I have actually planned to take a spring break trip together to see some members of our sorority family who have graduated. And I’m genuinely really looking forward to it. I love traveling. I especially love road trips. And I can’t wait to catch up with them.

I know my future isn’t full of sunshine and rainbows (my anxiety likes to keep those in check), but it doesn’t feel quite so gloomy anymore either. There is good coming along with the bad.

-X

Advertisements

Backstory.

I might have mentioned this before, but in my free time, I work in a planetarium. I’m still relatively new at giving Star Talks though (which are basically 40 minute astronomy lectures), and after my sixth ever show, a man came up to me. And he introduces himself by saying, “Great show, but I noticed two things. One, you said that the sun was 4.6 million years old instead of billion. Two, you said Galileo was Roman not Italian. At the beginning of the show you said you were an elementary education major, and if you’re going to be educating kids you don’t want to be educating them with misinformation.”

Now, his comments weren’t incorrect- I did have two slip ups. But his comments threw both my current job, and career aspirations into question- my anxiety sent my head spinning. I felt unqualified for literally everything. How could I be a teacher when I didn’t even know basic facts? And clearly I wasn’t qualified to be working at my current job.

Thankfully, this was my last show of the day, because I had a panic attack as soon as I got to my car. Quite honestly, with this one comment, I went from having an okay anxiety day (because if we’re being honest, I haven’t had a good anxiety day in forever) to collapsing and feeling panicked and anxious for the remainder of the day.

And this whole scenario just made me think about how incredibly careful you have to be with your words. This man had no idea his thirty second comment would send me into a panicked state of mind for the rest of the night. But it did.

You never know someone’s backstory. Maybe they just broke up with someone. Maybe they’re struggling with a severe illness- either mental or physical. Maybe they just lost someone close to them. Maybe they’re just point blank having a bad day. Or a bad couple of minutes. My point is, you have to be mindful of your words and actions. You never know what someone else is going through.

I have a sticker on my laptop that says “be kind anyway.” This is a motto which I find incredibly important, and do my absolute best to live by. No matter how someone is treating you, you should always do your very best to be kind anyway. Because you never know what that person is going through, or how they’re hurting. And honestly, hurt people hurt people. I think that there is hardly ever a case in which it is justifiable to be mean to someone. And I say hardly ever because there definitely are a few extreme exceptions. But for the most part, I believe that we, as humans, should do our absolute best to put out kindness into this world.

I apologize if this has come across as a little bit preachy. That was not my intention.

This whole experience has just really made me reflect on myself and my actions- I hope that I never unintentionally caused someone to have a bad day, or said something which was triggering. So I’m just going to continue doing my best to live by the words “be kind anyway,” and take a little extra care to be mindful of how my words and actions could unintentionally affect others. Because I know how badly that man at the planetarium’s comments resonated with me, and cut me, and I’m sure that that was not his intention. But yet here I am, still remembering every word of his comment three days later.

-X

Uncomfortable.

Honestly, so much has happened the past few days that I don’t know where to begin. My doctor told me that if I lost anymore weight I would have to be hospitalized. I have a follow-up appointment next week. My therapist told me that I’m now at a point where I can’t hide it from my parents anymore. I need a nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders. So tomorrow I have to call my parents and have a conversation with them that I very much do not want to have. To top it all off and put the cherry on top of the stress cake, I also had a midterm exam today. Oh, and did I mention that I’ve started talking to a boy?

It’s hard enough when you first start dating someone. But whenever I first start dating someone I’m always plagued by my eating disorder. Do I tell them about my recovery? Well obviously I have to if they’re going to be a big part of my life. So when do I tell them about it? Third date? After a few months? I don’t want to get involved with someone if they aren’t okay with the fact that I’m in recovery. I want to give them access to the “yikes, I think I’m gonna opt-out” button before things get too serious.

I had a date yesterday and had to pass off my stress as mid-term stress. But it’s so much more than that. Mid-term stress I could handle. But this, being stressed about telling my parents and stressed about my failing recovery, this is crushing. There is this crushing weight constantly on my chest this week – making it hard to breathe.

I know that I need to tell my parents. I haven’t full on morphed into an ostrich; I don’t completely have my head in the sand. I know that I’ve reached a point in the eating disorder rabbit hole where the only thing that can pull me up is access to their health insurance- for more than just a therapist. I officially need a full-on team. An expensive team. But actually having a conversation with my parents about it? The thought of it sickens me. Like really genuinely physically sickens me.

Why is my reaction that extreme? Seems a little overdramatic? Maybe. But my parents and I don’t have a great relationship. I don’t feel comfortable talking to them about who I’m dating, never mind something as deeply personal as my eating disorder. They were never the kind of parents who gave hugs at bedtime or ended phone conversations with “I love you.” They were the kind of parents who would attack you for getting an A minus in chemistry or would send you to bed without dinner because of one sassy comment or would ground you if you got home one minute after curfew. I can’t even tell you how many times I sped down the street at 10:59pm praying that the clock wouldn’t turn before I made it into the driveway.

So, I just know that any concern that’ll come from my parents won’t actually come from a place of genuine concern. Instead, it’ll come from a place of wanting to be perceived as a good parent- “Look at how supportive we are! We’re so great!” And I don’t want to be some sort of “good parenting” trophy for them.

And that’s only if they’re actually concerned at all. I could also totally see them arguing with me about my diagnosis- “Are you sure? You seem fine! Loosing weight is a good thing! You’re overreacting.”

I don’t want to have to justify my eating disorder to them.

So honestly, I just want this conversation over and out of my life. As soon as possible. So that I can use my parents’ health insurance and move on to working toward recovering by myself. Because recovery is going to be hard enough as it is.

But I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t half-ass my recovery anymore. I need to push past the uncomfortable, past the screaming in my head, and past the guilt. And in order to do that I need the tools that a nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders can give me. So, I have to do some things that make me uncomfortable.

Unfortunately though, I think that that’s what recovery is. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

-X

Broken.

Today my nutritionist essentially told me that I was too broken for her to help me anymore. She recommended intensive outpatient therapy. I’m going to be honest, I completely shut down. I panicked. I can’t drive to another city four days a week and spend four hours there. I can’t uproot my life like that.

She also told me that I needed to go back to the doctors, and scheduled me an appointment with the on-campus doctor for tomorrow. Which is also terrifying. I hate the on-campus doctor. And I’m terrified she’s going to have to do my bloodwork again. Which means needles.

I cried in the car for a hour after that appointment. And I’m talking about full on tears streaming down your face, and you can’t catch your breath ugly crying.

Going to therapy and nutrition appointments at all was a big, giant step for me. My best friend had to literally tell me that she couldn’t watch me kill myself any longer in order for me to even agree to go. And although I started doing it for her, now I’m definitely doing it for me.

I do want to get better. I don’t want to die.

But at the same time, I want to do it on my terms. I don’t want my recovery to take over my entire life. And I honestly genuinely think that going to intensive outpatient therapy would make me feel even more isolated and separated from my peers. From my friends. From the people who care about me.

My nutritionist’s reasoning behind this recommendation was that I’ve plateaued. I was getting better for a while and, while I haven’t gotten worse, I haven’t exactly made progress in a while either. And I do agree with that. But I really am trying.

I’m trying really hard. It’s just been getting harder and harder to fight the eating disorder. I feel like I’m running out of tools. But I don’t think that intensive out patient therapy is the right tool.

But I also don’t know what the right tool is. I just know that what I’m currently doing isn’t working. And that the people that I care about can’t keep watching me die anymore. And that I need to try harder.

So I’m taking today as a mental health day from classes. To pick up the pieces and then figure out where to go from here.

-X

Insecurities.

I’ve been picking myself apart all day. From the moment I woke up this morning. My hair is too frizzy. My skin isn’t perfect. I don’t like the shape of my nose. Actually, I hate the shape of my body in general. Especially this one roll of fat I can’t seem to make disappear. I hate the way that I can feel it against my waistband when I sit down. To top it all off, I can’t get my lipstick right.

I wish I could look in the mirror and not see everything that’s wrong with me. I don’t even need to look in the mirror and feel pretty. I just want to look in the mirror without judgement. Without critiquing literally everything. Without building a checklist of everything that is wrong with me.

I wish that I didn’t feel defined by my frizzy hair and that one roll of fat that I can’t make disappear. I wish that instead, I defined myself by my personality traits. By my compassion for instance. But I have this weird belief that if I define myself by good things, I’m going to come across as conceited. And humbleness is a trait that I value.

This is why I have trouble accepting complements.

I’m terrified that if I accept a complement, I’ll be a bad person. I have this perception that no one likes someone who knows that they’re attractive, or smart, or kind, or wonderful in any way. People who are aware of their good qualities are classified as “having a big head” or as “cocky.” And I’m not technically wrong, people who are very self-confident are often given this labels.

However, I’ve confused correlation with causation. These people are not considered cocky because of their self-confidence. Instead, they’re considered cocky because of the way in which they interact with other people- they assume that they’re better.

So, I’ve decided that I need to stop equating the ideas of confidence and conceit. I need to stop fearing the concept of conceit so much that I constantly tear myself down in order to prevent any possibility of becoming conceited. Because, odds are, I’m not going to magically turn into this awful conceited monster. Instead, I might just hate myself a little less and accept myself a little more.

-X

Future.

No, today’s blog post is not an in-depth discussion about the rapper. Today’s blog post is about the human conceptualization of time which we like to refer to as the future. Now, you may wonder why I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blog post to the concept of the future.

The short answer? I’m terrified of it. And it’s coming for me- fast.

The past few days, I’ve felt physically sick every time the topic of the future has been brought up. To the point where my eating disorder reared its’ ugly head, and I had to be carried. Multiple times. Because I skipped too many meals and was too weak to walk.

Forcing yourself to eat becomes twenty times harder when it feels like everything is crashing in around you.

In May, I graduate from college and after graduation, everything changes. I no longer have the certainty of going back to my university at the end of every August. I will no longer be living with my current roommates. My best friend will be across the country from me. All of my friends will be moving on to real, adult jobs while I attend graduate school. Alone. I don’t even know where I’m going to be living next year.

I would like to point out that I do not do well with change. At all. Even in small everyday things- I hate when people change the plans on me. So you can imagine how it feels when my entire life feels like it is up in the air.

I’ve lived with my best friend and two other girls for the majority of my collegiate career. I have a routine. My school apartment has become a safe space. My best friend is my biggest support system. And all of that is going to change very soon. Because we’re graduating.

It feels like this change is going to bring about unspeakable, impending doom. I’m terrified I’m going to be isolated and alone- without a support system. I’m terrified of having to figure out meals for myself. I’m terrified of having to do the dreaded “c word”- cook. I’m terrified that I’m not going to have any friends. I’m terrified that all of my friends are going to move on with their lives and forget about me – especially the ones who are moving across state lines. I’m terrified that I’m never going to see them again. That they’re never going to want to see me again because they’ll be just as happy without me. But most of all, I’m terrified that I’m going to be swallowed whole by my anxiety.

So I’ve decided I’m getting a dog. I love animals, but my dog back home is very much an alpha male. Therefore, understandably, I haven’t been allowed to get another pet while I’m still living at home over school breaks. But I’ll be moving out of my parents’ house for good. And so now, a dog is a possibility.

And I’m clinging to this possibility with everything I have. It’s a small glimmer of light when I feel crushed by everything else.

My best friend likes to tell me that the only thing that we know for certain about the future is that it is uncertain. And then she emphasizes that this means that all aspects of the future are uncertain. We don’t know the good things that are coming for us – just like we don’t know the bad things that are coming for us.

Who knows, maybe 2019 will be the best year of my life. Or, at the very least, maybe it won’t suck as much as I think it will.

-X

Decisions.

Making food choices is one of the hardest things for me. Making food choices gives my eating disorder voice just enough space in my head to whisper to me. Leaving me paralyzed and unable to decide anything.

Or, if I do manage to make a decision, it takes an unreasonable amount of time. And I mean unreasonable amount of time. It’s taken me three hours before to decide what to eat for a single meal.

At the beginning of every week, my best friend and I create a food plan for the week. Creating this plan is, what I affectionately refer to as, my own personal hell. However, making all of the decisions at once, for the entire week, makes it extraordinarily easier to eat the rest of the week. Because then, instead of having to fight two battles with my eating disorder every meal (one before, and the other during), I only have to fight one. And it’s a lot easier to fight the “during meal” battle when you aren’t already exhausted from the “before meal” battle.

I realize that making a meal plan is a stepping stone in my recovery. Ultimately, the goal is to not need to take time every weekend to decide a meal plan for the entire week. The goal is to be able to make spur of the moment food decisions. To be able to make decisions without having to talk it out with someone else. Without needing someone else to tell me that eating is okay. That eating is not shameful. But for now, a weekly meal plan is progress.

Some days though, the meal plan changes – like today. Life happens and my best friend isn’t able to be there for every meal, and I’m left to figure things out for myself. These days are hard. They’re uncertainty. They’re fighting a raging war with my brain. They’re fighting this war by myself. Against the numbers. Against the guilt.

It’s exhausting.

But when I win on days like this, the victory is so much sweeter.

-X