paradox

why do I find myself constantly yearning?

for life and adventure and a momentary thrill

for love and sheer unadulterated bliss

yearning for deeper valleys and higher peaks

yearning for more

to hit a new goal weight, a new high, to see how far I can go

I don’t know if it will ever be enough.

why do I find myself attracted to everything that takes me away?

away from life, away from reality

away from pain

I run away in art and daydreams

in books and magical fictional worlds

in travelling and exploring

I run away in numbers and numbness and control

even if it’s just a mirage

I run as fast as I can, until I find myself

lost.

// I suppose that’s just who I am, and it manifests itself in different ways, good and bad. I see the good in everything, viewing brokenness through rose-tinted glasses- but I fall trap to idealism and escapism. I’m drawn to the stars and the ocean and the great unknown, I’m drawn to self-destruction and numbing pain- anything that will take me away. I find meaning in anything and everything, I see more and feel more and want more. Sometimes it’s never enough. This chaotic, kaleidoscopic soul of mine will take me on adventures and travel the world and climb mountains and meet people and learn and live. It will also lead me straight into the dark woods, jump headfirst into the rabbit hole and never find a way out, trapped by chains of fear and insecurity and the pure wrath of self-hatred. 

perhaps if you knew me, you’d get a better glimpse at how my eating disorder is a part of who I am, or how the best and worst parts of me are actually the same- and I can’t quite figure it out. 

fading into nothing

There is one particular disordered thought I’ve always had, but never quite been able to express to anyone.

I’ll recover only when I’m hospitalized

Because only then, will I ‘sick enough‘ to be able to recover, even if recovery has always been the long term goal regardless. Why has hospitalization always been a goal? Why do I crave all the physical signs of damage to my body, as if to prove something? Why is sicker, better? The endless tugging, desire pooling in the crevices and empty spaces of a heart left in pieces. Something inside applauds the missed period, the dizzy spells, the constant shivering and cold, sharp bones- while the healthy blood tests and healthy heart and healthy body leaves an inexplicable, stinging pain. And the most painful of them all? A healthy weight.

It’s not the kind of thing you bring up in everyday conversation.

The desire comes and goes in waves, but the fire never really put out. A part of me quietly shuns these thoughts and desires that nobody-can-ever-know, a certain shame in the knowledge that all of this exists in the workings of a disordered mind. Yet all the gears click perfectly in place. It makes perfect sense in the hierarchy of the disordered mind. If every dizzy spell and low number is an accomplishment, hospitalization is the ultimate victory. If I’m hospitalized, that surely means I’ll finally be sick enough. good enough. I’ll finally be good enough, for once.

That was my benchmark for recovery.

A part of me still wants to get to that point, but part of me also realizes how stupid it is to destroy myself and my body for a fake sense of control and a temporary peace of mind. I want move forward, and yet I want to fling myself as far back as I can before doing so, as if I needed to make the journey harder than it already is.

There are many times where I doubt it, the thought comes and goes, circling in an orbit- but deep down, I want to recover eventually. I need to pick myself up, stop being such a coward and chose to recover. I need to stop being scared of living and actually just fucking live. I need to stop being so absolutely terrified of happiness and everything good that I actually want. I’ve spent almost an entirety of my teenage years living this way, I don’t want to spend my whole life living surviving with these disorders. I need to recover eventually.

I need to, but I don’t want to.

tumblr_oihqlridTD1vvqy0ao1_1280

Yes, even after all these years and everything I’ve learnt- I still feel like I need to be ‘sick enough‘ before I can consider recovery. I don’t know what ‘sick enough‘ looks like or if I’ll ever even get there, but I want to try anyway. I want to wander so close to the edge that if I reached out far enough, I might finally soar. I need to. I need to just be good enough for once in my life, good enough at something. I need to be thin, I need to be sick, I need my body to fail on me. I need the numbness euphoria of emptiness. I need to fly and I can’t stop until I hit rock bottom. or maybe I’ll finally fly away from everyone, and everything , and all this pain, floating into nonexistence.

like a train going on full speed ahead, I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I couldn’t even find the will to want to.

Perhaps I’ll never recover, or maybe I’m not even sick at all to begin with. Maybe I’ll never be satisfied, never be sick enough. Maybe the taste of heaven we’re so desperately searching for is but a highway to hell. The thing about living with an eating disorder, is that you’re not really living. A life dictated by numbers and fears and numbness is not much of a life at all. When I step outside of this disorder to look around, I realize I’m so very, very lost. At least the numbers are a compass, easy to follow, even if it leads me nowhere.

41 40 39 38 37 36 35

Will it ever be enough?

Will you find me then?

The very last voice holding onto reason

is fading into a mere whisper,

and the others growing impatient.

I’m sorry if I lose myself,

in an endless pursuit

for perfection and control

a rose-tinted portrait of your ultimate goal weight / like somehow, seeing that number would bring order to a chaotic mind world, make everything okay again

a taste of euphoria

a peace of mind

or simply, self-destruction?

numb the world / pretend everything is okay / something to hold onto / spinning until you’re off the rails

fading into nothing.

 

Though I suppose,

You can’t lose yourself if you’re already lost.

Whatever it takes

I just need to find myself,

even if it means going further into this labyrinth

and praying I come out alive.

Perhaps I should have stopped and turned around, but

perhaps this will take me where I need to be

i don’t know.

I just hope we find ourselves somewhere,

somehow

and all I can hope is at the end of it all,

I stumble outside the labyrinth

ready to live.

Actually, there’s a lot I want to say.

but nothing ever comes out because I’m somehow too numb and tired, and the feelings are all trapped in this caged chest, only ever seeping through the cracks at night, shape-shifting shadows in the form of sadness. the dementors continue to circle.

a soothing presence, a smothering presence-  be careful, the invisibility cloak protects you, but it can also choke you.

I play this game well. You learn to fool everyone, including yourself.

Ingredients: A touch of makeup, a brave smile, and an unassuming tinkling of laughter. Tell yourself ‘I will keep going, everything will be okay‘. Say it enough and you might almost believe the demons no longer exist.

expecto patronum.

“I am trying,

so very hard,

to be better and greater

than the things I battle with

inside me.

I do not know

what they are

or why they are even there,

I only know,

I am trying.

I am doing my best.”

~Aishwarya Nair

“so when you’re restless, i will calm the ocean for you.

in your sorrow, i will dry your tears.

when you need me, i will be the love beside you.”

-poets of the fall, ‘temple of thought’

someday, perhaps.

flavors of life

I see good things I cannot grasp,

laughing with friends over a meal after school

a mug of rich, hot chocolate on a rainy day

sharing an ice-cream sundae on a date

cooking grandma’s special chicken curry

having a the best sandwiches after a long walk

enjoying a cookie and a coffee, just because

a blissful unawareness of numbers

I see nuggets of happiness

head tilted back and laughter erupting

little fingers grasping onto mum’s hand

sunshine beaming through the foliage

people talking and walking

and living

Flavors of life.

I see the sunlight as I stay in the shadows,

comfortable and alone.

I don’t know what it means to live in the sun

how to grasp the good things,

life, and happiness, and freedom.

it’s not just restricting calories

it’s restricting laughter and memories

and all the flavors of life.

Bitterness, sweetness,

a melting pot of spices

warm cinnamon coffee and good conversations

takeaway street food and walks around town

chocolate ice cream and a long cry

freshly brewed soup and a family reunion

leftover cheesy pizza and disney movie nights

when did we start counting numbers

and stop savoring flavors?

I don’t know how to eat

i don’t know how to live

things aren’t meant to be this way

“it’s just a little sad to look back on all my school days being alone, missing lunches or eating salads in toilets instead of being normal with friends”

I look back on primary school days, hiding out in the library during lunch because it was easier to be alone than live on the outskirts. It was easier than feeling the pain of trying to fit in, easier than the pain of never being good enough. I wanted to not need anyone or anything. I don’t know if not-eating was a part of it, or simply a side effect, but not-eating felt good and okay.

I look back on secondary school days, hiding in the toilet or an empty classroom during lunch because I’d lost all my friends after I became depressed. Those were perhaps the loneliest and most painful times of all. My closest groups of friends were no longer my friends and it was painful to pretend otherwise. It was easier to be alone, at least I was safe. I ate my measured salads or granola bars in the enclosed toilet or quiet classroom, my safe foods and safe places.

I’m in tertiary education now, and I watch myself slowly float away, trying to find a new safe place. Somewhere to be alone, again. I have friends, the loveliest classmates, people who really do care- and yet it’s easier to be alone than fake smiles and force laughter. It almost feels like home, sitting in a corner alone, with my lunch of measured veggies and a granola bar while everyone else heads off to get whatever they want, blissfully unaware of the freedom of being able to eat. At least I no longer feel the need to fit in, I suppose it is something that gets easier with age.

It no longer hurts. On the contrary, I now seek the solace of being alone. And yet, there is a sense of deep bitterness and melancholy, like a fog over these memories. The knowledge that somehow, things aren’t meant to be this way.

tumblr_oj44aiCeVQ1r6xg0co1_500

Why is it always easier to be alone? I am very much an introvert at heart and I love alone time but this isn’t introversion, this is isolation. This is the feeling of never fitting in, the feeling of being fundamentally different, the feeling that you are simply wired differently from everyone else. This is loneliness and inadequacy and pushing away everyone & everything you need because you’re too scared. This is depression and an eating disorder pulling you away from any form of human connection because it thrives in isolation and because you no longer have the energy to pretend. You are dead inside. You just want to be alone, to eat your veggies and granola bar. You just want to be alone, physically and emotionally. You are exhausted from the weight of life and it hangs over you like a fog. There is no energy left to pretend. This is needing a reassuring hug and an ‘are you okay’ more than anything, but not being able to open up, because you are a burden.

These days, it’s always easier being alone. Even with the caring, open-minded classmates who make school so much better. Even one-on-one time with my closest friends. Even with the people I feel most comfortable with, my sisters or grandparents. Nothing feels as right as being alone, isolated from the world. I am an introvert but this isn’t me. I love people, I like talking to people and helping people. Spending quality time with people I love means the world to me, it’s my first love language. But right now, all I can bear is faking a smile and a ‘I’m just tired‘.

It’s all turning into a giant pantomime.

Maybe this is a sign that I’m not as okay as I thought I was. I’m tired. At least I can be alone, weigh my veggies, eat my safe food, count my steps. At least I can be alone to write, and rest, and do whatever I want. I don’t need anyone. I am okay alone, I am safe. That’s what I wanted, right? To not need anyone, so everything would stop hurting. That was what I needed all my life, that was what I needed in primary school. But it just struck me- is that what I still need?

I don’t know. All I can hope is I don’t end up in university, looking back and realizing I’m in the exact same situation. I hope I find it in me to make a change, I don’t know how, but I hope I do.

the woodland carousel

I had a rough morning, but I found myself picking myself back up almost immediately. Instead of self-destruction, I found a semblance of positivity and a hint of kindness to myself. I’ve been validating my feelings more often, slowly. Things have been really really hard, but I haven’t spiraled out of control like I once would have. Maybe it’s the therapy that’s helping, maybe it’s the medication, or maybe it’s just my stupid optimism and insight. And anyone would tell me- that’s great, I’m happy for you.

But I’m not happy for me. Not at all. I’m absolutely terrified. 

I’m terrified of any positive change, as if one good thought would suddenly make my illnesses go away. I need my illnesses, and the mere threat of losing them is unbearable. I’m terrified of anything that isn’t self-destruction and hatred because that’s all I’ve ever known. My brain refuses to accept anything less than self-destruction. annihilation. So what happens when positive changes occur? What happens when the work I’ve been putting in at therapy starts to help, what happens when all my insight and understanding starts to play a part, what happens when I start to validate myself and my feelings? What happens when I start to see things in a different, more positive light? What happens when I make progress without even wanting to?

IMG_1635

I never made the decision to recover and I still don’t want to. And yet, my mental health is improving in small ways. And yet, I still put in effort in therapy, I still choose positivity, I still chose to find beauty in small things, I still choose to do the right thing, I still chose to keep going because it feels like that’s just who I am. I am on fire, but I am still burning like the stars. inextinguishable. I am still burning, still going.

Don’t tell me it’s a good thing. Don’t tell me I should be thankful for my insight into my illnesses or ability to identify disordered thoughts. Don’t tell me I’m lucky that I understand an eating disorder and I understand recovery. Don’t tell me I’m resilient. Not today. I don’t want to be strong, I want to be sick. 

I very, very much want to be sick. I’m scared of losing my illnesses and my identity. I’m scared of being ‘okay’, I’m scared of being ‘normal’- don’t even get me start on the idea of being ‘happy’. It’s all so foreign to me. I say I’m scared of change but the thing is I’m really just scared I don’t belong there, because I’ve built myself a castle out of sadness and self-destruction. I’m scared that the truth is, I don’t deserve anything good. I’m scared of not living. I don’t know how to be happy, I don’t know how to live in my skin. I don’t know how to want to, or how to allow myself to even start to want to.

I just need to be sick. Sick enough, for once. Sometimes I find myself so desperately wanting to just be sick. And I’m scared I’ll never get there, because I’m getting better. My therapist said we didn’t have to run out of the woods towards recovery, we just have to work on staying where we are, and not go deeper. I thought I was okay with that, but I’m not- I want to see how deep I can go. I want to see if I reach the edge of the forest or fall off the map. But I don’t think I can, I’m not sick enough to get there. Besides, to do that would be to throw away everything I’ve learnt about mental health and myself and recovery over the past few years. To do that would be to let everyone down, to let go of the last part of who I am and let the disorder take over completely. To do that would be to destroy everything good I’ve held on to. I don’t know if I want to.

IMG_1982

The rational voice,

the whisper of hope,

the constant drumming of self-destruction.

I can no longer tell if they’re keeping me afloat, or rendering me immobile. I want to get better, I want to get worse. I want to get worse so I can get better. I want to get somewhere instead of forever being stuck in here sick-but-not-sick-enough. I just want to be something, anything other than sad and lost and tired. These woods are an endless maze, and I’m going round and round in circles.

author’s note: just wanted to say that these pictures are mine, so please do not re-upload without credit! i took them while hiking in Australia and thought they were a good fit for this post 🙂