maybe

You see, the thing with ‘good’ days like these, is that just makes me feel so.. ‘inside’ myself. I’ve been feeling more dissociated and distant than usual, it takes me a lot of effort to ground myself and stay in the moment. Otherwise, most of the time it feels like I’m watching everything around me happen like a movie, an invisible fourth wall between me and the real world. I’ve always been like that, part of it is just.. me. I naturally withdraw, I live in my own head and I observe. But this doesn’t feel right, somehow, I don’t feel like myself. I’m neither here nor there, I don’t feel like anything or anyone at all. I ‘laughed’ so much today at yet if you listen closely, you’d have realized how forced and hollow it really is. I have somehow faded into a shell, unknowingly. A side effect of depression, or restriction, or both?

tumblr_o2u41wLZAx1rpoo8ro2_1280I hate how much effort it takes for me to simply participate in life. Actually, I don’t mind being here, alone. As horrible as this might sound- I like where I am right now, safe and curled up with the disorder, numb and away from the world. It’s just that, I’m so hyper-aware of the fact that these are all precious moments that I need to savor. Deep down somewhere, I know the real me- wherever she is, she would want to live. Not survive, no, she is built for more than just surviving and always has been. She would want to live and be alive, and feel.

She is built upon emotions and her heart will always be a floodgate. She would tell me to live and love and feel, fearlessly, because life is way too short to be wasted like this. I’ll only ever be 18 once, only ever be right here in this moment once, only ever feel all things I feel right now once. I’ll never have another moment of laughing and talking in the carpark with Ms O and my friends again, never have another chance to be with these very people at these exact moments. I spent far too long in the dark, consumed by single-minded pursuits and an almost blissful unawareness of anything but my disorder, and what I (it) wanted.

I know, as I do with the simple certainty of this beating heart, that I have fought like hell to get to where I am today.

I am proud of how far I’ve come from those dark places. I have continuously faltered and stumbled along the way, and yet here I am, still here and worlds apart from the girl I used to be. But maybe that’s not enough, because here I am, still here with the same self-hatred and beliefs that have plagued me all my life. The same thoughts, the same desires, the same pain that’s never left. It’s almost too easy to slip into the shell of who I used to be, this pain that has come to fit me like a second skin.

tumblr_o2u41wLZAx1rpoo8ro1_1280I look back onto happier days & moments of joy, I look back and hold on as tight as I can. The funny thing is, those times weren’t really the rose tinted bliss I remember it to be. I know I was still struggling, the pain and self-hatred and disordered thoughts were never far away. I guess I simply chose to filter out the good bits to hold on to- I don’t have much– I’ll take what I can get and keep those moments locked away forever, somewhere safe.

I look back and I miss it all so much, I miss living and I miss being myself. I miss the days in the sun, those split seconds of pure, elevated bliss, those times where I’ve looked into the endless sky, or the ocean, and truly felt free. I have spent far too long in the dark and most days, it still feels like that. I’ve fallen countless times, risen to experience momentary sunlight or simply keep my head above water, only to fall again, sometimes harder than before.

I look back at wonder where all that.. life, went. Maybe restricting food, is also restricting life, and numbing pain, is also numbing life.

And yet, I need to remember I am not who I used to be. I was telling some friends, that our disorders grow and mature and change along with us. I might still be struggling, but I have learned so much about myself and my disorder on the way here. It is no longer a simple-minded pursuit of a single goal, it is a coping skill, an anesthetic, a friend- it is a something I don’t know how to get rid of. Now I know, it is so many different things. Now I know, there is life outside waiting for me and I can choose it if I want to, someday. If I’m brave enough.

Maybe it’s not just choosing ‘recovery’ or ‘relapse’ that matters, because how do you draw the line anyway? Over the past 5 years I’ve struggled with good times and bad times- times where the disorder was quieter and times where it was unbearably loud, times where I could almost pretend it didn’t exist and times where it controlled my entire life. The disorder morphed and changed, as I did. I was never in real ‘recovery’ and never made the decision to, and yet, I grew and learned, regardless. My ‘relapses’ aren’t real relapses because I wasn’t in recovery, but they’re still relapses from the better periods in life. Ultimately, it’s the journey that matters, the small things we choose to do, the words we choose to speak to ourselves with. I am broken, but, maybe not inherently so- none of us are inherently broken, it was simply the world that smashed us into pieces. Who knows, maybe someday I won’t have to break myself to try to find myself anymore. Maybe I’ll find it in me to fight to live again. I’m in a deep deep hole right now that I can’t don’t want to get out of, but maybe it’s not the end- it never really is. No hole is too deep to evade the sun’s rays forever, right?

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.

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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.

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?

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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.

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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 🙂

Raindrops

It’s been a sad day.

Sadness isn’t always a raging hurricane.

Sometimes it just is.

Just here.

A gentle pitter-patter of raindrops.

It’s quiet presence,

slowly chipping away at the soul.

It’s been a sad day

but this too shall pass.

just be

I want to be okay with imperfection, I want to be okay with just being. I want to try everything, and be painfully bad at it and be okay with it. I want to make art and i want to write and i want to make pretty things but i don’t know how to, not without feeling awfully, painfully inadequate and imperfect. I’m not good at the things I want to be good at, and I probably will never be, not by my books.

Art is in my soul, I want to journal and write and paint and take pictures and scrapbook. I want to make things, try different forms of art because I really do love it all. I want to express myself, to make my own art, to enjoy it. I want to make art without hurting myself with the thoughts. But it hurts, it hurts that i have always been driven by pain and inadequacy. It hurts that my self-loathing took the things I loved and turned them into weapons of destruction. It hurts that my depression ripped me of everything. Back then, even if I felt inadequate, at least I still had those things. How do I make art when mental illness has left me as nothing but a shell? How do I make art when I think of nothing but how painfully lacking and untalented I am? 

I know who I want to be, I know what I love and I know who I am. The girl whom I want to be isn’t even anyone else, just the best version of myself- she is happy, and recovered, she is doing the things she loves, she is making art and writing and loving others the best she can, she is fighting for all the things she’s passionate about, she is learning and laughing and travelling, she is nourishing her body with wholesome food and planting her soul with spirituality and healing. She is flourishing and living, not surviving. And yet, the girl whom I want to be is so different from who I am- I don’t know if I can ever reconcile the two of them. 

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You see, I feel so much and I need so much, I desperately long to feel alive. I need to feel alive so badly it scares me- and yet I’m depressed, empty inside most of the time. It’s almost easier to grow comfortable with emptiness than to feel the pain of inadequacy. Everything that makes me feel alive scares me. Art scares me. Spirituality and yoga and peace scares me. Connecting with and opening up to people. Being happy scares the crap out of me. Living scares me. I have this picture of what recovery is supposed to be (perfect) and what my life is supposed to be (perfect) and I’m starting to think it will never be that way.

‘I’m starting to think, maybe life doesn’t work that way.

I’m not going to wake up one day and decide to recover and stop hating myself, and even if I do, my life won’t change the way I’ve always wanted it too. I want to be okay with trying, and taking small steps, I want to be okay with just being me. I want to be okay with being me as I am, to strive to grow and be the best I can be right now but not strive for perfection. But to be honest, I don’t know how to silence the voices, I don’t know how to not want perfection, I don’t know how to be okay with myself. I don’t know how to try to live or try to make art or try to be who I want to be. But I want to, maybe someday. Maybe for now, surviving is the best I can do and that will have to be okay.

rag-doll girl

I feel like a broken puppet, barely held together with a thread

and if i let the thorny voices get any closer

my head cloudier

the cheap stitches holding me together will break

i feel like i’m this close to falling apart, any wrong move will break me, so i have to stay in control i have to not feel. i’m so sad inside but i’m trying to keep myself together, trying to keep holding on to the threads when i just want to unravel them all and let this rag-doll girl fall apart.

i have to keep going, find ways to stitch myself up and bury the pain and feelings and sadness deep deep inside. control will be the key- if the numbers are in control and the food is in control and the scale is dropping, everything will be okay. i have to believe in that. not in therapists who try to help you recover or friends who look out for you or family you want to have a meal with. nothing matters as much as control. 

maybe a part of me wants to get better but every time i do, something inside screams i don’t deserve it. and i don’t. i’m not sick, i don’t have a disorder. it isn’t a problem- i’m the problem. i can’t trust anyone or anything anymore so let’s build these walls back up and make the fortress impenetrable before it’s too late.

Don’t leave me

It’s so silly, isn’t it, how someone can come to mean so much to you? Someone who was never even meant to be so important. How much will therapy really help, if it will end in destroying the only safe relationship and safe place you’ve ever known?

Sometimes things are better- I can almost do without therapy/my psychologist, sometimes life is okay on the outside. But most times, the mere thought of leaving tears me apart inside because I cannot imagine a life without this safe haven. Most times I just shake my head fervently as if maybe it wouldn’t happen if I don’t think about it.

And times like now? Times where she isn’t just a safe place or a trusted therapist but the only lighthouse in an endless storm, the tiny whisper of hope when everything is falling apart. Everything hits me so much more- the next patient she’s seeing after my appointment, the girl she’s weighing in the clinic, the friend who has the same psychologist, even the random girl on Instagram who mentions she’s in the same hospital for an eating disorder. My heart stops. Because the realization hits that she is just a doctor and she see so many patients and I’m just another one of them. My heart stops because she makes me feel safe and understood, like it’s possible to recover even though I’m so far gone- but she says the same things to everyone.

My friend, who also sees her, posted this on Instagram- ‘today my psychologist told me I deserve better than self-destruction‘. It felt like I got kicked in the gut. My psychologist told her that (well, technically we do have the same psychologist but you get me). I can picture the way she would say it, the way she leans forwards and sympathizes and is always so sincere. It felt like I got a kick in the gut, to realize that my psychologist cares about her other patients as much, or maybe even more than she cares about me.

Of course she cares about all her patients (she’s an amazing psychologist, all her patients love her. she’s also a senior psychologist and specializes in eating disorders) and of course it’s just a therapeutic relationship and of course therapy is going to have to end. But these are facts I don’t want to think about, facts I simply cannot face. And it’s silly because at the end of the day she is just a doctor. But right now she is also everything and she is also the one who has saved me in all my darkest times, she is the first one whom I’ve told many things I thought I would never be able to talk about, the only person other than my grandparents who I’ve ever truly felt 100% safe and secure with, the only person who has made me feel good enough and loved and genuinely understood. She has always been so important, but she has come to mean more and more to me over the past 4 years.

But what if I don’t matter to her? What if I’m just a hopeless case? She has so many patients, seen so many sick girls, what makes me different than any of them?

So these things happen, and my heart stops, and then the tornado hits me. You’re not good enough, you’re stupid for believing you were important enough and cared for. You’re not as sick as any of her other patients, she has probably had many patients with dangerously low weights and real disorders. She doesn’t even like you that much, you don’t matter, did you really think she could pull you out of this mess? Did you really think you deserve to try to recover just because of what she says? She doesn’t care about you, you’re not special- you’re nothing. 

The whirlwind of thoughts hit me and I want to collapse into myself, a ball of self-destruction and self-hatred. I’m selfish. I want her in my life as a therapist or friend or mentor (I look up to her so much as an aspiring psychologist) forever, I want her to care about me, I want to stay secure and feel safe. I want to matter. I’m selfish, and I’m scared. I’m scared because I continually trust her with everything and I continually let her inside despite knowing that it’s all just going to tear me apart even more when therapy ends.

I’m so scared because I’m so lost and alone and struggling with all of this and she’s the only one who makes me feel like I’m not alone (heck, she’s the only one who even knows, nobody else has the slightest clue about my ed), the only one who understands and validates and sees all this pain I go through, the only one who makes me feel safe, the only one I trust and the only one who gives me hope for recovery. It’s taken years to slowly break down my walls & defense mechanisms, it’s taken years of talking and crying to get to where we are now. It’s taken all the times I’ve turned to her for help when I’m at my very last rope, all the times I finally broke down and admitted how tired I was, all the times she’s been there at my hospital bed. I’ve opened up about everything in my past, about abuse, about my disorder. I’ve even started opening up about shame, about feeling not sick enough. I want to close up and rebuild walls but it’s gotten to a point where I can’t even try hiding things from her anymore.

I’m scared because those fleeting moments of ‘maybe I’m sick enough to recover‘ and ‘she actually cares about me and believes in me‘ and ‘maybe it’s possible to try to get better‘- those precious little rays of hope that therapy brings, what if they’re all just in my head? It’s hard enough to believe them in the first place, but how can I even consider believing them if they don’t really matter because she probably just says that to everyone?

I’m scared of losing her, and losing everything. I know it’s not going away anytime soon, but right now, I hate to admit it- I need her more than anything. I need her because if I don’t, I will float away with my disorder and sadness and never return. So right now, every other patient she sees is a painful reminder, every other patient is a threat. Is it twisted that I once wanted to be ‘sicker‘ so that she would care more about me? That I wanted to be the sickest and thinnest of all her patients? That I have goal weights for every therapy appointment, that there is no point going if I’m not getting worse? That I still think if I lose more weight she’ll be more worried (and I’ll get to see her more often) and force me to get better and I’ll finally be good enough to get help. That my criteria for recovery is hospitalization?

I just wish it wasn’t all such a mess, I don’t know how to deal with it all, I really don’t. 

Swim

The waves are crashing down, all over again

All around

Those flimsy fortresses gone

fortresses of lies and restriction

fortresses of emptiness and numbers

fortresses that were never strong

I was never really in control
Sometimes

It’s easier to let the waves take over

Easier to submerge myself headfirst

Drowning was not feeling

Drowning was instant relief

Numbness that comes from filling and emptying and filing and emptying

Numbness, too, can be a lie
After the numb, comes the storm

Worse than before
Fortresses or not,

It never really ceases

sadness never stops

Never good enough

Always too much

Not safe

Sometimes not anything at all
Numbness or not,

Pain is pain

It’s all just anaesthesia

For something I cannot heal

A hole inside too big

Pieces too broken to stitch together
I need a fortress- my fortress

It might be broken but it’s all I have

It’s all I want (need)

Build a stronger lighthouse

A bigger lifeboat

The waves are crashing down

But I’ll keep Swimming
No more jumping into the deep end

I have to swim

Before I sink

into an endless ocean of self-hatred

Gone forever

Growth

Today, I realized

I think I’ve come to a point in my life where I know myself well enough.

Where when I’m faced with a situation that would have once landed me in the hospital, now I can take a deep breath and say that I know I can survive.

Where I’ve been through enough in life, to know that ‘this too shall pass’, and nothing ever means the end of the world because we can always pick ourselves back up.

Where I’ve seen enough conflict and love and laughter and tears to know how to handle relationships. To know that all relationships take work, and effort, understanding, compromise, trust, and communication. Not just romantic relationships, but I mean friendship, kinship- everything.

Where I can understand, that life is what we make of it, but things never work as planned, and we all need to learn how to let go, to step back and simply appreciate and enjoy what we do have.

Where I know, that hurt is okay. It takes work and time and self-love to get through. That it may hurt for a long time but it’s not going to hurt forever.

Where I can step back and really look at myself, and I see a work in progress. Still broken, still hurting, but I’m still here. I still struggle with fear and loss and hatred, but I also have love and faith and hope somewhere in me.

Where I’ve learnt that love means different things to different people, but to me, it’s when someone’s happiness truly makes me happy too. Love is giving and listening and compromise, and love is faith and strength. When I’m at my lowest, love is what I think about, and what keeps us going. And maybe someday I can love myself too.

But what I’m saying is that, I’ve just come to this point in my life, and honestly I feel old. Because I don’t think most people learn or understand these things at 17.

Sometimes, I look at my parents and wonder what they’ve learnt. I wonder what happened to trust and listening and communication and compromise? I wonder what happened to being kind to everyone and seeing the world with an open mind? Because I don’t ever want my little girl to grow up with a fear that one day she’ll become like mommy. To grow up with a fear of marriage and relationships because ‘what’s the point, when all you do is fight?’.

Twinnie always says, maturity doesn’t come with age, it comes with experience. So despite all the impossibly hard things I’ve been through, I’m thankful to be where I am right now, and I know I’m only going to keep growing.

12 Jan 2016