In your hands, now

I just saw my therapist and it was.. pretty crap. I cried, a lot, I cried more than I’d cried in a really really long time. I was on the verge on tears the entire time, and we barely even talked about what happened. She did express how sorry she was for what happened and that the incident wasn’t my fault. She said her heart broke for me when she read the email, and she said that what makes her sad about all of this is that I’m just driven to destroy myself and I’m just going down a self destructive path. She talked about how I’m choosing to just self destruct, how I’m driven to stay in a state of shame and pain, how I choose to listen to my beliefs and that I don’t want to believe anything other than my awful self worth, that perhaps I just want to stay sick. I told her that I’d hoped it would help but she called me out and said that that unlike some people, I already know self destruction isn’t helping me- and she’s right. I know it’s not going to help but I choose to do it. I know it doesn’t help but a small part of me always wistfully hopes self destruction would help. I know it doesn’t help but I don’t see a way out sometimes, I told her how the beliefs are so strong I can’t do anything but self destruct. She asked me why I believe what I believe, why I hold onto the beliefs. I don’t know.

She talked about that a lot, she said that it wasn’t that I couldn’t do or believe anything else, but that I choose to continue to subscribe wholeheartedly to my belief system. That I’m driven to self destruct because I choose to hold onto the belief that I am unworthy and I deserve pain. It was hard to hear someone say that it’s a choice to continue holding onto my belief system. It was hard to hear her say that I’m the only one who can make the choices and decisions, that I have to do it myself. She said that it’s not easy, but in order to recover I have start to let go of my beliefs and let go of my value systems. ‘Even with an ED- if you continue to hold onto the value system of food & weight = worth, you will never get better. if you continue to believe that you deserve destruction, you’re going to end up destroyed.” She served it to me brutally honestly today, that based on where I am right now she doesn’t see me going far, she doesn’t see me moving overseas for Uni or becoming a doctor. I don’t either, honestly.

I told her if I go on like this I’m going to die, that I genuinely see myself dying. I cried. I told her how desperate I’ve been feeling, we both agreed that this is truly rock bottom and it’s hard to go any lower, really. I cried and told her how I don’t want to keep doing any this, I don’t want to keep self destructing but I don’t know how not to. I told her I need help but I don’t know how to rely on anyone. I don’t want to open up, I don’t want to rely on people- but I need support so badly. She talked about how ever since she’s known me, she realises I have this need to escape this feeling of ‘brokenness’ and everything I do is an attempt to ultimately get away from the pain. I told her how I have to pretend I’m okay because otherwise it’ll be too much and I won’t be okay. I said that I had to pretend to be okay in order to cope but she was once again honest and said that she doesn’t think it’s working and even while trying to escape and trying to pretend I’m okay, everything is falling apart. ‘I mean, you’ve been trying to be okay and pretending everything is fine in order to get by- and yet look at where we are right now. You just need to let yourself not be okay, you need to let yourself feel broken before you can start to feel less broken. You need to let yourself feel the pain instead of pretending the problems don’t exist, because this pain is very real. And instead of having to have this ‘image’, it’s okay to be broken and it’s okay to not know. Sometimes instead of always figuring out how we feel or what’s going on, we need to stop and ask ourselves why’.

The pain is going to be there no matter what and it’s not going to be easy. The awful feelings and brokenness and pain are going to stay- ‘you can’t take away what people have done to you, you can’t take away the bad things that have happened to you, and that’s going to hurt. but what are you going to continue to do about it?’. The beliefs are way, way too strong- I realised this, especially the beliefs surrounding myself and my compulsive need to take responsibility for others’ feelings. Also talking about relationships, I cried again, wracked with the fear that when I start reaching out more, everyone is going to abandon me. I cried and cried because I can’t stand being vulnerable and I’m terrified of people. But she talked about how I need to start opening up more and I need to sit with the uncomfortable feelings that are bound to come up. She also said this which I liked ‘you’ll just have to be like everyone else- truth is, we all get attached to people and we all get hurt, we all have the risk of getting abandoned and rejected and we all feel like we’re not good enough sometimes, that’s just how relationships are. And it’s up to you, if you ever want your close relationships to feel.. close, you need to let people in and start being honest.’ That did make a lot of sense.

What I took away from the session, as well as last week’s, was that I need to do it. I need to make that change, and like she said, not in any big or exceptional ways (I quote, ‘you’re not going to wake up and magically feel validated and worthy and better. it’s in the small steps’) but I need to take responsibility for my life and continuing to stay sick- it’s been 6 years of running away and self destruction now. That’s really, really hard, having to hear all this. I need to take responsibility for my behaviours and my choice to hold onto my beliefs when cognitively I know it’s not the only way. Hearing her say such things makes me feel like a disappointment, it makes me feel hopeless and exhausted and inadequate but I also know she’s also right, that nothing anyone can say or do will be enough. Nothing will be enough. I know she’s right, that I could be in therapy forever, I could be in and out of Hospitals forever, I could continue to take medication forever but none of it will change anything if I don’t. I’m so tired. I’m so worn and why do I feel so lost again?

I was hoping the self destruction on Monday would be a tipping point, a catalyst for change, but I was wrong. I’m just more tired and sad than ever. The ED is still there and still strong- I’ve been purging multiple times daily, skipping meals, having extreme all-or-nothing thoughts. My body image is awful and I constantly feel undeserving of food. I still want to die, more than ever. But I’m not going to die by suicide anytime soon- I told my therapist I want to finish school and I really do. She asked me what I wanted my life to be if I didn’t had to deal with all of this- I said I wish I could go to school, and enjoy it. I wish I could do the things I want to do, volunteer and make art and go out. I wish I could be less sad and tired all the time. I wish I didn’t have to carry what feels like the weight of the world all the time. I wish I could go out for dinner with my friends tomorrow. I wish I could just be normal and not so, so broken. I just don’t know what to do. Maybe she’s right and maybe it’s time to let go of my beliefs, to try to be self compassionate. Maybe I should try to get better even though I really don’t have any motivation to do so. I don’t want to get better, I have no reason to get better but maybe 6 years/a lifelong of suffering is enough reason, maybe that fact that these awful beliefs about myself stem from my environment & not truth, is enough reason. I can never answer why I hold onto these beliefs so steadfastly, why I so strongly believe that I am fundamentally wrong and undeserving. Maybe the fact that today, my therapist looked into my eyes and told me straight, that I was falling apart and that she doesn’t see me achieving my dreams of going to Uni or becoming a doctor (she believes I am capable and have a lot to offer, but that’s not going to matter if I’m destroying myself), the fact that I just sat there and cried even more than I did before my last suicide attempt. Maybe just the fact that I am tired and I know, deep down, whether or not I want to recover, I know I have to- that is enough. I will never feel deserving of this, will I? My past-self has given me permission to recover, over and over, and I still feel like I can’t. Maybe that’s okay because I know I can. I mean, my therapist said it- I can. It’s my choice now.

My god, I am in so much pain. ‘Just let the pain come, they said, you’ll be okay, they said’. This sucks. Not hurting myself, in itself, hurts. No more running, Ericia, no more running. Something needs to change whether you want it or not and if you’re not going to die, you need to change for the better.

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a sinking ship

as I stood tonight once again

hunched over, heaving

fingers jammed back into throat

pains in an aching chest

remnants of puke on cheeks/hands/everywhere

dripping nose, bloodshot eyes

 

i stood tonight staring down the toilet

the exact same spot I first did 6 years ago,

these once-painful motions now a seamless routine

learn to go about it simply, quietly, an everyday thing

in schools/homes/malls/train stations/planes/hotels/restaurants

in singapore/japan/australia/malaysia/hong kong/thailand

a necessary evil driven by raw self-loathing

an endless habit, cycle with no exit in sight

 

as i stood tonight once again,

wincing in the mental & physical pain of self-inflicted torture

torture that feels as familiar and necessary as brushing my teeth

except this time

the little thought crossed my mind

you should try to be more self-compassionate

for a moment,

i push the thought out, along with the rest of everything-i-shouldn’t-have-eaten

you know, it’s not even about food

it’s about numbing and about how much i hate myself

i’m not really in control, i don’t even know how to stop

i don’t know how to be self-compassionate

 

so i stood here tonight

the weight of this heart i’ve been throwing around,

refusing to hold

the weight of this heart crashing upon me

feeling heavier, and sadder

and just so weary,

of self-destruction that will never cease

of pain that can never be outrun

of this sinking ship i am no longer steering

i don’t know how, but something has to change

 

6 years of feeling more dead than alive

6 years of running, my time is running up

i feel myself dying and see myself dying 

weight of this heart too much to carry,

weight that was never mine to hold

the root of it all, poisonous core & painful memories

only exacerbated by purging/starving/hating/drinking/cutting/running

i need to be more compassionate with myself,

this suffering will never take away the pain

i know i need to try but i don’t know how,

self-compassion in the face of overwhelming self-hatred

i am so, so weary

something needs to change, or i will die from this

aboard a sinking ship

//

22nd April, 2.43am

i guess self-compassion is allowing myself to take a break, self-compassion is also acknowledging that things are hard right now and i don’t have to be ‘good at recovery’ or ‘doing recovery things’. self-compassion is allowing myself to take it slow but also pushing myself to do what is helpful for me. self-compassion is giving myself permission to practice self-compassion and permission to grow. self-compassion is acknowledging that i need to stop self-destruction, and acknowledging that it’s impossible right now but i can get there if i want to. most of all, self-compassion is acknowledging that i need help and support, it’s reaching out to my friends and talking things out with my parents, it’s listening to my therapists and doctors and putting my treatment in their hands like i did back in the ward because this is an illness i will never be able to fight alone. like my therapist said- for someone like me, it’s different because the eating disorder is not the main focus or root cause but a symptom of trauma and pain- it might be a symptom but like other EDs it is also an addiction and trying to fight it, is as difficult as anyone else battling addiction.

i feel like i talk about my therapist a lot all the time but therapy is honestly the only thing that is truly helpful and so crucial in my growth, and thinking about it now, i need to make the most of out therapy. i need to be as open and honest with her as i can and i need to try to put in my work. this was what she said last week that prompted this entire chain of thoughts on self-compassion: she was talking about the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is what we cannot control, the underlying negative feelings and thoughts and memories that are going to be there. Pain is what drives he need to self destruct, pain is what drives the suffering, and in my opinion pain is what what we’re trying to run away from. Pain is the shame and self hatred and the things we’ve come to believe about who we are. Neither pain nor suffering is our fault, but unlike pain, suffering is something we can control to an extent. Suffering is the self destruction we inflict upon ourselves every single day, suffering is the disordered behavior and the physical punishments and the way we speak to ourselves. And I feel like we pile layers of layers on suffering to try to cope with the pain, but no amount of suffering is enough and at this point we are so conditioned to suffer that it is a repetition compulsion. Like addicts who are driven not by the need for the substance, but driven by the fear of the withdrawals, the fear of the consequences of not getting the substance. suffering is what we do, and pain is what we feel. The pain sucks, and it’s going to be there no matter what- she said that recovery isn’t about making the pain go away, it’s letting the pain hurt us without having to suffer even more. It’s letting the pain hurt and being okay with it, and knowing how to deal with it. Pain passes, and pain can heal, but not if we’re burying it. Suffering however, is not necessary, and by continuing to suffer, the only one who loses out the most is ourselves. It is not our fault, both pain and suffering isn’t our fault, but she said that suffering & self-destruction is our responsibility and I couldn’t agree more. It’s our responsibility to choose to do what is right for us to help ourselves. I know of all people, that pain drives us to suffer and to destroy ourselves. And that’s not my fault, but putting myself through even more suffering again and again isn’t going to help, no amount of suffering will minimise how much the pain will hurt so why do we keep drowning ourselves in suffering anyway? We all need to start trying to speak to ourselves with a bit more self-compassion. Yelling at a child & outshining that’s already in pain isn’t going to help that child- so why do we do that to ourselves? She also reminded me of this: waiting to feel better, waiting to feel good enough and worthy enough before I try to be kinder to myself/make a change, is impossible. I‘ve always thought that I could get better only when I feel like I want to, only when I feel deserving enough and only when I give myself permission to recover- but it’s not going to happen. It’s like waiting for a flower to bloom before you water it, it’s like waiting for a flower to bloom while you keep trampling it every single day. It doesn’t work that way, we need to start watering the flower right now with compassion & responsibility, watering it when it’s the most broken, and continuing to water it no matter what. The ‘good enough’ ‘sick enough’ ‘deserving enough’ feelings aren’t going to come for a long time, and the pain underneath is going to be ugly and it’s going to be there. It’s okay. It’s not our fault but it’s our responsibility to do what’s best for us and take care of the wounded children that live inside of us.

along the lines of self-compassion, i suppose i should let go of my all-or-nothing expectations a little. i’ve been trying too hard to force myself to ‘get my shit together’, to be okay, to be unaffected by what happened on monday. i mean, i literally said this to myself ‘i’ve given you 6 days to mope and do nothing. now you need to get organized, be productive, get your shit together, and be emotionally okay by Monday (it’s saturday night), the start of a new week can be perfect and everything will be okay from then onward‘. we noted in therapy that i do this all the time, try to move on from everything without ever processing it or acknowledging it or validating my feelings. everyone has been telling me to take it slowly all week but all i ever wanted was to pretend it never happened and snap right back into place of how things are ‘meant to be’ so i tell everyone and myself that i am fine and i need to solider on because i have school and a life. but now i realise the self-compassionate thing to do would be to allow myself to take it slowly and allow my to not!! be!! okay!! and yeah, sure, i can definitely push myself to try to do more self care things and try to get back on track with my usual routines but i don’t have to be a perfectionist about it. this.. this is a good thing.

i’m so tired and sad all the time. i wish i had people to talk to sometimes.. i mean, i do have friends that i trust and can talk to (ok actually just eunice and cal and maranda.. and clim too?) but i feel like i’m bothering people all the time. i just don’t want to drag them down or ruin things with my stupid negativity. it actually terrifies me how i’m looking forward to meeting the lady at AWARE next tuesday and being able to have that support. i’m so independent and i never ever need help/support- but this time, i find myself desperately needing support and that scares the crap out of me. i just.. i feel so sad and overwhelmed. the memories, the depression, the ED, the flashbacks… everything. i am so tired. okay, i do need to stop purging though, that is something i know for sure and something i’m going to have to try to do. no more purging.

‘You just have to do it’

My therapist reminded me again today, that negative thoughts are just thoughts. That thoughts have no power if we don’t give it power. That it’s okay to acknowledge the negative thoughts, to see them as a passing visitor, or the classic therapy ‘floating clouds’, and I don’t have to listen to them, or even engage in them or fight them. Sometimes it’s the most helpful to just acknowledge it and let it be, that I don’t have to fight it or accept it or ruminate on it- it’s just a thought.

She mentioned how I can be perfectionistic even when it comes to recovery, how I’m naturally very emotionally intense & introspective which can lead me to go down the rabbit hole of negative thoughts when I try too hard to fight them and focus too much on them. As usual, she’s probably right, I just haven’t noticed it yet I think. I told her I have tried to allow the feelings/thoughts to exist and just let them be, but that’s so so hard. I just.. I don’t know. I’ll try, I suppose. She’s right in that sometimes when you focus too much on the thoughts, it’s not just exhausting but it can make things worse. She’s also right that I’m so perfectionistic that I almost expect to be feeling better and ‘coping perfectly’ and fighting the thoughts all the time and not engaging in disordered behaviours in recovery, but the truth isn’t that way. And she reminded me again that I’ve been sick for so long, it’s going to be hard for things to change just like that, that I’m not really going to feel better in recovery and it’s not going to get easier anytime soon. That the negative thoughts and feelings are still going to come, and sometimes the best we can do is identify them, and sometimes we just have to try our best to do what helps us.

I’m starting to learn that, I think. I’m trying to remind myself (again) that it is not black and white, that it’s not recovery vs relapse, that trying is enough. It really doesn’t feel like it’s enough at all. I’ve been struggling so much with the concept of recovery. I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job, I want it and yet I’m not really trying hard enough, I’m still holding onto ED behaviours and that glorified goal weight & sense of control. I talked to Eunice on the phone earlier and told her how I recognise that something has to change, that I know I just have to do it. But for the life of me, I cannot let go and I really don’t know what to do. I can’t rely on emotions, because I know I might not ‘feel’ like I want to recover for a long time.. but I think I have to do what is right. It’s just so, so hard, I don’t even know how to explain just how hard this is. The same part of my brain continues to think that ‘oh I’ll just get to this weight and then recover’ but we really know that’s not going to happen. I don’t know how to allow myself to eat more, I don’t know how to not-restrict or how to eat more without purging, in some ways the ED is just that bad because it’s unrelenting. But I do know that I want to get better, I know that waiting for a ‘goal weight’ is pointless, I know I just need to do it now and I know that I’m so used to living like this but this isn’t really living– I hope that’s enough motivation for me to do it.

It’s been 6 years and I feel like I’ve never been able to give myself ‘permission’ to recover. I feel like I’ve been trapped in this for too long and I don’t even want to leave this cage. I don’t know what to do. Most of the time, I want to just die and not-exist. I suppose it’s okay to feel lost and tired and it’s okay to not want recovery. Like my therapist said, feelings & beliefs aren’t going to change without a lot of work and time. But I feel like I need to try, I know need to try to do what is right for me. I need to allow myself to want recovery and allow myself to get better, I need to remember recovery is not perfect. Trying is enough.

Here are my recovery goals for the next 2 weeks:

– Being mindful of negative or B/W thoughts and not engaging in them or listening to them. Remember thoughts are just thoughts.

– Not giving into all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to food or recovery, remember it’s all a process

-try to have more regular meals and snacks, eating more in general and to stay purge free (I want to try to eat maintenance levels and not-purge on holiday in HK, and see how not weighing myself goes)-Challenge myself ED wise when I can and celebrate small recovery wins, and not be too hard on myself for slipping up if I do- Try to practice mindfulness and DBT skills, and be present. Try my best to do what’s right for me, and don’t give up on recovery. Small steps.

Yoga class & Creating a life you want

I went for a yoga stretch class today and despite going into it with so much anxiety, it was a really good & relaxing class and I did enjoy it like I knew I would. I was so anxious because in the past few months, the ED has been very adamant on just doing cardio to burn calories (I haven’t been to yoga at all this year 😔) and I was planning on doing the treadmill as usual today. But I knew I wanted to do it so I tried to practice self-compassion like my therapist has been asking me to do and like I talked about yesterday, I tried to act in line with what I feel is right- and it felt right for me to go for stretching yoga despite the ED not wanting it. Ironically, perhaps it was a sign for me, but the instructor today was absolutely lovely and she focused so much on finding peace within yourself and she started off the class telling us to keep in mind the yoga practice of non-violence and being kind to your body. We did meditation to start the class and I was honestly so anxious and I felt so antsy, I just wanted to be outside on the treadmill torturing myself and feeling the pounding of my heart & aching feet. But we did the meditation and I tried to challenge myself to practice mindfulness and enjoy the class. During the meditation, I tried the therapy technique of identifying & visualising my emotions, and feeling it in my body- and I pictured my anxiety as a red blob, and I realised I was feeling anxiety, a bit of sadness and self-hatred. And then I tried to breathe and let go of the emotion- it didn’t work, so I tried to breathe again and let the emotions be present and sit there with me. I almost pictured the leaving the little red and blue blobs on the side of the yoga mat, letting them exist but not take ‘center stage’. I think my therapist would be really proud of me for trying, this was the first time I managed to actively try it. I started to relax and be more mindful throughout the class and I enjoyed the stretches despite feeling so uncomfortable ‘sitting’ with my body and feeling my body.

There was something the instructor said that I really liked- ‘You can only stretch if you give yourself space’, and she was talking about physical space/stretches, but it reminded me of recovery and growth too. She talked about taking time to notice your body, spirit & mind, and also turning your attention towards your heartbeat and life-force during meditation (I liked that). throughout the class she talked about doing the stretches with self-love and love for your body, and being gentle with your body while stretching and pushing yourself. To push yourself and to try harder every time we reach out to stretch again, but to know our limits and not let our ego get in the way. All very good analogies for recovery, I think.

I realised I was so uncomfortable with being present with my body and mind? And perhaps I’ve been disconnecting even more than I thought I was. I stopped going for yoga since last year, but in the beginning of the year I still went for kickboxing classes, it was only after my admission that I completely switched to pure treadmill/bicycle cardio. I think because it was easier, in the sense that I could push my body mindlessly while distracting myself with music or using my phone? Forget about yoga, I haven’t even been able to do kickboxing or other exercises (the ED used to be okay with them because they burn more calories than yoga) that requires me to even focus on my body because at some point it just started feeling so uncomfortable. At the same time it was also an ED thing, and it was much easier to just fixate on the numbers and self-punishment.

But yeah, it was a challenge, and it was uncomfortable forcing myself to be physically present & aware. Just like how it’s always uncomfortable to go to therapy or even talk about myself/feelings with my friends because that means I have to be more aware of my feelings and stay in tune with them. I know in daily lives, people aren’t usually very mindful anyway, but I don’t know what’s normal and what’s my depersonalisation/derealisation? I’ve been dissociating more since my admission and even when it’s not a bad dissociation, I disconnect most of the time. I remember how bad it was 2 weeks ago, when I was so disconnected that the world around me didn’t even feel real at all and it felt like a dream or hallucination. I think it’s gotten better since I started trying to practice DBT everyday though. But I digress. Another thing I did realise during yoga today, and something I didn’t want to admit to myself, was that I really love yoga. I do, it’s always been a very ‘me’ thing and I know I (me, not the illness) enjoy it a lot- the mindfulness and meditation, the stretching and strength and balance required for yoga poses, plus it’s a lot of fun. And in the past, it’s always been something that I wanted to do in recovery, regular yoga practice and getting better at it. When I pictured recovery and I pictured a life where I get to do yoga and enjoy it- I couldn’t do it while I was in relapse because doing yoga meant being kind to myself and I just couldn’t. Today I realised that it’s still true, yoga is something that I want to do as part of a healthy life, but I didn’t want to admit it to myself because the prospect of doing something I enjoy for myself and for my body scares me? The thought of being kind to my body, of having to be aware of my body, of being strong, scares me.

Ever since I’ve started recovery this time, real recovery- deep down, there is this part of me that so badly wants recovery and life. There is that part of me wants to be the kind of person does yoga and stretching, the kind of person who can accept her physical home- her body- and build her body to be strong instead of small. To be healthy and balanced, to be able to enjoy nourishing foods for both the body and mind, instead of the ‘vegan organic clean-eating, kale and açai bowls’ kind of healthy. To be mentally heathy, to practice self care and mindfulness, to be able to chase my passions and study and travel and create the life I’ve always pictured. And I suppress that part of me a lot, it’s hard to admit that it’s there, because most of me is usually so consumed with self hatred and sadness and hopelessness. It’s hard to even visualise anything but my illness, I don’t know anything outside of this pain & war upon my own skin. I don’t know how to allow myself to want something so foreign, to want something that I feel so undeserving of. Because even right now with all the tiny recovery steps I’m taking, my head constantly fills up with guilt and ‘you’re not good enough’ and ‘you don’t deserve to help yourself ’ and ‘you don’t need food/people’ and ‘you can’t eat that’ and ‘you don’t deserve recovery’. What do you do when you’ve believed with every fiber of your being, for years and years, that you are bad and awful and undeserving of space and life and food and anything good? When you’ve believed that you’re not good enough and not deserving for all your life?

You try. You keep trying I guess. Maybe someday I’ll be able to say it out loud and admit that deep down I want recovery. But right now, it feels too shameful to want recovery and want something good for myself. Right now, recovery feels too scary and dangerous and distant. I might be taking baby steps but I’m still very much in the safety of my disordered cage, and I desperately don’t want to leave. I’m still obsessing over weight and calories and weighing myself daily and restricting. I know this isn’t the right thing to do, I know I have to change my ED behaviours in recovery, I know this isn’t sustainable or part of the life I want to create- but I don’t know how to stop, not until someone intervenes on the outside. I’m terrified of normalcy and health and not having my ED. But I told this to my sister and my Friend and now I need to remind myself- ‘let your choices be guided by your hopes, and not your fears’. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to be afraid but I cannot be held back by fear forever. I need to remind myself that bravery isn’t fearlessness, but doing what you fear that most- and I know I am the kind of person who is be brave. I am a gryffindor after all. But small steps are good, bravery isn’t always a roar. It’s tiny steps now and bigger steps later and eventually it will add up. And like my therapist said, it’s not always about ‘letting go’ of the feelings and illnesses and even the ED- it’s about not letting those negative things take center stage and stop you from living the life you want. It’s a journey, Ericia. Don’t give up.

Practicing DBT skills?- mindfulness & all or nothing thinking

1. I grabbed a night snack from the kitchen, cereal to munch on- there is the potential that this can turn into a binge, even though I don’t intend for it to be. Having the cereal unmeasured/unportioned feels unsafe and so it can feel like a binge or lead to one.

2. I caught my brain going into all-or-nothing mode as I was walking up: ‘Oh since today was filled with unknown calories, it’s already ruined and out of control‘. I notice that I wanted to just let go and swing to the other extreme just because today wasn’t perfect in my ED’s point of view and my thoughts were black-and-white.

3. I realise that there is faulty thinking. What can I do about it? (Mental note, bring it up in therapy) I feel very very uncomfortable with imperfection and uncomfortable with not being extreme as a way to punish myself for being imperfect. But I should probably try to remind myself that it’s not black and white, it’s not recovery vs relapse or starve vs binge. Things are just the way they are and I have to try to sit with that. I am in recovery and I want to recover, but the ED thoughts are still very strong and I do give in to them. That’s okay. I feel guilty for not having a ‘perfect restriction day’ in the eyes of my ED but actually, I know having a small snack is not the end of the world, and I don’t have to binge. That’s okay.

4. Am I hungry? Physically, my hunger is around 4/10 and mentally my hunger is around 5/10. I‘ll just snack a little. I’ll watch a video and try to enjoy the cereal mindfully and stop when I’m full/satisfied.

5. I’m feeling uncomfortable not having any solid rules, I’m feeling uncomfortable not having that perfectionist black and white foundation. I feel like I need to know, am I in relapse or recovery? Because that shapes the expectations I place on myself. I feel uncomfortable with saying ‘it is what it is, I am trying my best and I am coping in a way I can and taking it slowly’. I’m struggling because without rules, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about food and I have no criteria by which to judge myself.

6. It is not all or nothing, Ericia. You don’t have to binge just because you had unknown cals. You don’t have to binge or purge or take lax or punish yourself for eating, even though you feel guilty and awful. You’re not a failure at recovery just because you purged or because you lied to your team today. It’s okay. Eating does not make you a bad, awful person. Not eating doesn’t make you a bad, awful person (or a better person, for that matter). Food is never black and white and if you want to work towards your goal of regulating your meals and stopping purging, this would be a good first step. Because as long as you stay in that perfectionistic mindset, as long as you’re so hard on yourself, you’ll be swinging from one extreme to the other. It’s not all or nothing. Today being a bad day (and it’s not like today was a ‘bad’ day, it was just.. a day where I didn’t perfectly satisfy the ED) isn’t the end of the world, there is still tomorrow. And tomorrow does not have to be perfect. You don’t have to compensate tomorrow. Just try your best. It’s okay that you’re still engaging in ED behaviours/thoughts and you can’t be in ‘perfect recovery’, that doesn’t mean you should just give up on recovery altogether. But you are still in recovery and it’s a process and doing this right now, and thinking about it and changing thoughts, is part of the process.

7. Okay I need to stop this and distract myself now because the more I think about this, the more guilty and awful I feel and the more the thoughts are creeping in ‘you’re disgusting and fat, you’re just a failure anyway, why don’t you just binge purge, or starve yourself over the weekend, you aren’t even really in recovery, you don’t deserve to get better, you need to have rules to follow, you don’t deserve food, you’re incapable of recovery anyway’. I feel stupid and worthless and unsafe I can’t fight back, I’ll just let the thoughts pass. Sigh, I feel like crap.

8. Trying is enough. It’s going to be okay. It’s a process and nothing has to be perfect. It’s fine. I’m feeling so so much anxiety and discomfort and self hatred. Okay. Breathe. Trying is enough. Trying is enough. Small steps is enough. Doing well according to my ED is not a good thing. Doing badly according to my ED is not an awful thing. Doing well in recovery is okay. Doing badly in recovery is okay. Trying is enough. I am in recovery. I want to recover and I feel guilty for wanting that and I feel undeserving but that’s okay. It’s okay. Breathe.

9. Okay, I just ate. I feel guilty and bad and awful. I feel like purging. A part of me was still tempted to say ‘well screw it’ and just binge and purge, or even just purge what I ate. But I’m not going to. I don’t have to binge or purge now that I’ve ‘broken my ED rule’ and now that I’m ‘imperfect’. I don’t have to eat everything in the kitchen just because ‘I ruined it’ (I didn’t ruin the everything just because I ate what feels like too much cereal). I don’t have to finish the cereal because I can always eat more. I don’t have to starve tomorrow either. A thought that popped up was ‘you’ll never be allowed cereal again’ but that shouldn’t be the case either. I don’t have to eat everything that’s unsafe now because I’m not going to be allowed to eat it otherwise. I don’t have to eat everything or purge to get rid of the guilt. ‘All or nothing’ is a false sense of control. It’s not black and white. Food is not bad. It’s fine.

Update: So I ended up purging, but not because I fell into that ‘back and white thinking’ but because I was feeling bloated and feeling bloated makes me feel awful and guilty and it’s one of the hardest physical sensations to bear. But no, I didn’t end up eating more because ‘oh I’m going to purge anyway’ or ‘oh i ruined it anyway’, which deserves credit. And I think going through the process of being mindful of my thoughts deserves credit as well, though I could have done better. See, even now my brain wants to jump into that ‘you’re not good enough at recovery, even after trying to use the DBT skill, you ended up purging, you’re a failure so just don’t bother’. I think being aware of the thought process was helpful, and reminding myself over and over that ‘food is not bad’ and ‘it doesn’t have to be all or nothing’ was helpful. I think what I didn’t do, was being mindful while eating. It was really hard, and I really don’t know how to be mindful while eating or listen to my body’s cues etc. I don’t know when to stop, I only stopped eating because my brain was like ‘okay that’s enough you need to stop and control yourself’ which I’m aware is disordered. But yeah, it’s always been either ‘controlled or uncontrolled’ (aka strict calorie counting and portion control or eat everything and die). So trying to be mindful and stay in a middle ground now feels awfully foreign..? I don’t think I’m at a place where I can eat intuitively yet. But I guess it was good that I tried? And it was good that I tried to not beat myself up over eating and it was good that I tried to be mindful of the thoughts? And I also did some reading on DBT skills/dealing with black and white thinking, and used some tips or reminders that were online, and I read some helpful articles. I think reading recovery material really helps me right now, because I can’t do it on my own. I’ve been really enjoying this website in particular:

https://www.thereallife-rd.com/category/eating-disorder/

I read this too: https://www.skylandtrail.org/About/Blog/ctl/ArticleView/mid/567/articleId/5658/Using-DBT-to-Confront-Black-and-White-Thinking

I still feel so guilty for all of this. I feel guilty for trying in recovery because I don’t feel deserving. But it’s okay. Like we mentioned in therapy, cognitive distancing- I notice that I feel guilty and undeserving of getting better. It’s not necessarily right or wrong, true or false, it’s just a thought and feeling that is present.

You are not who you once were

I know your heart’s beating out your chest again,

bone-china skeleton threatening to crack

tired lungs struggling to expand as they should.

I know you might always feel so

small

and scared

alone in the endless labyrinth of life

ghosts of your past waiting around every corner.

I know rain clouds gather beneath those heavy eyelids,

thunderstorms brew within the quintessence of the soul,

old wounds torn apart by saltwater, never really healing.

It know how much it all hurts

But darling,

remember you are not who you once were

you were thrown into the deep end,

and found a way to gasp for air.

disintegrated in the heat of the flames,

pulled yourself together

and walked through the fire

warrior in your very own might,

warrior in every right.

you have survived

over and over and over again.

claws for hands that will always hold onto the edge,

stubborn fragments of light that the darkest night cannot dissipate,

spirit & bravery etched into the heart of your being.

So every time the same saltwater storms threaten to pull you under,

remember

you are a patchwork quilt of brash emotions and endless empathy

ray of sunshine that’s found it’s way to illuminate the prison walls

you are growing your own garden with seeds of compassion

born with the gift of unconditional love,

reborn through the ashes of the the flames.

it’s okay that you feel

sad and unloved,

same nightmares return to haunt your dreams

it’s okay that sometimes you can’t see the light,

and it’s okay to be terrified.

just remember,

you have walked through the storms

with an endless reservoir of courage

crystallising an understanding of the human condition

beauty through the cracks of brokenness and vulnerability.

you are not alone anymore,

and being scared simply means you get to do something really brave,

so don’t stay within the walls of the cages you were put into.

you are not who you once were,

be brave.

//

writing this at 5am in the hospital bed, waking up to tears and fears threatening to resurface as another flashback looms in the distance and bad memories leave an earthquake or a sour taste in my mouth and quiet pain in me. I am tired, I am always tired, I have been sad and scared and alone and tired all my life. catalog of painful moments that bleed into days and years. little girl abandoned and left behind and unloved and unworthy of anything at all. find solace from the relentless aching and backlog of years of unresolved pain.

how can there be so much shame in who you innately are and what you innately need? who drove this little girl to self destruction and taught her to hate herself? who taught her to deprive herself of food and nourishment and love, who taught her to shrink herself and starve her feelings?

I am trying so hard to keep going. So as I write this at 5am in the hospital bed, I remind myself I am not the same girl who was scared of her Mother at 5, or the girl who was terrified of her Father at 9, or the girl who was made fun of at 10, or the girl who wanted to kill herself at 11 because they wouldn’t stop screaming, or the girl who was left to hide alone in the toilet at 13, or the girl who tried to kill herself at 14 and 15, or even the girl who was adamant against recovery at 17.

I am not the same girl huddled up alone terrified of her parents, or the same girl carrying the weight of everything alone, or the same girl struggling to find a place in this world, or the same girl who tried to tear herself apart and was driven to sadness and self destruction for all these years.

The same pain and fears and thoughts threaten to drown me and take me back. But I am not who I once was. If we can survive pain, surely we can survive growth? If we can live with an unbearable self hatred for all those years, surely we can learn to love ourselves? If we can turn into warriors, surely we can find a way out of this?

-For little Ericia, and little Eunice

rebuild

The irony of your safe haven

is found in the walls that keep away the very people and things you need

towers that shut the pain out while it festers into poison within

iron bars that numb the feelings away, it’s intensity burning you into disintegration when it resurfaces

Each brick sealed in concrete

safe haven turned into prison,

and prison turned into home.

You make do,

build a home with all that you have

walls to keep the pain away

anything for an escape

And now they say,

Restricting food is restricting life

Numbing pain is numbing joy

Somehow the war outside has turned into a war within

doors sealed shut as they try to break in,

clouds of whispering voices that blur your vision and mar your judgements,

each window slams right before you reach out

you’re exhausted but running is all you know, so you keep running

you can no longer stop, the wheel out of your control

prison bars presenting an illusion of safety and comfort, a facade of truths

The outside world is not safe, my dear, but neither is your safe haven.

//

Try as they might, they can never break these four walls, so please stop trying to tear me down. The key will always remain within, patiently waiting for the clock to strike. The time will be right, so let me let you in. Let me open this door and let me stay here for a while. Let me be.

Perhaps this is the pain of tearing apart everything you’ve ever known, the pain of being in the rubble of your destruction. I’ve told people- sometimes you need to break. Sometimes you need to let everything fall apart so you can rebuild. Sometimes you need to give up everything that’s kept you safe because it hurts you. Because walls build upon towers of false truths and false security and imposed aloneness. Numbers and weights and bodies and loneliness is easier than pain and feelings. Self-destruction so all the other pain hurts less. What are we running from? Perhaps we all have to face these demons at some point. Let them tear you apart. Let it hurt. Let the walls stay down and put your trust into the hands of those who care. Let it hurt. Comb through the rubble, walk through it one step at a time. Retreat into prison because it still feels like home. That’s okay. Stay for a bit. It’s been home for years, it’s a safe haven, a place away from the fears- honour that. Stay for a bit, but not for long. The irony of your safe haven is how it’s turned on you, keeping away everything that saves you and leaving self-destruction and brand new monsters. The war is inside now. It’s going to hurt. Let it hurt.

I’ve cried though the night but the sun is rising and I see the orange and purple skies outside the bars of these windows. Maybe we can rebuild.

Wandering in the Dark

It’s Friday, my 5th day in the hospital, and it simultaneously feels like both forever ago and just yesterday. Time has a funny way of working when you’re in the hospital, everything melds into each other and the days seem to pass in a flash. The pain changes everything. I haven’t been writing because my words have been choppy and incoherent, much like the way my mind has been. All that is visible is pain and numbness, and everything’s been such a blur, memories clouded by the foggy mist of sadness.

There are times where I write more coherently, recounting what has happened, and times where all I can do is say the same thing over and over, mentally going back into the emotional child-state. The brain has a funny way of protecting itself, dissociating one half from the other. Ever since the dam broke on Monday, I’ve been going in and out of that child state. Every time I’m vulnerable, physically tired or emotional, I slowly slip right back into it. Otherwise, everything is normal- everything is repressed and I am in control and feelings are blocked out in the back of my mind. I oscillate between the two states and I’m slowly getting used to it, though it still scares me how different I am in those states and how that is out of my control. I speak differently, write differently, think differently, act differently in both states. It seems like my ‘normal self’ has lost all ability to cope with emotions or vulnerability or needs, so my inner child takes over whenever that happens. Honestly, it’s confusing because my rational mind is totally okay and yet my child/emotional mind is in so much confusion and pain. It seems like it’s impossible for me to reconcile those parts of me because emotional suppression is so deeply ingrained, as well as acting as a self-defence measure, so my brain has to resort to turning me into a different person just so I can express my needs. I don’t quite know how to cope.

I can try to write but nothing beautiful is coming out. No nice words or eloquent poems- just exhaustion and pain. There are only so many words in the dictionary that can tell you about pain and none of them seem to ever describe and fully encompass how much this truly hurts. How much everything hurts. How it’s so difficult to have had to deal with these memories and flashbacks, to have had to deal with eating and not eating and my brain wanting to kill itself, to have had to deal with self-destruction and a vicious self-hatred, to have had to deal with pain and shame and inadequacy and fear. To deal with not just all the bad memories and icky feelings of the past, but the current state of mind where my brain operates on self-loathing and destruction and a constant ‘not sick enough’ and ‘not deserving’ and ‘you should die’ and how it shuts itself down, and deal with the struggle of having to try to eat and try to live and maybe recover and talking about things and just.. trying. It is all so much. And I know nobody who is ever in a psychiatric ward will ever have it easy, any mental illness is hell- but I genuinely feel like I have so much more on my plate than the girl next to me in bed 4 who’s dealing with depression and trauma or the girl opposite me in bed 3 who’s dealing with anorexia or the girl in bed 1 who’s dealing with bulimia. Having to deal with all of this at once, and having all of my issues so interconnected and dependent on one another makes it so difficult. And yet I don’t think I’m sick. If it’s anything I realised during this admission, it’s that I really, really don’t feel like I’m sick. So to claim that I’m having a hard time, it makes me feel like I’m overreacting. To ask to talk to the doctor makes me feel like I’m overreacting. To try to recover makes me feel like I’m overreacting. To need reassurance- that is the worst. But I do, I need constant reassurance and comfort. I need it so badly to survive this. Otherwise I have no reason to fight.

I am still exhausted. I look back at the past three weeks and all I see is pain. My social workers asked me if I still want to die. Yes, I still want to die. They asked again- if the painful memories didn’t exist, would you still want to die? And the answer is no. I told them, even if I had to continue dealing with my depression and ED, if the trauma symptoms never resurfaced, I would be okay. I would cope. I’ve been coping over the past 2.5 years and steadily getting better, very very very slowly. But I’ve been knocked over, and all my plans evaporated along with it. I no longer know what recovery from ED might look like, no longer want recovery, no longer try to do things like mindfulness and self-compassion. It’s hard, because the ED is so all-consuming in my everyday life but whenever I’m in the hospital or at a session, we never talk about it. I don’t know if it’s even an issue- it’s been so painful, the fact that nobody thinks I’m sick. The fact that everyone around me has been validating my worst fears, confirming with the voice inside that tells me I’m not sick. I believe that. Everyone thinks I’m not sick- my psychiatrists, my social workers, the nurses and patients in the ward, my friends and family. Even my psychologist who knows a lot about what I go through- she calls it ‘disordered eating’. I’m struggling because I am not sick but I will also never get better or feel better if I don’t deal with the ED since my entire life revolves around it. And yet, I’m not being helped. I just talked to the ward doctor about it after worrying the entire night and not wanting to open up. I finally decided to do it and then she said ‘well there are no plans to put you on protocol, let’s just take it one thing at a time. your blood test came back and everything is fine’. Perhaps I should just stop worrying about it, perhaps I’m really just not sick.

I still question why I am trying so hard to eat and get better when I don’t even want to. I suppose, because I know it’s the right thing to do? Because a part of me wants to get better? Also for the sake of Eunice and fighting together. But honestly, I don’t think I can do it without help. I don’t think I can not-restrict if I’m discharged. I don’t know what to do because I feel so uncertain, how do I fight for something I don’t even want, how do I fight for recovery from a problem that myself and everyone around me doesn’t believe exists? The thing is, I’ve been in many many states of partial recovery when it comes to ED in the past, this sort of ‘well I’m kinda trying but not really‘, especially post-discharge. I eat a few normal meals, try to celebrate ‘recovery wins’ but mentally everything is still awful and I don’t truly want to recover and I never work on it mentally or get help and I still think I’m fat so I go back to full blown restricting very quickly. I’ve cycled through that a few times and I don’t want that to happen this time. I either want to be working towards recovery or not at all. I’m sick of that halfway place. I think writing this, I realise I’ve been working towards recovery for a while now, with the exception of the past few weeks, I’ve been working towards recovery slowly. I remember, I once wrote that recovery and healing isn’t perfect, it’s a really really long journey and sometimes I stop but what matters is where I’m looking. Regardless of what I’m doing or thinking, if I’m still looking up, I’m still in the process of recovery.

I don’t know if I’m looking up right now though. I haven’t been seeing any light and I feel really lost. I feel really invalidated. I feel like I have too many problems to deal with and none at all, at the same time. But I do know, in my heart, certain things:

– There is a tiny tiny tiny part deep inside of me that will always want to get better from the ED, even if I don’t see it.

– I trust my friends, especially Eunice. I can trust her and that she wants the best for me.

– I need help. I will never be able to do this on own without support. I remember I wrote this once a few years ago “if I’m really sick, then I’m screwed because this ed voice in my head is relentless and will never allow me to be better” and it still rings very true. Right now, I can try to eat but once I get out of IP the ED will be back in full force and nobody is bothering.

– I don’t know how to, or even want to let go of the ED. I need it to cope and there are more pros than cons right now. So recovery will be really hard.

– I can’t be pushed to do things I don’t want to, I need to do things at my pace and I also need to build a solid foundation of emotional, cognitive and behavioural change. I need to change these core beliefs if I want to get better and I need to learn how to be kind with myself and I need to learn how to accept myself. I need to learn how to deal with emotions and how to express needs. I can’t just ‘try to get better for the sake of it’. I need to find it in me to make the change from the inside out.

– I need to start allowing myself to have needs, for God’s sake. (I feel undeserving) I need all the support from everyone around me and whenever I chose to do the whole ED-meal-plan-recovery thing, I need people to be firm (but not mean) and tell me that I need to eat. I need people to tell me that I need to eat and tell me to get help because my brain doesn’t let me do it otherwise. I need people to reassure me that I am sick, that I am not overreacting. I need people to reassure me that I am not undeserving of life and needs and emotions. I need people to accept my emotions as they are without trying to change them. I need people to acknowledge my struggles and acknowledge that I am fighting so so so hard, that I am struggling despite the ‘I’m okay’ front I constantly instinctively put up. I need reassurance that it’s okay to struggle and that no matter how much I mess up and struggle, I am not a disappointment. I need reassurance that I’m doing the right thing.

-I don’t know if this will be my last admission, or the admission that will make everything better. The trauma symptoms might have been the most pressing issue as of late, but the ED is the hardest to deal with or get rid of. And I’m starting to think it might take a long admission to work this out, or being monitored and put on ED treatment. I have a feeling things won’t be peachy when I discharge. But I also have a feeling that things are going to be okay in the end. working with Eunice on this together, this admission marks the start of our path to recovery, even if it’s going to be a long and bumpy one. And I know we can’t give up- and I know we are both warriors because we’ve survived so much. Surely we can survive recovery too.

then and now

This morning I was at the gym doing my usual Friday morning kickboxing/mixed martial arts class and several negative, self-hatred kinda thoughts ran through my head. But then I realised that those mean thoughts no longer pop up as often as they used to, and when they do, I can quickly identify them and I am able to be more objective about them. When things like ‘you’re not worthy’ pop up, I can counter it with something like ‘well, I believe everyone is equally worthy and so am I’. I realised that the disordered voice is a lot.. quieter. I guess that means somehow, the effort I’ve been making in therapy has really helped, and yet it really unsettled me. I feel like it is ‘too much progress, too fast’. For all of my life, the only constant has been this intense self-hatred that drives the core of my self-destruction and my life. It is one of the most painful things I have to deal with, but it is home, much like how depression and sadness is home, and the moment I realised that I no longer hate myself as fervently as I used to- I felt like I lost a huge part of myself. I don’t quite know how to be.

I was writing a letter to my future self last night and for the first time, I felt just the smallest glimmer of self-love. I said ‘I love you’ and I meant it, I really did. I reached deep inside and I saw the essence of myself beneath everything that I’ve been through, beneath everything that I struggle with and I knew I had to love. I know I have to love her.. me. Because nobody knows me better than I do, nobody understands me, nobody knows the extent of what I’ve been through- so who better than to love me, than me? I have been through so much, fought myself and loathed myself for almost all my life- how much war is enough? I look inside once again and I no longer see someone I despise. I just see a girl, who perhaps- just perhaps, deserves better. I finally get how important that relationship with yourself is- because you could be the most beloved person but if you don’t love yourself first, nothing matters. You are the only person that is going to be with you for the rest of your life. And I have to love who I am, who I really am and not who I want to be.

And that is a really, really big breakthrough. Self-love. Acceptance. Kindness. Things I have been working on.. but once again, it feels so horribly uncomfortable. It’s easier to say I love you to my future self, because I think deep deep down, I am slowly starting to accept and love who I am. Over the past year I have been working on accepting myself, accepting my sensitivity and my feelings, accepting my journey, and I think this progress is what I have to show for it. But loving myself right now? I don’t think I can do it, there seems to be this giant roadblock that stops me from loving myself. This morning, I fuelled the negative thoughts on purpose and stopped myself from automatically CBT-ing those thoughts, just because the I missed how the self-hatred drives my disorders, just because it felt better and more natural, because it is what makes me ‘sick’ and what makes me ‘different from everyone else’. I genuinely want to relapse, so badly, let the negativity take over and let go of everything I’ve learnt.

img_0850-2
I look back at a few years ago and regardless of eating behaviours, I was so much ‘sicker’ back then. I was consumed by self-hatred and disordered thoughts and the ‘negative voice’- I really really hated myself so much, every single day. For 3 years from 2014-2016 part of my ‘new year’s resolution’ was to continue distancing myself from everyone, to isolate myself emotionally in order to protect myself, to build up even more walls so that I can stop feeling so much and caring so much and being dependent on people. I was so resistant about talking about to anyone for years, not even my therapist- my disorder was my protection and it was my way of yelling ‘leave me alone’, it was my way of building the walls even higher and I believed it wasn’t a problem. I wrote that ‘the need to self-destruct is more pressing than the need to heal’. All of that is different now, I’ve made progress. I don’t hate myself so much that I feel the constant need for self-destruction, even if I’m restricting now my mindset is trying to come from a good place be kind to myself.  I’ve opened up completely to my therapist and we’ve been working on it in therapy, I’ve been pushing myself to open up in general, I even told a friend. I worked on accepting that feelings are not bad, that asking for support and reaching out is okay- and I am so much more comfortable with that.

The disordered voice was so loud and I believed that once I got to the ‘perfect weight’ everything would be okay, that the disorder would solve everything. I wrote that ‘maybe then, this constant pain will hurt less, the sharp voices will ease up and the unbearable self-hatred will become more bearable’. I was so wrong, it never truly gets easier. I was in so much pain, I see it in every word I write, I feel it. I was in so much pain, I wish I could go back and tell myself to just stop because this ED cycle never did anything but make me miserable in the years to come. And yet, a small part of me still holds onto that belief. I know it’s not true though. ‘this voice is relentless, unforgiving. it’s never even going to let me believe I’m sick at all, let also sick enough to recover’. That has changed too, not as much but it has changed slightly because I can now see it much more objectively even though I still feel the same way, still feel like I’m not sick. The disordered voice is less obnoxious though, and at least I can counter it now. In another post from the past I also mentioned how 90% of my identity is my illness and negative beliefs and it reminded me of a recent therapy session where she asked me how much of my identity was my illness and I answered 75-80%, which is still a lot but you know.. that number decreased over the years as I worked to build my identity around things that I loved. I never even noticed the change though.

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Back then, there were times where I wanted to recover but I hated myself more than I ever wanted to get better. I used to struggle with relapse and recovery a lot, I felt so trapped, so unable to get out of it, I wondered if it was possible to get better, wondered if I was even really sick. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to recover. But I truly believed that I could recover only when I was thin enough, when I was sick enough and good enough. When everyone knew, when I had to be forced into treatment, I just wanted someone to help me. And in so many ways, years later it is still exactly the same struggle, still the same fears holding me back from recovery. Maybe I really am going in circles? I do see a difference, in that I feel validated in therapy, that I feel hopeful that recovery is possible, that I am much more capable of working on recovery now than when I was younger, that I want it more because I got sick of how miserable I am. I am not good enough or thin enough and I am trying to accept that and let go of my perfectionist standards. That is something.

It is interesting, to see how much I have changed. I think I have, and that isn’t a bad thing. But I still don’t know how I could ever love myself in the present. I still don’t know how I can want to recover more than I need to be thin, or feel like I deserve it, or let myself make the change. It’s easier to stay where I am comfortable- I can hope is that the things I’ve learnt will take me forward. Maybe someday love and happiness won’t be so terrifying after all.