Recovery is not a war, it is Homecoming.

Recovery is about being. About softness. About allowing yourself and your body space to heal grow. It is finding compassion for the fractured parts you try to hide, compassion for the little girl inside. It is meeting fear and anxiety with kindness. It is meeting your inner critic with an innate sense of acceptance.

It is chrysalis- coming home to your true self.

Recovery is softening, it is feeling– sometimes falling. It is allowing yourself to feel unconditionally- letting pain, feelings, fear, uncertainty and anxiety exist and simply be, without resistance. You are not ‘too much’. It is bravery and fear at the same time, for true growth will only come from vulnerability. Trusting that you will cope with what comes your way, without the need for hardness or destruction. It is surrender- letting go of control, pain, expectations. It is trusting your innate intuition, trusting yourself and your feelings, trusting your body and the universe- trusting the process of growth and unfolding.

Trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be, your body will be where it is meant to be.

Recovery is the crack of light into the worn stone cage of your heart. It is the destruction of the walls you have built upon starvation and isolation. It is the undoing of years of wired self destruction. It is wearing down the hard edges of self protection and self denial. It is a new understanding of who you are and the acceptance of tides of change and imperfection. Acceptance of the dustiest corners of your soul, acceptance that you will always be a work in progress. It is being. Staying soft.

Recovery is not just about unrestricted food, but unconditional love and acceptance.

Recovery is healing the dissociation between your soul, your body and your feelings. It is allowing your true essence to fill the fissure of emptiness. It is letting go of numbers and allowing yourself to take up space, to allow your body to exist how it is meant to be. It is feeling the energy, love, compassion and pain that flows through every inch of your body and accepting it, letting it be. It is listening to the intuition of your body. It is allowing your body and soul healing, nourishment and pleasure without guilt. It is believing you deserve to exist. You have a fundamental place, a fundamental worth that will never change.

It is reclaiming the space and energy that is your birthright.

Recovery is painful. Pain is an inevitable part of healing. It is meant to be uncomfortable for it is vulnerability and fear. It is standing in the face of discomfort, of raging storms and forest fires in your mind. The disorder will be relentless. It is the destruction of years of wired neural systems, comfortable coping mechanisms. The healing process is not full of light, it is taking the leap and navigating a labyrinth. It is not without risk, but staying where is it comfortable is staying where light will never reach. It is the process of softening and trusting. It is allowing pain. It is being, despite it all. Letting it be.

Recovery is stopping, it is seeing, it is listening to your heart and knowing you are enough.

It is not a battle with yourself, not a war with your mind. Turn inward with kindness, give that inner child what she needs. When you find compassion, acceptance and allow yourself to be, unconditionally, the need to control and punish yourself diminishes. There is more to be gained than there is to be lost in recovery. There is no real safety in illness, the only real control comes when we embrace uncertainty. Breathe. Let go. You are seen, you are enough.

It is gentle energy of morning light. It is the rage of destructive hurricanes. It is the pain of healing and shedding of leaves in the fall, bearing harsh winter. It is the first spring blossom of growth and glimmer of light onto fresh grass.

Recovery is the light of homecoming. You are the only home you need.


To the Magic of New Beginnings

I don’t want to be scared anymore.

Scared of being too much, feeling too much. Scared of breaking and hurting and feeling and healing. I don’t want to be scared of vulnerability. I don’t want to be scared of showing people the darkest, dustiest corners of my mind and the brightest, most vibrant threads of my soul. I have spent my entire life feeling so painfully alone and alien and wrong, I have spent my entire life trying to stop being, trying to get smaller and smaller to fit into these boxes that were too small for dreamers anyway.

If people knew the ‘real me‘ they would all leave, if people saw just how ‘defective‘ I am, if people saw just how much pain and darkness I had inside- everyone would leave. I am not good enough.

I have grown up believing that, I have always been so sure. I am learning that is not true. My parents, and the world I grew up in, has made me ashamed of who I am. This shame is the heaviest of them all. This shame is not mine to carry- toxic shame that careless words and violence and abandonment left behind. I don’t want to be ashamed anymore. I don’t want to be scared anymore. I have spent too long running from feelings and vulnerability because it terrifies me more than anything. I’ve opened my heart only to have been told over and over to stop feeling, been yelled at and invalidated and ignored. Two little hands held out a sensitive heart, only to be torn apart. The worst offender? myself.

I have hurt myself with an eating disorder for 7-8 years in a desperate attempt to protect myself from vulnerability and getting torn apart again, to stop being, to stop feeling and stop hurting. I shut my sensitivity down. I have harmed myself, drowned in self-hatred, the scars on my body and suicide attempts barely a glimpse into how much I wanted to disappear. I never learnt how to care for myself, to validate myself, or to even feel. I never learnt how to manage these tidal waves of emotions within me- it was all or nothing. So I run, I shove my feelings and pain and my authentic self away with self-destruction. I ran and ran and ran. But I have the tools to cope now- I am learning. I am trying so desperately to stop running. To sit down and get to know myself, to sit with pain and feelings, to learn how to treat myself with the love and compassion I treat others.

Life is so bold and messy and open-ended that it scares the crap out of me. I am so bold and messy and unable-to-be-contained that it scares the crap out of me. But that is who I am.

I feel so much that I think I might explode from it all sometimes. I’m hypersensitive. I feel the pain of everyone around me. I’m always attuned to everyone’s emotions, desperate to keep peace. I’m messy and I’m not put together. I have dreams and I am motivated only by passion. I’m not perfect. I’m not thin. So what?

I don’t want to be scared anymore, and I’m not. I’m not scared of the depths within me. I’m not scared of how desperately I want to live. I’m not scared of how unabashedly and violently I love and feel things. I’m not scared of my pain and the deep, deep wounds I carry. I carry them. Not always with grace, but I have carried it all and I am standing. I carry it all within me and there is so much within. I look inside and I see a little girl with a huge, huge heart and I don’t want to be scared, or sorry.

I used to be terrified of letting go of sadness and pain and my illnesses because I don’t know who I would be without my eating disorder and depression and pain. I still don’t know, and that is so beautiful because I get to be myself, whatever that is. I am safe, grounded in the truths I know about life and grounded in my core beliefs- but I get to sit down and dream and write and explore and find myself. The best part is that I will never be the same because I will always be changing. My body will change and my soul will change and that is okay.

I don’t have to run anymore. I can feel everything now, I can let myself be broken now, I can be vulnerable now, I can be afraid and be brave now, I can need now, I can hurt without breaking now. I can eat now. I can live. I can be happy. I am not scared anymore because I want to embrace it. Life is messy and imperfect, I am messy and imperfect and I want to embrace it. I see my fear and I want to embrace it. I see my pain and I want to embrace it. I see change and uncertainty and I want to embrace it. I see every broken part of me and I want to embrace it. It is okay. I accept you now. God, for the first time in 7 years, I don’t have to be a number on a scale anymore.

I don’t have to be a number on a scale anymore. 

What a grand adventure it is. To re-learn how to live, to re-learn how to walk, to re-learn how to eat. To feel again. To rediscover who I am. I like adventures, I’m an infp after all, and I think this could be the most painful, most rewarding, most wonderful adventure of them all. Recovery.

Don’t be scared. 

then tell me why my body feels otherwise

awake with a pounding heart
body frozen
‘this isn’t right’
half asleep & yet hypervigilant
not safe.
use this vulnerability.

brain desperately searches
for hidden pieces of memory
grasp upon anything
detective yearning for new clues
a quiet room
closed door
a figure- who?

or maybe you’re making things up

thrash around the sheets
curl up into fetal position
different memories interfere
brows furrowed in frustration
ultimately drawing another blank
another dead end

you doubt yourself anyway

forget the explanation
there’s no way something could have happened

I am just broken parts, without my illnesses

Collapsed onto the floor once again
The crash that comes when I stop running
only safe space is huddled under blankets
tears fall & my heart hurts

I somehow feel like a child again
I am so tired and nobody is here
I am all alone again
I am so scared
Everyone is abandoning me
I swear I am trying
It’s all my fault

Without my illnesses
I am the blank spaces where childhood memories were meant to be
//it hurts, not remembering//
I am the broken parts left behind of angry parents, a noisy world and tired little girl
//it hurts, remembering//

I stay on the floor, paralysed
emotional pain extends itself into physical sensations of how it is all
too much
looking at my room makes my head spin
I retreat into the blanket, eyes shut tight
The world is too loud again
Even my quiet room isn’t safe
Even my own skin isn’t safe

Memories of his touch threaten
Memories of everything replay themselves on a reel
The world has always been so loud and unsafe
And without my illnesses
I am sad and tired and lost
Pain still raw
Broken parts on full display

-I am so sad I cannot get off the floor and this is what mental illness is like.

Every time I lay on the floor crying, I realize just how broken and tired I am. I remember all the other times I laid there, I remember being 10 or 12 or 14 or 16, unable to get up, unable to do anything but lay down feeling so painfully broken. It still hurts the same.

I can’t help but feel like my parents are ‘not that bad‘ because I cannot remember anything, because they keep telling the family therapists how much they care, how hard they’re trying to help me. Because they say they were good parents. Because my grandparents keep saying how they are wonderful parents, they tell me to just stop thinking about the past (as if I want to remember). and maybe it is all in my head, it is all my fault I am overreacting again. I have no memories, I just know pain and it hurts it hurts. I don’t remember anything. It is all my fault. I am making things up again I am overreacting again just like he used to say- I am delusional and oversensitive and my pain does not matter.

“I stop running and I crash. I remember why I was running so hard in the first place. I was running from this pain.”

I want to run again. But I cannot. Running is tiring and running hurts too. Everything hurts. It isn’t fair.

invisible scars // + how I’m coping

Since he broke you, every step outside leaves you scanning the world in fear as your body holds onto the same hypervigilance and anxiety. walk around with the weight of your pain on your shoulders and close your eyes to chase the phantom hands away. But you should know better, what living in fear is like- because they broke you long before he did.

They left scars that nobody sees, but scars that show up every single day.

Scars that show, in how you shut your feelings away and how you cannot cope with feelings because they were never allowed. Because they call you crazy and irrational and too emotional, they yell and scream and ignore and belittle and hit and threaten, because he gets mad at you for crying so you learn to numb your feelings or he will hurt you.

Scars that show, in how you are wracked with anxiety and fears of abandonment every time you get close to someone or open up so you push everyone away. you can’t trust anyone or be open even if you wanted to because your body remembers the the pain of constant invalidation and hurt all too well. You live with this deep rooted fear of abandonment because you have been left all alone over and over and over again, and abandonment hurts more than loneliness. you are alone anyway.

Scars that show, in how you deny yourself of your needs because they have never once acknowledged or fulfilled them so you pretend your needs do not exist. You tell yourself you do not need love or affection or support because you have never gotten it. You self destruct and starve and hurt yourself over and over and over in attempts to escape the pain and to protect yourself from them.

Scars that show, in how your heart rate increases and you panic when someone is angry. One angry look sends you into emotional flashbacks as you whisper ‘I’m sorry please don’t hurt me’ over and over again. You live in constant vigilance and hyper awareness about how everyone is feeling and jump to fix things because you are responsible for everyone and you are terrified of conflict. You never say no, in fear that someone would get mad and you apologise to everyone for everything because you are so accustomed to apologising to him so he wouldn’t get mad and hit you again.

Scars that show, in how you live your entire life feeling defective because they have made you believe you are fundamentally broken. you the problem and you are never good enough. You are the cause of all conflict, you are wrong and you are broken. You believe you are a bad and worthless person and everything is your fault because why else would your own parents hurt you?

Scars that cause a lifetime of pain and depression and self harm and fuels one hell of an eating disorder that serves to numb feelings and protect them from hurting you and allows you to hurt yourself instead. you so strongly believe you are less than- you do not deserve food and life or love.

You’ve lived your entire life feeling unsafe and unloved and unwanted and uncared for.

You think you would be numb to pain at this point but you are not. It simply becomes unbearable, as you carry not just the pain of your entire childhood but the pain of multiple traumas, the pain of intruders and your body stolen and the pain of violation and the pain of helplessness and the pain of rape. You relive it over and over and over. Your body keeps score and you cannot rest because your body is so scared of getting hurt again when it has been hurt so much.

You go through emotional flashbacks that take you back to when you were little, to being so scared and helpless and unable to do anything. You are never safe and never loved and never cared for. You get intrusive memories of assault and feelings so painful you cannot cope. The new traumas and old traumas come together and at some point you can’t even separate them anymore, it all just looks like pain. When someone has been though trauma, even being exposed to triggers can retraumatize them and make the original trauma a lot worse- so you have a new trauma that triggers an old trauma, you’re not just dealing with that new trauma but also dealing with old unresolved trauma and dealing the constant retraumatization of that old trauma every single day.

As if it wasn’t hard enough, dealing with the pain of starting recovery from 6 year old eating disorder on top of the pain from severe depression on top of trying to cope with and heal from the pain of all this trauma? You’re left in a special kind of hell created specially for you.

I am tired. I don’t know if anyone will ever understand the pain I am in. I’ve been having such a hard time lately and despite that, I’ve still been trying to cope healthily and not give into self destruction, I’m trying to not destroy myself and create more suffering but I am slipping so much because everything is getting bad. When I cope with one thing, another pops up. Being at home around my parents is especially hard, I’m agitated and easily startled and anxious all the time. The ptsd & depression & rape trauma & ed is all getting worse and I feel like I don’t have the energy to keep trying anymore.

On Wednesday, I was considering voluntarily going into IP for ED treatment at SGH and on Thursday I went to AWARE to ask for help. Last night, I had another emotional flashback, I’ve been getting flashbacks almost daily and it’s been so bad that I’ve had to text my friends to ask for help and reassurance. I had to explicit say ‘hey, I need you to validate me’ or ‘hey I just need to know if anyone cares’ or ‘hey can you tell me I’m safe’. I texted both Callista and Clarissa to tell them what I need from them. This all shows just how much I’m struggling because I never want ask for help and even when I do, it’s usually only from Dr Kelly. But now I can’t fight anymore. I’ve don’t have the energy to fight for ED recovery either, the ED feelings/thoughts are so strong, I’m feeling so fat and undeserving of recovery and after what Dr Lee said about ‘you’re not too underweight‘, I’m feeling not-sick-enough. I want to recover from my ED but I don’t know how, especially when everything is so hard. I don’t know how to eat and I can’t make myself eat. It’s hard enough even without the added burden of the ptsd & depression that makes me feel worthless and hopeless and like everything is my fault. I’m starting to lose motivation to fight. Maybe I’m not worth it, maybe I’m a bad person, maybe I should die.

I want to get better, I committed myself to recovery and I want to heal and recover because I don’t want to live like this anymore… which makes this whole situation hurt even more, because this is different than the past when I didn’t want to recover- I really want to work towards it for the first time and I have tried so hard to fight for my recovery in the past few months and I have grown so much. But things are so difficult for me right now that I’m tempted to just go back to using my ED to cope because I’m in hell and I don’t know how to survive, much less keep fighting for recovery when I feel so alone in this recovery journey. I feel so alone all the time.

Like I mentioned, I went to AWARE even though I didn’t have an appointment because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I called them and told them I was feeling unsafe and asked if I could come down. I actually just wanted to be in a safe space but when I saw Katie I just burst into tears and before she even sat down or got to say anything, I had a complete breakdown, I couldn’t stop sobbing. I told her just how unsafe I felt. I told her how tired I am and how I am trying my darnedest but it all hurts too much and how I don’t know if I can keep fighting. She could pick up that I was feeling very alone. I told her how devastating it is to feel like my body is not mine, to feel like it has been stolen from me and how I hate my body and started self harming. I told her how I don’t even feel safe in my body and that’s the most painful part. She said that it must be such a hard feeling, to not even feel safe in your own skin. It is. I told her how I am so angry at him and sad that I feel violated and how it’s not fair that he probably is happily living his life while I am here struggling, and how I don’t even know how to cope with anger because all my life, anger=violence. I hate my parents for that. I cried and cried and cried. She was so lovely and validating as usual and she let me cry all of it out. She said that it must be really difficult and she understands how my past affects and makes the trauma right now worse. She said that I could be angry, and anger didn’t always have to lead to violence and I’m not going to become my parents. She said that I could grow from here, and it’s going to take time to find myself. She validated every single thing that I was feeling and she told me how it’s normal to be feeling this way. To be angry at the perpetrator. To be sad.

Looking back, I realise that was all I needed and being at AWARE has been so healing for me because they have heard my story and validated my story. Katie has said over and over and over again that it is not my fault, that it is so incredibly difficult, that I am having a hard time and it’s okay, that everything I am going through is normal. What I needed most was that empathy, that feeling like maybe I’m not overreacting or crazy, that feeling like someone cares and I’m not alone. I really, really needed to be listened to- I needed my entire life story to be listened to and acknowledged for how painful it is. And Katie knows- she knows about my family, my illnesses, the small incidents of sexual harassment and the larger incidents of sexual violence, she even knows about my ED and she’s never once been anything but validating. I was worried I would hear ‘oh but you don’t look sick‘ but that never ever came up. That’s why I started feeling safe at AWARE and that’s why I went to them for help. I was worried that after my last session with Katie, she was going to abandon me, but she didn’t. Now, I’m still scared that I’m getting too attached but I keep in mind what Dr Kelly says- it’s normal to get attached and it’s okay. And Katie has proven that she cares- she even asked for Dr Kelly’s email to talk to her and coordinate care. She asked me what I needed, every week. She reassured me over and over again that she was always here and I could come to AWARE for support. One thing that was helpful, was that she asked me to think about safety, and I came up with lists of things that makes me feel safer so that’s really nice :’) I stayed at AWARE almost all day to write, and I did feel better. One of the biggest things she always reminds me is this.

You are doing a good job. You’re surviving, you’re here and you’ve asked for help and that shows just how strong you are and how hard you’re trying. I know everything is so difficult for you right now, and considering that, even just being here is an amazing job.

I’m trying to keep that in mind. I’m trying to try, even though I feel like I’ve been steadily downhill. I haven’t had a proper meal since Wednesday afternoon, I’ve been binging and purging more and more. It’s the same thing, the ED is so bad even small snacks trigger b/p and I know it’s not helpful but I can’t stop because it’s an illness and addiction and compulsion that I don’t have the energy to fight for recovery. I can’t lie though, it does help because at least it gives my brain something to focus on that isn’t trauma. At least it’s more stable than the emotional hell I am in? Right now, when I stop obsessing about food, I can’t handle my emotions- I get so overwhelmed by the pain and then I go right back to starving or b/p. I feel so alone. It scares me how intensely suicidal I get everyday during my flashbacks. Yesterday night, I was planning to do it, I was counting out the pills that I had and planning to run away and jump off. The only thing stopping me, was Katie & Dr Kelly, knowing that they care.

Sigh. I just have to keep going I suppose. Focus on the small things I’ve been doing like asking for help and support. Like not acting on suicidal impulses. Like being alive even though I’m a dysfunctional mess. Like the fact that I’m going to keep trying and I’m going to try to self care and try to use DBT skills. Like taking time off school and work. I cannot function at all these days, I can’t even handle taking the train or going grocery shopping without wanting to break down. I desperately need help and I don’t know how long I can last. One day at a time I suppose.

8th May // I would like some soap to scrub this feeling off me

I had my last session with Katie, my case manager at AWARE today because like she mentioned, we were going to have 3 sessions and then if I wanted to continue counselling I would be transferred to a longer term counsellor. I wasn’t going to go for more counselling at first, but yesterday after Dr Kelly said it would be a good idea to process trauma and after I had the huge breakdown yesterday and realised how not-okay I am, I decided to go for it because I’m trying to help myself. I do think it’s something I need to process, what happened. I feel so unsafe all the time, so. incredibly. unsafe. and so tired of having to fight- I am beyond exhausted. Katie and I talked about transferring me to a long-term counsellor to help me process and cope with the rape/past trauma. I don’t want to deal with it but it’s okay I guess.

I told Katie a lot actually- I told her about how my dad was violent and how my mum was never there for me. I wanted to cry, talking about that, because even bringing it up gives me bad memories. She asked me to think about being an adult now or even imagine being a Mother and what I would tell my child-self. I struggled with the emotions that it brought up but I said the most important thing was that I would listen to the child, and remind that they are cared for and protected and safe. I would talk more about this, but it’s too hard to think about, especially the part about feeling safe. I told her about how I’ve never had anyone there for me, how I’ve grown up in pain and being hurt, so I’m used to it. I told her how I look back and I hardly remember my childhood, all I remember is pain and bad memories, how there are holes in my memory- she said that’s normal, really. I told her that because I wanted to explain to her why it’s so hard to cope with everything right now, I just feel like I am dealing with the pain of everything at once. I thought I was over the stuff in my past but I’m not, and going through the aftermath of the assault makes me feel the same way I did back then, small and unsafe and vulnerable.

Writing this, I’m struggling to recall the session because all I remember is being so.. blurred and zoned out and mildly dissociated. But yeah, I told her how I’ve been feeling so helpless, that some of the numbness and shock has worn off and it makes me feel so sad and it’s hard to accept that what happened was real. I told her how I’ve also been angry that I have so deal with so much, that I have to fight and fight just to be okay and to get better when this wasn’t my fault. I told her how I feel like I’ve almost swung to the other end of the pendulum. I went from feeling like everything is my fault to starting recovery and realising it isn’t my fault- and that makes me feel helpless and angry. Because if it’s not my fault why am I suffering so much? She talked about how I could try to find balance, to regain some of that power & control and not blame myself but also not feel helpless.

She agreed that I’ve had so much to deal with and she said that she’s not surprised that I was feeling so tired because I’ve really been through a lot, and she said that I’ve been working so hard and doing everything I can to help myself heal, and doing the emotional work- things that not everyone would do. She knows I’ve been going to therapy, art therapy, seeing my psychiatrist, working at it on my own, and even coming down to AWARE to see her. She has been so validating of all of my struggles? She said this ‘you’re really really strong and I can imagine how tired you are, you’ve had a such hard time, with your mental health struggles on top of 2 incidences of sexual violence and childhood trauma & violence. You’re doing a really good job and you’re trying so hard to come out stronger on the other side of this and I’m proud of you for coming down to talk to me’. I told her I still feel like it’s partly my fault, but I’m thankful for the safe space and for the validation.

We did talk about all the things I’ve been struggling with daily too, my sleep being screwed up and how I can’t concentrate on anything at all, how I can’t do schoolwork at all, how I can’t think, how I have no appetite. We even talked about how this has affected my ED. She suggested trying to have meals with my family and maybe get some meds to help with sleep? I also tried to pick things up and I shared with her one of my poetry pieces. I guess I told her that I am so tired, but I am trying. She talked about how I can use my story to help others. I don’t know, honestly. I don’t feel ‘sick enough’ and my story doesn’t feel ‘bad enough’. The incident doesn’t feel like it was bad enough to be rape, and neither do the rest of the incidents feel bad enough to be assault, my childhood doesn’t feel bad enough to be abuse and I’m just not sick enough.

I am trying so hard but it feels like such an endless battle. I am so exhausted from fighting to survive. I’ve fought for so many years, fought to just survive, day after day of living in this hell, day after day of fighting to be okay and keep going. I need this to be different than all the other times I’ve had to fight so hard because I don’t think I can do it again, I just can’t. I’m too tired. I can’t keep fighting to survive, fighting to survive is too tiring and painful, fighting to survive means getting myself together and using what I can to survive- and that is usually unhealthy ways, usually involving the ED. Recently, I’ve realised that the ED has really been the one constant in my life and the one constant thing that I have used to cope, and to run away from my pain to survive. I use it to cope with pain and self loathing and depression. I’ve tried to get better and cope better, the depression has come and go but I haven’t been in recovery because the ED has always been there and I’ve been steadfast in not letting that go- until now.

this time I think maybe the key is not to fight to survive the pain, but fight to heal the pain and keep learning to how to be kinder to myself.

Honestly I really, really just need to not be okay. Because I’m not okay. I’m dying. I’m not going to say I can’t cope because I can cope, I have the tools- I just need to use them which is hard, but I need to use them I think? I really feel so so awful. I’m exhausted from having to cope, I told Katie how it feels like my life has shut down since it happened. Everything has stopped. I’m not even the same person anymore and I am so scared and anxious and unsafe all the time. I didn’t feel like I was real in the past but now I’ve been experiencing so much more dissociation and this awful feeling like my body isn’t mine. It’s a new feeling, I feel so disgusted by what happened and I hate my body. Today, when I was leaving the place, this guy walking by literally stopped and leered and looked me like a piece of meat- considering how hypersensitive & unsafe I’ve been feeling, that triggered me so badly. I ended up having bad anxiety and dissociating, bad memories of the assault kept coming up and everything was spinning. I tried to deal with it on my own but it wasn’t helping? So I picked up the courage to go back to the care center and look for Katie to ask for help despite my fears of being a burden, and she and one other counsellor was there to help me calm down and they were just really comforting and just the loveliest. One of them got me some water and brought me back into the therapy rooms to calm down, and we did some grounding exercises.

I told Katie how awful I felt about how he looked at me, how it exemplifies the feeling of being so dirty and gross, how it makes me feel like this body is not mine at all. The bad memories come back and it feels so awful, I cannot describe. I hate it so much. I just feel… raped, I feel violated and so devastated and I can’t describe how awful it feels. Like something was stolen from me. I feel so disgusted I want to rip off my skin. I feel the attacker’s hands on me and feel this person’s eyes on me and I feel sick to my stomach because I really don’t feel like my body belongs to me. It belongs to him and everyone else that has touched me. Having this person look at me this way reminded me of the 2/3 times when I was a kid and I was approached by men in public and they tried to touch me or be ‘too friendly’, and the worst was the way the looked at me. It reminded me of the time my dad’s friend slid his hand under my skirt onto my thigh when I was younger. It reminded me of the time at the music festival and the way those guys fondled and rubbed themselves at me and how they at looked at me. This one look today triggered all of that.

I feel sick and disgusted and I want to take it out on my body. I hate my body and for once it’s not ED related. It’s so different from how it feels when I feel disconnected from my body when I’m restricting. It feels like my body was violently stolen from me and now I hate my body so much. I told her how awful I felt, how disgusted I felt, how painful it is. I started tearing up and I wanted to cry so badly but I didn’t. I feel so dirty and disgusting, like I want to scrub myself clean of all their hands. I can’t stop feeling it all. She mentioned that as I process the trauma, layers of new feelings will keep coming up, but she said that this one in particular is a really hard one. I feel like it was my fault this guy stared at me today because of the off shoulder shirt I was wearing? I told her how I feel like it’s my fault but she was validating and insisted that it wasn’t, and it was something that happened to me. She was also so validating and said that it was not an abnormal reaction, and I was not overreacting. I’m thankful I went back to ask for help because it was nice having that support? She was so sweet and even stayed with me until I was okay, we had a chat about what it’s like working in social services. She made sure I felt okay and said I could call her or the helpline whenever I need, and she even walked me out to the road.

I just feel so overwhelmed. I realised my depression is getting worse and I am feeling increasingly tired and unmotivated, I don’t want to live and getting through the days are harder and harder. I also haven’t been taking my meds because I feel undeserving. I feel like I’m sinking into depression (which I badly don’t want to happen) and I don’t even know if it’s because of the assault or because depression. I have been walking around an anxious wreck, and I still can’t get over these moments of feeling like people are behind me, and today, even looking at people (men) scared me. I’ve been so painfully hypervigilant and I feel so unsafe that it hurts. There are more and more feelings that come up, especially on days where I go to AWARE, I feel like I’m slowly opening up the Pandora’s box and slowly starting to feel it- and it hurts. I’ve only peeled off one tiny layer and it already hurts so much I feel suicidal when the pain comes.

I’ve barely been sleeping at a reasonable hour and I didn’t eat yesterday either, I had one coffee and one mango frap. I’ve been feeling really really tired and dizzy so today I forced myself to eat a granola bar in the afternoon and it’s not much but I’m proud of myself for pushing myself to eat despite how hard it has been. When it comes to the ED, it’s too hard to allow myself to eat more and I don’t think I can eat without supervision, I genuinely also have no appetite and no energy to eat which I think just makes the ED worse. I still don’t know how to make the behavioural change even though I actually want to do it now and I know I should? The ED is so loud that I just don’t know how to eat, I don’t have enough motivation (?) to do it alone. I don’t know how to take care of myself and I sure don’t feel deserving of that. And now, with how awful I feel in my body after the assault, that is going to impact the ED. I’m losing weight and for once it’s not a good thing- it’s like the week leading up to my admission where my mental health was so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to eat much and lost a bunch of weight. Still, I can’t stop weighing myself everyday and when I weigh myself, I need to see the number keep dropping. Of course I want to lose weight, even though I know I shouldn’t. I don’t think that’s something I’ll ‘get over’ anytime soon.. but like I said in therapy yesterday, I feel like recovery & finding an identity outside of the ED is about living and making room for life. I think I need to be able to just tolerate maintaining at the same weight and not keep losing, to make peace with my body, and not fixate on weight but to live? Something Eunice said to me a few days ago really stayed with me

I was thinking, we only have one life to live. And weight gain is just a teeny part of life, in the end. You’ll go on to do amazing things and weight will have no part in it.

I’ve been trying to remember that. It’s hard enough recovering from an ED on its own- so, so difficult. Ask anyone who’s recovering from just an ED and they’ll tell you how it is so hard, it is really a full time job. It’s hard enough coping with and recovering from sexual assault too. Likewise, you see a sexual assault survivor and it is emotionally just so hard on them. It’s the with any other mental illness, same with depression, it’s the same with c-ptsd/childhood trauma, and same with attachment issues- they are all incredibly difficult things to cope with individually. Everything is hard enough on its own, surviving is hard enough- having to deal with them all together is a special kind of hell on its own. Not to mention, I’m not just trying to cope with all of those things mentioned above but I’m also trying to start recovery from my ED for the first time, trying to work on recovering from and managing the symptoms of the other illnesses, learning how to cope in non-destructive ways and also working on processing trauma. I’m not just surviving these things. Surviving this in my own way would be me numbing myself by starving, by purging, by drinking and cutting and self destruction and pushing everyone away, that’s how I always have survived. I’m not just surviving but I am trying to change. Change is hard, and such a huge and destabilising change (change in belief systems and sources of comfort and coping skills and thoughts) would be hard for anyone, even a normal person. So dealing with change, fighting for change on top of everything else is.. it’s a lot.

I don’t just deal with the painful aftermath of sexual assault, I deal with the compounded effects of this sexual assault, plus the previous one, plus all the times in my life I’ve been sexually harassed/looked at/touched inappropriately, plus the exact same feelings that the violence and childhood trauma and parents bring up. They are hard enough to deal with alone, but put them together and they amplify the effects of each other. That is why I feel like I’m having an even harder time dealing with this than maybe someone who’s healthy and is going through this for the first time. The weight of combined trauma is too much to bear, especially when I do not have the strength or capability to carry this weight because I am already carrying the even-heavier weights of the eating disorder and depression and c-ptsd/bpd symptoms. And I feel like recovery is making everything so much harder, it’s something that helps me in the long run but right now it is also an additional weight on me. But I have to do it because like I said, I don’t have the energy to to fight to survive anymore. I’m not okay and I don’t want to be okay. If I’m going to get through this, I want to heal. But healing is hard. Recovery makes this worse in the short term because I don’t have my ED to help me cope, because I’m trying so hard to rely on people instead of relying on self destruction but that in itself triggers the constant fear that everyone is going to abandon me, because I am spending so much time talking about my feelings which triggers the repressed pain, because all of the change makes me feel even more unworthy and uncomfortable on a daily basis. Because recovery is damn hard work that I don’t always have the energy for. Most days I try to get by the best I can. That’s okay too I guess.

I need to remember to practice self compassion. I bought myself a lotus pandora charm today. I want to remember that I am strong, that healing takes time, that I can be kind with myself. I need to nurture myself this time if I want to build myself up.

Today I also went out to Gardens by the Bay and then to dinner with my grandparents, since I’ve been trying to spend more time with them after shutting them out for so long, but I felt too awful and tired and sad. I couldn’t ground myself and live in the moment, I was so lost in my own thoughts that I was writing again. I can’t seem to stop writing and journaling these days and I don’t know if it’s good or bad?? I’m spending so much time writing, I feel the need to compulsively write about my thoughts and analysing how things are- I think maybe it’s a way of being in control when I am so dissociated, and maybe also a way of rationalising feelings? I feel like it’s also a way of obsessing over recovery and obsessing over writing about my feelings because I don’t know how to stop and allow myself to feel. I think it’s good to reflect and vent, but I don’t take the time to actually check in with myself, which I need to do, I think. And I would like to spent less time rambling. It would be good for me to practice my DBT skills daily- I think I’ll use my DBT journal to focus on checking in with myself and how I feel everyday, as well as gratitude lists and doing some proper reflection. When it comes to writing about things that happen, I’ll keep to Instagram updates and blogposts when it’s a long rant like today. I feel like I need to use my DBT journal more for sure.

I want to celebrate my small wins because everything is so overwhelming. I want to create small recovery goals I can achieve because recovery feels impossible. I feel like I need to be kinder to myself and not push for recovery or progress, like Dr Kelly and Katie said, I am dealing with so much that surviving and just showing up is a lot. I want to not be okay. I really want to just let myself not be okay for a bit, because I am in too much pain. Especially after today, today while writing this I felt so awful I almost had a full blown breakdown in the supermarket. I didn’t realise how much this really hurt. Today things were so bad I considered a short hospitalisation for different reasons: for the ED, to give me a safe space to let myself not be okay, to stabilise my mood a little so these intense emotional shifts are more manageable, and to give me a goddamn break from fighting so hard and feeling so unsafe. But I don’t think it’s a good idea, I have school and Dr Lee wouldn’t suggest it and I don’t want to deal with my parents. It’s okay. I think I’m going to start spending more time at KKH and even at AWARE because those are such safe spaces for me. And I’m going to start journaling more. I will be okay. I am so tired but I am so proud of myself because I am growing so much and I see it in the way I think and the way I write, and even the way I am choosing to try to cope, by reaching out and explicitly asking for help and support, by self care and compassion. It is such a huge change, but I think it’s the culmination of what I have been working on over the past few months. I’m trying not to let it scare me. I will be okay.

but the darkness still can’t hide your pain

Dark places now morph into an illusion of comfort
Retreating into quiet void decks and street corners in the thick of the night
Sink into my body, not quite real
Maybe if no one saw me, I could finally be safe enough to cry

As if, maybe if it was dark enough, I would disappear into the shadows
forget I exist
A quiet suggestion at self destruction
As if, maybe I would just get mugged or hit or murdered in the darkness
hurt me, then I wouldn’t have to deal with this pain

Close my eyes and feel myself break
tear stained cheeks in the moonlit glow
a quiet rocking, back and forth

-Let the darkness envelop me

building upon rock bottom

I’m too exhausted. I was in the shower earlier and I realised just how empty and completely detected from myself I feel, I don’t even know how I feel about the incident anymore, or if I even feel anything. I’m so utterly exhausted and I’m in so much pain that I think my brain has been shutting off. That’s why it took conscious effort for me to even sit down, figure out how I feel and to cry. I cried because I don’t know who I am anymore, I really don’t. I cried because I just want everyone to leave me alone but I can’t protect myself and I’m so tired of being hurt. I keep getting these urges to just scream and yell and hit everyone. I cried because I am so exhausted and dead inside and I don’t know what to do.

But there have been some helpful things though, and I’ve been thinking about some things people have said. Something that was very helpful for me was talking to Sara yesterday, and she gave me the best advice ever.

Just listen to yourself because you fundamentally know what to do, so just trust yourself and your intuition because it’s so powerful.

I normally don’t take well to advice because I hate being told what to do or what’s right for me, so this was really good advice for me- just listen to me. But it’s true that as an infp I have a strong intuition and insight into myself. I need to be more mindful, listen to myself more and start trusting myself because I will know what is the right thing to do for me. And to honor my feelings and listen to what they’re trying to tell me, instead of pushing them away, because they’re such a powerful things, but also trust my gut feelings. I don’t even know how to describe it, but I feel like it’s an infp thing- I just feel it, there’s this deep gut feeling when something feels right, and no explanation other than this gut feeling that subconsciously guides us. Just like when I get tattoos, I could think about getting one over and over for a long time but not be able to decide/commit, but then at random moments I get the idea for a tattoo and I have this deep gut feeling and I just know, like ‘yup it’s the one’.

I think I need to do that more in recovery, similar to using my Introverted Feeling function to help me in recovery. I think I need to lead more often with ‘What feels like the right thing to do for me?‘, instead of judging by rules and what I ‘should do’, I judge by my feelings- does this feel self-compassionate? which action is going to help me feel the best in the short/long run?does this line up with values (aka does it feel right)? I need to tap into how I feel and actually and give my feelings power. By giving my feelings power, I don’t mean blindly acting upon my feelings and letting them completely run the show but recognising that I’m a deeply emotional person an my feelings matter, recognising that I lead with Introverted Feeling so letting my feelings act as a guide instead of shutting them down and letting my (usually disordered) thoughts & beliefs guide me. I think it’s a bit like getting into ‘wise mind’ I suppose? I mean, if Introverted Feeling is my strong cognitive function, I might as well allow myself to tap into that and use it.

I’ve always struggled with my feelings big time. We talked about this in therapy- I ignore feelings, I run away from pain as fast as I can, my entire existence almost revolves around running and numbing myself and cutting myself off. I cannot tolerate feelings, I cannot validate feelings, I cannot cope with feelings. So perhaps, in recovery it would be apt to just stop and try to listen to my feelings more? When I feel something, there is often a reason behind it. When I feel awful, my immediate reaction is to push it away, but what if I listened to it instead and sat with it? What if I tried to practice self compassion and validate my feelings and start allowing myself to feel, like we’ve been talking about in therapy. I think this very much plays into DBT skills and mindfulness as well. I need to learn to trust myself more in general, trust that I can cope with feelings, trust what my feelings are trying to say. I think a part of recovery that I want to work towards is being more in touch with myself and I think mindfulness and listening to my feelings is a good start.

I’m so thankful for Sara because she’s always so empowering? After I told her about the incident, she’s been really really amazing with all the advice. She also said that in a way, the power was now in my hands because I have the ability to use my experiences to change something and help others and even to teach him what he did that was wrong. Yesterday after the argument with my parents and I was so suicidal- she helped me a lot. She was her usual angry self, she is always the embodiment of anger and justice and she’s always like girl I will fight for you, you deserve so much better and I’m so freaking angry at your parents/that guy/whoever hurt me’ and she always always says that. She says that I’ve been through so much, I don’t need or deserve to continue to take shit from others? And yesterday she told me that I should just move out, considering how toxic my parents are for me and my recovery, and honestly I agree.

I mean, I don’t think moving out or leaving is ‘the solution’, but what that helped me to see is that my parents don’t necessarily have control?? What she helped me see is that I do have control in my life, and that I also can fight for myself in my own way, if the situation calls for it. And moving out is something I have control over, building my own life is something I have control over, choosing to hold onto self destruction/negative beliefs is something I have control over. It reminded me of what my therapist had said in the past when I was suicidal because of my parents- “your parents are a big influence in your life but just remember that in the long run they’re not going to be a big part of your life. you’re going to move out soon and you’re going to get to build your life apart from them so are you really going to give up the rest of your life because of them?“. Looking back on that, I think it also represents how much power and control I want to give them. My parents are the literal embodiment of my negative beliefs so giving my beliefs power = giving my parents power and vice versa.

Like she’s been saying in the past few sessions, it’s my choice to recover, my choose to let go of my negative beliefs, it’s my responsibility over my own actions (especially self destructive actions) and my life. And I think that’s important, as painful as it has been, acknowledging that the power lies in my hands now. That she’s right that I can’t control my parents, I can’t control that everything hurts like hell, I can’t control when I feel awful, I can’t control the fact that I’ve been hurt by people. And yesterday I wanted to kill myself but I realised that killing myself because my parents triggered me again, would be giving them the power? I can’t control how I feel but I can control what I do. And right now as I’m writing this I’m realising for the first time that in a way, even continuing to be sick is giving them & my negative beliefs power over my life? I mean, it’s not completely their fault because it’s also an illness, but so many of my beliefs came from them. They don’t even have to hurt me because now I’m hurting myself so well. Why do I keep hurting myself?

If I continue to hold onto these beliefs, if I continue to self destruct, I might as well be letting them make my entire life hell.

I’ve always seen my ED as a way to protect myself from them, I’ve seen it was ‘the thing I can control‘ and ‘the thing that is mine‘, so reframing power and control is helpful because now, instead of having control by hurting myself and distancing myself, I also have control by recognising I have the power to change and the power to not let them affect me. I can’t control that you’re triggering me and making me feel awful, I can’t control that you make my symptoms 10x worse and make me suicidal but you know what? I can move out. Like Cal was telling me, I don’t need them, and not in a hateful way but in the sense that I have friends like Cal and Sara and Evannia who will fight for me, I have friends like Clim who will take leave from work just for me, I have Eunice and the rest who will listen to me with no judgement, I have twinnie, I have my therapist and my art therapist and even the counsellor at AWARE. I have my grandparents and relatives and sisters. I have my people to support me. I can slowly learn how to be on my own team as well.

Speaking of AWARE, the session with the counsellor went really well and what was most helpful was her validation. She reassured me multiple times that what happened wasn’t my fault and it was wrong- I’m still having a hard time accepting that, but I’m one tiny step closer, and I blame myself slightly less now. But one thing she also said that meant a lot to me, was that ‘it matters, even if it wasn’t technically illegal, it was definitely inappropriate simply on the grounds that you felt uncomfortable with it‘. She said that in response to me telling her about those vague childhood memories about (idk who) touching me, putting his hands on my thighs/around my shoulder/around me in general and I told her how unsettling it is and I remember how scared I was, and I remember freezing up. I don’t remember much else but I have a gut feeling that something happened that was deeply uncomfortable. Whah she said stuck with me and made a lot of sense? That it doesn’t matter what the incident is or ‘how big it is’, it matters because of my emotional reaction and it matters simply because I was emotionally impacted by it. She said that even as a child, no one is allowed to touch you without permission and if you feel uncomfortable, your feelings are not wrong? I don’t know why, but hearing that gave me a lot of comfort. I told her I thought it was silly to be hung up over such a small thing, because I’m 99.5% sure that nothing more ever happened but she was so validating. I think especially because this happened in childhood, hearing her validate me and listen to me soothed my inner child? Having so much empathy and validation extended to my inner child was helpful and made me believe just a bit more, that my feelings matter and my feelings are valid and important? This is an example of ‘my feelings deserve to be listened to instead of shoved aside‘.

I guess despite how awful everything has been, how utterly tired and depressed I am, how sad and broken and hopeless I feel. I think there have been good things that have come of out this. Especially learning how to rely on people and ask for help. And all I can hope is that being at rock bottom will be a place to finally, finally start to change something and start to grow? I even emailed my therapist yesterday telling her not to give up on me because this time I do want to get better and that I’m trying my best even though I’m scared and it’s really really hard. I know there isn’t a point in holding onto self destruction. I have written letters in the past to my ‘future self’ (aka current self) and I always tell this to myself ‘I hope you finally allow yourself to heal and get better, it’s been so long‘. I wrote the same thing years ago, and I wrote the same thing 6 months ago. I need to finally, finally find it in me to practice some self compassion. My head is screaming that I just don’t deserve it, that I’m not ready, that I’m fat and need to lose weight. But oh my god, they’ve been the same thoughts for the past 6 years of ‘relapse/trying to recover but failing/thinking about recovery but not doing it/relapse again’. And as hard as it is, I know I have to make the choice and I really have to try to recover this time. It’s never going to be a right time. I need to ask for help, I need to be willing to change, I need to be open to letting go of my belief system (including the belief that weight=worth), I need to trust the people that care about me, I need to be kind to myself and I need to validate my feelings. If I’m really at rock bottom, then it’s time to rebuild.

It’s okay to not be okay. It’s a process and recovery is not going to be perfect or black and white. I just need to try.

I do feel so tired and hopeless. I’m going to try to self-care, I suppose. I think it’s slightly ironic that I’m trying to recover when I’m mentally at the worst place that I’ve been in years and years. My mood couldn’t be worse right now, and the ED is quite honestly one hell of a beast that I cannot tame. But small steps.