maybe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

paradox

why do I find myself constantly yearning?

for life and adventure and a momentary thrill

for love and sheer unadulterated bliss

yearning for deeper valleys and higher peaks

yearning for more

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

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

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

away from life, away from reality

away from pain

I run away in art and daydreams

in books and magical fictional worlds

in travelling and exploring

I run away in numbers and numbness and control

even if it’s just a mirage

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

lost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

expecto patronum.

things aren’t meant to be this way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s all turning into a giant pantomime.

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

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

the woodland carousel

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

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

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

IMG_1635

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

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

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

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

IMG_1982

The rational voice,

the whisper of hope,

the constant drumming of self-destruction.

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

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

droplet

A wave of sadness just hit me and I feel like I’m never going to be enough. Never going to be sick enough or good enough or smart enough or, well.. anything. What if I’m never thin enough? Then what will I be? When I was younger I wanted to be good at the things I loved, like dance and art and loving others. But I’m never good enough. Then I wanted to be good at being sick. But I’m never good enough either.

Sometimes it’s feels like I’m slowly slipping through the cracks, like the droplets through the street grates on a rainy day. Small, unnoticed. People walk on by, water splashes up the curb as the cars zoom through. Nobody sees the droplets, or the empty shell left behind.

I miss art. I miss yoga, and dance. I miss myself. I miss the little girl that was free to be who she was, free to laugh too loudly and love too freely and feel too deeply before the world broke her. I know what the missing puzzle pieces are, I just can’t seem to find them in the fog of depression and pain and numbers. I just want to be me, I just want to make art and read and learn, I want to cook and bake and travel and connect with the people around me and just live. Live, and be alive. But everything is quickly passing me by.

There is endless depth in the ocean beneath the still waters & crashing waves of a sad, broken heart. And yet, I don’t know if I’ll ever be enough. How many droplets do an ocean make?

 

just be

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

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

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

IMG_8029

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

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

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

love/pain

I took a long walk today, a walk to my grandparents’ home, as well as a walk down memory lane. I walk along these streets I’ve known all my life, past my primary school, past my kindergarden, past my old childhood home, past the familiar playgrounds and park… and I can’t help but reminisce. I try my best to find the good memories, but everything seems to be tainted with pain- or maybe it’s the bad memories we remember best.

I remember kindergarden, we were playing with hula hoops in class and there was a girl I didn’t like, and we were both the best at it. That was my first taste of dogged determination to be better than her, the first inkling of my need to be ‘good enough’ and validated.

I remember primary school, so many memories of being alone walking the school grounds, being alone in the library, feeling painfully inadequate and out of place. I remember skipping meals. I remember my friend having self-harmed and wanting to kill herself, we were only 12 then, I remember the fear I felt when she went missing and was found in the rooftop because I had been in her shoes before.

I’ve lost track of all the times I’ve walked down these same streets upset or crying, alone. I remember the nights I almost killed myself, walking up and down the same streets reminiscing.

It’s not that there aren’t good memories- there are, they’re just tainted by this pain I seem to have felt almost my life, everything colored so bittersweet.

I dropped by my grandparents’ home and surprised them, gave them their favorite bakery bread I got for them, and lots of hugs. My grandpa’s smile when he first opened the door lifted all the weariness in me, my grandma’s long hugs made me feel like everything was okay again.

And as I walked back, I couldn’t help but tear up- and I didn’t even know why. They mean the world to me, they really do. Everything may be tainted in pain but they have been a constant lighthouse in my life, they have been my home, solace when everything is falling apart. I wish there was a way to capture their smiles forever, those precious smiles that spark the most joy and love in me- I would do anything to make them smile. I couldn’t help but think of them seeing me at my goal weight.. that isn’t something I want them to see, it know it would break their hearts.

I need to recover eventually for them, I need to recover because that’s what they would want‘, it was a fleeting moment of certainty. Being my happiest and healthiest self is one of the best things I can do for them. And yet, that certainty dissipated quickly- I want to recover for them but I can’t, and it makes it 100 times harder that they don’t even know.

I remember all the lost years, the years of 11, 14, 15 and 16. Years where I remember nothing but pain and depression. I can’t find a single memory of their smile, a memory of a good time with them. What I remember most, is seeing my grandfather cry for the first time in my life after he saw my self-harm. he knew. I remember seeing the pain on my grandma’s face because she knew, too. I remember all the times I caused a scene, all the pain and suffering I brought upon them. I was so distant, so far gone. And writing this now brings tears to my eyes instantly because I caused that pain. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for that pain.

So I mentally file ‘grandparents‘ it in ‘reasons to recover‘, for another time. I think of their smiles, and how much they mean to me. My very first memories are of my grandparents and not my parents, I remember being held by my grandma as a baby, the warmth of my grandpa’s laughter that still hasn’t changed, I remember being a toddler and running towards my grandpa whenever I saw him and the smile on his face as he waited for me, I remember the morning walks with my grandma to the market and her buying me my favorite jelly dessert, her proud smile when I graduated from kindergarden.

I want to keep those memories forever.

You see, almost everything in my life is tainted with pain- but not them. There has never been anything but love. The only people who has ever made me feel truly loved, the only people that made me feel like I didn’t have to achieve anything to be good enough, the only ones whose smiles light up my world.

And as I continue to walk, it dawns on me, I am so incredibly loved. I’ve always known that they loved me, of course, but the emotions hit me. I hold the feeling tentatively in my brain, not knowing what to do with it. I am so loved. I am so, so loved. I am their pride and joy, their first granddaughter, so precious to them. And yet, the fact doesn’t make me feel better or change anything. And it hurts, knowing that even having their unconditional love isn’t enough for me to recover. I’ve often felt so undeserving of their love, because over the years I have always hurt myself in one way or another, I have repeatedly hurt, destroyed and tried to kill the very thing that means the world to them- me.

I want more than anything to make them happy. The same anxious thought plagues me ‘time is running out‘ I have lost so many years and I can’t lose more. And yet, what can I do? I can’t get better, all I can do is protect them from my pain- but I don’t want to have to. I’ve tried to protect them from my pain all these years and it’s only carried me further from them. I want to make happy memories with them before I no longer can, I want to make memories untainted my my illness. I want to see their smiles when they see me recover, but I can’t even tell them (they don’t even know what EDs or mental illnesses are) and neither can I recover for them, I wish I could but I can’t. Maybe I’m being selfish.

I have no conclusion, no neat little answer, just a mix of feelings I can’t unravel.

I just miss them, I miss how I feel when I’m with them. I want to feel loved, and safe in their arms and I wish everything wasn’t so hard.

if mental illness is a chronic illness that I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life, I don’t think i want to. I’m tired, i’m tired and it’s been 4 years (and maybe more) and I’ve already had enough. I see people in their 20s and 30s and beyond that, struggling with eating disorders and mental illnesses. I see mothers struggling in depths of their illnesses and i never want to go through that.

I don’t want to be a mother struggling, a uni student struggling, a wife struggling. i have spent all my teenage years struggling and i don’t want to waste my entire youth struggling, but how do i not? i need this to have an end point, but i see no horizon in sight and i could keep going like i always have, but long how until i say enough is enough?

i didn’t ask for any of this, i’m so tired. it’s no longer the kind of tiredness where the exhaustion runs in my bones, a weary heart fallen to the ground but the kind of tiredness that just is.

rag-doll girl

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

and if i let the thorny voices get any closer

my head cloudier

the cheap stitches holding me together will break

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

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

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