I usually have a lot to say. Most of the time I feel like I can write a bestselling book on “How to recover from an eating disorder”. I can tell you all about the benefits of intuitive eating, health at every size, size acceptance and about the value of therapy. I can give you a better understanding of nutrition then you probably ever learned in any chemistry or biology class. I can even be a self-help book if you would like and spew out all of the knowledge that I have read/gained about depression, anxiety, imperfection and truly accepting yourself, body, flaws and all. I can tell you all about the power of reaching out, showing vulnerability, communication, being yourself and letting those around you in. I can help you in more ways than you can ever imagine, yet I can’t figure out how to help myself.
I don’t even know where to begin, actually. Although maybe I do and just don’t want to go there.
I know I have said this many times before, but the past 2 weeks have been some of the worst weeks of my life. I have struggled more and hit more lows then I ever thought was actually possible. In fact, looking back I am still surprised. I have cried more tears then I thought was humanly possible, have thrown more temper tantrums then a toddler and have manipulated and hurt those around me. I have been so depressed that I couldn’t imagine feeling much worse and so angry that I thought I was going to explode. I have also been incredibly numb and apathetic to the point where I didn’t care about anything.
I’ve isolated. I’ve surrounded myself with people. I’ve gone to church and prayed. I’ve gone to the mall and the bookstore. I’ve gone to nutrition and therapy appointments. I’ve even been to the hospital. I’ve snuggled with Tigger, cuddled with Cassie. I’ve poured my heart and soul out in my journal. I’ve spent time with John. I’ve chatted with my roommate. I’ve watched more tv then you can imagine. I’ve napped. I’ve read. I’ve written. I’ve text. I’ve looked through old pictures and reminisced. I’ve thought about the future. I’ve spoken to old friends. I’ve ignored people. I’ve ripped every inspirational thing I own off of my wall. I’ve gone on walks and listened to music. I’ve talked. I’ve kept it all in. I’ve held on to hope. I’ve let it all go. I’ve built up walls. I’ve broken them down. I’ve sung, really loudly and broken into spontaneous dance parties. I’ve laughed. I’ve played a lot of card games. I’ve pleaded to others and God. I’ve distracted myself. I’ve asked for advice. I’ve taken it. I’ve ignored it. I’ve done everything you can imagine and then some.
For the past two weeks I have looked for anything and everything possible to make myself feel better and to break free from this eating disorder and with each day I have fallen deeper. With each glimmer of hope, the rebound has been even more painful and I’ve felt defeated. I’ve even started to believe that recovery is just not something that is completely possible for me. I’ve taken a look at all of the wonderful things that I have in my life and have felt so ungrateful for feeling so miserable. I have felt very guilty and extremely selfish. Although most of all I have felt shame. A totally new level of shame that I didn’t think was possible.
Exactly 10 months and 1 day ago, I took part in my last triathlon; a relay with two awesome friends from work. We called ourselves the “dream team” , trained and shared our excitement about the event for weeks. Although we didn’t completely know what we were getting ourselves into and might have been in a little over our head, we bragged and shared the hype to all of those around us. 4 am the morning of the event we blasted Katie Perry’s “Firework” in the car in order to calm the nerves and get pumped up.
I had it easy or at least that is how it should have been. I had the swim, not only the shortest leg of the race but my best event. All I had to do was swim for 20ish minutes and then enjoy watching my friends compete and the rest of the race. I was well trained and there really wasn’t any reason that the swim should have been difficult. But it was horrible. In fact, half way through I felt nearly close to drowning. I not only inhaled a ton of water and threw up but I became completely disoriented. So much so that I ended up swimming an extra 1/4 of a mile the wrong way and possibly more to get back. There were brief moments during that swim where I didn’t honestly believe that I was going to make it back to shore. Times that I really thought that my body was just completely shutting down. At one point, during all of this pain and chaos I said, “Please, if I make it through this race I promise that I will seek out help and stop hurting my body”.
Other than half a banana which I consumed a few hours before the race, my body hadn’t seen actual food in a few days. For countless weeks beforehand I had lived off of coffee with splenda, diet coke, fruit punch(thanks to my job) and an occasional luna bar, greek yogurt or other things that concerned parents/friends pleaded me to eat. To say that I was running on empty was the understatement of the year.
After making it back to shore, I quickly forgot about the promise that I had made. In fact, things continued to get worse and it took a few weeks for me to even consider seeking out help.
Since then, my life has been turned upside down in more ways that I can count. I have worked through many things, only to end up in the same place again. It was less than a month ago that I was experiencing some clarity and freedom that I haven’t seen since childhood. That I was the one inspiring people, providing hope and showing that recovery is possible. And now I find myself trying to hang on to every little thing that I can in order to not completely give up and it isn’t easy.
In the last week, I have made a lot of promises, something that I don’t normally do. Even some that are very similar to the one that I mentioned above. I have made promises to God, John, my treatment team, family and friends. Ranging from “I promise I will eat this if you let me leave the hospital” to “I promise that I will be ok”. I’ve made promises to everyone but myself.
I’ve spent my entire life and especially the last two weeks being completely out of touch with myself, body and my reality. I have not felt comfortable in my own skin or in touch with my feelings and heart in years. I’ve spent years trying to please others, seek approval and accomplish things in order to feel good about myself, in order to feel loved and at home. I’ve been so afraid of my emotions, thoughts, feelings and opinions, then when they begin to surface I get overwhelmed and retreat. I’ve been a stranger to myself. It’s hard to love and care for something that you hate. And that is largely why I constantly find myself where I am currently.
I have started to realize that no amount of numbness, external validation or other people’s support is going to help me. That although my knowledge is a great tool, wisdom isn’t going to set me free. No one can do this for me. Nor can any books, blogs, self-help guru’s etc. I know that not only do I have to want to do this, but I have to be willing to be uncomfortable, face the pain and sit through all of the things that I have spent years avoiding. Although I know that I am not meant to walk through this life alone, it’s through myself that I will eventually find peace and not through anything else. Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, even harder than the food.