Saturday, November 17, 2012

How my personality saved my life

Today I went to a workshop on the enneagram. For those of you who have no idea what that is, it’s a personality typing system that gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves and others. I will save going into details about the enneagram itself for another post but if you are interested you can check out, http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/


Ever since the enneagram was introduced to me, I have been fascinated by it. At first I used it more as a tool to try to learn about others and gain a better understanding of how to better help others grow. But for the past few months I have used it more as a tool to learn about myself; see my underlying motivates, figure out why I find myself in the same patterns that I do and how to better myself. To say that it’s been a huge factor in helping my recovery would probably be an understatement of the year. 

Tonight as John and I were lying in bed, we began discussing the past year and the ups and downs relating to it. I immediately began thinking about the horrible day in May. The day that I seriously considered taking my own life. On that day I was miserable. I felt like I couldn't see past my pain and I couldn't handle the immense shame and sadness that I felt. I felt broken and like I was too far gone to be fixed. I felt lost and confused and desperate. I was so consumed by self hatred and anorexia that I struggled to see the point in anything. The depression scorched my passion, enthusiasm and optimism. I was obsessing about everything but cared about nothing, or so I thought. 

I had gone to church earlier that day and I was so fucking angry. I had pleaded to God to please show me some sign that He had heard me, something in my heart that made me feel better and I saw nothing. I laid on my bedroom floor, thinking of all the possible ways that I could die. In between thought I begged and pleaded for something to help me, anything to make me feel better. Right when I got to the point where I was seriously considering doing something stupid, I stopped. Before I even realized what I was doing I was on the phone with John. While I don't remember exactly what I said, he came over before I knew it.

For a while we sat in silence. I sobbed hysterically but I couldn't form words. It was about 30minutes or so before I even began to talk. I don't remember exactly what I started off with but it was along the lines of "I am giving up, I can't live like this anymore." Shortly after coming over, John was in the bathroom. He had eaten way too much Chinese food and that combined with my upsetting state of mind made him sick. As he sat in the bathroom, practically throwing up, I sat outside on my desk chair trying to figure out what to do. Here I was, completely irrational and ready to end my life, but trying to figure out how to make John feel better. In between thoughts of how depressed I was, I continuously asked John how he was doing and what I could do to help. I got him water, offered him my bed and constantly tried to make him comfortable. Even though I was completely out of touch with reality, my core values of wanting to help others seeped through. That night, John's sickness, forced me to think about something other than my pain and suffering. It forced me to think past myself and I honestly believe it saved my life. 

Unfortunately or actually fortunately, this hasn't been the only instance of this. While this example has been the worst case and the most serious case of this, most of my recovery attempts in the past have been because of others. For so many years I had such self hatred, I didn't want to recover from anorexia for myself, but instead for others. I couldn't stand to see the pain that I continuously put my family and friends though. Although it took a long time for me to realize how serious of a problem I had, deep down inside I knew that I was slowly killing myself and I couldn't handle leaving John alone.I couldn't face the thought of my mom burring her only child. While I tried to keep my struggles a secret, I wasn't naive enough to believe that I wasn't affecting others and the idea that I was directly hurting people was something that I couldn't handle. Even more so, knowing that I couldn't truly help other people and make a difference in this world, while struggling, kept me going on more days that I can count.

Right now my recovery is solid. I have come a long way. While I still stand by wanting to help others and enjoy doing so every day, I don't need to remind myself this constantly to keep going. Not only do I see positive things in other people and love encouraging growth, but I see these things in myself. My compassion and empathy now work both ways. I still enjoy catering to others needs, but I don't forget my own. I wake up feeling grateful for every day and am honored to be apart of others lives. I am optimistic, enthusiastic and super sensitive yet also have a dark side. While I sincerely wish that day in May had never occurred, I know that I wouldn't be where I am today without it and have no doubt that my personality kept me alive.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Redefining Struggle

These past few weeks have been very difficult. More difficult than things have been in a while. Yet difficult looks a lot different than it used to. In the past a difficult day consisted of feeling overwhelmed/like I couldn't handle things and not eating because of it. It consisted of attempting to use food (or lack there of) to attempt to control what I couldn't. I used the scale, restriction, calorie counting and isolation for comfort. I obsessed about everything, honestly making things more difficult in the long run. I wasn't solving my problems or working through my pain, I was avoiding it. In the past a difficult day was an instant excuse to use the eating disorder to cope and I looked for every excuse possible.

Difficult days don't look like that anymore. Even though my recovery is still a work in progress, conscious restriction is no longer an option. It isn't my go to. In fact, I am paranoid to not eat. When I go long periods of time without eating, I become crazy; overly emotional, unable to handle anything, hysterical and completely irrational. My mood is no longer dictated by the number on the scale nor do I use a piece of plastic and metal to dictate my worth. Calorie counting is no longer a part of my daily time wasting. Although unfortunately a lot of nutritional information is engrained in my head, I no longer spend time keeping track of every calorie that goes into my mouth. In fact, it really pains me to think of all of the years that I spent doing that.

Difficult days are no longer days ruled by the eating disorder. These past few weeks have been hard but have shown me how solid my recovery is. They have shown me how strong I truly am. There have been a lot of tears, uncomfortable moments, pain, anger, change, among many other negative things, but restricting hasn't crossed my mind. A lot of days have been a struggle, especially emotionally, but I have turned to John, family, friends and my treatment team for help and comfort. My hard days are no longer defined by the food that I don't eat or the things that I avoid, instead by gentle reminders that it will get better. Some nights end with me curled up in a ball crying in bed. Most mornings start off with a lot of self-talk and reminders.Most days end with me getting off from work, eating dinner and going to bed. Some days I am a mess and rely a lot on deep breaths and constant reassurance from others.

A year ago, I couldn't imagine a life without anorexia and now on most days I am living it. I don't remember the exact moment when I decided that things had to change but I know that I haven't looked back. It will be a while before I can let my guard down, but I am confident that anorexia no longer has a place in my life. No matter how hard the day, I know that I can get through it.