Overdue update

It has been over three months since I've posted, and I feel like after my most recent less than thrilling post on life, anyone who actually reads this thing deserves a little bit of an update. I'm going to try my best to keep this brief, but we all know how I am with that... so we shall see how that goes.

I am honestly doing so much better than I was a few months ago. January (and all of winter break to be honest) was pretty awful in many aspects, that post wasn't an exaggeration. Although I will admit that when things are bad, my mind tends to be completely oblivious to any thing that could possibly be positive in life. I don't know exactly what happened, and it doesn't really matter anyways, but I somehow turned things around. I guess lack of structure is pretty debilitating for me, so going back to school added the structure that I needed. It also gave me some motivation to break out of the self-destructive cycle I was in, as I do desire to successfully complete school and work towards a career that I am passionate about. And while I used to be able to be productive and manage daily tasks while I was actively engaging in my ED, my brain just can't deal with that anymore and even remembering what I was thinking two seconds ago is impossible when I'm not nourishing myself properly. Basically long story short, somewhere towards the beginning of February I managed to dig myself out of a hole that I had been digging.

That's not to say that things have not been difficult. I think I went through a bit of a honeymoon phase during most of February, where yes, doing the whole recovery thing was hard, but it was also somewhat rewarding because I wasn't constantly isolating myself from everyone and ruminating on how much I'd rather be dead, and I could enjoy things that "normal" people take for granted. That's since worn off and I've been hit with the reality of how much recovery actually sucks (while not ignoring the fact that life really IS better when I'm meeting my body's needs). But I'm not going to beat around the bush, living in my body feels like a nightmare, and I'm constantly second guessing everything I consume ("do I actually NEED to eat this carb for dinner? I had oatmeal for breakfast....").  And making good decisions for myself is difficult, because there's no one telling me I have to do it (I'm no longer seeing a dietitian, and I only see my therapist and physician once a month). In the back of my mind, I'm constantly debating whether all this is worth it, because in the moment it never seems like it is. I have to keep looking forward and realizing that maybe life has the potential to be fulfilling if I keep trying to fight this battle. I'll never really know if I give up.

In writing all of this, I feel like I'm oversimplifying what's going on in my mind. There's a lot I'm not sharing because a lot of my "ED thoughts" are pretty disturbing and I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I think a lot of the things I do. But in short, none of this has been easy, every day I battle with the "need" to restrict. I have bad days, and very bad days, but I also have a lot of good days.

As a quick update on life - I recently applied to multiple Child Life Practicums at hospitals in Maryland. I had no idea how competitive it was, until I got turned down (without even an interview) by all but one location (which I'm still waiting to hear back from). According to one of the Child Life Specialists at the hospital I volunteer at, one of the places I applied received over 40 applicants and only selected one. It's pretty discouraging being turned down repeatedly when I know this is what I want to do. The only thing I can really do is continue to build up my experience, revise my application answers and resume, and reapply for the fall (to more places this time). I feel kind of bad asking my references again for letters of recommendation and to re-fill out forms.

Right now I'm incredibly busy with things. Which in some sense is good, because it keeps my time pretty structured and I have little room to dwell on negative things in life. I'm taking two classes at UMD with an anticipated graduation date of May 18, 2016. I also just recently started an online Child Life program and am taking a class online, which has kept me pretty busy. In addition to education, I'm working again at State Farm four days a week, and am also continuing to volunteer at the Children's hospital. I do enjoy everything I've been engaging in, even though I'm constantly tired and my only down time is when I'm driving from place to place. But it keeps my days structured, and structure is what I thrive off of.

So that's basically my life right now. Much more than I had planned on writing (called it), but I guess that's what happens when you ignore your blog for 3ish months.

-Sarah :)

Stuck in my cycle

I really do not know what to even say, or where to begin. Other than that things have gone downhill real fast over the past two weeks. Forgive for being vulgar, I just have a lot on my mind that I have a hard time articulating without using unnecessary profanity. But basically, I feel so fucking out of control right now.

I do not know what to do with myself. I have been ambivalent about recovery for basically the entire time I have been "in-recovery" (whatever the fuck that means). Kind of one foot in, one foot out. The idea that "I can always go back" circling through my mind. There have been phases (such as right out of treatment) where I have been on a "recovery high," things are well, I feel joy, I want to get better, I feel like I have a life, etc. But then that high wears off, and my hope or desire towards recovery dips. It is like a spectrum, I am constantly climbing up and down it. I am doing well, I have hope, my desire spikes, or I am doing well but reality hits me and I start freaking out because life is different without my eating disorder (not necessarily a bad thing, but a terrifying thing), or I am struggling and I lose hope entirely and give up. The last couple of months I have been on the lower end of the spectrum, but still hanging in there by a few threads.

I do not know what happened. The holidays came (lots of "scary" or "triggering" foods, stress of being surrounded by people and having to make an attempt at being social), not having school as a motivator to keep pushing forward, not having structure and isolating more which feeds into my depression, going off my meds, grad school application deadlines and literally having NO motivation to do anything but sleep all day, feeling hopeless about getting into grad school because I literally can not get myself to move forward in that direction, hopelessness about the future in general, feeling inadequate because I am almost 26 and still dependent on my parents and still not having my shit together... basically all these things, if not more, just triggered me to fall back into using my eating disorder behaviors.

I had been struggling already with mostly heavily restricting my intake, but then the holidays and holiday food came into the picture and that pretty much triggered a monster in me. I went into the holidays pretty confident that I was going to be okay, I always do (I don't know why I don't just learn from history repeating itself, but even if I did I'm not sure how that would prepare me). Usually when talking about my behaviors I talk about restriction as the main behavior I struggle with, but I go through patterns where I will start purging, which triggers me to restrict my intake of pretty much everything (because I hate purging, everything about it), which leads to binging and purging. I literally have not gone a day without binging and purging multiple times a day in 10 days. It makes me feel gross to admit that, because it is atypical of my disorder, but it happens and can last a few weeks to a few months. When I get into the cycle I can not get myself to stop. All I can think about is fucking shoveling every thing I can into my mouth and getting rid of it. Every day I promise myself I will not eat "trigger foods" (because there are some things I pretty much can not eat without knowing I will end up purging it), that I will stick to my safe foods, maybe I will even eat enough if that means not binging and purging. But then the intense desire to consume and consume and consume kicks in. I don't even taste the food anymore (I do in the beginning). It kind of comes as a package, eating everything and then getting rid of it. I hate every single part of it, but I can not stop.

Sorry if that was too much information. I feel really ashamed of binging and purging, but I am not going to sit here and pretend that I just restrict my food because that would be a freaking lie. The only way I know how to get out of this cycle is simply to not eat. Fill up on coffee, diet sodas, zero calorie energy drinks. Eat less than 500 calories a day. Only eat specific items which are precisely weighed out. Take an hour to pick apart a fucking clif bar, which I may or may not purge. Binging and purging literally scares any desire to eat out of me. This is how things got out of hand the first time my family recognize there was a problem, binged and purged for months until I was so scared of eating that I literally starved myself until I ended up on bed rest in a treatment center.

All of this is making me feel so out of control and hopeless, and making me lack motivation to recover completely. I do not have a desire anymore to keep trying and setting myself up for failure. Why try when I can only get so far before I fail? I feel like I can not live a life without my eating disorder. I know what kind of life (or lack thereof) my eating disorder brings me, and it is terrible in ways that I do not even know how to describe. It is dark, lonely, depressing, scary, but also filled with emptiness. It completely ruins my relationships with everyone. But I keep getting pulled back to that. It is so much easier to live like this, and I do not know why. I always see the quote floating around, "recovery isn't as hard as living a lifetime with an eating disorder." I call bullshit. Recovery is actually the hardest thing I have ever attempted. Every fucking day I have to re-make up my mind that I want to recover, and even then there is the challenge of actually being able to do it. WANTING to recover is a challenge in itself.

I made a pretty bold move and decided to stop seeing my dietitian. I just do not feel like there is any point to seeing her when I do not even know if I want to recover anymore or if I am even capable of it. I feel like I am throwing money away. I do not think a dietitian can be helpful unless I am motivated, and right now I am not. Plus, I am pretty sure I irritate the crap out of her because she is constantly giving me recommendations and I do not follow through with them. Or I will hit my calorie goal for a few days, and then completely fuck it up. I have not quit the rest of my team yet, but I feel like it is really pointless to see them right now when I just do not have any desire to get better anymore. Who knows, maybe they will spark something in me and help me pull myself out of the current cycle I am in.

Painful Memories


Preface: It has taken me the past several weeks to type this up, and is a bit wordy. Over the past few days I have been debating whether or not to post this on Facebook, changing my mind constantly, as this is probably the hardest thing I will ever publically post. Mostly because it makes me incredibly vulnerable in ways that I have never expressed on facebook. And it will probably make many of my readers uncomfortable (and that is okay). But this is my experience with the accident and losing Jesse, something I have never shared outside of therapy or therapy groups.



You. You hurt me and killed a part of me that I will never get back. Yes, you. You, who are not reading this, and probably never will. You, who have no part in my life, yet I still crave you. You, who don't give two shits about me, yet I still care so deeply about how much you hurt me and how much pain you caused me. You, who probably do not care about how deeply you affected me.

Jesse died 9 years ago today. This is probably the hardest thing I'll ever post on here, but I'm so angry. And hurt. And I am so freaking selfish for writing this, and I have so much hate towards myself that I am this angry and selfish. Because I am not angry that Jesse died. I mean, I am. But I am more sad than angry, and I have accepted that. I feel like such a horrid person because I am just so terribly selfish for feeling how I feel.

Part of me does not know why I am posting this publically, because it is a pain that is so deeply ingrained in my heart that I do not want others to see, and I do not want others to see through me, how selfish and awful of a person I am. But part of me is posting this for closure, because that is something that I have struggled with, is wanting closure on this. I do not know if it is bad to want and to seek closure, especially when done so selfishly.

I have typed this out multiple times, editing and re-editing it, to make sure my words portray what I am trying to share. But I do not know that I can accurately explain how deeply painful the experience (accident, and months following) were to me, without sounding selfish and childish. Like I should "grow up" or "get over it." But it is not that simple. A quote that comes to mind as a type this is, "When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don't get to decide that you didn't". -Louie, Cop Story. Because I feel like the people who hurt me, if they read this, will feel defensive, like they did not do anything wrong. And maybe it was not intentional, I have accepted that, but that does not change the pain that it caused me. Whether it was intentional or not, I was still wounded, and that still chains me down.

But I am angry at the people in my life that should have been there. I am angry at my siblings for getting more attention than me. I am angry at my "friends" who I thought I had, who were not there for me. My church was supportive of my family, but I felt neglected in every way as an individual.

Sometimes I wonder if my memory is selective, like I am missing pieces to the story. But this is what I remember and what is still instilled in my mind. When we were welcomed at the hospital, everyone surrounded my siblings, making sure they were okay. Josh, and Andrew, and Jacob, because they were seriously injured. The little ones, because they were adored by the church. My parents, because they lost their child. But me, only one friend and her mom approached me to make sure I was okay. I stood by the side and observed everyone else getting welcomed home, and being hugged, and being asked if they were okay. While I was not okay, but I pretended like I was.

Jesse's viewing just kills me. I can not wrap my mind around it. It was awful. The same friend and her mom who approached me at the airport also talked to me at the funeral, but that is it. I do not remember any of MY "friends" showing up, people who I thought cared, other than the one friend and her mother. I sat on the couch at Jesse's viewing, giving back massages to my cousins, while everyone gathered around my parents, my siblings in wheelchairs, and my younger siblings. Even the people who I thought I had some connection to, not quite friends, but acquaintances, did not approach me.

That was all so painful for me, and still is. I was 16. I was hurting because I lost my brother. I was hurting because I just gone through a traumatic situation. One that that so many people dismiss as "just an accident" but still haunts me to this day.


I can not even put into words how terrifying and traumatizing it is to wake up in the pitch black woods, not knowing if you are dead or alive, and turning to your right to see what appears to be a lifeless body lying next to you. Hearing your dad scream "where are my children?" Being kissed on the forehead by my dad as blood streamed down his face. Paramedics counting off my siblings, trying to find everyone, but not Jesse. Hearing "where is Jesse? We can't find Jesse," over and over again. My brother screaming out profanities as he could barely breathe with his collapsed lung. Lying in pain, unable to move, yet trying to lay a hand on Josh, who I was not close to at the time, as a way to try to comfort him. Lying in the ambulance next Jacob, and hearing the paramedics panic at the rate of blood he was losing. Lying in the hospital bed, alone, for what felt like hours, wondering where my family was. Were they okay? Was Joshua alive? Was Jesse alive? All these questions running through my mind. I hardly noticed the pain I was in, because there was so much going on, my body could not respond to it.

I was hurting because I did not have the friends I thought I had. I am still hurting today. Today, I feel worthless, unlovable, selfish, excruciatingly lonely, like a terrible person. I am mad at everyone. I am mad at myself for being angry at people I love. I love my family, but I am angry at them because they got more attention than me. I am angry that I am so selfish, that this is what hurts me so much.

When my parents get flowers in the mail on the anniversary of Jesse's death, I want to feel grateful, but I am not. I feel selfish. Because I think, "what about me?" "Do you not know everything I lost through this? My brother, my friends, my value as a person, my hope for myself?"

I know people are going to judge me for posting this. I know people are going to know how selfish I am. Or that I am weak, or needy. Attention seeking. Whatever. Yes, I am sad that Jesse died, and question all the time why he had to die. But all my pain from the accident is from so much more than just Jesse dying.

Physical vs. Mental Illness

Photo Source: BuzzFeed Health https://www.facebook.com/BuzzFeedHealth/

Like seriously. There is so much STIGMA behind mental illness, and people don't take it seriously. When the symptoms of mental illness are actually also PHYSICAL, debilitating, and real. Oh yeah, and life threatening.







 
 
 

Also, THIS. With an endless amount of other emotions.

Right back where I belong

I met with my psychiatrist today and it was an interesting visit. Some background information. I stopped taking my meds on Sunday. Cold turkey. I was coming home from Boston early that morning, and I didn't want to consume anything because I wanted to be able to weigh myself when I got home with nothing in my stomach (I ended up drinking a diet coke on the plain, but that's a moot point). I don't know why, but after not having taken my meds on Sunday, I had no motivation to take them on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday. I told her that I had "forgotten" but the story eventually came out. I got super sick on Monday, unsurprisingly, considering the amount of meds I'm on and how stopping cold turkey affects my brain chemistry.

My sleep has been so messed up since Sunday. I've been tired constantly, taking long but low quality (basically sleepless) naps during the day, and getting little to no sleep at night. I'll go to sleep and literally wake up every hour if not more, and it takes me forever to fall back asleep. We talked about this and how my circadian rhythm was screwed up. Likely from withdrawing from medication that a.) makes me more sleepy in general, and b.) some of which help with sleep. But also because depression in general makes you more tired, which is what makes me constantly tired and feeling like I need to nap during the day, which throws off my circadian rhythm making it difficult if not impossible to sleep at night.

We then had a long discussion about my motivation behind not taking medication. She saw right through me and knew that I hadn't "forgotten" my meds the following days. She talked to me about the different reasons why people fail to take their medication, something that ultimately makes them feel better. Some reasons were control, apathy or ambivalence towards feeling/getting better, fear of getting better, etc. The ambivalence and fear of being okay kind of resonated with me. It kind of parallels to my eating disorder. I'm so ambivalent towards recovery from my eating disorder, mostly because of fear of what I'm letting go of. The same holds true for medication, not so much in the sense of "letting go" of something that keeps me safe. But I'm so used to being sick in my head that going back to feeling like shit feels comfortable. I don't know why, but it is also somewhat scary to be okay. Why? It doesn't make sense. But she said it wasn't uncommon. As miserable and depressed and anxious as I am without my medication, it feels right. And a few days of not taking my medication, and feeling a huge dip in my mood, just made me feel somewhat safe and at home. I know it doesn't make sense the way I'm explaining it, but when we talked about it, it made a whole lot more sense.

We talked about what we would do going forward from here. I'm apathetic towards taking my medication right now. She said she would support me with any decision I decided to go. So basically we decided to go off of my Luvox, Abilify, Lexapro, and Trazadone, and to keep the Klonopin and Focalin. That was my decision. I'm not sure how I pulled that one over her, considering the Klonopin and Focalin are my two "abusable" and controlled substances. But whatever, she was cool with it. She said as long as I promised to be smart about it, and to come back in if my suicidal thoughts became more than just "fleeting" thoughts.

As okay as I'd been the past few days with not taking my medication, I kind of left with a bit of a pit in my stomach. Like maybe I made a bad decision. I could have had her prescribe my meds, and chosen from there whether I wanted to get them filled, or even get them filled and decided from there whether to take them. But no, I totally gave up 4 of my meds which keep my mind somewhat sane. I felt somewhat like I was giving up. I almost cried over it on the way home, because in a way I felt like I was "grieving" my medication. Which is somewhat silly. But again, it does keep my mood relatively okay, and I'm giving that up.

So basically I just dropped 2/3's of my medication. I'm not sure how okay with it I am, but at the same time I take comfort in knowing that I can go back to my depressed, miserable, and anxious state. It's sick to say and to think, but part of me is looking forward to feeling the missed hole and darkness in my life that consumed me. It feels like I'm back at home, where I belong.

A fun weekend

I don't normally post about my social life. Mainly because, well, I don't have one. But this weekend was pretty full of activity and fun. Pretty rare for me.

It started out Thursday night. My old roommate, Nadiya, and I went to DC 101's holiday concert at Eagle Bank Arena. There were five bands that played, but the main two that I enjoyed were the struts and fall out boy. I'm not hugely into music, and never really sing along to the songs. But I love going to events like this mainly because I LOVE getting dressed up and going all out. Which I did. That's my favorite part of going to events or parties is getting dressed up. I definitely had the goth/hardcore thing going. Which was pretty fun, because I'm typically all pink, glitter, and unicorns.






The next morning (Friday), I woke up bright and early (well, it was actually kind of dark) for my flight to Boston to visit my brother (and a pretty sweet grad school). My brother picked me up from the airport and drove me back to his place. He had some stuff he had to get done, so he headed out, and I pretty much napped all day. Which was much needed after only getting maybe 2-3 hours of sleep the night before.


On flight to Boston - notice my eyeliner from the previous night is still remaining

My brother got home later in the evening, and I hung out with him and his roommate. We walked to the liquor store to get some beer and wine, and had some drinks at home while we chilled out and ate some local pizza (something I wouldn't have eaten a few months ago, because I can only guess the number of calories in it).

The next morning was another early morning. My brother drove me to Wheelock College, which is a college primarily focused on education and early childhood development, with roughly 1200 student. And only 400 of them are grad students. I went there for the open house, and went on a quick tour of the campus (which was pretty tiny). I absolutely fell in love with the school. Apparently it's the first school with a Child Life Master's program, and the top one in the country. They only admit up to 12 students into the program, so it's pretty freaking competitive (but so is Towson). I just loved the supportive atmosphere of it, the way the class is small and set up as a cohort, and how they help set you up for an internship. Child Life only requires that you have 480 hours for your internship, but they set you up with two internships - one 400 hour internship in a hospital setting, and one 200 hour internship in a more narrow clinical setting. Which puts you high up there for employee seekers. I also like how all the major hospitals are literally right down the street from Wheelock, and how Wheelock is literally right on the green line which makes it an easy transit. Like I said, I fell in love with this school.

After my brother brought me home, him and his roommate and I walked to The Red Lentil - a pretty awesome vegetarian restaurant right down the street from his apartment. As much as food causes me so much anxiety and chaos in my mind, I love trying out new restaurants. Especially veg ones where you can only find in specific locations. I loved the food. I got the vegan pumpkin bisque, and a butternut squash and artichoke quesadilla with vegan cheese.





After lunch we came back to Josh's place, and I slept some more (you'd think I was an old lady!). Then I took the bus into Boston to visit a friend in Harvard Square. I had so much fun hanging out with her and just chatting. Most of our conversation had nothing to do with our eating disorders, which was really refreshing because I feel like most of my relationships center around our eating disorders. And it was cool that we could have fun and enjoy each other's company WITHOUT shit talking treatment centers and talking about how fucked up we are. Along with many other stores, we spent a ton of time at Newbury Comics, which had hardly any comics, but a TON of unicorn stuff. I went crazy. I don't actually have money to spend, but oops. I kind of went a little crazy in there. I'm not going to tell you how much damage I did, but let's just say it's been a while since I've spent that much money on myself (or any money at all, really). I went insane buying unicorn pins, magnets, socks, gloves, and the most amazing unicorn ugly Christmas sweater I've ever seen. I wasn't going to buy it at first, because money, but after I checked out with my pins galore, I KNEW I'd regret it if I didn't buy it. So I got back in line and purchased it. I'm not regretting the hole in my pocket at all. Anyways, I had a blast hanging out with my friend and I'm so glad we were able to meet up. We spent about 3-4 hours just walking around Harvard Square and checking out shops and chatting, and totally lost track of time.

The most amazing ugly Christmas sweater EVER

I didn't get much sleep last night, maybe an hour. I had trouble sleeping. So after I flew back home this morning, I spent most of the day sleeping. I had a really good weekend, but I struggled a lot with food today. You'd think my passion for Child Life, and my love for Wheelock in all of it's competitiveness would have motivated me for recovery. After all, I KNOW I can't be successful if I'm in my ED. And after a rough semester this Fall, I really need to do well in the Spring to pull my GPA back up (it was pretty good, but I'm pretty worried with this semester being so bad). But I kind of left Boston feeling kind of discouraged and more pulled to my eating disorder. Child Life is what I want to do, but it's competitive, and I'm nothing special when it comes to academics. Sure, I have a lot of volunteer hours and a lot of experience with kids, but I'm not confident that any of that will make me stand out. If I don't get into grad school, then what?

Happiness

I got this interesting new book called "How to be Happy (or at least less sad)." It's not a self-help book, but more of a workbook to explore your thoughts/feelings, recognize them, express them, etc. And it's like a quick thing you can do, not something where you have to spend like 45 minutes writing paragraphs to explain your current emotional status. Just like a quick 5-10min activity at most.

 
 
Above is the book (obviously) and a quick page I filled out. I'm going to try to make it a regular thing I do. Maybe not every day, but every few days to kind of check in with myself or process things. I don't know.
 
I like how in the introduction of the book, the author talks about how this isn't a Self-Help book. In fact, most Self-Help books pretty much fail you. I mean, I've gotten some benefit from Self-Help books, but they definitely haven't cured my problems (Although a book I highly recommend, which when I read it I thought was the lamest read ever, actually changed my life and way of thinking. It's called "The Happiness Trap." It will be a silly read, but if you actually apply the practices to real life, it does help.). The author also talks about how striving for happiness made him ultimately more unhappy, and a more attainable goal is to try to be less sad. Which I liked. Maybe happiness is possible, maybe it's not, but baby steps, right?
 
I have a tendency to skim through books (especially Self-Help books) to see what I'm getting myself into, and prejudge if I'm going to like it. I found a quote in there that was really relevant.
 
"You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."
-Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
 
The quote hits home, and I have talked a lot about this in therapy. But I spend a lot of my time and energy on protecting myself from the bad feelings that go through my mind. Sadness, shame, grief, worthlessness, hopelessness, loneliness, the list goes on. My eating disorder plays a huge role in this too, because it numbs out most of the bad (except anger, which all my emotions get channeled through, and intensifies during my ED). But along with the bad, I'm numbing out everything else. Happiness, excitement, pleasure, joy, and again, the list goes on.
 
But Jonathan Safran Foer is right. You can't have it both ways. You can't just hide from the bad emotions and expect the good ones to hang around. That's hard for me to wrap my mind around. It's hard for me to accept. I worry, what if I allow the bad ones back in, but the good emotions don't come back?
 
I spent a lot of years suffocated by the bad emotions, that it's hard to know that I have any of the good left. I know it's been proven otherwise. I've had experiences coming out of treatment where I've felt good, on top of the world. But the bad emotions always flood back and overwhelm me. Maybe I just don't know how to live with the bad ones, how to manage them so they don't intensify. But I feel like there's this pattern, where I take care of myself, treat myself well, challenge my eating disorder in it's entirety (including my social isolation). And for a while it works. But it doesn't last. Reality hits me. That life is bad to live, and it's never going to be good. And then I go back to my eating disorder, because I know how to handle my eating disorder and live with those emotions (anger.), but I can't handle the rest. My eating disorder will either leave me numb yet full of anger, or it will kill me, and those seem much more appealing than living in a world full of self-hate and unpleasant emotions.