Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

“not your year”


i just got home yesterday and have no recent photos so we'll stick with the ballet theme

I am home.  I’ve been home for less than 24 hours and I’ve had one doctor’s appointment and I’ve gone grocery shopping and crashed on the couch watching NCIS,  my latest favorite show, with my cats climbing on and off my lap in a game of King of the Mountain in order to get my attention.

It’s been an . . . interesting three weeks.  I had a lot of ups and downs while I was there.  I was set to leave the very first weekend I was there, but we got hit with a snowstorm that I laughed at since I grew up in upstate NY, but which was a major deal for Oklahomians.  Overall, I am glad I stayed.  I learned a lot, not necessarily about the eating disorder, but about myself.

On my drive home yesterday I listed to “Not Your Year” by The Weepies.  A few particular lines caught my ear:

“Breathe through it, write a list of desires, / Make a wish, Make a toast, Slash some tires, / Paint a heart repeating, beating, “Don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up.””

One thing I realized is that this really hasn’t been my year.  Not the year 2010, but the 365 days leading up to my admission.  During my admissions intake, the person asked me if I’d experienced any big loss recently, and I stared at her blankly.  “Like someone dying, a serious illness. . . ” she prompted.  “Does being diagnosed with ARVD and having a defibrillator placed and being told you might be on a heart transplant list someday count?” I asked.  This is when she looked at me as if I were truly crazy for not having immediately thought about that as a loss.

After my diagnosis, I felt some sadness and some fear and maybe a touch of anger, but I tried to shove these emotions aside and raised money for the heart walk and threw myself into learning all I could about the illness.  And then I tried to start school 5 weeks after surgery and got physically exhausted and then I got depressed, either from Seasonal Affective Disorder or my thyroid finally petering out on me or a combination of the two and probably I was a little depressed about my heart diagnosis although I wouldn’t admit it, not fully.  And then due to the depo shots and the thyroid, I gained weight very quickly and very scarily.  And I honestly, truly tried to lose it in a healthy way.  But cutting one thing out of a meal reminded me of restricting, and with my all or nothing thinking, I was in a full blown relapse in no time.

There was a lot I had to breathe through while I was in the hospital.  My body had to learn to accept food again.  I had to deal with the initial weight fluctuations that always happen during refeeding.  I had to breathe through a couple full-blown panic attacks, and I learned to return to my breath when the environment around me was overwhelming, when my feelings were overwhelming.  I learned that a “list of desires” or goals or things that are worth living for is something I lost sight of.  Wishing?  I’d given up on them.  Toasting?  I couldn’t find anything worth toasting.  I will not slash any tires, but I have realized the importance of acknowledging, expressing, and dealing with the anger I have inside of me about everything that has happened.

I learned there that you can experience joy even in sadness from another patient, that there are always things worth toasting.  I learned not to give up, to keep wishing, from another patient.  And while I may be angry about my cardiac diagnosis and scared of my heart, I can still have a dream.  I can still have many dreams.  I do not have to be a “Cardiac Patient” and then a student or writer or teacher.  I can be a student and writer and teacher and friend and aunt who just happens to have a heart condition. Just as four years ago I made the decision not to let the eating disorder define me anymore, I cannot allow ARVD to define me.  I  get to choose what defines me.

I may change on a daily basis.  I know I changed during these three weeks, in ways I wasn’t prepared to going into the program.  That scary word: Change.  But when you control what is changing, sometimes it’s not so scary.

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February 18, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, heart, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. I’m so proud of you all the time, Lexie. And so glad you’re looking toward the future with hope and optimism. You’re a strong women and I’m proud to know you.

    Comment by Neesha/Dustin | February 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi, glad you made it through the snow! I hope that it’s helped you and you are doing better now!

    Comment by david | February 19, 2010 | Reply

  3. Sounds like you’ve made great progress.

    It’s interesting to see that you say you are “scared OF” your heart . I would have expected you to say you are “scared FOR” it. Of course, I may just be reading too much into this 🙂

    Comment by Millie | February 19, 2010 | Reply

  4. I’m proud of you.

    and NCIS is the best show ever. i want to be abby and ducky all rolled into one.

    Comment by Andi | February 19, 2010 | Reply

  5. I love that line…
    “Breathe through it, write a list of desires, / Make a wish, Make a toast, Slash some tires, / Paint a heart repeating, beating, “Don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up.”
    I think we could and should all apply that to our lives especially during difficult times.

    I’m so proud of you for taking these steps.

    And it’s all the more proof that EDs and recovery are about so much more than food and weight. Just in case anyone hadn’t caught that yet.

    I’m proud. And glad you’re back.

    Comment by Jess K | February 19, 2010 | Reply

  6. Glad you’re home and I’m really happy to know you got more help early. I know there was a time when that wouldn’t have been the case. It sounds like you learned a lot about yourself and I hope and wish the next 365 days bring you much more joy.

    It struck me when you said you were “afaid of your heart.” I feel the same way about my heart and it’s ability to fail me at any moment. It helps me to know I’m not alone and I hope it helps you too.

    Comment by annon | February 19, 2010 | Reply


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