Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

My family is louder

pre-3-month photo

I really couldn’t come up with any better photo–but I have my three month check up and ICD interrogation appointment this week, so a heart tshirt photo is appropriate.  The appointment should go well.  I haven’t noticed anything odd, and I’m usually a little hypersensitive when it comes to my heart.

SO where the hell have I been?  I got home on Tuesday.  (Today is Saturday) I was in the hospital for two weeks, on the good old psych unit.  I’ve been doing ECT, but the suicidal thoughts and feelings were getting a little too strong for my comfort level.  Being Bipolar Type I is such a freaking joy.  (And please tell me you could read the sarcasm in that statement.)

A certain song in running through my head: Everyday by Toby Lightman.  Really, the whole freaking song.  But the chorus: “But I’ll see better when the smoke clears / When the smoke clears inside my head / And I can listen when the screaming doesn’t repeat everything I’ve said / And all that remains is me and who I am at the end of the day  / And this happens every day.”

I can listen when the screaming doesn’t repeat everything I’ve said Yuppers.  If I could only silence the screaming.  Clear the smoke. But I guess that wouldn’t make it true life, now, would it?  Life comes with the screaming and the smoke.  It’s our job to manage them.  Walk despite them.

While I was in the hospital, I was faced with a particularly loud scream.  My dad’s side of the family is not all that close.  But I’ve gotten to know one of my uncles and his son over the years.  My parents called to let me know that my cousin was found dead of an overdose of heroin.  I wanted to go to the funeral.  I wanted to take my mourning and place it within some type of ceremony.  I wanted to hug my uncle and aunt, my cousin’s parents.  I wanted to hug my own parents.  But if I’m completely honest, it was probably a good thing I was on the psych unit.  I could curl up in a ball and when I felt like cutting, I could walk out of my room and find a staff member.  Or, they would find me while doing checks.

What I’m feeling is powerless.  And I realize that I would have put the rest of my family in the same exact position of powerlessness if I had attempted suicide.  And I realize my family was in a powerless position when I was sick with my eating disorder.  And I know that I cannot do that.  I am not saying that I will never be tempted again with suicidal thoughts.  I’m Bipolar Type I; they sort of come with the territory.  But I don’t have to entertain those thoughts.  I know there are people out there who are willing and ready to help me, who want to help me.  Accepting help is my challenge.  But even if I am “only” accepting help to avoid hurting other people in my family, that’s enough of a reason.  This is a case where the ends really do justify the means.

Recovering from an eating disorder can be a similar thing.  How many of us do it for our own self in the beginning? I did it for my nephew for a long time before I believed that I was worth it just the way I was.  I don’t care if you do it for your cat or your parrot.  It’s a reason.  A reason that you can always add to.

Right now?  The screaming is still quite loud in my head.  My family is louder.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | bipolar disorder, death, depression, Eating Disorders, feelings, recovery, relationships | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Formspring, Take 2

formspring

I’ve written about hellspring . . . er . . . Formspring before.  I had closed mine, and then over break got bored, and decided to start it up again.  So far, people have, for the most part, asked respectful questions.  I leave it so that anonymous people can ask questions because I’ve gotten some good questions about recovery that I don’t think people would ask if they had to attach their name to the question.

Then this morning, I got one of those not-nice questions: “Why are you so fat?”  I’m really not sure that the person who asked that question wanted my initial reaction to be bursting out loud into laughter.  I think that person probably meant it as an insult.  My answer: “because I’m healthy!!!”

A) I know I’m not fat.  In any sense of the word.  I’m not overweight.  I’m not pudgy.  I’m not ill proportioned.  I am a very healthy size for someone who is my height.

B)  I am secure in this self-knowledge, so a comment like this really does make me laugh.

C) This person obviously isn’t a friend because a friend would know that because of the ARVD and my heart, doing anything that would alter my weight negatively could risk my life.

D) I am concerned for the individual asking the question for multiple reasons.  This individual thinks it’s funny to insult someone, which my mother always told me was impolite, rude, and disrespectful.  “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” kind of thinking.  This person thinks it’s okay to make someone else feel like shit, and generally that means the person doing the dishing isn’t that secure in his or her own self.  This person, if they honestly think I’m fat, really has a skewed perception of what thin, healthy, and fat are and that’s concerning and unhealthy.  And finally, the people who would consider me fat tend to be the people who have an eating disorder and are in the “pro-ana” camp, whether or not they will label it that, and that is very dangerous indeed.

E) People can leave comments such as this on my formspring and I won’t give a damn.  I worked my ass off to get “this fat” and I’m damn fucking proud of this.  Because when I would have been considered “thin” or even “normal” by this questioner’s standards, I would have been close to death.  Oh, I just threw out that D word and questioners such as this one tend to scoff at that, but I don’t.  Because I have a list of over ten men and women who I knew personally that died because of their eating disorder.  And I can’t keep track of how many parents I know who have lost their child or the number of people I’ve met on online forums who have died from their eating disorders.  So guess what, this “fat” girl rests secure in the knowledge that she’s alive and is thankful for it.

F) But I know a great many people who, if they had gotten this question, would have taken it to heart and would have stopped eating or would have gone on an insanely long run.  Even though they’re already underweight or at a healthy, normal weight, thus putting their lives in immediate danger.  And even if someone is technically and medically considered overweight, hearing a comment like this could result in the beginnings of an eating disorder or an exacerbation of existing symptoms and would definitely result in feelings of worthlessness and shame and guilt and depression.

Basically, the person who left that question for me was engaging in cyber-bullying, a situation that has gotten way out of hand and had resulted in individuals hurting themselves and committing suicide.  In what moral world is that considered okay?

Please, if you are suffering from an eating disorder or self-harm or depression or just have days when you feel like shit, do yourself a favor and protect your formspring account and either block anonymous questions or block anyone who isn’t approved as your friend.  No one needs these questions.

And please, if you’re the person asking them, take a look inside yourself and ask yourself these questions: Is it okay to make someone else feel like shit?  Why do I feel the need to belittle other people?  What would I feel like if someone asked me this question?  Am I willing to be the trigger behind an act of self-destruction?  Why do I take pleasure in causing other people pain?

Have some respect for yourself and other people and cut the crap.

February 3, 2011 Posted by | Body Image, depression, Eating Disorders, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Self-Soothe

Tea Posy

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t blogged in awhile, so I decided to remedy that today.  We’re in the middle of Snowpocolypse 2011 here, and aside from spending two hours shoveling my car out this morning, I’ve been confined to my apartment all week.  It’s given me some time to catch up on course reading for both the courses I’m taking and the courses I’m teaching and get ahead a teeney little bit in my course prep for the two classes I’m teaching.  Mainly, I’ve had a blast watching my one cat repeatedly run smack into the floor-length window in a vain attempt to catch the snowflakes on the other side.

Probably the reason that I haven’t written is that I haven’t been feeling that great and could think of nothing to say that would be the least bit inspiring or encouraging to anyone.  Physically I am fine, for the most part, save one heart episode on Monday, but the depression . . . well, it’s been a bitch and a half lately.  The fact that I went to all my classes last week absolutely amazes me.  The fact that my campus is shut down this week due to the blizzard thrills me beyond belief.  I am dreading having to step back on that campus and well, be a functioning, responsible, and social  adult again.  My bed is much more enticing.  I was supposed to have ECT again yesterday, but the blizzard kind of prevented that from taking place. I keep telling myself that things will start turning around, that I haven’t done enough ECT sessions to notice a change yet.  I keep reminding myself that ECT always helps and that I trust this psychiatrist more than any other psychiatrist I have ever worked with.  Ever.  And that says a lot since I have a general distrust for that profession.  (long story)

My therapist is a DBT therapist.  And one of our goals is, of course, to “create a life worth living.”  Right now that involves using a set of DBT skills that have always been particularly difficult for me: Self-Soothe.  It has always been much easier to deny myself, punish myself, and push myself.  But with this depression and the anxiety that seems to tag along with it, I’ve been creating a list of self-soothing activities.  For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Self-Soothe is the set of skills where you use each of the five senses to–yup, you guessed it–soothe yourself.  This is something a lot of us with eating disorder histories never really practiced all that much, for a lot of reasons.  But I challenge you to start your own list.  A list with lots of options since we aren’t always in a physical position to use certain skills  (as much as hot chocolate is a very soothing drink, I cannot get up in the middle of a three-hour class to go get some if I start to feel anxious during class.  nor would my professor appreciate it if I took out my iPod and started listening to my favorite relaxing music).

Here are some of my favorites:

Taste – tea (and I like the whole process of making tea in a tea pot and smelling it and holding the warm mug), chocolate (specifically a heath bar), coffee, grapefruit

Smell– lilacs, lavendar, vanilla, incense, candles, coffee

Hearing– Gemma Hayes, Haley Bonar, Beth Orton, A Fine Frenzy, Brandi Carlile, Chopin, Elgar, Jacqueline DuPre,

Touch– petting my cats, holding my stuffed bear, wrapping up in one of my soft blankets, a hot bath, body lotion, massaging sore muscles, brushing my hair, knitting or crocheting

Sight– I have this book of ballet photos, I love the Griffin & Sabine books, re-reading letters from friends, looking at pictures of my niece and nephew and friends

These are just some of the things on my list.  I know taste may be difficult for some people, and if you find it triggering, don’t push it.  But also remember that you should not feel guilty if something makes you feel better.  If the only thing you have that comforts you is food, then there’s a problem, and you should talk to someone about emotional eating.  And if you binge as a way of comfort, that is also dangerous.  It took me a good couple years of recovery to let myself enjoy food and use it appropriately in times of distress.  I no longer feel guilty when I curl up with a blanket, my cats, a movie, and a dish of ice cream after a long week of classes.  But it took time to get there.  Do not push yourself in that direction.  You will know when you are ready.

 

But all those other senses–learn what works for you. Everyone is different.  Know yourself, and know that you have the ability to help yourself.

February 2, 2011 Posted by | coping, depression, Eating Disorders, feelings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments