Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Holiday Thanks

I’m sitting here in my living room, enjoying a hot cup of hot chocolate caramel with mini marshmallows.  This simple act of relaxing got me to thinking.

There was a time in my past when this would not have been a “simple act” and I certainly wouldn’t have typed “enjoying” in the same sentence as “hot chocolate.”  In fact, I most likely wouldn’t have had the hot chocolate or marshmallows in my apartment to begin with.  And, quite often during the holiday season, I wasn’t even in my own apartment; I was in the hospital.  

I read my newsfeed and see the disheartening posts, the hopelessness, and the fear.  Just because I am recovered doesn’t mean I am past these feelings.  I was blessed with bipolar disorder, and depression can be a real bitch, which not many people truly understand. 

But if you can take away one thing from this post, from this blog, I want it to be hope.  There really is a life beyond the eating disorder, and it really is possible.  Yes, it’s a long, uphill battle.  And yes, you will doubt yourself and the climb and the end result.  But that end result, it really is as good as everyone makes it out to be.  

Today I was listening to a song my Jars of Clay and it made me think about my undergraduate years and the fellowship group we had each week where we would get out our guitars and sing, and I realized I miss that time, and for a brief second I wished I could go back there.  But then I realized that I would have to go back to the person I was then, and I am not willing to do that. 

My life isn’t perfect.  I experience loss and heartbreak.  I want to walk away from life sometimes.  But I would never return to the anorexia, because that’s not a life, and I have a life now.  Full of happiness, sadness, gain, loss, regret, hope, success, and failure.  I am able to experience all of these things without numbing them out.  And although I have a long ways to go in my journey, I am free.

I am now able to give thanks for this cup of hot chocolate.  I am thankful for the family gathering next week.  I am thankful for the friend’s cookie baking get together last week.  I am thankful that I can meet friends for coffee and have something with my coffee if I choose.  I am thankful that I have grown and become the person I am today, faults and all.

This is possible for each and every one of you.  Recovery.  Life.  Freedom. 

This holiday season, give yourself the best give you could ever receive: the determination to become who you were meant to be.

December 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tis the Season

Tis the season!  Time for fun, friends, family, food and . . . . freaking out.  Yes, the holidays are are a great time to get together with family and friends you haven’t seen in ages and to celebrate your beliefs and to celebrate being alive.  But for a great many of us with eating disorders and mental illnesses, the holidays are a time of stress and fear. 

Yes, the get-togethers are a time to celebrate.  But they typically involve a lot of people and a lot of food, two things that were overwhelming for me when I was in the thick of my eating disorder.  In fact, when I’m in the midst of a depressive episode, being around a lot of people is still overwhelming and I want to claw my skin off and curl up in a ball under the nearest end table. 

A couple of years ago, I was going through a really rocky time, depression wise, and there was a holiday party to attend on Christmas Eve.  I had already been surrounded by people all day long, and this party, although it would have given me a chance to see a great deal of extended family members, would have induced too much anxiety and stress.  So I said, “No.”  I didn’t go to the party.  This upset some family members, but I was able to have some precious alone time and gather strength and energy for the next day: Christmas Day. 

However, I realize that saying “No” is not always an option, nor is it always a good idea.  So we need to find ways to help manage the stress that comes with the holidays. 

The first suggestion I have is probably overused but really can help: Breathe.  Take some time before the party to de-stress and calm yourself down.  Focus on your breath and relax.  At the party, when you start feeling overwhelmed, you can always excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and take a couple minutes to breathe slowly in privacy.  If someone asks about why you are going to the bathroom so much, blame it on the tea or coffee or wine being served. 

Schedule things during the holidays so you aren’t running from one party to another.  Make sure that you have time in between to gather yourself and calm down and relax.  Make sure you have some Me Time in the midst of the holiday festivities.  Even if it’s just an hour or a half an hour, give yourself time to be with yourself.  Take a bath.  Read a book.  Take a nap.  Play with your pets.  Go for a walk.  Just do something that gives you time alone and time away from the noise and the people.  Try to do this every day. 

Another thing that helped me is another often used bit of advice: Take time to remember the good things.  Too often we focus on the negative and what will stress us out.  Instead, make a list–an actual list with a piece of paper and a pen–of the good things in your life, things that you are thankful for.  They do not have to be big things.  They may not mean anything to anyone else but you.  Some of the things on my list: My family.  My cats.  My knitting.  My writing.  Having time to read.  Being able to work.  Having a kick ass treatment team.  And an even better group of friends.  All my tea (my friends know what I’m talking about here!).  My heart (my actual, literal heart). 

And then there’s the food. I will be honest:  I remember the stress and the anxiety, but I did not have healthy ways of managing them, and now food does not scare me at parties and get-togethers.  So I would like to hear suggestions from you, my readers, for dealing with the stress around food at parties. Healthy suggestions. 

Let’s help each other during this season, and let us find the joy around us.

December 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment