Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Slow Progress is still Progress

Om Namah Shivayah

Om Namah Shivayah

I’ve posted this picture before.  Om Namah Shivayah.  I respect the divinity within me.  I got this tattoo when I knew I would never ever go back to the eating disorder.

The previous 16 months have been 16 of the most difficult months I’ve lived.   Sorry for any repeated info:  the depressive cycle I was in was the most severe and the longest I have ever had, and I had actually scheduled out all the details of my suicide attempt in my weekly planner.  I moved from Missouri to New York to live with my parents–at 37 years of age.  Although the depression began improving, my physical body was being hit from wrecking balls on all sides, and no one could figure out what the hell was going on.  I am not able to work a “real” job with regular hours.  I certainly could not handle a full teaching load right now.

I had thought things would be different.  I’d move to NY, get better, apply for jobs, and be looking forward to a new teaching position for the fall semester.

I get frustrated with “where I am at” quite often.  I’m almost 38; I hadn’t planned on needing to live with my parents at this age.  I am not working, aka contributing to society.  I am a track and field official, which is a “real job” but it’s so far from where I wanted to be at this stage of life.

But I was reminded by a friend yesterday that, compared to ten years ago, none of this would have been possible.  I was sick with the eating disorder and the bipolar disorder was not controlled.  I wasn’t ready to start the PhD program I had dreamed about attending, but I went anyway–and then had to withdraw two years after I started.  One year ago, I pulled out of teaching–and I only had one class.  In May of 2014, I lived in a psych hospital.  Last summer, I slept more than I was awake.  This past fall found me fatigued and sore and in pain and going through medical tests almost every week.  In January, I wouldn’t have been able to officiate, but now I can do four meets in four days (with a lot of sleeping in the following mornings–but I can still officiate).  I am looking to see if any area colleges need a professor to teach one section of Freshmen Comp.

So no.  This is not my dream.  In fact, I am no longer sure if I will be able to ever meet that dream.  But right now, in this moment, I have much to be thankful for in terms of how far I have come compared to 16 months ago.  I am healing.  Maybe not as fast as I would have wanted, but I am healing.  And as another friend told me, “Slow progress is still progress.”

April 27, 2015 Posted by | 1, addictions, bipolar disorder, Body Image, Communication, coping, depression, Eating Disorders, faith, feelings, guilt, health, mindfulness, progress, recovery, relationships, self harm, suicide | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

pictures pictures pictures

. . . and yet a post without pictures.

The internet is a great thing.  We have information at the tips of our fingertips.  We can mapquest driving directions.  We can email and connect with others through Facebook.  We can also use that information to plagiarize.  Mapquest isn’t always right.  And Facebook, well, sometimes Facebook is harmful environment.

There are groups devoted to thinspiration and pro-ana/pro-mia beliefs.  As I said in a recent entry, unless they are trying to recruit you (and most of them will warn you), I have very little problems with the pro-ana sites.  Maybe that will be an entry?

But with a group–you choose to join the group.  And if there is a group that is closed and has a warning and the email contact is xxthingforeverxx@whatever.com, you have a good idea of what you’ll find.

What about people on your friend’s list, though?  I mean, I have almost 1,000 friends and that’s great, but I’ve met a fraction of them.  I’ve come to know a larger percentage.  But some are connected only through the thread of Facebook.  And yes, a lot of people have found me or I them, through the shared history of an eating disorder.

You’re not as sheltered when it comes to Facebook friends.  Say one of them relapses and suddenly her picture is one with an NG tube coming out her nose and she writes on your wall.  NG tubes have become a thing of status within the ED community; some people believe you are not actually sick unless you need one.  Or pictures from the hospital or treatment centers (totally tubular, folks!) with captions bemoaning your lack of health and pointing out to the onlooker how sick you are, how the days in the hospital were the worst days of your life.

And yet, you have an entire album, if not more than one, devoted to the worst days of your life.  You have an album chronicling your weight loss.

We don’t need this.  There was a time when people did not know the horror of eating disorders.  And we still have a lot of education and awareness to do.  But on Facebook, the people seeing those pictures are people with eating disorders, who already know what hell is.  Some of them may not be in a good place and may be triggered.  “If I don’t need an NG tube, I don’t need to go to treatment.”  Well, most doctors will attempt to avoid the tube and have you eat real food and supplement.  It’s healthier, physiologically (except in extreme emaciation) and psychologically, it helps patients adjust to when they do have to eat.  And the pictures of “the worst days of my life” in ERs and ICUs and regular hospitals.  Why?  To prove you needed treatment?

You don’t have to prove it to anyone.  If you have an eating disorder, you deserve help.  I don’t care if you’ve never had to go to the ER or have stepped foot inside an ICU.  It’s best to get treatment before you reach that point, anyway.

I just always feel that these albums showcasing the physical decline and the result of an eating disorder exist to prove something.  Look where I was.  Look what I did.  Don’t you do it, too. (Although the pictures automatically bring up thoughts of “I could go back . . . ” in a lot of people with eating disorders.)

Guess what?  I was there.  I did it.  I did not take pictures.  There is not a single picture with my NG tube.  No pictures exist of me inside hospital grounds.

I have pictures with girls from treatment when we went to art museums or met for *gasp* brunch and sat down with coffee and talked and laughed.  These are the things I will choose to dwell on.  For these are the things that make recovery worthwhile.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | 1 | 11 Comments

hobbies galore

So here’s another poll.  A discussion was started a few entries ago about needing to find things to do besides eating disorder behaviors or other unhealthy coping skills, and how a lot think we can wait until we’re recovered, or nearly recovered, to find these things.  I’m a firm believer in trying out new things even if you’re in Stage 2 of the Stages of Change.  It’s never to early to learn new things–you may find something you never imagined you liked or you may discover you like something you had given up long ago because of the eating disorder.

Learning to Love You More was an excellent site of sometimes wacky projects you completed and then sent into the site and they would post the results.  The emphasis wasn’t about body image or eating disorders or mental illness, it was about stepping outside your world and perhaps creating something artistic in the process.  I’ve done a few of the things on the site.  It is no longer current (as of May 1, 2009), but it will remain up as an archive.  Check it out.

If you have favorite sites for crafts and hobbies, please share them.

Knitty.com is a great site for instructions and free patterns.  There are a ton of free knit and crochet patterns on the web if you search for them.  There are hundreds of facebook groups about all of these healthy, non-eating disordered activities.  If you look at my group listing you’ll see a variety of subjects from knitting to tea to collecting fiesta ware.  I change my groups periodically just for fun.  There should be a group for that.

If you checked “other” then please leave a comment and say what other hobbies help you.  *please do not list any physical activities, no matter how “easy.”  Some people here may be on exercise restriction, so let’s encourage as many other hobbies as possible. I know they exist.*

(And if anyone can figure out how to let people have multiple answers, please let me know.)

November 9, 2009 Posted by | 1, coping, Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Discover Yourself

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(I’m considering this as part of my Identity series)

This is an older picture.  One year ago at this time, most of my hair was my normal color, with the undersides in the back dyed a deep purple.  Then around February of this year, I died the tips of my hair blue, as you can see here.  And this is a hat I made, which you really can’t see all that well.  The top is really textured and fuzzy.

I like this picture because it says a lot of things, at least in my head.  First off, I can change my hair any time I want and I am still me.  Right now it’s a really deep brown that borders on black, and it’s longer than before.  I think I’m going to add streaks of purple in a couple of weeks.  I’m not sure.  Or I may just let it fade to my normal color.

And the hat.  I used a pattern, but I think there is skill and creative energy involved in knitting or crocheting–with or without a pattern.

So the point of all of this?  Someone commented on my entry yesterday that for some people who will live with their eating disorders for the rest of their lives, in varying states of illness or recovery, the eating disorder remains a part of their identity and sometimes the humor needs to be there.  I do not argue against humor.  If I didn’t have this black sense of humor about what has happened health wise, I think I would have ended up in the hospital a lot sooner than I did two weeks ago.

But I do challenge the belief that an eating disorder has to remain a part of your identity.  I originally thought, when I got my cardiac diagnosis, “I am now a cardiac patient forever.”  That was pretty depressing for awhile.  But no.  I have to take certain precautions to keep me healthy, but I do not have to succumb to the idea that ARVD is who I am.  I’ve known several people with cancer and they don’t say, “I’m a cancer patient.”  They say, “I have cancer.”  There is a big difference.

So are you anorexic/bulimic/a compulsive overeater or do you have an eating disorder?

And even if you have an eating disorder, you can still be you. I know a lot of us lost sight of who we are in the midst of the illness, but what are you doing to find yourself again?  It’s not a passive process.  I worked my ass off to figure out who I was without the eating disorder.

Part of me is the creative person who loves to knit and crochet.  This is the part of me who is taking up sewing as well and just pre-washed and dried fabric to make a dress.  Although I can’t be Super Athlete anymore because I have ARVD, I can use some of that time and energy doing other things I love.

How do you find those things?  Just start trying different things.  Take an art class.  Or just buy cheap paints and see if you like it.  Go to the library and get a book about knitting and see if you like that.  Take walks with a camera.  Cook different types of foods.  Pick a topic you’re interested in and research it.  Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training Manual for Borderline Personality Disorder has a list of 170-some pleasurable activities for adults.  Find a copy of that list and start checking things off.  You may be surprised at what you discover.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | 1, Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments