Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Regarding Relapses

885e88637cb1b2389902f7c29db65ddbThis may sound surprising–but this quote is actually one of my least favorites.  Even though I believe it and know it to be true.  Now.  But then? Back when I was still convinced I could live with anorexia with no repercussions?  When people threw this quote in my face, I wanted to scream and call them names.  And a little after that?  Back when I had decided to recover and was really, really trying but it seemed like there were more bad days than good days?  When people used this to motivate me, I only felt guilty and ashamed because obviously it meant I was choosing to have a bad day.  Which made it my fault.

Now?  Now I look back and can see that recovery was a series of choices.  Millions of them.  Every single day.  Overall I decided that in order to live, I needed to recover.  But some of those millions of daily choices?  They weren’t exactly made with my best interest in mind.  And each time I slipped and made the wrong choice, I felt as if my chance at recovery was thrown out the window.

In the beginning of my recovery?  Yeah, I made some shitty choices.  Frequently.  And then less frequently.  And then rarely.  And then once in a blue moon.  Now?  I don’t need to make daily choices about eating and exercise to stay on my path.

There are debates about the different definitions of “recovered” and “fully recovered” and “recovering.”  But I think we’d all agree that recovery is not one choice.  It’s many choices.  This means that when you slip or relapse, you still have that choice open to you.  No matter how big or small the slip.  Neither does a slip or relapse automatically throw you back to the very beginning of your journey.  “You start from where you are” is true for each of us, no matter where we are in our individual journeys.  All of those skills you learned to get this far?  You still have them. You can still use them.  In fact, you might have even picked up a new skill or two in the process.

A relapse, even a significant relapse, is not the end.

Not if you choose to stand back up and walk forward toward recovery.

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July 11, 2015 Posted by | Body Image, coping, Eating Disorders, progress, recovery, self harm | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

what do we do with this?

My general policy has always been one of honesty.  And I’m not about to change that policy just because my mind resembles the mess of tangled yarn in the picture.  That mess will, at one point, become a rather neat and unique scarf.  So I’m hoping my mind will disentangle and become something spectacular as well.

I haven’t known how to bring this subject up without getting a whole bunch of “But I thought you were recovvvvveered?” type of comments.  I still don’t really know how to do so, so I’m just going to take my chances and lay it all out there.  In my “How I Did It” post, I described how recovery was a long process; it wasn’t just some place I woke up one morning to find I had arrived at.  It took time.  There were relapses, there were doubts, there were slips, and there were times when I didn’t think I would make it.  There were times no one else thought I’d make it, either.  But I did.  And there’s no going back.  I used to have a written out list of all the things I would lose if I relapsed.  I don’t need those things written out anymore–I know them and feel them in my gut.  Life has a hold of me, and it’s not going to let go.  I’m not going to let go.

So my mind right now is something I just don’t understand.  I find myself thinking about size and weight.  I find myself wishing I could be smaller. But the thought of returning to the eating disorder?  There’s a list of reasons why that’s not an option.  I know part of this is tied very tightly to the major depressive episode I’m currently entrenched in.  When these episodes happen, my logical thinking is severely impaired.  And if you spend enough time curled up in a tight little ball on your bed, you start wishing you really were that size even when you decided to move off the bed.

But then I went to therapy this week.  And in the middle of session, I looked up from the floor where I was gazing, and suddenly exclaimed, “I hate change!”  How this did not hit me before, I have no idea.  Maybe the depression is slowing my thinking down a bit, too.  For the first time in my life I am not a student, nor is there a plan for me to return to student status.  I’ve had jobs before, but now we’re using that word career.  Suddenly I’m thrown into the big adult world with no classroom to retreat to, except the one I’m teaching in, which is quite a bit different.   I’ll spare you all the self-deprecating thoughts and the questions I have about my abilities and will just sum it up rather bluntly: this scares the shit out of me.

No wonder I want to retreat.  No wonder I want to shrink from the world.  No wonder I want to disappear.  I know better than to fall back on those old coping skills, for I know that instead of saving me from the scary world, they only make things worse.  Much worse.  But I do take comfort in knowing why these thoughts suddenly popped into my head after years of absence.  My past is my past, but I now have the knowledge that I no longer have to let my past determine my present or my future.

Instead, I’m taking a lesson from my recent adventures in mindfulness:  I see the thoughts, acknowledge their presence, and let them be.  I am not judging myself for having them.  They are only thoughts.  If I attach any emotion or thought to these thoughts at all, it is to give myself credit and take pride in how far I’ve come that I can notice the thoughts and not let them define me or control me.  I determine what defines me, which has nothing to do with a set of habitual responses to massive change.  I am in control, not habits from another time.  

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Body Image, depression, Eating Disorders, mindfulness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Open Letter to Those Losing Weight

Dear S0-and-So-Who-Is-Following-Doctor’s-Orders,

I realize that, medically, losing weight and becoming more in shape is healthy for you and what your body needs.  And I am proud of you for taking medical advice seriously and taking appropriate action.

Dear So-and-So-Who-May-Need-to-Lose-Weight-But-is-Doing-So-Unhealthily,

I realize that, medically, losing weight and becoming more in shape is healthy for you and what your body needs.  And while I commend your desire to follow medical advice, the manner in which you are going about it is disturbing and, if nothing else, borders on obsessive, and most likely falls into the official “disordered” category.

There is a misconception that you have to be stick thin and bony to fall into eating disorder behavior (and diagnosis), but there is no weight cut off.  Cutting out entire food groups and attending multiple exercise classes a day propel you into “unhealthy obsession” at the bare minimum.  I am worried about your physical and psychological health and would like to see you talk to someone so you can enjoy a healthy relationship with your body–regardless of its size and shape.

I am also concerned for those around you.  For anyone recovering from an eating disorder, let alone for someone trapped in the midst of an eating disorder, your behaviors and words encourage an eating disorder lifestyle and discourage someone from seeking recovery.  For someone in recovery from an eating disorder, your behaviors and words make us question our own recovery.  None of us are fooled by your claims of “health” and “nutrition” and “strength.”  We have used those excuses ourselves, and they only ever led us down a path of destruction, which is what we see happening in your life.  These excuses also hurt on a personal level because they make us realize that you do not respect what we went through in order to recover, and they also mean that you do not believe our reasons for our concern.  For someone on the verge of an eating disorder, your actions and words only encourage said individual to go ahead and plunge into the ice cold water of what is actually an illness and not a lifestyle.

Please know that you are cared for, and that we wish for you true health.  Please know that the path you are on will not lead to happiness, but will, in fact, lead to depression and self-hate.  Respect not only those around you, but also yourself.

June 2, 2011 Posted by | Body Image, Communication, Eating Disorders, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How I Did It

I was asked a rather thought provoking question on Facebook today in the middle of a discussion of how once you are in recovery, the issues seem to multiply, not go away.  And let’s be honest, who out there didn’t think life would automatically be better once we kicked the eating disorder to the curb?  I know that’s what I expected.  The eating disorder was making my life hell, so obviously the only way to go was up, right? (sarcasm fully present)  And life did get better without the eating disorder, but it wasn’t great, and I for one was surprised at all the issues that suddenly reared their ugly heads.

So someone asked me how I did it.  How I became aware of the issues and faced them without falling back into the eating disorder behaviors.

First off, let me just say that I wasn’t immune to the temptation of relapse, and it wasn’t a smooth ride.  I had my moments of relying on the old behaviors; I was not perfect.  No one is.  And that’s okay.  Don’t beat yourself up for an off day; acknowledge it for what it was and know that tomorrow you have a chance to make it a different kind of day.

Secondly, remember that this is how I did it.  This is not the one and only way to work through recovery, but this is what worked for me. Do not feel that this is how you have to go about things.  This is just one option, one path among many.

So.  How did I do it?   Because there were a couple of times when I left treatment on kind of solid ground only to be slammed by these issues that seemingly came out of nowhere and then I relapsed and went through the whole cycle again.  And again.  The important thing to note about those times in treatment is that I was never fully committed to recovery.  I wanted the hell to end, but I wasn’t yet ready to let go of the eating disorder because I couldn’t imagine life without it.  The very first thing that happened when I began recovery was I had to realize that I wasn’t living.  I was existing.  No more, no less.  I was in graduate school and everyone else around me was living full, fulfilling lives.  I was showing up to class and trying to stay awake and trying to convince people I was fine.  The day I realized the extent of my lack of life, I confided in a teacher and because I was afraid to do it on my own, called a treatment center from her office.  I hung up the phone and was shaking and she told me that choosing life was the most terrifying thing you could do.  And I started crying for the first time in months.  Then I packed my bags and went to treatment.  Except this time, I was determined to make it work.  I still went through all the normal struggles and I did my fair share of resisting, but the underlying motivation was different.

The second thing that happened was that I discovered a reason for living free of the eating disorder.  That happened when my nephew came to visit me on Christmas day, all 18 months of his little cuteness.  And I realized I didn’t want him to grow up visiting me in hospitals, and I hoped–and still hope–that he doesn’t remember that day.  And I didn’t want him to grow up thinking of me as “the sick aunt.”  So in the beginning, I ate for him.  I stopped exercising for him.  I stopped using pills for him.  Eventually, I was able to do these things for me.

The issues that reared their ugly heads?  Yeah, they came up.  But my therapist and I put them on the back burner while I concentrated on controlling my behaviors and getting through normal day-to-day stressors (and there are a lot of them in graduate school!) without relying on any eating disorder behaviors.  I practiced using healthy coping skills.  Once I had confidence in my ability to handle normal stress in a healthy way, using these healthy coping skills, my therapist and I began looking at the underlying issues, the ones I had kept buried through the eating disorder.  We started with the smaller issues first, working our way up to the deeper, more painful ones.  If things started getting too overwhelming and I was having a difficult time not relying on eating disorder behaviors, we backed off and focused on strengthening my healthy coping skills.

Right now, I am working with a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy therapist, and one of the main goals of DBT is to “create a life worth living.”  For me, that has been crucial in maintaining my recovery.  It’s been a slow process, and there has been some give and take at certain points, and I’m not finished.  My life has changed a lot due to medical reasons in the previous two years, and that has meant rearranging the things that make my life worth living.  At one point, I kept a list in my journal to help remind me of why I was fighting to stay in recovery on the days when things were particularly difficult.  I’ve had to reevaluate things recently due to some medical news, and that list has made another appearance.  I’m learning that this is life.  Sometimes–a lot of the time–we can’t control what gets thrown our way.  We adjust the best we can.  And sometimes the road will be bumpy.

So I guess my overall advice, based on what worked for me, is to first get to a point where you are physically strong enough to handle intense emotions and stress and then to make sure that you have a good amount of healthy coping skills that you can rely on.  The best time to practice these skills is when you aren’t overwhelmed, and then they will eventually become second nature and a natural resource during times of stress.

Above all, I recommend working with your treatment team and being honest with them.  Part of recovery involves trusting other people and learning to let other people help you.

May 23, 2011 Posted by | coping, depression, Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments

Missing the Illness, Part Two

who are you?

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?  I think this question is another of the reasons why we may find ourselves missing being sick.  Not the body image problems of looking in the mirror, but the deeper meaning of the question, “Who are you?”  Just imagine the caterpillar from Alice In Wonderland and the drawn out “Whooooooooooo”.

Seriously.  How many of us lost everything to the eating disorder, so that all that remained was the eating disorder?  So that we became our eating disorder and how we identified ourselves?  One of the things that makes that initial step into recovery so difficult and so terrifying is the fact that you are stepping into the Unknown.  You’re letting go of the eating disorder and reaching out for . . . . what?  What is going to be there to take the eating disorder’s place?   That initial step into recovery is a huge leap of faith.

I was “lucky.”  When I made the decision to recover I was in the middle of my Master’s program and “all” I had to do was throw myself into the classes and workload.  I was also lucky in that while I was there, the group of students in the program and the professors were a very tight-knit group and were extremely supportive and encouraging.

So now, when the identity of student is no longer mine, and I’m caught in between that student identity and the next phase of my life, it’s only natural that I find myself longing for a familiar identity to cling to.  I think this is something a lot of individuals face when they leave an intensive residential treatment facility. After a couple to a few months of living and breathing the illness and recovery and spending your days talking about it with other people who “get it,” you are thrown back into the real world.  The same world you inhabited before treatment except this time you’re missing the eating disorder.  And how you relate to everything and everyone has to change.  It’s terrifying and oh so easy to slip back into your old identity.  The familiar is always more comfortable than the unknown, even when you know the familiar is killing you.

With the uncertainties all around me, it’s been tempting me–my old “friend” the eating disorder.  I haven’t given in, but the thoughts are there.  And I finally understand why.  And last night, in my journal, I took these black alphabet stickers I have for scrapbooking, and wrote the word “lose” in the middle of my entry.  And then reminded myself of all I stood to lose if I relapsed.  I look around my apartment and see everything that I have gained, the life I now call my own.  It would all disappear and I would be left back at the beginning, having to start over from scratch.  Again.  I am not willing to give up all I have become, no matter how terrifying this unknown that I am facing is.

So I challenge you again–what do you stand to lose if you relapse?  And to look at it from a positive angle–What have you gained in your recovery?  And–What do you stand to gain by continuing down the path of recovery?

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Perfection Calls . . .

Perfection

I haven’t done any official studies or surveys.  I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve done a lot of writing.  And I’m going to guess that a lot of people reading this blog regularly have issues with perfection.  And in our eating disorders, we’ve found something that, finally, we’re “good enough” at.  The perfect meal plan, the perfect number.  In DBT language this is, of course, emotion mind speaking.  Wise mind knows there is no such thing as perfection.  But we cling to perfection in our eating disorders.  A lot of us cling to perfection in our recoveries as well.

I honestly thought I had conquered my issues with perfection in my recovery.  Then three things happened this past February that rocked my boat and made me reach for anything that would make me feel “good enough.”  A) I decided, for a multitude of reasons to leave my PhD program, even though school had always been my “thing.”  B) I was hit by another depressive episode that landed me in the hospital (I’m bipolar, type 1).  C) While I was in the hospital, my cousin died.  He was the only cousin of mine on that side of my family whom I could say I really knew.  And my emotion mind said, “If you hadn’t been in the hospital, you would have been able to help your cousin.”  Definitely not my wise mind speaking there.  Not one ounce of rational thought in that sentence at all. And because I was in the hospital, I could not attend the funeral.  Another sign of failure.

I did not realize until I did some journaling homework for therapy this previous week how much I wanted that “good enough” feeling back.  How easily that feeling translates into “restrict” and get to XXX number.  I feel lucky in that my therapist is willing–and rather adamant that we do so–to address this now rather than wait until I’m at a dangerous weight or my medical stability is in jeopardy.  Rather than wait until there is a glaring problem, we’re going to stop it from becoming a glaring problem.  Yes, my therapist is willing and this makes a huge difference, but I have also been honest with him, and that has, perhaps, been a bigger contribution.  Years ago, I never would have been this honest this early.

How my therapist and I are tackling this issue is different than how I’ve tackled it with other therapists in the past.  There’s this little part of me that’s going, “He’s not doing it right.”  As if there is one perfect way to recover or make progress.  But even without doing studies or surveys, I know that there is no one perfect way to recover.  We forget that we all got to the illness in different ways for different reasons.  We forget this because when we wind up on an eating disorder unit together we’re either at rock bottom or close to it, and that looks the same.  The initial stabilization is similar for a lot of people, but then we need to remember that we each need to approach recovery on a unique path.  We must confront the different issues that led to the eating disorder, the different anxieties we have about recovery, and we must use our individual strengths as much as we can.

I guess what I’m trying to explain is that you can’t recover “wrong.” I’ve heard people say that they aren’t doing it (recovery) “right” or “good enough” or “perfect.”  There are many paths to recovery.  Many different approaches.  Some will work for some people; some will work for others.  There is no magical formula for recovery.  Do not judge your own  recovery by comparing yourself to someone else.  The two of you are two different people and have different needs and will require a different amount of time. Are you headed in the same general direction?   Are you working towards the same thing?

Your recovery is all your own.  People use “Ed” to name their eating disorders.  Give your recovery a name, a name that has personal significance and meaning.  Write down your reasons you want to leave Ed in the dust.  Write down what you stand to gain by working towards recovery?  Give yourself permission to go at your pace; give yourself permission to stumble along the way.

Write “perfection” on a piece of paper and then tear it into tiny pieces.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | bipolar disorder, coping, death, depression, Eating Disorders, recovery, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

we’re allowed to be human?

Bad Day

I’ve gotten a couple of messages recently from people who are either fully recovered or have been almost fully recovered for some time or who have been doing extraordinarily well for sometimes . . . and the fact that they’ve been doing well has been no secret.  Friends congratulate them, offer encouragement to “keep moving forward” and the like.  And they think they’re through with the eating disorder.  They like their new, free life and have things to live for that they couldn’t have imagined before.

And then, out of the blue, a weekend comes along triggered by stress, memories, poor body image, fear, and a whole lot of other things.  And they find themselves engaging in old eating disordered behaviors.  And, in general, two things happen in each case (other things happen but aren’t as predictable) : A) they feel crappy about themselves, or ashamed, or afraid this means a total relapse; and B) someone else will say, “But you were doing so well.”

Let’s look at B first.  How do you think it feels to hear someone say, “But you were doing so well.”  Sure, it may be true, but what do those actual words imply?  A) That you should have continued so well; B) this is definitely not good; C) You’re certainly not doing well now; and D) All of that progress just went down the drain.  So what kind of feelings do these linguistic interpretations stir up?  A whole crapload of shame and embarrassment.  And the feeling of letting someone else down in the process.  A lot of us have this perfectionistic background and grew up with the need to please others no matter what, so hearing that we’ve let someone down, well, all the old issues just come roaring up to the service.

What’s wrong with saying, “Sorry you had a rough weekend, but I know you can get back on track like you did last time.”?  What’s wrong with saying, “Is there anything you want to talk about?”?  What’s wrong with “I’m here if you need anything.”?  Knowing someone is there, beside you, willing to sit with you, is tremendously better than hearing that, “But you were doing so well” and all of that statement’s implication.

Now let’s look at A.  Is this a reason to feel shame?  No.  We expect people new in recovery to have lapses and bad days.  Well, guess what?  Years of self-harming behavior don’t disappear in a month.  Those tendencies may be at the back of your head for some time.  And what’s important is not the two days you slipped back into old habits but afterwards when you realize what’s going on and work on turning things back around and getting back on track.  That’s what the comments should be about: the strength and determination it takes not to let one off weekend pull you back into the eating disorder.

I keep this blog. I encourage people through snail mail and through facebook.  I’ve lobbied for the Eating Disorders Coalition.  I’ve given talks during NEDA Awareness Week.  I’ve helped friends find treatment.

I’m supposed to be better, right?  I mean, I call myself recovered.  Fully recovered.  And yet, this past month has been difficult.  Change and loss have always difficult for me, and when my life seems to be made up of changes and loss?  And I’m still struggling with depression and receiving ECT each week, soon to be every-other week.  And I’ve found this fully recovered self struggling with restricting.  I’m still not over my desire to disappear when things in my life well, to put it plainly, suck.  (And yes, I know I can’t disappear.)

Here’s what’s making this not a relapse: I started talking to my therapist after I noticed I wasn’t eating as much after only four days.  There is no hiding it from my treatment team; they all know.  There is no trying to get away with something.  There is no desire to keep going, only a desire to get back on solid ground rather than stay in this muddy terrain.  And there have been steps taken to get back to that purely solid ground.  And there has been pride for everyone one of those steps taken.  I won’t let myself get to a dangerous point, but I don’t even want to be below an ideal point.

What does this make me?  Human. I’m not perfect.  My recovery was never perfect.  I’m not perfect.  I never will be.  But just because I’m having a hard time does not mean I’m no longer in recovery.  I care too much about the life I gained to give that up.  But it will take some work on my part to get back to that fully recovered self again.

I am not ashamed of where I am.  I am damn fucking proud of myself for bringing it up with my therapist before he noticed anything.  I never would have been able to do that in the past.  There’s a lot of things I’m doing now that I never would have been able to do in the past.  And that’s what I’m choosing to focus on.  As i said in a recent post: The past is in the past.  The future has yet to happen.  But I live in the now.  What I choose to do now, not what I chose to do last week, is what is important.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Body Image, coping, depression, Eating Disorders, feelings, recovery, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

chronic illness

a heart necklace in place of my literal heart.

I have a lot of coming to terms to do, as far as this chronic illness is concerned.  Yes, I’ve finally started using that phrase with consistency: chronic illness.  There is no denying it.  Today I was exhausted, and I spiked a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And at first I was confused.  I mean, a runny nose won’t make my fever spike that high.  Then I remembered my cardiologist telling me not to be overly concerned about sudden fevers–they are a sign my body is beyond tired.  (As long as all the flu symptoms and other illness symptoms aren’t present, of course.)

I was reading from this book: Dancing at the River’s Edge: A Patient and her Doctor Negotiate Life with Chronic Illness. (And yup, it’s available on Kindle, too)  And this one quote came up that explained today perfectly:

“The life threatening times come, and then they go away, and then you must brace yourself.  You do not brace yourself for the next horrific death-defying moment.  Instead, what you much brace yourself for is the day-in-day-out wear and tear of it. What really hallmarks a life successfully lived with chronic disease is your ability to keep soldiering through.  The bitter pill is that it is always just a little there, or a great deal there, but the unpleasant taste remains, in your mouth, in your routines, in your soul, and that is the fight we are engaged in for the long haul.  We must not become overwhelmed by the exhaustion of it and the fear of the possible next grave crisis.” ~Alida Brill, patient

This does not contradict my earlier post.  She does not say she has to keep soldiering on by herself.  She has surrounded herself with friends and professionals to help her at any moment, any day.

What resonates for me a lot is the day-in-day-out nature of chronic illness, more than the grave crises.  But at no point does she say that the chronic illness dictates how you life your life.

My life is still just that: MY life.

 

April 9, 2011 Posted by | coping, health, heart, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

the ultimate risk

The new year isn’t starting out so hot.  It didn’t exactly end so hot, either.  News hit the online world last week with the confirmation of actress and model Isabelle Caro’s death from anorexia in November.  One of my mentees found out that someone she had been in treatment with had died over the summer.  Today, I mourn the loss of someone I knew from treatment.  I stopped counting the number of people I have known personally who have died from an eating disorder after I got to ten, although I’m sure I could figure it out.  But the number was getting too large.  Too real.  Too painful.  I could see the list of names grow, and knowing I could not stop the list from growing, I stopped keeping exact count.

But it doesn’t make it any easier.  Not really.  The deaths still happen; I can’t deny them.  And no matter how long the list of acquaintances who have died from an eating disorder grows, the pain doesn’t lessen.  You don’t get used to this.  At least, I can’t.

People look for a cause.  Lately, the media has focused on the film Black Swan and ballet.  As if either one could be the sole reason for the development of an eating disorder.  As if either one had the sole power to claim a life.  The people I know who have died battled multiple causes.  Every single person I have ever known who has struggled with an eating disorder has had to face down multiple demons that contributed to his or her illness.

Sometimes, the demons are stronger than the person’s will to survive.  Sometimes, the demons have worn down the person so much that by the time he or she decides to recover, they have no strength left to fight.  Sometimes the demons kill off any hope, making recovery seem impossible.

Why did I live and the three people mentioned in my first paragraph die? (And the people on my own personal list, and the people I hear about through online forums, and the sons and daughters of parents I know?)  My mentee mentioned feeling guilty, and I asked her not to hold on to that guilt.  But I have to admit to it, myself.  Did I not reach out enough?  Could I have said something different?  Could I have shown her or him another way?  Could I have been more supportive?  I will take my own advice and let these questions come and then let them go.

There are too many unanswered questions.  But there is one thing that should be very clear: eating disorder can and will kill. My list of people who have succumbed to these illnesses include both men and women, teenagers and adults, and people of various ethnic backgrounds.  Some had turned the corner and had decided to recover, but their bodies gave out on them.

Don’t think you can afford to wait to recover.  Don’t for a second think that you can put off making one small step of progress until tomorrow.  Tomorrow may not be here.  Do not give up on life.  Do not give up on yourself.

January 2, 2011 Posted by | coping, death, Eating Disorders, feelings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

1.1.11=looking back

2010

In my previous post, I mentioned that I don’t make resolutions.  I’m not going to wait until one day each year to make positive changes in my life.

But I can’t help but look back at the previous year on this day.  And this year, I have a lot of “shoulds” in my reflection.  I feel as if I should be further ahead–in my personal life, in my academic life.  I should have made more progress.  I shouldn’t be stuck in a depression that was here last year at this time.  And I shouldn’t be needing ECT again.  And I should just get with the program and be happy.

I keep having “should” running through my head.  Almost every sentence begins with that word.  I have this tendency to be hard on myself.  I have a feeling I’m not the only one reading these words who is hard on themselves, either.  People who suffer from all types of addictions and mental illnesses have a tendency to be hard on themselves.

So I am practicing a couple of DBT skills.  The idea of being gentle with myself.  Maybe a lot of those “shoulds” really are true.  But even though they’re true, they don’t take away from the progress I’ve made this year and they don’t negate my accomplishments.  And there’s this idea of emotional mind versus rational mind.  A lot of my “shoulds” fall into the emotion mind side of things.  I’m trying to look at things from a more rational point of view and talking back to those “shoulds” with more realistic statements.  This moves me into a more wise mind state of being.

Most of all, it’s a matter of acceptance.  A skill I’m not all good at.  But I can’t change anything that happened.  I can learn from what happened, but I can’t change anything.  I could sit here and play over all of my regrets, but that wouldn’t really do me any good.  In fact, it would make me feel a hell of a lot worse about myself.  But if I look at the year as a learning experience and take that knowledge with me into 2011, I can grow as a person and live more fully and more freely.

Out with the “shoulds” and on to what may come.

January 1, 2011 Posted by | mindfulness, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments