Wednesday, 30 July 2008

It's Only Pain... only hurts.

It passes. Feelings pass, thoughts pass. Everything passes in time. The key being, "in time"- riding the waves, rolling with the punches. There is nothing you need to DO about thoughts and feelings, except wait them out.

This sounds kind of trite and undermining- I don't mean it to. It seems to be true though. If I have a thought, a feeling, an urge- as long as I don't dwell on it or act on it, it dissipates in time. The more I think about it, the stronger it gets as I give it more power, until it is all-consuming and I can't see another option BUT to act on it. By accepting the thought as it is ("it's JUST a thought"), without giving it more power than it merits, it passes.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Recovery Is A State Of Mind?..

I am suddenly panicking about returning to the UK. New York has, and always will, represent health to me. A place where I am happy and stable. Despite recent years when I have spent time here, getting sicker and sicker, something about this city holds hope for me. A life. A life with a future. I think of the UK and I think about the hospitals, the sleepless nights, the crying, the pleading, the ambulances at 3am, the doctors, the needles, the tubes. What's strange is that all of this has happened in New York too, and yet somehow I feel like recovery is only an option in the US. It's a childish way of thinking, yet I struggle to grasp the concept that both recovery and sickness lie within ME, and my surroundings bear little weight on how healthy/unwell I become.

I don't want to leave because, in my mind, that means giving up on recovery. It means a license to throw myself head-first into my eating disorder. An inevitable crumbling under the ever-pressing urges to self-destruct. Every time I return, I feel like I am going "home" to die. I feel like I have permission here to be well, to be healthy. To keep striving for something more in my life than anorexia. Back in the UK, it's the complete opposite and it feels acceptable, expected, that I will stay trapped. I'm not ready to give up and leave this behind.

It makes no sense. I have had periods of doing well in both countries. I have had periods of pure hell in both countries. The difference I think is that I look at New York through rose-tinted lenses. I am different here. I don't quite know how- maybe it's just the way that the health care system works. Or maybe it's the mindset I have started off on when I have arrived each time, or maybe it's the simple fact that I believe recovery is possible here...and that I have people around me who believe in that for me too. And that when I am flailing, there are people here who still hold onto that hope for me. Back in the UK, I feel like I have been written off as a lost-cause, a "terminal" case. Why do I care so much what other people think? What happened to the 'old me', that would have turned around and just RECOVERED as a "screw you- I'll prove you all wrong!"? Where did that fire GO?.. I'm starting to feel like the character in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" who was so worn down by the end, he gave up completely. And I hate that. That's not me. I am a fighter, a survivor, someone who laughs in the face of diversity and stands up for what I, at my core, believe to be right.

What happened? Where did I go?..

Sunday, 27 July 2008

The Year That Was

I want recovery.

I want to be normal. I want a life that doesn't revolve around food. I want to be able to concentrate enough to read a book or watch a movie. I want to spontaneously meet friends for brunch. I want to be able to laugh and joke around with people, and feel like I am contributing to the conversation, rather than just pretending/being an outsider. I want to be able to fill my time with both cool and mundane 'stuff' and be okay with both, without being terrified of having empty gaps in my schedule, or filling endless hours with walking and grocery shopping. I want to have people in my life that I can lean on a little, without being overly reliant, or determined to show how self-sufficient I really am. I want to sleep through the night and wake up at a reasonable hour. I want to look forward to the day ahead as I fall asleep. I want to come home each evening with enough energy to do more than just sit and stare at the walls. I want to be able to dance again, to play my harp again, to make t-shirts again. I want to go to movies, ice skating, bowling. I want to travel, eat at restaurants, visit family and friends. I want to have a job that I am comfortable in, which doesn't make me want to jump out of the window (from either stress or boredom) that I can balance with everything else without running me to the ground. I want a place to call home. I want to look in the mirror and smile. I want to be free from all this craziness. I want to throw back my head and laugh like I used to.

I was thinking about this all in Starbucks this evening. I was starting to feel excited, hopeful, happy. Then the thought popped into my head: "once I lose another Xlbs"

Recovery to me has always felt conditional. I'll recover without gaining weight. I'll recover but I won't eat such-and-such a food. I'll recover but I won't do xyz. The one time I really decided to throw these conditions out the window and do WHATEVER was recommended I do, I fell flat on my face. I gained weight, did my affirmations, my DBT homework, my body image homework, ate at restaurants, ate "fear foods"...did it all. For a while. Things were...interesting. I remember a lot of crazy mood swings, impulsive behaviours and depression. I also remember sleeping better, having more energy and having fun with friends. I remember having a freedom around food that I hadn't experienced for a while. I remember being busy to the point where I was exhausted, but scared to slow down in case my eating disorder clawed it's way back in. I remember interacting with people again, being part of the world rather than just a bystander. I remember making people laugh. I remember calling suicide hotlines at 2am utterly despairing. I remember doing stupid shit that I never thought I would do. I remember banging my head against a wall until I saw spots. I remember running through the streets at 4am, trying to escape the cloud looming above my head. I remember spending lots of money and ending up in some seriously messy (dangerous?) situations.

It was definitely a mixed bag. Am I happier now? I honestly don't know. My moods are slightly more stable. I feel safer, more in my comfort zone. I know the path I am taking, I know where it can lead, and I know how to maneuver my way through *this* maze. The maze of recovery was unknown. I didn't know where the potholes were placed, or where the quick-sand lay. I didn't know what was coming, or what might trip me up. Reflecting back, I still don't know quite what went wrong, or how, or when. Or if I was even on the right path to begin with...

Saturday, 26 July 2008

The Future: a blank canvas or a black hole?..

The last couple of weeks have been intense and painful, but today I feel better. Peaceful. Free. I slept for 6 hours last night, which is a lot for me. I've spent the day by myself, but instead of panicking about endless hours to fill and crazy thoughts bouncing around my head, I've felt hopeful and optimistic about the coming months.

I figure I can look at this in two ways.

1) Everything has fallen apart, I am leaving my friends and the city I love, to be, essentially, homeless. No job, no friends, nowhere to live, nothing to do. Feeling lost, hurt, angry, resentful, lonely.


2) I am leaving one life, and have a blank canvas in front of me to start another. I have a few different choices about what I'll do, but there is no rush to make any decisions. I'll wait until I am back, then see how things pan what I can with what I have. There ARE options for me- I just need to find the path I want to walk down, and somewhere along the line, I'll find a place to call "home".

There are facts to consider about the coming months, which influence which view I take depending on whatever mindset I happen to be in. It's not all doom and's far from peachy either. There are very valid concerns about the choices I am going to have to make. Lots to think about, lots to research, and a little too much reliance on others (I am NOT comfortable "needing" other people).

I think what I really need to do is sit down and figure out where I want to be in 6 months/a year. Not physically, but what I would like my life to LOOK like. What I want to be doing, where I want to be in my recovery, what shape I want my world to take...then backtrack and figure out the best plan of action to get from here to there.

Without doing what I keep doing, and falling into the hole where I do nothing but panic and the prospect of "life" is too overwhelming to even consider being a part of.

Whatever I think, say or do, time is going to pass. This is going to happen. I am leaving New York. I am going to have to make decisions, compromises, sacrifices. I am going to feel a sense of loss. The sun is going to rise and fall, regardless of whether or not I want it to. I want to make the hands of time STOP until I can think things through, but really...I need to get to work on accepting what IS, rather than wishing for what ISN'T.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Choose Your Battles

At some point, I need to accept that some things are simply not worth fighting for. Give up, and move on. Whether it's a relationship, recovery, or life some stage, it's time to call it quits.

How do you accept that something is just not worth the hassle? It is painful to want something so badly that you are WILLING to stand up and fight for it, but maybe some things are just not worth the hassle.

I've talked before about my relationships- the will they/won't they. It doesn't happen like it does in movies- there isn't always a "happily ever after" ending in the real world. How do you know if it was right to begin with, and how do you know when to throw down the cards, kick back from the table and just.walk.away.

I seem to invest a lot of time and energy into things which in hindsight, aren't worth it. These people will never be who I want/need them to be. If it is constantly causing more pain than pleasure, maybe cutting my losses is the best decision I can make.

I don't want to.

I am really rather immature when it comes to my interactions with others. I want things a certain way. I want people I can relay on. People who follow through with what they say they will do, people who don't make me feel like I am worthless and horrible. I want people around me who choose to be around me- not because I pay them, because they feel sorry for me or guilty that I have thrown a fit because they cancelled our dinner date.

I want to fight for my relationships because I am scared of being alone. And yet time and time again, with the same people, I end up feeling hurt, angry and lonelier than if I had never gotten involved with them in the first place.

I'm tired of the games, the fighting, the cycle of making and breaking plans, adding and deleting the same people on Facebook. It all seems rather immature. I was like this when I was 12...doesn't seem to have changed. I am amazed that so many people I seem to get involved with are like this too.

Except they don't seem to think it's worth fighting for.

Is there any way of knowing if it's worth fighting for something? If you try, time and time again, only to get shot down, time and time what point is it okay to finally give in and accept that it's over? Is it ever REALLY over? Or was it never there to begin with, and I just WANTED it there so badly I pretended it existed?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Not Waving, But Drowning

To say that I'm struggling would be an understatement. I'm flailing. Rather wildly. I don't quite know what's wrong, or how to fix it. I'm overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the coming months. There is a deep sense of loss over what I am leaving behind here in New York. There is the oh-so-seductive urge to self-destruct completely. Because that solves everything. Obviously.

I want, so desperately, for things to be different. I am learning (slowly!) that what I really want is for ME to be different. I want to be "normal", whatever that means. I want to be able to choose where I live, to have a job I am good at/that I enjoy, to be free from this obsession with food/weight/exercise. I want to go out with friends and not worry about what they are thinking about me, where we will go, what we will eat. I want to make plans with people without having to get up at 4am so that I have time to squeeze in my mandatory walking hours so that I "earn" the right to relax and have fun. I want freedom. I want to be peaceful.

All the things that I do to manage my anxiety/depression are making things worse and taking me further and further away from the things I want. The more despairing I feel about where I am going to live, work, etc, the more weight I lose, and the more weight I lose, the more things spiral out of control.

I say that I am trying to get a grip on things. That is partly true. I am trying to get a grip on the feelings that drive my behaviour. I am trying to get a grip on the urges to lash out at myself. I say I am trying, but my definition of trying is to choose the lesser of two evils- should I walk 12 miles or take a handful of sleeping pills? Should I skip lunch or should I walk in front of a car?

I justify my actions because obviously I am making the "healthier" choice. Healthier, yet not healthy.

Should I just suck it up, follow my meal plan, exercise a normal amount, do my therapy homework and hope that somewhere along the line I acquire the desire to actually take care of myself? Be...*gasps* self-sufficient? How dull. How self-indulgent. I can't do that. I don't know HOW. I can do it when I am locked up in a treatment center, but can't quite bring myself to save MYSELF from MYSELF. After so much therapy/treatment, I should have answers by now. I have yet to see/hear/read anything that makes it seem a more doable task.

How did this get so damn complicated?

People think I have yet to recover because I don't want it enough. They are wrong. I want it enough. I just don't think I am capable of it, or deserving of it. I don't know how to function like a non-eating disordered person. I don't know how to deal with the mood swings, depression and anxiety that my behaviour keeps a handle on. I don't know how to live...or if I even want to.

Monday, 21 July 2008

My Inner Child

A therapist once suggested to me that I think of my own needs as those of a child. That I get in touch with the younger version of myself- nurture her, take care of her, help her. I thought it was a nice idea in theory. But really? I hate her. I hate her whining, her neediness, her constant wanting. Wanting food, attention, love, affection. I hate that she exists, and demands the things that I don't want to give her. I hear her crying out for something and I want to turn away and ignore her. I see her tears, I watch her starve, I feel her hands reaching out to me... I don't want her to exist.

I can't feed her.
I can't listen to her.
I can't help her.
I can't be around her.

Why not? She irritates me. She is demanding things that to me, are a luxury. Not a right. Love, attention, friendship, relationships, happiness, food- none of it is a given. For me, it needs to be earned. I wasn't born with the right to be taken care of, and I sure as hell haven't earned that right.

This child is me. Begging, pleading, screaming. And being ignored. She's worthless. Useless. Stupid. Overly demanding. Selfish. She cries that this is unfair- she is lonely, tired, hungry, scared, sad. I don't care. I hate her.

I want her to go away with her hopes and dreams and fairytale life she has fantasised about. I want her to leave me alone and accept that I will never give her what she wants. I want her to disappear without trace, as if she was never even here to begin with.

Fade away. Until nothing is left.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Holding On... Letting Go...

I'm wondering, at which point, holding on becomes more painful than letting go. My specific situation is irrelevant- this is applicable to so many things. Clinging to something, desperately wanting it to work out the way you envisioned it, unable to accept the reality that it's NOT working, and letting go (a "strategical retreat" as my dad calls it) is the only thing you have left to do.

So why is it so hard? I make it sound so easy, so simple. It's not working, cut your losses and try something different.

There has been so much time, energy and hope invested in this. There is so much meaning behind holding on/letting go. It's far from easy, far from simple. Oh-so-easy to much harder to actually do.

I refuse to let go. On an intellectual level, I KNOW that this is never going to work. On an emotional level, I desperately need it to work. Or maybe I just believe that I need it to work? Maybe it was never right to begin with. Maybe I am walking down the wrong path altogether...or maybe a miracle will occur and suddenly everything will be.just.fine.

I don't know.

I'm facing lots of decisions right now. Well technically, that's not true. The decisions have been made. Some by myself (not by choice- I didn't/still don't see alternatives), and some have been dictated by others.

Where does this leave me? I feel lost. Heartbroken. Scared. Lonely.

I am so incredibly hurt by everything that's happened over the last few months in New York. I put on this facade that I am happy it didn't all end as badly as previous stays here, but really...this feels different. This isn't my doing. This isn't something I had control over. And that's what hurts the most. There has been so much rejection and pain and betrayal that I'm wondering if coming back was a mistake. I wasn't prepared for this. How could I be? I, perhaps naively, didn't see this coming.

I'm going home, once again, broken. Words fail me at times like this.

I'm hurting. I'm angry. I don't know how to deal with this. I'm scared of what lies ahead, and scared of what I've left behind. I'm scared of the can of worms that has been opened, and scared that things can never go back to how they were.

I just want someone, hell ANYONE, to tell me that it's going to be okay. Instead of the countless number of people that have said it's NOT okay. I am not okay. There's something wrong that they don't want to deal with. I need people right now. I need to hear that you know that I tried, that I pushed myself as hard as I could, and that maybe it wasn't the right thing at the right time.

Guys- I struggle with this more than I will ever tell you, more than you will ever know. I can completely understand that you don't know how to deal with it, or that it's not your problem. You're right. It's not. I'm sorry for all that I put you through, the things I ask of you, the things I need from you. I'm sorry that I'm not who you want me to be. I'm not who I want to be either. Trust me- whatever you think of me, or the negativity you throw my's nothing I don't already do to myself. And I punch harder than you ever could.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Epiphanies All Round...

I realized tonight that I base my entire self-worth on other people's opinions of me. Do you think I am good enough to do xxx job? Do you think I am the best harpist in this competition? Do you think my life is worth saving? I put myself into situations, not consciously, but time and time again, purely to see how other people perceive me.

My self-esteem is non-existent, and I rely on others to validate me.

Am I a good enough person to be given that award/medal/job/prize? Is my existence valuable enough that you are willing to step in and stop me from killing myself? Then I resent either outcome. I don't get the job/prize/whatever, and it further fuels my destructiveness. "I KNEW I wasn't good enough". If I DO get what I really want, then it just screws with my head. "They made a mistake/they have ulterior motives/they don't see me for what I really am".

Will I ever feel good enough? Not likely. I aim for perfection and discover it's a moving target. I keep moving the target. Okay, I won X competition, but now I need to win Y. I lost Xlbs, now I need to lose XXlbs. I'll never be good enough to meet my own standards.

It's a losing battle. The more I achieve, the more I strive, and the more I strive, the more I set myself up to fail. The more I fail, the more destructive I become and the cycle feeds off itself.

I KNOW this rationally.

What I don't know is how to change it.

How to lower my expectations/standards. How to accept myself for how I am. How to be happy with what I've got. How to value myself enough to not rely on others to determine what I'm worth.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Going Nowhere (would you like to come too?)

So, after 4 months, I am going "home". Actually, I am going to stay with my mom for a couple weeks, then a friend of hers for a couple weeks and hopefully somewhere along my travels will find a place I can call "home". Really, I don't know where I am going or what I am doing.

I have a flight booked in a month.

Between now and then, things are unclear. I have the option of continuing to temp as required. I have the option of going into hospital. I have the option of bumming around the city. Pros and cons of all three... Hospital isn't appealing for oh-so-many reasons. Mainly the fact that it isn't going to help my mental state, and if the treatment is purely physical, am going to be in a worse state when I leave than when I go in. Bumming around the city isn't as much fun as it sounds. The temptation to just walk and walk in 90 degree heat until my body aches and I am seeing spots is too hard to resist. Temping... At least I'd be kept busy and earn a little money. I just don't want to anymore. I'm tired. I don't feel well mentally or physically. I am in a self-destructive spiral, and I think the temping works fuels that. It confirms that I can't get/keep a "real" job. That all I am good at is answering the phone and stuffing envelopes.

Truth is, I don't want to do anything except get through the next few weeks as painlessly as possible. I am working Monday, will hear early next week about a bed for hospital- everything will be under review, day by day.

If I thought that not working and not going into hospital would be FUN, I'd do it. Summer in new York? 3-4 weeks to enjoy the city? Sounds great. It's really not though when you sleep an average of 3-4 hours a night, are too wired on diet pills to stand still and your brain can only focus on something other than food for a total of about 60 seconds.

I don't want to leave New York. Not like this. Not the way I have the last 2 years. I wanted so badly for things to be different this time.