Monday, 16 March 2009

Pendulum Swings and Limbo

First of all, I want to say how much I appreciate your comments and kind thoughts on yesterday's post. I have been reading through them today sporadically, and it's been such a comfort to me to feel less alone with this.

Today has been a whirlwind of thoughts and feelings, from one extreme to the other. I know there is no "right" way to feel right now, but I am swamped with guilt around some of the thoughts I have been having right now.

One minute I am thinking, "I wish it was me". A horrible thing to admit to- I am NOT suicidal, but I guess there is a big part of me that just wants a way out of this. I don't want to say it's the "easy way out" because I don't think anyone, my amazing friend included, would take such a decision so lightly and without thought, but having it brought 'home' somehow makes it seem like... I don't know. Not an "option" per se, but a little less of "one of those things you read about in newspapers".

Then there is this other part of me that is SO grateful to not be in that place right now. I'm stuck and I'm struggling, but I'm looking for answers, solutions, ways forward, rather than embracing the dark shadows around me. I am grateful that I didn't succeed in my last suicide attempt, grateful that I *have* what I have- ie, a chance to make things better. I don't know how or when or what that will look like, but as long as I am alive and relatively well, I have more than a fighting chance of making a life for myself.

The moments of wishing it was me are fleeting but disturbing. More disturbing due to the sheer contrast between the other thoughts about using this to really throw myself headfirst into recovery and leave this behind. Using it as fuel to fight the fire that anorexia burns, using it as momentum to swing things around and start embracing life in all it's (albeit hideous at times) glory.

Torn between darkness and light, torn between wanting to stand up and say, "Enough- I am reclaiming my LIFE" and lying down just thinking about all the people this disease claims as it's own, and wondering why I should even entertain the notion that my future won't be the same.

It's scary to think about the statistics of eating disorders- the percentage that die, the percentage that struggle for the rest of their lives. It doesn't make a pretty picture to look at the charts and tables, the graphs and results, the data, the evidence, the research studies.

But you know what? F*** it. These studies only look at small pieces of evidence. YES, eating disorders kill. Either directly as a result of the behaviour, or more subtly by eroding the soul until suicide seems like the only viable option. And I don't believe it's just a choice of recovery/sickness. I really think people make the best choice they have, based on the options they see in front of them.

So what do I see?

I see a blank canvas. I have dreams of living back in New York one day. As soon as possible. It will always be where I call "home" and it's heartbreaking for me to not be there- but it's one of my main motivations for recovery and I'm not going to get dragged down by the fact that I am NOT there, because that blocks me from taking the steps to get there.

What else do I want?

I want freedom from my rituals and obsessions. I want to be spontaneous- to grab dinner somewhere just because I am hungry and need to eat on my way to do something. I want to have friends I can meet for brunch, go to comedy clubs with, go to bookstores with, wander around and take goofy photos with. I want to go to people's houses for dinner, take day trips to the beach. I want a regular-houred office job that I LIKE (or at least, not hate), but that doesn't define who *I* am. No more "Devil Wears Prada" scenarios, but something I feel good about doing, something that interests me, something that pays enough to not have to work 16 hour days and still barely cover my rent. I want to discover what it means to me to be close to someone, to share my time and thoughts with someone who is interested in me as more than a client/patient. Someone who makes me laugh but can take me seriously when I need them to. Someone who likes falling asleep at night watching "Scrubs" and looks forward to a big cup of hazelnut coffee in the morning. I want to go on bike rides on Sunday mornings, visit farmers markets, go to swing parks and night and rock back and forth looking at the stars. I want to go camping and fall over in muddy puddles, walk in the rain and gather round a campfire at night drinking hot chocolate.

I want so much more than what anorexia will ever give me, but ultimately it comes down to this: do I want all of that more than I want to be thin?

Yes. The problem I have is believing that by giving up the body/weight control, I'll have a chance at creating the life I want. It's NOT possible to have it both ways. To "not have the cake and not eat it either" :P There is this horrible limbo period at the start of recovery, when it feels as though you are giving up the "good" parts of the eating disorder, but yet to reap any of the benefits of recovery. They come later. Much later.

How do I hold onto the bigger dreams I have for my life, whilst living through the limbo?..


dancelikenooneiswatching said...

i know what you mean but to REALLY reap the rewards of recovery we have to go through the uncomfortable parts will only make us stronger..and we cant have a meaningful journey without some tough lessons along the way (i promise to take my own advice too )xxx

Okie said...

I know exactly what you mean about feeling "cheated" with recovery: it's so hard, and the benefits come later. But that's just it: they DO come later. Keep on fighting chica. :)
P.S. Here's a quote I thought you might like, although I don't know who said it: "Coming and going, always at home."

Cacti Don't Cry said...

You all but took my words out of my mouth... Part of me doesn't really believe any of that is possible, which is, I think, the problem. You have to really BELIEVE it. (Not one for trite quotes, but: "If you can believe it, you can achieve it!")

ego in absentia said...

Wow - such a powerful post full of strength and hope and intelligence and heart! i'm really proud of you just for writing this. You said it, put it out there in the Universe. Sometimes that's all we need to do to get closer to the next step. Keep Okie said the benefits DO come so we must keep our eye on the prize! *big hugs* xo t

Sheena said...

Look at that list of your desires and what you want... look at it everyday. Print it out and put it on your mirrors.

This limbo period, and this uncomfortableness at the beginning of recovery is only temporary. It's a hard drag out, knock down fight, but you can get through it.

Thos things you want, freedom, an djob you love, being close to someone, those things are lasting. And you can't have them when anorexia is cheating you out of life -- stealing your life!

You hold onto the bigger dreams through strength and through constant reminders about what really matters in life. God did not put us on earth to be thin and depressed. He wants us to be happy, embrace his creation.

You can do this, just don't give up and push through continuously!

Lexi said...

Amazing post. I loved this. I can relate to you in so many way with what I see in my future. We can do this, girl. You're right - life is a blank canvas. Let's paint

Nutritious is Delicious said...

Life is a blank canvas! So true! I love it! Paint that canvas full of vibrant colors girl!

Anonymous said...

I really relate to everything you've written in this post. I wonder what makes me think I can escape the statistics too, and I am frustrated by the period in between deciding to recover and actually becoming physically and psychologically healthy. It all takes so much time and hard work, and a few bad days seem to be all it takes to land people back at square one. But I suppose there are benefits to recovery at all stages - they are just an awful lot smaller than true freedom and spontaneity around food. Things like having a bit more energy and concentration, feeling proud for resisting urges, beginning to feel hopeful again. Have you ever read Gaining by Aimee Liu? It really surprised me how many people who have suffered from severe eating disorders for long periods of time do recover - I think we only hear about the tragedies from most studies and statistics.
Every day you fight this stupid disorder and put the work into recovery is another day closer to getting shot of it. It takes a long time, but people DO make it, and it doesn't take forever.

kali said...

ooooo rats.. she's writing another essay... LOL i'll try and keep this short babe.

people die from this, like me you have had the utter distress of knowing someone who's died from this bullshit (in whatever form). they didn't get the chance or died fighting.

ellie? YOU ARE NOT GONNA DIE FIGHTING. not a victim of this crap. take every loss you have experienced and use their energy and meaning to you. take it and run with it. for every loss add something you wouldn't normally to your diet, break a rule/a behaviour. do it in each of their beautiful memories because if those who had died could say anything to you it would be `do it, do it before its too late'

the dark side? one way path to a dead end. recovery? (fucking awesome, hard work but bloody hell its good fun, and hell if anyone has `stuff' to do its you.)

im so so sorry to hear jenni took her life... she sounds awesome and the energy she portrayed to you she did with love, positivity and for a reason.
eds suck bum they SUCK THEY SUCK THEY SUCK.

go out, buy yourself a cheap canvas -a physical one and go nuts with paint hun - i promise you its liberating as hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!... then??? set about your inner one.
im not coming to your funeral hun, im going to come to NY to see you and hell ya gonna need energy for J and i!!!!