Before I forget, I finished my Q+A page at last! You are still more than welcome to leave me questions in comments or via email/MSN/facebook, and I will add them to the page 🙂
Thank you for your comments on my last post. I don’t know if anyone was surprised that I didn’t even try to end it on a positive note. I could have done – I could have talked about forgiving myself and everyone who has ever upset me, doing things differently from now on, taking care of myself. But I was sort of testing myself. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I am terrified of becoming depressed again. I have a tendency to avoid talking or thinking about anything which makes me upset or anxious. I have selective memory loss when it comes to moods – if I am in a good mood I feel uncomfortable because I know it can’t last, but if I am in a bad mood I become terrified that it will never end! When I think about it like that it really doesn’t make sense. Anyway, I wanted to just leave that post as it was, because…well, it IS sad. My cousin posted that photo on facebook a few days ago and my first reaction wasn’t embarrassment, it was sadness. I wished I could go back and give myself a hug or something.
More than anything I wished that I knew then that all the shit I was going through and would continue to go through for more than a decade after wouldn’t last forever. It wouldn’t kill me. Every depressive episode would lift, every phobia would lessen. The trauma of being bullied would fade; I would forgive the ringleaders and myself. I would live in fear and horror for years after being raped, but eventually I would fight off the grip of post traumatic stress disorder. I would stop cutting and burning myself. I would find some self belief and assertiveness and refuse to see various mental health professionals who told me I would never recover from my anxiety and depression (my last psychiatrist was an asshole :P), stop taking the medication that everyone said would help but actually made me worse. I would kick the anorexia right out of my head and my life. Most importantly, I would learn that I am not powerless. I am not helpless. I am far from hopeless. I can trust myself to keep myself safe. I could die tomorrow – I could get hit by a bus – but it will never be at my own hands. As far as I can, I will protect myself from physical and psychological harm in only healthy, positive, kind ways from now on.
Shutting out all grief and sadness because I am scared of it is not really protecting myself. It is just repressing the inevitable. Forcing myself to stay relentlessly positive and to hide everything from people around me put a huge amount of stress on my body and my mind when I was younger, and I think it directly contributed to my depression and anxiety. Sometimes, depression is purely mental and neurological/chemical exhaustion. So, if I feel sad, I am bloody well going to be sad. Feelings can’t do me physical harm. Suppressing those feelings could. Conversely, I’m not going to let them overwhelm me, I’m not going to wallow and hide from the world anymore. I imagine there’s a fine balance between respecting your experiences and emotions and not letting them bog you down. But I’m not going to find that balance if I never let myself feel anything.
It’s funny – when I was more bulimic than anorexic as a teenager I was emotionally bulimic too. I was scared of my emotions but unable to stop them spilling out. I was desperate for help but refused to tell anyone what was going on, so I ended up trying to show them instead. I was chaotic, impulsive, self destructive. But in the years preceding the switch to anorexia I became more and more behaviourally and emotionally anorexic in all areas of my life, even before I lost a large amount of weight. I developed multiple phobias and avoided all triggers, I attempted to control everything around me, I became more obsessive and restrictive and shut out everyone and everything that I saw as unpredictable and unsafe. I locked away all my emotions. Even now, if I feel like crying, I actually can’t. I automatically stop myself, it’s become more natural for me to suppress the urge than to give into it. I haven’t cried since November, on the first ‘anniversary’ (hate using that word, but there isn’t really a better one) of being raped that I had spent alone – all previous years I’ve been at home. There was a sexual assault on my campus the night before, and when I found out I got really panicky and upset. Before that instance, I can’t remember the last time. Once or twice in therapy last year, maybe. But that’s certainly not been because the last year or two has been all sunshine. Parts have been horrific. I’ve just channelled all my reactions into my body rather than allowing myself to feel them.
I said a few days ago that I am determined to not just gain weight, but to flush the eating disorder out of my behaviours and thoughts too. That doesn’t just mean letting go of counting calories, not letting myself get sucked into anorexic thoughts, not fantasising about losing weight. It also means relaxing the iron grip I have on my emotions. God knows how, I don’t think this is the sort of thing that comes with a step by step guide. But noticing and respecting my first instinct when I am confronted with things like this photo which appeared on facebook seems like a good way to start.
I felt sad. I talked about it. I ate my dinner, went for a run, had a shower, watched some TV. I woke up feeling better. Hmm. Who would have thought?!
Three good things about today:
1. No therapy today – Julie sent me an email saying that she is in bed with a virus. Let’s hope it’s not swine flu, lol. But this is a good thing because my reaction and reply was ‘oh dear, I hope you feel better soon!’. I didn’t think for a second that I would never cope until next Friday, like I would have a few years ago if therapy was cancelled at the last minute. I’ll be fine. I have homework!
2. I haven’t weighed anything other than dry ingredients for a whole week. It’s bloody brilliant, I love it!
3. One of my friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last night 🙂 I am so happy for her!