I am here

I find myself sitting on a room full of chattering people.

It is crowded , and yet I am alone.

How ironic–I am here because I am in recovery.

I am here because I am alive.

And the food is bountiful.

I hesitate to choose.

It is early–earlier than I normally eat.

I see croissants, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, fruit, cereal.

I gravitate towards the pineapple and melon slices.

This is where I falter.

If I eat something I am uncomfortable with, I will be uncomfortable.

If I eat now, I might get hungry later; before lunch.

The thought crosses my mind to find support, to talk about what I’m going through.

Someone in this room might understand.

Here of all places.

I’m not even hungry, but I know I will be.

This is something I live with every day.

It’s harder when I’m alone.

When I’m out of my routine.

Lunch is coming up.

What can I take away from this struggle?

That I fear discomfort.

That I crave accountability. Approval.

Ah, approval.

Lunch, I am coming for you. 

I am going to sit with my feelings and emotions.

This is something I have recently discovered.

That I feel too much.

That I block out my emotions.

That I prefer to feel numb sometimes.

But here, in this city that is so alive.

This city that I love.

I am here.

I can do this. 

I will do this.

I think I have a long way to go.

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You are loved

I dream of you.

I pulled out a drawer and found the note I wrote to you when you first had surgery. Mom gave it back to me when you passed.

I told you not to be afraid.

And this is when I began to love.

You took the note from my hand and kissed me on the cheek.

I made my way back to the house, stepping over the pavement pieces that are a bit unsteady.

Tears filled my eyes.

This was not goodbye, but it was learning to let go.

My throat is tight, writing this. My eyes are blurry.

All of the unknowns, flying over my head.

Hours spent, worrying and waiting.

And to me, you were never the same.

Falls, crashes, absentmindedness.

I knew it was a sign, when mom made Christmas dinner.

When come New Years, you went to bed at 10:00.

When mom found scones on your counter.

White chocolate raspberry, your favorite.

I had brought them to you a few days ago.

You had forgotten them.

So much time has passed, and yet it seems just like yesterday.

Your bedroom, no longer inhabited by you.

Instead, you spent your days in the guest room, propped up on the hospital bed.

You were quiet.

I always made sure the nurses weren’t covering both of your feet with the bed covers.

I knew you liked to regulate your temperature.

It all happened so fast.

And yet so slow.

I remember your soft breathing.

How you held a wooden cross and tiny stuffed kitten.

I don’t know where they came from, but they were with you until the last moment.

That day, before work, I went to your room to say goodbye.

I rubbed your feet with lotion. The first time I can recall touching your feet.

Those feet had been places.

I slipped into the bed beside you, just like when I was young and we had sleepovers.

I held your hand.

I whispered goodbye, imagining the effect I wished it would have.

I wished you would open your eyes.

That my voice would revive you.

It didn’t.

But I understand.

You were tired.

And you knew.

You are loved.


 

 

Fog

Having not seen my therapist in many  months, it was a little bit strange to have two sessions in two weeks.

It took a lot out of me, emotionally. I didn’t realize how much I’ve been avoiding areas of my life, or memories.

I shy away from intense emotions, maybe because it makes me feel too much.

I love experiencing the therapy process. To me, the therapist is almost a narrator. Speaking the words my psyche is trying to broadcast.

Living in the moment can sometimes be difficult. Having to remember moments I’ve avoided is draining.

I think I am on a good path right now though. Some say: no pain, no gain. I’m learning to be uncomfortable. To sit with my emotions.

To look deeper. I am an archaeologist, digging through layers of dark, loamy earth and sediment and finding pieces of memories from childhood.

I am walking right into the fog of emotion I see in front of me. It’s cloudy, but the further I walk, the clearer I see.

Part time 

You may already know that I have had an eating disorder for a good chunk of my life. I usually just say I’ve struggled with ed stuff since I was 13, so about ten years. I look back on my early teen years, right after I was “diagnosed” with anorexia, and it’s like I am peering through a window at my younger self.

There was a period of time where I had no idea who I was, or what I was supposed to be doing. I guess I feel like that now too, but this feeling was at thirteen and fourteen…I really wanted a job, or something to live for. I looked for places to volunteer, because anything below the age of 16, it’s hard to find someone to hire you. I volunteered at the local public library for a long time, and naturally, when I turned 16 there was a job opening and I was chosen to gill the position. Finally, I had a job!

I don’t remember the exact timeline…a few years later, I was offered a full-time job working upstairs at the library. I was unsure at first, as the job would entail cleaning the library after hours, and working 4o hours each week. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t turn this job offer down, and I took it.

I remember working Monday nights, and bringing a baggie of Cheerios along to eat by the handful. I remember this particularly well, because I denied myself dinner every Monday (always being at work made this easy to hide), and spread my snacks thinner on the first day of the work week. I doubt anyone ever knew this, and I actually forgot about it until a year or so ago. I remember drinking mugs of horrible Folgers coffee, and feeling sick. I remember toting loads of diet soda in and slurping on it throughout the day.

I also remember the long hours. Over this year’s Labor Day weekend I had several weird dreams, and one morning I woke up realizing that though I had a 3-day weekend, I had to go back to work. I was surprised to find that I was excited about going back to work at the coffee shop. I had a flashback of how I had cried several times when I was overwhelmed while I worked full-time. I felt as though I never had a day off, and that I couldn’t stay up too late, because I always had to get up early in the morning.

Working full-time seemed responsible, but I see now how detrimental it was to my health and mental well-being. Since losing my job and working less than 40 hours a week, I find myself naturally feeling freer. I get off early in the afternoon, so I can go home and relax, read, do household chores, etc. I love my co-workers, and would basically do anything for them, and I know that they feel the same way about me. I can actually read now, and not be overwhelmed and feel as though I have no time. I can have a lazy day where I sleep in multiple times per week. I recently wrote this piece on rest, and what the notion of rest means to me. I wouldn’t have been able to write that piece, or this, had I continued to work full-time.

I used to feel so guilty for taking a nap, reading more than I thought I “should”, wasting time on running errands…everything. I know that it’s not only working less hours that has helped, but also a change of mind, but I can’t really see myself working full-time again. And the great part? I don’t have to! I was a bit worried about money and finances when I was fired, but almost a year out, I see that I am being provided for. Another perk of working less is the part where I get to spend more time on myself and with my husband! I have been caught up in the web of self destruction for years, and though I am still struggling to break free at times, I am working towards freedom. I couldn’t do that at my old job. Not only did I not have enough “me time”, but I never appreciated myself and my talents. I also never felt appreciated.

A year ago I was stressed, anxious, and overworked. My mind was always full, mostly with negative things. Today I am on an antidepressant, my mind is functioning fully, and I am feeding myself. I am also feeding my soul. I see such a huge difference between myself today, and the me of 2015. I never thought I could feel as good as I do now. I hope that my words will help someone, or multiple someones, take a step towards bettering you. That might look different for you than it does for me, but really think on it. As my therapist told me last week: your life is an experiment. Adding or removing jobs, actions, self talk, meditation, an exercise routine…that might be what it takes.

Above all, through all of life’s changes and struggles (losing my job certainly wasn’t fun or easy, eating dinner on Monday’s was hard to implement at first, worrying about money doesn’t go away overnight) I am learning that whether I like it or not, I am worthy. I am worthy of taking time, of spending money, of eating foods I love. You are worthy too. 

 

Going to the river

I had an appointment today, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided to write to get it out. I’m always anxious about my appointments, and I usually leave them feeling good. No matter what your inner dialogue is telling you, if you aren’t feeling yourself it’s a good idea to just talk. It helps. Today when I left, I felt relieved. But I also felt swollen with grief. It’s hard for me to talk about my deepest inner feelings, especially to a professional. I used to keep quiet because I didn’t think anyone really cared. The way my therapist responded to my words today is not the way someone would have reacted to me a year ago. She responded with sincerity and concern, but also with interest. I am not here to glamorize suicide by any means. It’s a very highly arguable subject, and I’d be the last person to ask about how to sway someone the other way. I left my appointment feeling slightly shaken,  and slightly proud. Proud I can be in a place where I can reasonably tell my inner dialogue and thoughts during my darkest moments, and yet not have them overtake every single day of my life. A year ago, the story I told today would have probably landed me in a psych ward. My therapist did use the word “commit” today which freaked me out a little bit. I got so caught up in being open and honest, that I forgot how fragile this subject is. Thankfully I am stable 90% of the time now and can feel free to go over my feelings with my therapist without fearing being whisked off to a small bare room.

The words below are from my own memory, and are not a word for word quote.

I’d also like to point out that September is Suicide Prevention Month, so I think our conversation was quite timely. I’m not “in the well” right now, so don’t freak out. This is just me being my most transparent. I don’t want to feel this way, and I want to prevent my severe depression, if possible.

 

Does the depression remind you of anything in particular? I know you used the dragon with two heads to symbolize ed. What about the depression?

“Ummm, I guess I compared it to a hole in one of my blog posts, but I’ve started to think of it as an old well. I imagine I’ve fallen into the well, and those who love me have thrown down a rope. They’re trying to save me, but I’m not sure if I want to be saved.”

That’s what I thought of when I read your post too. I also thought of this…(rummaging in drawers full of little figurines used for sand-tray therapy, she pulls out a coffin and sets it on the table in front of me) the depression…this coffin doesn’t mean it symbolizes death, but it’s heavy and dark.

“Yeah.”

Do you ever think about hurting yourself when you’re this depressed?

“Yes, when I am in that severely depressed state, like a few weeks ago, I have.”

Have you told the doctor about this?  Do you have suicidal thoughts often?

“Only when I’m really depressed. It just takes me back to the early years of ed and how that felt. I was always in that dark place. I’ve talked to Dan about it before.”

Did you ever have a plan, or imagine what would happen?

“Yes.”

(smiling sadly)

“I would go to Dairy Queen and get a Blizzard, because I never allowed myself Blizzard’s. Then I’d drown myself in the river. And I mean, I grew up in a house…well, my dad hunted, so there were guns. I knew where the key was to his workshop door. Or I thought about the kitchen knives.”

(eyes welling up)

What stopped you from ever doing anything? Have you ever gone to the river?

“Well, Dan and I were talking before once, and he said to imagine my little brother, and how my parents would have to explain to him what had happened. Guilt…and fear. I’d, well, I’d be dead, but thinking about how it would hurt everyone who loves me…I’ve never gone to the river.”

And fear about what, dying?

“Well, dying. And pain. And I mean, I don’t know where we go when we die.”

Did anyone ever know you were having these thoughts when you were younger?

“No. I talked to my mom, but I’d never tell her this kind of thing. Because, her favorite word is ‘joy’…”

Okay. And have you felt this way lately?

“Not since that last time I was really depressed. It’s more of an option, running in my mind in the background when I’m very depressed.”