Spontaneity

Since being home, many things have happened– some good, some bad, some crazy, some boring. I’m at the point where I have no idea what to expect day-to-day.

Last week, I failed a job interview, had a HUGE mental breakdown, and was strongly encouraged to enter residential treatment for my eating disorder. Needless to say, those events left me feeling incredibly depressed, hopeless, and skeptical. This week, I am still feeling those things but to a much lesser degree. What’s the difference between this week and last? Spontaneity.

On Saturday, I discovered that a good friend and colleague from my alma mater was in my area. In an attempt to break free from my dark headspace, I decided to reach out to him, hoping he’d want to meet up. Sure enough, he eagerly agreed. We met up in the city and completely hit it off! Apparently, he has always had a crush on me (and vice versa) but never made a move because of our professional relationship. However, since leaving my job, that professional boundary no longer exists. Everything we had been feeling for each other was laid out on the table in a matter of minutes.

As the night progressed, I became more aware of the fact that he’d be leaving in the morning, and I sincerely didn’t want our time together to end. He didn’t either. As a successful traveler, he lightly suggested I spend the week traveling with him; to his surprise (and my own!), I immediately said yes! I didn’t allow myself to question my decision or think about the ‘what-if’s?’– I just went with what my heart told me to do.

We are now on day 3 of our road trip and I couldn’t be more confident of my spontaneous decision. It has given me the brief chance to worry less about my future and just simply live in the moment. Plus, the two of us are getting along swimmingly!

Of course, there are still many things I need to figure out, but I’m going to trust that the process will work itself out. So, to all those that feel “stuck” right now, go do something fun and spontaneous. I promise you won’t regret it!

 

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Moving On

Before I begin, I must put a trigger warning on this post. I don’t like to be that person—I never want to hurt or negatively impact a person’s progress—but, the purpose of this blog is to be honest with myself and my followers. So, if you are easily triggered by eating disorder related content or talk of suicide, then I would strongly advise you to read something more… uplifting. Although, this post isn’t ALL bad—I actually had a breakthrough, which some might see as uplifting (or at least encouraging).

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know things have been difficult for me. In an attempt to “cope” with these challenges, I’ve turned to my eating disorder for comfort. And, if you’ve ever struggled with an eating disorder (or any other addiction), you know that it doesn’t bring comfort like a warm blanket or a vanilla scented candle. No, it brings a chaotic and short-lived kind of comfort—the comfort aspect fades in one fell swoop and suddenly you’re left with depression, anxiety, guilt, and shame (on top of the eating disorder behaviors).

Unfortunately, I am stuck in this destructive and life-threatening cycle and I have been for months. It’s extremely difficult for me to admit that my life is out of control (again). After completing two rounds of intense treatment over the course of 4 years and racking up insurmountable medical bills, I thought I was free from the threat of a second relapse. However, that feeling of invincibility is ultimately what gave the eating disorder power. When everything started to go right, I neglected recovery; my thought pattern looked something like this, “if things are finally falling into place then I must be ‘over’ the disorder.” The feelings of euphoria over my hard-earned degree, new job, steady relationship, and new home gave me such a high that I failed to fix the one thing that had the ability to bring me down—the disorder. So, naturally, when all of those good things crashed and burned, so did my mental health.

Over the past few weeks, my depression has sunk to an all-time low. My lack of nutrition, coupled with my stressful job and endless stack of bills, pushed me over the edge. I stopped communicating with people at work, I ignored concerned phone calls and texts from my parents, and I spent my evenings and weekends hiding within the walls of my home, while my dogs begged me to get off the couch and play. I thought I had hit rock bottom during my last relapse, so I didn’t prepare myself for the new rock bottom I hit this weekend. After work on Friday, a wave of suicidal thoughts washed over me in full-force. I became even more depressed knowing I would be spending the 3-day holiday weekend alone, and my eating disorder used that to fuel the fire.  

“You’re such a FAT loser! You can’t even get your ass off the couch!”

“It’s better you stay indoors anyway—no one would want to see you at the lake in a bikini!”

“Why don’t you just kill yourself now? You’ll never be able to starve yourself to death, you COW!”

“You will NEVER be good enough, so do us all a favor and stop trying!”

I don’t want to think what could have happened if I continued to listen to ED’s unrelenting voice. After bawling and pacing in the shower, trying (unsuccessfully) to drown out the voice, my phone dinged. Desperate for a distraction, I skimmed the text with blurred vision—it was from a good friend of mine (let’s call her B), wondering how I was doing and would I like to come over the next day?  I decided to respond with a semi-honest answer. I told her I was going through a rough time with depression and anxiety, that I’d rather be left alone. However, she wouldn’t take no for an answer. She didn’t want me to be alone.

On Saturday, I debated standing her up for the better part of my morning. In the end, a teensy glimmer of hope got me to her doorstep. I wore big sunglasses to hide my puffy eyes, but they were no shield to B’s wise intuition.

“You look broken,” she said in a sad whisper.

“I feel broken,” I whispered back, as tears escaped beneath my shades.

And, that’s when B handed me a tissue, knelt down by my side and began praying for me. She prayed God grant me the strength needed to begin healing, and that He continue to stay by my side throughout life’s journey. It caught me by surprise; I consider myself a religious person, but no one ever prayed out-loud for my well-being before. I could hear the ED voice creeping in, “Don’t listen to that nonsense! You don’t need to heal.” But, I managed to ignore the voice and let her soothing words circulate temporary peace through my broken body and mind. When she finished, she enveloped me in a big hug and we chatted about possible solutions to fix my brokenness.

As I write this today (still depressed and unwell), I am grateful I was able to push aside my negative thoughts and feelings for that small time-frame with B; it gave me a brief moment of clarity, in which I was able to really mull things over. In the best interest of my health and overall well-being, I have made one of the biggest and most difficult decisions of my life: I am giving up my extremely independent lifestyle and moving back home to be closer to family. My house, which is one of my proudest achievements, went on the market today and I will be leaving my demanding (for me) job at the end of June. Part of me feels relieved, part of me feels like a loser. I look forward to having family support and more opportunities for growth in the city; however, I am disappointed in myself for failing at the whole independence thing—it has tarnished my pride. I thought I had my life figured out and now I’m afraid I never will. So, for now, instead of worrying about the unknown…

                                                                I am going to let my faith be bigger than my fears.

Time to Move On?

How do you know when to move on? How do you know when enough is enough? How do you know when it’s time to give up on one dream in order to pursue the next?

This past year has been intense, to say the least. It has been the most thrilling year of my life, but also the most devastating. How is that possible, you ask? Well, let me tell you. From May 2016-January 2017, everything was GREAT; I graduated college, landed a full-time job, bought my very first home, and got engaged. Everything happened so quickly and perfectly, which left me flying high on Cloud 9. After so many years of struggling with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, I finally felt like my life was coming together in the way I always imagined it would. But, let’s face it, life isn’t a fairytale and good times don’t last forever—after all, what’s life without a little struggle?

I began relapsing into my eating disorder this past fall, after a particularly stressful season of work travel. Anxiety and depression quickly followed suit– isn’t it funny how that works? Not long after I began relapsing, I began noticing complications in my relationship. Those complications were too substantial to overlook and I decided (more or less) to end my engagement in the beginning of February, right before my 24th birthday. I tried to use our breakup as motivation to end my relapse and focus on recovery; however, after several months of “trying,” I am more absorbed in the eating disorder than I’d care to admit. At this point I feel completely and utterly stuck. I feel like I stumbled into a pit of quicksand and no matter how hard I fight I cannot get myself unstuck. So, where do I go from here?

I am not particularly satisfied with my current job situation; although I was ecstatic to receive this position just under a year ago, it has proven to be more challenging than I anticipated. It requires a lot of travel and interaction with other people, which is something my eating disorder despises and thrives on at the same time. If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that traveling took a huge toll on my health; it was and continues to be the catalyst to my relapse. And, interacting with a variety of people with my crippling anxiety and depression can sometimes turn into a nightmare. In addition to all of this (yes, there’s more), my paychecks do not accurately reflect the extensive amount of work I do.  

Some of you might say, “Well, why don’t you just find a different job?”

Valid question.

You see, I live in a very rural community where jobs are few and far between. My current position is considered “higher end,” as a vast majority of my city’s residents hold minimum wage jobs. Unfortunately, unless you are in the medical or higher education fields, there are not many opportunities for career growth or paycheck increases. Now, I have considered returning home (Chicago) to pursue other career opportunities, maybe even higher education opportunities, but that in itself opens a whole new can of worms. If I were to move home, I would have to give up MY house, my friends, and my freedom; the cost of living is SIGNIFICANTLY higher in Illinois and I, without a doubt, would have to move in with my parents before finding a place of my own (even with a higher paying job). Sigh. Not to mention, it’s freaking cold in Illinois!

Another issue… my health. If I can barely function day-to-day in this job, how in the heck can I move onto another? Does part of getting myself unstuck involve going back into treatment? At this point, I would welcome treatment with open arms—that’s how awful the eating disorder has gotten. However, treatment is time-consuming, expensive, and indefinite. How do you put your whole life on hold for treatment when there are bills to be paid, animals to be taken care of, and numerous other responsibilities to be completed? It is much more difficult to seek help when you have to be responsible and “adult.” It’s also very difficult to seek help when your family has given up all hope for you.

I guess I’m going to end here. I feel like I rambled a lot in this post, so I apologize. I guess I just want to know how others have picked themselves up after they completely fell apart? How do you turn a nightmare into a fairytale again (is that even possible)?

Ridiculousness

If you don’t enjoy a good rant, then you probably shouldn’t read this. Because let me tell you… I am about to rant like no other. So, hold onto your chair (or keep scrolling).

While I was in college, I had been seeing my eating disorder therapist, as well as my school counselor; I found the mix to be very helpful. My ED therapist worked on the food part and my counselor worked on the anxiety/depression part. Together, for over two years, they were able to provide me with a VERY strong support system. Not only were they kind, caring, and understanding, but they were also in constant contact with each other, always guiding me in the right direction. Unfortunately, once I graduated, I was no longer able to see my school counselor on a regular basis.

In an attempt to keep things as familiar as possible, I decided to reach out to a new counselor in town—one who was willing to continue with the strong support system I had in place. It took some detailed searching and quite a bit of time, but I finally found someone. The fact that she also possessed some background in eating disorders made me feel more comfortable with my decision.   

The first session (which was back in February) went rather well; however, I was still hesitant to make a commitment, as it’s always difficult to fully trust someone with your issues. Not to mention, the past few months have been a whirlwind of chaos; my engagement came to an end, my workplace made some significant changes, and my ED therapist of almost 4 years moved to a different state. All of that, combined with my hesitation, prevented me from seeing her again… until today.

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t looking forward to our session. My eating disorder behaviors have been very debilitating and my desire to follow a path of recovery has pretty much come to a standstill. In fact, my new ED therapist is weary about continuing outpatient services with me, as she believes a higher level of care is becoming more necessary at this point. Anyways, I decided to listen to my rational mind and go into the counseling session with the intent of being open and honest. BIG MISTAKE (prepare for full-on rant).

I told my counselor about the struggles I’ve been facing—how I’ve been heavily engaging in eating disorder behaviors to numb out all of my feelings and how my health is declining because I am unwilling to let myself feel. And, do you know what she said?! I kid you not, she replied, “Well, I hope this isn’t the wrong thing to say, but you look great. You really do. You look healthy and vibrant!”

If someone had been recording our session, you would have seen my mouth drop to the floor. Literally. Like, that is the number one thing you don’t say to someone who has an eating disorder, especially when that person has just poured her heart out about how much she’s struggling! Any educated person would know that. Oh, but it doesn’t end there.

As if my struggles weren’t invalidated already, she continued to ENCOURAGE (yes, encourage) my eating disorder behaviors. She said, “I don’t necessarily think you’re in a terrible place right now. You’re maintaining. You’re using one coping method to block out the feelings of depression and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?!?

So you’re telling me, as a “professional,” that it’s okay for someone to starve their body, throw up their meals, pop laxatives and diuretics like candy, and exercise with the intent of burning [non-existent] calories? That using those behaviors are proper coping mechanisms for dealing with depression? Wow. Just wow.

Please excuse me while I go on a 3-day fast– because, after all, a health professional just told me that that is perfectly okay.

[end rant].

Loneliness

In my 24 years of life on this planet, I have never lived on my own. Until now.

I lived under my parent’s roof until I turned 18 and then I was off to college. During my college years, I was fortunate enough to live with close girlfriends in a handful of grungy dorms, apartments, and houses. At age 22, I moved in with my boyfriend and his father and a year later, my boyfriend and I bought our very first home together. Up until January 31, 2017, I was always with someone, never alone. After I broke off my engagement, I found myself standing in the middle of an empty living room with no one to turn to.

Someone recently asked me: what’s the worst emotion one can experience? Without hesitation, I responded with “loneliness;” the feeling of sadness about being alone. Out of all the emotions I’ve experienced throughout my life, loneliness is by far the heaviest and most dreaded. It comes over you like a tidal wave and all at once, you feel a sense of sadness so strong that only another person’s presence can stop the wave from crashing down.

It’s in the late night hours when this feeling overrides all other capacities. I find myself sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the blaring television. My dog sleeps silently next to me, unaware of my inner turmoil. As I look around at the empty picture frames and the dishes for one piled on the counter, I worry that I may never find solace in another companion. I worry that I’ll feel lonely forever. The wave hits me so hard that I cannot breathe or see clearly. I thank God I am sitting, because I know I’d be knocked to my knees if I were standing.

When the feeling of loneliness becomes so strong that I go numb, I walk myself to our my bedroom and lay down. The only way I find relief nowadays is through my dreams; they temporarily take away my pain and remind me that there is still hope.

Life in Pieces

It has been quite a while since I’ve posted on here and there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for my absence. Before I go into details, let’s just say that 2017 has certainly tested my strengths and it’s only February! So, let’s start from the beginning…

On New Year’s Eve, after my mom’s wedding, my fiancé and I got into our biggest fight. We both had been drinking that evening, which is no excuse, and things turned ugly fast. Typically, our fights have a pattern; he brings up concerns late at night while I am trying to sleep and because I don’t answer him, he becomes angry. On NYE, he got a little too angry. He called me names that no man should ever call the woman he loves and he tried to wrestle me out of bed to get me to talk. Needless to say, it was a huge eye-opener to the type of person he was. As a person who forgives too easily and too often, I tried to forget the words he spoke and the actions he took. I tried to mend our relationship the best I could, but despite my greatest efforts, things did not seem to be improving between us.

Jump forward to Monday, January 23rd: we had yet another fight. The night ended with me crying, self-harming, and sleeping alone in the guest bedroom. To make matters worse, I had a therapy appointment the next morning. I tried to convince myself to stay home but unless of an emergency or illness, I am not one to cancel appointments. I’m not even sure how I managed to make the 1.5 hour drive in one piece, as I was unbearably exhausted. My therapist noticed something was wrong as soon as I walked into her office and I reluctantly explained the events that had taken place the night before. Due to my depressed demeanor and self-harming behaviors, my therapist began asking me questions about suicide. I did not want to dignify her answers with a response, as I was tired of her assuming that depression equated to being suicidal. I suppose she took my silence to mean I was feeling suicidal because the next thing I know, she was on the phone with one of her colleagues. When she finished the call, she informed me someone was coming to pick me up so I could “get the help I needed.” I told her no, that I was fine and didn’t want to go, but she kept insisting I had to go. Five minutes later, two men arrived at her office to pick me up. My therapist explained that the men were going to drive me to another building for a 10AM psychiatrist appointment and that they’d drive me back to my vehicle afterwards. To make a long story short, I did not go to a simple psychiatrist appointment; I was put in an inpatient facility where I was monitored for suicidal behavior.

It was an absolute nightmare. During the 24 hours I was there, I stayed by the nurse’s station and refused to join in on any of the groups or activities. I was genuinely terrified of the other patients. The ward was both male and female, which made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I explained to the nurse that I had been sexually abused as a child and I neither trusted nor felt comfortable around strange men– some of which were straight from jail or the streets. And to make matters worse, my body and mind were extremely malnourished; not a single staff member asked me if I wanted to join the others for a meal, even though it clearly stated in my records that I suffered from anorexia. I would have said no, regardless, but as an institution that claims to help people, they should have been supporting me with my critical nutritional needs. The 36-hours I went without food made a significant impact on my recovery (and not a good one)!

By time I got out on Wednesday, I was a complete wreck. I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep, and my fiancé was so busy with work that he barely was home to comfort me. A couple of days later, my mom (bless her!) got on the first flight she could and came to take care of me. While she was here, she managed to get me talking about my relationship struggles. I confessed how unhappy I was and how I didn’t think our relationship could withstand marriage—it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to admit. Later that evening, as if I wasn’t already struggling with enough, I made the decision to break off my engagement. He was crushed, and rightly so. So was I. Everything that was once familiar became a big black hole of unknowns. He packed his things and took his furniture the very next day, while mom tried to mend my many broken pieces.

It has been two weeks since I was “locked up,” and it has been one week since I called of my engagement. I’ve gone through more trauma and heartbreak in these past two weeks than I’ve ever known was possible. It makes me wonder what my future holds; will I stay here where my friends are and continue to work, knowing my ex-fiancé lives right across town? Or will I sell my house, move back home with my family, and start all over? I thought I had a pretty clear vision for my life but now, that vision is shattered. My mom keeps telling me that I am young and that I can do anything I set my mind to; however, I am not too sure of that. What if I never figure it out? What if I remain stuck in this limbo of one step forward then two steps back?

All I know is that I must reach out to the people who love and support me. I may not be able to get myself together right now, but I know their help will lift me up in this time of darkness.

The [true] Cost of an Education

I never planned on going to a private college in the south. In fact, I originally planned to attend a university close to home. But, things never turn out how we plan do they?

Seven years ago, in the summer of 2010, my family and I took a trip down south to visit a good family friend. At the time, I was a junior in high school and I was just beginning to look at colleges. This family friend of ours took it upon himself to schedule a campus tour of the local college; I was neither thrilled nor dismayed by this tour, as I knew I would NEVER attend school in a small southern town (especially one that was 10 hours from home)!

The moment I stepped on campus, I got this feeling. You know… that feeling. The feeling you get when you’ve found the perfect match and nothing else matters, because your heart is full of warmth and happiness. The pristine landscape, the precisely spaced red, brick buildings, and the striking southern charm drew me in quicker than a jet plane. I immediately fell in love with the small campus, the friendly and supportive people, and the value of the liberal arts mission. And, the rest is history.

I still remember the day I got the text saying, “Congrats! You’re in!” I was changing for gym class in the girl’s locker room and I must have received a handful of puzzled looks as I bounced around with pure excitement. This was just the beginning of my brand new life.

(You’re probably wondering the point to this little tale and, I promise, I’m getting there!)

With my troubled history of disordered eating, it took me longer than expected to graduate. Five years to be exact. Five years of higher education in a private school is not cheap by any means, even with the scholarships I received. By time I walked across the stage and grasped my hard-earned diploma, I was already over $40,000 in debt. Now, on top of the costs of living, I am expected to pay a large chunk of student loans back, and I am absolutely terrified. Why? Because I simply cannot do it.

I have a full-time job that pays pretty well, considering I just graduated from college. I am, by no means, living in poverty. I pay my bills on time, put food on the table, and have a little leftover for extras. I am the definition of living paycheck to paycheck. Throw in this massive student loan bill? Well, then I am most definitely struggling.

The thing about private loan companies is they do not let you enroll in any kind of income-driven-repayment plan. They expect you to pay it off in 10 years at a set amount every month. And, if you cannot make those monthly payments, they threaten to send collection agencies after you and your co-signers (my mom and dad).

I received a phenomenal education at my dream college; every student everywhere should have the opportunity to do the same. They should not, however, have to regret their college decision once student loan companies start hounding them and scaring them to death about the stability of their future. I am scared, I am depressed, and I am uncertain about my future. I am 23 years old and I am already a lifetime into debt. I wake up every morning with feelings of dread, because I wonder if living this life is really worth it. Will everything be taken from me tomorrow, all because I wanted a good education?

Off to a Rocky Start

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope the first few days of 2017 have been good to you!

I am back home and back at that 8-5 work grind. Let me tell you… after a 10-day break (the perks of working in the private sector!) I am struggling to get back into the swing of things. My sleeping is all over the place, I feel incredibly lazy and lethargic, and my eating schedule is totally out of whack. It’s crazy how our normal daily routines can become so befuddled after change. All this madness is worth it, though, as I got to spend 10 relaxing days with my family and friends. I’d say I left 2016 in a pretty good place; unfortunately, 2017 opened with a rocky start, which makes me skeptical about the rest of the year.

My mother and her fiancé decided to have their wedding on NYE. They have been dating since my parents divorced 7 years ago, so this wedding was not a complete surprise. They booked a small room in a restaurant, very informal, and invited only a handful of close friends and family. Great, right? Not so much. My brother, fiancé and I walked into the room and knew only a couple of people; the rest of the guests just stared at us like we were aliens. Talk about awkward (and rude)!

You see, my mom has had some disagreements with her family– she no longer talks to her sisters or her parents and they were not invited to the wedding. In fact, none of them even knew she was getting remarried. Imagine walking into your mother’s wedding, happy she’s found love, only to be shunned by the strangers there. A wedding is supposed to be a family affair, yet none of my loved ones were there. All I could think about was my poor grandparents. My grandfather, who is in his late 80’s, is quickly deteriorating from dementia. He barely remembers me, his own granddaughter, and it kills me to think that he probably won’t be here next year for my wedding. I am sure he would have been honored to walk my mom, his daughter, down the aisle one last time. But, that opportunity has passed and there isn’t anything I can do about it.

I try not to stick my nose in my mom’s business because, well, it’s her business (and I am passive). However, I am very concerned about the nature of her behavior. The thought of excluding my parents from my wedding makes my heart so incredibly sad; I wonder if hers is hurting too?

I wanted to start the New Year with a positive attitude, but to be honest, I am very depressed. I just cannot shake the events that took place on NYE. I feel like the wedding has altered my opinion about my mom and that’s very unsettling to me. Nonetheless, I will try to look at the positives in my life right now—life’s too short to have “bad” years! So, keep those positive posts coming!

A Year in Review

Overall, 2016 wasn’t such a terrible year…

In May, I FINALLY graduated from my dream college with my Bachelor’s degree!

grad

 After graduation, I immediately started a job that I love (most days)!

office

 Also in May, a new Boxer puppy (Roxxi) joined our little family!

roxxi

In August, I bought my very first HOUSE!

home

Throughout the year, I traveled to new and exciting places for both business and pleasure!

travel

And, last week, I got engaged to the love of my life underneath the lights!

engaged

When I think of all the good that has happened this year, it makes it difficult to dwell on the not-so-good. I may not be doing well right now (health-wise), but I am determined to get back on track in 2017. After all, a good year depends on attitude; a good attitude and a positive outlook on life is all you need to start the year off right!

Happy holidays to all!