Let's talk about ED.
I slipped off the icy path of recovery for a few weeks there when it first became apparent that my life was about to be turned upside down by the neuropathy in my legs and feet. Having to accept the fact that I would not be returning to my job as a psychiatric nurse that I have absolutely loved for the past 6 years was a huge punch to the stomach.
I didn't consciously let him in - he slipped in when I wasn't paying attention and all of the sudden, THERE HE WAS.
With the realization that I would have to resign, I fell into a very, very deep depression so all-encompassing that I found myself struggling just to get through each day. I virtually had no appetite, and I didn't have the energy nor the yen to force myself to eat 3 meals a day.
Before long, my outside matched my insides.
I looked and felt sick and tired. Instead of my thoughts going a million miles a minute (my usual problem), they were slow to form and quick to dissipate. During those dark weeks, my days all blended together and I would find myself staring off into space while hearing nothing but a "wah wah wah wah" like I was stuck in a really loud wind tunnel. I'd cry if my husband said the wrong thing, I'd cry if a sad song came on the radio....I cried a lot. And I never cry.
So, ED was back and he fed off of my despair.
All of the sudden I was body-checking again. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it is exactly what it sounds like.) I would walk up to the mirror sideways instead of face-first like a person would normally do. I would spend so much time looking for flaws, and I would find plenty of them.
ED loves it when you hate yourself.
After poking and prodding and turning and staring I would always walk away dissatisfied and disgusted. Eventually it got to the point that I hated my reflection so much that I stopped looking all together. I spent my days in my pajamas, not bothering to shower or get dressed because what was the point?
It wasn't until my best friend verbally slapped me that I snapped out of it.
She came by to visit one night shortly before she left for treatment. We were about to go outside so I took my sweater off and put on my coat. My head was down as I was putting on my boots when she said, "What are you, not eating??" I literally froze. I hadn't really truly realized how bad things were until she said those words. It was like everything came tumbling down all at once. All of the sudden I was able to see myself through everyone else's eyes and not my own ED goggles...and it wasn't a pretty sight.
I needed to change things, and change them fast.
It wasn't easy, and every bone in my body was screaming for me to stop eating before I blew up to 10 times my current size. (Spoiler: it didn't!) It was terrifying, and ED was yelling louder than ever those first few days. I had to fight off all of my feelings of guilt and my internal alarm that was shrieking, "STOP THIS!! THIS IS NOT HOW YOU WANT TO BE!"
And then I woke up on day 6 and everything was quiet.
ED had left the building, and everything got a little easier. I had to be extremely strict with myself - no body checking and no scale. AT ALL. I would find distractions for after each meal so that I wouldn't be tempted to use any ED behaviors. I crocheted, I read, I watched tv, and I talked to my friends. Anything that I could do to let enough time pass for my stomach to settle and for my brain to stop insisting that I shouldn't have eaten that.
And I survived.
I looked in the mirror straight on and saw MYSELF. It was me! I had a light back in my eyes, I didn't look like a skeleton wearing a skinsuit. I didn't look miserable, and I wasn't sharing the mirror with that a**hole, ED. It felt so good to be back.
No matter how many times you fall down, always get back up.
Don't get discouraged - get angry. Take your life back as many times as you need to to show ED who's boss.
YOU are the boss. It is YOUR body. It is YOUR mind. ED has no right to be controlling any of it.
Kick him out. You can do it.
Have a lovely day. Be kind to yourself.
Anna and Nell at your house, circa 2007. Nell always was good at trying to grab a bite of food. (It helped that she was, like, 5 feet tall!)
It's that day again. The one we hate. The one where you were taken from us so suddenly and unfairly. The one where I wake up and see the calendar and the back of my neck starts to burn while I feel like a swarm of bees has taken over my stomach.
I miss you.
My brain still doesn't understand you are gone. There are so many days where something will happen and I will automatically think, "I can't wait to tell her!" And then I immediately remember and it feels like someone just knocked the wind out of me.
I still tell you, but it's a silent, one-way conversation inside of my head.
There are so many things going on this year that would have made epic talks between us! Donald Trump is running for president. PRESIDENT. OF THE UNITED STATES. I am sure this would have been discussed on a regular basis as he is constantly making a fool of himself with the racist comments and the impulsive Twitter rants. OH MY GOD, I WANT SO BADLY FOR YOU TO COME BACK SO THAT WE CAN HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS.
Did I mention we are moving?
I finally convinced My Michael (not to be confused with yours, as usual!) to move up north. I would have brought him over to talk to you at least a few times so that you could help me to build up his excitement about this. It's hard doing it on my own, and nobody could do it better than you. He thought you were pretty damn awesome. (Because you were pretty damn awesome.) And this whole online house search is for the birds, Carol. I have a list of at least 30 houses to check out that I need to whittle down. I just can't choose!! You would have helped me to talk through it and knock a bunch off of the list so that it is more do-able.
Graham really grew up this year.
I know that kids are like weeds with the whole growing thing, but Graham has made so many exciting strides! He went from not being able to chew ANYTHING to having an entire bowl of Rice Chex cereal yesterday. A WHOLE BOWL! This was such a giant leap from where he was just a month ago. And he talks so much now! I would have brought him with me sometimes, just like I did with Anna when she was his age. We would have laughed at all of the words he comes up with. (Laughing was kind of our thing. Nobody was funnier than the two of us when we got together.)
Last, and not quite least there's the whole crocheting thing I've gotten into this year.
I would have made you a scarf. It would be warm and fuzzy, and most importantly IT WOULD NOT BE GREEN! (You know, that color you hate?) I would have picked a nice blue, and I think you would have really liked it.
Another year and I still miss you like you were here just yesterday.
I'm still waiting for the year where I wake up and it is less of a shock to my system when I remember.
After 8 years, I don't think that day is ever going to come.
I really, really miss you.
I've discovered a new coping skill that I absolutely love.
When my best friend left for treatment a few weeks ago, we knew that there were going to be a lot of days that she would be totally unreachable. It was going to be really hard on both of us because we were used to talking multiple times a day, everyday. (And by multiple times I actually mean keeping a conversation going from the second we wake up to whenever we lay down for bed.) I was panicking because she is the one I would call if something happened - bad or good. She's my rock, you see. I know I have a wonderful husband who is so incredibly supportive, but as he has never suffered from an eating disorder or severe anxiety and depression there are always times that he isn't sure of how to react, or what to say. My best friend always knows what to say to calm me down or stop me from irrationally going off on myself.
What the hell was I supposed to do without her??
Write letters, that's what! Never in my life did I think that going back to a slower way of communicating would be so cathartic. I bought a bunch of cute stationary and some stickers and I began writing her every morning. It has become a part of my routine - I have to get the letters into the big blue mailbox down the street before the mail-lady empties it at 1pm. I have been on time almost every single morning since she has been gone. (I am almost NEVER on time...)
Did I mention you can decorate them however you want?
I love doing random craft projects and my supply of plastic jewels, glitter, and stamps is pretty impressive. All of the sudden I got to use whatever I want to dress up my letters all nice and pretty. Between the actual writing of the letter (coping skill #1) and then decorating it (coping skill #2), I always come away from that task with a sense of relief and satisfaction. If I am frustrated or stressed out, I just write about it in the letter the same way I would normally send her a text message.
But, writing letter is SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT!
If you haven't written anybody a letter, or sent a card or a thank you note, I strongly suggest you do. It is not only going to help your mood...the person on the receiving end benefits as well. I had forgotten how nice it was to get mail addressed to me (other than a million bills) in my mailbox. When I see the envelope with my name on it I immediately get a feeling of anticipation and excitement. It is even better than when I get one of my packages from Zulily or Amazon. I never, ever thought anything could top getting the presents I buy myself (coping skill #3!).
The moral of this story is: WRITE SOMEONE A LETTER TODAY AND SEE HOW YOUR DAY SUDDENLY GETS A LOT BETTER.
Minimum effort to make both you and your recipient smile.
Have a wonderful Wednesday, people. I'm off to write Kim a letter right now. And I'm going to put SO MANY SPARKLES on it!
Brace yourselves. I'm about to go on a rant and it probably isn't going to be pretty.
I am disgusted right now. I just read an article about a Muslim woman kicked out of the Donald Trump rally for silently protesting his disgusting, unfounded, and utterly hateful comments about Syrian refugees. I have never been one to really pay attention to politics, mainly because it involves a bunch of people lying and scheming just to try to gain popularity. I can't stand liars, therefore I pretend that politicians exist on their own island somewhere far, far away from me. HOWEVER, I absolutely cannot turn my head and pretend that this horrifying display of racism and sexism isn't happening IN 2016.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
When I was 17 I was in the Marine Corps, so it has been drilled into my psyche not to disrespect anyone in the chain of command that includes the US President. Once that person is sworn into office, I will stand behind them. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE RUNNING THE COUNTRY I LIVE IN AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT CONTINUE TO FUNCTION AS ONE NATION. I am not saying that I will agree with everything they say or do, or even most of it. I AM saying that the more we fight against one another within our own borders, the greater chance we have of collapsing as a nation.
I think we can all agree that we would rather not want that to happen?
So what exactly did I miss that has made it okay to publicly, loudly, and as a crowd boo and taunt and ridicule a person solely because of their religious preference? Have I learned how to travel back in time to 1842 and just not realized it yet? (They had fabulous wi-fi connection back then, if that is the case!) Or have we as a country totally and completely LOST OUR FREAKING MINDS?
This is one of those situations where I am speechless, yet so alarmed that I feel the need to say something.
Anybody who is an American citizen, and has a few generations of citizenship in their families should be standing up to protect what their ancestors fought and died for.
620,000 people were killed fighting in the American Civil War from 1861-1865. That is 4 years of fear, and hatred, and bloodshed, followed by unification, accords, and peace.
We are throwing away everything they died fighting for because in some mob mentality that is sure to ruin everything that we hold sacred.
Good lord, OUR KIDS NEED TO GROW OLD HERE.
How can we forget that so quickly, just because some rich man with a sharp tongue has the ability to control what his followers are seeing and what is kept from their view?
Open your eyes, people. This is not the way a strong, impenetrable country is supposed to be run.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
Think before you vote. And MAKE SURE YOU VOTE.
Yesterday's post turned into something a lot bigger than I initially intended.
When I sat down to write yesterday morning, it was really just for my friend that had inspired the whole thing. I never thought that so many people would read or be affected by what I was saying. It was extremely moving, and it melted my heart to see how happy he was to be getting so much support from so many people who don't even know him.
The other really, REALLY amazing thing that came out of Pride from yesterday was how my 10 year-old daughter reacted.
Let me show you how remarkable children really are.
I decided to let my daughter read what I wrote for two reasons; One: she is 10 years old and there was nothing in the article that I felt was inappropriate or that she wouldn't be able to understand/shouldn't know at this point in her life. Two: a lot of what I wrote was about her.
We were sitting in the car in the parking lot at Dunkin' Donuts eating lunch and killing time while we had an open house going on when I told her that I had something I thought she should read on my website. She was ecstatic, because I have never, EVER let her read my blog before as it is not really geared towards young children....
She sat in the backseat reading silently for about 5 minutes, only pausing to ask for my help when she came across a word she wasn't familiar with. She did, however, stop one time because she was confused by this:
" He has to see it on TV, hear about it on the radio....read about it on his social media accounts. He has people say it to his face when he walks down the street."
She looked up at me, puzzled, and said, "I don't understand this part, Mommy. What does he have to see on TV and hear on the radio?" I explained it to her plainly and simply, "He has to hear about people not wanting him around, just because he is the way he is." Her face fell a little and she looked me dead in the eye as she stated, "That's so sad. He can't help the way he is."
And then she continued to read.
When she got to the end, she sat back in her seat and looked out the window with a somber expression on her face. She didn't say much for about 30 seconds, and I began to wonder if I had made the right decision in allowing her to read it.....and then she spoke.
"It's not fair that people don't like him just because of who he is. I love him. Wait.....(*Picture Gru saying "LIGHTBULB!" here.)....MOM! It's just like Ruby Bridges!"
Ruby Bridges was the first African-American to integrate an all-white southern elementary school. My daughter's class has been learning about her, and about racism over the past few weeks. The story of Ruby Bridges has been greatly upsetting to my daughter and she has struggled to understand how people could be so mean to a child just because of the color of her skin. Her brain just can't wrap it's head around that concept.
I am ecstatic that the idea of judging anybody by any part of themselves other than their soul is hard to swallow for my kid. And I am SO PROUD of her for making a connection between this and racism.
Holy crap. Kids freaking blow my mind sometimes.
I hope everyone else's weeks are starting out with so many happies.
We had a visit from a very good friend of mine yesterday.
He is 18 years old, he just graduated high school and he is due to start college very soon. Graduating was a bit of a complicated road and he navigated it like a champ. He kicked that last Calculus class' a.....butt. (SEE! I'm TRYING!) I am so, SO very proud of this kid. Yes, he's a lot younger than me, but we met in the ED partial program and he's a part of my close support group. I love having him over to visit, but I think my kids love it even more. As soon as we pick him up at the train station my daughter starts talking and doesn't stop until I leave to drop him off. She literally said to me last night, "It's not fair! Why do you get to spend so much time with him? He's my friend too!"
Did I mention he is transgender?
No? Huh. Must have slipped my mind. Probably because it DOESN'T MATTER WHATSOEVER to me. That's how I believe it should be. And that is how my husband and I are raising our kids.
This is the part where anybody who doesn't agree with what I just said should stop reading. Stop reading this post and stop reading my blog.
Because what I say may anger some people. And that makes me so incredibly sad. My children have always been raised never to be quick to judge anybody. Good lord, if they were then I'd be in a WHOLE LOT OF TROUBLE.....seriously. My daughter has 8 grandparents - 5 grandmothers and 3 grandfathers, all of whom she is completely over the moon about. My son has 4 grandparents - 3 grandmothers and 1 grandfather whom he adores. I struggle with depression and other mental health issues along with my ED, which my daughter is old enough to at least begin to understand the concept of. (There's also the part where my husband and I both work in the psychiatric field, so she has been exposed to that since birth.) My daughter moved a lot when she was younger, and she became friends with people of all races and cultures. I am happy to say that the school she is in now has children from so many backgrounds and the staff really does what they can to teach the students about each different culture in a special, exciting way to help them be accepting and loving towards one another. Seeing some of the school projects she brings home that are focused on this really make my heart swell. It makes me feel like the world is changing. Maybe not as quickly as I would like it to, but perhaps it will be a less angry place for my children when they grow up.
Back to my 18 year-old friend.
It breaks my heart to see what he has to go through on a daily basis. There are so many things that I would never think about that he struggles with every. single. day. As much as I have wallowed in my own self-pity on my worst days, I am pretty sure nobody has every truly wanted me not to exist. Simply for being something that I can't even help being. God......I can't even IMAGINE the strength it must take to not only wake up and deal with that every day, but to FIGHT AGAINST IT. He is 18 and he stands up to that ignorance! He wants to help others to stop them from hurting.
How do you have enough left in you to help others when you are feeling defeated yourself?
When you know what it is like to be broken, to feel lost and disconnected and like you are floating around untethered to anybody or anything that truly understands you body, mind, and soul....I guess you just can't stand to think of anybody else feeling so much pain? I try to help others because I know what it is like to be at rock bottom when my depression hits, so I liken it to that. But that is just my brain attacking me, not a large percentage of the world spewing hateful, disgusting, callow words at people like me every single day. He has to see it on TV, hear about it on the radio....read about it on his social media accounts. He has people say it to his face when he walks down the street.
But HE CAN'T CHANGE THE PERSON HE IS.
I want to scream and throw things at all of the mean human beings that hurt my best friend. I cannot throw things, but I can use my words to try to educate them. I will break it down as simple as possible. This is how I explained it to my daughter this morning (she had a hard time fully understanding the concept of transgender until I said it like this, and hopefully this helps others who have the same issue...):
A transgender person is a person of one gender trapped in the body of the opposite gender.
Our friend is a boy trapped in a girl body.
His soul (*making hand motions of a soul up in the air*) came down and got confused and accidentally jumped (*making jumping motion!*) into a baby girl body, so he was born a baby girl instead of a baby boy! So, all of his life, he had to look like a girl. He looked in the mirror and would get upset, because what he saw didn't look like what he felt inside. So he was very, very sad. That is why we need to be SO extra supportive and loving of him while he goes through this transition to become a boy, because it is going to be very hard, and a lot of people aren't going to understand, but in the end he is going to be SO HAPPY! He will finally be able to look in the mirror and see his soul. Just like you have always been able to see yourself when you look in the mirror!
And then she understood.
She is 10. I hope everybody reading this can understand that explanation as well.
Don't judge. It's a nasty thing to do.
My best friend left two days ago and won't be back for a month.
The only contact we will be able to have is through letters. I found out this morning just how atrocious my handwriting actually is when I have to write a very long piece after having not written very much by hand for half a year. It was quite cathartic, though. When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was roll over and grab my phone to message her because I had thought of something I wanted to say to her. It took me a few minutes to remember that she doesn't have her cell phone where she is. I'm pretty bummed that she's gone, but I'm trying to stay optimistic about her "trip." (No, she's not in jail! Though I'm sure that wouldn't surprise any of you that know me or her....HAH!) I'll let you guys peruse her blog if you haven't before and are looking for something to do on this lovely Thursday afternoon.
(WARNING: there is a LOT of cursing in this blog, so those of you who are offended...well, there you go.)
So now that I don't have someone to message every 5 minutes I have found myself getting pretty lonely and a little antsy. (More than a little.)
Solution: I've been working on lots of distractions!! Yesterday I painted the fireplace. And then I noticed the wood trim looked really gross and old, so I painted that too. And then the white paint on the stairs looked shabby, so I did that too. I was GOING to do the bathroom door as well....but I ran out of time and had to shower and get my two year-old up from his nap, so I called it quits for the day. When my husband and daughter came home they looked at my "projects" and then they looked at me and then my husband basically asked if I had gone nuts. Well, not really. But it was pretty clear that that was what he was thinking.
Some other coping skills I have been using lately even before my friend left that have helped me peek over my fog are....
Well, there we go. A whole blog with zero bad words! Yay me!
Do me a favor and smile at a stranger today, okay?
I see her swimming
floating on the calm,
blue, clear seas
Her eyes closed
Her expression blissful
As if she is not
a thing in the world
The sky darkens as
The clouds roll in
The water churns
faster and faster
The waves grow
bigger and bigger
Her body pulled
beneath the swells
over and over and over
Until I can
no longer find
Her joyous face
above the crashing
crushing heaving surge
of the relentless
I stand to leave
And glance at the
angry, darkened waters
Only to find
She has not
succumbed to the
frothy, roaring beast
rising and crashing
and breaking on top of her
She is swimming
knocking her under
She will not die today.
She will continue
to fight against
this roaring storm
And float again
With a calm face
and an expression of mirth
There is still hope.
So we've begun a new year, have we?
Raise your hands if you've made a bunch of silly resolutions such as....
Etc, etc, etc....you get the picture, no? I'm not saying there is anything horrible about any of these resolutions (although, I think all of you know where I stand on the first two, being someone who still struggles with an ED and watches so many others struggle as well on a daily basis), but I feel like every year SO MANY PEOPLE are missing the point! Everyone is hyper-focused on these minuscule* parts of life that they are missing something so basic and so simple that could make up their list in one bullet point.
Now I'm going to suggest something that might make you want to punch me in the face. Do it anyway. (Not the punching part.)
Tear up your list. Get a nice, blank piece of paper - it can be white or blue or bright yellow...anything you choose. Decorate the crap out of it. I mean it. I want glitter and bedazzling and whatever else makes you smile. And of course, write "BE HAPPY" right in the middle of it. Hang it wherever you were going to hang that awful list of torturous things you were going to force yourself to do that was going to make you miserable. This is going to be SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT.
Now go and enjoy the rest of the first day of the year without stressing about a bunch of stupid rules you made for yourself. Just look around you and count your blessings and see where the wind blows you.
I never liked rules anyway.
Happy New Year.
* I was very ashamed to find out I have been spelling minuscule wrong for about 3 decades now....so embarrassing! Carry on.
Mother and wife by day, psych RN by night. So many different ways to view life. I try to take everything in and be very slow to judge.