I was rendered momentarily helpless by my mind recently. The concepts of recovery and relapse have weighed heavily on my mind recently. At times throughout this process, when I didn’t feel worthy enough, I continued to endure this for any number of people. Some days, when I wanted to give up, I would think of my family or of my doctor/home team or of my friends until the time came when I was reason enough to get better. When that switch happened, it became merely a pleasure to prove the people who believed in me all along right and make them proud. Most days at this point, I am enough. Now, when I am feeling weak, I hold on for all the people looking for hope. I have a list the length of my arm of wonderful, amazing people that I want to see achieve full recovery from brutal eating disorders. It’s now for them that I keep plowing forward some days and especially why I have a focus on discovering the How of a lot of this process for me. If I have hope for them (for you) and believe in them (you) why shouldn’t I extend that same charity towards myself? If I want to help people, I need to take care of me first. I need to get well to achieve what I want with my life (which is largely TBA) and be the proof I wanted for so long that wellness is actually possible. I believe in leading by example and that adds fuel to my fire that propels me towards wellness.
Anyway, in this recent experience, I woke up to some nagging negative urges. I did what has worked for me in recent months and chose to deny them any air time in my head. I had a good session with one of my counsellors and I maintained my positive outlook in my expression. I still find myself wanting to do this on my own. I know I need help but much of me still feels so responsible for my recovery. Yes, I have a big role in this but I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do this alone. I have people here and everywhere to help me; to support me; and to guide me. I forgot that for most of the day and the negative thoughts became louder with each passing hour. I descended into a very dark place for a few hours and was at the mercy of my thoughts, like a doormat or even like a punching bag.
“No one actually expects you to get better. Why do you think that you’re proving anyone right? They all expect you to screw this up like you screwed up every other opportunity you’ve had. You can’t disappoint people if they had no expectation of you attaining wellness in the first place.”
What a throw back to last year.
I countered those intrusive thoughts with logic. I gave myself proof that that was not the real me thinking, that that part of me was feeding the real me lies and trying to shake me. I was shaken. I experienced flashes of self-doubt. What if I’d been lying to myself all along and trying to believe in things that weren’t actually there? Was I sure that the people I held onto for at times really believed in me and wanted to see me well? Did they truly think that my life held purpose?
Doubt. That one gets me every time. Despite all the proof in my perception of things, it always remains my perception. This understanding has worked in my favour over the last while. I have learned that my perception of the past has been largely unreal. Due to a familiar pattern of negative thinking, I skewed what was real to confirm my own inabilities; my fears; my extremely critical view of myself. This doubt was regarding a feeling of comfort I had in believing that people cared about me and saw this for the great effort it is and wanted me to achieve all the good things that can come with a life free of eating disorders and self-hate.
The best I did this afternoon in my independent fight against my own mind was to avoid having these thoughts affect my actions. I knew I had to be strong in as many ways as possible and in these hours, all I had in me was a fight against negative behaviour. There was no quieting the bellowing berating.
It did settle down as the day went on and I allowed myself to be distracted but came to a head again later in the evening as I denied the urge to skip my evening snack knowing that that would affect my sleep and therefore hinder my day tomorrow. I had to make a conscious physical effort to keep my snack down. The psychological likely played a role in this experience but the physical sensation was very real and that’s when the tears came. I was fed up. One day of this had taken its toll and I knew I needed to reach out.
I did and I let myself purge all the doubts that occupied my mind. I let the tears of frustration flow freely and finally….I let myself be comforted and reassured. I let someone else fight my head as I have had to do so often during this process. And now, drained, I see it all for what it is:
I have been thinking about my future and I still feel very lost. I am having a difficult time staying focussed on me and desperately want to give back in some way and start to make a difference in the world. I am worried about wasting my potential. I have felt my experience to be extremely minimized by the current publicity regarding eating disorders.
And simply, I was living my very first weekend alone in what must be a year. Eating disorders are insidious and I can’t imagine that many people plan relapses when they are committed to recovery but I can see, in this instance, how dangerous leaving treatment early is and how necessary it is to really complete the process solidly and practice, practice, practice my skills in order to feel confident implementing them in what will become my future ‘real’ world. I had to learn my lesson again of the importance of reaching out and creating an army against my head. I had to put my pride aside and allow myself the necessary help to get through today.
I came out on top. The real me weathered this again and funnily enough, it has lead me to realize that bad body image days? Those days are nothing compared to today’s full throttle onslaught of negative attack on what is fundamentally true. I know it to be true.
I believe in me. They believe in me. You believe in me. And I can do this!