Sunday, September 30, 2012

Here is a powerful voice...

I have things to say, as always, about myself and my life but I saw this today and it gave me chills.  In these two plus minutes, the life of bulimia is described painfully accurately.  The shame, the blame, the fear...and the wonderful end - of life - for another.  Live on, Caroline!

Caroline performs "Fat"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

15 months...tomorrow, but it's not about that!

What a week! I feel like I've had a holiday from a life that doesn't, at this time, need one. Such a compliment to the company I kept.

I spent the better part of the past two days with some fabulous friends. I'm exhausted today but still smiling. Have I learned from these 36 hours? Absolutely. Additionally, my gratitude towards life, the universe, and the people in my life, has again taken over – and that is my favourite feeling.

I'm not sure where to start when discussing the beauty of this week. Perhaps it would be simplest to begin with what happened last: saying goodbye. This had to have been the happiest goodbye I've ever had and of course, not because they were leaving and we were going our separate ways again. It was because I'm not certain we even said the words “good bye”. We said, “Til next time” a few times, we cheers-ed ( foreign tongue!) each other and our visit, and I drove away with and from big toothy grins. I felt confirmed in what I know: that good-bye is only ever “see you later”.

As I drove home, psychedelic music blasting and possibly interrupting the sleep of fishing village locals along the way, I asked myself how I could describe this experience. How could I explain how different this was? Why was I smiling after seeing my friends off when I have no firm idea of when I will see them next?

Simply, it is because I know I will see them again. I know that they understand that the world is small and that they value relationships/friendships/people as highly as I do and exhibit that in their words and actions. In that respect, I am quite excited about where the next meet-up will take place!

However, it's deeper than that. The above is a lovely knowledge to have but for me, the whole experience is another indicator of how far I have come and how solid my progress is.

I used to hate goodbyes when I was very sick for various reasons. The most glaring is that I felt interminably lonely and scared to be by myself. At other times, I felt like I was being “left behind” as people carried on with their lives and I held myself hostage and stagnant. Above those feelings, there was an underlying and rarely expressed dread ad grief that any goodbye to a friend could quite possibly be the last. Death – sadly, a largely acceptable outcome in my mind for many years - was a possible interruption of plans to meet again.

My last goodbye to these two was said from a hospital bed and to be quite honest, the memory is vague at best and was gently jogged over this week but remains very distant. I know it as fact, but not much more. What I had completely forgotten (and still do not remember) was that I had another opportunity to see one of these friends another time and declined because once again I was in hospital and “not up for it”. Knowing this now actually breaks my heart, again, for the little girl that was me and for others in similar states. I can imagine a few reasons I avoided this second reunion: embarrassment (hospitalizations are not the most glamourous or proud experiences), anxiety (what would I possibly talk about?), exhaustion, more self-denial (of the experience of a person who cared), doubt (that he cared at all), fear (that I would care and therefore put up resistance against my slow march towards a final end but not be supported to keep living)...

Sad, yes, but again, the opportunity for gratitude arises. I survived and had the experience of these past two days full of life like I haven't been in a very long time. Additionally, I was present complete with my real self.

I'd say I sure sassed the grim reaper this week! It thought I'd die full of miserable regrets (like not seeing my friend a second time)...not so! From different corners of the world, we found a midpoint, a time that worked for all of us only because of how things fell into place in our individual lives over the past three years.

We discussed this slightly during our visit, but I do not believe strongly (or at all) in coincidence.

If anything can be taken away from this by the most hopeless person I would suggest the following concept: if there is no other reason to be seen or created in any given moment, possibility is worth getting through one more day and one more day after that. What one chooses with this day might have immediate effect – be it reward or negative consequence – but it will also be part of even the faintest outline of the future as one cannot know or sometimes even imagine.

Oddly, I think I will keep this shorter than usual and stop on the note of possibility. There is always more to say and maybe “15 months”, due to being coupled with an amazing week, will be a post deserved of more than one entry.

With all kinds of gratitude,

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just write.

I have no idea what direction this might take but I have the desire to write. I have about three potential posts half written but can't seem to complete them. So with no clear purpose at this moment, I may as well embark on a discussion my world.

I've been back in Portugal for nearly two weeks. I've been enjoying some wonderful company; making plans for the future as best I can from such a distance; continuing to consider what my next while after leaving Portugal with more permanency looks like; and appreciating the amount of time I have now for introspection.

I had a number of days in a row where I noticed my anxiety climbing. I fought it in all the ways I know how and found myself exhausted at the end of each day. It has passed but I am still recuperating emotionally from it. It is not that surprising that I would have some anxiety at this time. Although I could not specify what was directly causing me anxiety, there are many things that I am considering at this time that would provoke anxiety in a lot of people. For example: Where will I live in the next month? Where will I work? What do I want to do? What can I do to get to a place where I am doing more of what I want and need to do to feel fulfilled? Etc. However, it did not seem to obviously be any of these things at the times I found myself hyperventilating. I was reminded of the nature of anxiety...sometimes it seems to come from no where, when one is least expecting, or cause a reaction to something one would usually not react to. Sometimes the cause is not necessarily one can rationalize away and essentially figure out and move away from.

Unfortunately, I found myself losing any sort of “filter” I have (which is very porous to begin with, I am a direct person when I am communicating but being direct is easy to couple with kindness and that's what I found I lost because of my own emotional state). Kindness, yes, comes naturally to me in many ways but it still requires energy. This is something I am happy to put my energy into because it feels good to me, it feels real to me, and it can only benefit everyone. However, when I am drained of emotional energy, it can be a challenge to muster up enough to extend to others as well as myself.

When I look back at some of my interactions over the past week I would say that I was mean at times and rude at others; impatient at best with myself and with others.

Lesson 1 that will not be further discussed at this time:  Identifying when I am not able to be the person I want to be for various reasons - this time emotional energy - it is best to step back.

Prior to realizing this, I had these more unkind interactions.  How quickly the negative part of my mind took this, jumped in and blinded me to the lifetime of kindness I have tried to live! I had a number of hours (and that is quite long enough!) questioning if I was a “good person” at all or if I had been “brain washed” into believing something that wasn't true about myself. The worst of what ifs came up: What if I am becoming what I feared most by attempting to recover? That I am actually an inherently bad person that needs to be half-starved and medicated out of her mind to protect the world from her?

I smile a bit as I write that now because it is just familiar. It's a way I've thought for a very long time and although I am well on my way to breaking habitual negative thought patterns, they still comes up at times. That said, being familiar does not make it comfortable because at times, those more tricky and insidious negative thoughts seem so powerful and very, very real.

At this point, I can reach out and ask for external confirmation of my goodness as a person. The biggest difference from say, a year ago til now, is that I am receptive to this feedback because I have the knowledge and proof that I am a good and worthwhile person. Sometimes, I just need reminding.

I suppose this is where I might stumble on an answer when people ask me if I have recovered from my eating disorder. Behaviourally – yes. Over the past week I had very strong negative thoughts and feelings but none of them were taken out on my body or made me question how I should treat my physical self. Through the first few fighting days with this incredible anxiety, I even opted to soothe myself rather than push myself. I distracted in wonderfully “healthy” ways. Body image did not come up. My hunger cues became a little skewed as they do for many people under stress but that did not change how I acted. In fact, I can confidently say that nothing typically eating disordered came up at all!! To me though, the question of being “recovered” includes the mindset and thought patterns that brought on and perpetuated the behaviours. The fact that I got through this time with none of the “simple” reactions that I may have had before (specifically food and body related questions and concerns) is evidence that I am working towards the kind of recovery I always wanted but am not quite there yet.

This kind of experience cements in my mind the idea that I will not live a life at risk of relapse. Yes, I need to be careful and gentle with myself for some time and most importantly, continue to reach out and let others support me; but I am capable of living just like every other human who encounters all sorts of challenges – not as a person with this past that looms over me with an endless possibility of re-occurrence.

That said, I cannot deny that my thinking eventually, when I was emotionally exhausted, still went to that negative place that lead to the manifestation of the ED in the first place. Whatever little beast is left in my head still fights for her say – tries to bring me back to a place of minimal worthiness and value. Once again, it didn't win and these are just the battles I need to fight and win over and over again until that thing is beaten down for good.

In the meantime, I have much more to practice especially when it comes to reaching out and valuing my needs as much as others'. When I am belittling myself, I also minimize my struggles and that, more often than not, leads to the creation of a much bigger event of getting through the harder times than is necessary. As with most new habits, it's all about practice.

I have to commend my friends and family, again, for their patience with me. I do not expect the unconditional love that I continue to receive. As I've said before, I understand this is a process that will continue for sometime and I'm getting “there” as quickly as I possibly can. If I gave myself half the degree of patience that is shown to me, my internal existence would be much more pleasant! Working on that too...

From my experience, I see the absolute importance of a strong support network for people coming through and out of an ED battle (among other struggles of course). I have been fortunate again in that I have this network and I am so excited to be present in all ways in life with the brilliant people that are going above and beyond cheer leading. I see your extended “hands” and although I still hesitate and question, I'm trying to reach out. Finally, we can walk next to each other rather than everyone trying to go ahead and holding onto me for me. Thank you bringing me along when I couldn't do it myself; for now letting the past fall away; and for the continued desire to be with me in my present (and future) in however I am meant to be and am becoming.

With so much love and the peace that is becoming far more familiar than turmoil,

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10 - Suicide Prevention Day

A bit of a gloomy post today...

It's been brought to my attention that September 10th is Suicide Prevention day. It doesn't feel great to have a lot to say about this but I do.

I remember the first one I lost to suicide. Then I remember the second, the third, and possible fourth. And then I think of myself.

When the first beautiful soul left this world, I was devastated. I resolved to make the loss of her life count – I wanted so badly to continue living for her. It didn't last.

The second entered and left my world in a very short time but had a great impact. A brutal end to an amazing life. Through the loss of her life, I was brought to know one of my closest friends. That makes my life richer but doesn't make the loss of her's okay.

The third had helped me through the grief I went through with the second – slipped away during her sleep; who's intent was never discovered. Had she wanted to numb the pain that was particularly intense that day and just “sleep it off”? Or had she really just wanted it to stop completely? We'll never know.

By the third suicide, I had become jaded. I'm alarmed to say that I had accepted that this would be the end for about 20% of my friends who struggled with eating disorders and possibly for me (this is not a supported stat about suicide, just something I came up with in my mind to "prepare" for the losses I might endure).

Yeah, me too. I had a history of adolescent suicide attempts that were scary at times, but never like what I experienced when I really reached the deepest state of hopelessness as an adult. As a teen, I was asking for help without words, I knew it and I got help. I was also very impulsive but when I reached one Spring, where taking my life was actually the only solution I could see, it was completely different and I wasn't acting completely on impulse.

People seem to wonder why they didn't see it coming when they lose people to suicide. I asked myself the same thing about my friends. What had I missed? From my perspective, I see my own attempt as having had a very drawn out prelude which had actually been identified the year prior. For some it may be impulsive, a reaction to something. I can only explain my side of my story because I lived to talk about it...

I didn't see my ED as a form of suicide until 2010. Prior to that, I understood it as expression of all the things I couldn't say as well as an identity. When I gave up on any hope of recovery and was finally told by the provincial ED program that I was “chronic” and going to have to learn to manage my life with an ED, I translated chronic to terminal. I researched how long it would take me to die from starvation and acted according to my research. I didn't tell anyone this but I was approached at one point during a rapid decline, by someone who asked me if I saw that I was actively committing suicide in front of everyone. Of course I knew, but hearing it made me realize how unfair that was. Therefore, there had to be a different plan. No one needed to watch me die, it was bad enough that someone was going to have to find me one day.

At that time, I knew I had to leave where I was living – with my sister – and find my own place if this was the route I had chosen. However, I was scared. I knew I didn't want to die but I had accepted that that was what was going to be the result for me.

This is not okay and I know I'm not alone in this acceptance. There is a quote from Dr. Gabor Mate's Realm of Hungry Ghosts (though not Mate's words): Where there is life, the possibility for renewal exists.

I didn't understand that.

The descent into complete darkness took over a year. It explains why my weight loss slowed considerably and I allowed it too – I had resolved that it was just a long, slow, walk towards death and decided that if I could be a learning tool while I lost my battle, I had to allow that to happen. There was no rush to achieve a "goal weight" because I knew I would get there eventually or at least die trying.

Death from an eating disorder is not easy when you are allowing people to intervene (allowing...I have to use that term loosely because there were usually two options: cooperate and be admitted voluntarily and maintain some privileges while in hospital or be certified – I usually chose the elective route). Eventually, it was one frustrated comment that sent me over the edge and brought me to the attempt to hasten the end but it wasn't just that one comment alone, it was over a year's worth of thoughts, plans, and hopeless resolve. Had I been successful, there shouldn't have been any “What went wrong?” but inevitably, there would have been – that's just how it is for people left behind.

People often wonder what someone plummeting from a bridge or building thinks, if they could, would they turn around? Perhaps those are questions that the impulsively suicidal person asks. For me, I had planned and calculated what would be most effective. I guarded my loaded “shot gun” for about 2 years. When the day came, I researched some more and somehow, but the grace of something, I miscalculated somewhere and was just a few hundred mEq from “success”. Once I realized this, I understood I had two options with three potential outcomes: go to hospital and be saved again; or wait and see what happened which would have likely been a) the desired dead outcome or b) a PVS. The PVS (permanent vegetative state) scared me enough to go to hospital. Why? Because I knew that if I was in a PVS, I would be fed and therefore become a fat person without a voice or mind. In that respect, my eating disorder may have saved me!

Because I tend to go about things a little differently, I knew that the treatment for my particular situation may not be common knowledge in our ER. I believed my GP knew the treatment but I had chosen this day because he was out of town for the weekend (the planning was excessive as you can see, I didn't want him to be the one to pronounce and on the flip side, he knew me so well, he may have intervened on a gut feeling) – and so, I researched some more in case I needed to help guide any staff.

This was my most humiliating presentation to emergency and I will come back to touch on this reality in a little while.

I told them what I had taken and waited...then I laid out what I understood to be the next step.

Google proved to be very helpful at this point. :)

People speak of having their stomach's pumped, I've never had a tube down my throat for that but I suppose we effectively pumped my stomach with the first 5L of PEG lyte that I was instructed to drink quickly. I knew this was the first step but I didn't know that it was going to act as a powerful emetic. So, with 2 large bore IVs started - one in each arm - nurses popping in from time to time as I projectile vomited into a metal bowl telling me things were “going well”, I sat, otherwise alone, on the stretcher with the curtains open a crack so the nurses and doctors could see me.

Then they approached me with The Tube. I thought it was just a normal NG feeding tube and I wondered why they were so keen to feed me when my ED was not the primary complaint this time. In my delirious state (as I had also sedated myself significantly more than usual because I had been prepared to sleep through my anticipated cardiac event) I certified that they were not intending to feed me – they were not. No, this happened to be a naso-jejeunal tube that needed to be inserted to effectively “irrigate” my gut.

At this time they prepared me for transfer to ICU and I was encouraged to call my parents as no one knew I had come to emergency:

Hi, Dad. I have overdosed on *******. I have been treated in ER and they are moving me to ICU. I don't need you to but they say you can come if you or mom would like to. I'm going to be fine.”

End call. They came.

I was told I wouldn't get much sleep that night, was connected to monitors and IVs and another pole that hung the litres and litres of PEG that would clean out my gut. For this, there was no simple activated charcoal drink...

With my parents by my side, white knuckled as they watched what had to happen, I moved from the bed to the commode all night with any dignity I had left completely lost because as time progressed I regularly did not make the transfer.

More blood work...more telemetry print outs...more calls made...bags of different solutions hung.

Then came the D50 (IV dextrose solution) and insulin. I had anticipated this intervention also but again, ED had a little spaz – didn't they know how many calories were in one gram of dextrose and just how many they were pushing into me compounding it with insulin so that I would absorb every last bit of it?! Why were they trying to make me “fat”?

Three times we had the same interaction until I was stable enough. With the ever-patient ICU nurses explaining the necessity of this treatment, I would uncross my arms and sob as they did what they needed to save my life. It worked and eventually I was sent up to medicine.

That's it. I survived. Of course the story continues for a few weeks longer spent being followed by a guard or on complete bedrest with a 1:1 nurse. I remember that was the first time anyone had come into my room with two injectable sedatives and said, “I have your *** and ***. Do you want it in your arm or in your butt?” I also remember how I cried for days wondering how I could even screw up suicide – my plan had seemed fool proof. Eventually I got it together enough, endured refeeding again in addition to coping with having survived and figured out the right words to say to go home.

Returning to the embarrassment I felt when I chose to go to ER. It is important to understand that presenting to ER at anytime required humility on my end and it happened frequently, perhaps approximately every 2 weeks with various situations. However, when I knew I had to present as an active, obvious suicide attempt, the shame I felt was almost unbearable and nearly kept me from going in. In my subjective world, everyone was judging me and I felt that a suicide attempt – and asking for treatment of it - was the ultimate display of weakness.

I also knew that some people would see it as a “cry for attention” or at best a “cry for help” and it was neither of those. I had all the help and attention someone in my situation could have possibly been given. I wanted to be dead. I wanted the pain to stop. I wanted people to be free of the burden that was me.

The way I saw it was that the pain that people might naturally experience following my death may have been more intense for a while but much shorter lived than having to exist with me in my deteriorating physical and mental state for what could have been years. I wanted to die for me, yes, and I believed I was "weak" enough to succumb to suicide but on the flip side, the part of me that didn't want to die, justified that end by viewing it was a favour to others.

This thought was thoroughly disproved when I “came too” emotionally, after a few days recovering from my “failure”, and I looked at those around me: the pain and desperation that racked my parents' faces the few times they visited me in hospital before I was shipped out and over the next weeks as I recovered physically; the deteriorating physical appearance of my family as they walked through these weeks with me likely sleeping little and crying a lot; the disappointment in my doctor's eyes when he walked into my room after his weekend away and saw my state (disappointment may be the wrong word, perhaps a bit of exacerbation but always coupled with compassion); the nervous chatter of friends who came and went graciously during visiting hours to distract me; and more. No one blamed me or seemed to judge me but I saw the impact of my survival and had a sense of what the impact of a successful suicide would have been like – just a tiny idea.

It wouldn't have been better for anyone.

I had classic signs in the beginning and remember journaling about them without recognizing them. I gave away very special belongings with thoughtful intention to close friends, and family, and other things to strangers. I also made an effort to have fun and photo-document good times with friends so that the last pictures of/with me would be of happier times and things that people could look back on with smiles and fond memories rather than photos of a very sickly looking me. I don't know that had I seen these behaviours in someone else that presented the way I did (as positive as possible in my interactions; verbally very hopeful; etc.) that I would have seen them as warning signs or as improvement for that person. I did my best to hide the mental and emotional decline and I think I did a fairly good job as when the actual attempt happened, people did seem alarmed.

I know from an adolescent perspective what it is like to feel impulsively suicidal and act on it and am thankful for what I survived then. As an adult, I had the one obvious attempt to take my own life. I also struggled for over a year with significant self harm during which I severed veins and watched myself bleed until I was too weak and dizzy to stand. In that regard, I am very thankful to have not hit arteries and to have had the inner strength to, again, go to emergency or call a nurse when I needed medical attention.

Knowing my own story, I wonder how many people lose their lives to apparent suicide when it's really some other form of self-sabotage gone wrong. I wonder who felt too much shame to go to ER, especially in a smaller town where everyone knows who you are. I wonder what angels out there spent years plotting their own demise. I didn't have a letter written to anyone or any obvious signs of imminent suicide after a while. Some people have times and dates which may or may not be recorded. If someone had read my journals prior to my attempt, they would have likely intervened earlier. Does that make it okay to read the private writings of someone you are scared for? I'm not sure. Should one choose to go that route, I can say I would have hated you and would have been high risk for a longer time after an inevitable psychiatric admission as I was resolved, determined even, to end my life. Are you ready to take that on? To be the receiver of vicious words, to possibly lose your relationship with that person for sometime. Can you help find the support they need to get them through and past the acute time of suicidal ideation? I would hope so. It can be completely exhausting to deal with someone who's at the end of their rope but it can be overcome and quickly for some when they are brought to understand that not only does their life have value but that they have the support to make it through and beyond.

Be aware also, that to have a certification lifted in hospital, one needs only to convince a practitioner or two that they are sane again and capable of safely continuing on in their environment – simply lip service in a compliant patient. I convinced enough people that I was okay prior to really feeling safe with myself and was allowed to leave the hospital. Thankfully, always, I have/had the family and care providers I did to really monitor me closely.

Brushing off an attempt as a cry for help is minimizing the experience for someone like me. I didn't want help, I realized I had messed it up and needed to pick up those pieces before I moved onto something more effective. I didn't want/need attention, I had enough of that that I hated already.

Please, don't ever take it lightly. These are human lives at risk and they can be helped.

By a bit of luck, a lot of inner strength, and amazing support, I survived and can talk about what it was like for me. Can it prevent one person from losing their life? Who knows?

It was during this time that my family got in touch with the program that eventually proved to work for me. I laughed off the idea of going to Europe for treatment - as if I was worth that much effort! But the evidence of people's belief in me to really get well began to sink in over the next few weeks. My parents wanted this for me, they knew I needed a lot more help than I was getting and they knew I was desperate. Thankfully, they saw past the darkness that had taken over to the little glimmer of light and hope that every, absolutely every, living, breathing human being has. I was brought to the program and people that could effectively channel that light and hope, guard it, and help it grow.

It took a team of countless people, each with vital roles and the team had to include me.

I reached the brink, put one foot over the edge, and was brought back. I look back with absolute relief. I know now that death would not have been better for me, or for anyone, and I am ever in debt to the universe for my survival. I'm so grateful that I pulled through all that I did and that I have been given a chance to really live my life. At the time, I was sick physically, I was a handful in all ways to put it lightly and I think it is safe to say that everyone was exhausted. So, at the time, one can see the appeal of releasing everyone – myself included – from what we were dealing with.

I don't think suicide is ever simple. For me it built for a long time, for others I'm sure it was completely different.

If you see the signs, reach out to the person, or to others if you are the one entertaining the thoughts. Above everything, that person needs to know their incredible value as a member of the human collective; that mistakes happen and lessons can be learned and moved on from and contribute positively for years following; that to feel and be weak and overwhelmed at times is simply human; that feelings including loneliness, heartache, guilt, sadness, anger, and all other unpleasant emotions pass and in themselves, are never fatal; that no one is so flawed that they don't deserve a place on this earth; that pain can be worked through and overcome.

Beyond identifying the people at risk, seek out the help needed for that individual. It exists and it might not be readily available. Know the people in your life.  Listen to your intuition, if what you read in a text or hear from a professional doesn't sound like it would fit, keep searching. Above everything, keep that person safe until you have found the people or place that can bring them back.

I believe that there is very little that cannot be overcome together.

If you are scared for your own life because of the thoughts and impulses you have, please find someone to be with and talk to and do not be disheartened if/when you are brushed off. You need and deserve help and it is out there...keep looking – often it is closer than you think. Don't forget that professional helpers are not the only people who can walk next to you through your painful journey. It can be shared with any safe person.

Life lost to suicide is unacceptable in my opinion. It can be selfish, in some instances, but that is not always the case.

Finally, to the rest that have already been left “behind” by loved ones who ultimately lost their battle against their mind, there is healing. The footprint those people left never goes away. For me, I had to stop analyzing what happened and just let it be, feel the horrible feelings and keep moving forward. So, keep walking, keep living – because you can.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Living and thinking...nothing new there :)

I'm winding up my time in Canada and I'm finding that I have a lot to write about. Today I plan to keep it relatively short (!) and write about one of the most awesome realizations I've had that is something I had actually been very fearful of and have now completely embraced! It's not a new concept but it is one I struggled with for a long time:

Not everyone likes me.

This used to be so upsetting to me and likely one of the reasons why I didn't develop much of a self. I was so scared of being disliked that I became what people wanted in/from me often. Not completely, and not with everyone.

*A great time to just throw out there that I still make a lot of what might be classified as “black and white thinking” or “all or nothing” statements and, really, that's just me! I know that anything is only ever often and what is never is usually only ever rarely but the way I express myself is...sometimes more dramatic. Please don't be too alarmed and understand that it is just expression, rarely absolute.*

I never really understood when I was told, growing up, that not everyone was going to like me and that was okay. I wondered how that could possibly be okay? And what could I do to be different so that people would like me – all people?! It made me feel flawed when someone didn't like could they not? Surely it was something wrong with me or something I had done.

Nope, not true! There is actually nothing wrong with me and rarely have I done something so terrible that would deem me unlikeable forever!

Taking this one step further: I am actually glad that not everyone likes me! I no longer have to modify much about me to fit with someone else. Of course, there are common courtesies (not so common depending on where one is!) and respect that make a coexistence possible and more pleasant at times but it never has to go so far as to compromising one's true self.

That's the biggest bonus: being allowed to really be me with the company I keep and having them love me and like me.

I used to invest so much time and energy into ensuring that I was a well-liked person (to the point of studying etiquette books to know exactly how I should behave to make the best impression) that this freedom I have now to really be me, it actually energizing.

It really used to scare me, this concept, but the actual experience of just feels so natural. Before, most people did seem to like me: the bland, very nice, accommodating, happy, mellow, me that I allowed out from time to time when physical and emotional strength allowed. Prior to being physically and mentally ill with my ED again though, many – if not most – people still liked me. Again, at that time, I was “nice”, helpful, fun, happy, but pliable. I made myself what I needed to be in most situations.

Now I realize, that if a situation or group or person doesn't fit for me, I'm not necessarily the biggest issue and I have the choice to remove myself and the strength to follow my intuition.

Many people still like me and I appreciate that. It still feels good to be enjoyed by others but I don't live with the fear that “omg...I'm going into a new place what if nobody likes me?” - someone is going to like me and someone else is going to, well, not. I also don't take it personally when people who I knew before (which seems like from a different life at this point) look at me like I'm an alien and aren't in touch again. If anything, I'm curious as to why sometimes but it's not a need-to-know thing.

As one can probably gather from my writing over the months, I have developed quite a personality. I have opinions on a lot of things. I don't claim for these opinions to be true or right for everyone but I'm not often adverse to voicing what I'm thinking from time to time. I also like to listen, I like to really converse (not debate and not confront) – to hear and be heard. I also have very low threshold for intolerance, bigotry, complete stupidity, assumed lack of motivation (that is, not caused by an underlying cause), wasted time (this does not mean relaxing/down time), and regular mindlessness (everyone needs a mental break from time to time!) – and I'll let you know when I'm seeing these things and why I have a problem with it. I realize that it is my subjective view of the manifestation of these above mentioned issues which is why being given the desire and drive to interact and discuss is such a blessing because although I do my best to refrain from judgement, I am human and do draw unfounded conclusions at times. That said, I am open and I want to understand. I am quite content to disagree and not view a differing opinion as basis for ending a relationship, though sometimes that does happen.

Among many traits I could improve on, I could stand to give compliments more freely and be expressively more compassionate. As I identify parts of me along the way I want to tweak, I will do so. But only because they make me a better Me and add to what is real, not driven in an external people-pleasing way. Surrounded by the people who already love and like me the way I am, it can only get better for everyone.

Finally, and comfortably, it's okay to be me. The repercussions of that – the chance of not being liked by someone – is well worth maintaining authenticity and continued transparency.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Better place!

Things sure can switch on a dime somedays!  I've arrived at a much more peaceful place in my mind again over the weekend.  I'm really glad I've got one more week here to experience Terrace from a different vantage point.

I've got lots to say again so I'll be writing sooner than later.  :)