My boyfriend and I were laying in bed by six last night and long story short, I slept for like fourteen hours. Granted I hadn’t slept much the night before, but I hate uncontrollable sleep. Or I guess I hate when my pattern isn’t consistent (how many times does it need to be proven to me that sleep hygiene is crucial with bipolar).

Woke up discombobulated. But whatever. Had time to get coffee before my morning session of class, which was boring.

Then I went to target and got this awesome and festive $3 coloring book (hashtag mindlessness, am I right?). I am currently absorbed in it, while drinking this lovely hot chocolate concoction without any guilt (not really, anyway). It’s sugar-free hot chocolate with skim milk, and almond milk whipped cream, and a bunch of cinnamon.

I had a talk with my therapist yesterday about my body image lately and how my having chronically harmed my poor little body via eating disorders might have something to do with my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. It’s something I have to think about.

But like, when I’m thinking about all that? I think about how I’m happy with where I am emotionally right now. That’s worth a lot, this stability I’ve found. This stability that’s so new to me (after suffering the chaos of my brain on my own for half my fucking life). I dunno, I just want to be self-aware and informed about what I’m doing, I want to keep my therapist in the loop and make her proud (’cause she’s awesome), and I truly do want to get my weight under control.

It’s like with the sleeping…if it’s out of control (or if it feels out of control, because sleeping longer one night after not sleeping the previous one is NOT “out of control”), it upsets my stability.

Anyway, I think before the second session of class I’m gonna work on a story or something creative. After I finish coloring, that is!

So I found this thing I wrote about eating disorders back in March 2015 at 3am, and it’s applicable now, and I’m sharing it here because I’m proud of my little 23-year-old self :)

Alright, you have an eating disorder? You’re in recovery? Well, listen up, you beautiful fuckers.

Here’s some shit I’ve learned:

– I’m a beautiful fucking flower, a unique and wonderful snowflake, and my presence is a gift to the freakin’ world. And guess what? You are fucking flowers and snowflakes and crap too. Got it?? Literally think about it. How awesome are you? If you’re seriously thinking that you are not in the category of beautiful humanflower that I just described, I urge you (in a kind and delicate way) to stop the pity party. Where has the self-deprecation gotten you? I get it, truly I do. You don’t feel good enough and you don’t feel whole enough and you’re guilty and sad and you don’t have the energy to be positive. I KNOW. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t a fricken flower/snowflake/BALL OF AMAZINGNESS.

– Be real with the people who love you and want to help you. Don’t hide the behaviors and bullshit. That’s a huge thing, or at least it was for me. To let someone into my “secret anorexic-Laura brainwave space” was the most difficult thing, I think. To have my eating disorder not be “MINE” anymore was devastating. But believe me, it opened up a whole new world of options and help and stuff. It may seem odd to do. And I think one of those reasons is because it’ll seem like you’re seeking attention or being annoying about it. But just be mature about how you go about it (which will take time to figure out, btw). Also. If you WANT attention, ask for it. Honestly and openly. There is literally nothing wrong with needing some love and attention or like a hug or something.

– I am always going to “be in recovery.” I will always have had an eating disorder…so I will always be in recovery. But do you amazing fuck-fishes see how I worded that? “Will always HAVE HAD an eating disorder.” Chose those words specifically, because they show that my eating shit will always be a part (PART! Not all!!!) of me, because it’s shaped who I am as a person (nd I think that’s important because I’ve been scared to death of losing that part of me, which is silly because I am who I am because of my struggle). And those words? Past tense, you lovely loverbuggers. I’m not afraid to phrase it that way now.

– I don’t need my disorder. I don’t need it to cope with the bullshit that will inevitably pop up in my life. I don’t NEED it to “control” anything, and I sure as fuck don’t need it to determine my weight or how my body “should” be. First of all, life bullshit gets easier the longer we live. And even if it doesn’t always all get easier, I’ve learned that there are different ways to cope. Yeah, there are actually such thing as “coping skills” and tools. SECONDLY, your disorder ain’t helping you control shit. It’s controlling you, and if you know anything about yourself in relation to your eating disorder (aka: if you are introspective and wise enough to figure out that it really IS NOT about the food), you know that you’re doing this to yourself because things are crazy AROUND you or possibly WITHIN YOUR HEAD. I’ve learned that I can’t control what happens in the world around me and I can’t even always control the crap happening in my head. That sucks. Period. BUT…the good news is I (we!) can control the way we react to all that. And thattttt is actual control, my fine friends.

– I don’t NEED my eating disorder to be part of my identity. I want it to be a part of my STORY. But my story is more than just my struggle with anorexia. Granted, it’s a hugely interesting story. The phrasing “hugely interesting” may piss some people off because it overlooks the complete and utter misery we with eating disorders go through. And I don’t mean to glamorize it or make it seem like anorexia was a blasty blast. It sucked. It was cold and painful, and the gnawing ache of hunger is something I’ll never wish on my worst enemy. BUT WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY IS: I did have anorexia. I did go through some shitty shit. And I want to respect that that happened. I want to acknowledge my struggle and appreciate what it’s given me (perspective…strength, bc what doesn’t kill us does indeed make us stronger…the knowledge that I’m resilient and capable…etc) and I want to set that aside. Section it off. And have it in my memories. So I can think about the perspective it’s given me and the strength that I gained from overcoming it…etc. And realize that I am not a girl with anorexia, nor do I need to be in order to have had those memories and experiences and stuff.

– It. Gets. Easier. If you let it, I swear to you it gets easier. I think the CRUX is that you neeeeeed to LET it. Don’t fight it when you stop remembering what it was like to be x weight and x size with x disordered thoughts. Fuck that shit. Don’t fight it when you don’t think twice about eating your favorite food. Don’t sweat it when you’re a little different-looking than you used to be, but you know you’re DAMN HOT.. Don’t sweat it just because you’re not the same number. (Must I say that “you’re more than just a number…because, and I’ve been in this recovery thing for like seven years so excuse me if you’re not at this point yet, it’s a little overdone).

– After it gets easier, it’ll get hard again. This lady who ran the program I was lucky enough to be in when I was 16 years old and about to drop dead, she would always wag her finger back and forth and say “the disease goes like this.” And as terrible as she was (for not treating us like humans and instead treating us like attention-seeking low lives), she was correct. It’s a roller coaster. But I swear it’s worth the ride.

– If you’re just beginning your journey of NOT HAVING AN ED ANYMORE, then first of all congrats. I’m proud of you, I love you, I’m here for you. Please stick with this. *Insert emotional and heartfelt rant here.* A word of advice is that you’re going to take time to mature and like, get a handle on this recovery thing. Please be responsible. Maybe that’s not the right word. But I was just going through the ED recovery tags and I see that many people who were in the position I was in seven years ago just don’t realize what I realize now. Which is totally and a billion percent fine because it’s a JOURNEY as I said. An experience. And this one will be beautiful.

There’s more stuff I can say but I fear I’m sounding quite obnoxious at this point. I’ve just been thinking about how incredibly FRUSTRATING AND TERRIBLE eating disorders are. I see people struggle and it kills me. I see beautiful amazing talented wonderful people be blind-sighted and bogged down by the baggage that accompanies eating disorders. It’s not fair. I hate it. But it’s obviously time for me to go to bed because I’m rambling.

April 15th and its significance in my recovery

img_6159After being in the hospital in February, I’ve realized how weird it is that I remember this specific date and what happened on it 12 years ago. There’s no doubt that experience this February was tremendous; I finally got on a med combo that WORKS to control the raging mood disorder that tornadoed through my twenties and destroyed any semblance of my sanity, I finally got to know the meaning of the word “stability” which has alluded me for literally half of my existence, I finally got to look back at the bipolar stuff from the other side of it. It’s huge. But I don’t think I’ll remember the exact date I was admitted or many of the details, unlike 12 years ago. There’s something about April 15, 2008, and the journey that began on that day, that’s still, all these years later, very special (or maybe I’m just weird?). I guess because it was the first time I realized there was a way to exist that didn’t involve being grossly depressed and starving myself into oblivion. Don’t get me wrong, those months were a fuckin’ shitshow. But they were also fun (thanks to any fellow LIJ-ers that are reading this), and I survived, obviously, and I’ve been telling the story of how for over a decade now. A quick recap, for the purpose of this post: didn’t eat, too stressed with school which was ironic because I used my grades as a distraction (albeit an unhealthy one), almost went too far, went for a doctors appt at some random place and then didn’t leave for quiiiiite a freakin‘ while, realized there were other people who did what I did (and that those people were wonderful human beings), learned the vocabulary to describe my emotions and behaviors, used all that as a weapon against motherfucking anorexia, leaned on the countless loved ones around me, etc etc etc. I’m pretty lucky that I didn’t fall back into that bullshit again. At least not til October. Lol did you read my last lengthy, emotional post about that? I think it was for NEDA week, and I was, uh, in the deepest depths of a bipolar depression, but my repeated mood episodes had also somehow been creating a whirlpool. I’d started spinning a while ago, but long story short, when I was finally sucked into the middle of it, the familiarity of my eating disorder was waiting for me. Just lovely. It was extra terrible because I had sworn for years that “I couldn’t do that again even if I tried!” and was proven wrong. And I couldn’t even enjoy the sick satisfaction that comes with losing weight because I’m 28 and know better, for fuck’s sake. This has a happy ending though. It has one of those shiny bows I like to wrap my writing up with. I ate like a normal human being today, and I ate like a normal human being yesterday, and it’s a work in progress but I feel…normal. Prior to March, I don’t recall ever feeling NORMAL. And that’s such a cause for celebration, so why mess it up by being all anorexic? One more thing. I’ve had to figure out what “normal” means over and over again in my life. When I left the hospital when I was 16 I had to do it. I left the hospital this February and I’m again trying to do it. It’s further complicated by this worldwide pandemic, and while I don’t have the brainpower to dissect that whole thing, I’ll just say we’re all in a situation where we have to fight how uncertainty makes us feel. We all have to fight boredom (which is a huge trigger for me). So I’m gonna tie this whole post together with a piece of general advice, based on what I’ve learned, so I don’t sound like a whiny bitch haha. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’ve written a few things about it in the month or so I’ve been home from the loony bin, and I think I’ve finally got it summarized in a way that’ll be useful. Yeah, the unknown is scary. No, we can’t avoid it. But we can create what we can’t find. I’m actually gonna leave off that that, kind of ambiguously stating what I figured out, but if you’ve made it this far in my ramble, you know me well enough to kind of get what I mean. 

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

It’s a bit early, bc the actual week is at the end of the month. Maybe I’ll have something to say that’s completely different than this rant by that time. But for now, while I feeling like typing this mess, here we go…For the last few years (twelve, I guess? seriously?), eating disorders awareness week has been a time for me to think about a part of my life marked by, well, an eating disorder. I think about the suffering. The physical pain of my stomach eating itself as I passed well beyond the point of hunger. The emotional pain from pressuring myself to do better at starving, do better academically, both of which I thought would lighten the inexplicable weight crushing me entirely. I think about the internal conflict, a level of which I cannot even begin to describe. All of me at war with myself, constantly questioning every thought but powerless to find an answer or come to a compromise. The resulting guilt, self-hate. But this year it’s kind of different. I haven’t just started to think about this again now; I’ve been thinking about it since mid-October. Thinking about it hard. If you’ve just read between the lines, you realize I’m saying that I’ve been having issues. Again. Twelve years later. As a fucking adult. Like, this shit is a problemmm. I spent years with the attitude “I couldn’t get to that level of disordered again if I tried.” Well guess what, idiot, apparently you can. Do you hear the shame laced through these words? Because I’m over here thinking how much it sucks that I can’t write some attempt at an inspirational “recovery is awesome” post. I’m thinking how much it sucks that I can’t take twelve years worth of insight and fucking use it. But I’m not here to bitch and moan or have a pity party (I’ve done that enough and had plenty of those). I’m here to do what I fucking DO, and figure out a way to wrap this bullshit up in a nice bow. Make sense of the chaos. Find meaning in the anguish. Sweep up the shards of broken mirror, dump them in the pile of shards from twelve years ago, and find another goddamn mirror. Because that’s what I fucking do. No matter how many times I have my sanity ripped violently out of my skull (and my bipolar disorder ensures that that happens quite a lot, like in this current moment, actually, as I summon the immeasurable amount energy it requires to put words onto a page right now), I stand back up, drag my battered self over to my laptop, and create some semblance of purpose out of the darkness. I really don’t have a great conclusion to this rambling mess of words. I wish I did. But my point here, I guess, is that anorexia doesn’t have to be the conclusion, for anyone. I’m obviously going to find a better one, and anyone else who’s struggling is welcome to join me. And for those of you that don’t struggle with this fucking nonsense, remember to be kind to the ones that do. This isn’t a choice, it isn’t a diet, blah blah blah with the platitudes every eating disordered person says constantly when attempting to explain to the people judging them or whatever. And one final thing, for the endless support from the amazing people I have in my life, thank you. Like. So much. I remember every single one of you who saved me back in the day, and I’m so fucking lucky to have you all doing the same again now. So yeah. Eating disorders awareness week.

One of my most vivid memories is of what happened one sunny April morning when I was sixteen.  My parents had brought me to a random doctor’s office for a random appointment, and it pissed me off because I should have been in school.  I should have been sitting in my AP chemistry class learning about radiation. It would require so much time to catch up on all of what I missed, and even though I was acing the class, the ever-present whispers of derisive thoughts emanating from my brain were particularly loud that day.  Their volume increased until they were almost deafening, until I could barely hear the sound of blood rushing through my head, until I could barely concentrate on standing up, barely fight to stay on my feet as black spots clouded my vision. They told me everything would go to shit because I was going to fail chemistry and not get into college and never amount to anything.  They told me I should have fucking been in class.

But instead, I was pacing in the waiting room of this strange, unfamiliar office, painfully cold as always despite my layers upon layers of clothing.  I had my belt pulled tight, as it was the only thing holding my baggy 00 jeans onto my ghostly and withered body. I genuinely didn’t know why I was there, yet I had an overpowering feeling that something life-shattering was about to happen.

A nurse called me back.  I followed her into an exam room.  She instructed me to undress entirely and put on a gown.  I did, and it finally hit me what was coming. Panicked apprehension coursed through my veins with every pained, frantic beat.  She told me she had to get my height. I slid off the exam table to be measured, stood tall, steadying my shaky hands as they fell to my sides.  Five feet.

Then, with nerves reaching an insurmountable level, she told me to stand on the scale. The heavy-duty, never-inaccurate, medical-grade scale. I stepped carefully onto it, as if I didn’t already know what it was going to say. A lifetime passed by in a second, my heart stopped as time froze. The machine beeped as it landed on what it had declared as my weight. I didn’t look, I didn’t look, I didn’t look. Nothing was happening. Don’t look, don’t look. But after I’d stood there forever and ever, holding the air in my lungs until it hurt, I looked at the nurse. She was staring at me. I breathed out. I looked at the scale. I sucked a lung-full of oxygen into my body involuntarily.

My heart leaped at the number, three pounds below what I’d last seen, and then plummeted into a free-fall. There was no derisive voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. There was just a pitter-patter of words bouncing off the edges of my mind, echoing loudly between reverberating silence: Sick. Shame. Sick. Broken. Sick. Sick. Sick.

In the sheer terror of the moment, I had no idea how it had happened, how I’d gotten that way. But the truth was that I was nearly seventeen years old and I weighed sixty-five pounds.  And at that point, I knew what I was doing and how I’d gotten that way.

It was simple in the most complex and intricate of ways: I had an eating disorder.  And I’d had one for three years. It had been all I’d known for three long years. The gnawing, excruciating hunger that had long since dissipated into expansive internal emptiness.  The bitter cold that lay so deep within me that it had settled permanently in my bones. The sheer, unrelenting anxiety, the weighted feeling of impending doom. I’d been trapped.

And in an eternity that lasted only three months, I was released into a freedom I hadn’t realized existed.  I could write novels about what happened during those months, those wonderful, terrible, frightening, uncertain, beautiful months.  And I will write those novels. But the point is that the identity I’d been chained to for so goddamn long would no longer be attached to me.  Being reborn like that? It’s indescribable.

But it’s twelve years later.  Twelve fucking years later. And I once again officially fall into the category of “someone with an eating disorder.”  Instead of three years, it’s been three months. Instead of being grossly underweight, I’m just 25 or so pounds lighter.  But the thoughts, the fears, the discomfort…it’s all there. Again. As if no time has passed. I’m afraid of jelly. I’m afraid.  Of fucking. Jelly. I’ve arbitrarily attached emotion to jelly as if the main ingredient of the stuff is “paralyzing anxiety.”

I hate it.  I hate that I’m doing this again.

It’s different now, though.  I just keep telling myself to “cut the shit.”  I’ve done it before. I’m no longer in the dark. I have knowledge.   I’m well aware that I can be released into freedom, that the chains holding me to this identity are nothing compared to the supernova of resilience powering all that I am.  But I feel too far gone. It scares me.

Not to mention, as I’m ashamed to admit, that I like my body better now.  Superficial as it maybe be, it’s a relief to have gotten rid of all the weight I’d gained after getting on the new meds (which, by the way, are a literal gift from whatever god might be up there).  I know I shouldn’t like the weight loss, but I do. I have a sick pride in it, just like how I’m stupidly proud of the fact that I was 65 fucking pounds two months before turning 17. With that at least it was because, after three years of suffering, that number was all I had to show for it. But now? I don’t know what the deal is.  I guess it’s just nice to be able to be good at something again.

It probably also has to do with control again, with how I desperately want it.  It just isn’t making me feel any closer to that elusive concept anymore. Like, why is it that when I’m waging war with myself over the simple act of sitting down to eat, I never have control over the outcome?

It probably has to do with how I was bored.  How I wanted to be distracted, wanted something to focus on. How I was morbidly curious.

It probably has to do with the low self-esteem I’ve begun to wear even though it doesn’t feel right on me.

I keep telling myself that I just “went at this a little too hard.”  That it was really just an attempt to lose weight gone wrong because my brain naturally just jumps to this shit when life gets stressful.  A result of the fact that I’ve never known any sort of middle ground in regards to anything. I’ve never understood healthy dieting. If you want to lose weight, why not just stop eating altogether?  It’s a miswired translation code in my head. I’ve never been able to fix it. I’ve only ever worked around it.

Maybe that’s the problem: I never got around to rewiring everything.

When I write, it’s to give people something they can read to understand something.  Something they can read to be dragged down to the depths of my mind and come out with my feelings and desires, as fucked up and crazy as they might be, as souvenirs.  I don’t think many people need to visit hell, though. I think it’s enough for me to do so. 

Maybe writing this will help me rewire.  Maybe afterward I’ll remember even more vividly how fucking insanely disgusting my eating disorder was at its peak.  Maybe I’ll drag myself down to the depths of my former mind, the mind I used to try like mad to learn an entirely new way of looking at things, processing things, and understanding things.  The mind I used to smash the title of “anorexic” into so many pieces that it no longer lingered above my head and next to my name. 

I can’t fathom where in the fuck to start.  But if my brain is made of wires, the wires are reduced to words.  So let’s just call this a beginning.

Eating Healthy (for real), in spite of eating disordered thoughts

“Think about how it’s nourishing you.”

 

I’ve gotta cut the crap with this “falling back into my eating disorder” thing.

So I’m supposed to eat at least 2 actual meals a day and while I eat, I’m supposed to think about all the good the food is doing me. Nourishing my body. Making my skin and hair healthy, helping me function the right way. Nourishing my brain. Allowing my meds to work the right way.

I ate one actual meal today already (almost immediately after being told that I have to do the above by my therapist). I tracked it on this app I’m gonna start using called “Recovery Record” (because it’s a fucking cool app and because even though I’m once again shocked by how I’m at such a low with the eating stuff, it’s apparently necessary for me to get all the help I can). And I truly did think about how food is literally necessary for a person’s body and brain and health and happiness, etc etc etc

#therapywin

It’s actually a really helpful thing to think while eating. It’s really comforting to know that I’m doing something good for myself. I mean, it’s quite obvious that restricting and starving or whatever other bullshit I’ve been doing is bad for me. For my body and for my already dysfunctional brain. But the allure was obviously still there (for reasons I’ve said before and reasons I think I’ve still got buried under the piles of crap in my mind).

So yeah. Focusing on health. And on that note, I’ve compiled a list of things that sorta have to do with food and how it related to actual physical and mental health.

 

The obvious stuff first, some of which I’ve already said, and other general positives of eating healthily and not restricting :

— good nutrition gives your body and brain what it needs to function properly (duh)

— therefore making you feel good (as opposed to weak and hungry and overall just shitty)

— hi, if you want energy, you need food and you need calories (which, by the way, is a word that means energy)

— hi, if you also want to focus, then eat some goddamn food, because not eating reduces gray matter in your brain, which as you can imagine is not a good thing to be reduced

— eating well has a positive impact on mood (as I’ve learned multiple times and should definitely try to fucking remember because my moods are fucked up enough)

— making good choices ensures you’ll feel good and be in good health later in life (AKA don’t screw up the entire second half of your life due to dumbass reasons to stay eating disordered)

— it maintains your immune system so you don’t get sick every other week and so you don’t stay sick for months at a time when you do get sick

— basically, food affects every aspect of your life and eating like a normal human being is hella helpful (granted “normal” is subjective, but I use it to try and kick some sense into myself)

 

Stuff that happens with the disorder gets really bad:

— the loss of your period (amenorrhea), which is the result of fucking up your estrogen hormones by not eating, can decrease your bone density by decreasing calcium in your body, leading to osteoporosis, which honestly sounds really terrible, so let’s just not [sidenote about the calcium thing, taking a Ca supplement when you actually get your period totally helps cramps]

— also you might mess up your chances of ever getting pregnant, so there’s that, and the sooner you “restore your period” the better your chances of staying fertile are

— your body will start eating its own muscles, including that good old heart muscle, because of something called like, “protein-energy malnutrition” or something

— anemia, lack of iron, not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen (which is kind of important) through your body

 

List of things that are “not otherwise specified” (see what I did there? EDNOS? I don’t think that’s what they call it anymore, but whatever):

— preventing yourself from eating for a prolonged period of time only makes you eventually want to start eating and not stop for a prolonged period of time, which, if you have an eating disorder, is confusing and upsetting (not that there’s anything wrong with eating to your heart’s content, but if you’ve been there, you know what I mean)

— dude, you’ve gotta get them vitamins, and yeah taking supplements helps (I certainly take all mine when I’m not eating because I might as well hold onto a sliver of health, amiright?) but those don’t do as well as vitamins and minerals from actual sustenance

— I keep thinking about the skin and hair thing that my therapist mentioned, and I love remembering that eating makes my them healthy (because that stuff makes me look healthier in a way unrelated to weight, and that’ll make me feel better) [also, when I went back to school after being in the hospital for a few months due to the anorexia that I’d suffered from for three years, one of my teachers complimented my hair specifically, and I remember thinking that that was the absolute most perfect thing to say because it didn’t have to do with my weight, and it made me feel proud to be healthy]

 

I could keep going with these lists, but I feel like that’s a good start. Maybe I’ll continue adding as I think of more things. We shall see, but tbh now I have to go focus on eating another actual meal. I’m gonna think about this stuff while simultaneously trying to eat “mindfully” and “intuitively” haha, so go me, I guess?

 

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Rising up from the ash

My insides were rotting with fiery emptiness. 

A terrifying lack of control stoked the flames along with tenacious sadness. The sadness that had simmered on my internal burner for too long, causing the contents of the pot, the emptiness that filled me, to boil over, eventually turning it into the unmatched heat of full-blown depression.

The parts of me that hadn’t already been rotted away were scorched away into nothing as hell itself had come for me.  I drowned in the flames.

My skin melted off, my bones were incinerated, the essence of my humanity was reduced to dust and blown away by the gale-force winds of the surrounding stormy hellfire.

Because the whole thing had to do with more than just me.  Yes, I was the one burning. But that was either caused by the storm forever raging beneath heaven and earth, or perhaps the reverse. Perhaps my internal fire run rampant had somehow caused the swirling chaos encompassing it, had caused hell to alight. Perhaps it was a matched flicked to life in an underworld full of gas, working its way toward combustion, creating an explosion that took down a whole damned place, in addition to swallowing the little match wholly and completely.

The fire took me. I decomposed.

But guess what. I’m a fucking phoenix. So fire, and its ferocious affinity for destruction, did not end me. It could never end me. Decomposition? That’s where I’m born, motherfucker.

Yeah. I was reborn eleven years ago. I built another life, somehow related to the previous one but still distinctly new and radiant and beautiful. I wore my vibrant red, purple, and yellow hues with pride (an experience that had died long before I was taken by the aforementioned flames). I took to the skies, flying freely above the world, observing it all with a birds-eye view (the wind felt like home, and the return of my scope of vision felt powerful). I participated in life and all its majesties (who would have thought it possible?).

Eleven years ago. And then suddenly the temperature began to rise. It had been a lifetime since that had happened, but I reacted reflexively. A phoenix should know what’s coming, shouldn’t it? Their lives are reminiscent of the adage “same shit, different day.” Life live. Burst into flames. New life. It’s expected, isn’t it?

But apparently, I don’t have to throw myself into the depths of hell in order to start again. I’m a motherfucking phoenix, but hey, that’s just a metaphor. And the cool thing about that is that I can choose to rise up from the ashes without the morbid part having to happen.

 

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Life: starts going too well, suspiciously well
Brain: hey, know what would be fun? a little throwback to the raging anorexia of your youth
Me: *is an idiot*
Brain, in too deep for comfort all of a sudden: fuck
Body: fuck
Everyone around me: fuck
…so the moral of the story, people, is that even after 11 years (about 6 of which were completely non eating disordered), shit can still hit the fucking fan so be careful…
[Also, totally leafed through Harry Potter 4 to find those two fucking words lol]
Also also, I’m working on NOT being an idiot, and I’m fairly confident the idiocy is mostly over, but I still felt the need to vent about my personal life on social media bc isn’t that what people do these days???

My insides were rotting with fiery emptiness. 

A terrifying lack of control stoked the flames along with tenacious sadness. The sadness that had simmered on my internal burner for too long, causing the contents of the pot, the emptiness that filled me, to boil over, eventually turning it into the unmatched heat of full-blown depression.

The parts of me that hadn’t already been rotted away were scorched away into nothing as hell itself had come for me.  I drowned in the flames.

My skin melted off, my bones were incinerated, the essence of my humanity was reduced to dust and blown away by the gale-force winds of the surrounding stormy hellfire.

Because the whole thing had to do with more than just me.  Yes, I was the one burning. But that was either caused by the storm forever raging beneath heaven and earth, or perhaps the reverse. Perhaps my internal fire run rampant had somehow caused the swirling chaos encompassing it, had caused hell to alight. Perhaps it was a matched flicked to life in an underworld full of gas, working its way toward combustion, creating an explosion that took down a whole damned place, in addition to swallowing the little match wholly and completely.

The fire took me. I decomposed.

But guess what. I’m a fucking phoenix. So fire, and its ferocious affinity for destruction, did not end me. It could never end me. Decomposition? That’s where I’m born, motherfucker.

Yeah. I was reborn eleven years ago. I built another life, somehow related to the previous one but still distinctly new and radiant and beautiful. I wore my vibrant red, purple, and yellow hues with pride (an experience that had died long before I was taken by the aforementioned flames). I took to the skies, flying freely above the world, observing it all with a birds-eye view (the wind felt like home, and the return of my scope of vision felt powerful). I participated in life and all its majesties (who would have thought it possible?).

Eleven years ago. And then suddenly the temperature began to rise. It had been a lifetime since that had happened, but I reacted reflexively. A phoenix should know what’s coming, shouldn’t it? Their lives are reminiscent of the adage “same shit, different day.” Life live. Burst into flames. New life. It’s expected, isn’t it?

But apparently, I don’t have to throw myself into the depths of hell in order to start again. I’m a motherfucking phoenix, but hey, that’s just a metaphor. And the cool thing about that is that I can choose to rise up from the ashes without the morbid part having to happen.

 

I can’t figure out my emotions/ moods/ anything involving self-awareness…or can I? No really, someone tell me which.

I discovered the word “alexithymia” like, ten years ago with my friend Meg at the Barnes and Noble between our houses.

For the longest time, she was the only person I knew in the real world (not from treatment) who struggled with mental illness like I did.  We connected immediately, skipping most of the normal pleasantries required of new friendships and got right into the deeper, and usually darker, stuff.  We talked for hours about the ins and outs of anorexia and bulimia, the nitty-gritty of what went on in our eating disordered lives. We talked about how, as a result of crashing into the brick wall of mental illnesses so intensely we were completely flattened by it, we nearly had our lives stolen from us.  We talked about what we survived. What we were still surviving.

Anyway, I digress.  In the middle of what was a time of great self-discovery, exploration, and reflection, we came across the word “alexithymia.”  I don’t know what we were looking up to stumble upon it, or what we were even talking about specifically. But we were sitting in the bookstore (our favorite meeting spot and general happy place) when we tried the word out in our mouths and tested the meaning in our minds, and we had to stop and think about it.

It’s apparently the inability to identify and articulate your emotions to other people.  It’s like an actual thing, and neither of us actually have it, but after getting together nearly every day for an entire summer discuss our struggles as philosophically and knowledgeably as teenagers could, I guess we’d somehow been halted.

Again, we shouldn’t really be described as really having it, but I’m trying to make a point and citing this memory is the best entrance into it I could come up with.  So yeah, let’s get to my point.

Meg and I both felt suuuuuper self-aware.  We figured out why we did what we did and had lengthy conversations dissecting our actions.  We were honest with ourselves and each other. The typically elusive reasons for engaging in eating disordered behaviors suddenly seemed so obvious to us.  Looking back, we were a little conceited in our thinking that if a person had no insight into what they were doing, they’d better get their shit together and quick.  Like, calm down young Laura and Meg.

That still isn’t my point.  But this next sentence is, I promise you.

Even though we “had awareness of our character, feelings, motives, and desires,” we were also still fucking clueless.  I guess it’s one of those things where there’s always more to learn?

I don’t know, but the reason I’m thinking about that one random situation so intensely right now is that I’ve been sucking at talking about my actual feelings lately.  I’ve always felt like I was so great at getting myself.  But do I actually get myself?

Spoiler: I don’t.

I dunnooooo, maybe I used to be good at it but stopped being good at it for some reason.  If I was self-aware I’d probably know the reason. But I’m not. I don’t think? Fuck, this is confusing.

(Sidenote, I legit just googles “self-awareness test” and tried to complete it and it only proved to me that I have some emotional and mental sorting out to do)

I was diagnosed bipolar around the time Meg and I spent that summer in that bookstore.  And ten years later, I’m literally sitting right here in that same store typing a long-winded analysis of what I thought I was so good at when I was 18.

The problem I’m facing right now is that I’ve been all over the place with my moods for so damn long and I think I’m just sick of trying to figure them out.  It requires a lot of effort. I mean, I know when I’m crippled with depression. And I know when I’m irritable and agitated and violent, when I’m in a Hulk-like bipolar rage.  I know when I’m flying high, riding on the adrenaline from too much energy in too small a space. I have apps on my phone that track the mood fluctuations, my symptoms, when I take my meds, and the like.  I journal pretty obsessively. I do it all and I thought it was enough.

Maybe I’m confused about what I’m confused about.  ‘Cause my therapist always asks for me to describe how I feel and I can’t do it.  And I just had a psychiatrist appointment where I babbled for 20 minutes without saying anything productive or useful.  Can I just not describe this shit under the pressure of someone watching me? I’m tryinggggg. A while back I made a list of emotion words for me to use when I need to come up with a word for what I’m feeling.  I haven’t really referenced the list. But still. I have a scale I made up, a 0-10 rating scale that I use to conceptualize how I’m feeling. The problem with that is that my moods change over the course of the day.  Oh, and a while ago I realized that what I feel as mood fluctuations might really be my anxiety going up and down. And all of that could be situational. And maybe it’s just a normal thing that normal people feel on a normal bunch of days.  Not everyone is happy all the time. Ahhhhhh. And maybe what I’m feeling now is just NOT MANIC and NOT DEPRESSED and I’m not fuckin’ used to it.

I was so fricken excited about June and July.  I kept telling everyone how great it was to have nearly two months of stability.  It wasn’t too great. Meaning it wasn’t painfully great, precariously great. It was just stable.

Or was I actually manic?  Because there’s a marked difference between what I feel now and what I was feeling then.

It’s a constant struggle to determine what the truth of the situation is.  I wrote in a poem the other day that I can’t tell the difference between what’s reality and what’s “overdramatic, over-imagined hyperbole.”  Good line, if I do say so myself. But seriously.

I have nothing to measure my life against.  I’ve only ever existed the way I exist. I have nothing to compare it to as a test.  I have no control group in this scientific experiment. All I have is my bewildering take on things.

Alright, this is one of those posts that don’t necessarily help me solve the problem.  It’s probably a start, though. To be thinking in this way and at least trying.  I’m gonna keep journaling, keep doing what I tried to do here.  And I’m gonna make those journal entries more than what they normally are (to-do lists and random shit I did that day).  Gotta get back to that self-aware life.

Wish me luck.