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.

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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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.

 

A fun little throwback to the eating disorder of my youth, ugh

I haven’t eaten breakfast.

This isn’t a surprise; I usually forego actual food in the morning in lieu of something caffeinated.  Although my choice of caffeine has changed lately, for what a part of my brain deems better and another part deems punishment.  But regardless, lattes and mochas are no more. Plain coffee with stevia and some half and half. At least it’s better than sugary crap, right?

Why I’m over here even contemplating my morning beverage of choice is beyond me.  I drink a fancy-ass, overpriced drink like, every day. And I don’t usually bat an eye at it.  In fact, there have been times I got straight-up pissed off at people who brought it up (typically in some stupid judgemental comment about how much those drinks cost).  Leave my guilty pleasure out of this, motherfucker.

But I’m contemplating it either way.  Because less sugar, fewer calories, that’s gotta be better, right?

Better than WHAT? says the rational part of my brain.  You know, the part of my brain I used to claw myself toward awareness, overturn self-doubt, beat the ever-living hell out of terrifyingly negative thoughts.  The part of my brain that gave faces to the demons whose names I learned, whose sinister motives I removed myself from. The part of my brain that rose from the ashes of a decayed will to live and withered-away motivation, that rose from that torment with forces unmatched in order to survive and thrive and charge ahead at full speed toward a future.

Better than what?

I shouldn’t eat lunch.

At this point last week or the week before, as mid-afternoon rolled around I would’ve felt the hunger pangs already.  I would’ve begun salivating upon entering my kitchen, my mouth ready to begin the process of digestion due to mere anticipation.  But I don’t feel it anymore. That happened rather quickly, I think. Back in the day, oh, 13 years ago, it took much longer for my body to adjust to eating itself instead of actual sustenance, much longer for the twisting, gnawing hunger to recede into simple omnipresent emptiness.  But I guess falling into eating disordered bullshit and all the dangers of its realm is easier the second time around. I’ve heard it said that the pathways are already there in my brain. Like a path forged in a dirt road. A path that hadn’t been there before. A path that, regardless of lack of use, would still be capable of guiding risk-taking travelers to the dark destination they seek.  So repeated wear on whatever-the-fuck brain circuits I used to starve myself into oblivion literally carved out my tendency to return to the whole calorie counting, weight loss driven, number obsessed me that I was back in my youth.

I’ve said it before, in recent years nonetheless, that it’s so easy to just whip out that handy-dandy anorexia and use it to obscure whatever pointless issue that happens to be blocking my path forward.  If I can’t see the problem, it isn’t there, right? Mental illness logic at its finest. But weirdly enough, I’d said practically in the same breath that I “could never” let hunger consume me again, not in the way that it did in high school.  I could NEVER. I wouldn’t even be able to!

Except that, uhhhh, I can.

And I shouldn’t eat lunch.  If I’m empty, at least I’m focusing on something.  At least I am something.  If I’m not eating, at least I’ve done something.  Fuck knows I’m nothing else, that I haven’t done anything else.  Nothing I’m proud of, nothing I value. I know, I know. I’m basing my self-worth on irrelevant nonsense, like a job and money and…I guess that’s it.  But goddammit I’m sick of going nowhere. I’m capable of so much more than treading water in a swirling ocean of confusing options that don’t make complete sense.

But something throws a punch at me from the left.  I tumble into uncertainty, into the depths of “this is all there is for you” and “don’t bother trying when you won’t make it anyway.”  I punch back, miss, and try to duck another oncoming blow. I’m hit with “everything sucks.” I sidestep in an attempt to evade more damage but I’m weak, exhausted, and although I usually refuse to admit it, dizzy.  And then from the right, the dramatic ending to the fight scene, “you’re fucking fat.” One, two, three. Down for the count. And all of that violence taking place within the confines of my all-or-nothing, one or the other, reactive, ridiculous bipolar brain.  How many wars am I expected to win?

Unless it’s just me seeking out trouble.  Marching into battle, one after another, because well. What the fuck else am I supposed to do with myself?  Live a normal life? Like a normal person? How does one even accomplish that, particularly without even knowing what it means?  

I’m should really eat dinner.

But I’m “restricting.”  Yuck. I absolutely HATE “treatment words.”  I guess because I’m (supposed to be) so far removed from them.  Been there, done that, used them, moved on. But have I?

Ughhhh.  Fucking YES, I fucking HAVE.  Or I fucking had?  Why.  Why is this shit barging into my life right now?  I hate myself for letting it and I hate myself for almost wanting to let it.  How. How could I have come so far, so far, to basically invite this monster of a disorder back into my life.  And honestly? How dare it just waltz the fuck back in here as if I didn’t rip out its heart and crush the thing to dust?

It cannot possibly be because I’ve gained weight this year.  Because, oh hey, that’s what human beings do. And that’s perfectly okay.  And I actually didn’t mind my body, this awesome thing that carries me around and lets me experience life and houses my consciousness and every part of who I am, about a month ago.  Not to mention I know so much better than to equate anything about who I am with what I weigh. I’m pretty fuckin’ awesome.

I block a disfigured fist from knocking the wind out of me.  I lean away from another as it tries to catch me off guard. But I use that momentum to swing back, full-force, with “I don’t have to do this.”  BAM! I land another punch, make full contact with the thing’s face. And in a moment of adrenaline-fueled bravery, I kick the motherfucker between the legs and it drops to its knees and folds into a defeated, self-mutilated fetal position.

“Know your place.”  I don’t shout it, but the ferocity in my voice doesn’t require backup.

I’m hungry.  I’m gonna go have a fucking snack.

Bipolar and the senses

So last year, or maybe it was two years ago, I was sitting cross-legged on my bed, laptop propped up against a pillow, listening to Duel of the Fates from the Star Wars prequels on repeat. I remember it rather vividly. I’d had a huge mental breakdown the night before, where my then best friend and soon-to-be-boyfriend drove me until one in the morning as we listened to music and I alternated between crying and singing along to the loud punk rock hitting me in waves out of the speakers. I was home from work, having called out by leaving a frantic voicemail detailing how I was insane and the thought of coming in to work made me want to die. So appropriate, I know. But there I was, sitting there trying to hold on to some semblance of calm, the vague, fleeting feeling that came and went throughout that entire day. I hadn’t eaten. I’d barely had any water. I was just existing, trying to write just to be doing something, thinking about something. Not one of my better moments.

And here I am now. That same Star Wars song on repeat. And it’s weird because I can taste the insanity of my past. I taste the feeling of hunger, acerbic in my mouth, just like I tasted two years ago. I can feel my insides grabbing for what little bit of calm it can grab. The memory of the thoughts I thought are echoing through my head, bouncing off the walls of my mind like that someone slammed a super ball as hard as they could in a gymnasium, the ball going going going with seemingly endless momentum. Or maybe it’s more like a balloon flying every which way after someone untied it and let it loose. The point is that I’m there again. I’m sitting on my bed, legs crossed, laptop in front of me, fingers flying frantically over my keyboard just because. I’m there again. Because of this song I’ve got on repeat.

It’s weird how that happens. The taste of my gummy melatonin does the same thing. That strawberry-esque flavor melting in my mouth, even now, transports me back to the nights I was plagued with what I’ll call violent, agitated insomnia.

On the flip side, I have this one roll-on perfume that calms me down. I always put it on before therapy and now when I roll it on before work, I smell the panic going the fuck away and my chest easing up. I feel full, deep breaths steadying my heart rate as I take actual air into my lungs (as much as I’m able to, at least).

I have an elephant stuffed animal that I hug close to me when I sleep at night. And I have a mini keychain with the same elephant on it. And I make a point to take out that little keychain and rub the elephant’s ears when I start to lose my cool, when I feel the anxiety bubbling up from my stomach all the way up my esophagus and ultimately reaching my head, dizziness ensuing.

And lastly, I’m comforted in the best way possible when someone I love wraps me in a protective hug, sending love vibrations into my being with the pressure they put on me, squeezing my broken pieces together with a strength that can only come from true care and concern.

It’s amazing how this shit works. What our sense can do for us.

The Cutting Thing

February 2008:

I was home alone, able to relax and not worry about judgmental comments about my eating habits for a few days. It was going to be a welcomed respite.
But when the deadlines drew nearer and the clock hands spun too quickly around their center, the all-too-familiar panic began to rise like floodwaters. I wouldn’t finish on time. I couldn’t. The dam broke. But I had no choice, I had to get everything done. I had to. How do people deal with this? I wondered exasperatedly. How can ANYONE deal with all this?
I had to do something.
I had this exacto knife that I used for cutting pictures for my scrapbooks. And I saw it, gleaming there, reflecting the afternoon sunlight as if heaven itself cast the beam onto it. There was no other answer, no other conceivable escape or release from the painful, clutching anxiety, so I grabbed it hastily. I walked into the bathroom. Uncovered the knife. And sliced through the skin on my left forearm. Five times I pressed down the blade and dragged it across my wrist. I took the rubbing alcohol from the cabinet. Poured it over my bloodied arm. Wiped myself clean. And walked out of the bathroom.
Aside from my heart palpitating rapidly, I didn’t feel anything abnormal. Cutting myself did not feel wrong. It didn’t register that anyone would have a different opinion about it.
In fact, I could think clearly again (for a short while).
Days later I was sitting in my ninth period English class. We were in the library and I was trying, really trying, to work on the assignment. But I had a day’s worth of terrible feelings behind me. I couldn’t get anything done. All I had thought about for over a week was tearing open my wounds, and my mind was completely fixated on the idea. Dragged blade, ripped flesh, bloodied arm. I was consumed with it. I wanted to. I had to. I had to go home and cut. I had to run that ever-saving blade over the scabs, repeatedly, over and over and over, tracing the bloodlines until I felt my mercy. I had to let out the anger, the pain, the frustration, the tears I could no longer bear to shed…let it all out in the form of crimson liquid. I had to ruin my fucking innocence so I could take a goddamn breath without wanting to explode.
I was angry. I was a total wreck. So I went home, locked myself in my bathroom, and carved meaning permanently into my skin.
I was pathetic and I knew it. After all, I was the girl who went to the bathroom during passing to just CRY. The girl who stared at the mirror, looking at her sunken, vacant expression, tears streaming down her face. The freak who looked down as she walked, too afraid and anxious and scared to keep her chin up.  Pathetic anorexic, pathetic cutter, pathetic.
Fast-forward to this morning in therapy when my therapist noticed the somewhat-recent, angry red line on my left forearm next to my newest tattoo.  “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise” next to a basically-new scar.  Yup.  Doesn’t make much sense, as she pointed out to me.
It’s still sort of the same, the cutting thing.  I still do it when I’m overwhelmed and need it all to stop.  I still go about it matter-of-factly and nonchalantly, and it still doesn’t register as abnormal.  It still stops the mental chaos, if only briefly.
But it’s different now, too.  Thoughts of harming myself don’t run through my head in obsessive circles (at least not usually).  I don’t really do it because I’m angry.  And I certainly don’t think of myself as pathetic because of the whole thing.
Not to mention, I’m a friggin’ adult.  Who the hell’s gonna stop me?  I mean, maybe I’m still doing it purely because I can, but seriously, what can anyone say or do about it now?  Judge me?  Ooh, I’m so scared.  Other people’s opinions about it don’t really matter to me.
But then again, as my therapist pointed to my arm when she noticed my mark/line/cut, I instinctively hugged it to my side.  I’ve been trying to work on identifying my feelings using exact words as opposed to writing essays that describe them in fluffy, extravagant ways.  So I guess I’m identifying how I felt as “embarrassed,” right?  I was embarrassed.  My ears got hot and I assume I turned red and my eyes jumped to the floor, away from her eyes full of kindness that were looking at what I’d done.
Professionals really aren’t supposed to bring attention to cutters’ cuts.  They’d talked about that in a class she took a while back.  I guess any sort of notice of self-harm somehow reinforces the behavior.  But she put it into perspective, saying how I have a booboo and she wants to make sure I’m okay.
Which I am.  I don’t think it’s about that anymore.  There used to be pain behind each self-inflicted wound.  Weeks, months, years worth of tormented thoughts warped into bodily discomfort that threatened to detonate at any moment –that was the impetus behind the whole thing.  And I couldn’t make sense of that emotional pain, I didn’t GET it.  But actual pain?  Pain that I could see for myself?  I liked the idea of that.  Proof of my unending sadness, the physical manifestation of how I felt inside…it was just better.  But it’s different now.
Right?  Like, jeez, what IS it about now?  I’m tempted to say habit.  I do it just to fuckin’ do it.  It’s also partially because it feels good in a way I can’t put my finger on.  I know it “feels” better on my left arm, and it’s not just because I’m right-handed.  It just feels good.  There’s also a part of me that’s like, “oh hey it’s cool that I can still tolerate the experience of carving of my own flesh.”  That maaaaay be linked to how with the anorexia stuff, I couldn’t just “go back to that” even if I wanted to.  But the cutting thing?  I can still do that, dammit.  And that kiiiind of makes me special?  In a fucked up, terrible, ridiculous way?
I sat there not looking at my handiwork, but my therapist, sitting next to me, took my arm in her hand and flipped it over and looked down.  I twisted my arm in her hand and she twisted it back.  I looked down eventually.  And the random thing, the weird part, the shameful truth?  I actually liked looking.  At my type-written tattoo over faded, white-lined scars.  And at the recent ones peppered around the poignant and significant words.
It’s somehow poetic, the contrasting positivity of the quote with the obviously negative connotation that accompanies self-inflicted wounds.  Is that what this shit is about?  Being poetic?  Nah.  No way.  I hate when people romanticize mental illness.  It ain’t a pretty thing, and making it into some disordered version of art is just plain wrong.
Alright alright, real talk: the cuts/scars/marks/lines mean something to me.  They’re memories, not particularly good ones but still important to remember ones.  I don’t want them all to fade.  I’m scared for them all to fade.
There’s a lot to unpack in that last statement.  Like, am I worried I’m gonna lose a part of who I am if I get over this thing just like I got over the eating thing?  Oh GOD, do I think of myself only in regards to my mental illnesses???  And if that’s the case, is the cutting thing related to my being so wildly bipolar still?  Wait wait, I’ve been mostly stable for like three months.  Am I doing this shit because I need SOME sort of crazy going on?  Fuck.
Honestly, I cut myself like three weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep.  I was thinking too much and I wanted my brain to shut the fuck up and I cut myself and it did and I went to sleep.
I dunno.  I’m tired now, from thinking about it all, but I think I made some progress with this whole thing.

Medication-related weight gain (or putting on pounds in an unrelated whatever)

I’m tremendously uncomfortable in my body. I feel it underneath my consciousness at all times, physically and emotionally. It sucks. But I’ve been in this disconcerting situation before, and even though it’s laced with inward-pointing disgust, even though it makes my skin crawl, I know what to do (in theory at least). I’m taking discomfort by the throat and smashing it into a brick wall like a criminal in a mugging until I’m able to bend it to my will, fit it into a box labeled “this shit doesn’t matter” because I’ve crushed it’s bones and taken them for myself. Fuck being uncomfortable. Fuck letting it ruin what should be a fun and exciting day. Fuck that.