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!

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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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.