✴ totally random apps that have helped me survive quarantine ✴

I’m so bored. Still. But there’s a lot to be thankful for. Still. And I’m trying to take note of it all. Which should be helpful during this chaotic period in our lives, right? Gotta try to look on the bright side, and since I’m able to, there’s no reason for me not to actually do it.

Technology always makes the list of shit that’s helpful to me. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I was born in a time where I didn’t have access to a phone.

I’ve downloaded lots of apps. That’s partially because I was in the wormhole of YouTube videos where people talk about their favorite quarantine apps, but I have no regrets about watching them and downloading some of them. I’ve even organized and re-ordered my apps all on my phone, and it’s made me feel that much more put-together, for some reason.

Anyway, this isn’t really new for me. I always talk about how apps make my life so much fucking better. Mood tracking ones (Daylio and eMoods, specifically) have been on my phone for a long time now and are so useful in so many ways, and omg, please allow me to geek out about the graphs and charts and data they provide me with (doesn’t it make my insane mood disorder sound cooler to think of my symptoms as “data points” or something?).

You probably guessed where this was going, but (to be trendy as fuck) here are my favorite apps and ones I’ve been using during this endless quarantine:

*Melly

I don’t remember where I heard about this one, but it’s super calming and makes me really enjoy guided breathing. It feels like forever ago that my therapist brought it to my attention that I can go long periods without actually pausing to take a breath haha. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve tried to stop and consciously breathe, and according to my fitbit heart rate thing, when I make an effort, it’s helpful in slowing things down to a more acceptable speed. So I’m really trying to make it a habit to steady my breath. I use Calm for peaceful background noise, and I actually currently have a month-long trial of a full subscription that I can actually meditate with, but I think Melly is more fun in a different way because you get to build a little zen garden thing. Super cute.

*Kitty Collector

Guys. You know when you’ve hit a slump and you’re bored and you want some form of stimulation so you pick up your phone but you wind up just staring at it because you don’t want to read the news and you’re sick of social media and you don’t have the head to play a game or read an article or check your email so then you close it only to open it again and repeat until something just kind of…happens? Yeah. I downloaded this game (would it even be called a game?) where you basically just take pics of cats that come to your yard and play with what you put out for them. It’s a free game with no adds (amazing), and it’s so soothing and calming. It’s great to have on in the background and have something to do when I look at my phone for something to fucking do.

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*Animal Crossing

Honestly, I downloaded this because I had to see what all the fuss was about. Everyone is obsessed with it, and I don’t have a Nintendo switch. When I saw there was an app (called Pocket Camp), I started to play and I have to say, it really is peaceful and relaxing. Mindless but in a way that feels like you’re actually doing something. And it makes me feel included in the craze, whiiiiich makes me happy.

*Unicorn Chef

Oookay. This is a kid’s game. But I downloaded it a while ago when I was big-time anxious, and it helped calm me down and distract me from panicking. It’s colorful. You “cook” unicorn and rainbow themed foods. That’s it. I’m obsessed. It’s an oddly satisfying game, and even though it’s for kids, I have no shame about playing it because it’s fucking helpful as fuck when I get overwhelmed

*#selfcare

The point of this “game” is to make people remember that there’s nothing wrong with not being productive all the damn time. Nothing wrong with just laying in bed and recharging. It’s like you’re in your bed, and there are little activities you can do to ground yourself or slow down or relax. It’s also just really pretty.

*Study Bunny

I use this one to help me get my writing done and focus a little better (since focusing is a constant struggle). It’s this little bunny you get to name and feed and keep happy. And you do that by setting the timer for however long you want, and then doing whatever you have to do. I also use the lo-fi music that comes with it, or if I want different focus-noise, the ticking of a clock sound. Aaaaaand it makes graphs, so I’m obviously a fan of that.

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*I’m just gonna group all of these as one: YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+

Necessary, amiright? If binge-watching shows makes the days better, then why not do it? I also stream the news on YouTube and Hulu (although it’s been a while since I felt the need to do that).

*Pinterest

It’s so obvious to say, but like. I have been obsessed with my Pinterest lately. I always enjoyed it, but once I couldn’t leave my fricken house, I sat down and actually organized all my board and pins into categories and whatnot, and it was so satisfying. And now it makes me happy to scroll through it all for inspiration and ideas and honestly just because it’s aesthetically pleasing.

Pinterest

*Habitica

Trying to be productive isn’t a bad thing. Obsessing over it and beating yourself up if you aren’t is a bad thing, but trying to do good things for yourself isn’t. I found this habit tracking app that turns doing what you want to do each day into sort of a role-playing game. It helps me make my days go how I want, it helps me get things done that I want to get done. And my motivation for completing my to-do list isn’t just “because I have to,” but because the gamification of my list makes it fun.

Special shoutouts to:

*video calling apps for obvious reasons

*my calendar apps and Trello for keeping me organized in an easy, colorful way

So yeah, I’m in no position to write any form of advice on how to be productive, but I think I’m certainly capable and qualified enough to write something on how to survive. I’m good at survival. (Is that something all of us with mental illness are good at?) And even though I’m not feeling like super put-together or on top of my shit, I’m still getting by, and I’m not unhappy or worried about soon becoming unhappy. And for me, after years of fighting with my moods, that’s huge.

I’ve gone through a few different phases during this whole thing, with varying degrees of motivation and frustration and productivity and enjoyment. It’s confusing. But there are small things that make me calmer or help me hold it together during the craziness. There have always been things like that, although I’d like to make a special shoutout to my lithium for being one major thing that’s allowed me to actually succeed in doing so.

I think I wrote this post because I was just overly excited about how much I love my phone???? But either way, I feel good about what I smashed onto this blog post, so have fun reading. Or don’t, no pressure.

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I’m wearing shorts and a tank top, it is SUMMER (sort of), but I can’t leave to gooooo anywhereeeeeee

 

this round: a summary

I’m hesitant to say this round is over. I won’t say that just yet. The remnants of unbearable fear are still with me, the trauma is still too recent.

Like, fuck. It was (I’ll use the past tense there) like 15 or so days of just. Well, if you’ve read my shit before you know what it was like. Or if you’re unlucky enough to suffer this sinister fucking disorder, you know. You don’t need me reminding you.

It always starts with the violent, aggressive, uncontrollable irritability. It has no actual cause and therefore no clear way to be diffused. It’s terrifying. I notice it in the car the most, driving. No matter who’s in front of me and no matter how they’re driving, I am angry. Intensely. White-hot rage is literally all I know or have ever known.

Then major depression. I noticed that when I was driving during that phase, I was angry as fuck still but literally to weary to respond with anger. It turned inward and tore me apart from the inside. It literally radiates off of me (like my anxiety does). My boyfriend always comments when he feels it radiating off of me.

Sidenote, I love that he senses/sees the changes that happen within me. They’re so sudden and for no reason, and they leave me feeling crazy (I already feel crazy like, generally, but I’m constantly questioning like “did that really just happen, did I really just sob hysterically for an hour?”). 

After that (or along with it) comes anxiety. Fuck the fucking anxiety. Like, physical panic attack symptoms coupled with the racing thoughts, none of which I can fully latch onto, most of them scary, many of them about death. It’s just indescribable to not have a safe place in your brain. No amount of visualization or breathing can fix it. Not even having someone next to me speaking words of comfort. Not even a hug, and I love hugs.

I had family stuff all weekend, and my cousins were visiting from another state. And it was terrible because I spent one day holding back tears and hiding and then actually letting the tears just fuckin’ flow. I couldn’t even bring myself to make eye contact with anyone that day. Yesterday was a little better. I was mopey and uncomfortable and distracted and totally not myself.

Then, of course, I got home and was hysterical for a little over an hour. And not that I wanna put myself back in that terrible, terrible moment (or any of the MANY previous ones I’ve had), but I just remember so vividly wondering how I’d ever be able to function again. I couldn’t fathom how I’d ever been able to function before. There was no escape, nothing else but inward-pointing disgust and depression and fear. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t stop dwelling on the fact that I’m only fucking 28 and that this thing is gonna live with me for the rest of  my ever, and it might get worse and there’s no cure and like. Yeah, the cure thing. I explained to a friend of mine that “cure” is not a thing. Meds are not a cure, therapy is not a cure, doing all the right things is not a cure. They help. They give me better tools to survive the next round. But that’s all it is, most times: survival.

Sounds like a totally negative way to view it. And I feel no guilt for feeling that way. This. Shit. Sucks. I deserve a pity party after every fucking episode. At least grant me that (not that I need or am asking for permission).

Also, could timing possibly have been any worse? Ugh. I missed them all and they were physically here. The guilt I felt made things worse. The longing didn’t help either.

And I’m pretty sure none of them have ever seen me quite that bad. I was afraid I scared or upset them. But honestly, they are all so understanding and helpful and supportive, and the tremendous amount of love I feel for them is mind-blowing. I am so lucky, and I’m at a loss for words. I doubt that in a lifetime of writing and collecting words, I’ll ever get enough to explain how lucky I am or how much all that means to me.

And I have to mention my sister. And brother in law. Not only their actually support, but they were sending pictures of my amazing perfect adorable pure nephew. Immediately puts a smile on my face. Lots of people reminded me that he’s a big WHY. I want to be the aunt he deserves. And I know I can be, although I dread having to explain to my little guy why Aunt Laura loses it every now and again (but there’s a Dr Seuss book about feelings which is actually totally about bipolar disorder that I’m gonna use when he’s old enough). It sometimes hurt that I had to feel so shitty and have that someone be connected to how he was making me feel better. There was some measure of guilt that I can’t explain. But my god is his little face and his little rolls worth it.

Right. So I’m feeling better but not ready to call it being out of the woods yet. If nothing else I think it’ll be less dramatic from here on out, and I think it’ll be less rapid cycling. I think I’ll be at least somewhat less reactive to tiny insignificant bullshit going “wrong.”

Mind you, this is all sheer optimism and positivity. And I do not for a single second take for granted the fact that I am, at this moment, capable of thinking that way. It’s fleeting. All of this is fleeting. I mean, life can be looked at that way by everyone, which might be a helpful push toward “living in the moment.” But bipolar fleeting. Moods are fleeting. Flux is constant and its effects are omnipresent.

I’m just trying to find the silver lining. Wrap this up in a bow, as I tend to do. Actually no, as I need to do. And like, don’t we all? Part of what made this episode suck so bad was that I couldn’t write (even though I had some deadlines) and I couldn’t describe this bullshit in a way that I haven’t already. Each bought of insanity brings with it new…shit. And it is infuriating to not be able to explain it again. Also, I couldn’t move let alone form words. Couldn’t make eye contact let alone summon the energy to talk with other human beings.

I dunno. I guess for now I’m gonna focus (something I’m able to do again!) on finding the beauty in the spaces in between the chaos. Find a way to drill it so deep in my brain that I’ll inherently remember it (or just fucking FEEL it) next depression (well actually this was a mixed episode but whatever).

Until I get around to doing that, peace out, internet.

again

I am completely exhausted. Insomnia has finally given way to excessive sleeping, or maybe it’s just because I’ve been taking multiple doses of multiple sleep aids every night, starting at five, just to become unconscious. I don’t want to have to think. Although I say that as if thinking is an active process at this point. It’s something that just happens. I’m dragged into it. The thoughts come in, rising like floodwaters, forcing me wherever they want me to go. My moods move in a similar, violent fashion, dragging me with them in a deranging pattern that seems never to end. I’m scared, as dramatic as it may seem to say. There’s no other way to describe it. Nothing else seems to capture what this feels like, although everyone I come across who sees my dead expression and my body twisted with anxiety seems to “understand.” Because, apparently, they’ve felt the same way at one point or another. I need that to not be true. Because if “everyone” feels this intensely terrible, then what in the fuck is wrong with me? Have they really experienced the painful ripping of their sanity from their brain? Repeatedly? Have they suffered the debilitating fear waiting for it to happen again? Have they been pulverized by the gravity of the rage within them, caused and quelled by absolutely nothing? Have they collapsed into bed, exhausted from staring blankly into space trying to summon the will to move. Have they laid there in agony that stems from nowhere, that goes on without a beginning or an end, an explanation or a solution? Cried empty tears for hours? Heaved heavy sobs until the accompanying headache stops them in their tracks? Yes, sadness happens to all of us. And yes, even depression can be felt by those still lucky enough to not have bipolar disorder. But do not. do NOT tell me you understand. Don’t insult me like that. Don’t compare your commonplace emotions to the colliding hurricanes of unwarranted pain I am tortured into feeling. Your sadness was caused by something, and I don’t deny how much that sucks. But my suffering comes without reason. There is nothing to blame it on, and nothing to repair to try to end it. It is meaningless, but its omnipresence demands it be given a meaning. Confusion rips into every aspect of who I am. My concentration is turned to smoke and dissipates like it never existed. I am sick with it. My appetite is stolen and morphed into disgust. Mr. Hyde to its Dr. Jekyll, they are one and the same, and maybe one is an excuse for the other as goes the moral of the story, but how can I be blamed for the defect thrust into me, for the malfunction that invaded my body and soul like a virus and continues to violate my every moment. Survival is all I can hope for. Day to day, minute to minute. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. It is heavy, the air like lead, but there is no cure. There is nothing left to do. Deal with it. Barely get by, but get by. It requires constant distraction. Frantic, panicked distraction. One wrong thought and I’m paralyzed. One spare moment and I’m incapacitated, another day wasted in the darkness of my mind in the darkness of my bedroom in the darkness of life itself. It wouldn’t be so extreme if it didn’t bring powerful uncertainty and unintelligible, mangled discomfort. All-consuming distress. My deadened eyes announce the signs of visible resignation. The dark bags have never left, and I don’t need a mirror to know they’re getting more pronounced. I scream into my pillow, not actually hearing the blood-curdling slice through the silence. It’s a faraway sound. It might be coming from something outside of myself, but what does it matter if I don’t have a concept of who in the fuck I even am? Spiral again. Spiral further into it. Rather than reaching for relief, clinging to whatever remnants of happiness I can find in my memories, I give up. Relief would only be fleeting. Why bother? Maybe giving myself up for consumption will get this whole ordeal over with sooner. But for now, existing is difficult. Building myself up over and over again is futile, but I have to keep doing it if I want to drag myself from under my covers to the bathroom at least twice a day. My brain is mush, but it’s still firing neurons or something, I’m still alive or something, so I’m left with gray matter leaking down into the rest of me. It’s sticky, and a sickening sight. And it lacks the neurotransmitters that might be some sort of help in this fucked up situation, lucky me. I am left with a mind disconnected, sensations out of my control, moods trying to escape the bounds of their intangible nature, and a stomach ache. Congratulations to me, I’m having en episode.

Find a safe space

You’re having a panic attack, struggling to see straight, calm your racing thoughts, slow your pounding heart, and breathe. You tell yourself you’re okay. You aren’t in actual, physical danger. But something triggered your alarm system, which sent a message to your amygdala, which made all this shit happen in your body in order to keep you safe. Too bad the danger lives more internally than externally. Still, your fight-or-flight instinct has taken over (even though you can’t run from or fight the source of your crippling anxiety), and adrenaline is surging through you, all because we inherited such a response from our ancestors thousands of years ago and our brain systems just haven’t caught the fuck up. So what do you DO?

You can try to force yourself into breathing normally. Inhale slowly, hold it, exhale slowly, hold it. Repeat. Repeat. Or you can try to “ground” yourself, to reconnect with the fact that you’re exactly where you are, here and now, to live in this present moment instead of the impending future. You can try (almost desperately) to distract yourself. Solving math problems is great for that. So are word puzzles. Your brain can’t focus on figuring things out and panicking at the same time. The same is true of experiencing a rapid and drastic change in temperature. Take an icy cold shower if you can. Your brain will stop processing the paralyzing fear you’re experiencing (or so I’m told). The scent of lavender is supposed to be calming, but personally, I open a familiar perfume bottle and breathe in the comfort it carries for me. I always use that perfume before I do happy, relaxing things. So I’ve (almost) effectively trained my brain to associate it with happiness and relaxation.

But something that’s been particularly interesting to me lately is visualization. A kind of intense mental imagery. A purposeful relocation to a safe place.

I have a pretty active imagination. Maybe that’s the writer in me, but I have a particular proclivity for getting myself lost in whatever place I’m thinking of. Like, I force myself there. I picture everything vividly, paying careful attention to detail. I mentally feel the sensations that accompany that place. I let myself experience the feelings that would go along with being there.

Sometimes it’s a made-up place in a random, made-up scenario. Sometimes it’s an actual place in a scenario I wish would happen there. There are the typical escapes. The beach, with sun shining, the waves crashing, the smell of sunblock wafting through the air. And the perhaps less typical cozy cafe, with a good cup of coffee and a book I’m completely absorbed in. A lot of times it’s a memory that, a moment in my past that I’d love to go back to. (Again, that might be the writer in me; I love the quote “we write to taste life twice,” and I think reliving memories is another way to do that)

I haven’t had a full-on, gasping, clutching, gut-wrenching panic attack in about a month. And after being prescribed an as-needed benzodiazepine about two months ago, I definitely feel more in control of those situations. Knowing I have a pill in my bag that can alleviate those sickening physical symptoms is often enough to reduce the unrelenting (and usually unnecessary) fear. And if that isn’t enough, I put the pill in my mouth and swallow.

But I’m still an anxious person. That probably won’t ever change. So I’m trying to get this visualization thing set in my mind so I can get a better handle on my general, day-to-day anxiety. I’m trying to set up predetermined safe places that I can teleport to at a moment’s notice. So here’s my attempt at collecting them and getting them ready for use:

Disney World. The Happiest Place on Earth. In any park, with any loved one, either in memory or projection. Perhaps it’s the Magic Kingdom on Main Street USA in the early morning with my parents and sister. There’s time-appropriate music playing from seemingly nowhere, and we’ve just turned the corner to see Cinderella Castle standing majestically in the distance, and I feel like I’m Home, like nothing else matters because this moment is perfect. The love I feel around me is palpable. The excitement is tangible. All is well.

Driving down Ocean Parkway, looping from one Long Island beach to another, singing loudly to a crazy array of music with the man who’d soon become my boyfriend. It’s late at night and we’ve been driving for hours, alternating between deep conversations and enjoying the fact that our tastes in music are so similar. I’m calm and happy and fulfilled.

The bookstore. Summer 2010, the summer I really came into my own. My best friend just walked in the door and we greet each other by immediately launching into talking about exciting plans and things to try and what’s been going on since we’ve seen each other a day ago. We get matching cups of coffee and sit by the window and we bounce ideas off each other while simultaneously bouncing off the walls. When we’ve exhausted that, we wander the bookstore, admiring the books we hope to buy, feeling the peace that comes with being surrounded by such an awesome amount of written knowledge. Things are good.

Christmas morning. My parent’s living room. The day that we’ve been anticipating for an entire season. Surrounded by my family and presents, the Yule Log on the TV, love and laughter and magic filling the entire room. It feels right.

I’m at a concert venue about to see my favorite band play. My friends and I are standing by the mosh pit, being bumped by someone dancing in circles every now and then, and we’re all screaming the lyrics to the songs we know by heart. The music fills my entire soul and leaves me feeling energetic in the best way. They start playing my favorite song. Then the singer cuts out and he points the mic into the crowd so that the crowd can take over the song. We’re all different but also so similar, most of us with tattoos and dyed hair and checkered vans and band t-shirts and the like. I feel connected and important.

It’s Monday morning and I just sat down in my therapist’s office, on the floor by the window, where we can watch the clouds go by and the wind blow through the trees and the cars driving by. But we’re talking about important things and processing the chaos that is my life, and occasionally veering off topic to easier things, and oftentimes looking at funny memes. I’m wiggly and all over the place, but there’s safety and comfort sitting across from me so it’s okay.

I’m in our room, sitting there on the bed under my weighted blanket, laptop propped up on a pillow, and I’m scrolling tumblr. He’s sitting next to me, and every 10 seconds we stop to show each other something stupid we stumbled across online. We’ve been sitting there for like an hour in relative silence, but it’s the epitome of what love looks like. I don’t have to worry about anything because he’s there and he understands and he loves me.

My favorite places, my favorite moments. There are more, of course. And I’m sure throughout my life I’ll continue finding ones to add to the list. But for now, I’m gonna try to remember that I have these to escape to whenever the need arises.

Waking up like “how long will it take for the weight of the day ahead to smash me into a bad mood,” and spending time to counteract life’s crap

woke up feeling shitty and anxious and mopey

spent lots of time wondering why i felt that way and thinking about confusing shit about how i have to constantly readjust my moods and how i’m literally just unsure of how to do that at this point

taking my adhd meds helped because now i can at least focus on something distracting or productive

ingesting hella caffeine is making me feel better too

and my favorite band (reel big fish) playing in the background is working to make me not feel shitty

anyway

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and now for a vaguely poetic brain dump

 

Wake up.

It’s comfortable at first, and then the world hits you.

Mind too big in a world too small.

Or perhaps the opposite.

Because there are too many thoughts,

Too much noise at too high a volume,

But there’s too much room for it all to fly free in total chaos

Which means you have to focus,

Use specific, deliberate effort to adjust and readjust.

It requires all of you,

The effort,

The fight, from within and without, against unseen demons.

And as you look around at the confusion

That has nearly turned your mind,

Too big and too small,

Into ruins.

Get it out.

It’s urgent to do so.

Spill it, pour it, put it elsewhere,

Into the ether

Or onto a page that may or may not be read

Or even remembered.

An hour into consciousness and you’re tired and unsure.

Anxious? Depressed? Empty?

(You are continually putting words to the intangible,

But somehow can’t when it comes to emotions, those mercurial things).

Take your meds. Drink some water. Eat something.

What are you even doing,

Sitting there comatose when you have shit to do?

Inhale. Exhale.

How can you hold it together today?

What’s the plan (you’ll be lost without one)?

Put on some music,

Your favorite band,

Turn it up.

The forceful pressure recedes, permitting some sort of flow,

Some influx of something that resembles calm,

Some release.

Your mind shrinks,

Or perhaps grows,

But you’re not analyzing it so you feel better.

Your free-flying thoughts organize into

What is more reminiscent of graduation caps mid-air,

Thrown up in celebration of achievement.

Still messy.

It’ll take time to find your cap, the one you were looking for.

That doesn’t necessarily matter;

The photographer snapped a picture and the frozen moment makes you happy.

Organized.

So maybe, you think, there’s something to strive for

In the potential to turn a day around

(or a month, a year, a life).

Potential for new thoughts,

For finding happiness as opposed to forcing something vaguely similar to it,

For not letting sadness with when all else fails

Because you’re coming at life with full force.

Although survival mode played its role,

It’s in the past for now.

So tomorrow if you have to drag yourself out of bed

As you doubt your ability to get through the day,

Don’t wallow in confusion.

Let it out, find the words, 

Take your meds, drink some water, eat something.

Breathe. Music.

Let your mind shift, take shape, rearrange and reorganize.

Give it time, don’t dwell, stay calm, and fight hard.

After all,

Haven’t you proven your strength to yourself yet?

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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It was dark.

The only light in the room was coming off the clock on the nightstand, which indicated that it was 4:02am by way of a dull blue glow. It was too fucking early. And too fucking dark. And cold. Fuck the cold.

Insomnia ravaged her. Again.

The grunting snores of her boyfriend, fast asleep next to her, sent her temper spiraling but she was comatose despite the succession of jittery shockwaves pulsing through her body. She didn’t get up. She didn’t move. No matter how hard she willed herself to, she didn’t so much as roll over.

Why bother?

She didn’t want to wait til dawn to break. She wanted it to come now. She needed it and needed it now, in this moment, because waiting is the worst and she didn’t have the patience for it. This sucked.

It was her fault, she hated to admit. She’d drugged herself to sleep (thank you sleeping pill, melatonin, and cbd oil) at 6:27 because she couldn’t stand the thought of being awake for a moment longer, staring blankly at the wall. No, her brain was too loud but it wouldn’t allow her to move and her stomach growled angrily but it couldn’t bear the heaviness of food and there were texts to answer but no words were available to her. No, fuck that. Time to fucking sleep.

At two in the morning she’d opened her eyes but forced them shut again. Forced her brain into a quasi sleep mode by having made up conversations in her head, half concentrating on them until she couldn’t any more and the fake attempt at batting away the longing for a friendly voice, a friendly presence, faded into unfulfilling sleep.

Two hour of tossing and turning and it brought her to her present wide-awake state. Fuck.

Get up and do something, she berated herself. Get to your headphones, blast some metal, or open your laptop, do some writing.

No amount of internal urging seemed to be enough to summon the motivation to move.

She was just about to attempt to get another round of restless sleep in, but the thought of doing so was more exhausting than actually doing it. So she finally got up. Cold enveloped her.

She paced. She paused. She stood motionless like a confused zombie trying to get her thoughts together but it was a messy, tangled web up in her mind. Wires were twisted. None of them were plugged into the right connections.

Gravity amazingly pulled her to her desk, where her headphones thankfully sat on a pile of books, which thankfully was next to her laptop. A sweatshirt was thrown over the back of her chair, and she used what little energy she had to pull it over herself. It was a miracle that the setting was now one that allowed for a meager amount of productivity to take place.

A miracle. That’s what’s worth calling a miracle? How stupid. How pathetically stupid. But whatever.

Headphones on. Music loud. Laptop open. Document pulled up. Aaaaand, go!

“Going” took another few minutes of zoned-out staring, but somehow her fingers were brought to the keyboard and somehow they started moving and somehow the movements formed words that appeared on the too-bright screen in front of her.

Why is this happening again? Why did I let this happen again? Why did I make this happen again and why am I continuing to push myself father into it. Again. I’m guilty as charged. I hate myself.

It went on like that for a while. Her words chased themselves in circles. Negativity. Self-hate. Anger. It went on until she began to write fervently and passionately and quickly, so quickly, her fingers barely keeping up with the pace at which her brain threw thoughts into formation.

She shrugged her sweatshirt off. Rolled up her sleeves. Was it getting hotter, or was she becoming overheated like a computer that’s been on for too long? Did it even matter?

Her eyes flicked away from the computer for a fraction of a second.

Bad move. Losing the flow was always a bad move. She lost the momentum and let her thoughts wander and…fuck, no. Why did she let her thoughts wander?

But the tattoo on her left forearm shouted loudly from its type-written font: Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise!

Fucking positivity.

Yet there was a pale light in the distance now. It fell through the window as if by accident but it stayed like it was comfortable in the bedroom. Morning had come. She shut her laptop.

She collapsed back into bed, weary from the exertion of being awake and alive.

But at least she got an hour and a half of sleep.

*

“If you have the courage to make it through a lonely night with nothing but your self destructive thoughts to keep you company, darling, you have the courage to make it through anything.”

People will criticize your dreams,

Layer doubt and uncertainty on your consciousness

Because they don’t understand

The intensity and ferocity of your fire,

With its red passion,

Aggressively orange desire,

And burning yellow optimism,

Your fire, your eternal, internal warmth,

With its propensity to spread, to expand.

They’ll approach the ladder you’re steadily climbing

And insist you’ve missed a rung or two,

As if you haven’t reached a higher altitude already.

They’ll warn of the dangers that lay above you

Without regarding the successful resilience of your past

Or the Houdini-style escapes you’ve scraped your way through.

“You can’t marry the mood,” they’ll chime,

Thinking they’re ringing out like virtuous bells of truth.

But if I can’t marry the moon,

Explain to me why I’ve been bathed gloriously in its light

Why it’s soothed my dubiety,

Quelled my ever-questioning mind.

Explain why it’s kissed me goodnight

After I’ve collapsed into a cocoon of blankets and pillows,

Exhausted from the efforts I’ve left behind,

Whispering in my ear that the sun is going to rise again soon,

Powering the winds of renewal

Like my perfectly-paced, everlasting forward motion.

Happy things 💙

Random acts of kindness 💕

Cloud watching ☁️

Giving something my all💯

Stories about princesses 🏰👑

Selfies when I’m feeling myself 🤳🏻

Coffee ☕️

Meeting up with friends 👭

Getting stronger 🏋🏼‍♀️ (physically or emotionally)❗️

Proving my resilience ⬇️🆙

Beer with friends after a long week 🗓🍻

Going on a trip ✈️

Pretty bows 🎀 (and other accessories) 💍

Smiling 😃

Roller coaster parks 🎢

Fruit salad 🍒🥝🍍🍎🍉🍇🍐🍌

Leaving love notes (or any notes!) 💌

Getting love notes (or any notes!) 📬

Good news in the paper 📰

Enjoying nature 🏔🏕

Karaoke 🎤

Flowers on a spring day 🌷🌻🌺🌿🌸

Cookies and milk 🍪🥛

The smell of rain/ thunderstorms ⛈⚡️

Balloons 🎈

Tea 🍵 with honey 🍯

Tropical vacations 🏝

The sun, rising every day 🌅

A fresh notebook waiting to be filled 📓

Cute puppies 🐶

Your favorite music 🎼 🎶🎵

A stack of books waiting to be read 📚

Seeing a rainbow 🌈

Photography that captures feelings 📸

Improving myself 📈

The sun coming out 🌥⛅️🌤☀️

Fireworks 🎆🎇

Cosmic phenomena 🌙💫

Getting into bed after a long day 💤😴

City skylines 🌇 🌃

Office supplies 📎✏️ 📋

Magic✨/ unicorns 🦄 / etc 🌟

Being alive!! 🌎

Hot chocolate 🍫 on a cold winter day ❄️

Deep conversations 🗣 with close friends 👥

My perfect nephew 👶🏼

Learning something new about science 🧬

Frantically writing ✍🏻 getting ideas 💡 on paper

Connecting w people I love on social media 💻📱

Self-care 🕯 🧼🛁🧖🏻‍♀️

Really appreciating stars 🌟 in the night sky 🌌

Getting into a video game 🎮 (or watching one)

Fall 🍁🍂🌾🌼 bonfires 🔥

Achieving something to be proud of 🎓

A big paycheck 💵

Late night car rides🚙 with Andrew🥰 singing🎶

The anticipation the night before Disney 🔜

Waking up on Christmas morning 🎄🎁

Feeling lucky 🍀

Winning something 🎰

Classical music that brings back memories 🎻

When things fit together perfectly 🔐

Making art 👩🏻‍🎨🖍🖌🖊

Appreciating all the worlds differences 🗺

Becoming the best version of me 🏆

Learning 👩🏻‍🎓

Books 📖 & how many of them exist📚

Making wishes 🧞‍♀️🧞‍♂️✨

Things that comfort me 🧸 🐘 (my stuff animal!)

Singing in the rain ☔️

Checking something off my to do list ☑️

Ice cream (size congruent with my mood) 🍦

Parties 🥳

Quiet mornings 🔇

Crocheting someone a hat 🧶

Ska shows 🏁

Facing fears 🕸

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.