May 14, 2010

The Battle Is Not Over

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:25 am by eddejae

I should have seen the signs.

But I didn’t.

Typical.

The night before last my appetite seemed insatiable.

I prevented myself from indulging in a licentious binge with reckless abandonment, but for the first time in three weeks, food was obsessively on my mind. After an ice cream sundae, two brownies, a sandwich, and a Heath bar, I was about to dive into a jar of peanut butter with all five fingers at 2:30 in the morning when my mother walked in on me. Shame and guilt flooded through me, and I became enraged for being caught red-handed. Leaving the peanut butter jar open on the table for her to put away, I stormed to my room, slammed the door, and cried myself to sleep.

I slept until noon the next day. I woke up on a high, almost in a hypomania. I attacked my room, cleaning it to perfection. I organized my papers, made all necessary phone calls, made my schedule of appointments for the next two months, took care of all the emails that had been piling up for the last few weeks, did my laundry, and exercised intensely for 45 minutes.

While I was on the treadmill, I started having flashbacks of a particular instance of date rape I experienced last year. It was unpleasant and made my head feel like it was in a fog. I started feeling anxious and wanted to just stop everything I was doing and go lay down, but I fought it and pushed the thoughts away. But they scared me because I hadn’t thought them for a long time and I didn’t understand why they would suddenly be taking my mind hostage now.

After I had showered and dressed, I got in my car and headed out to Travis AFB to visit Todd. On the way there, my head started to feel very foggy and I became more and more drowsy. I realized I had only had a protein shake that day, and it was already 4pm. My blood sugar was probably low, but I felt like that wasn’t the only thing going on. I had the urge to listen to some heavy rock, which I usually don’t listen to unless I’m in a very “zoned out” mood. My mind was completely somewhere else. I barely remember the drive there. I was mentally and emotionally checked out.

Todd could tell something was wrong. He kept asking me if I was ok. When he found out I had barely eaten, he immediately took me to go get dinner. I felt strangely high. Once I had eaten, the lightheaded, dizzy feeling subsided, but the “out of body,” “zoned-out” feeling didn’t. Now that I look back, I realize that I was disassociating really badly.

I won’t go into details about the rest of the night… But it did not go well. I slipped further and further, especially on the drive home. I wound up cutting myself pretty badly. I woke up feeling miserable. I couldn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. I was so happy, I was doing so well. Why the relapse? Why can’t these demons just leave me alone? All day I have been fighting tooth and nail, but it seems that the more I fight against the sadness, the more it tightens its cold, hard grip. Trying to ruin my happiness, threatening to destroy everything I’ve worked so hard for…

I can’t let it. I won’t let it. But I can’t deny the fact that I can’t feel happy today. I am happy, but I can’t feel it. It is hard to feel anything right now. God help me.

This morning I did my best to get myself going. I dragged myself out of bed and did some writing, but quickly tired again. I had made plans to work out, but wound up going back to bed. Todd and I had made an appointment to get our marriage license today, and I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to muster the energy to go. In a moment of superhuman determination, I forced my body out of bed, ate something, showered, put on some upbeat music, and then drove to meet up with Todd. I was doing everything in my power to make myself feel better. After all, we were getting our marriage license! How exciting! Why couldn’t I feel excited? Why couldn’t I feel a gosh darn thing but melancholy and exhaustion?

Well, I got through it, but not without some concern on Todd’s part. He could see what was going on, he knew I was “checked out” but was trying to put on a happy face for him. I could feel myself putting on that “I’m simply splendid!” mask… I even started a favorite game of mine called “Let’s walk around and talk with a British accent and pretend we’re tourists from London!” But it wasn’t long before that started to wear off… It’s hard to hide what I’m feeling around Todd. It’s difficult to wear a mask around someone who knows you better than you know yourself. I knew he could tell that underneath the random goofiness I was hurting. We decided to go back to his parents house to watch a movie before we parted ways.

His parents own a parakeet. A very old parakeet. This bird has been around for so many years Todd cannot even remember when they first bought it. This parakeet sits in a little cage in the living room all by itself day after day. Todd says it hates people, that it’s crazy. There used to be two parakeets, but it killed its cell mate. For some reason the bird caught my attention for the first time. I’m not much of a bird person, but I felt drawn to it. I felt sorry for it. I sat in front of the cage. And looked at it. And it looked at me.

It seemed so sad. “Todd?” I said. “Can we let it out?” I wanted so badly to hold the poor, neglected bird lovingly in my hands, walk outside, give it a gentle nudge, and let it fly free into the welcoming sunlight.

“Nah,” he said. “I don’t feel like chasing it around the house. Besides, it probably bites.”

“No, I meant… Can we let it go free? Would your parents really care?”

“It’s not our choice hon. It’s not our bird. Besides, it’s so old and stupid it’d probably die anyways.”

“Well… I think it deserves at least a chance. Birds don’t belong in cages. No animal belongs in a cage. I think I would rather die than be in a cage. Wouldn’t you? Maybe… maybe it would be happier dead… Then its spirit could sing and fly… No more cages…”

As I said this, I began to cry. I forgot to mention that I found out this morning that a Facebook friend of mine took her life. I have to confess… Sometimes, when I hear the horrible things people go through, I wonder… Maybe they would be happier on the other side… Maybe it is worth it to escape the pain and horror of this life…

I also failed to mention that another sign that I have slipped into depression is obsessively pondering death and suicide.

I feel guilty for thinking these thoughts. I do, because I know that life is precious and should never be taken for granted, and I know that suicide is NOT the answer. But sometimes I feel so incredibly bad for people who have and are experiencing so much suffering, and I want to take it away… but I can’t… And… I understand them wanting to end the pain. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to want to die. I know what it’s like to want the pain to stop.

But I also know how wonderful and beautiful it is to live.

It’s confusing sometimes… life and death. The decision whether to stay or to go.

I know I’m supposed to be here. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad I’m alive. I have so much to live for. I am happier than I ever been, despite the fact that I am fighting with depression at the moment.

As I mourned for the parakeet and for the untimely death of my friend, Todd held me in his arms and let me cry. I was able to say for the first time today, “I am depressed.” And I didn’t feel guilty about it. I didn’t have to apologize for it. I just was. And it was ok. He is there for me… Through good times and bad. Today is just further proof that we can and will get through anything together. Our road will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Neither of us are perfect, but we are perfect for each other.

“I learn so much from your strengths, but I learn even more from your weaknesses.” ~Todd.

On the drive home, this song came on the radio… I’m not much of a Miley Cyrus fan, but the message was so appropriate for what I am going through right now that I had to share it.

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ~Agatha Christie

I can almost see it
That dream I’m dreaming but
There’s a voice inside my head sayin,
You’ll never reach it,
Every step I’m taking,
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking but I
Got to keep trying
Got to keep my head held high

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle
,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing,
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes they knock me down but
No I’m not breaking
The pain I’m knowing
But these are the moments that
I’m going to remember most yeah
Just got to keep going
And I,
I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on,

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

Keep on moving
Keep climbing
Keep the faith baby
It’s all about
The climb

Rest in peace Kellie Taylor… Fly free sweet little bird…

April 21, 2010

It Is Time

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:24 pm by eddejae

I have been working up the courage and emotional energy all day to tackle what I think is the one thing I have yet to actually confront, and it something I hope to conquer.

It is something I am deeply ashamed of.

It is my eating disorder.

I’ve gone through cycling phases of accepting it and denying it, giving in to it and fighting it. Yet it wins, time and time again, in one form or another – anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.

In one form, I restrict calories and I over-exercise. At one point a few years ago, I managed to keep my calorie intake down to about 800 calories while working out 3 hours every day and abusing laxatives.

When I was 16, I stopped eating almost entirely. I weighed less than 90 pounds.

At other times, I have gone on eating binges and then purged through throwing up or taking laxatives and diuretics. In both cases, I would go on an extreme diet until I felt I had compensated for the calories I had consumed.

Now, I’m on a constant binge/diet cycle. I will keep my calories below 1,000 cal/day and exercise at least 60 min/day for a week at the longest. Then, my body gets depleted. I start having cravings and urges to binge, and my body is exhausted. So I binge for a day, two days, maybe three or four, depending on my emotional state. The more depressed I am, the more likely I am to binge. Then, after I’ve had enough and I feel awful about myself because I’ve gained 5 pounds or so, I go right back on a strict diet to lose what I gained – promising myself I’ll never binge again. But I always do. The cycle has repeated itself a hundred times at least.

My whole life is centered around food. Counting how many calories I’m consuming, how many I’m burning, how long it will take me to lose a certain number of pounds. I have a goal weight in my mind, and I never, ever get there. I’m never good enough. And because of my binging episodes, I always feel like a failure. I begin to feel like that’s all I am. A failure. I have no self-control.

Of course, I know that my binges serve a bigger purpose than merely satisfying physical craving. They have become a coping mechanism, even an addiction. For the moment, it numbs me. Anxious? Eat. Depressed? Eat. Lonely? Eat. I have often felt like food was my only friend. It’s always there. Always something I can count on. Always comforting. And you know what else? It protects me from relationships. As long as I am putting on weight, as long as I am uncomfortable with my body, I am kept from putting myself out there; I am not at risk of being hurt; no one can touch me; no one can love me… and… no one can leave me. I am alone, but I am safe. If I feel bad about myself, I don’t socialize. If I don’t socialize, I don’t have to feel anxious and self-conscious. It is a vicious cycle of self-harm and self-hate. I eat to hurt myself. I eat to soothe myself. I eat to punish myself. I eat to reward myself. I eat to keep from cutting. I eat to keep myself from putting myself in a situation where I could be taken advantage of by men. I eat to avoid social anxiety. I eat to stay put. I eat to stay in my comfort zone. I eat so I don’t have to FEEL. It numbs me to the world. It is my drug of choice.

But it is ruining my life.

Eating too much or not eating enough. Never a middle ground. Never a balance. Just extremes. It becomes a game I play with myself. It’s something I can control. It’s something I know. As long as I focus on calories, on exercise, on making lists of things I can and can’t eat… I feel like I’m in control. It is a coping method. When everything else is chaos – my emotions, my social life, my family, my mind – that one thing can stay consistent. It is a true obsession that is all-consuming. Not a minute goes by that I am not thinking about what I’m going to eat next or how I can keep myself from eating when the hunger pangs come.

Listen to my body? I don’t know what that means. I live my life by the clock and by calories. “At 10:00am I can eat 150 calories. I can’t eat again until 2:00pm at which time I can have 200 calories.” These thoughts are at the foreground of my mind almost constantly. You’d think “Eat when your hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry” would be simple, self-explanatory. Not to me. I don’t know what that means. My body and I don’t communicate much.

I constantly compare myself to other girls. Girls on the street, girls in movies, girls in magazines. Any girl. And I usually come up short.

My clothes are old and ragged, because I refuse to buy new ones until I’ve reached my weight goal. Even when I’ve lost weight, I wear baggy clothing to hide my body.

People throughout my life have told me “You’re so beautiful!” or “You’re a perfect size”… I’ve never been able to believe them. It’s so hard. I feel like I should… I want to believe those things about myself… I want to believe I am beautiful and perfect and worthy of love. But as long as I am not my ideal weight, I can’t believe it.

I don’t know what made me like this. Maybe the sexual abuse I experienced during my childhood. Maybe the destructive messages from the society and the media. Maybe influences in my life growing up. Maybe I’m just a perfectionist. I don’t know.

I hate looking in the mirror. I disgust myself. I wish I could love myself. I am so jealous of girls who are comfortable with who they are and what they look like… I envy that freedom.

I want to be free.

I want to be free from this obsession, from this self-hate. I want to be healthy. I don’t want to starve myself. I don’t want to binge. I don’t want restrict my activities and even fail to reach my potential because of this heavy baggage I carry – the baggage of weight that is so much more than just physical. It is mental, emotional, spiritual. My whole identity is wrapped up in my body image. I just want to be free.

Many of my nightmares have to do with how I look and my shame about my body.

I am so tired of it.

I need help. I’m crying for help. I’ve kept all of this inside for so long. It’s been my secret obsession. It can’t be secret anymore. I need support. I need help to overcome this. Lately I’ve been playing around with the idea of engaging in anorexic behavior again. This is a major part of the reason I had a complete breakdown last night… I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I would do ANYTHING to be skinny, even stop eating completely. And if I couldn’t… Well, I don’t want to go that place in my mind. I had stumbled across some pro-anorexic websites that were very triggering. Did you know that there’s an entire Facebook community of individuals deep in their eating disorders that support each other? It’s terrible. They post pictures of skeletal models and encourage each other not to eat. It’s terrifying. And yet it was strangely alluring… I don’t want to become that.

I’m afraid. I’ve lived with this obsession over food and weight so long, if I let go of it, I’m afraid I will feel a void… which leads me to believe that I must replace this obsession with something else. But what? And how do I stop the obsessive thoughts? How do I start accepting myself for who I am? How do I become happy with my body?

For most of my life, I have equated thinness with happiness. I need to change my thinking. But how? How do you change something that feels so ingrained in your soul?

How do I live… REALLY live… without this fear, this inner ache, that drives me into these self-destructive patterns?

I want to be free.

I have to set myself free… Thus far I have been determined to make the disorder, the cycle, work for me. I now realize that is has done nothing but destroy me. It has not brought me anything but pain and misery.

No one else can do this for me.

I can’t live with this anymore.

It is one of the last things I have to cling to, but I have to let it go if I am to be truly healthy.

I will overcome it, no matter what it takes…

Dear God, please give me strength…

And so it begins…

(This song describes exactly how I feel right now about all of this. I don’t know what I would do without music to help me express what I cannot…)

I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

I don’t know the first time I felt unbeautiful
The day I chose not to eat
What I do know is how I’ve changed my life forever
I know I should know better
There are days when I’m OK
And for a moment, for a moment I find hope
But there are days when I’m not OK
And I need your help
So I’m letting go

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

You should know you’re not on your own
These secrets are walls that keep us alone
I don’t know when but I know now
Together we’ll make it through somehow
(together we’ll make it through somehow)

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be OK
Together we can make it through another day

March 9, 2010

The Girl in the Mirror

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , at 6:07 pm by eddejae

This poem was inspired mostly by my own struggles with self-perception, but also partly by a fellow blogger who is also dealing with similar issues. Writing this was a learning experience for me, and I hope maybe it will help her too.

I wake every morning,

And remember.

Stumbling to the mirror,

I blink, and blink again.

The image looking back at me

Begins to cry.

The tally commences –

One, two, three, four…

Up and down my arms.

Scars I hide beneath

My sleeves.

My hands move unbidden

And span across

My middle, my chest, my thighs.

I turn away in disgust.

Cover my shame, hide my guilt –

The baggy old sweatshirt again.

I will not let you see,

I will not let you know,

These outward testaments of

My inward pain.

Smiles and sleeves and diet pills,

One secret for each scar.

Would you understand?

Would you turn in disgust, as I?

Fear me, label me, judge me?

Look through harsher eyes?

Would you question me,

Or perhaps prefer ignorance?

If you only knew

The scars that are cut

Into something deeper then

Mere skin.

If you only knew

The extra weight I carry

Comes from nights when

Food was my

Only friend.

But I am scared to tell you.

These walls keep me distant,

Yet protected,

From those I dare not trust.

How long until these scars fade?

How long until my reflection

Smiles back –

Confident, unashamed?

Last night I had a dream.

Before the mirror I stood again.

I clenched my fists and shut my eyes.

I screamed –

At myself, my scars, my body, my mind –

“I hate you!”

Then I heard a voice, gentle and low,

From where it came, I could not tell.

“Look. Look again. Yet deeper.

And see what I see.”

Hesitantly, I uncover my face.

I blink, and blink again.

The image looking back at me,

Begins to cry –

“Nothings changed! The scars remain,

I cannot bear to look!”

The voice replied,

“In those eyes I see a depth,

An understanding born of pain.

In your walk, a maturity,

A knowledge born of suffering.

I look at your hands and see

Your struggle with the world.

Your arms, they’re strong,

From lifting burdens,

Some never yours to bear.

Your legs are powerful,

Carrying you forward despite

Winds that threaten

To tear you down.

You see flaws and imperfections.

You see someone undeserving of love.

I see a girl with battle wounds,

Inflicted in a war with

The pain and injustice of this world,

With her past, with her demons,

With herself.

I see a girl who wants to be loved.

I see a girl tired of the pain.

I see a girl trying to get through the day.

Who has not given up on this life.”

“I see someone destined for greatness,

With so much inside to give.

You see weakness, I see courage.

You see despair, I see promise.

You see ugliness, but I…

I see beauty born from within.”

I awoke from the dream that morning,

And forgot.

Stumbling to the mirror,

To repeat the painful ritual –

One, two, three, four…

Then suddenly, the voice from

My dream resounded in my ears…

I remembered.

And looked again.

And smiled…

My scars were beautiful.

February 24, 2010

It’s Now or Never

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:57 pm by eddejae

Today is a brand new day with brand new goals!  I have to say, I’m pretty excited to start the program I’ve created for myself.  The two over-arching goals that I will be constantly working on, even as I master other goals, are:

1) Stick to exercise and nutrition program to achieve weight loss goal and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  • Start with 30-min cardio/day and work up to 60 min cardio, 5 days a week.
  • Gradually incorporate strength training 2 times a week and stretching every day.
  • Eat 1,200-1,400 calories/day – high protein, complex carbohydrates
  • Cut out any excess sugar and caffeine.
  • Weigh myself once a week to track my progress.

2) Attend weekly therapy sessions and work on applying skills discussed.

  • Journal what is discussed during therapy
  • Identify skills I need to work on and set up a plan of action with therapist

The other three goals I will be working on now are:

3) Daily scripture study and prayer, and weekly church attendance.

4) Reading assigned therapy materials.

  • Read at least a chapter a day in one of the books I’m reading and take notes

5) Practice my piano and singing.

  • Practice piano at least 30 min every day
  • Do some amount of vocal exercises every day

And, of course, blogging every day 🙂

I think my medication is finally starting to take effect… The last few days I’ve had a lot more mental and physical energy than I’ve had in a long time. I’m currently on Seroquel (an anti-psychotic) and Lexapro (anti-depressant). The Seroquel still makes me sleep 11-12 hours a night, but I’m a lot less sleepy during the day. I’ve also noticed less obsessive thoughts and mood swings. My uncontrollable urges to cut myself or overdose have also left almost completely. After trying so many medications that either made me a zombie or made me suicidal, it’s such a relief to finally be on something that seems to be working for me.

I still struggle with urges to binge, but I’m hoping that by sticking to a healthy eating and exercise program, that will decrease as well. Also, since my binging or restricting urges are usually a way for me to escape or distract myself from emotional stress, I’m working on turning to other outlets when I’m feeling triggered. That’s where my 3 goals come in… Practicing my music is a huge emotional release for me, and nourishing my faith and continuing to learn from my therapy books will keep me motivated to choose healthy coping skills.

I will be honest… I’ve never been good at sticking to things or keeping promises to myself. But I know without a doubt that if I don’t stay committed to my goals and to my recovery, I will never have a fulfilling life. It will just be the cycle of depression and self-destructive behaviors, over and over again. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t accept that anymore. I know what kind of life I want, and I will do whatever it takes to get there. For the first time in my life, I feel truly committed to something. Sure, I may make mistakes … It’s kind of inevitable… But as long as I “fall foward,” and pick myself up again and again, there is no way I can truly fail. I will make it, step by step…

February 20, 2010

“There must be opposition in all things.” Touché.

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:41 pm by eddejae

I woke up this morning with some very lofty plans for the day. I was going to wake up early, exercise, tidy my room, do laundry, and spend the rest of the day reading, writing, and maybe even getting out of the house a bit. (Doesn’t seem like much, I know… But when your typical day consists of sleeping 12-13 hours a day due to medication and spending the rest of the day in front of the TV because you have no energy or motivation to do anything else…well… Aiming for a normal day of activity feels as daunting as running a marathon!) As luck would have it, I had a restless night and woke up late in the morning with a migraine, sore throat, and cold.

So, instead of having day full of productivity and goal-setting as I had planned, I wound up spending most of my time blowing my nose and sitting in front of the television with my laptop. My natural inclination is to view this as a failure. Yes, I know it’s not my fault I came down with a cold. Yes, I know I shouldn’t push myself when I’m sick. Which is why instead of being hard on myself (perfectionist that I am), I’m going to look at this as just another “fall forward.” I may not have accomplished what I wanted to, but the day was not a total waste. Even if writing this blog entry was the only thing I did today (which… well… it pretty much is haha…), I could still count today as a successful baby step towards recovery.

As it happens, I was able to do a considerable amount of brainstorming while in my somewhat debilitated state. I’ve recognized that a large part of my struggle in moving forward towards healing is my inability over the last few years to set goals and persevere until I reach them. One of the symptoms of BPD is the proclivity towards extremes. I set goals that are unrealistic and then either punish myself when I fail to reach them (example: not letting myself go to a party because I didn’t lose five pounds in one week), or try to attain them in unhealthy ways (such as attempting to lose weight by starving myself). Or, I give up on myself and don’t challenge myself enough. Then I end up stuck in a rut, experiencing no progression or growth.

I think I will continue to use weight as an example, since it is something I struggle with. My “black and white,” extreme thinking has led to serious problems such as anorexia, bulimia, yo-yo dieting, and binging. It is difficult for me to stick to a healthy and reasonable plan of diet and exercise as I tend to slip into “over-doing” it (overly restricting calories or exercising excessively) or giving up entirely (binging). Often this becomes a cycle. Well, I’m tired of it. And I’m not going to do it anymore. My physical health has suffered greatly from what I have put my body through. What I do to myself is related to my issues with low self-esteem, body image, and sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I’ve never liked my body. This is something I am working on in therapy and is probably going to be one of the biggest hurdles I will have to overcome, as it is something very deep-rooted and the behaviors are very ingrained. However, no matter how many times I have tried to break the cycle and failed, I have picked myself up and tried again.

And here I go again. Falling forward. Lately I haven’t been treating my body very well, but that is changing. Starting now. Instead of saying to myself “I have to be this many pounds by this date,” I am simply starting a healthy nutrition and exercise program that I will be able to maintain. I will reach my goal weight whenever I reach it. As long as I am sticking to my plan and avoiding the binge/purge cycle by using the coping skills I am learning in therapy, then I will feel successful every day. The key is not giving up. I CAN do this. I AM strong. Though health and eating issues are not the sole focus of my recovery, I believe that if I can overcome this particular struggle (or at least being able to feel confident in my ability to master it in time), it will give me even further motivation and strength to tackle the other areas of imbalance in my life. Ultimately, everything is connected to each other, and improvement in one area will affect the progress of all the others.

Hopefully tomorrow I will feel better and will actually be able to begin my nutrition and exercise program, as well as do some important reading for therapy. A good night’s sleep will help… So I’m off to bed. Goodnight… Whoever you are. 🙂

February 19, 2010

My Purpose for Writing, Part 2 – A Reason to Go On

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:11 pm by eddejae

Something incredible happened as I lay there in the hospital bed on that pivotal Sunday. I heard a voice inside me say, “There is a reason you are still alive. You have a work to do.” I was overcome with a feeling of deep purpose, a feeling that there is something very important I need to do with my life. I don’t know what that purpose is yet, but I am confident that as I recover and move forward in my life, I will discover what it is that God put me here to do.

Make the most of every failure. Fall forward.

I feel that writing this blog is perhaps a small part of that purpose. If nothing else, it will give me a reason to keep on going. By making a commitment to myself to write each day, to tell the story of my recovery, I am giving myself a reason to get up every morning. A reason to push forward no matter what obstacles lie before me. At this point in the process, the smallest thing is a struggle, and this is a huge undertaking for me. However, I have a feeling that writing this blog, even if no one else in the world reads it, is going to be the most important part of my recovery.

Since that last time at the hospital, I have had many ups and downs. I have had some successes. I have also had failures. But I have realized that as many times as I fail, I pick myself back up again, brush myself off, and move on. Failures are my greatest opportunities to learn more about myself. This blog is itself a result of “falling forward,” and it will continue to be a source of motivation and strength to me as I embark on this journey to discover who I am. Day by endless day, step by stumbling step, I will become just a little more unbroken.

My Purpose for Writing, Part 1 – My Story

Posted in recovery tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:09 pm by eddejae

It was the evening of January 3, 2010. I blinked into the glaring fluorescent lights on the emergency room ceiling as I rubbed the stinging handcuff marks on my wrists. Dazed and lethargic from the 24 Nyquil pills still running through my veins, I stuttered my way through an awkward series of questioning from various nurses and doctors who forced their way into my consciousness. Talking was the last thing I wanted to do. Giving them reasons was not only daunting, but seemingly futile at this point.

“Why did you overdose?”

“Were you trying to kill yourself?”

“What’s going on in your life that would make you want to do this?”

All I could do in response was shake my head and say, over and over again, “I don’t know.” I don’t know. I don’t know why I took all those pills. I don’t why I’m so hopeless and depressed. I don’t know why I hate myself so much. I don’t know why I hurt so badly. I don’t know why I just want my life to end. All I know is that I don’t want to feel anything anymore. I’m tired of my life. I’m tired of being me.

The entire scenario – the paramedics, the ambulance, the emergency room, the subsequent seclusion in a psych unit – was all too familiar too me. This was my third suicide attempt in the last two months. My first attempt involved overdosing on liquid Nyquil and slicing my arms, wrists, and neck with a utility knife. During the second episode, I submitted myself to the hospital before I followed through with my plan. And here I was again, in a hospital, choking down charcoal. This time was a bit more dramatic, as I had actually written a suicide note to my parents and, in my medicated state, apparently attacked the paramedics…hence the handcuffs. Even now I can’t say for sure whether or not I truly wanted to die. I figured, whatever happens, happens. If I die, so be it. If I don’t, I guess it wasn’t mean to be. Either way, I didn’t care. Either way, I hoped to somehow escape the overwhelming intensity of the emotions that bombarded me from moment to moment, making life meaningless and unbearable.

Episodes of severe depression and turmoil have become a way of life for me. My first episode occurred at sixteen years old, accompanied by severe anxiety and panic attacks. I have dealt with both depression and anxiety on and off for seven years now. I have also struggled with eating disorders –  first anorexia, then bulimia and uncontrollable binges lasting days at a time. Though I have experienced social anxiety, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and excessive shame and guilt for most of my life (largely as a result of childhood sexual trauma), the severe symptoms of depression, as well as other self-destructive behaviors, had become especially prevalent over the last several years.

I could never understand why the very act of living was so difficult for me. Why couldn’t I just be happy and normal? I felt stuck in destructive patterns of behavior that affected my health, my relationships, my schooling, and my work. Over the few months leading up to my first suicide attempt, and continuing on until the third, sexual promiscuity, binging and purging, drinking, and cutting had become the norm for me. I absolutely hated these things, but I felt as if I had no control over myself. I no longer cared what happened to my body, because I hated it. I no longer cared what happened to my spirit, because I already felt dead inside. Dead to everything but pain, loneliness, and self-loathing. I turned my back on God. I was somehow angry at Him for what my life had become and, at the same time, felt I was a filthy, disgusting creature unworthy of His love. I felt that I had nothing, no one, to turn to. I was in complete darkness.

Two weeks ago I was officially diagnosed with chronic, recurrent depression and borderline personality disorder. Though depression is commonly known, BPD (borderline personality disorder) is not. The symptoms of BPD include frantic effort to avoid abandonment; a pattern of intense and unstable relationships; identity confusion and disturbance; impulsivity in a least two areas that are self-damaging; recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behavior; emotional dysregulation and instability; chronic feelings of emptiness; inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling it; stress-related paranoia or dissociation. I exhibit every single one of these criteria. Believe it or not, I was actually very relieved to hear this. Finally, there was a reason for everything I was feeling and experiencing. I am not a horrible person. I am dealing with an illness that is brought on by a combination of abnormal brain functioning, genetic predisposition, and negative and stressful life events. I have a difficult time dealing with emotions, and I have certain thought patterns and beliefs that are a result of childhood trauma and that lead to unhealthy ways of coping (eating disorders, self-harm, acting out, isolation, etc).

Now that the underlying cause of my distress has been pinpointed, I have hope that I can overcome this illness that has kept me down for so long. Through medication and therapy, I CAN get through the depression, through the BPD, through my eating disorder… and become healthy and whole again. But although meds and therapy sessions are an important part of my recovery, I am fully aware that the strength motivation to achieve full mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health MUST come from somewhere inside ME. And THAT is where my biggest challenge lies.