When Nothing Goes Right

I’m a big fan of planning, as anyone who knows me, or anyone who’s been reading this blog will probably already know.

But what about when it doesn’t work? When you try to put barriers in your own way, but you just crash through them?

Then life gets interesting. To put this in context, I did the whole setting yourself up thing pretty damn well yesterday: I had a lot of back work to get through, and simply brought it to work (this part might only work if you work in a coffee shop…) and decided not to let myself leave until my work was done. My work wasn’t completely done when I left, but it was pretty close and they were closing. So that it would be harder to back out I told my coworkers about it and then only whined a little when I was working. Also, discounted food and drink while you work–can’t beat it!

The part that wasn’t done was watching a movie: The Fifth Element, for my Physical Theater course and writing an essay on it. Also, I had one more chapter of notes to do for my sophomore research seminar. I let myself go to bed last night pretty early, figuring that I could wake up and finish the notes, and then finish Physical Theater that night since it wasn’t due until Tuesday.

Today though, was a snow day. I wasn’t plowed out for my first course and then the rest were cancelled, along with work because thankfully, no one decided to brave the storm to go shopping (restoring my faith in humanity a bit).

To summarize, I woke up, ate, and watched Grey’s Anatomy. And didn’t stop doing those things except to sleep for a little bit. And there were a lot of things that I could have been doing today. I really want to give myself the free pass of, “It was a snow day!! Everyone would’ve done nothing!! It’s fine!!” but I really don’t think I can as what I didn’t do were some things that, to put it simply, everyone else does. I don’t want to really get into specifics here but basically there were things that should’ve been done and that weren’t done that I’m expected to do.

Get all that?

One of my first memories at the program I go to was going into a rant about everything I had to do, and everything I wasn’t doing (essentially the same list) and the woman who heads the program telling me, “You need a win.” It’s something I’ve since heard many times, as my friends and I at that program tend to be the people to get down on ourselves until we can’t really do anything we’re supposed to do (or until we feel like we can’t do anything.) Its also very true and a simple phrase that hasn’t left my mind today.

Lately, nothing really seems to be going right. I haven’t been getting my homework in on time (a first for me), I haven’t been eating enough, with a couple instances of eating too much thrown in there, I’ve been skipping appointments with excuses because I start shaking and crying and get too anxious to go,  I’ve been unable to cope well with the simple matter of living in my own skin, and I had to drop my fourth course because it was too much for me to handle alongside work and school, neither of which I’m prepared to give up.

To sum it up, I need a win pretty badly if I want to turn this around, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to make myself turn this around.

It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have crippling anxiety or depression what its like, but it could also be pretty easy. For anxiety, imagine waking up, and you’re thousands of feet in the air, and being handed a parachute and told to jump out, “Trust me, it’ll go off, people do this all the time!” And you’ve never skydived or seen these people before ever and you now have what it feels like for me trying to go to an appointment right now.

For depression, imagine lead weights attached to all of your limbs while a reel of things you’ve done wrong, or could do wrong plays in front of you, while a voiceover tells you that its obvious you’re going to fuck everything up because, “Look! It’s all you’ve ever done, and so obviously it’s all you’ll ever do.” And yet you’re being told that you have to go about your day.

Alternatively, remember that feeling before the SAT’s (if you took or cared about the SAT’s) or the feeling after the death of a pet or person you really cared about. Bottle it up and then imagine feeling that, magnified, about everyday activities.

So for me, a win might look little but feel impossible. I also recognize that it looks little, which makes me feel shittier because why can’t I just do what I have to do what the fuck.

But even a small win would be good–because the power of any sort of win is that it makes you feel accomplished and makes you see that regardless of the shit your mind spews out “Look! You can do all the things, because you did a thing!”

So I guess the question that I’m asking myself, and that everyone who cares about me wants to know the answer to is can I make myself make the effort again, for something that I’m not sure is worth it? Can I make myself put in all the effort to do the things that feel impossible even though it feels like I’m not worth it?

I’ll get back to you on that, but for now I need a win, and for tonight that’s going to be treating myself nicely. That means a bath and some dinner, and the movie that I need to watch anyway. I can’t promise that long term I can do all of the things, but I can do these little things, right now, and for now that’s going to have to be enough.

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Radical fucking acceptance

That’s right those of you who’re familiar with DBT–I went there.

The get-out-of-jail free card of a goal from Four Winds, and what people dread being asked to do.

I suppose there’s a possibility that I might need to work on radically accepting a few things. That my parents (or anyone without an eating disorder) will never understand what I’m going through or know intuitively how to help right, that the friends I talked to in high school I might never talk to again, that my view of myself is likely more than a little skewed…these are all candidates.

More pressing though is that if I want the life I imagine for myself one day, I can’t be a person-with-an-eating-disorder. I can be a person-who-had-an-eating-disorder if I choose to continue on in the eating disorder world on the other side of things (researcher or therapist) but I can’t maintain my eating disorder and be the kick-ass version of myself that I want to be.

A way I’ve put it in the past is that it’s impossible to simultaneously be the real person you imagine yourself being one day, and the patient that you imagine being one day. And one of these options costs, and costs big.

Right now it actually feels like both cost big.

So I suppose it might be time to radically accept the need for radical acceptance…

Hey, I’m getting there.
Thanks for reading.

Tough Shit: On Recovery

Recovery sucks.

I apologize, but this is my blog and I’ll whine if I want to and this well and truly sucks. I’ve spent more time today in tears than smiling, and more time in treatment than in school. I’m fighting not to puke up what I just ate, and I’m not going to be able to forget the calorie count for days.

But the thing is, its never going to change. There is never going to be a time that is more convenient to exit your life for a while, and its never going to be easy to say, “Fuck you.” to the concepts and ideas that have been your bible for so long. So why can’t I just fucking do it?

My therapist had an answer today: that it’s hard, and I don’t often do hard things unless I really want to do them. Her theory makes sense, the hardest thing I’ve ever done (other than recovery) is having an eating disorder, and in a weird twisted way I did really want that.

But why don’t I really want to recover all of the time? It would make sense: I’ve got a family and friends who love me, I’m enrolled at a great college with great grades, I’ve got a multitude of bizarre and unexpected hobbies that I love… it should be a no brainer. One way a group leader at my program today said that you can combat an obsession with food, and body and fat is by growing the other areas of your life so that they crowd it out. I’ve done that, so what’s happening?

What’s happening is that my life’s reached maximum capacity, and now I have to shrink the eating disorder or shrink real life.

Like I said, this should be a no brainer. I’ve done the pro’s and con’s lists–they’re all clear. Eating disorder es no bueno. La vie est belle.

But what you have to understand if you want to understand where I’m coming from, or really I would think where any person with an eating disorder is coming from, is that recovery literally means doing what you don’t want to do, 24/7, 365, until you want to do it. As a friend of mine put it, it feels like the treatment team is brainwashing you when in reality they’re just trying to clean the fucking wreck your eating disorder’s left in your brain.

But here’s the thing: there really isn’t any living with an eating disorder. Winning at an eating disorder means dying of starvation, and the only option other than death is “admitting defeat” to your eating disorder, and recovering.

Conceptually I know this stuff down pat. I can spew it to no end, and predict the therapists’ arguments before they say them. But despite knowing that eventually you will have to recover, if you want to live at all, I still find myself putting it off…why?

Because I’m addicted to it, because it’s been there when no one else has, because it tells me in glittering lights that if I just do it right this time that it will make me skinny and perfect and happy.

All of these reasons are valid, and the truth is that I have no idea if any one of them, or even a combination of them is correct. I have no answers for why I continue to believe deep down that my true happiness is hidden inside an eating disorder.

The only thing that I do know is that sometimes you have to go with logic instead of intuition, and that logically I know that if I want more than to be a patient I have to do this shit, and that I might as well do it and get it over with now so that I can get on with my life. No matter the sense of loss, and no matter the loss of identity. Identities are immaterial things, made and changed at will: life is not.

Thanks for reading.

Confessions: Inside My Mind

So as you’ve probably guessed from the title of this post, I haven’t been doing the best lately.

Instead of disappearing from the world, like last time I fell down a bit, I thought I’d share a bit about what’s been happening, and hopefully help some of you understand what its like in the mind/life of someone with an eating disorder, and depression. My goal with this blog is still to (someday) reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, and I feel like being open is a good first step. If you’re suffering, this may be triggering as it deals directly with my thoughts.

Today I felt like I was floating. People imagine, or I imagine that they imagine, that when you suffer from depression you sit around listening to sad music, and sigh a lot, and seek revenge on your dead father’s murderer of a brother. Oh wait, that’s Hamlet.

Quick rant: I actually had this conversation with my Shakespeare professor last term, as he looked at Hamlet, who I personally think is one of the first famous characters shown to be depressive or manic depressive, and said to the class, “And there’s Hamlet crying again, such an emo.” This reduction of someone to “emo” bothers the hell out of me. To look at someone and call them emo involves so much assumption, and judgement, the end result of which is a fairly derogatory term for a mentally ill person. It’s one of those terms that people don’t think about a lot, but that contributes a hell of a lot to the stigma around mental illness. End rant.

But back to the floating. That’s often what depression looks like for me. Clinically, its called “depersonalization” which always seems to fit for me as it sounds like it means becoming less of a person. It really means a sort of loss of identity, or a state where it seems like your body isn’t your body and your thoughts aren’t your own but rather you are separated from body and world and all that they imply. What it looks like to the outside world must be a bit bizarre. I imagine I stare into space a lot, as people tell me that I look like I’m zoning out a lot. I’m often quieter, but once I start talking I ramble and can’t stop. I forget that I’m hot, or cold, and I often forget about what it requires to be human: must get up, must eat, must brush teeth, must shower. I actually write all of these things down in the to do section of my planner in order to not forget.

All this depersonalization, and dissociation (which for me relates closely to the depersonalization though its different) basically make it seem like my mind is in a world of its own. The odd part is that when I’m depressed, I often go into my eating disorder which has become so much about my body.

One of the problems for me with eating disorder recovery is that it greatly involves being present, and mindful and in your body. Frankly, I hate my body. I hate it with a passion actually. So when I’m in this dissociated state, it’s a welcome break from the feeling of entrapment in a place that I hate. What I need to learn to do is tolerate being in my body, even when I hate it, but that’s another blog post entirely.

How the dissociation affects my eating is another story entirely. It’s hard to explain because as much as I feel separate from my body, I also feel tethered to it in a way. Often when I’m dissociated I completely forget to eat–that it’s something that I have to do as a living creature, but then when I get hungry the eating disorder takes over. When you feel like you’re a mind trapped within a body that’s not your own it becomes incredibly hard to remember that thoughts aren’t orders, and that they aren’t permanent, and that you can argue with them, and change them and flip them entirely. So here’s how it often goes: 1) Sit down or lay down or stand or be 2) Thoughts occur 3) Thoughts consume 4) Forget importance of things like hygiene, school, and food. 5) Get hungry. 6) New thoughts consume–thoughts of greed, and disdain, and food and fat.

What happens next varies. Lately, I’ve been choosing the not so very good options of refusing to eat, throwing out what food I can and feeding more food to the dogs so that I won’t give in, or eating everything. Often these two options rotate, one after the other in a cycle of self-hatred that feeds itself until I intervene with a meal plan meal.

I’ve been asking myself recently, a lot, why I don’t just give up on recovery, and stop eating, and stop going to therapy. I could do it, though not for long. You see, they’ve got my number now. I’ve outed myself in too many ways (including this blog) and people who care about me would know immediately what was happening. Then the following things occur, in a ritualistic stripping away of the things that make me less of a patient:
1) They would make me step back up in treatment, cutting down on work hours.
2) I would have to quit my job, or go on leave.
3) I would have to cut down on classes.
4) I would have to stop going to classes completely.
5) I would be admitted to a higher level of care.

I’m writing that down primarily for selfish reasons, to remind myself that if I go back to being a patient, I lose more than weight–I lose everything. Everything that makes me, me–at least for a little while.

So it would work for a little while, but not long enough to allow me to lose enough weight, if I’m being honest. Too many people care about me more than I do (goddamn it) to let me spiral too much. This makes me both incredibly grateful, and incredibly sad.

So what’s the other option–figuring this shit out. That’s the option I’m trying my hardest to move towards, and I’ll detail that more later, as right now I have to do it and that means doing my homework as opposed to writing what I would like to write. It means taking steps towards studentdancerbaristaquilterratloverwriter Kerry instead of patient Kerry and it means trying to do instead of just trying to be.

As always, I love you all and I’m always here if you’re struggling or just need to talk.

Thanks for reading.

Distractions and Financial Responsibility

So I’m keeping on with this whole trying to post daily thing, and what I’m discovering is that I don’t have it in me to be deep and hopefully insightful every day. So for today…

I’m getting a new toy!

I’m actually very excited because tomorrow, if the weather doesn’t mess with my plans, I’m going out and getting an iPad Air 2. If anyone cares, which I doubt, I’m going with space gray and 64 GB. Related, I’m also excited because I’m adulting, and got a couple new credit cards today. They’re both from Capitol One–the Quicksilver, and the Journey cards, and the planner nerd within me is actually really excited about planning out payments, and making sure everything fits together right so that I can improve my credit score so that it’s decent for when I need it.

You see, I’m not doing too hot when it comes to recovery at the moment–I can always tell I’m kind of slipping when I latch on to a new obsession. This obsession though seems promising, as it’ll improve my financial future instead of make me spend money. I went on what people in the credit card forums (I was surprised they exist too!) call a spree, and applied for a few different credit cards upon signing up for a credit karma account and seeing that my number wasn’t where I’d like it to be. I was approved for the majority of those I applied for–the two cards I mentioned above–and now I’ve devised a sort of plan to get myself on track financially. I thought this plan might be helpful to share, as my situation isn’t that far off from any other college student, and although it might seem boring it’s actually really important to plan financially for the future. So here are my little tips–now remember, this is just my plan and what I think will work best for me. Feel free to pick and choose to create a plan that you think will be best for you. Also–remember that I’m no expert, just a college student trying to stop herself from blindly spending.

Aspect A) The bank account: So the first part of my plan will be my main bank account. This is where my paycheck is deposited. I’m going to use this account as a sort of base, as I’m trying to make use of the rewards system that comes with the credit cards.

Aspect B) The savings account: My savings account is linked to my bank account which makes it really easy to transfer money between the two. From now on though, no money will be flowing from savings–>checking. This part of my financial life isn’t as healthy as I’d like it to be, but I’m planning on growing it. What I have, and what I recommend for everyone, is a giant coin jar. It seems really simple, but if you make a commitment to every day take the change out of your wallet and put it in a jar, at the end of the month that money that you might not have touched otherwise will have added up into an amount that can grow in your savings account. Also, if you’re like me and have a job where you get tips consider putting a portion of your tips in this jar as well. That’ll help your savings grow even faster. I’m also going to kind of take stock of my money situation at the end of each month and try to transfer some money into my savings at that point if it makes sense as well.

Aspect C) My secured credit card: I have a secured card, which is generally easy for people with even no credit score to get, which I’ve been using to try and develop a credit history. This kind of card is great for college students because of a few reasons: its possible to get them, and you can’t spend what you don’t have as you need to deposit a certain amount at the get go which serves as your credit limit. Because of this, the limit is usually pretty low which keeps spending from getting out of control. As long as you try to pay off this card as you use it, and don’t keep it maxed out all the time, just paying the minimum each month, a secured card is a pretty safe way to develop a credit history. I’ll generally be keeping this card to use for emergencies, or for vet appointments and such.

Aspect D) the Quicksilver card: So this is where the fun comes in for me–I’ve been looking for a way to upgrade my iPad, but I was dreading making the actual purchase and seeing 730$ leave my bank account. I then remembered the payment plan my phone is on–the Verizon Edge plan. This plan spreads the cost of whatever you get out over 24 months and just adds that cost onto your monthly cell phone bill. My parents are angels and still cover my cell phone, but I’m now looking to get a line of my own for the iPad Air 2 with cellular. Here is where the new card comes in: my goal is ultimately to raise my credit score without going crazy with spending, which for me involves making smallish purchases on the cards and paying it off immediately. I don’t want to be carrying around cards for the same purpose all the time (which one would I use?!) so what I’m going to do is dedicate this card to the monthly bill for my new iPad Air 2. This way I’ll still be spending regularly and collecting rewards on the card, but I can predict exactly how much and when that money will be needed. So I can just pay off the card immediately after the bill comes, leaving me carrying no debt. Also, this serves as protection, as even if an emergency comes up and I’m short on cash I won’t miss a payment on the iPad.

Aspect E) the Journey card: the Journey card is a student card, which means pretty easy to get, and things that students care about like no annual fee, and a baby rewards system of 1% cash back on all purchases. If you pay on time you also get another 25% for 1.25% cash back total.  This is going to be the card that I use regularly. My plan is to pay it off completely every Saturday.

The hope is, that with all of these things in play I’ll be able to both grow my savings, and keep a check on my spending, all with minimal effort on my part. Keeping track of credit card balances is made pretty simple these days through various banking apps. If you hook up your debit card to these apps, you can set up your payments in advance too so that you have less of a chance of forgetting.

This has been a pretty boring post, but I hope its been informative and given you some ideas of your own. It seems weird to think that we need to adult already, but if you’re like me the babies and marriage photos on your Facebook feed gave you a hint already.

For me, taking control of one area of my life, especially one as important as my financial life, makes me feel better about myself, and my abilities. If I can do one complicated thing, surely I can handle them all?

Any questions, if you need to talk, or for pretty much anything, let me know.

Thanks for reading lovelies, have a nice week.

“…I have to do what?” Or: on faking discipline.

This begins as a very ironic post, as I’m writing it when I’m actually not doing what I have to do, my homework. But I read a quote the other day that’s really been stuck in my mind, about discipline. It came, again ironically, because I have a lot of things lined up that I do while procrastinating: I clean, I plan for the upcoming days, I watch Cosmos and feel tiny, I sleep sometimes, and I google how to make myself do what I should be doing. This lead to a tumblr search on discipline which brought up something that I actually liked:

tumblr_mrhz61j1GF1rleh0yo1_1280(theangryviolinist.tumblr.com)

So, I’m not going to quote the post directly because I’m not sure if I’d have to register my blog as rated M or something, but motivation’s being “fickle and unreliable”  hit home for me.

I’ve been at the intensive outpatient program that I’m in for about a year and a half, and here was why, summed up by an apparently irate violinist. Or, you could put it in the words of my lovely therapist who pointed out when we were arguing about something that I only was doing things when I felt like it–when it suited me. When I felt like making the grand ol’ leap and recovering, I would do so, only to freak myself the fuck out and back off, relapsing again. If I wanted something done, she pointed out, I would make sure that it got done. Evidently, at that point actually recovering wasn’t a priority.

I’m doing the same thing right now with my homework: I came up to do homework at 6PM. The plan was to do the homework, study, make a list of places I have to call tomorrow, and go to bed. And here I am writing to you all at 1:08 on a Monday morning. I feel like this isn’t an unusual college student experience, the whole pulling all-nighters thing. So here I am wishing for motivation to write a few paragraphs about what is in my opinion the least interesting part of Modern Dance history, when what I need to find is discipline.

I feel like I used to be good at discipline. Discipline seems like it plays a big part of many peoples’ eating disorders. It takes a lot to be starving, throw your food away and go run a few miles. But what I’m realizing now is that eating disorders like mine was at that time magically turn motivation into discipline by making weight loss the only goal, and giving you hell until you start working for it. In other words, eating disorders motivate you into eating disordered behavior by making your mind miserable until you give in. Same goes for self harm, at least in my case. Something inside your head is there, motivating you towards a behavior that you deep down don’t really want to do, giving you hell until you give in, then rewarding you by making you feel better.

So anyway, it seems like there might be a way to hack the system: find something as annoying and pervasive as “intrusive thinking” (if you want to go all psychology terminology) that motivates you towards positive things instead of self destructive behavior, and maybe you can fake discipline (or find discipline depending on your point of view) until you get into the habit of doing something that you might not always want to do.

I’m going to have to go to bed soon, and do the rest of my homework in the morning this time, but I’m going to be thinking about this and keeping you guys updated. In the spirit of my experimental psych and neuro class, I’m feeling an experiment on discipline coming up. Let me know if you have any ideas in the comments or by messaging me on Facebook–I promise I don’t bite.

As always, I’m always here if you need me–on Facebook, or on WordPress, or by email. I’ll always listen.

Thanks for reading!

You Are NOT a “Special Snowflake”

Recently I’ve become aware of how many people suffer from mental illness–part of it is because as I write this blog more people choose to come to me for help (which I love!) and partly because everyone suffers to a degree. I truly believe this. Mental health is a spectrum to me, and what I’ve seen from people since I’ve come public about my own mental illness has only supported that.

With that said: I need to point this out to people who are suffering, and please, please, please don’t hate me: YOU ARE NOT A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE BECAUSE OF YOUR MENTAL ILLNESS.

This isn’t directed at anyone in particular, more something I’ve noticed over the past year of treatment, something that I’ve experienced myself, and something that it hurts me deeply to see others suffering from. One of the ways that people are controlled by their mental illness is because it makes them feel special–like they’re the odd one out and like for some reason, they are broken in a way that no one has been before them, and so they’re separate from other people and unable to relate to them, or be comforted by them.

I’ll be listening to someone I care about speak about their thoughts, and in that I sometimes hear my own thoughts reflected. But when you let them know, “Oh yeah, I totally get where you’re coming from.” All too often the reply is something along the lines of, “Well, yeah you get it, but here’s why I’m worse…here’s why I’m different from everyone else…here’s why I’ll never get better…here’s why you can’t possibly understand.”

And I get it–when you’re suffering from mental illness, and that hell inside your head, it’s impossible to believe that others have gone through the same thing and lived to tell about it. And yes, everyone has different experiences and no one’s experienced the exact same things, but those thoughts that you think, that you think are unique because they’re so sad, or so fucked up, or so utterly awful–they’ve passed through the heads of countless people before you: I guarantee it.

I have realized through hearing countless other people talk about how their disease makes them think and feel, that nothing I’ve felt–no matter how dark, or tragic, or hopeless, is unique.

At first, this made me mad. Like some of you probably will be at me for posting this.

But your sadness does not make you special. It only makes you sad, and holds you back in life.

Your eating disorder does not give you control–it either kills you, or puts you in a situation where you are stripped of all control.

Your mental illness is not unique, it is not what makes you, you.

You are the person who kicks ass at that sport, or who can’t stop talking even when you have been all night, or who is loved by everyone around you, or who’s smile makes everyone else smile, or who drunk texts everyone “I love you”‘s. You are made up of endless quirks, and fascinations, and loveliness, and so many things and guess what? None of those things are your mental illness.

We are, all of us, living our own private lives within our minds. But let’s all stop pretending that those lives are so different from one another’s. Do you know how much I would give to tell someone that I relate to what they’re saying without hearing back,

“Well, yeah you can do that, but I can’t.”

When you tell someone something like this, at least in my experience, you give the monsters inside your head that much more power. You’re not only missing out on a chance to bond with someone over the shit you’ve both experienced (because something positive should come out of it somehow) but you’re also invalidating the other person’s experiences, and basically making them feel like a piece of shit.

And if you’re reading this, and think that I’ve talking about you, know that: A) Everyone’s friends occasionally make them feel like shit and yet they still love each other. and B) I’m not talking about you so sh–don’t worry.

And I might get shit for this, but I want to challenge the notion that everyone’s thoughts are unique because they fucking aren’t. Out of all of the people who have ever lived, and likely out of all of the people who are alive at this very moment, someone out there has thought the same things as you. And one of the only positive things about diagnoses (other than insurance–yay!) are that they make it easier to find people who understand, and who have thought those same fucked up things that you have.

So next time you rant to, or talk to someone about something that’s going on inside your head and they say, “Dude, I’ve been there, I’m sorry, I get it.” Try believing them.

Because we all think these things, we all suffer, we all get sad or lonely, some of us want to or have wanted to die, some of us can’t talk to people without freaking out, a lot of us think that we’ll never be able to actually be happy, and it’s about time we start believing each other, and let this stuff bind us together instead of isolating us inside a little bubble.

As always, I’m always here to listen, though be warned I’ll be honest.

I love you all–keep on keeping on, and thanks for reading.