Recovery Diary 04/07/19

Do you ever miss it? The release that it offered you? The sweet bliss of nothing at all? The emptiness? The shrinking? The isolation? The secrets?

I miss it sometimes. When I am alone I hear the disease whispering to me from the crevices of my mind. The eating disorder lived up there for so long it was hard to try and board up every single entry way, impossible actually. It’s shadows and ghosts are reminders of what I used to be.

I miss it sometimes. I miss being sick, being small, being able to escape the responsibilities that come with adulthood through the secrecy of starvation. Emptiness sounds alluring when my anxieties and thoughts are more than I believe I can handle.

But I only miss it. That’s all. I look back at the disease with it alluring eyes and attractive whispers and turn away. I go to sleep and wake up the next day and the next day and the next, each making the decision to let the past rest.

The missing becomes less powerful over time. I never believed it would when I first walked into recovery. The grief was unbearable. It left me doubled over on the floor, clutching at the new flesh on my stomach, pinching my skin in hatred, and sobbing over the loss of the tool that allowed me to shrink. I had to become someone. I had to make the choice between becoming and dying. I chose to live, but in order for that to happen a part of me died in the process. Choosing life equaled the painful process of undoing, which looked like lying doubled over on the floor sobbing over the cellulite clinging to my bones.

I killed the part I miss. I killed the demons, let them to starve away in agony as I laid on the floor and cried about their death, but the ghosts of my past self still whisper to me, reminding me of what I did to them. Reminding me how I let them go.

I miss the eating disorder so much sometimes I have to lock myself in my room and hold my head between my hands and clutch my eyes shut and silently scream and tense up my body and wait in that position until I can catch a breath. Then I open the door, walk out, and leave the missing where it is supposed to be; behind.

Recovery Diary 3/1/19

In honor of NEDA’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week theme “come as you are”

Come as you are

broken and bruised, triumphant and free, or tired and used

Come as you are

black, brown, white, red, or yellow

Come as you are

straight, gay, trans

Jew, Muslim, Buddhist

whatever you may choose   

Come as you are

because eating disorders don’t discriminate

and in order to beat them

we must stop perpetuating stereotypes

eating disorders aren’t thin

or fat

or small

or big

or medium

or just right in the middle without a change to be seen

eating disorder’s aren’t about throwing up or running miles

they aren’t about scales or doctor’s visits or treatment stays that take a long long while.

eating disorders aren’t female, aren’t young, aren’t white, aren’t thin

eating disorder’s attack everywhere

but until now we’ve been to blind to the true monster

somewhere deep deep within

the monster is insidious

it feeds on confidence and freedom

sucking it all out and leaving its victim completely depleted

the monster takes lives

more than my fingers can count

there was him and her and her and him and them and them,  

and next year deaths will start all over again….

eating disorders are killers

they are monsters we can’t see

society has blinded us

convincing us to believe

that the victims are of a certain type

that they fit the medias mold

but people are dropping fast

because it is opposite of what we have been told

eating disorders don’t look like one person

they could affect anyone on the street

we need to start a movement

instead of turning our cheeks

to the epidemic ahead

we must bring voices and stories and a whole lot of noise

we must continue sharing to break societal molds

shout it from the rooftops

speak it on the trains

if you have or have had an eating disorder don’t fight your battle in shame

we are here

we are aware

because for once we know we aren’t alone

for once we can come

Just are We Are  

 

Recovery Diary 2/27/19

 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

I didn’t know eating disorder awareness week existed until I went to treatment. Treatment changed me, opened me up to ideas, movements, advocacy, and hope. It showed me the army of people fighting on the other side of this disease, which is an illness I convinced myself for many years I didn’t have. This week gives me, as well as all those who have struggled or know someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, to share their stories. If there is anything I have learned in my fight for recovery, it’s that sharing my story is my greatest weapon against darkness because it gives me the opportunity to connect. With connection comes community and with community comes healing.

This eating disorder awareness week, I am writing my first post on a beach in Cambodia. I am on a remote island off the southern coast that doesn’t have roads, ATM’s, or modern conveniences Westerners are used to – like hot water or toilet paper. Last night I was reading a memoir about all the pain the Cambodian people have endured from the genocide that ravaged the country in the 1970-80’s. Then suddenly I got sick, like really sick. I was on the floor shaking, cold, clammy, with a twisting stomach. I blamed it on the water, yellow with rust that I brushed my teeth in earlier, but part of me wondered if it the sickness was not brought on by empathy. Empathy and heartbreak for a people so broken, hurt, and traumatized. I look out at the beautiful crystal clear waters and can hardly conceptualize the juxtaposition between the beauty and the horror of the people. It makes me feel sick.

I feel the same way when I think about mental illness. In using Thailand’s slogan, the two are “same, same, but different”. I don’t know genocide. I don’t know war. I don’t know outward inflicted starvation. I do, however, know epidemics. I do know internal war. I do know self-inflicted starvation. People all over the world are experiences hardships that tear them down and bring them towards the brink of all they know.

Nevertheless, it’s eating disorder awareness week and I feel obligated to reflect on my own journey, but this year I don’t exactly want to. Instead, I want to reflect on recovery. Recovery is not following a meal plan to a tee, or exercising the exact amount allotted to you by a dietitian. It is not eating one slice of cake on your birthday or adding cream one time to your coffee. These are all steps towards recovery because each small step leads us in the direction of recovery. But, at the end of the day this isn’t recovery. I feel as if I have the right to say this because I used to believe these actions equaled recovery. Maybe they do for some, but I have come to uncover a whole different meaning of the word.

New year’s eve of 2017 I made a choice. I drove myself home to Chicago, all alone in a car, confused and heartbroken, but determined to never allow my eating disorder to overtake my life again. Now, I have had moments of recovery epiphanies where I am elated at the idea of getting better and moving forward towards health, but this was different. This was a tired, beat, and surrendering moment. It was a lone decision, a quiet determination made by a very emotionally stricken girl. Yet, here I am over a year later and I can say with confidence that my eating disorder was not a part of the last year and two months. There were hard days, but never more than that. Emotions were tumultuous and I was sad and confused at the beginning, but recovery was what I decided to achieve so recovery was where I was headed.

Generally people who have eating disorders are incredibly intelligent and determined. We are stubborn and strong-willed, detail oriented, and fiercely compassionate. All of these traits, when channeled in the right direction, can powerfully propel us towards complete freedom – if we are only to switch the goal from shrinking to freedom.

In the past year I have accomplished little in societies eyes, but that’s not the point. The point is how much I have accomplished internally, how much happiness and freedom have I been able to channel.  So as I think back on all my adventures of scuba diving, yoga teacher training, country hoping, dating, falling in love, and eating good food, I’d say that I am in recovery. I have reached a point that I never dreamed was possible. I mean I had coffee with icing in it at breakfast today and Pringles and Oreos for breakfast yesterday – if that says anything. 😉

 

Recovery Diary 2/09/19

I’m 13 hours ahead of everyone back home. Saturday is ending, while in Chicago the sun just came up. Time is a warped concept that leaves me feeling upside down and backwards, never quite knowing what to make of its strange and twisted factors. The half-moon is in three days. The tides are slowly receding with the moon’s magnetic pull. More and more of the sandy beach becomes exposed each evening as I walk, toes shifting, hands swatting mosquitoes, back to my bungalow. The moon is in outer-space. Outer-space holds all the stars that are above my head. There’s Leo and Capricorn and Cancer and even, my Scorpio shining high above my head. I’m so small and the world is so big and time is even bigger and I get lost in the complexities of all that is around me….

Then I walk inside. I open the door to the bungalow, turn on the fan, and grab my towel to shower. My mind switches from the wonder of the stars and moon to the worries of critique and judgement. I have teacher’s fright big time here on the island. I stay up for hours before I teach a yoga class worry and obsessing over everything I could do wrong. I mediate and do my best to calm my mind, but then somehow my dreams turn back towards the anxieties that await with the sunrise. Even my subconscious gives me little rest. I sent over photographs and a video to the boss of the dive shop I am working with, feeling inadequate with each file I uploaded, doubting my abilities, doubting my projects. If I didn’t receive jaw-dropping amazement as feedback, I wrote everything else off as a failure. Black and white. Anxious and self-deprecating. This was my dark-side.

Then I walk inside. I open the door to the bungalow, turn on the fan, and grab my towel to shower. I make jokes through the door with my partner and listening to the faint rustle of the waves in the distance. My thoughts are preoccupied but my soul is at ease. My body is content, browned and freckled by the intense Thailand sun. My knees and hips are scrapped from the playful waterfalls I have climbed, the rocks I have slipped on, and the current I fell down. The very tip of my nose is red from a tropical kiss too harsh. My feet as worn and blistered from my stubbornness to never drive a motorbike. My body is content. My body is home here. The stars stay in my soul, flickering deep within as I shave one calf and then the other. Scorpio’s nature pulses through my bones and the fading moon phases fascinate my spirit. My soul is at home here. This is my light-side.

I carry around two selves. My mental illness is a part of me and I believe it always will. I can’t turn back time and rewrite the past. I take the past, kiss it on the forehead, then put it in my back pocket and move forward with my life. My eating disorder used to be larger than my light-side. It used to be a monster that controlled everything I did. There was no room to hear what the soul or body had to say, the mind was constantly running the show. But, over the years I have learned how to starve the beast. Ignore its presence and begin to move on with my life. Therefore, as time passed the monster grew smaller and smaller until it was small enough for me to pluck it off the ground and shove into my back pocket. I have two selves, but one is much smaller than the other. The dark-side, this small self, sits in my back pocket. Every once in a while the monster with poke me in the butt, reminding me of my insecurities as an artist, yoga teacher, or simply as a human being. Every once in a while the dark-side will follow me into the shower and ransack my brain while my body and soul are deeply connected with the earth around.

This complex order of things, the two selves, the diminishing of the dark and its periodic resurrection, reminds me of time. It reminds me of my inability to understand the layers, the concept, the complex order of things. As human beings were are complicated creatures, we have so many depths to our nature. It is arrogant to believe I will ever figure it all out. So for tonight, I am content with recognizing that my mind is busy flirting with darkness while my body and soul are thriving in the light – such is the duality of life, the dialectic of the entire order of things.

Recovery Diary 01/11/19

Sometimes life takes you in its grips, twirls you around, and leaves you dazed and confused about what day, time, or month you are living in. I haven’t written consistently in two months or so, and I feel this intense loosening of my spirit. Disconnection has become a consistent friend. My legs feel as if they are walking on air, not quite grounded to the floor beneath my feet. It’s not dissociation. I tell my therapist this over and over. I know dissociation. It comes and goes like the rising and falling of the waves. I will not deny tasting its sweet numbness once or twice over the last months, but this disconnection is different. I am not disconnected from life. I am disconnected from the passage of time. Rather than checking out from my emotional experiences or denying myself the space to truly experience life, I am totally and completely in it. Each day is a day. Not a battle. Not a struggle, but a day. I haven’t fantasized about relapses, obsessively planned out my meals, or found ways to sabotage the good things in my life.

“I am simply fine,” I told my therapist.

“What do you mean by fine?” she asked.

“I finally feel like a normal person,” I answered.

Normalcy and stability are foreign concepts to me. I assumed a position of operating in a constant state of crisis. I lived off the rocky grounds in which mental illness forced me to walk. Running away from problems and numbing the positive experiences in my life became habitual. A reflex of sorts, my default or guide on how to deal with life. I lacked the capacity to hold any sort of emotion. It was too unpredictable. It threatened my semblance of control. Therefore, to have months where I float from one day to the next, unthreatened or phased by the experiences at hand, became strange. The reality is that within these last two months, I haven’t paused to question this new state of being. I was consumed in living. Between dating, dinners, parties, trips, work, art-making, and so much more, my time was filled. Who was I to stop to question the way things were unfolding?

The new year gives us the space for reflection. We are bombarded with new year’s resolutions, diet and weight loss goals as well as endless ways which people claim they are going to improve themselves. Since finding recovery, I have taken the approach of setting intentions for the new year rather than goals. As part of my healing process, I have learned to challenge these beliefs that I am not okay where I am right now, that I need to improve or better myself in certain ways. Intentions seem to offer a much more compassionate approach to the new year. For 2019, I have chosen the word JOY to meditate on. I have chosen JOY as a direct reaction to these last two months of life. As I find more and more freedom within my days to simply be, so too does my level of joyousness increase. I want to lean into this carefree spirit that I was naturally born with so that I may continue to invite JOY into my days.

Now, I don’t want to bullshit anyone. Not everything has been rainbows and sunshine. Every day has ups and downs. Let’s be real, there is no high without the occasional low. 2019 began with a cop pulling me over at 12:30am. Not even 30 minutes into the new year and I already was having to challenge my negative emotions and remind myself of my intention I had set not even an hour earlier.

“It’s a bad omen,” I said through tears the rest of the way home.

“It’s a personal challenge,” my boyfriend told me.

Life is funny that way, challenging you, giving you constant opportunities to strengthen your personal ability to succeed. Here we are now a week into the new year and my living environment has gone from neutral to hostile. One roommate has decided that screaming battles, passive aggressive actions such as slamming a loud vacuum against my door while I am sleeping, and mocking me on speaker phone are appropriate reactions to a simple confrontation about needing her to help out with the cleaning schedule. At this point, all I can do is laugh – hopefully with the universe – at how blatantly opposing these situations are to my intention of JOY.  How am I supposed to find JOY in the midst of fights and traffic tickets? The answer I have come up with is this – by being grateful that I am far enough into my recovery to handle these situations without my eating disorder. And right now, this answer is more than enough for me.

Recovery Diary 10/29/18

Stick with it. It gets better. Trust me. -Note to self

Everything is different moment by moment. Things peak and then crash each time I open my mouth to breathe. My lungs are unstable pipe bombs that vacillate between filling with fire or cotton, leaving me to either breathe out sparks or clouds. Waking up usually begins with a neutral emotional radar, one in which there is no attachment to how the day is going to pan out. But, then somewhere along the passing moments I feel my thighs rub together or my stomach crinkle into a cascade of rolls. Something, anything – a memory, a song, a smell- could set off the pipe bombs of my lungs. Then I breathe out fire and heat and rage and despair. Internally I spiral, slowly unwinding everything I knew to be truth only moments before. Everything becomes bleak and hopeless and relapse feels like my only option. I become flooded with memories and past mistakes. I am haunted by the voices of past selves whispering of my worthlessness and failures. Essentially I explode. My lungs pop, ricocheting debris and destruction through my throat and out my mouth. Through my eyes, the entire room crumbles, I melt, and everyone around sees this dramatic decline, but, in reality, it’s invisible. The whole explosion that is causing my complete emotional breakdown, only I can see. I am alone. Completely alone in a war that no one knows anything about. And that is worse than swallowing your own bombs.

I could open my mouth. Tell those who love me when I am at war. Explain to them what it feels like, how I am truly doing, what is going on inside my brain. But it feels like betrayal. Betrayal of my mind, my recovery, and most importantly their trust because bombs go off all the time. I don’t know when the bombs will be triggered. I can’t predict why, who, or what will cause the warfare. So, fear keeps me from believing that loved ones won’t be overly worried when they discover how violent my internal experience can still be. I believe that they believe that things are now calm, neutral, and stable- which they are in comparison to where I have come from. I have moved from the front lines to- I don’t know- an army base, one that is targeted regularly but not under an immediate death threat? But that’s the reality of recovery from any addiction. It’s a constant battle and I’m not sure that anyone who has not walked through the struggle could understand. It’s not hopeless. Those of us in recovery know this. It’s not always bleak and dark. But, how can you explain that war isn’t always terrible? There are moments of joy, freedom, love, community, confidence, and hope. Even soldiers find a family away from home. They eat meals together, they find the joy of the sunshine. There is a sense of accomplishment when they go to bed at night because, hey, they lived. They lived another day. Addicts, when we lie down sober from our addictive behaviors, we feel the same. We lived. We lived another day without destroying ourselves.

As the months pass and I get farther into recovery, I start to forget I am at war. I believe that one day the war will come to an end, that true freedom comes when the my flag is planted into the ground and all my demons retreat. I kill more with each passing day. I become stronger. My enemies grow more fearful. The war has been going on for so long, but I am finally on the winning side. Some demons are even converting and beginning to fight on my behalf. Even they are tired. We all just want some peace. Peace comes sometimes now. I think you innately begin to manifest the things you desire most.

Peace comes in the form of car rides with the windows down and the music up loud. Joy is when Erik and I dance through the streets at night in the rain critiquing societal standards simply by being alive. Freedom comes during midnight custard runs or pie parties with my roommates. The brick wall that kept me from life is breaking down. I am getting more and more tastes of the other side. This is why the moments where my lungs explode and fall deeply into myself through a battle of fury and rage are bearable. I take them with stride. I welcome them in the same ways I have learned to greet rejection.

One more battle with my mind brings me one step closer to total freedom in recovery.

Recovery Diary 09/24/18

Sounds of a rushing stream trickle out of my phone, trying to trick my brain into thinking I’m not actually in my bedroom on the third floor of an apartment complex in downtown Chicago. My roommate isn’t vacuuming and my downstairs neighbors aren’t blasting shitty pop music. It’s the illusion of calm- the roaring fan blowing cold air, the phone singing of rushing water, the candles flickering offering up vanilla and toasted coconut. I trick my mind into believing I’m somewhere in the forest burning incense and sleeping under the stars while my mind tricks me into believing I am fat, unwanted, and all alone. It’s a trade-off, an unwritten contract, an agreement made some time ago that neither of us can seem to let go of. It’s a habit at this point, one that I am slowly trying to break.

It’s like trying to stop biting your nails. At first, you don’t even realize you’re doing it until your thumb is between your teeth and the top part of the nail is ripped off. Awareness is the first step. I tell this to the girls I work with all the time. We don’t want to hear that because it suggests that the process standing in front of us is far more intense than we expected. But, awareness is the first step. It was and always will be my fall back point. I find myself day-dreaming about losing weight, I light the candles. I start heading towards the scale at the gym, I listen to the stream in my headphones. I lie in bed reminiscing on depressed thoughts, I turn on the fan and allow myself to fall asleep and reset.

I trick my mind to keep my mind from tricking me. I used to believe it was a trade-off, a balanced relationship, one that would always leave me on the same level as my mental illnesses. I thought recovery was just about managing symptoms and thoughts and behaviors. Take my meds, eat my food, go to therapy, wash, rinse, and repeat.

I started to lose track of the days, but somewhere through the last couple of months I have risen above the tricks of my mind. I have found ways around them. Awareness became planning and planning became actions towards fighting back. The sounds of the stream, the candles, the fan, my art, my books, my snacks, the pool, the medication in my cabinet- these aren’t tricks anymore. These things are my safety net. They make me feel safe when my mind is a battleground. I have found weapons to quiet the cannons and gunshots. I know the secret now. Sometimes I just forget I have the tools.

Recovery Diary 09/16/18

When I was in Costa Rica in February, everyone gathered on the beach with drums and ribbons to dance, howl, and sing as the sun set. There was a loud roar from the entire crowd when the sun made its final descent along the horizon. When the party slowly faded and the sky turned from pink to purple, we all packed up and started filed like little ants back into our tents in the forest before it got too dark to see anything.

When I was in Thailand in June, we sat on the beach singing mantras and strumming guitars while lying on our backs in a circle. We sang louder and howled as the sky turned pink and the sun dipped away for the night. We stayed on the beach until twilight and the mosquitoes became unbearable. Then we went back to our bungalows, made curry, and danced with our host families young daughter.

Today, I was sitting on a deck in Key Largo watching the sun set over the ocean’s horizon line while listening to Tash Sultana and laughing with my best friends. We smiled and argued over whose picture captured the sky’s beauty the best- even though the pictures were nearly the same. Then we sat in rocking chairs and talked nonsense before coming inside to prepare for tomorrow’s day full of adventures.

Nighttime tends to be the most difficult for me. It is the time when urges are heightened and nightmares come to life behind my close eyelids. It is where I lie in the dark afraid of the hurt child inside me. It is when my stomach is bloated from a day’s food and I take another sleep aid to try and calm my racing mind- which has suddenly convinced me that I am nothing but cellulite. The dark brings the demons out in me. The shadows of the night and the demons from my past are best friends. The speak to one another underneath the black sky like old lovers- embracing and precious.

Some nights are full of tender moments. Moments that make my soul smile and my heart race. Like last night when my friend and I stayed at this man’s house in Coco beach. It was just a room that he rented out for $25 a person. He was older and single. He said he gets lonely and likes meeting interesting people. There was another guy staying in the back room. We all chatted, ate rice and beans, watched Avatar, and swam in the pool. The night was peaceful. It was free of the voices in my head. But I woke up the next day to my friend telling me I kept hitting and pushing her away in my sleep. I shrugged it off, but there was a sinking in my stomach. Even on nights where I believe the peace I always pray for has finally overtaken the demons, I am reminded of those memories in my head.

“Nightmares…I have nightmares sometimes,” I explain, “I’m sorry.” Suddenly I am embarrassed and hurry to finish Charles’s dishes.

I don’t want people to know I still struggle.

I am still hesitant about breaking the illusion of perfection in recovery.

Two nights ago I was in the forest, dancing to Ben Howard at midnight in this room called the Glass Castle. As the music continued, the harder I danced. There was passion pouring out of fingers, anger expelling from my feet. I felt powerful. I felt so damn powerful. Then the music stopped. I noticed the sweat covering my legs and stomach. I noticed the dark. I laid down. I closed my eyes and listened as the next song began. I sang along, humming mainly because I didn’t know the words. A peace rushed over me. A sensation of gratitude and longing. Longing for time to bend and swallow me into this memory. Everything just felt right because while completely encapsulated by the music and night, it all made sense.

Recovery, like everyone always says, is not linear. There are ups and downs, twists and turns. Sometimes you go left when the map wanted you to take a right, but you get rerouted and everything turns out in the end- if only you keep moving. But, recovery is so much more than that.

Recovery is simply life.

The sunsets, the nightmares at Charles’s, the dancing in the forest, these were all moments that reminded me what it means to be human. You have these divine realizations of the beauty of each passing day, the celebration with communities about the coming night and the promise of the next sunrise. You have dark moments like the nightmares that keep you grounded. They remind me where I come from. They remind me of my strength, of my resilience, of my continued hope. Then there is the dancing and the freedom of my movements. The sweat, the heavy breathing, the music, the ground beneath my body, and the intensely black forest sky above my head- these are the moments of understanding. These are the moments when this crazy recovery journey I have been on, for a second, appears in my mind as a cohesive narrative.

 

 

Recovery Diary 09/12/18

It’s 8pm but it feels like 2am because I spent all of last night tapping my foot against the wall and counting the shadowy lines through the window panes. I’m in Florida, somewhere in the woods, in a cabin by a underground cave that I’ll be scuba diving tomorrow. I love it. I love the taste of adventure fresh on the tip of my tongue and the promise of the water that the next sunrise is going to bring, but I also struggle, even on vacations, even on adventures.

I forgot all of my medication in Chicago. I realized it at 11pm last night and my heart sank. Of all things, of all the damn things I could have forgotten, it had to be the medicine. The one thing that isn’t easily accessible to me when I am driving around the southern forests looking for random caves to jump in to. I had to make frantic calls and find a CVS the next morning. I felt nauseous from the lack of medication last night and my heart was racing because I didn’t take the pill that keeps the arrhythmia at bay.

I have a chill personality, but a racing mind. I have so many ideas and thoughts and plans and dreams that jump behind my eyelids with each passing moment. The tree on my left inspired a short story playing out behind my right eyelid while the song in my ear plays a modern dance piece behind my other eye. Call it the syndrome of a creative. Call it the artist’s madness. Call it whatever you want, but there are moments where I lose it. Not externally, no externally I have never been calmer, but internally I am a bucket of boiling lava that is raging a war against my intestines and throat.

I started making a list of all the things I needed to accomplish when I got home. At what point did my racing thoughts turn from creative to anxiety? I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps somewhere between arguing with the pharmacist and incessantly calling my psychiatrist hoping that she would call back. But, there was a switch and suddenly the adventures of my friend and I in the forest, scuba diving, and camping in tree houses became an obsessive search of the vaccines I never got and what diseases I am now going to die from. I don’t know why, of all things to worry about, vaccines popped into my head. Maybe because I had been dealing with doctors to try and figure out my medication? Who knows why the mind does what it does? But either way, I googled Walgreen’s clinics next to me and tried to make an appointment. I mean, might as well go in tomorrow so that I don’t worry for my entire trip right? Plus if I wait another day before being vaccinated, I could be infected tomorrow and I’d never forgive myself.

The mind is a crazy machine. It needs to be carefully watched and attuned or else it may run rampant and convince you that you should spend your time in rural Florida searching for a Walgreen’s clinic instead of diving the underwater cave 100 yards from your cabin.

Flash forward to passing out around 8:45pm and waking up to the 90 degree heat of the morning. Flash forward to a night’s rest and the magic of sleep. Sleep has a remarkable ability to reset the mind and challenge my irrational thoughts, worries, and obsessions.  I decided the mix of sleep deprivation and forgetting my medication resulted in the panic. I’m sure anyone reading this would have been able to figure that one out. But when you’re trapped in that moment, everything feels so real, so heavy, so extreme.

Yesterday was a day heightened by anxiety. Today was a day enlightened by adventure.

Diving into that cave…breathtaking.

The thrill of swimming through those smalls crevices…heart-stopping.

The beauty of the pictures….unexplainable.

The moments…cherished.

Recovery Diary 09/09/18

There’s a certain euphoria that accompanies watching the water. The bend, curves, and movement of the droplets each have their own personality. To imagine all these little drops of water dancing together to make up such an amazing example of the order of everything, is mesmerizing. I have and always will be enchanted by the water. We have a love for one another that is unexplainable, but the relationship doesn’t exists among words because the connection does not make sense in this reality. It is a spiritual bond. I feel it in the smile on my face, the kiss of coolness of my skin, and the beauty of the dance of the waves.

The waves are huge tonight. The water is angry. It crashes and screams against the concrete barrier which I am sitting on. The wind howls and the sky is grey giving the water a greenish hue. The crashes echo into the air creating a melody so sweet and powerful, I can’t help laugh along. The water dots my cheeks and I giggle with each touch. Suddenly I am a small child experiencing everything for the first time. There is a magic in these moments and I am completely at peace.

My mood shifts as quickly as the water’s waves. Just minutes before as I was driving towards the water, I felt on the verge of tears. There was a deep rooted darkness spreading rapidly in my gut up towards my throat, leaving me silent and uncomfortable. Now here, everything feels like complete bliss. I am light and clear and the darkness has shrunk once more. My voice returns in the form of laughter and joy. I no longer feel connected to the dark figure that road here along with me.

These mood swings have been happening frequently over the last couple of weeks. I am riding them out, which is a new concept for me. Before I would jump headfirst into the darkness, believing its lies as I slowly drown into self-hatred.  But that cycle didn’t work, it never worked, it never will work so I am trying something different. It’s called waiting. And waiting and waiting and waiting with the hope that something will change. Of course, I do other things- coping skills as the professionals would say. Meditation, yoga, art, music, and lots and lots of reading. These skills are supposed to turn things around, lighten my moods, make me feel less dark and heavy. Maybe it does help, but the change is so slight that I don’t notice. I suppose I believe in the change because I keep doing these skills and waiting for things to turn around.

But nothing the professionals have taught me compares to gentle hug I receive from the water.  I find myself commonly singing around my apartment the soundtrack to Moana, “I’ve been staring at the water…” and so on. My roommates and boyfriend laugh at it, but they too know. They know that I am, in fact, just like Moana. I feel this connection with the ocean deeper than any connection on land. It gives me joy by simply being by its side. I am a child in love for the first time. It calls to me, sings to me, talks to me, and suddenly I am the hippy grandmother from Moana dancing on the beach while the manta rays encircle me.

My name means Lady of the Sea. Is it the ultimate irony? Have I unconsciously adopted the love for the ocean because I knew the meaning of my name from a young age? Or was this name meant to be, specifically chosen to me from some spiritual realm unknown, at the time, by my parents? We all can believe our own answers to these questions. I don’t dwell on them. I just love that even my name points me towards the water. What a gift, what a friend, what a complete punch in the face to the loneliness that my demons spill upon me.

I sit and watch. I close my eyes and allow the mist of the waves kiss my cheeks. I say a prayer. I meditate. I film the crashing of the water against the concrete. And then I leave. I leave knowing that I will be back, tomorrow and the next day and every day after that.

I leave knowing if I continue to nurture this love, no darkness will ever overcome me again.