Recovery Diary 08/26/18

Classical music in the early mornings is not a foreign concept. It feels repetitive; meditative. It puts me in a trance able to ease racing thoughts and any bodily discomfort. Mornings are a time of reflection to sit and think, think, and think some more. Mornings are sacred. Mornings consist of mediation, reading, writing, and quietly staring off into the distance allowing creativity to scream loud and exciting thoughts into these commonly absent ears.

I paint a lot. I draw a lot. I write a lot. I read a lot. Does that make me an artist? Everyone is an artist is my response every time someone calls me one. I say this because I want so badly to be an artist that I am afraid of being one. Does that make sense? It is staring at the gold medal at the Olympics, afraid to take it out of the announcers hand because once it touches your fingers it is all real. Everything you worked for is real.

I had a dream last night that I was in the Olympics. I was an aerialist. They don’t have that sport in the Olympics, but behind my close eyelids the competition was very real. I was the best so naturally everyone hated me. I was ostracized from the team and forced to train on my own. Despite all odds, I won…? I actually woke up just before the results were in. I finished the dream for myself. I got the gold. All the hard work paid off. I took the medal. I touched the gold. I allowed that dream to be achievable.

I’ve always been drawn towards seemingly impossible goals. When someone says I wish I could just do ______, I automatically want to do that thing. I want to prove to them and to myself that whatever they have deemed unachievable in their mind is actually within arm’s reach. Go do it! Go do it! I always want to scream in people’s faces, but that would be rude and uncalled for and so I bite my tongue and let them vent about all the things that want to do in life but never will.

I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to do whatever is on my budget list. I want to be open to changes in my goals, to growth along the way. I never want to lose my determined spirit. I want, I want, I want… damn I want a lot of things.

Meditation helps me let go of all these racing ideas and thoughts. I need to be more present is what my therapist tells me. I’m motivated she say, which is good, but sometimes it’s okay to just be. Yesterday I tried to just be. I didn’t know what to do so I sat on my bed and listened to classical music and read. I don’t think I give myself enough credit for how present I can be. Each morning is filled with meditative and present rituals.

I like to write unconsciously, spilling all the thoughts onto paper as if to help sort them out. But, sometimes they don’t need sorting. Sometimes they are fine just the way they are.

Recovery Diary 08/21/18

(a late night poem about the beauty industry and all the lies it throws our way…)

you take three steps forward

before jumping headfirst into a pit of cement

that you read in an ad was supposed to be a shower of

lilies,

rainbows,

and unicorns

you drive to the ER

with a mosaic of red between your eyes

you take a picture

you post a comment on the ad

and become the perfect pinnacle of sacrifice

beauty is pain

no pain no gain

what are you gaining

the ER nurse doesn’t understand that

you were just showered in lilies,

rainbows,

and unicorns

you jumped into a pile of cement

the nurse is relentless

you show the nurse the picture

they get it now

everyone gets it

after all

only an idiot would jump into a pile of cement

Recovery Diary 08/17/18

The rain starts lightly, like the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard. Pitter pattering across the roof, the windows, the lamp posts, the streets. It coats the asphalt in a sheer sheet of glass making something so strong, delicate, slippery, and misleading. The night crept up on me. The daylight was swallowed in sleep, tears, and pages of other’s stories. I don’t understand the stirring, twisting, gnawing pain in my gut that keeps me prisoner to my bed. It hurts. It hurts worse than it has in months. This year was nearly free of this sickness, this knot in my gut, and yet here it is back with vengeance.

I still have bad days.

“You’re depressed, PTSD can manifest in this way sometimes. It is just flaring up right now. Be patient with yourself,” professionals tell me through concerned stares and scribbling pencils.

“I’m broken,” I explain.

There is a leak in my gut and insecurities, shame, rejection; they are all pouring in. I am slowly drowning in my own body. The leak, the crack, the hole in my gut, it’s real, it’s real, it’s so damn real I can hardly breathe because my lungs are filling with the liquid of my tears and my heart is weighed down by a thousand bricks of all the things that should have been said. Do I even matter? The demons creep back in spewing lies into my mind. Life starts to shrivel and the world becomes a pin hole that I no longer fit in. I want to disappear, I whisper under my breath as I fade into another dream. I want to be far away from all this pain, all this suffering, this sickness that will not go away.

“When did you start feeling this way again?”

Of course, the therapist would ask me. If she didn’t what was her degree for in the first place? This is a business arrangement, a chair worth thousands of dollars to help make me better. The cushion is sewn in my dollar bills pulled from my throat of hard work and perseverance.

“Just this week I think,” I explain.

I can’t remember because when the demons come, the days blur together. Colors melt and it all looks grey. Voices are muffled by the watery tears flooding my lungs all the way to my ear channel.

What have you been doing to manage all this pain? The therapist is relentless.

I roll my eyes, “living.”

I live, I live, and I live. I want to shout at her empty smile and plastic red lips. Living is getting up and eating and bathing and going to work on time and paying bills and getting gas. I text back, I hang out with friends, I do what is required because what the fuck I supposed to do? Living is all that I know because at the end of the day I am a creature and creatures know one thing for sure: how to survive. I am in recovery. I remind myself. Sometimes all you are going to feel you can do is survive. The feelings will pass. I hope they will pass.

Flash forward to Monday morning, waking up early, drinking coffee, eating breakfast, listening to music, and writing. I am smiling as the sun rises. I am looking up the next country I will travel to.

It’s night and day. Yin and yang. Dark and light. I have many persons, many demons and many angels all within me. One day might be a rain shower of bullet casings and the next a sunrise of unicorns. I’m not broken. I’m just figuring myself out and, actually, I am okay with that.

Recovery Diary 08/14/18

My alarm went off at 7 and I didn’t wake up until 9:25. I was supposed to leave at 9. I don’t know why I am oversleeping every day this week. When I was in my eating disorder, I would be lucky if I slept past 6. I was always restless, agitated, and running around doing a million things because doing everything was far better than sitting with my own thoughts. But here I am staying up late with enough energy to talk, watch movies, read, and write. Here I am beginning to feel like a normal human- what a weird and foreign concept to someone in recovery.

I was late so I grabbed a cliff bar, granola bar, and water to eat/drink in the car. I had some coffee with cream and sugar- a new recovery phenomenon for me. At noon I was asked if I would want to go grab pizza. I panicked. I hadn’t had any food- in my disordered mind- that had any nutritional value today. I needed a smoothie, or a salad, a quinoa bowl perhaps, or one of those insta posts of a colorful plate of veggies- #recovery? This of course is a lie that my mind was telling me because all food is processed and used by our bodies. Our bodies are well oiled machines that are a whole lot smarter than the logic our disordered minds try to use to define their functioning. And guess what? Our bodies function better when we allow them to have what they truly want to have. These days even when the panic sets in around certain foods, I try my best to push past. I know that to give into those panicked thoughts would strengthen the muscles I don’t want anything to do with. I want to be toned by authenticity, normalcy, and freedom not from hours in the gym or a million Buddha bowls. I want peace. All I have ever wanted was some peace. In simpler terms, that meant I needed to get the effing pizza.

Pizza and real soda because to get diet soda would be an eating disorder win and I am not in the business of losing. I am competitive by nature. I want to win. I want to beat this disease that, for so many years, has taken over my mind. So, real soda is a must and not just any real soda, but Root Beer. This is a childhood favorite that I never was allowed to have. Now, I have it when I want. Soda is bad for you. This nagging voice, these lying thoughts trickle in forcing me to hesitate when picking out the drink.  So is self-punishment and restricting my life, I internally yell back to the voice as I grab the harmless Root Beer.  Yes. Another win. Like I said, I am not in the business of losing.

Don’t get me wrong, these decisions to get what I want are hard as hell. I have to aim, fire, and shoot at the eating disorder multiple times throughout the day. The difference now is that the eating disorder doesn’t have a chance. I am pulverizing it. Devouring its very existence. The eating disorder is dying with each passing day because I have been in enough therapy. I know too much about recovery to not fall into recovery. I can’t unlearn all the skills and coping mechanisms that I have been taught. I have, in a way, been brainwashed into recovery. I have no choice, but to choose freedom. For this very fact, I will be eternally grateful to all of the therapists, dieticians, and fellow patients that have helped brainwash me along the way. With the help of a mini army, I have been given the gift of freedom.

 

 

A Grateful Heart

Written by: Marcela Sabía, contributing writer.  Follow more of her journey at marcelailustra.com, or on her Instagram, @marcelailustra.

The other day I posted on my Instagram story, welcoming hundreds of new followers. I was moved and inspired. Three years ago I had less than 1,000 followers and was starting over in nearly every area of my life. I no longer had a relationship, my business, or the stability I was accustomed to. Going to therapy in the midst of this uncertainty allowed me to reconnect with an old hobby: drawing. This reconnection led me to the decision to share and invest in my art.  When I first chose an illustration to post on my Instagram, I wondered if anyone would like my artwork or would even consider paying for any of my pieces. When people asked me what my job was, I stuttered – illustrator? With insecurity mounting, I couldn’t bring myself to believe I had the talent or experience to consider myself a professional.

Today, as I write this post and reflect on the number of people who follow along with my journey and the countless clients I have worked for, my heart is flooded with gratitude. Gratitude for life, for my love of art, for my ability to share and connect with others, for having met so many wonderful people who saw in me some kind of inspiration and supported the work I do with such dedication. After a lot of difficulties and uncertainties, I shared and achieved and dared to be vulnerable. Now, I am able to use my illustrations to inspire and connect.  For all this, I will be eternally grateful.

And while I am grateful for this part of my journey, I also believe gratitude must be present in our daily actions, in the little things. Even though we have not yet arrived where we want to be, we need to appreciate all the hands that are extended to us and all the little joys we find along the way. We always have reasons to be grateful, and it is an exercise rooted in happiness and self-love.

Thank you universe – for what has already passed and for what is yet to come.

 

To check out Marcela’s artwork, visit her website at marcelailustra.com.  

Featured image source.

Change Your Attitude by Choosing Gratitude

Written by: Megan Lawrence, contributing writer.  Follow more of her journey at HealingHopefuls.com or on her Instagram, @in.my.own.words.  

There is no such thing as recovery without gratitude, and if there was, it would be hard to maintain. While gratitude is not required to start your recovery journey, I want to ask you to just think about it for a second. Gratitude most certainly helps when it comes to accepting yourself, your circumstances, and your decision to pursue recovery in the first place. It may seem impossible at first – the whole idea of being thankful for the things that were destroying us – but when we change our mindset, we begin to see how beneficial, and quite frankly, how necessary gratitude is in recovery. Regardless of what you are recovering from, the journey will be a lot smoother if you’re able to be thankful for the journey traveled up until this point – both the good and the bad.

Gratitude Begins & Ends with a Positive Mindset!

So much of our ability to make it through this journey alive begins with the mindset we choose each day. You have two choices: seek the light or keep yourself in the dark. The latter is the easier of the two choices, but what kind of life would it be if we didn’t at least try to see the bright side of things? When we are intentional about practicing gratitude, and I mean honestly giving it a chance to change the way we look at the world, we often find out that our situation was not the only thing that was making life seem hard but our perspective, too.  We find that the way we choose to perceive our circumstances is what will heal or hurt us the most. Do not underestimate the power of your thoughts. By being grateful for the life you have been given, you will be able to make the most of what you’ve got, instead of focusing on what could be. So often we get caught up with wanting our life to be better than it is that we can’t even appreciate what is. A positive outlook reminds us to be grateful for what we DO have so that it’s a little easier to handle the bad days when they come our way.

Start a Gratitude Journal!

Is it hard for you to be actively grateful on a daily basis? Start a journal to track your progress, and monitor the days where your recovery seems a bit harder. When we start to write down our goals and hold ourselves accountable, eventually practicing gratitude will come automatically, and with much less struggle. Sometimes, just by writing down what we are grateful for, we often discover parts of ourselves that we weren’t even acknowledging before. While recovery may convince you that something is wrong with you, a gratitude journal can correct this truth by reminding you that recovery is a part of your story – that alone is something to be thankful for. You are stronger because of your journey with mental illness, and you will continue to get stronger the more you choose to put one foot in front of the other. Challenge yourself this next week! Wake up each morning and write down three things that you are grateful for. They do not have to be big, monumental parts of your life. Instead, think of meaningful reminders for yourself that recovery is worth it, and ultimately, something to get grateful for.  

This is YOUR Journey! Own it! Love it! Be Grateful because of it!

Who we are today is partly due to the person we may have disliked in the past. The rock bottoms, the moments of despair, and the feelings of inadequacy – they were all a piece of something much bigger. Your story and the person you have been thus far is NOT who you will be in the future. And who is that person? Well, that’s up to you. Instead of ruminating on the negatives in your life, try to focus on the exciting journey ahead of you that exists in recovery. Getting your life back, and taking control of who YOU want to become, and be known for, is always your choice! How awesome is that? We always have a say in who we are yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I hope after reading this you begin to see that approaching your struggles and your past with a grateful heart will ALWAYS take you further than regret or disappointment for who you have once been. That person was necessary to become the person you are today and the person you will become. This is your journey to living to the best of your abilities. Don’t get stuck in a chapter that is no longer who you are.

Keep writing your story, beautiful, and be grateful each step of the way. You are headed exactly where you are supposed to – home to yourself.  

 

Featured image by Johnathan Sautter

It’s Okay to Struggle to See the Good

Written by: Zoe Speirs, contributing writer.  Follow more of her journey on her Instagram, @boporecoverywarrior.   

In a day and age where self-care is finally being made a priority, we find ourselves bombarded with messages of how we should practice gratitude – and whilst practicing gratitude is important and feeds the soul, it’s pretty hard to be grateful for things when life is hard.  It’s hard to be grateful when the world feels like it’s against you, but you know what? You know what we don’t get told? It’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to struggle to see the good and be grateful for the small things – your feelings are valid, and sometimes it’s not easy to see beyond the clouds and find the rays of sunshine.

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, no matter how painful it might feel at the time.  Despite this belief, it can still be difficult to see past the pain you’re currently in. We are told to be grateful, but also be present – sometimes, doing both can be painful. You can lose a family member, and although you have an incredible support network around you and amazing opportunities coming your way, it can still be pretty impossible to feel grateful for anything. Seems valid, right? But with pressure to constantly show gratitude and see good in situations, there often comes feelings of guilt, a feeling that you’re drowning when you can’t seem to find the good. This guilt of not being some radiant, positive person all the time. Of not being like that really zen Instagrammer that has her life together.

When you feel this way, you need to hit the brakes on and take a step back. We are all human, and we feel. If you can find gratitude for the little things in life when things are tough, that’s something worth celebrating. But we need to take the pressure off to constantly find the good. Picture this: if you miss an episode of your favourite programme, is it okay to beat yourself up about it? Or are you going to accept that you had a fun dinner planned with your friends and just live in the moment? The same applies here – you’re trying to find gratitude in your day-to-day life, but when you can’t because life happened, why should guilt be the predominant feeling when this practice is meant to be uniquely good for the soul (and mental health).

So lovelies, take a step back, breathe, let yourself feel – the rays of sunshine will find you once again.

 

Featured image by Johannes Plenio

Why I am Thankful for My Eating Disorder

Written by: Morgan Blair, founder and creative director of Unpolished Journey

In honor of NEDA Awareness Week 2018 and all those battling eating disorders.

Let’s turn the tables for a second. Take a positive outlook on the insidious diseases that eating disorders are. In AA they have a saying that eventually those who struggle get to a place where they can declare themselves a “grateful alcoholic”. Meaning, they can look back at the disease and see the strength and blessings that have come from their journey. I have been thinking a lot about this concept during this NEDA Week. How am I grateful for my battle with my eating disorder?

First off, my eating disorder has taught me about resiliency.  Not just the ability to bounce back from circumstances that have happened to me, but also from the cruel abuse of my own thoughts. My eating disorder would beat me up on a daily basis, telling me I am worthless and no good. It was a bully leading me to believe that I deserved the punishment of my eating disorder behaviors. Through my recovery, I have learned how to search inwardly for a new sense of validation. I have braved the cruelty of my own mind and rewired my thoughts to spew out compassion instead of abuse, love instead of hatred, hope instead of hopelessness.

Second, my eating disorder has brought amazing people into my life. Yes, I have been to treatment. Yes, I have been in hospitals. Yes, yes, yes. At one point in my journey I was extremely ashamed of these facts. I would hide them from people, laughing off comments about me being MIA for long stretches of time. I would fail to connect with others because how could you if you weren’t being authentic and truthful? But, I am slowly coming to the realization that these bumps in the road weren’t bumps at all, but rather detours that God took me on so that I could meet some of the most amazing people. Never have I encountered more genuine, compassionate, loving, and empathetic humans than those I met inside treatment. Those people know struggle, they know pain, they understand, and therefore they love you unconditionally. And, that is true and authentic connection.

Third, my eating disorder has taught me about patience. Like I mentioned before, I have been to treatment. At one point I thought that these treatment stays completely messed up my life, that those were months I could never get back, that I was a failure for taking this time for my healing. Now I am beginning to see the beauty in my alternative path. I didn’t graduate college on time. I have had to take two separate breaks, one my sophomore year and the other my senior. I felt like a failure. What I didn’t realize was the blessing these breaks would become. I learned patience with myself, with my journey.  My eyes were opened to the possibility of doing things differently. I didn’t have to be on a traditional route like everyone else. I was Morgan and I was on my own journey.

Fourth, my eating disorder taught me about determination. When I was engaging in behaviors, my eating disorder took over my mind and body. I would starve myself to the brink of collapse and still wouldn’t quit. I was a machine, a winner, a champion…. well, not exactly- that is just what my eating disorder told me. But, let’s be real, eating disorders take a lot of determination and commitment. After all, they are miserable so to stay in them is clearly a sign of one, addiction, and two mental dedication. Finally I came to the place in my journey where I thought to myself, “if my eating disorder can push myself to the brink of exhaustion, then why can’t I channel all that energy towards recovery?” This was a game changer. Channel that determination towards recovery and I became unstoppable. I mean people with eating disorders are extremely strong willed and intelligent, give them a goal and they are sure to get themselves to achieve it.

Fifth, my eating disorder taught me empathy. Because of my own struggle and painful journey through addiction and healing, I now have a greater understand of the pain of people around me. I feel a sense of connection to people’s stories and hangups. I feel compassion instead of irritation, love instead of impatience.  My eating disorder gave me a gift that I cannot thank it enough for placing in my hands. This gift allowed me to create Unpolished Journey and, as a result, connect with hundreds of people’s stories.

So, yes eating disorders are deadly and painful and horrible. Yes, treatment and help are necessary to find recovery. Yes, recovery is possible. Then, maybe some day in recovery you too can find reasons to be grateful for your eating disorder as well.

Self-Appreciation

Written by: Madeline McCallum, contributing writer and blogger at http://madelinesmusing.blogspot.com/?m=1

Self-appreciation

Image source

“We appreciate your consistent releasing of resistance.

We appreciate the continual opening of new doors, allowing your further discovery of who-you-are.

We are eager about the consistent ease that is before you.

We are eager about your new desires still to be launched.

We are eager for your inevitable rendezvouz with good-feeling ideas and experiences.

We are eager for your realization of the unlimited abundance that surrounds you.”

(Esther & Jerry Hicks)

I had a moment the other day where I paused in my tracks and considered how wild it was that past-me, some previous version of myself, had worked so extremely hard to make sure my feet were standing right where they were at that moment – on the London pavement, coffee in hand and opportunity stretching before me.

To be clear, at no point in my life did I ever really plan out a specific road map – and that used to stress me out. I’ve always known my ambitions and my bigger-picture dreams deep down, but I tend to get bogged down in the “how,” in feeling like I need to be actively doing something to make all of my dreams happen. When given the topic of appreciation, what first came to mind was an image in my head of me just wrapping my arms around myself, praising the girl who, from a very early age, committed to a life of doing everything in my power to live a life of adventure, of ambition, of reach, of no boundaries. Because of her relentless commitment to herself, I am now in a place where I can recognize and fully bask in all that I have achieved in my mere two decades on this planet.

I appreciate the family who instilled these values in me – a family who never drew strict lines around me (and thank goodness, because my internal demons definitely took care of that one for them…), a family who showed me that through hard work and perseverance, I can truly achieve anything I set my mind too.

I appreciate the time I have allowed myself to heal. As much as hindsight allows me to recognize the rewards of all of my hard work and nose to the grindstone moments, it also lets me recognize that none of that hard work would have come to fruition if there weren’t also periods of pause. I hope that I continue to give myself this grace – realizing that this recovery is a marathon, one that requires dedication and training every day. And that two years, or five years, or ten years, is just a blip on the timeline of my full life. I am not losing time or wasting time – rather, I am giving myself back years of love and feeling and wholeness.

I appreciate the relentless commitment I have made to myself. This body and this mind is my home, and I intend to treat my home with respect and care for its longevity. Time has shown me that every time I dig deep into my core values and use those to guide my actions, the result feels right and truly bountiful.

I appreciate that at some times I may not feel so content with myself, but I hope that I can look back and remember that I have always made it through those rough patches – and come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.

We are eager for the tipping point that will surely come that will allow you to see yourself as we know you to be: deserving of all manner of abundance, worthy of all good things, satisfied with what-is– and eager for more.

(Esther & Jerry Hicks)

Stress

Written by: Morgan Blair, founder and creative director of Unpolished Journey

Stress

It’s like a ball of Christmas lights tangled in your esophagus.  The lights randomly turn on, it’s pretty, your throat is glowing with all the millions of tasks left undone. The knot keeps words from leaving your lips or sustenance from sliding down your throat. You need to untangle the knot, but how does someone do that when the knot is stuck in their throat?

Stress

It’s like having sore feet from a long night, but never having another day off. No time to soak them, massage them, or allow them to recover. It is the compiling effect of sore feet. Worse and worse and worse until you walk with a limp and shoes are no longer an option. You need a day off, but how can you do that when you have three jobs?

Stress

It’s like peanut butter on your toothbrush, sticky, messy. You don’t realize it as you stumble to the bathroom in a sleepy haze. You grab it and bring it to your teeth. It taste funny. You look in the mirror. All your teeth are brown and your hands are stained with the lovely reek of peanuts and sugar. You need to wash it all off, but how do you do that when the butter is stuck between all the bristles?

Stress

Stress is leaning too far forward while being pushed backwards. It is the upside down while standing right side up. Stress has been a dear friend and also a long lost enemy. What do you do? The only thing you can do is invite it in and offer it a cup of tea. It might be there for awhile.