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.

Relapse and Road Head

Written by: Ana Mai Luckett. This post was originally published on Ana’s blog, Tales from Brain Rehab. Check it out to see read more of her story!

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One of my favorite things to do when I’m really depressed is google depression. I’ve spent days watching sometimes inspirational, sometimes incredibly sad TED talks, or heart felt slam poets explaining what depression means to them. It was on one of these such depression K holes where I stumbled upon this article in People Magazine. No judgement please, I only found it reputable because of the depression fog I was trapped in.Under regular circumstances I get my information from much more credible sources, like the internet. This article was a conversation with some actor ,who’s name currently escapes me,  where he talked about his struggles with depression. One of the most memorable parts was where he talked about how gradual that changes come after starting treatment, and it’s often the people around us who notice the changes before we do.This was true for him until one day he was walking outside, as he normally did, but was taken aback by how beautiful his neighborhood was. There were no drastic changes but the simple things like the color of the trees and the serenity of the stream just blew him away that day. All of these were things he stopped paying attention to when his depression got bad. So just by observing his surroundings through new mindful eyes, he finally got an assurance that his treatment was working. This was such a major realization for him because he was able to experience his own progress for the first time, rather than relying on observations from others.

Since reading this, I’ve been waiting for my moment with the trees- my grand realization that all of this is worth it. There have been moments here and there that teeter on grandeur and wisdom, but nothing screams breakthrough yet. This morning though, I think I came closer than I ever have to that moment.

It all started when I woke up and the first thing I wanted to do was shower and get ready for my day. I honestly can’t remember when I last woke up with that much energy and motivation to move. I even wanted to shave my legs- a task I’ve been neglecting since I’ve been home so it’s gotten a little bit out of hand. I didn’t actually end up doing that because one razor simply wouldn’t be enough and I didn’t have anymore blades, but before I jumped in my shower I also did my laundry! This has been on my list of things to do for weeks now, yet has remained untouched. By 11 am I was showered, had clean laundry, and even blow dried by hair. Before starting brain rehab this wouldn’t have been as much of an accomplishment , but when your day exists of going to and from therapy, the drive to wear anything but leggings and baggy sweatshirts kind of goes out the window. I  even left my house with plenty of time to stop and pick some prescriptions before I went to Denver-  another errand I’d been putting off.

The whole morning I couldn’t stop thinking about how easy all of this was. All of these things I was dreading or just simply too lazy to do, weren’t actually the worst most inconvenient things in the history of the planet. I caught myself becoming excited about the thought being a normal college student again and doing things like this all the time. That early jolt of confidence then just morphed into a sense of calm as I started my drive.Which was unusual because the weather is finally starting to revert back to traditional winter patterns.I braced myself for an incredibly tense and frustrating drive having to deal with all of the out-of-staters driving like it’s the dawn of the ice age. When you’re on a highway that is completely dry, regardless of the snow that may be around you, there is no need to drive 30 miles under the speed limit in the left lane. None.

So even as frustrating driving was, I think because of it I saw my tree today. I was cruising in the right lane and passing everyone to my left, because that makes sense and is definitely how highways work, when I momentarily glanced to my left and saw the driver of the car next to me with his phallic member in the mouth of his passenger. In layman’s terms, I saw somebody getting road head. After the initial shock wore off, I started laughing uncontrollably. Like to the point where I was more focused on the pain in my abdomen caused by the intense emotional outburst, than on my actual driving. This was just for a second thought, don’t worry mom, after this eyes stayed on the road and hands stayed on the wheel.  I somehow ended up behind this car for a while and kept on watching the woman’s head pop up for air and then go right back to it. It was a scene so ridiculous and out of the ordinary, I wouldn’t be surprised if a new American Pie movie is already in the works.

After witnessing “the event”, my  instinct was to call everyone I knew. Because they are my friends, we all share an incredibly immature sense of humor, and I knew that their reactions would be similar to mine. And to no surprise, they were. We laughed about the absurdity of the situation and reflected on just how dangerous it was. It was a brief reflection though, because when the topic is road head, safety is the least appealing part of the story to keep coming back to. A brief summary of our conversations then goes something like this: we traded various forms of “Oh my god,” then moved on to “I didn’t think that people actually did that in real life,” and added the occasional  “ how can you even keep a car in control when your genitals are in another human’s mouth?” The answer to that one is, you can’t. As entertaining as it was, this was one of the cars going below the speed limit in the left lane, and to make matters worse, it kept creeping dangerously close to the center line and then jolting back to its rightful place. Roadhead: a fun way to relieve stress, but also a huge distraction. Moral of the story, don’t do it.

I’ll bet by this point you’re wondering why I dedicated an entire blog to that time I saw road head. The first reason is easy: hours later I still find it hilarious and the internet deserves to know. The second is more personal. For the first time in god knows how long, I was able laugh without that voice in the back of my head popping up and reminding me I’m depressed and shouldn’t be doing this. Looking back on this entire day, I can’t count the number of times I’ve smiled. For once it’s not because numbers that low simply don’t exist, but rather, it happened too many times to keep track of.

Yesterday my countdown to discharge began, and I’ll be finished with brain rehab sometime between the 22nd and the 30th of this month. Getting that news was incredibly exciting, but at the same time, it’s also fucking terrifying. In my opinion, it’s impossible to face this news without some part of yourself fearing for what comes next. No matter how many exciting things or support systems I have in place, relapsing and ending up right back to where I was just months ago, will always be possibility. I’m no fortune teller, so it would be naive of me to think this is the last time I’ll fall. And so in lies the reality of the work I’m doing here. My past has scarred me in ways that will never fully heal, and triggers will always be lurking around me.  This is a lifelong journey , but starting to get back into my routine and simply taking the time to laugh today helped me to see how much I want to be back. The fear of relapse will always exist,but I’ve found something that overshadows that; my desire to return to the land of weekly laundry schedules and people who will never not laugh at stories about road head.

The Road to Recovery from Anorexia is Not a Straight Path

Written by Morya Gorsky, a mother of a daughter recovering from anorexia. This post was originally published on Moyra’s blog, Gorski Wellness. Check it out and see what other amazing transformations her and her daughter are up to!

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Two and a half years ago my daughter started to make some changes in her eating so that she could feel and look better. As a nurse and wellness consultant I applauded that and encouraged healthy choices as she learned how her food she ate impacted her mood, energy and way she felt.

Little did I know that this would be the start of a journey into the depths of an eating disorder that has taken hold of her and her thoughts and turned something that was once a simple desire to feel and look a little better into a disorder that has such a strong hold on her that some days it’s hard to see my daughter in the midst of it.

As I continue to support and love my daughter unconditionally, I keep hearing a voice in my head that I should write, write down my thoughts feelings and share them. I have done a bit of sharing on social media, mostly Facebook. I’ve shared my struggles and hard days. I’ve encouraged others by putting up quotes and affirmations to help them see the bright side but in truth I look at them first off for myself most days. I have been astounded by the support and stories that I have been shared with me. This is not a disorder for the few. There are SO many that have struggled, know friends and family that have struggled, still struggle, pray for peace and continue freedom everyday day. I am grateful for the love and support that has been poured out to me and my family through this time. It is humbling and  it provides peace and strength on the good and bad days.grateful-300x148

I have learned so much during the time and today I find myself frustrated and sad. I myself had my own eating disorder when I was in college and in my early adult years. In those days there wasn’t much conversation about anorexia or anxiety or social pressures except to say that we knew about Karen Carpenter and her sad story. As I went away to school, away from home and that security, I found myself feeling unsure about the decisions I was making or expected to make. There were academic pressures, social pressures around drinking and sexual activity, Pressures to fit in and have fun, academic pressure of what major to follow and what we were to do for the rest of our lives. I felt alone and very unsure. That is when my taking control of one part of my life that I could, my eating began. I was not hospitalized or sent to a treatment program. I do thank my friends who were aware enough about my changing moods and size and loved me enough to encourage me to go see a counselor at our college health center.  The counseling helped and the finding of my passion of helping others in nursing I believe helped. Looking back I can’t say there was one thing or another that really helped me but I do know that by the grace of God, my confidence in myself and my abilities, self compassion and faith and just a whole lot of effort and pushing forward got me moving into a direction of freedom and self assurance. It has been a journey for sure, sometimes harder than others but somehow I got through it.

Fast forward to today and my daughter. The pain for me really began when my past was seemingly repeating itself in front of my eyes in the life of my daughter. Mention of a genetic component of eating disorders made me think that I was somehow responsible for what was happening. The feeling of responsibility coupled with hopelessness has led me to days of feeling a pain that is deep and raw and nothing that I have ever experienced before. I know that many of my days in college were dark, filled with a feeling of being alone and not understood. I also had the beautiful realization and life experiences that have shown me that there is a hope and life on the other side that is beautiful, one filled with love from others, from my heavenly Father and from myself. In the past several years I have shared my struggles and confidence in a better tomorrow with my niece when she was struggling with anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. One of my best friends has a daughter that began struggling and was consequently admitted to a residential program for help. I remember talking with her on the phone as well as her sister who was in so much pain that she found it hard to go on in life. There were tears and anna-and-moyra-bdaywords of encouragement.

But here I was all of a sudden with my daughter in front of my with the same struggles, becoming deeply entwined with the feeling of hopelessness, sadness, lack of self esteem and confidence. It caused me to pause in disbelief and shock. Therapists were called, dietitian appointments made and hard conversations with my husband about what to do if what we were providing at home was not enough. What next? How could we leave our daughter someplace else, not under our roof and with our family?

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We did though. My daughter has been in 2 inpatient/outpatient programs, one residential program out of town and is currently in her 4th residential treatment stay closer by to us. It’s hard to have her not home with us. I miss her. I miss the physical presence of her in our family dynamic. But mostly I miss her, her great big smile, her infectious laugh, her go-forward attitude, work hard, play hard spirit, the lightness of her hair and her thoughts as she has shared her ideas, thoughts, commentary on life that is wise beyond what I imagined from her, funny and filled with wit and sarcasm and the deep desire to help others learn and enjoy a life that is possible. I wonder one day when that girl I know will be back. Maturity and life challenges are changing her and I know as she works toward freedom that my ‘little Anna’ won’t be back. A new daughter will emerge, one filled with grace and wisdom as before but a different perspective on life that her struggles and experiences have led her to.

My perspective has changed as well. When I overhear some conversations about small, materialistic things, or struggles with what clothes to wear or the battle to look better than a neighbor or friend, I do a private eye roll and move on. Many things in life that I see around me just don’t matter. What matters to me is my family, making sure that they know they are loved unconditionally by their father  and myself. Filling my children with love and confidence, making sure that  they know that their thoughts and feelings matter and they are children of God, unique from all others and blessed by a God and family who loves them….that continues on a daily basis. I am not afraid to talk about my past and have authentic conversations about the struggles that my daughter is facing. I am open about how I feel Social media has impacted our kids in such a negative way, creating a society of people who don’t know how to communicate with each other in a way to foster true friendships and compassion. I believe that everyone’s path in life is unique and may not follow the path that others follow in the way of school, college, vocation, life and all.

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I think we need to change our conversations. I participated in the NEDA walk this September in Chicago. It wasn’t so much a competitive walk for fitness but more about awareness, discussions of hope, real talk about struggles and hope. I got a chance to meet and hear Iskra Lawrance, a British model who was the key note speaker and one who has championed body diversity and committed to changing the image of women. She was told she was TOO BIG to be a traditional model and then soon discovered Plus Size modeling. There she discovered that she was NOT BIG enough. She had many years of struggle with an eating disorder and lack of body acceptance. She is a beautiful women today, one who accepts herself as she is and encourages others to do that same things of themselves.

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iskra-and-moyra-e1479345905484-300x225I feel blessed to have met her, hugged her and told her how much I appreciated all that she has done and continues to do to champion a change in our conversation.

I love the things she shared.

       Be proud of what you have been through.

                Tell someone that you see                        and love that they are good  enough

                Be cautious of advertising as they want you to buy                 into insecurities so that you buy things.

                Shine Bright for the world to see

               Choose to pay attention on purpose

               Look at yourself in front of a mirror and pick out 10                        things that you love.

                Injoy life….not just Enjoy….be IN Joy of your life.

 

Iskra smiles, she is warm, she shares a hope and light that it will all be ok.

She speaks about body positivism and again challenges us to Change the conversation.

 

I have asked God for peace and for strength. I have been challenged to Trust God and Obey God. Find acceptance in what is before me and create a conversation of encouragement and love. The road to recovery that my daughter is on has been rocky. It’s been up and down. I’ve seen her struggle, I’ve seen her emerge victorious and find purpose and hope again. I’ve seen her doubt herself and pay more attention to what others think than what she knows is true about herself. She is fighting. She has won and she has lost. And it will continue. I know she will come out on the side of Freedom. Her story will be one of hope, love, authentic truth, self love and finding your path, trusting that God is ultimately ordering your path in life.

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It’s hard sometimes. There will be more writing. There will be more talking. There will be more praying, a LOT more praying. There will be freedom and peace. Freedom and Peace for my daughter. Peace and connectiveness (that has been lost) for my family. There will be stories to tell of strength found when we didn’t know there was any more.  I pray for awareness of the necessity of change, change in our thoughts, our conversations, our attitudes about mental illness and those things that take over that we just don’t think we have control over. In the end we do have the power, with the help of the almighty creator to create a life of love, peace, joy and freedom.

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For now I leave you with this.

If you know someone struggling, get them help.

If you are struggling, call someone, go someplace and get the help that you deserve.

There is no shame in falling down and needing someone to help you up.

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