Posted in Recovery

It’s Not Your Fault

I wrote this over a month ago, mostly as a post-therapy journal entry after our session got me thinking, but after re-reading it I decided to post it. I used a behavior last week that I hadn’t used in almost 6 months. I’m grateful that it hasn’t completely thrown me off, but it has caused my anxiety to increase. That on top of a crazy school and work schedule, which always increase my stress levels, has led to me being incredibly self-critical so this was a refreshing reminder to stumble upon today.

“It’s not you, Melissa. You don’t have to blame yourself. “

I, well ED, rolled his eyes as my therapist said this to me in our session today. We pretty much spent the whole hour trying to figure out why the heck my body image has been so terrible lately because it’s been bad. Like, real real bad. This is the worst it’s been in…probably ever.

We figured out 5 pretty big contributors: classes, the weather, the possibility of needing my meds changed, not following my meal plan completely and the underlying theme in all of this: anxiety. Like an absolute shit ton of anxiety. Everything is making me anxious and then I don’t use behaviors to give myself “relief” and then I just get more anxious. Basically, my life is a hot mess right now.

The problem is that all of the things causing me increased anxiety are things I can’t get rid of. Well that’s a lie, not following my meal plan is something that I could change instantly, and I am going to work on getting back on track because I know that it’s not making me feel any better. But besides that I’m kind of in a catch-22.

These are big things. They’re huge and they cause a lot of people anxiety, people that aren’t also trying to recover. People who aren’t trying to relearn how to live their life. People who aren’t having to battle it out with every single thought in their head and trying to unlearn deeply ingrained, and deadly, habits. This shit sucks. It sucks to have to be fighting this. It sucks to be an anxious wreck all of the time. It sucks to second guess myself in pretty much everything I do. It sucks to say such terrible things to myself, know that they’re wrong, and yet still say them and believe them. It’s exhausting, especially because I’m doing all of it on top of trying to live my life and be a college student. So why can’t I accept these and stop blaming myself? Yes, those reasons are valid and exhausting and I can accept that but I still ultimately think that it’s all my fault. That these things shouldn’t affect me because I spent 3 months in intensive treatment learning how to deal with them so I should be able to handle it all. The funny thing is, I hadn’t even considered the idea of blaming other things. Like, yeah I knew that my classes were giving me anxiety and that all of this would be hard and exhausting but shouldn’t I be able to handle them? External factors play a role but doesn’t it ultimately come down to my choices and what I decide to do?

Logically, yes. Of course it does. I’m a human being with free-will and l know that my actions are going to have consequences of some type. But there’s also the fact that this whole situation sucks nonetheless. It is an inherently shitty situation and no amount of “perfection” or effort is going to change the fact that it was a shitty situation to start with. I didn’t make it shitty. It’s not my fault that its shitty, it’s just shitty and that is okay to accept.

Now only if I could actually convince myself of this. I want to believe it.

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Posted in Recovery

EDCD Take 2

I made a rather unplanned, but absolutely amazing, trip to Denver last weekend, which I’m going to write about another time but I’ve been thinking a lot about my visit back to EDCD and wanted to share it.

I was so excited to go back. One of the first things I did after I decided I was going was email people to make sure I was going to be able to see them. I was so excited to see some of the staff members and get to visit with my old primary, but I had no idea how much it would bring back. On the elevator ride up and as I was waiting for Dr. Neumann to come grab me, I was freaking out. Like, panic attack levels of anxiety. ED was pissed to be there, especially because I wasn’t “sick”. I had set this stupid weight goal for myself that I wanted to be at for my “Denver trip”, whenever that was going to be. It’s a number I knew I couldn’t reach without using ED in some way, but I wouldn’t have used the behaviors I used before so it wasn’t technically unhealthy. I don’t know why I was terrified of going back “well”. Well, I do know why. I always know why. It’s because ED had me convinced that they would be disappointed in me if I was doing well. There’s no way someone can recover after only one time in treatment, if they did then they must not have had that serious of a problem in the first place. Duh.

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I love that I’m still seeking external validation that I have a problem. I always thought that going to treatment would be all of the validation that I would need but that was a joke. For some reason I can’t hold both of these ideas at once. The idea that I am in recovery and doing well in recovery but that I am still sick and still have a problem. They can exist together and they do exist together but I just haven’t been able to grasp that yet.

Anyways, so I didn’t reach my weight goal so I was slightly ashamed to be going but I did and it was one of the highlights of my recovery so far. Everyone was genuinely excited for me. No one was disappointed that I was coming back to visit instead of to come back to treatment. In fact, so many people made some kind of comment to the sound of, “Yeah, we love seeing you but we only want it to happen on visits, okay?”

It was there that I could see how happy I am right now. Sitting on the same couch on which I spent so many hours trying to figure out who the hell I was and how I could possibly live without my eating disorder and actually having an idea of who I am and knowing that I don’t need ED to survive was one of the best motivators I’ve gotten in recovery so far.

One of the hardest things I found when I first got back is that no one could tell a difference in my demeanor. I mean, they could. I was obviously more lively and had energy and things like that but I had done such a good job of fooling everyone that they couldn’t really tell a difference between ED Melissa and authentic Melissa. I felt a little gypped to be honest. I felt so different and I was really excited for everyone to see this new version of myself that when they didn’t I definitely started to question the whole recovery thing.

It was so nice to be in a place where people could tell a difference and where people noticed it. It felt like I was getting recognized for all of my hard work. Don’t get me wrong, people have definitely commented on how proud of me they were or noticed how hard all of this has been but maybe it was because it was coming from people who had seen me go through it all. Whatever it was, it was nice.

Visiting program helped me re-recognize some parts of my true authentic self. Being back in the place where she first emerged brought a smile to my face and reminded me of some of the parts that I haven’t brought out back here at home out of fear for being “too much” or whatever excuse ED has given me. I realized out there that the more I discover my authentic self, the more I like her. Which is ridiculously hard to admit but also makes me so excited for the future.

I can’t wait to what else is in store for this awkward, sass-filled person I learn more about each and every day.

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Keep killin’ it, y’all.

Melissa