addict? alcoholic? both.

I’m home this weekend for a change. This time it’s different though, I’m not trying to figure out what I want out of treatment and I’m not neck deep in an eating disorder. I am home because I am doing well, I am recovering. And it’s strange, I feel heavy yet light. I feel like my hopes have been lifted, that my dreams are no longer muted.

I’ve been reading the Steps in hopes that I will begin working towards something more. I haven’t been able to say it in a meeting yet. I can’t even fathom saying it to my therapist but I can put it here. Something to look back on in a few years.

Back when I came home in November, my mother had gone through my room and searched for all the things that I had hidden. And when I came home, I found the items that she had not found; the blades and laxatives. So this time, she came to my room and I took it all out, I handed it all over. I surrendered to recovery, whole-heartedly. It was hard. So hard that I wanted to cry or scream a few times. It was when I found the last cigarette that her trust in me really crumbled. She was disappointed and worried; I understood. I had been smoking on and off since grade nine, I was relying on alcohol to get through some days since grade eleven, and I was using marijuana just to cope with the underlying chaos. All of this took a toll on me, all the missing memories, empty wallets. If you thought just having an eating disorder was bad, imagine restricting so hard and then getting high just to eat before coming down and purging just to light another cigarette to ease the empty feeling and drinking to forget it all again. This was my life for a while; on and off for years.

The worst is the justification: “I’m a responsible addict. I’m a responsible alcoholic.”

There is no way to be both responsible and an addict. There is no way to be responsible and an alcoholic. It’s not a lifestyle worth living. It’s fucking hell. It’s planning out your day just to use without being caught or needing to go home. It’s missing social outings because you’re too weak or hungover to move. It’s having to do more and more each time just to numb any feelings. It’s the pain you feel when you come down.

I was warned for years of the dangers behind addictions. I was first addicted to the pain, and then to the numbness. I was never able to believe that I was worthy of anything else but the pain. I still struggle to see that I am worth it on a day to day basis. I was told it was hereditary, and I replied that it “wouldn’t happen to me”. I was the good kid. I was the responsible kid.

Addiction and mental health walk hand in hand. Both are deadly. Both can be silent killers. But they are best friends. At some point, I forgot what it was like to actually feel anything. I’ve missed so much because I was just working to numb the pain; a full time job. Something I couldn’t quit, EVER.

Somedays I am ashamed of what I have done and the fact that I can never pick up a drink without falling down a rabbit hole. I’ve dug myself out as best I can by myself and now I surrender everything to a higher power and begin a journey to feeling. I know I can’t do it alone any longer, too many slips and relapses to point it out. I can only be me; unapologetically. I can’t reminisce for who I was in the past and I can’t worry about who I am going to be tomorrow but just for today, I can be myself.

I was 4 months sober last week. It’s going to a long and hard journey but here I am, doing it.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” – 1 John 1:9

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” – James 4:10

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pass.

I’m home. Oh boy, I am home. And I am terrified. A 48hr therapeutic pass is not how I wanted to spend the rest of the week but it’s also not something I wasn’t expecting. Yeah I’m struggling. But struggle is just another word for GROWTH. So I guess you could say that’s exactly what I am doing; growing. It only fits that the card I chose earlier this morning in Horticulture was “growth” and what I wrote while I had felt drawn to this card, speak for themselves. That’s the cool thing about vibes and stuff, they really speak to you when you need them to.

I guess it’s the same thing about God, eh? He’s there when you want him, and there when you might not but He doesn’t push His wisdom upon you. He lets you wander without worry or fear but He also lets you make choices that may make life harder. It’s all a learning process. Honestly I’m not processing as I write this post; something a staff member told me to do while I journaled during these next 48hrs.

While I recount today based on when I awoke to now @ 10:30pm, here are some victories I’d like to share and remember:

  • got out of bed and dressed before breakfast
  • wasn’t late for groups
  • took team meeting well and was mature about decision
  • called mom and asserted my needs about needing a ride home
  • figured out 2 days of meals & most of my pass plan for 48hrs
  • owned up to mistakes and told the rest of the community
  • fucking pissed ED off and ate dinner!!!!!
  • talked to mom in car about recovery needs/goals
  • went grocery shopping with mom
  • had snack on time (+extra fruit) cause hunger!!!!
  • felt full & planned on showering but instead did some work and didn’t isolate
  • used “check the facts” skill effectively
  • refrained from body checking in mirror when i went to shower
  • did not body check after shower or follow urges to find scale & weigh myself
  • did my laundry
  • took nighttime meds!!!!

Yes the car ride home was over 2 hours long and it pushed some things back but I still managed cause sometimes that’s what happens and you just gotta roll with the punches!! So yeah, ya gurl is back.

FUcking 4 hours home and the motivation is already building. Also did something cool and reached out to my youth leader, J, about coming by to talk/visit this weekend since I won’t have a pass once I am back!!!!

Also getting my hur did tomorrow morning #recoverygoals

 

decisions.

I have so many decisions to make and I have to make most of them by Friday….eeek…..to say I am anxious is probably an understatement. Honestly, these decisions will most likely decide how the next year and a half end up going. SCARY.

Let me preface this post with some background on what’s happened in the past 24hrs: 

  • I had my assessment with the main eating disorder program in my city
  • I had my original diagnosis change from anorexia or OSFED
  • I was given 2 options for day treatment programs in my city
  • I used some specific behaviours (binging) for the first time in weeks
  • I went home and laid everything out on the table with my mom
  • We discussed different treatment options and what I could potentially do in the fall
  • We discussed reaching out to a friends family about their experience in the system
  • We discussed going on the list for both treatment options but also looking into a residential program
  • We discussed my passive suicidal thoughts and what those mean
  • We discussed coping strategies and putting supports in place for the summer
  • I went to group and brought up a lot of my uncertainties with having options now
  • I talked to my group facilitator and based on what I’ve described, she thinks one of the programs would be most improving of my health

Honestly it was a lot and I haven’t fully processed a lot of things that were said. I need to work through it but in reality, I have until Friday to make my decision about what I want to do in terms of treatment. It’s no secret anymore that I am struggling and that I need the treatment. It’s the decision of taking time off of school for an entire year or semester and entering a day program where a lot of the control is still on me.

In reality, residential is not ideal because I’ll just be leaving my home environment and learning how to act in another environment which can be detrimental to my mental health because I will more likely come home after and relapse right away.

One of the day programs only runs 3 nights a week for 4 hours and includes a lot of meal prep however this would mean stepping up and taking responsibility for eating meals on my own — something I struggle with everyday.

The other program runs everyday from 12-6pm and includes 2 meals + 1 snack. More ideal. They also help transition back into the real world after a month or so and if I’m being honest, it seems scary but also includes what I most likely need. The waitlist for this program would most likely have me starting in the fall instead of going back to school and as much as not having the structure of school in my life, the stress would most likely be too much and cause me to relapse again (something I really don’t want).

Here’s some background on OSFED otherwise known as Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. Defined in the DSM-5 as:

A person with who presents with many of the symptoms of other eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder but will not meet the full criteria for diagnosis of these disorders.

Being diagnosed with this eating disorder made me feel like a fake because I didn’t feel that my eating disorder was serious enough to need treatment. I’m not underweight nor do I purge anymore or frequently take laxatives or diuretics. I am no longer as obsessively weighing myself or walking long distances for no reason other than to burn calories. So to hear that I need treatment was difficult. I was ready to be turned away and told that I don’t need the level of care any treatment facilities in Toronto offer.

Having OSFED kind of changed my perspective on my eating disorder. The fact that it is constantly shifting and metamorphosing the longer I progressed deeper into my eating disorder. Since the beginning of my struggle to have a relationship with food deemed /normal/, my symptoms and behaviours have changed each time that I relapse. And I usually relapse yearly….like clockwork. It’s exhausting yet even my eating disorder is structured lol can you believe that?

And to be honest, none of the rules that come along with each relapse make any sense. The things that I can and cannot eat change every time. Sometimes pasta is my only safety and other times it’s blueberry muffins. Sometimes I’m allowed to have liquids while I restrict and other times it’s full on restricting with nothing but a few cups of water.

Where is the compromising? Where do these decisions come from?

Honestly I wish I could pinpoint it in my mind but I am unable to do so. It’s so messy and entwined with my depression and anxiety. Having really bad depression days means I am less likely to leave the house and I can restrict in peace without worrying about most likely binging on my way home at night. Bad anxiety days mean I am more strict with what I eat and get increasingly anxious the longer I go into a fast because I am more likely to binge at the end to “ruin” everything. So I guess neither option is really an option because both ways end in negative reactions. Most days I have been stuck in a restrict/binge cycle that can only be broken at the end of a breakdown where I usually use other behaviours to counteract a binge like laxatives/purging/diuretics.

What am I actively doing to help myself cope as I make these decisions and face the outcomes?

Nothing. I know that I need to call one of the programs tomorrow and ask some questions. I also need to talk to my mom and really lay out the possibility of taking an entire year off of school – something that I have never done and really struggle to make happen. I need to make time to self care instead of relying on keeping myself as busy as possible because that makes me more likely to restrict and then end up binging. I am reaching out to my social worker and getting referred to a psychologist who works with eating disorders and anxiety/depression. I talked to my support group facilitator about private practice support as well (people she trusts and would recommend) and I am trying to be more open about my mental health with my mom.

I am so lost and calling out to God to help me through this difficult time. I don’t have much direction and I am not sure where to find it as I continue to struggle with who I am and what I want in life. I have so much that I want to accomplish but I know that I cannot do it while so wrapped up within my eating disorder. I am thinking that it might be time to take a step back from the music and photography communities and focus on self care in the simplest forms of sleep and other things that I used to do. I am neglecting so many things because my drive has me making last minute plans to shoot shows and then not being happy with the outcomes because my mood is fluctuating constantly. It would be a really tough decision and definitely not one made in haste but honestly it has been a long time coming. My heart might be there but my mind is not and I need to get back on my ‘A’ game. Honestly I need to take my energy, time and focus away from photography and put it towards my mental health.

I am not taking care of myself. I am coasting down a mountain side and the longer that I go, the faster I speed and eventually I am going to fall off.

This spiral has been going on for way too long and I really need to reassess the constants in my life.

For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. – Pslam 31:3

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. – Pslam 119:105

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Some resources on OSFED and other eating disorders:

time.

It’s been awhile…probably not the amount of time most people would start a blog post with but for me, a week is a long time. A lot can happen in a week. My mood can soar, dip and maintain; all in a week. Why? Why has it been awhile? Why have I not been here? I guess the simple answer is: time. I have no time right now. I guess that is technically a lie since I watched Greys Anatomy all day instead of studying for either of my finals but who cares….

This past weekend was Easter Sunday. I know…a really important weekend in the Christian faith. And I even pondered the idea of attending church on Sunday morning since I missed the Good Friday service at my church. However I don’t really view it as ‘my’ church anymore and I have yet to find a church that makes me feel comfortable so right now I am “churchless” and that’s okay. I am not without God even though I don’t belong to a congregation. That’s not how this works. Instead, Sunday morning I woke up and went downtown to the local children’s hospital and visited a friend who was admitted earlier in the weekend. And I think God might have been okay with that because instead of sitting in a pew praying for myself, I was sitting bedside praying for my friend. So I think it’s alright.

Time. I’ve been taking a lot of time for myself recently. 

I’m not sure I find the same solace in my friends as I used to and this scares me. We are drifting and yet I am somehow okay with it. I have spent so much time fighting against God and what He has planned for me that I forgot to listen to His messages. And there have been messages. Like the pit I get in my stomach before I get home and my parents are upset with me, or the headaches I get when my mental health is sinking. All these signs are because God is helping me find my path. He knows that in order for me to be happy, I need to attend the school that is right for me and that might mean not getting into the University my parents would rather I attend. I am grateful for the love and support that He gives me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have been taking time and it is helping me. I am realizing what I want and who I would like to become. I know now that I need to better myself as a human being. Instead of doing things to better myself, I need to help better others. It’s not a one-man show, it’s a community play and I am ready for that. I want to lead a life worth living and that might mean finding the strength to let my parents meet the real me.

It’s strange to try and separate the two sides of my life but depending on who’s around, that is who they see. A half person. Lonely and half-filled, while I long for more. I recently bought a ticket to a concert in a city 7hrs away (in another country) where I will drive to with a friend. And I haven’t told my parents. At first, I blamed the fact that Mercury was in Retrograde (I believe in it) but I know that it was more of God’s plan. He knows that no matter how much my parents love me, they need to start letting go of the control and this is the first step. I believe that I am living for Him. Not my parents and not my friends or professors or even really me. I know that I need to stop working against His word because he has a plan. 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalms 16:11

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5

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unknown.

I keep searching for somewhere to go or someone else to become because I’m not happy in my current situation. Sounds big headed or close minded when I think about it in depth. But I am truly unhappy with my current standings in this universe. It could be from many factors though:

  1. I just took a 9-5 summer job working in an office deleting data.
  2. I’m 19, living at home and I still have to ask for permission before I go anywhere.
  3. I am in school.

No matter how grateful I am for all of these opportunities, there is so much of the universe I have yet to find and I feel trapped because of those factors. I want to travel across Canada and visit the West Coast. I have dreams to visit multiple National and Provincial Parks. I want to tour with bands and sell merch. I want to get my photography published. I want to take photographs for magazines and websites and companies. I want to live a life worth fulfilling.

But I am not there yet. And I know that I should look at everything happening right now as a stepping stone in the river of my life. God is sending me in this direction because something good will come from it. However, sometimes it feels like I’m being tossed off the side of a mountain. With every fight my father and I have over a concert or travelling to a new place. With every night that I don’t sleep and every class I am too tired to attend. The world feels like it’s ending and I so badly want to escape.

So where is the escape hatch? Where is my little pod to eject off the side of this planet? How do I get away?

The answer is: I don’t. 

Is it even possible to be somewhere you didn’t choose to be? I guess that’s the thing with making choices. Until you are an adult and you have cut ties from your parents in financial ways ????

I guess I have to trust Him for this path. Someone once told me that if God didn’t want me to go in one direction, it would be difficult to get there. I wish I could trust in that thought but there is so much left for me to do and being held back due to career or family isn’t something I can dig. I am grateful for all that my family has provided me with yet I so dearly want to discover the universe on my own terms.

I want to visit multiple parts of Southern Canada this summer and I’ve got plans to do it. I have two weeks between my last exam and my first day of work. I have about sixteen weekends to explore the universe before I enter a new part of my life. School.

I’ve been thinking about how I want to fill my time these days. As I write this, I am sitting in my teenage bedroom surrounded by walls; half torn down, on my bed. I recently had some friends over who commented on the fact that I still sleep in a single bed. As if it mattered? As if I should sleep in a bigger bed now? Where do these ideas come from? If I purchased a larger bed, I wouldn’t have as much room for my desk and record player and book shelves and guitar. All these things that seem so small and unimportant but they mean something to me. Crazy…I know.

So I took this summer job and I changed my availability to be able to explore the universe but I did it to create some relationship with my parents again. A relationship that I have been tearing apart since grade nine. And it’s not like it was very strong before that anyway. Sad. A lot has happened since I found God and a home within His universe. Sometimes I’m not sure I am wanted by Him either but I know I have a place somewhere. I guess it will just take some time to find that place.


Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change. And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea. – Psalm 46:2

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why.

What do Christianity and Eating Disorders have in common?

Probably nothing. Except maybe the fact that both are the result of wanting to believe in something or the feeling of direction it serves. It took me years to realize the purpose that my eating disorder served me. And now, as I embark on a new journey through recovery, I turn towards the Lord for that purpose.

My eating disorder, diagnosed as Anorexia Nervosa at age 13, was a source of protection. It protected me from everything that was going on at home and school. Around the time that it began to manifest, my dad had been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, my parents didn’t really get along and my mental health was already heading downhill. Probably a difficult time so it makes sense I guess.

From a young age, I was the shy kid. I didn’t fit in with the sports crowd or the art kids. I was my own person and that didn’t seem to work very well at school. I didn’t have many friends and often was excluded in activities. Honestly, I’m okay with not having a large social group but then again, that could just be due to how difficult it is to socialize with mental illnesses. I’ve had anxiety since I was 7 or 8 and that made things difficult. Eventually my obsession with disappearing grew into an eating disorder in which I would eventually become small enough to disappear all together. A dangerous task yet I quite determined.


That was the past though. Here’s the now. 


My eating disorder has been a cage that I live within the confines of. An exhausting, daily battle. Within the last 2 years, I completed 4 months of adolescent day treatment and multiple family therapy appointments. I can tell you the spot on the floor in an office that I memorized. I can tell you the set up of every room doctors office I’ve ever attended. I can recite calorie amounts like the back of my hand. I’ve spend countless nights on my bedroom floor instead of sleeping in my bed.

Last year I faced my worst relapse ever. My weight dropped lower than it was during high school, I began to abuse laxatives, starting purging even though I swore I never would, and eventually began abusing caffeine pills. Did you think overdosing on caffeine was possible? Answer: It Is. I took the equivalent of 80 cups of coffee and had emergency services called because of it. So bad that they wanted to take me to the hospital because my heart was beating so damn fast and they were concerned. I turned down the suggestions. I said no. I said I’d get better on my own.


Update: I’m not better yet. It’s been over a year since that night and I am not better. I don’t touch those tablets and I don’t take laxatives and I haven’t purged since November, but I am not better. I am still at war with my mind. I wake up every morning uncertain of whether food will be okay or not. It’s exhausting. I wake up every morning ready to fight. It’s exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet, I am still fighting.

music.

One of the first things I did when I realized that maybe in order to start my journey with God was to find music to connect with. Music makes up a large part of my life and I am very thankful to be blessed with ears that can hear. It’s helped me through the highs and lows of my life and I am forever grateful at the hands of the Lord.

So I went on a mission to create a playlist of music to which I may connect with to find Him. Including artists like Dan + Shay, Casting Crowns, and Chris Tomlin. I wanted to share it here, maybe someone will stumble across this and find something to connect with as well.


Other playlists I made:

  1. January 2017
  2. February 2017
  3. March 2017
  4. Letting go // Getting Out
  5. c h a n g e
  6. grxw