Thank God life isn’t as predictable as the fairy tales

Once upon a time there was someone who told me I wasn’t good enough, that I wouldn’t succeed, that I was wrong. But thankfully, my life is not as predictable as the fairy tales; my “once upon a time” doesn’t end the way that person thought it would.

I give myself a hard time a lot and put myself down, but I really do need to give myself credit. I’m a lot stronger than I (or anyone else) realize. I’ve been through a lot and I’ve come out the other side with hope for the future.

I’ll admit that I have my low points, but that does not mean I am not capable of achieving my dreams. I’m struggling a lot right now with a relapse into my eating disorder, but I’ve been free of self-harm for 42 days. Those 42 days have been extremely difficult and as time goes on it only gets more difficult to resist the urges, but I haven’t given in.

It’s frustrating when people who I once trusted with my darkest secrets are no longer supportive, but I know that their opinions of me do not define me. I’m going to prove them wrong about me. I’m going to succeed in ways which they believe I will never succeed.

Once upon a time I believed I was weak and incapable; once upon a time I was hopeless and angry; once upon a time I hated myself; but “once upon a time” is not where I’m living today.

I’m strong because I believe it.

xo

Ayla

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Looking back on the irony of my self-destruction

I’ve been reflecting a lot of my first few sessions with my original therapist and I’ve come to realize that I single handedly destroyed the things that I liked about myself as if I was refusing to appreciate anything about my appearance.

During my psychological assessment, my psychologist asked me if there was anything about my body that I actually like. I replied by saying that I liked my wrists because they are slender and my eyes because they are bright and colourful. But I’ve destroyed them both; one metaphorically and one literally.

I destroyed my wrists by self-harming. The scars on my wrists are a constant reminder of what I have done. I have a love-hate relationship with them; on the one hand I hate looking down at my arms to see the tell-tale signs, but on the other hand a part of me is desperate to have more.

I destroyed my eyes metaphorically. I used to enjoy the spark that I saw in my eyes; the happiness; the brightness. But that isn’t there anymore. When I look into my eyes now all I see is sadness and pain. While I know that a lot of this pain is not my fault, I also know that my eating disorder and self-harm have definitely contributed to the sadness that I see in myself when I look into the eyes reflecting back at me in the mirror.

I’ve destroyed the two things that I actually liked about myself.

But was it me or was it my disorder? Can I even separate myself from my disorder? I don’t know anymore.

Xo

Ayla

Starting over with my new therapist

Today was the day! I started to see my new therapist/psychologist. I was really anxious at first and I almost had a total meltdown in the beginning because I had to talk about the “trauma piece” as she called it. But after that things were okay and I slowly got a bit more comfortable.By the end of the session I felt okay with her and I was comfortable enough to be really honest about how I feel. At the very end of the session she told me that she wanted me to take some time to figure out if she is the right fit for me because she wants me to make the best choice for me that will help me the most in the future. I definitely think I will stick with her though. She was really nice and really encouraging me.

She made me feel like she really understood how much suffering I’ve been through and how alone I’ve felt. And when I told her that I was 31 days free of self-harm (thats right, I’m over ONE MONTH FREE OF SELF-HARM!!!) she was really happy for me and praised me. She made me feel like I’d really made a huge accomplishment by getting this far and encouraged me to keep going.

I also really appreciate the fact that she said no matter what it takes she wants to help me find a way to get more coverage for my therapy. My school has cut back the spending on mental health services for students so it’s really hard to get coverage for the sessions but she has basically told me that we will figure it out and that she is “not above incessantly making phone calls to get through to” my case manager.

Overall, she really made me feel comfortable and she already provided me with a lot of tips for dealing with my panic attacks. She also told me that she is more than willing to take baby steps and will back-off if there is ever anything that I can’t talk about and that there is absolutely no way that I can disappoint her. This is really important to me because one of the worst things anyone can ever say to me is “I’m disappointed in you” because it makes me feel so worthless.

I haven’t made another appointment to see her yet because my schedule is so crazy, but I definitely think I’m going to continue to pursue therapy. There is definitely still a lot for me to work on. But I’ll get there. Baby steps.

xo

Ayla

Finally getting around to seeing my new psychologist

Its been almost a month since my final session with my psychologist and I feel like I’m going crazy. I had an appointment to see the new therapist about 2 weeks ago but she had to cancel it for some reason and I just never got around to rescheduling it.

I think part of the problem is that I just really don’t want to switch therapists. I know I don’t have a choice considering the fact that my old therapist has probably had her baby by now, but i still really wish that I didn’t have to transfer to a new doctor. I had finally started to make progress and I was feeling more comfortable with the sessions. Now I’m back to feeling completely terrified of going to sessions. The idea of starting fresh with a new doctor actually makes me feel anxious to the point of panic if I think about it too much. But I can’t avoid it forever. Like I said, I feel like I’m going crazy. i’ve been having nightmares a lot lately and I am heading back down the road to bulimia so I definitely need to go talk to the new doctor ASAP.

I have an appointment for Wednesday during my usual class time. The only time this week that I could get an appointment was during a class so I’m going to have to miss half of the class, but I guess it will be worth it if it helps me feel better. Not to mention the fact that I have a close friend in the class who can send me the notes so its not like I’m going to miss all that much. But still a part of me wants to use the class as a reason to cancel the appointment. I’m having so much anxiety about transferring to a new doctor. I’m going to have to be treated for the anxiety that I’m having about treatment… because that makes a lot of sense.

I want to show you my reality, not the same old unrealistic depictions of mental illness

I’ve recently had someone ask me why I would share my raw and sometimes potentially triggering feelings regarding my mental illnesses on a blog dedicated to recovery and ending the stigma surrounding mental illness. The answer is quite simple: I want to be honest.

Recovery is not easy, its not a perfect process, and its not always going to be sunshine and rainbows. A common misconception is that when you are recovering you are getting healthier and you don’t have to face the same struggles as you were facing before. But that’s just not the case. On the contrary you have to face these struggles head-on whereas before you could ignore them and continue with your self-destructive eating disorder, self-harm, etc.

Its true that I could come onto my blog and only write about the positives, but I think it is important for people to realize that recovering from a mental illness is not easy. If I restricted my content to only blogging about the good days, then I would be potentially misleading someone else into thinking that they are failing at their recovery because they are having so many bad days. I want my blog to be raw and honest because I want people to know that they are not alone in their struggles. I want people who are suffering to know that everyone has their ups and downs, but I also want the family and friends of people who have mental illnesses to understand that recovery from mental illness is not easy.

I think it is important to talk about the reality of recovery in order to end the stigmatization. So many people think that you can recover from an eating disorder if you “just eat”. They think you can get over depression if you just “stop wallowing in self-pity”. They think that self-harm recovery is as easy as just throwing away the blades. But this isn’t reality. This isn’t what recovery is like.

I want people to see me thriving in my recovery process, but I also want people to know that I have my bad days as well. How can we ever hope to end the misconceptions involving recovery if we are not open and honest about our struggles?

I believe that the people who think that I should not talk about the bad parts of my recovery are the people who stigmatize my illness. These people do not want me to talk about my struggles because they do not believe that I am trying hard enough to get better. After all, you can get over mental illness if you just try harder, right? WRONG.

I’m here to spread awareness about what recovery really looks like, not what the “ideal” recovery looks like. There’s a big difference.

Ayla

My body is “back to normal”…and I hate it

I had an appointment with my doctor today and he was extremely happy with the progress that I have made. My weight is back to what he considered “healthy” (but which the BMI scale claims as overweight) and all of my vitamins, hormones, etc. are within the normal range.

So why am I so unhappy?

I feel like a failure. I feel like I’ve failed myself. Some days I am really happy with the progress I have made and then there are days like today when I hate myself, I hate my body, I hate everything about me.

I guess what started the horrible avalanche of emotions and self-hatred is the fact that the change in seasons has brought about a need for me to wear warmer clothes: ie. jeans. The problem with this is that I wore dresses all summer and leggings for the fall so I never really noticed just how much weight I had gained. But then I had to break out the jeans.

And I cried.

The jeans that fit me perfectly 6 months ago wont even fit over my thighs now. My “goal” jeans that I initially planned to fit into when my eating disorder really took off are so tight that the waist doesn’t event come up to the half way point of my thighs. Nothing fits anymore. And to make matters worse, I got rid of all of my “fat” clothes because I vowed to myself that I would never need that size again. I promised myself I would stay skinny. And I failed myself.

So now I have two choices: go buy new pants that fit or lose the weight and fit into the old pants.

I hate to say it but the only thing I want to do is lose the weight again no matter how unhealthy it is. I don’t care. I am disgusted with the way I look right now. I hate my body and I need to do something about it. I know that I might end up in a program for eating disorders if I succeed (that’s always the threat my psychologist and doctor give me when I start losing weight again) but I don’t care. I can hide it. I can pretend I’m “just stressed” and that is the reason for not eating. I can’t believe I let myself get to this point.

But I don’t think I will ever have the same level of self control that I had before. I don’t think I will ever be “successful” with my eating disorder ever again. My bulimia used to serve a purpose to help me lose weight. Now all it does is make me feel terrible about myself.

I hate my eating disorder.

I love my eating disorder.

I need my eating disorder.

My opinion on Pro-ana and Pro-mia sites

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t look at pro-anorexia or pro-bulimia websites when I was in the depths of my eating disorder, but I am happy to report that I have not been on such sites in about six months (with the exception of one time that I went on a site just to show somebody that the sites actually exist and are dangerous because she didn’t believe me). Having said that, there is a reason that I have avoided these sites for so long: they are dangerous, triggering, and addictive.

Pro-eating disorder websites exist for the sole purpose of fueling the eating disorders of people all over the world. The sites promote eating disorders, give tips and tricks on how to hide the disorders and how to do it “better”, and provide an environment for competition. For me, the competition was the worst. I didn’t need tips and tricks because I already knew it all. I didn’t need the fuel because I already had it. But the competition, that was another story. I am a perfectionist so I have a tendency to want to be the best at everything I do. Naturally, I wanted to be the best at my eating disorder. I couldn’t stand the thought of someone else being sicker than me; if someone else was doing “better” than me in the race to lose weight, I would basically internalize that to mean that I didn’t have an eating disorder because if I did I would weight ##.

Like I said, this was the darkest point in my eating disorder. I was in denial and I did not think that I had a real problem. But that is the problem with these sites. They trick you into thinking that you are not good enough to have an eating disorder, not good enough to live, not good enough for anything.

These sites are a breeding ground for unhealthy thought processes and behaviors.  I think these sites are horrible and should be taken down, but I think we all know that this will never happen. The said reality is that most of the people who create these sites are just as sick as the people who are participating in them.

I guess what I’m trying so say is that I think pro-eating disorder websites are horrible and only serve to make people even sicker than they really are. If you are reading this and you participate in pro-eating disorder sites or are thinking about joining in on one, please stop and think about what you are going to put yourself through. It will only make you sicker, more unhappy, depressed, and lonely. Think twice (or three times, or four, or however many times you need to stop and think before you decide not to search for pro-ED sites) before you search for pro-ED sites.

Stay strong loves,

xo

Ayla