Overcoming Bulimia

Between the age of 14 and 18 I was bulimic, sometimes dipping into anorexia. This isn’t something I’m ashamed of and I don’t have an issue discussing it, as I feel that I’ve come so far since that time in my life and if anything I think others struggling with the same issues need to know that it can and it will get better. The thing is, YOU have to want it to get better.

When I was ill I hid it from everyone for four years and then I think it just got too much for me. I started slipping up and people including my best friend and my Dad noticed. Because I wasn’t necessarily under weight (I’d always been slim and into sport), I was quick to brush it off as a phase and tell everyone I was ok and dealing with it. As I’m typing this, I realise I’ve gone off on a tangent, as I’m supposed to be talking about my relationship with food now, but hey, this is all part of the same thing!

Anyway, during those first four years I got very depressed, being bullied at school, being raped at the age of 17 and having no one to turn to.

So it’s all these little things added together that made me feel increasingly crappy about myself. I had no self worth, I shopped for new clothes like I had millions to spend, all in the hope that one day soon I’d find the perfect outfit that made me feel good again. As you can imagine, that didn’t happen.

So after a loooooonnnng time of feeling awful, treating my body in an awful way, and a pretty big breakdown one night at home, it all finally came out to my family. That cry for help was the best thing I ever did. The recovery didn’t come quickly, there were many long hospital stays and therapists, which I couldn’t help but feel was always a bit over the top – I suppose in my head, I was never as ill as I thought. Just because I wasn’t extremely underweight, didn’t mean I was any less in need of help… my mind was a pickle, a pickle in need of unpicking.

I’d go into the supermarket or a cafe and literally stand there in a daze for about 15 minutes, sweating, thinking about what I should eat and then walk out with nothing. Other times my mind wouldn’t even think, I just pick up a sandwich and some chips wolf it down and then have a cry on the way home when all I wanted was for the food to be out of my body.

Throughout all of this it was my Dad’s words that really stuck with me and helped me to recovery I think. My parents are the most amazing humans on this planet, so when my Dad said “I think you just need to get over it”, that wasn’t him being mean, that was just his black & white way of seeing it and in many ways he was right. No amount of therapist chats were going to help me, if I didn’t want to help me. I genuinely woke up one day and realised that I was so bored of being sad, bored of feeling sorry for myself, bored of always being tired and feeling rubbish, so I made a promise to myself to make some changes.

It wasn’t a quick and easy process by any means – there have been many small relapses over the years, but now so few. There have even been times at the age of 22 when I have called Shawn and said I feel so full after dinner and the thought of purging had come to mind. Because I know I don’t want to do it I just call him, am very honest with my feelings and then we just chat about the weather or something until I’m feeling calmer. The weather is a great thing… as is having an amazing supportive partner.

I hope in some very small way, anyone reading this who has struggled or is struggling with similar issues knows that you’re not alone and things WILL get better. Sometimes all we need is a good friend, boyfriend or family member who will support us, and a new focus.

My Third Suicide Attempt

I remember waking up to my 4 year old sister on top of me and my mom screaming because they had no idea why I wasn’t waking up. Little did they know I took 50 lorazopams a few hours before. I was in and out. I only remember slight moments.

I woke up again on our living room chair, Mom looking at my sliced up arms, crying. My older sister and her boyfriend at the time standing on the stairs trying to take in what is happening.

Everything was black again, hoping I was slipping away and would soon have my wish of being dead come true.

I woke up in the hospital, poison control was there. I was throwing up something black which I later found out was charcol and it helps reverse the affects of lorazopam.

They sent me home the same day and the next few days were a blur to me because the pills were still in affect.

When I completely came to, I was so angry and disappointed. I wanted to die and I failed at it like I have failed everything else in my life.

It is now 6 years later and I still wonder how taking 50 pills didn’t kill me or how they sent me home right away instead of putting me on suicide watch.

Till this day there are times I still think about it and wish that it would have worked, but I am also so grateful that is didn’t because I wouldn’t have the little family I have today.

I still struggle, but my Fiancé and my children help me so much.

An Open Letter to My Children, You Saved Me

My dearest loves,

You are the light of my life, you saved me.

You saved me from the pain and suffering that comes all too easily in this cold, bitter world, with just one smile.

You saved me from the anger that has filled my heart for so many years, with just one kiss. 

You saved me from all of the times that I’ve ever felt like I had no purpose, with just one word, “mama”. 

When the world comes crashing down around me; when things feel too stressful, all it takes is one look into your eyes, and I know that everything is going to be okay because I have you

You are so beautiful, so perfect in all of your ways. My only regret is not having you sooner, so I can love you longer. 

You have shown me the purest form of love. The first time I ever cried tears of joy was the day that I gave birth to you. 

The way that your eyes light up and fill with wonder so easily has taught me more than you could imagine. Too often, it is easy to take things for granted; things that I should appreciate and cherish. What I have come to realize while watching you grow is that this life passes us by way too quickly. It is important to soak in every second, because each moment is fleeting, soon to be nothing but a memory.

Your heart – so beautiful, so innocent, so pure, has never once been touched by true pain, bitterness or suffering. I dread the day that you feel your heart shatter into a million pieces, tears running down your face, not knowing where to turn.

Turn to me. 

Though I know all too well that there will be nothing I can say or do to mend your heart, I promise to be there to help you pick up the pieces. 

I promise to be there to listen to you, to hold you, to cry with you.

My wish for you is that you never feel alone. I pray that you never feel like you cannot come to me; there are no amount of mistakes in this world that could ever make me love you any less. 

You are a part of me, the best part might I add. 

You are my heart, my soul; everything that is good in this world. 

You are smart, you are talented. You are funny, and you are amazing.

You are hands down, my greatest accomplishment, my most precious gift. Nothing that I’ve done in my life before you is relevant. The second I gave you life is the second you gave me mine. 

You will never know the depths of my love for you, and all of the ways that you changed me for the better the instant that I set eyes on your beautiful face. 

You saved me.

Thank you for simply being you. 

All my love,

The luckiest mother in the world

My Social Anxiety

What do you think of when you hear the words, Social Anxiety?

For me. it’s so many things. It’s not wanting people to look at me when I’ve put on makeup because they might see my flaws, but then not wanting them to ignore me either because that hurts my feelings as a highly sensitive person. It’s not wanting to feel their eyeballs on my skin because that sets my nerves ablaze and I can’t handle that feeling. It literally makes me want to jump out of my own skin jacket on a regular basis. Social anxiety is saying things and immediately wanting to take them back because I can hear the echo in my own head and I can’t stand the sound of my own words. They are always wrong and too loud. My laughter is cacophonous. I laugh like a hyena on steroids. Social Anxiety is going by two names because I don’t want to offend my parents, but people have always made fun of my name, so I can’t make up my mind at what name I should use at age 22.

So, I use both, still. When people ask what my name is, I hesitate. I don’t want to offend myself either.Social anxiety when I was younger was getting my hand slammed in a car door while I was sitting in the backseat of a friend’s car and being too scared to tell her mom that she had hurt me. So, I just sat there while the car took off. I quietly mouthed the words ‘ouch, my hand’ so as not to be offensive. I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. When the adults finally understood what happened, obviously they were more upset that I hadn’t loudly said my hand was caught in the door. I was embarrassed then that I hadn’t spoken up. Social anxiety didn’t allow me to defend myself that day, so nobody ever realized what had happened and why I stayed quiet. Social anxiety for me means not getting my needs met on a regular basis and sometimes being in harm’s way. It’s feeling a sense of loneliness that threatens my sanity to its core, but not wanting to be around people for fear of being judged and laughed at. Social anxiety is like a prison for me.

It’s feeling like I don’t fit in with any of my friends or family members no matter how hard I try and wishing that I did. It’s not going to gatherings because I can’t stand the way my outfit looks and I’m sure other people will feel the same way about my clothes. It’s being sure people are judging my body and the way I look in my clothes even though I’m losing weight. It’s anticipating responses to conversations that I’ve had in my head and fleshing out full dialogues with people days in advance, so I know what they might say to me, then getting mad at them for their part in the imagined conversations. Social anxiety makes me a mind reader at times too, you see. It’s writing replies to people online or in texts and immediately regretting what I said because they don’t respond right away. Was I offensive? Did I say the wrong thing? Do they not like me anymore? Are they mad at me? The questions always plague me until I wish I hadn’t said anything in the first place.

Social anxiety is wishing I were mute sometimes. It’s wanting to stay quiet when I read what’s going in my friend’s lives online because I’m afraid if I chime in and comment, they’ll say it’s none of my business. Social anxiety robs me of the ability to understand normal social conventions and how to interact with people in a typical fashion; which is why I’m often more comfortable staying home by myself. It’s making jokes with people then immediately thinking I’ve hurt their feelings or crossed some line of acceptability and apologizing profusely until I become annoying or end up actually committing a social faux pas.

Social anxiety makes me think I’m always stepping on toes, that I’m always hurting people’s feelings and that I’m always doing things wrong. Sometimes I wish there were a book of social interactions that I could read to tell me how to be less socially phobic and to fit in better. I feel as though that might help me weather my social anxiety better. It’s not knowing my turn in a conversation when I’m talking on the phone, so I end up talking at the same time as people or not speaking and leaving awkward silences. Social anxiety makes me not know how to have conversations in a typical fashion. For me, social anxiety is so many things on a daily basis. I could say so much more but I’m afraid I’ve annoyed people already with the length of this essay and I feel like I’m complaining so I’ll end here. I hope I haven’t bored anybody.

Open letter to my Depression

Dear Depression,

You came into my life slowly, inching in and trying to see what you could get away with. You started simple, as depression often does, convincing me that the reason my father didn’t love me was that I wasn’t worthy of his love. That something was so inheritably wrong with me that of course he hated me and wanted nothing to do with me.

You planted this insidious seed, knowing it would push its way into all of my relationships and thoughts from then on. You’d created the perfect amount of self-doubt and self-hatred, which created a perfectly dark place for you to make your bed and set up shop.

You made me feel so rotten and broken on the inside that you convinced me I had to hurt myself. I spent years in my teens ripping at my skin with razor blades so I could feel something, or feel the hurt and pain you made me believe I deserved.

Now, I don’t hurt myself on the outside because you do such a good job of mutilating my insides that I don’t have to. You rip away all of my motivation and drive until I have nothing left, and then whisper in my ear that I’m lazy. Depression is full of these kinds of contradictions, causing people to self-sabotage at the exact moments they’re actually doing well.

You tell me things I’d never let anyone else in my life get away with telling me. You convince me I’m crazy, unlovable and unworthy of what I achieve. On days when you’ve done a particularly good job of wearing me down, you make me believe I deserved being raped years ago, the PTSD that came after and every breakdown since was all my fault and I brought it on myself.

A few times you tried to force me to give in to the darkness and end it all. I may have listened to you, as well, except for one thing.

The years of suffering from depression and the pain you’ve inflicted on me have in a way, backfired on you. Because you’ve reduced me to my lowest point so many times in my life and I’ve had to crawl my way back up each time, now I know for sure I can get through anything.

I am fearless, and you helped make me that way. And so I didn’t give in to you all those times, and I won’t give in if you ever try to make me commit suicide again.

I’ve never addressed you until now because it always seemed pointless. Part of me has resigned to the fact that you’ll always be with me, whispering in my ear, tearing me down bit by bit until I’m unable to fight you or keep you from ruining me. You’re something I have to live with, even though I hate you and I hate what you do to me with every fiber of who I am. I’ll openly announce to the world that I have depression because keeping you in the dark is more damaging than being open about your existence. You want me to suffer alone, but because I speak about you, I give strength to myself and to anyone else out there struggling with depression every day.

If you didn’t make me feel nothing, I’d be beyond furious at you. If you didn’t make me believe I deserve to feel so worthless, I think I’d have the motivation to banish you from my life forever. But because of your presence in my life for a decade now, you’ve successfully worn me down enough that I’ve decided to live with you.

But I’m not going to make it easy for you.

I know, now, after years of trying different strategies to shove you back in the dark, how to manage and control you. I know how to take care of myself when you’re intent on hurting me. You might get in my head so badly that I’m a broken version of myself, holed up in my bedroom feeling everything and nothing at the same time, but I’ve learned what you hate.

You hate it when I burn you and wash you away with steaming hot water from a long shower.

You loathe when I drink warm, comforting cups of coffee, with three sugars for extra sweetness to help fight your bitterness.

You despise my favorite movies; They are your most hated crutches because they comfort me, and you wish they didn’t.

You can’t fight me when I refuse to fight back because I’m too tightly wrapped in my duvet, the arms of my partner blocking you from reaching me,

You can’t get a word in to criticize me or hurt me when I’m too busy with my amazing little family, who counteract your hurtful lies with assurances that I am loved, I am special, and I am better than you’ve made me think I am. I’m not just someone with depression, and I won’t let you tell me that I am.

Because I know how to push back against you now, I have more good days than bad ones. I’ve reconciled the fact that even when I’m having an amazing time, you’re over in the corner of the room in the shadows, your negative presence looming, a threat and reminder that you’re ready to attach yourself to me at any moment.

I’m okay with the reality that when I go to bed by myself, without my partner to lock you outside the door, I won’t really be alone. You’ll be embracing me in the dark, feeding my anxieties and deepest, darkest fears until I finally fall asleep.

I understand that you, along with anxiety and PTSD, your evil entourage, are mental illnesses that I have to learn to live with.

You may have power over me at times, but you don’t control me. Not anymore.