Secure Your Anchor To The Light

It’s insane to think about all that can happen in one year. It’s so amazing to me that you can actually become an entirely new person in just twelve short months. The whole world can transform into a completely different place. Maybe a year ago you were stressing about GPAs and SATs and other ominous acronyms and now you’re sitting back enjoying your summer before you go off to your dream school for the next four years. Maybe you were going through a vicious breakup and swearing you wouldn’t survive and now you’re going on a date with that cute guy you met at the bank (or let’s be real, on Tinder).

A year ago I was smack in the middle of the worst year of my life. Just 8 months earlier I was in a horrible five car pileup in the center lane on 275. My car was totaled. I had nightmares of car crashes for weeks and had to start taking the 2-hour bus ride to and from work. The next month I was missing Christmas with my family and fighting to raise enough money to save my best friend’s life. I was bedridden, calling out of work and drowning in anxiety and fear that I would never get to see my baby again. Then it was January of 2016. I was nursing a broken cat back to life, knowing very well that the doctors said she probably wouldn’t recover, and sitting on $5000 in vet bills. When we finally made it out of the risk period and it looked like she was going to be okay, I went to Walmart to buy her a new collar to celebrate. I was standing in line at the self-checkout with my groceries and Cat’s new present when I got a text.

“I’m so sorry to be the one to tell you this, but Meg’s gone.”

I dropped the eggs. I closed my eyes and took a long breath. I finished scanning my items, called a cab home, and brought my groceries inside. The door hadn’t even closed before I dropped to the floor in agonizing sobs.

The next few months were a blur of razor blades, blackouts and benzos. Nothing prepares you for losing a friend to suicide. I didn’t leave my bed for weeks. I dropped out of school and quit my job. I ignored all my friends and began despising the people I once loved. I ate too many white sticks and blacked out for days at a time. I was the farthest from okay that I have ever been, so deep in the darkness, no speck of light could reach me. I self-destructed.

Around this time last year, the dark storm clouds in my head were starting to fade. I slowly started to come back to the real world. I was nowhere near okay yet; I still had another car crash, mono, a heartbreak and a suicide attempt ahead of me, but I came up for air for a little while. That little break was enough to restore some bit of hope deep inside of me. Something in me anchored onto that light and though I dove back down into the darkness and lost it for a while, I eventually found it again and started to climb. Now here I am, in 2017, alive. I just got home from a job that I love and I’m sitting in the bedroom that I’m in the process of remodeling, texting my (human) best friend and petting my two healthy cats. I have real friends who genuinely care about me and a blade hasn’t touched my skin in months. It’s an entirely new world and I’m an entirely new person. I’m happy.

I know that this has been long, but I hope that you read it and that you see that no matter how dark your life gets, it’s always possible to come back to the light. You might be ready to end your life today, but think about how much can change in a year. A year from now your life will be in a different place than it is today, and don’t you want to stick around to see what that’s going to be like? Don’t you want to give yourself a chance to be happy? I’m living proof that it’s possible. I always say cliches are cliches for a reason, and this is the perfect example: It gets better.

 

 

Dedicated to everyone who lost someone this past year, and to anyone who may be hurting.

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It’s Not Always Us

An essay on mental illness

When things go wrong it’s human nature to look for someone to blame. Often people look for others to blame but for a lot of us with mental illness, it’s more likely that we’d choose the easier victim – ourselves. It makes sense. We’re the one common variable in everything bad that has ever happened to us. We’re the one thing that doesn’t change. Something I hear people say a lot is “I hate myself.” I say it too, often when I’ve done something embarrassing, but for a lot of people and even for me sometimes, it has a deeper meaning. We’re not saying it out of embarrassment but out of pure, true self-loathing. It’s because we blame ourselves for the bad things that have happened to us, and in some cases it’s true. It is our fault. We’re the idiots that got drunk and lost our wallets. We’re the hotheads who got into a fight at the bar and landed an assault charge. We’re the cowards that picked up a needle for the first time.

But it seems we often forget about another common variable, and that is our mental illness. It is never without us and we are never without it. Something so so important is the ability to recognize when it’s coming into play. It’s important to be able to recognize when it is to blame. It’s not always really us having a panic attack over a boy that didn’t text us back, but our anxiety. It’s not always us jumping from one wild decision to the next, but our bipolar. It’s not always us making the decision to pull out a blade or swallow a bottle of pills, but our depression. In order to stay sane, it’s crucial that you learn to recognize this. You’ll drive yourself mad blaming yourself for everything bad that has ever happened in your life. Sometimes it really truly just was not your fault. Your mental illness is never your fault.

I wrote before about how I’d never felt more suicidal than the day after I attempted suicide. A lot of that was due to the regret and embarrassment I felt both from failing but also for ever trying in the first place. I was embarrassed that my friends had to be practically stripped down in order to visit me in the hospital. Mainly though, I felt a bitter, almost cruel sense of guilt. I felt so guilty that my roommate had to drive me to the hospital on her first night back from vacation. I felt so guilty that my best friend was being attacked for not getting to me first. I felt so guilty that everyone had to change their everyday pattern in order to cater to me, the suicidal psychopath sitting in bed next to someone who “really deserved to be there.” What I’ve come to realize about that night is that it wasn’t me who picked up that bottle. It wasn’t me shoving pills down my throat. It was my depression, and it was trying to kill me.

This is not to say we should blame all our faults on our mental illness. As I said, sometimes it really is just our fault! Sometimes we really did mess up and in those times we should accept blame and deal with any repercussions that follow. However, sometimes our mental illness makes decisions for us that are beyond our control, and during those times we should cut ourselves some slack. It’s not our fault that we self-destruct. It’s not our fault that we’re sick.

 

Dedicated to a friend who needs to give herself a break.

I’ll Take Your Darkness So You Can Go Into the Light

It’s odd when you meet someone who really honestly truly gets you. There are infinite types of these people and infinite ways for them to enter your life, but my personal favorite are those tropical storms that roll through and engulf your soul. Those are the ones you find yourself most amazed by. They relate to you in every way imaginable and you have so few differences you pretend there are none at all. You instantly click: maybe drunkenly on a basement floor or maybe in the back of a cab or maybe through a mutual friend. Maybe some universal being just drops them into your life and disguises it as an exchange of phone numbers. They’re the ones you can share a pile of nachos with or split an entire ice cream cake or even devour both in one sitting. They know about your darkest parts and they’ve felt just as dark. They place a blade in your hand, not because they want you to do it, but because they trust you not to. They trust you not to let the darkness escape out through your veins and have nowhere left to go but into their lungs. And you don’t. You put the blade in your pocket with I’ll just do it later in mind and then later comes and you still don’t do it but you don’t know why. It just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do anymore, and you go to sleep.

Sometimes those people and you clash. You scream at each other in parked cars and punch holes through each others’ walls and spread horrible, regretful things about one another that shouldn’t be forgivable. Sometimes your feuds last minutes or sometimes months but eventually, the “differences” are worked through or glazed over and you’re right back to throwing your arms out the sunroof blasting the whitest of white girl pop and smoking a bowl while laid out in the middle of the street. These are the people you expect to be in your life forever. Growing up means changing and sometimes you move states away or go weeks without talking but you know they’re not actually far. The moment you suddenly remember the blade you left in your pocket all those years ago, you know it’ll be just minutes until they’re on the other end of the phone reminding you of the day they placed it in your palm in the first place, reminding you of their trust in your strength. They do more than support you, they teach you how to support yourself. They live through it with you. They hold you up and drag you along beside them to be sure that you get to live your life as fully as they do. They understand and they help.

These are the people you expect to be in your life forever. When you remember that blade and you know they’re on the other end of the phone to talk you off the ledge. When you meet a cute boy and you’re dying to send eight thousand pictures and every single detail you can find back and forth with one another. Growing up means changing, but growing up shouldn’t mean standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, frantically trying to toss your items on the conveyor belt and quickly glancing at your phone to be greeted by a text reading “I’m so sorry to be the one to tell you this…” It shouldn’t mean holding your breath while waiting for your taxi and trying to keep up the small talk with your driver for the entire nine minute drive and then longer as he helps you carry your bags into your apartment. It shouldn’t mean accidentally smashing all the eggs and your new wine glasses and it shouldn’t mean collapsing on the tile floor, unable to breathe or speak. You never expect to find yourself attempting to scrape together what few acceptable items you have for a memorial service and hop on a plane to Boston in the middle of the first week of a new semester. You never expect the weeks of “I’m so sorry for your loss”s or the “how are you doing?”s or the numbness that suddenly takes their place in your soul. You never expect having to watch other friends shatter as they try to come to terms with something that some of you aren’t sure you ever will. You never expect to find yourself drunk in the parking lot of a church at three AM because you just wanted to drop by and say hi or clutching a stupid Red Sox sweatshirt every night in hopes that they’re really laying beside you, watching Rapunzel and inhaling chips. You never expect to lose the ones who were supposed to be in your life forever.

These people knew about your darkest parts but they’ve felt darker. They trust in your strength but it’s because they have to. If they don’t trust in yours then how can they trust in their own? They know you aren’t ready to give all the way into the darkness. They know you still have some light in there and they see it and they reach for it, but theirs is buried too deep inside of them and although to us it’s so bright it’s nearly blinding, someday they just stop seeing the tiny flicker. Someday they just give into what they believe they’ve become. They trusted you not to let the darkness escape out of your veins and into their lungs, but they never promised to do the same. You breathe in the darkness and you walk over nails every single day and remember their trust in you because you owe them that.You breathe in the darkness and you keep that blade in your pocket and even when you find yourself in a personal volcanic eruption, you keep the promise you made to your friend years ago. You breathe in the darkness and you take solace in the fact that now, they are only just light.

From a “Former” Anorexic

I know that this is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to societal problems in today’s world, but it’s just something that I felt like writing about. And it’s been a while since I’ve written so please cut me some slack. I just stepped out of the most beautiful shower at the house that I’m sitting for this weekend (for Christine of course). It has three shower heads – one of them detachable. I used sugar scrub shampoo and body wash, tea tree conditioner, and when I got out I used tea tree/stress relief lotion across every inch of my body, as well as some detangling leave-in conditioner. I decided that I deserved to feel soft for once, even if it was just on the outside. After all this I thought to myself “Oh, I have to tell Christine how amazing her shower was and how great I felt afterwards.” And then I saw a scale.

Every single voice in my head shouted “no!” “don’t do it!” “you’ve made so much progress!” “you know you’re 103 you weighed yourself at home last week!” “DON’T DO IT!!” But I did it. Now what I wanted to tell Christine was “Your bathroom is perfect, except that damn scale! It must be broken because I refuse to believe I weigh that much! Haha!” 

For those of you who have never met me, I know you’re thinking “oh my god how could she think this?” “This girl must be insane” or the few of you whom I’ve never spoken to but we have oddly strange emotional connections via twitter/tumblr/whatever (you know who you are) may be thinking “I know she’s half serious but I can tell she’s also kidding so it’s also funny in a dark way but it can’t be THAT serious if she’s joking about it.” (Shoutout to you guys for mostly getting it).

For those of you that have met me in person, I know that you’re reading this thinking “How dare she worry about her weight?” “How dare she say she weighs too much when I weigh more than her?” “If she thinks she’s fat then what the hell does that make me?”

Those of you that know me pretty well would be reading this thinking “Oh God, here we go again.” “We better comment and argue and tell her she looks skinny.” (please don’t) “She needs to get with reality and realize she looks fine and we’re all so sick of this.” “Might as well not say anything because we know nothing we say would make a difference.” (Shoutout to you guys too, because you’re right. It wouldn’t).

Anyway I guess I have multiple points in writing this absolute train-wreck of a ….whatever this is, rant? Post? Nonsense? Whatever. My first point is that when someone has an eating disorder, even if it hasn’t flared up in YEARS, it is still there. Forever. There is not and never will be a point in which you will be able to say “oh I thought you’d gotten over this by now.” Eating Disorders are like alcoholism. They are addictions and recovery comes with steps and relapses and pain. They are things that you will deal with for the rest of your life. I don’t mean for this to be morbid, of course you get better, and of course it gets easier, but it’s still something that stays with you in the back of your mind forever. Three years ago you couldn’t even get me to eat half a slice of pizza and now I can down a whole medium pizza from Dom’s by myself without a second thought, but that’s not always the case.

There are days that it hits me. Hard. There are weeks that I go without eating after one mistaken step on the scale to see a horrifying number like 109. As I said at the beginning, those of you who do not know me or do not understand eating disorders are NOT going to see the problem with this. I’m aware that 109 is very low. I’m aware that the average healthy weight for my height (5’2″) is 120. I’m aware that most people my age/height weigh more than that, which is NORMAL because it is UNHEALTHY to weigh that little. What you’re NOT aware of is that I have never allowed myself to weigh more than 110. What you’re not aware of is the absolute terror that rips through my body seeing a number like that. What you’re not aware of is that I used to wake up with notes around my house telling me that “under 100 wasn’t an option, dear. You look terrible,” and I believed them. What you’re not aware of is that 109 pounds was enough to absolutely shatter me. What you’re not aware of is that 109 had me collapsed on the floor in a hyperventilating mess. All of this, after being in recovery for three years, over just 109 pounds. But hey – 109 pounds is a full twenty more pounds than what I was at four years ago when I would practically fly away with every light breeze, and even then I thought it was too much. Even 89 was too much.

And those of you sitting there reading this thinking “ugh I’m so jealous she weighs that little,” and “how dare she sit there and bitch about that when I have it way worse because I weigh more!” I’d like to personally shout out a massive FUCK YOU. Eating disorders are impossible to understand until you live through one. The triggers and the unnatural, warped perspective of ourselves and our weight are entirely out of our control. I suppose that’s a good segue into my final point. You CANNOT sit there and tell me that you are jealous of my 109 when that’s closest to my highest weight I’ve ever reached. You CANNOT sit here and tell me that I’m being dramatic or that I look fine and you look “so much worse.” That does not help me, it infuriates me. What helps me and others like me is simple support. Don’t try to argue with us or force us to eat. Just support us and help us through it the best that you can. If you don’t understand how to speak to someone with an eating disorder, check the many links I’ve shared over the years. Message me and I would be glad to share some more with you, or explain it to you myself and answer any questions, at any time.

And you know what else? That doesn’t help YOU to think like that. You’re jealous of a girl who cannot breathe when she breaks three digits? You’re jealous of a girl whose hair has been falling out since she was fifteen and whose heart can hardly handle a flight of stairs without feeling like it’s going to explode and who can most likely never have children just because you want a tiny body like her? And in case you weren’t aware, there’s a lovely little thing called Body Dysmorphia, which means that I don’t see the same body that you see. My (and people like me)’s brains do not work on the same level as yours. We see things differently and there’s no talking us out of it. The notion of “well if you’re fat then what am I” is absolute nonsense, because we see ourselves as something we are not, and we see you as our beautiful friend who we would do anything to be able to function like.

I guess all I’m really asking is please stop attacking me when I say I don’t feel like I look okay. Please stop commenting on my pictures telling me you’re jealous of my body. When I come to you about the panic attack I had over gaining three pounds, please don’t just brush it off with “well I’ve gained ten….” Please just be thoughtful of other people, especially those with disorders that you cannot and will not ever understand. When someone asks for help, they want help, someone to listen, not just to be told “well listen my life is worse than yours so…” Especially when it comes to situations like these. Gaining three pounds could be a minor setback for some people or it could be enough to end someone’s life. Please take eating disorders seriously and please take me seriously.

Again – I’d like to point out that I am always here for any questions/ help anyone may need with not only eating problems, but any form of mental illnesses. Even if we’ve never spoken before in our lives, please don’t hesitate to message me and I will tell you everything I know.

If you read all of this then thank you and I appreciate you more than you know.