It is all worthwhile.

You Always Have A Choice

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances

– Viktor Frankl; Man’s Search For Meaning

The first time I heard this quote by Holocaust survivor and philosopher, Victor Frankl, was in religion class in my junior year of high school. Now, let me just say that this was definitely not my favorite class, I also probably wasn’t always attentive during it as I should have been. However, when reading Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, when reading these words for the very first time – they were all I could think about.

Just to give a quick breakdown of the book so you understand the full extent of what he is saying here – Frankl was a prisoner in not one, not two, but three different concentration camps during World War II. This was a man who was dealt what was probably the worst hand imaginable. His book chronicles his time in the camps, but not in the way that you may think. While he definitely brings attention to the unfathomable cruelty that those in the camps face on a daily basis – he instead decided to focus on something else.

Hope.

This quote by Frankl is so meaningful because out of everyone, he had one of the most valid reasons to become bitter and hateful towards the world. To give up on hope. To give up on beauty. How can this truly be a good world when people are being whipped and beaten and gassed and starved?

If you choose it to be one.

In the concentration camp, Frankl was literally stripped of every right, every ounce of dignity, every bit of humanity. He had nothing but the right to choose the way that he would allow what was happening to him effect him. He chose to find beauty in the little things – maybe a joke shared while sipping the meager ration of “broth” offered to the prisoners, the clear blue sky so vast and magnificent as he marched towards the trenches for a long day of grueling labor. To Frankl, this right, this choice to decide who you would allow your circumstances to let you become, was a matter of life or death. Give up on yourself. See the world as nothing but darkness? You lay in you bunk and allow yourself to slowly shrivel and die. Choose light? Choose to find even the smallest glimpse of beauty in the most horrific of situations? Hey. You have a shot of getting out of here alive.

And that’s just what he did.

There is no single person on this planet that never experiences any type of hardship. Loss. Grief. Trauma. Sure, some of us seem to get a little more of life’s crap thrown at us than others – but none of us get through life completely unscarred.

There are too many times where I see people being excused for treating others badly because they are “going through a hard time,” or “have been through a lot.” Now, I’m not talking about snapping at someone accidentally while having a bad day. We all do that. It’s fine. What I am talking about here is going out of your way to make other people miserable. Trying to inflict the kind of pain on others that you have felt from whatever event(s) has/have occurred own life.

There is always a choice. No matter how hard and bad and ugly life gets – there is always a choice in the way that you react to it. The person that it makes you become.

Here’s a story for you –

When I was in middle-school a friend of a friend (who I had only met once) texted me telling me how I was a waste of space, how no one would ever loved me, how I was a “masochistic martyr bitch” (to this day I still am unsure of what that meant), how everyone would be happier if I killed myself, blah blah blah.

To be perfectly honest, this didn’t effect me once. Maybe it was because I was already majorly depressed and just accepted everything she said as the truth without batting an eye – or maybe it was that this girl had met me once. This wasn’t about me. It was about her.

I remember talking to my dad about it. I was so confused. He told me how the girl’s dad had died a few years prior and, because of that, it was effecting her in a way that allowed her to act like that.

This both confused and troubled me. I never really understood the reasoning of “He/She has been through a lot” for treating others as though they are nothing. I understand that bitterness, anger, resentment – these are all easy to feel when life beats you to the ground. Trust me, I know this all too well. It is easy to allow yourself to stay in your misery and to want to bring all those around you that you perceive as happy down to your level. I get that. I do.

I just don’t understand why this is seen as okay behavior.

In my eyes, in even the darkest of situations, you are in control. Yes, life throws things at you over which you have no control. You do, however, have control over both your response to it and how you allow it to change and form you as a person. You have the power to take the worst of the worst and allow it to make you better. You have the power to let the amount of darkness you have experienced allow you to see how much light there is. You have the ability to let all that is gone and lost to allow yourself to see and find a newfound appreciation for what is here and gained. You always have that power.

Now, this isn’t easy. Like I said earlier, it is a lot easier to let life defeat you. To become bitter and angry. When you allow yourself to be angry at everyone and everything in this world – you avoid dealing with the real issues. You’re not really angry at your friend for going to that party without you. No. You’re angry at your dad for leaving you at a time that you needed him most. Of course you won’t admit that; you probably won’t even know it. So you lash out and then use the excuse of your having “been through a lot.” But what you’ve been through isn’t what is causing you to lash out – your attitude towards what you’ve been through is.

It’s easier to let yourself sit in a room with all the lights off, convinced that the world is a horrible place and that there is no point in trying to pick yourself up and go back out into it. Yeah. It’s so much easier.

And so unfulfilling.

The hard stuff is turning on the lights. Allowing it in. Allowing yourself to see past all of the ugliness that you have experienced and see all the beauty that this world has to offer. It’s hard to let yourself be there for the problems of others and accepting them instead of internally grumbling about how you have been through so much worse. The hard stuff is allowing yourself to heal. To move on. To begin to slowly tear yourself away from the person you lost, the illness you had, the hardships you experienced. It is hard to allow yourself to see yourself not as a victim in need of attention and consolation but as the one there to give the attention and consolation. It is hard to allow yourself to let go of being the one that everyone panders to because you have “been through a lot.” It’s hard to allow yourself to just be normal. To not be the one who has been through a lot – but to be the one who has been through just as much as everyone else. It’s hard and it sucks a lot of the time. There are so many times where people treat me normally and I want to scream “Wait! Don’t forget about me! I have an eating disorder! Remember? My dad died! Remember?” It’s scary to allow yourself to be whole and healed after you have spent so much of your life as being the broken one.

But you’re not the broken one anymore. You are the one who took the hardships in your life, regardless of what they were, and accepted them. You have not only accepted that you have not had it as hard as some, but also that you have had it harder than others (I guilt trip myself a lot with this since I don’t really think I’ve been through a lot). You have detached this from your identity. You have de-specialized it. You have stopped it from being your story – it’s only a single chapter in the book of your life;

And you get to choose how the rest will be written.

 

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When You Feel Too Much

Let’s talk about feelings.

Each and every one of us experiences emotion in different ways. Yes we all feel the basics: happy, sad, angry, excited, nervous, etc… But the ways in which we experience these emotions and how we react to them vary greatly.Same goes for the world.Each and every one of us lives on the same planet. Yes our environment greatly impacts the way in which we experience the world – but we still all live in the same one. Again, the way we see and react to the world on us varies greatly.

So here we are, all of us humans bumbling around on the earth, feeling all the feelings – going through life, some of us like to keep our feelings to ourselves, some of us wear their feelings on their sleeve. Regardless, who a person is, their mentality, their heart… No matter how hard they try to keep it in, it seeps through their skin. It surrounds them. I know that talking about a person’s aura is completely woo-woo and ridiculous to a lot of people, but whether you believe or not, it’s hard to deny that we have an instinctual sense of a person before we even speak to them. If a person is sad, we can normally tell, or if they are worked up. If someone is generally not a good person, we tend to get a bad feeling about them – and if someone is a good person, we tend to feel safe around them without even really knowing them.

Some people are more sensitive to this – these auras are whatever you want to call them – some people are entirely consumed by how big the world is and how much is going on in it. Some people feel everyone else’s “stuff”, they take it in, let it soak in through their skin, they let themselves be consumed by the troubles of others. They want to take all the pain away from everyone in the world even if it means completely destroying themselves.These are the types of people that I want to talk about today.These are highly sensitive people (also called Empaths if you’re into the more out-there hippy-dippy stuff.. which I am).

Some of us, myself included, from the time we were old enough to have any awareness of the world around us, could feel the “stuff” in the world around us in such a way that it becomes a part of us.. It’s hard to explain.The best explanation of a highly sensitive person (and an extreme situation of it) is found in the book/film The Secret Life of Bees. In this story, one of the characters, May, is a bit of a mess. When she sees the news and something bad is happening in the world, when someone around her is experiencing pain, she completely breaks down. When describing May, he sister tells the story of how May was originally a twin. Her twin sister, April, and she were so connected to each other that they legitimately felt every bit of joy, pain, etc. that the other did. Her sister even tells of how when their father would take a belt to April, welts would rise up on May in the same places April’s did. Eventually, April died. When this happened, “the whole world became May’s sister.”

I remember the first time I heard this line in the movie, it felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Wow! I knew that feeling! I knew what it was like to feel all of the pain in the world to such a degree that it would cause me to physically break down. It was the first time that I felt less like an over-sensitive freak show who was too pathetically emotionally involved in everyone and every thing in my life to even function properly. Beyond just feelings all the feelings, there is another (destructive) part to being a highly sensitive person – see, when you care so deeply about others that their pains become your own, you tend to become the go-to person for everyone to come to with their problems. You sit with them, listen to them, cry tears for them,  their pains become yours and you will do anything to take those away from them.

You’ll overextend yourself to others – giving away all that you can possibly give just to make sure the people around you are happy. It is wonderful – but it is also exhausting. It is exhausting to live in a world where your entire life is consumed by trying to bare the weight of the entire world.

You will break down sometimes, shut down, it will all be too much. Of course, the people around you won’t know this. You are their go-to person. You are the one to talk to. You can’t be sad or struggling. You need to be strong for everyone. If you’re not strong, you can’t take care of everyone, if you can’t take care of everyone you are a bad person, if you can’t take care of anyone, you are nothing.

And so you develop these crazy semi (or, let’s be honest, completely) codependent relationships with every single person in your life. They are using you as their rock, what keeps them steady (and sometimes an emotional punching bag if the person kinda-sorta sucks) all while you are using them to help you feel like you deserve to exist in this world. Being the one who cares about everyone and loves deeply and helps everyone – that is who you are – if you fail to be that person to the degree that you are, you are nothing. You don’t exist.

Here’s the thing though, no one human being can hold the entire weight of the world on their shoulders forever, nor does any one human need to (the crazy part of my brain would argue this… no! the whole world is good and I am bad! I need to take all the pain away from the world because I am the only person in the world who deserves pain… yeah, not egotistical at all).

Eventually, your legs will buckle and you’ll fall. And no one will be able to catch you.Because suddenly you are not the person with the smiling face and the never-ending capacity to love and listen and care. Suddenly you are breaking down. You can’t hold anyone up at all anymore. You push people away because you don’t know what else to do. You are no longer good and helpful – and because of this, you deserve nothing. No love. No friendship. Nothing.

When you are no longer good and helpful, you no longer exist. Still, you feel the entire weight of the world – only this time you are unable to do the one thing that made you feel even the smallest bit worth something -Helping others.

Fact of the matter is, taking on the weight of the entire world is really just a way for us to avoid our own emotions.. To face ourselves. Oh! I have no time to think about my own problems! I’m fine! Honest! Do you need to talk? I’m here for you. Always. We take on everyone else’s stuff in a desperate attempt to stuff our own struggles down. However, no matter how far down you shove it, like a floatie in a pool, it’s always going to rise to the surface. You’ll have to face yourself. You won’t want to face yourself. You’ll shut down. You’ll maybe even self-destruct. Collapse in on yourself.

It’s all too much.

I feel too much.

Why do I care this much?

This isn’t normal.

Why does no one ever care about me as much as I care about them?

I need to turn my mind off for a little while.

Eventually, you will need to seek out some sort of help. This is hard for you – you are used to giving help, nor receiving it. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unsafe. You’re not worth it.You were light.. But bit by bit, you gave your light away to everyone else. You gave away everything you had and was left in the dark.

It’s all about setting healthy boundaries – something that I, after 21 years of crying because a tree is going to get cut down or something equally absurd, am only just learning how to do. You need to learn how to put your hands up sometimes and say sorry, but you have to take care of yourself for a little while. You can still be the person who helps everyone. You can still be the person that people sit and talk to even when they barely know you because they “just feel safe.” You can still be all those things, but even more.

Because now, instead of giving away all of your light, you’re keeping it. You’re using it to better not only others, but yourself. You are realizing that your worth goes beyond your ability to help others. That is just a part of you, it is not all of you. You are worth existing just for the simple reason that you do exist. Just by existing in this world as you, the whole you, is enough. It’s more than enough.I wish I could say more about this magical place where you learn to use how deeply you feel things to be there for others in a way that many can’t all while also protecting yourself. How you can live in this world and take it all in without feeling like the walls are closing in around you because the world is too big and you are too small.

I’m not there yet.

But I will be

.DrowningFINAL

On Heartbreak

Let’s have an open, raw, and borderline-humilating conversation about something that is weighing very heavily on my mind right now.

Heartbreak.

I am the kind of person that probably sets myself up to be heartbroken. I love way too much. Get too emotionally invested. This kind of “you are my heart and soul my world revolves around you I would die for you” love is great in books and movies, but in reality… It’s probably not so healthy.

And so when you feel too much, too deeply, you set yourself up to get hurt.

I tend to find a certain person in my life and make them my entire world. I tend to devote my entire life-force to one person, one specific person. I tend to live and breathe for one specific person. I tend to base whether or not it is a good day on the amount we speak on that certain day.

I tend to make a person my everything.

Then that person leaves without warning.

And my entire world comes crashing down around me.

It’s not fun.

As someone who deals with mental illness, I’m no stranger to pain, depression, anxiety etc. I have been working very hard in therapy for years, gaining new understandings of the way that my brain works and learning ways of coping with uncomfortable feelings and intrusive thoughts. I can handle mental illness, maybe not well, but I can handle it enough to function.

Pain surrounding losing someone?

I don’t think anyone can be prepared for that.

I have never really given much thought to the concept of a “broken heart.” I have never really had any reason to. I saw heartbreak in movies and read about them in books – but in my personal life, I never experienced true heartbreak.

Sure, I had had my heart broken before. Who hasn’t? But the kind of heartbreak that I had experienced in the past – the “oh no my ‘first love’ (i.e. – 13 year old puppy-love) is breaking up with me the sky is falling” kind of love.. But never this. What I feel now, it’s indescribable.

When you have your heartbroken, whether it be through the loss of either a romantic or a platonic relationship, you have no control. Here was this person, this amazing, incredible, person that you loved more than you even knew was possible. The person who made you believe in something again. The person who made you feel safe and loved. The person who made you feel like you were actually worth something. This person meant the absolute world to you. They had you, all of you. They had you believing that “always” really meant always.

And then, out of nowhere, they are gone.

And your entire reality, everything you have every thought or felt or believed, begins crashing down around you.

And all you can do is watch.

There is no feeling more painful than that of being totally helpless. When there is this pain, this excruciating, indescribably pain, this pain that is all consuming that is tearing you apart from the inside out and there is nothing you can do except sit with the feeling and wait for it to pass… Well… It’s terrifying.

There is nothing more painful than loving someone with all of your heart and soul and believing that they felt the same only to discover that not only do they not feel the same, but they do not care at all. There is nothing you can do to make them care, and there is nothing that you can do to make yourself stop loving them. Again, all you can do is sit with the feeling and wait for it to pass. Again, this is terrifying.

There is the flood of confusion. How is this happening? How is this possible? No. It can’t be. You were my forever person. We said we would always be here for each other. How did we go from talking about seeing X movie when it comes out one night to you completely deciding that I am worthless the next? Nothing makes sense and it’s all so wrong. Nothing feels right. Being in a world that no longer involves this person doesn’t feel right. How is this happening? How do you go from telling someone you love them one day to treating them like dirt the next? There are too many questions and not enough space in your brain to process them all. Your head will go fuzzy. Your body will start shaking to the point that your teeth are chattering and you can’t stand up without collapsing. You will want to, simultaneously, throw up and scream and cry and collapse and disappear. You will think about never seeing the person’s face again. You will picture their face and it will make you smile for a moment, only to then cause you to collapse into sobs. You will think about having your arms around them, and their around you. You will think about the feeling that you got – that one that made you feel safe and warm and loved. You will think about how you will never experience that again. You will feel like there is ice running through your veins.

It’s all just too much.

You will feel like you’re dying. You will truly feel like you are dying… Only you won’t die. There is no relief from the pain you are feeling. All you can do is sit with the emotion.

You will reach out to the person. Your person. The person you love with all of your heart and soul. You will write long, frantic, and passionate messages to them and you will send them without thought (because any semi-rational person would never send all of these messages), you will beg and plead, you will apologize for things that you probably shouldn’t be apologizing for, you will beg for an explanation, a conversation. Closure. You will text and call and text and call until each and every ounce of your dignity is gone and you have not only completely humiliated yourself, but have also gotten your phone number blocked.

All you wanted was a conversation. One more time. Face to face. An explanation. A way to move on.

Because you can’t move on. When someone who you made your entire world abandons you without any warning or explanation, you can’t just move on. Especially when you’re a sensitive person (which I would expect many of you who read this blog are, given I talk so much about mental illness and other subjects that pertain largely to sensitive people). You need closure. You need to know why. If you don’t know why, you will obsess. And when you obsess, you will be unable to function in every day life.

You will be unable to be alone. You will shadow family members in your home. You don’t need to speak to them, you just need to make sure that they are there. That you are not alone. When you are alone is when you fall apart. When you are alone you get to think of how everything is your fault. How the best thing to ever happen to you, your person, hates you. You are worthless. It is all your fault. Look how easily you were replaced. You never meant anything. These thoughts will take over the entirety of your mind when you are alone. They will have distinctive voices. They will scream. Your entire body will shake. Your skin will burn. You will break out in a cold sweat. You will get up. Pace. Go outside. Run. Maybe if I run, I can get away from the screaming for a little while.

Sometimes you will think that you’re okay. That you’re “over it.” You will smile and laugh and want to dance. It’s okay. It’s all okay. Everything is great. Then you will see something – a TV show that you watched with your person, you will hear a song that you remember blasting in the car with your person by your side. You will think about silly things. Laughs that you shared. Special moments. You will think about how special these moments are to you. You will think about how your person, more likely than not, isn’t thinking about these moments. Your person isn’t thinking of you at all.

Back down into the void you go.

You will try to rationalize. No. This is impossible. We are meant to be in each other’s lives. You can’t just stop loving someone. This is impossible. There is hope. They will reach out. You two will talk. It will all be okay. Love. Love conquers all. This kind of love is not one that is experienced more than once in a lifetime. This kind of love doesn’t end like this. No. We need each other. Right? Well. Actually.

Your person doesn’t need you anymore.

You will think of your person with a person other than you. Sharing the same laughs, the same mannerisms. Listening to the same songs. Sharing the same secrets. You will feel your stomach turn. You will want to sleep for forever. You will want to run away. You will want to scream. You will want to hold on for dear life.

You will want to be angry. You will want to hate the person. Good riddance. Who needs ’em? You will try. There will be others. This is not the end of the world. This person is not the same person that you met and loved all that time ago. No. Things will get better for you. It will all be okay. Okay. Okay.

You will want to hate this person.

But all you will be able to do is love them.

This is your greatest pain.

 

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As always, Grey’s says it best.

 

 

 

Dissappearing Act

This is going to be, by far, the toughest thing I have ever had to write. I’ve been meaning to make this post for years now (in fact, I had one similar to it on my previous blog… which I then freaked out and deleted). I don’t really know what is it about this, I’ve never been one to shy away from sharing personal things (often too-personal actually), but God.. This one thing.

So here it is – my eating disorder story.

I think that it’s important to state, before getting into it, that “eating disorder story” videos and blog posts are all over the internet and I in no way believe that mine is anything remarkable. Still, I feel compelled to share it. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I know that eating disorders look 110% different in each and every person who experiences them. Because of this, it often feels like you are completely alone. You read other people’s stories and find none of their experiences are matching up with your own; and when you do happen to come across someone who, somehow, perfectly articulates a way in which you have felt your entire life – the feeling is indescribable. I don’t think that there can ever be too many people talking about eating disorders, or for that matter, mental illness a whole. There is so much stigma, misunderstanding, judgement that exists within the discussion of mental illness – and this is, literally, killing people.

Take a deep breath, Erin. Here I go.

I was 6 years old when I first decided that I was too much. I wish that I could tell you just exactly what “too much” meant. I’m unsure. All I know is that I felt it.

I think that perhaps it was the fact that, for the first time, I became aware of the fact that I had a body. Now, this may seem a bit silly. I mean, we all have bodies. Duh. But I think that I became aware of the fact that I had a body that was different than that of those around me. That I was a specific height and weight, that I took up a different amount of space than everyone else (as we all do). I didn’t like the fact that I took up space – that I existed.  I wanted to fold myself up, shrink down, become invisible. I felt too out in the open. Too vulnerable. Too real.

I was always an extremely anxious person. At that same age where my less-than-ideal relationship with my body began, 6, I also began to have panic attacks. I would think about dying a lot, I would think about the possibility that there was nothing there after it all, I would think about the blackness, the unknown.

I would think about oblivion.

Of course, at the time I wasn’t aware of the fact that these were panic attacks. All I knew was that I would think about these things and would lose my ability to breathe. It would feel like someone had my heart in their hands – squeezing it with all their might. I would be unable to stay still – I would have to thrash about, for if I didn’t I felt as if I would explode. I would go downstairs and tell my parents that I felt sick, that I needed help. I would sit with them and cry until the fear went away. I would go back to bed. The next night, it would happen again.

As my fear of the world as a whole grew, so did my unhealthy relationship with food. From a very young age, I associated food and eating with shame and weakness. Eating was not something that I should have to do. I feared my own humanity (which actually makes sense given my complete obsession with death and dying), I wanted it to go away. I couldn’t be human. I couldn’t. I don’t know why I felt (and currently feel) this way, but I know that my entire life has been centered around trying to deny my own humanity. I wanted to be something else – to escape the physical. Writing this, I know that I sound crazy, and I probably am.. But I know that I am not the only one who feels this way.

I remember one specific incident during what was either my 7th or 8th birthday. My family and I were sitting at my dining room table in front of a giant Power Puff Girls birthday cake. I was upset because I didn’t want my dad to cut into one of the characters’ face. My dad, being the awesome person that he was, cut the entire face of the character out of the cake and put it on a plate in front of me.

“Wow.” He laughed, “This is a really big peace of cake.”

I started hysterically crying at the mere mention of the size of a piece of cake that I was MAYBE going to eat (and probably not finish, the thing was the size of my head), left the room, and spent the rest of the night crying on the couch. I refused to eat anything.

There is this idea that eating disorders are about the physical body. That they are a disease of vanity. Let me starve myself so that I can look like XX model on the cover of XX magazine. If that is the case, how do you explain the 7 year old who refuses to eat because she is ashamed of even the idea that she would ever need to eat anything. How do you explain the 8 year old that hides the bag of carrots under the couch until everyone is out of the kitchen so that she can put them back without anyone seeing her. How do you explain the 10 year old telling herself that she doesn’t deserve to eat dinner most nights – so she skips them. Are children really that concerned about their bodies that they would starve themselves at such an early age? Because I sure as hell never once thought about wanting to look like a girl on the cover of J-14 or whatever other teeny-bopper magazine I was reading. Eating disorders are in no way about aesthetics – weight loss, food restriction.. these are symptoms of a much deeper issue.

Of course, I did always have body-image issues. If you asked me to tell you the last time I felt good about my appearance, I wouldn’t have an answer for you. I have always had a complex about my body. Again, the mere idea of being human, having a physical body, and taking up space in the world were too much for me to handle.

It’s hard to explain body-dysmorphia (which is NOT an eating disorder and deserves a post in it’s own) to people who don’t explain it. The best that I can do is say that I have no idea what I look like. Imagine that you are in one of those carnival attractions where each wall is lines with distortion mirrors. Some stretch you out, some compress you, all distort you and make you into something that doesn’t appear to be human. Now imagine if every time you looked at yourself, you saw what you see in those distortion mirrors. If every time you looked at yourself you looked completely different than you did the last time you looked. Each time, you don’t look human.

So pair body-dysmorphia with severe anxiety (that manifested in a weird relationship with food), major depression that hit me in the 6th grade, and a severe sense of needing to “punish myself” for existing as myself (because, you know, I must be the worst creature to ever walk the Earth and was obviously put here on Earth as a mistake… a tad self-centered don’t you think?) – and you have yourself the perfect ingredients to mix up a big ‘ole Eating Disorder.

While I had the characteristics of someone with an eating disorder my entire life (as most of those who struggle with them do),the summer going into my sophomore year of high school is when it all really spiraled out of control. To explain it all would take up far too much time – so I’ll try to stick to the details.

I finally decided to “really try” to “lose the weight” that I “needed to lose” to be “happy.”

I set myself a goal weight.

I hit that goal weight.

I still hated myself

Set another one.

Hit it.

Hated myself more.

And then I just let myself fall.

Almost the entirety of this point of my life is blacked out. I remember small flashes here and there – almost all food related. I remember the Luna bars that I brought for lunch every day. I remember having a very specific way that I had to eat them, and that I ate so slowly that often by the time lunch period was over, I hadn’t yet finished the bar. I remember when I stopped eating lunch all together.

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I remember chewing pack after pack of Extra Dessert Delights Mint Chocolate Chip gum. I remember needing to chew each piece of gum for exactly an hour to “burn off” the “heaps” of calories that existed in a single piece of gum.

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I remember being taken to the psychologist for the first time. Why would I need to go? I was “fine.” I was “just stressed.” I was “in control.” I remember the way that she looked at me, the slight smile that I read as patronizing. The sound of the menthol cough drops that she sucked on throughout the entirety of each session clacking against her teeth.

“Why are you here?”

“My parents think I have an eating disorder.”

“Do you?”

“I don’t know… Maybe.”

“Well. If this keeps going, you might. But right now you don’t look like you have an eating disorder.”

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I remember being cold. So cold. The kind of cold that seeps into your bones and makes your entire body cry out in agony. I remember having to get off the bus to walk home and getting right into the bath because it was the only thing to do to make the pain stop. I remember being so cold but thinking, “Hey. Shivering burns calories. Right?”

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I remember being unable to do my floor exercises in dance class anymore. Every time I tried to roll, I felt like I was being stabbed as every bone in my body pressed into the hard wooden floor. Sitting in class at school became unbearable as my spine and sitting bones jutted out into the seat with no fat or muscle to protect them. My hair was falling out in chunks. My skin was yellow. I moved in slow motion. I smiled. I was “fine.” I was “okay.”

Thing is – there was a part of me that really thought I was.

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I remember being admitted to the hospital. I remember the fear – the greatest I had ever experienced. I remember calling my dad from the E.R, I remember him telling me that we’d be home together soon,  I remember being put in a wheel chair, I remember sleeping in a cot in the hallway, I remember waking up with to an alarm, to my I.V. having been pulled out. I don’t remember getting the I.V. I don’t remember getting the heart rate monitor. I don’t remember how I got from the E.R. to the pediatrics ward. I only remember fear. I only remember alarms going off at night as my heart rate dropped into the 30s. I only remember feeling like I “don’t belong here,” “how did it get like this?” “I’m not even that sick.”

“I’m gone.”

It has now been almost 5 years since I was admitted to the hospital. I wish I could say that if fixed me, that we have a superb medical system in the diagnosing and treating of eating disorders. I wish I could say that it was just a small piece of my life that I am now over. A childhood phase that all girls go through.

To say that would be the biggest lie that I could ever tell.

Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders don’t just go away when you gain weight. In fact, they often worsen. People tend to focus on the physical aspect of eating disorders instead of the mental… Which is funny because they are, actually, mental disorders. Doing this is like focusing on weight gain or loss with depression.. The physical ailments that often accompany eating disorders are indeed serious, but they are NOT the disease themselves. They are SYMPTOMS of something much greater. In focusing on the physical and not the mental aspects of eating disorders we are not only perpetuating the stigma surrounding eating disorders, but we are also heightening the possibility of relapse (or multiple relapses) in sufferers/making it that they never get into real recovery to begin with.

One of the most upsetting and frustrating parts of being someone with an eating disorder is that unless you look like you are about to die – it is assumed that nothing is wrong with you. You gained weight and are therefore “all better.” This just simply isn’t true and often leaves the sufferer feeling more alone and isolated than ever. When you have an eating disorder, there is a constant voice in your head telling you that you are “not sick enough,” and when those around you believe that eating disorders are all about weight – that voice just goes stronger.

Eating disorders are largely diseases of addiction (particularly bulimia) and like addiction – the substance is not the main issue. Alcohol is not the cause of an alcoholics illness – they it is a combination of their biology, environment, and mental health that manifests the disease. And yes, I said disease. For that matter, an alcoholic does not simply stop being one once the sober up. Even if they haven’t had a drink in 50 years, they are still and alcoholic, still in recovery. They are still fighting with all they have each and every day to stay sober, to stay clean. The same goes for someone with an eating disorder. Only for someone with an eating disorder, they can’t abstain their drug of choice. Contrary to popular belief, humans actually need food. Quite a bit of it in fact. Each and every day. A person with an eating disorder needs to be exposed to the substance that they are addicted to (or addicted to the control of) each and every day, multiple times a day. That is hard as hell. Each meal for someone with an eating disorder is a challenge, and that doesn’t just go away. Over time, with a lot of determination and recovery, a person can learn to cope with their disordered thoughts and feelings better. They can go longer and longer periods of time without intrusive thoughts or acting on disordered behaviors – but they don’t just go away.

Eating disorders are misunderstood by almost everyone, and it’s not hard to understand why. As animals, our main instinct is for survival. When you have an eating disorder, you are literally fighting against your main primal instinct. You are fighting against what makes you an animal, what makes you a person. When you starve yourself (there are many other eating disorders and they are all valid but I am using starvation as an example here), your body will make you eat. Your animal brain will take over and FORCE you to eat. This is why people who go on crash diets often gain all the weight back and then some. Restricting food is not about control. We don’t have control over our survival instincts – people who crash diet binge because their body is trying to keep them alive.

With an eating disorder, the disease quite literally shuts off all of your survival instincts. Humans shouldn’t be able to starve themselves to death on purpose – yet with restrictive type eating disorders – this is exactly what they do. Why is this? Is it because anorectics have ungodly amounts of willpower? No. It is because they are sick. Mentally ill. They have an illness that has quite literally shut off their humanity – their survival instincts.

There is also the misconception that people with eating disorders are stupid and vain. Again untrue. People with eating disorders tend to be highly intelligent, highly sensitive, and highly competitive. That’s right, competitive. Eating disorders manifest differently in everyone, so it would be wrong of me to make a blanket statement about all eating disorder sufferers. But it is common to want to be “the best” at everything, including your eating disorder. To be “more than human.” There is no winning at an eating disorder. You either go into recovery or you die. Plain and simple.

The media likes to raise awareness for eating disorders by blaming society for eating disorders. While it is wonderful that awareness is being raised – where it is being raised to is wrong. By blaming society for eating disorders, we are trivializing them and making them out the be something that they are not. Through reading this (obscenely long) post, I hope that if nothing else, you have a slightly better understanding of what an eating disorder is and, most importantly, and how it is not about the food. It is not about weight loss or looking good or being attractive. It is not for attention. It is not a phase. It is not something that white middle class teenage girls go through. No. Eating disorders affect people of all races, ages, genders, and socio-economic statuses. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They do not only matter when a person is visibly ill. They are not never eating at all, they are not purging everything. They come in various shapes, sizes, and forms and each and every one is valid.

Eating disorders do not just go away when you gain weight. They stay with a person forever – please be sensitive to that. Eating disorders occur in people with pasts of trauma, and in those without them – in both cases they are valid.

I feel like I could go on forever. There is so much that I missed out on here, and I fear that I didn’t put enough in here to give a clear image of what an eating disorder is. I fear that the handful (if even) of people who read this will leave this with just a much knowledge about eating disorders as they did before they got here.

So let me leave you with this.

If you are someone who is struggling or believes that they may be struggling – your struggle is valid. How you feel is valid. I don’t care if you are 70 pounds or 300 pounds. If you think you need help, PLEASE. I implore you. Please get help. If you go to a doctor or therapist and they belittle your struggle or don’t believe you, find a new one. Find a support group. Please. Just get help before you are too far gone.

If you are someone who know someone who you believe may be struggling – PLEASE confront them. They may hate you, this is true, but you could potentially be saving their life. They will forgive you someday. They will thank you. I promise. It happened for me.

If you are someone who has never experienced an eating disorder, whether it be in yourself or in someone that you know – I hope that this left you with at least a speck of understanding, of compassion, or awareness, of all of this. Eating disorders are a matter of life or death – they are not vain or silly or a phase or a choice. They are a disease, and a deadly one at that.

It has been a long time since I was in the hospital, and I wish that I could say that I was doing great. That I loved myself. That I was all better. I can’t do that. I still don’t know what I look like. I still see a monster in the mirror. I still am unable to leave the house most days because I am too disgusted by myself. I still break down, often in public, because of the intrusive thoughts yelling “you’re fat! you don’t deserve to be alive! you’re disgusting! you call yourself a runner!? look at yourself. disgusting pig,” on a continuous loop in my head. I still have severe panic attacks that have made it near impossible for me to get a job without having a nervous breakdown. I still am incapable of talking to people – of making friends – of keeping friends. I am still, in my mind, failing at everything.

At the same time, I’m alive. I know that these paragraphs here sound super self-important and egotistical (probably why I saved them for the very end), but hey. Whatever. I realized something the other day – I could very easily be dead. In my mind, I died that day that I went into the hospital. I might as well have – I was pretty close to it. I believe that myself, along with all of us who continue to fight each and every day against whatever it is that consumes us. Those of us who have had every chance in the world to complete give up and collapse in on themselves but who haven’t. I believe that we owe it to ourselves, and to the universe, to keep fighting. I believe that we all have some place here – something that makes us special. Important. Crucial.

Maybe even me.

I am about to include images from when I was very sick – I find it important to share these images but I know that it can trigger some people. Please be warned.

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The Other Kind Of Perfectionist

I have spent the vast majority of my life trying to deny my humanity.

I have fought day in and day out to keep up this guise (that nobody’s buying) that I am something *more than.* Something above an beyond. I wanted the world to believe that I was the kindest, most well-mannered. I wanted the world to believe that I never got angry, never had an “off-day,” never cursed, never failed, never lied, never put myself before others. No. Not me. I loved each and every being unconditionally and would destroy myself day in and day out to make sure that everyone around me was okay.

I lied.

Never in my life have I identified as a perfectionist. I couldn’t be one, it was impossible. I had friends who identified as Type-1 personalities; perfectionist. They were impeccably neat and tidy with color-coordinated closets and perfectly symmetrical handwriting. They played instruments and sports and practiced each hobby for hours every single day without fail. They stayed studying up until 3 in the morning the night before exams and any grade below a 95 was unacceptable.

I was not one of these people… I wanted to be, but I wasn’t. My closet had more items on the floor than on actual hangers, the bottom of my backpack was filled with important papers and if those papers did happen to make it into a folder, it would be an unorganized one. I played sports and music but I didn’t practice as often as I should have. I valued sleep over studying and was perfectly okay with getting a B on an exam.  I was always scattered – dabbling in anything and everything. I was decent at it all, I could kind-of draw a picture, I placed at swim meets and got to do more challenging routines in dance class. Still, I was never truly talented at everything.

And I couldn’t handle it.

One of the main reasons that I was never highly skilled at any one thing was due to the fear of failure. When I would draw, I couldn’t draw hands, feet, or legs. I tried and tried. I read every how-to-draw book, looked up every online tutorial and still couldn’t do it.

So I quit.

I tried to learn guitar a few years ago, something that I have always dreamed of doing. I practiced every single day; strumming the same chord over and over again until I could get it perfect. When I finally got two chords down pat, I attempted to seamlessly transition from one chord to the next. I tried over and over again until my fingers were too raw from pressing down the string to continue.

I couldn’t do it.

Instead of doing what a rational human would do (keep trying every day until I eventually could do it), I stopped trying. I sucked at it. I was the worst. I had no talents. Every person is supposed to have at least one thing that they are gifted at. I had nothing. I was good at nothing. I had always identified as an artistic person – but that was moronic because I was in no way, shape, or form creative. I was a failure.

If I couldn’t do something successfully, I couldn’t do it at all. I could not handle being a failure.

Again, never in my life have I identified as a perfectionist. I liken perfectionists to successful and driven people who work multiple job, have set paths in life, and, more-likely-than-not, don’t have panic attacks where they sit in the middle of the home cleaners aisle at Duane Reade and sob like a 4 year old. Yeah. I’m not perfectionist.

It is strange though. I was, for the first time, explaining all of this to my therapist the other day and she looked at me and laughed,

“You realize that you’re a perfectionist, right?”

I had never realized that there are different types of perfectionists – there are those who have the ability to embrace and utilize it in finding personal success, and there are those (like me) who are torn apart by it, who liken not being perfect to not being worthy of even existing.

Interesting.

One of the biggest questions that is constantly on my mind is that of how and why I developed an eating disorder. I had the ideal home life growing up, I did well in school, I played sports… But I was depressed and disgusted by myself.

Because I wasn’t perfect.

Because I never identified as a perfectionist, I never made the connection between my eating disorder and my need to be more than human. I needed to be pristine in every way, shape, and form. I could never speak or laugh too loudly, I could never say something that could come off as unintelligent, I could never put my own well being before that of someone else, I could never say curse words, I could never feel anger towards anyone (unless it was myself). Ever.

I think that I may have begun to associate thin with pristine. I don’t even mean this in an aesthetic way. I wanted to be a perfect being – not a human. I wanted this body to disappear. My body was a clear sign of my being human – imperfect – impure. I wanted to do away from it.

As I write this, I am completely aware of the fact that I sound like a crazy person. Honestly, I kind of am. I know that in the recovery community, calling yourself crazy is frowned-upon, and I really do get that. I don’t really shy away from calling myself crazy because, honestly, I really can be crazy sometimes. The definition of crazy is literally “a mentally deranged person,” and often that is me… or the mentally ill part of me. My mind is sick, and I accept and own up to that. I think that denying the crazy parts of us can actually impair the road to recovery. Recovery isn’t all about meditating and manifesting and self-love talk. Sometimes recovery is screaming and tearing your hair out, sometimes recovery is wandering the streets at 1am in your pajamas because you’re manic and can’t control your own actions.

You may be thinking – how are those things recovery? Because I acknowledge them and am actively trying to lessen their occurrences. I don’t see enough people talking about the really ugly parts of mental illness. I’m sure that a portion of that is due to the fear of triggering others (I seriously need to write a post on my issues with ‘trigger warnings’), and I get that 100%. Still, I can’t be the only person that actual finds reading about the ugliest parts of the recoveries of other as the most healing.

By accepting the ‘crazy’ parts of myself, I am forcing myself to accept the fact that I am actually a human being. I am not perfect. I have feelings and I am trying to, after all these years, allow myself to actually feel them.

It’s terrifying and overwhelming…

But I really do think that it’s worth it.

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Hate The Holidays? (It’s okay…ish)

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the holiday season is officially in full swing. Homes are covered in flashing lights, shops are playing Christmas music, pumpkin scented/flavored products have been swapped out for peppermint ones, and people dressed as Santa are frolicking around at every corner (okay, that last thing may not be a universal occurrence during the holiday season.. But in New York City, there are Santa Clauses everywhere). The air is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, but everyone is too full of pure holiday-induced bliss to care. This is the most wonderful time of the year.

Except for when it’s not.

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Listen, I am not bashing the holidays in any way, shape, or form. I am not a Scrooge. I am not going to complain about how the holidays are awful and stressful and blah-blah-blah. I like the holidays… Or at least I want to.

I know that I am not alone in my being in an especially bad place during the holidays. The holiday season is a time of heightened, both good and bad, for almost everyone (who celebrates). But for some, bad feelings are so intense, so all-consuming that they completely overpower and swallow up any joy that may be coming to the surface. What you are left with is total darkness.

The holiday season can be a painful one. When we sit down to Christmas (0r whatever it is that you celebrate) dinner, we are faced with empty chairs where loved ones that are now gone once sat. We remember the way this family member laughed, the amazing stories that they used to tell, or the way that they would always get just a little too-tipsy after dinner and begin to pick fights with anyone and everyone. We remember those famous cookies that a loved one once made, knowing that never again will we be able to enjoy them in the way that we once did. We are forced to come face to face with any fractures in our families, so-and-so isn’t talking to so-and-so so neither of them will be joining us for dinner, uncle something hasn’t spoken to his sister in 15 years and he’s not going to start now, even if it is Christmas time, maybe someone has recently gotten divorced and now must navigate who gets the kids during the holidays and who will be left all alone. It’s hard.

The holiday season can also hurt if you are someone who struggles with any sort of mental illness. As always, I can only speak from my own personal experience, but I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. If you are someone who struggles with anything, whether it be anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, etc. this time of year can throw you into a state of complete and utter dread. Honestly, just being a highly sensitive person (an empath) can lead one into panic when thinking about the upcoming season.

Holidays are hectic, I don’t care who you are, what you celebrate, or where you are. No matter what, you will experience some sort of pandemonium during the holiday season. Traffic is worse, crowds are worse, people are frantic. You are hard pressed to find a single store or public location that is not at least somewhat influenced by the holidays. For someone who struggles with any type of anxiety or panic disorder, this can be a nightmare. The idea alone of going into a crowded grocery store has been enough to leave me shaking and sobbing in my car, too terrified to even get out, let alone step food into the store. Again, I know that I am not alone here. This irrational reaction to what is a (admittedly high-stress) non-threatening situation can cause many who do not understand the diseases of anxiety or panic disorders to roll their eye and write you off as a drama queen. Just suck it up and deal with it. They might say. Just deal with it. You might even be saying these things to yourself.

Listen, I am in no way saying that allowing your anxiety to keep you from accomplishing necessary everyday tasks is the right thing, I’m not even encouraging it. What I am saying is that I understand and empathize with what you are feeling and what you are feeling, though irrational, is completely valid. Each and every feeling that you have is valid, this is an incorruptible truth. I don’t care if you are sobbing over not being able to find a certain dish to eat breakfast off of (I have done this.. often) or something equally as absurd. It is valid. Each and everything that you have ever thought or felt that has caused you any type of real emotion has been valid…

Even during the holidays.

If you are someone who struggles during the holidays, it can be so easy to beat yourself up over it.

What is wrong with me? This is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Am I really so deeply and fundamentally flawed that I can’t even get my s**t together for a couple of hours to go to this party and pretend I’m happy? Everyone else is so happy and I’m not and that is so selfish!

I could go on.

When you are looking around you and seeing nothing but green-and-red-clad-bliss, it can be easy to feel like a complete failure as a human being if you are struggling.

It is okay. You are okay.

Here’s the thing – this is supposed to be the season of giving. We give gifts and time and love to all of the special people in our lives. But what about ourselves? Do we give anything to ourselves? I’m going to bet that most of us don’t.

So why don’t we try to reclaim this idea of it being the season of giving and truly make an effort to give to ourselves. Why don’t we try to give ourselves compassion? Why don’t we try to be especially gentle with ourselves? Why don’t we, instead of making only monetary investments in gifts for others, make spiritual (or emotional) investments in ourselves? Why don’t we tell ourselves that just because it’s the holiday season, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to feel our feelings. Why don’t we tell ourselves that it is okay to miss a certain holiday party or gathering that we don’t feel up to attending? Why don’t we allow ourselves to have patience with ourselves, to not get swept up in the holiday pandemonium that we believe we are “supposed to do.”

I know that this is easier said than done. Trust me, I know this all too well. I know that there are certain things that will have to be done for the sake of others at the expense of your own well-being. I know that there will be times where we will beat ourselves up over maybe eating “too much” or not having enough money to get everyone gifts or whatever it is. I am not off floating on some rainbow cloud somewhere where I have no trouble taking care of myself first and where I take nightly bubble baths while drinking overpriced tea. I’m right there in the trenches with you. I am sitting here thinking about “how much I have eaten today” and “how gross it is.” What are these thoughts giving me? Nothing. Still, being aware of the bad thoughts and identifying them as such is, in my opinion, the first step towards real self-care. Instead of sitting and wallowing in these thoughts, I am telling them to all of you and doing something that I love. I love writing, and I don’t do it nearly often enough because I’m “not good at it” (according to the little jerk that lives in my head).. But I am doing it anyway, despite what the dark part of my brain may tell me. It’s not a lot, but it is still practicing self-care and compassion. It is a step forward.

So here is my challenge for you, promise me that you will try your hardest to give to yourself, your soul, this holiday season. Promise me that you will try to practice gentleness towards yourself at least once a day until December 25. Self-care doesn’t need to be elaborate. Practicing self-care isn’t all bubble baths and tea and yoga. Self-care can be cleaning up your room that, while how messy it is has been making you anxious, you have been too depressed to clean. Self-care can be listening to a podcast that makes you laugh. Self-care can be waking up extra early to watch the sun come up. Heck, self-care can be eating two tablespoons of sunflower butter instead of one. Self-care is anything and everything that lifts you up, that creates a little glimmer or light among the seemingly endless dark.

Everything you think and feel is valid…

Even during the holidays.

…If you want to hear more of my thoughts on this manner, I also made a video on my Youtube channel about this topic.

Holiday Fears And Gratitudes

First and foremost I would like to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you Americans/those who celebrate. I woke up this morning with a strong desire to write. I miss blogging (though can you miss something that you never did consistently?), but, as I have written about previously, the words just don’t seem to come to me anymore. But today is different.

I think a lot about what I want this blog to be. There is a part of me that wants to treat this as some sort of online journal where I spew out my thoughts and feeling for the whole world to see; and there is a part of me that wants this blog to be something clean, professional, marketable.

I have eluded to some of my struggles with mental illness over the course of my (few) posts on here, but I don’t know if  have ever said it outright.

Hey there. I’m Erin. I have an eating disorder

Exhale.

I have fought myself so long on whether I should say that one sentence right there – “I have an eating disorder.” Why? It’s not because I’m ashamed or because I don’t want people to know. It’s because I fear that, if people know that I struggle with an eating disorder, they will not want to listen to what I have to say. But why is that? Does having a mental illness make me any less of a person? Does it make my thoughts and feelings less valid? Does it cancel out any knowledge I have on certain topics?

Does it make me no longer a person but, instead, a diagnosis?

No.

I truly think that the reason that I find myself lacking the motivation to write is because  I have been desperately trying to hide a part of myself from the world. It is true that I am not my diagnosis (though it is not uncommon to begin to see your mental illness as your identity) but that does not change the fact that it is a part of me. A lot of who I am today is a result of my lifelong battle with anorexia and EDNOS.

I so desperately want there to be a place where there can be an open and honest conversation about mental illness. I want there to be a place where nothing has to be so precious. I want there to be a place where people are unafraid to talk about the darkest parts of their minds without fearing judgment or the possibility of being scolded for being “triggering” (a post on trigger-warnings and my feelings about them will soon be n the works). I want there to be a place where mental illness is just a piece of a much larger story, not the center point of it.

Anyway… Thanksgiving.

Now that I let the cat out of the bag about my struggles with anorexia, lets talk about one of the scariest days of the year for those who struggle with this illness – Thanksgiving.

Even if you don’t struggle with an eating disorder (or any mental illness for that matter), the holidays can be an immensely hard time. They are a time where money is tight, stress levels are high, stores are crowded. It can all be very hard to deal with. If you feel this way, know that you are not alone in this. I know that this fact seems like common knowledge, but it is so easy to get swept up in just how “full of holiday cheer” everyone is and then beat yourself up because you are not as “happy as you are supposed to be.”

You are allowed to feel the way that you feel. Even during the holidays.

I don’t think it is a stretch to say that if you have even the slightest bit of understanding of the way that eating disorders work that you know that Thanksgiving is an especially tough day. The holiday is centered around food and food, or the control of it, is the way that you express your illness. Eating disorders exist in an endless amount of forms so it would be silly of me to try and lay out exactly how those who struggle will handle this day. The best that I can do is take my own personal experiences and feelings and lay them out for you to either resonate with or not.

Something that I want to do, and that I encourage you do as well, is create a “Fears and Loves” list. Admittedly, I am stealing this idea from the absolutely incredible podcast “The Mental Illness Happy Hour.” I encourage you all, no matter what your mental state is going into today, to create one of these lists. Sometimes, it takes putting it in writing to actually know how you are feeling.

Please remember that these fears come from a place of… well… fear and that this place is not rational. Fears don’t need to be rational to be valid. If something scares you, it is worth discussing, even if it seems silly to you or others.

My Thanksgiving Fears

  1. I fear that I will eat too much.
  2. I fear that I will gain weight.
  3. I fear that I will let my eating disorder ruin my holiday.
  4. I fear that I will let my eating disorder ruin my family’s holiday.
  5. I fear that my I will exhibit disordered behaviors at the dinner table.
  6. I fear that I will make my family feel uncomfortable.
  7. I fear that having so many people in my home with cause me to have a panic attack
  8. I fear that said panic attack will lead to my family thinking I am either rude or crazy.
  9. I fear that every holiday for the rest of my life will be like this.

 

My Thanksgiving Loves

  1. I love listening to my grandpa tell stories of the days long ago while he sits at the table talking with his brother.
  2. I love being in a room with all of the people that I love most in the world.
  3. I love that I have such a big and close-knit family. I am very lucky.
  4. I love that I am about to go for a long run and that I will get to see other runners, happy and excited for the day, out doing their own Thanksgiving miles.
  5. I love the house smelling like rosemary from all of the Thanksgiving  cooking.
  6. I love the way that apple pie looks when it first comes out of the oven.
  7. I love that, while I still struggle, that I can sit and joke and laugh with my family while we eat Thanksgiving dinner today. Even last year, this was near impossible.
  8. I love that I am lucky enough to live in a nice warm house with people that love me.
  9. I love that I am lucky enough to live on this planet that, every day, I am so in awe of.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

What are some of your fears and loves today?

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