Feeling really pessimistic about recovery, lots of shit talk, so read with caution

I'm feeling very torn between wanting to recover and wanting to run back to my ED. There's like a small sliver of me that wants to recover, and that's the part of me that wants a future, to be self-sufficient, to not have to rely on my parents for everything, to work with kids, to be an inspiration for others, to be joyful, to live for God. But right now, most of me wants none of that. I feel really defeated. Like I can do the actions of recovery, but I hate every single part of it. I hate giving up a huge chunk of my life. Something that has kept me so safe, yet miserable at the same time.

Do I like living in misery? That's such a silly question. No, but yes. I don't know why, that makes no sense. When I'm in my eating disorder and living in misery, it's like a bubble that keeps me sheltered from everything else. I don't want to be happy. I do, but I don't. Everything is so confusing. I don't want anything to do with recovery, yet I'm doing all these things to seek help. I want to touch it, but dare I? It's terrifying to get anywhere close to.

It's not just gaining weight or not losing weight or eating that's hard, it's letting go of my eating disorder, my world I live in. I would love to just eat food and not have these evil thoughts running through my head. Gaining weight freaks me out, not because I think I'm getting fat (although those thoughts run through my mind as the weight steadily increases), it's knowing that I'm losing a big part of myself.

Tonight my dietitian basically told me that I have no excuse not to meet my minimum caloric requirements, that I HAVE to supplement if I'm below my minimum. But you know what, I don't want to. I don't want recovery anymore because it sucks. It's not even about not wanting to gain weight or losing weight or eating. I just want to be miserable in my eating disorder and not let it go. Fuck recovery, that shit blows. In fact, my eating disorder can kill me and I wouldn't give a shit. Because I'd be dead.

I don't know why I'm doing all these recovery oriented things. Because I don't want it, not fully. I'm so tempted to just cancel everything, and crawl back into my eating disordered life. And fucking "waste away" until I die.

Excuse my language. I'm angry. I don't know why. I guess I'm angry because everything that I am is basically being taken away from me and I'm not ready for it.

Am I Ready to Surrender Control of my Life to the Lord?

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:1-2 
I've been meeting with a leader on campus from Cru, and going through a booklet about life with God. Part of the booklet had the question, "Am I ready now to surrender control of my life to our Lord Jesus Christ?" along with the previous passage.

I've surrendered my life to God, but to surrender CONTROL of my life? That's totally different. I feel very lost and conflicted on this. I want to live my life for God, for His will. But part of that is surrendering my eating disorder to Him (which is so much easier said than done). I'm so scared of letting go of something that has controlled my life for so long. I want to be able to surrender control of my life to God, but I don't want to. I feel like I'm not ready. Like I can give Him pieces of my life, but not the whole thing. Losing my eating disorder is scary, for reasons I've previously posted about.

I was also listening to WGTS (91.9) and there was a song by Casting Crowns called Thrive, where they talk about how we were made for more than ordinary life and more than just surviving, but to thrive. And without God, I can't do that. I'm not thriving. I'm living through the motions of life, but I'm not living for God, which God calls us to do.


Why am I even doing this?

Why am I wasting my time? Why am I going through all of this? Why am I doing therapy, counseling, nutrition, art therapy, dine, seeing my physician and psychiatrist? Do I really want to get better? Because a big part of me says no. Am I really trying? Some days, maybe. But other days, no. I feel like I take a couple of steps closer to recovery, freak out, and slide back. Recovery terrifies me. I don't know if I want it. I mean, a part of me does, I want a future, a career. But what if all that fails? What will I be without my eating disorder? There's only a small sliver of me that wants to get better, and that's the part of me that loves spending time with my family and craves connection, the part of me that wants to be a child life specialist. But the rest of me says "screw it." Life is easier to deal with while in my eating disorder. I mean, not really, it's harder. But it masks everything and makes the world about my eating disorder, where nothing else matters. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm wasting time and money, and everyone else's time. Really all I want to do is stay out of treatment, because I don't have time for that. And I don't want to disappoint my family. I want to live a functional life with my eating disorder, if that's even possible. But recovery? That's so far-fetched. I want to go back to feeling like a zombie, living on coffee and safe foods, numbing out the world, feeling invisible. Why am I half-assing recovery, when I don't even know if I really want it?

The Media.... Oh Boy

On Wednesday, in my Psychology of Women class, we talked about women and mental health, including eating disorders. They showed the following video...

...and basically the entire lecture is how the media is the biggest contributor to eating disorders.

Ugh. I strongly disagree. I never gave a shit about the media (pardon my language). I don't think I've ever compared my body to those in the media, or strived to look like someone in a magazine. Most of my body image problems in adolescents were influenced by my family's own body issues (my brothers were wrestlers, I was strongly influenced by my parents dieting and comments about bodies in general, etc.). That's not to say my family caused my eating disorder in any way, but my body image issues stemmed from my family.

It's not to say that the media doesn't influence girls at a young age, but I don't think it's a big predictor of an eating disorder. It may lay the groundwork for some insecurities. But never in treatment have I met someone who's eating disorder was caused by body image issues and the media. There are a lot of contributing factors to an eating disorder - psychological, environmental, genetics. They all play a role.

While body image was a big issue for me when I was in my early teens, I don't think that was the main cause of my disordered eating (however, I can't say it didn't contribute to the way my problems manifested). I think a lot of it had to do with low self esteem, not fitting in with my peers, low self-worth, and the changes I was going through during that time (physically, emotionally, and mentally).

But my eating disorder really spiraled after my family's trauma. Trauma is a huge contributing factor for many people's eating disorders (not all, but that's been a huge theme in treatment that I've seen). I wish my professor would have touched more on not necessarily every single contributing factor to eating disorders (because they're infinite - everyone's eating disorder starts differently), but on the fact that they're complex, and so many factors come together to start an eating disorder and maintain one.

I think talking about the media and eating disorders oversimplifies an eating disorder, and makes it seem like it's an easy fix. Just change the way the media portrays women, or boost your daughter's body image, and we can eliminate eating disorders? Nope. Again, that's not to say the media isn't a problem, and that it can't lay the groundwork for body image problems in young girls. But there's a huge difference between having bad body image (who doesn't?) and developing an eating disorder.

Unicorns and my Recovery

Had to...

Most people who know me, know my obsession with unicorns. It's pretty real. But I've always kind of thought of my obsession with unicorns as almost like a metaphor for my eating disorder. I know that sounds really odd, but I'll explain.

My obsession with unicorns began around the age of 17. A little bit after the time that Jesse died. I think it was a way for me to take my mind off of the tough things in life and channel it into something else. I was also struggling with my ED at this time, but unicorns was another outlet, something that brought joy, something that I could focus all my attention on, something that I could use to relate to other people. For instance, I remember buying these awesome unicorn converse (which I no longer own :(. ), and it being the cool thing that I'd go around sharing with my cousins. "Look at these awesome shoes." And I'd get validation, that they were in fact pretty awesome.

Like my eating disorder, my unicorn obsession filled a void. It also served many purposes similar to my eating disorder. For one, it gives me an identity. Everyone on social media (facebook, tumblr, instagram, etc.) and real life knows me as the unicorn obsessed girl. People are constantly posting unicorn pics, quotes, things to buy, etc., on my facebook wall. I'm known for being obsessed with unicorns by others, but also by myself. I KNOW I'm the unique one with the unicorn obsession.

Along with that, it's something that's MINE. I'm the unicorn obsessed. I get defensive and dominate over it. If someone else expresses interest in unicorns, I immediately get angry, because unicorns is my thing. I have control over it. And I feel like if someone else gets excited over unicorns, they're taking something important away from me. People know me for my obsession, and they know it's mine.

Like my eating disorder, it's also something that controls my thoughts, but in a more positive way. I'm constantly thinking about unicorns (when I'm not in my eating disorder). I could spend hours (I have) looking up unicorn paraphernalia online. I have an entire unicorn board on Pinterest. It's something I can use to take my mind off of the things that I don't want to think about.

But unlike my eating disorder, it brings something else. It brings me passion, and joy. It keeps me lighthearted. It adds fun to my life. I enjoy thinking about unicorns, and posting my cool new unicorn gear, and bragging about how much unicorn stuff I have. It keeps me connected to people, because it gives us something to talk about. Unicorns was kind of a hot topic in my old house.

So how does this all relate to my recovery? I think it serves the purpose that I can find other ways to have an identity outside of my eating disorder, unicorns being a big one. I can focus on my obsession with unicorns as something that's mine, instead of feeling possessive of my eating disorder. It's something I can rear my mind to when I want to avoid the tough feelings (which I do have to deal with eventually). It can keep me connected to people. And it can feed my happiness and help me to not dwell on the unpleasant things in life.

Fears vs. Benefits of Recovery

My dietitian gave me an assignment to write out my fears of recovery, and the benefits of recovery. I had no problem coming up with a list of fears (although while they're all different, some may seem really similar), but I struggled with making a list of benefits.

Here are the lists.

Fears of Recovery
  1. Being weight restored and still having all my ED thoughts and behaviors (e.g. obsessive compulsive behaviors around food, anxiety or avoidance of eating around people, constantly obsessing over what I'm going to eat, etc.)
  2. Being recovered from my ED, but still having all my other problems & not being able to cope with them.
  3. Losing my identity - not knowing who I am without my ED, or feeling unique/different.
  4. Feeling valueless
  5. Fear that I'll do all the work and fail at recovery, and that I'll do all the work for nothing.
  6. All the emotions that I numb out with my ED coming at me with full force.
  7. Not having it as a safety net or back up plan - doing poorly in school, not being able to be self-sufficient, not doing well in my career, being alone.
  8. Not feeling loved by my family, losing their emotional support.
  9. Not getting attention from my family.
  10. Not having something that's MINE, that I have complete control over.
  11. Being alone and rejected and feeling worthless; with my ED, none of that matters.
  12. Dealing with things in the big world - my ED makes me only have to deal with one simple thing - my ED.
  13. Dealing with responsibilities of growing up that I've been able to avoid.
  14. Being independent - as much as I know independence is a good thing, I don't feel equipped for it. And I was independent most of my life, and I feel like I missed out on being dependent.
  15. Not being cared for/about
  16. Losing my community of friends who get what I'm going through and support me - all my "friends" are from treatment. Not making real friends.
  17. Not being able to handle life outside of my ED.
  18. Feeling like nothing because I don't have my ED.
  19. Not having the structure, rigidity, routine my ED brings me.
  20. Not being able to celebrate holidays with my family, because my ED has made things incredibly scary and awkward with them.
Benefits of Recovery
  1. Not being controlled by my ED, feeling free.
  2. Experiencing positive emotions - but that also scares me, because you can't have the good without the bad.
  3. Having energy to do well in school and volunteering.
  4. Thinking clearly.
  5. Being physically healthy (which also scares me - see list above)
  6. Being able to enjoy meals with my family.
  7. Participating in holidays and vacations with my family.
  8. Not isolating all the time.
  9. Future - grad school, career, maybe a family.
  10. Being able to tell my story and give hope to others.
  11. Maybe being able to make friends, and actually enjoy being with other people.
  12. Not being tired all the time.
  13. Not being a financial and emotional burden on my family.
  14. Maybe being able to find things I enjoy - but also scares me because what if I don't?

"Happy Birthday, Jesse"

Stop. It makes me so mad.

For those who don't know, Jesse is my baby brother. He was born 9 years ago today (Nov 13, 2006), and killed 33 days later in a car crash.

I remember Jesse. I remember the night I was working at Safeway, texting with my parents while they were at the hospital before he was born, and after he was born. I remember taking turns holding him in the hospital with my younger siblings. I remember putting a football helmet on him, and holding a football next to him. I remember fighting over who was going to sit next to him in the car. I remember lying in the woods hearing "where's Jesse?" over and over as the paramedics searched for him. I remember crying as my dad told me, "Jesse died," while lying in a hospital bed waiting to be stitched up. That day still haunts me.

But I hate seeing, "Happy Birthday, Jesse. We miss you." Or posts along those lines. It's okay from my immediate family, because they had the privilege of knowing Jesse, of holding him. They're the ones who genuinely miss Jesse, and miss the life they could have spent with him.

But for everyone else, maybe you met Jesse for a brief moment. But you didn't know Jesse. I hardly knew Jesse. I knew him for 33 days. I feel like you're stealing something precious from me. Jesse was, is, my brother. And I feel like I'm being stabbed when someone steals that from me.

I understand wanting to recognize Jesse on his birthday, or showing support to our family. It just makes me incredibly angry because Jesse is precious to me. And I feel like if you're not in my immediate family, you don't understand just how precious he was. Maybe I'm being selfish for wanting Jesse's day to myself. But my family went through tremendous pain when Jesse died, and I feel completely invalidated when people toss around, "Happy Birthday, Jesse. Rest in Peace." Like you're stealing something painful and intimidate to me, and owning it as yours.

Maybe this makes no sense at all. Maybe I'm being entirely selfish. Maybe my parents and siblings feel differently than me. But I feel like you're stealing my love and my adoration from me, and you're invalidating the pain that came along with losing my brother.

All that being said, I will always think about Jesse, especially on his birthday, and the anniversary of the accident. I feel so much love towards my family when we celebrate Jesse's life together. It's like a bonding moment, something that holds our family close. Jesse's birthday is a sad day to remember, but also a happy day in an odd way, because my family spends valuable time celebrating his life. We have a tradition where we go to his grave plot and visit him, and let blue balloons go and rise to him to heaven. I feel like the celebration is more for my younger siblings, who don't have as strong memories of his birth and life. It's a way for them to remember and recognize his life. I truly value the time I spend with my family on this day, and appreciate the joy of my siblings as we partake in traditions in Jesse's memory.