Tuesday, February 23, 2016

real talk Tuesday :: on mental illness

about real talk Tuesdays: sometimes I like to talk about the real and heavy stuff that is going on in my life. it's not a regular thing that happens every Tuesday, but I tried to streamline it down to only being on Tuesdays, if ever. (that said, not every post that happens to be on a Tuesday is going to be heavy.) they're written stream of consciousness because they are typically snippets from my actual journal.


I have been mentally writing this post for months. I just wish that I would have taken note of at least some of it, because when I sat down to actually type it out, my mind just started wandering other places. I had originally started this draft in November, and I was planning on publicly sharing it in January at the beginning of the year, but then I looked up when National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is, and I figured that that week (this week!) would be the time to share.

the problem is that I really don't know when the beginning was. I was always made fun of and picked on through elementary, middle, and high school. for most of the first three years of high school, I would eat lunch with my upperclassmen friends in one of the upstairs hallways, and then senior year I started eating in the commons again with my friends, and it made me just feel really weird. I just felt so awkward eating around people, and I don't really have an answer as to why. I am just so so self conscious and I constantly feel like the people around me are judging me, when I know that for the most part, we're all just more focused on ourselves to really pay attention to what others are doing.

at some point, I stopped bringing food with me to the motel when I would work at night. I would just get so busy with everything going on that I wouldn't take the time to take a break to eat. I'm not blaming this on the motel. I'm not blaming this on anyone there either. I know in my heart that I can take the time when I need the time, and that I just need to listen to my body and take care of it.

the point is that I've been hurting myself for years. I've been slowly trying to be better about eating in the evenings, but it still is so weird for me to eat in front of people. do you know how hard it is for me to go to a restaurant, especially by myself? it's absolutely terrifying, when I know that there is noting to be afraid of. food = fuel and I need to work on that.

there were some scary things that happened in the last year or so because of being so terrified to eat around people. last January, I was on vacation and I went 22 hours without eating. super unsafe, as I know. a few weeks ago, during one of the events at the motel, I was in the back of one of the evening meetings, and I was so scared of the possibility of passing out in front of all of those people (though I have never passed out before). on the other side of my brain, there was this little voice that said, "it's fine; you've been doing this for years and you'll be okay." horrifying.

I am currently one month sober. I know that this is going to be better for my overall health and well-being, as I have learned that when you don't eat, you can easily get a hangover after having just one drink.

I've been naturally thin my whole life, and while this didn't really start out as a desire to stay thin, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't afraid of gaining weight. what I need to keep telling myself is that the way to better achieve this is by regular exercise and eating properly. I'm supposed to be going back to the Y to swim a few mornings a week, and I am totally slacking on that. I know that that would help me feel so much better, and I have more than enough time to get outside and just walk around the neighborhood more often. fresh air is good for everyone.

another thing that terrifies me is my willingness to lie to people about this... just being so horrified at someone's offer of food that I freeze and lie to them. it's really scary.

it's not uncommon for someone with an eating disorder to also have anxiety and/or depression. I think that the depression (which I really don't think is severe) probably came to light while I was in college and starting to feel like I really had no friends. to this day, there are times when I get really worked up over not being invited out to things, but then when I do get invited, I don't want to go anyway. it's a horrible circle that just ends in me crying when I am trying to fall asleep, wondering why I'm still alone. (and don't even get me started on the number of times I have started crying in the diner at the motel because that is super awkward.) it's really scary that I can turn the fake emotions back on for people and pretend to be happy, but I know that it's really there when I get aggravated about the dumbest things. (sorry for yelling, Mom.)


I was too embarrassed to be more open about all of this in the past because I wanted to feel like everything was normal and I didn't want to be treated differently by anyone who knew the truth. I also didn't want to accept help in getting to where I needed to be to recover from all of this. but I guess what I should have realized is that no one can overcome mental illness alone. I'm not making this public knowledge for pity, but because everyone who is struggling silently deserves support and acceptance.

recovery is neither easy nor immediate, but it is more than necessary. there are dozens of children whose lives I am a part of every week, and I need to be healthy and set a good example for them. my family needs me, and I have my adult children to take care of as well. this is important. here goes nothing. I can recover and so can you.

to those who have already walked beside me in this journey to being healthy again, thank you. your support even though you had no idea what was going on means the world to me. to those who are close to me and are learning about this because I posted it on social media, I'm truly sorry. opening up to people about things was never my strong suit.


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