Monthly Archives: August 2017

Believing in others and believing in YOURSELF

I am currently driving on the 118 to the wonderful Santa Barbara, CA. It is 68 degrees, foggy, I am listening to Young Thug blasting through my earbuds, wearing a sweatshirt that is 3 sizes too big and hasn’t been washed in weeks, and completely content. I’m not anxious or depressed or planning out my meals or grabbing at my fat on my stomach or even planning my workout for the week. (note: the music has now changed to Lorde) (note #2: my music taste is very eclectic) No, none of that, I’m a “normal”(ish) 18 year old girl with a car that resembles a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store heading to college – something that didn’t seem to plausible not that long ago. You see, a year and a half ago I entered treatment for an eating disorder. I weighed way less than is healthy (but way more than I had wanted to at the time), I lived on plain veggies (EW) and 8 mile runs to sustain (not-so-much) me. So much has happened in a year and a half and I felt, being a Poly person and all, that a reflection period would be good. So, here goes… something!

 

Gathering from my journal that I started on the day I entered treatment, I was a seriously pissed off person. This girl was sad, scared, in pain, suffering, and angry – holy wow I felt for her! But it took me a moment to remind myself that the girl that I empathized with in this journal, was me. On February 24, I was notified by my parental units and a group of doctors, wearing blinding white coats, that I would be entering residential treatment (shudder) because I had an-or-ex-ia (shudder shudder). Um, NO! Apparently this idiot thought she could talk herself out of this one. Looking back, I remember not wanting to go, but I can’t imagine NOT ever going. Treatment, recovery, the eating disorder, the girls I met and came to love, the not being able to shave with an actual razor and learning to eat to a timer, the not being able to put our feet on couches and spending mornings doing trig homework for a class I wasn’t even in (craving normalcy), the solitaire, Contact, the tears, and the smiles, the trials turned to triumphs, the pain, the fear, the bloating, the constipation, the good and the bad and the ugly, the art projects, new patients and saying goodbye to old ones, and then finally getting to leave yourself, all of it became a part of my identity and who I was (I am so sorry Mrs. Leroy, that was the biggest run-on sentence ever!)

 

But before all that (and sometimes during), I thought I had the shittiest life ever. I thought that God had chosen me out of his 7 billion people he put together and said, “Yah, screw this one. This is the ONE that I’m going to ignore and give her just loads of crap to deal with” SELF PITY CENTRAL. (note #3: I hate self pity and playing the victim card so the fact that I actually did that was so incredibly ew for me to absorb) But you know what, God didn’t do that. He didn’t/doesn’t ignore me, nor do I have a shitty crappy life. People are humans (blanket and obvious statement, good job Shae!) But with being human, comes difficulties. Some people’s are harder than others. I’ve had friends that have lost parents to cancer or watch their fathers fade away into alcoholism. I then have other friends whose parents won’t let them drive the Tesla so they have to take the BMW instead, and according to them, that’s hard. But with that, I have learned that no one has a crappy life, rather everyone has crappy moments. Some of those moments last what feels like a lifetime. And I know, because I had the same thoughts, that it’s easy to let that over take your mind. It’s easy to convince yourself that you are the only bad thing in this world, or that you are the one person God (or whatever you believe in) neglects, or that you don’t matter or are unimportant. Well let me tell you something that took a LONG time for me to learn and that is that those thoughts are 100% NOT true. I’m reading the book Tattoos on the Heart by Father Greg Boyle (highly recommended) for summer reading and while I have read it before, it has a much greater impact on me at this point in my life. The Homies that Father Boyle spends his life with have it hard. They are considered low, despicable, and violent humans. They are not given a chance, not shown love, not told that they matter, not given any form of attention or affirmation… they are filed under “Lost Cause” and not given a second thought. But what Father Boyle explains in his book is that these are the type of people that Jesus chose to spend his time with. These “outcasts” so to speak are the ones that God craves to reach most, because after all he did create each and everyone of them and does not see them the way society and other humans do. They are not lost causes, they each have a cause and a purpose to fulfill, as does every. single. human on this entire planet. Back in September it was so easy for me to get anxious and worked up about the college process. I wasn’t going to get into an Ivy League school or one with an exceptionally low acceptance rate, the “name school” so to speak. After all, is that even what I wanted? Is that what I even needed to be “successful”? YAHHHHHH – my brain told me, as I was surrounded by people getting early acceptances to Harvard and Yale and Stanford and here I was, finishing my common application 3 days before my first application was due, with NONE of my shit together, goddamit my life was a freaking Nature Valley bar with pieces scattered everywhere and none of it ending up in the goal point… the mouth. But that, to God, and to my family and my friends was where I felt their love most. They did not push me aside and tell me “Yes, Shae, you are, in fact worthless” I know some families that do that, and honestly that kills me, so if you don’t believe in God or Allah or Buddha or have any higher power that you turn to, then I will be the one, I am here on earth to tell you that it is OK! It is OK to not be perfect at everything you do – even the bravery of attempting is so incredibly admirable. It is OK to not be the valedictorian or to be denied from Harvard (94.6% of the nation is) It is OK to be bad at English or science or math or art, there will be something that you love and isn’t that all that matters?

 

I’m heading off to college, something that I didn’t think would be possible. Not because of circumstance (you all as well as myself know that I am very blessed), not because my parents didn’t support me in it, or because I did not have the resources to go, it wasn’t plausible because of health. And the fact that I am here today, a year and a half after writing my first journal entry – angry at the world, but mainly myself, sad, lost, and frankly, half-dead – is a wonderful, amazing, and beautiful miracle that I will hold on to forever. So I’m off to study and learn and meet new people, at college. Go Warriors – perfect mascot for who I am trying to be!

I am NOT my ED: The difference between two big parts within myself

The difference between my eating disorder and me, Shae…

One of the most important things to learn throughout recovery is that you are not your eating disorder. It is something that I repeated to myself day after day to remind myself that I have a life outside of the hell that my ED gave me. I had dreams and aspirations that extended beyond just my weight and clothing size and I wanted a life with a full heart and wide smiles, rather than empty stomachs and tear stains. So, here is my comprehensive list of what my eating disorder wanted (past tense J) for me (well, for itself actually) vs what I want for myself.

GOALS:

Eating disorder: weigh x amount, fit into x size, eat x amount of calories, see ribs, eat nothing, not be able to grab any fat, and have total control

Me: go to university (check), marry the man I love, go to medical school, become a doctor, write a book, travel the world, be a good sister and loving daughter, care for others, and most importantly, care for myself.

FOOD:

Eating disorder: no gluten (excuse for no carbs), no lactose – especially cheese and it CANNOT be melted, no nuts (except for raw only), no soda, black coffee only, no sugar, no additives, no meet, no beans, no mayo, no condiments, no oils, no food made by other people (But also you can’t eat what you cook), no eating until 10 am and not eating after 6 pm, x amount of chews/bite, must cut food into x amount of pieces, must eat for a certain amount of time, only eat what is planned for the day and calorically acceptable… ok I feel like you get the point

Me: hi, yah, I don’t really like olives but if they’re on a pizza I can deal with it. Beets aren’t my thing but yah I eat EVERYTHING!

FRIENDS:

Eating disorder: talk to no one, don’t be the one to reach out, find excuses not to ever see people

Me: EXTROVERT! LOVE TO TALK! Reach out to people, ask to hangout, actually leave the house, go to restaurants, be social!

SCHOOL:

Eating disorder: must get straight As, hours to complete assignment so it is PERFECT (Every letter, every number, every line is in its place), no wrong answers (therefore don’t participate in class), don’t ask questions (without an apology for inconveniencing the teacher), asking for help is a sign of weakness, take the hardest classes and still get the best grades

Me: try your hardest but don’t kill yourself in the process, ask questions, ask for help, know that perfection isn’t a reality so just work hard!

FAMILY

Eating disorder: make sure they’re skinny by removing unhealthy foods from house, making sure they eat less, make sure they exercise, control them (in everything – yes, it’s pathetic)

Me: let them live their own lives because they’ve been doing it for a while so they probably can take care of themselves (seems reasonable)

These are just a few of the things (the main things that I have learned through treatment) and as you can see, it is definitely way more tiring/time consuming to have an eating disorder. It is a constant worry about what other people think or how I am presented to the outside world that it becomes neglect of internal feelings. This type of list can be helpful to anything: anxiety, depression, self-harm etc. I have used it in all facets of life. So with that, I am learning that I am most definitely NOT my eating disorder because I have my own thoughts, ideas, aspirations, and dreams for who I am and who I will become!