When I was in school, we used to do these tornado warnings each quarter where we would go into the hall ways and duck and cover. Nobody took them seriously, I mean, they told us a day beforehand and not going to lie, even during the practice tornado drills it was super uncomfortable so after about a minute or so, I would either sit up, depending on how ballsy I wanted to be, or half ass my duck and cover so I would be more comfortable. When I would get in trouble, I would always respond with “If this was real, I would actually do it.”. I wasn’t alone in this defiance against ducking and covering, no body really saw the point. It wasn’t real so it was crazy to assume that 13 year old Sarah’s reactions towards a fake drill should be completely on point with what I was supposed to do.
Looking back on it, treatment was a lot like the tornado drill. I have a damn forest of work sheets that I have filled out in groups where I wrote down an automatic thought and how to combat it or what to do when I lose somebody or how to act if I get triggered, etc etc. I can write down what I am supposed to do in all situations but when I am actually faced with them it’s a shit storm of horrible action after action after action. Those work sheets were all the ‘what if’s’ I never thought I’d be faced with all at once. On paper, I always had the right thing to say or the correct thought to challenge and I figured that since I had that knowledge, that I would be totally prepared for all things. When this is real, I will actually do this.
Worksheets don’t factor in every moment leading up to the event or the thought. There is no chart that could have prepared me for these past few weeks because since the end of November to now, each of my core beliefs have been challenged, I lost a person who was a staple in my recovery and life has given me every tool for my eating disorder to completely succeed.
Unlike the worksheets, there isn’t a visible list of thoughts or actions, instead my disorders weaved itself back into my life with every small crack it could find until I looked at myself and realized that there was absolutely no recovery happening, in fact, my behaviors and thoughts were worse than I had ever experienced before with any of my disorders. My mind was in a constant loop of You’re going to lose every body, no body likes you, you don’t deserve food, you need to hurt yourself after you eat, you have to purge, if people knew who you really were everyone would leave you, you have to numb out anyway you can over and over and over until I believed and acted on every thing my disorder was telling me to do because my disorder’s have been how I’ve survived for my whole life. In a drill or on a work sheet, maybe I can do the right thing but when it’s in the moment, my coping techniques seem to work better.
There is a very small but extremely powerful point when my disorders flip around and slam me down harder than any event prior to it. It’s like this switch that you didn’t realize was turned on until wayyyy after the fact. Yes, losing a friend pushed me down, but not as far as starving, self harming, and numbing out has put me. The aftermath of those things hit me like a truck tonight. I am hurting more than I have since this began and I am more anxious than I ever have been. What I am feeling right now is horrible and I never want to be this low again.
That’s why I write this post some what excited to be in the position I am in right now. Does this suck? More than any adjective I could use to describe. BUT I have this window of time where I don’t have to work, I will be around a person for almost all meals and I don’t have to worry about school or any other pressure that could easily steer my attention away from my recovery. I have 3 weeks to get back to where I was in August, I have 3 weeks to feel all the emotions I have blocked out for a month and I can process them in the best way I can. I am trying my best to look at this situation as a beautiful disaster, the perfect time to feel my worst.
For tonight, I am trying to remember that this depression and anxiety are only temporary, feelings are not facts and I will get through this. I have survived 21 December 15’s and I won’t stop surviving today.