a day in the life

the scent of my new fabric softener reminds me of high school.

of getting up early in the morning, going to the toilet, weighing myself, necessarily in that order. writing that number down in my food log, counting how many calories it was going to take before i dropped another pound. after my daily weigh-in — a prolonged body check in the mirror, get dressed, make breakfast.

i never starved myself; in fact i always took pride in not skipping meals. can you believe that at the height of my eating disorder (ED for short. cute) i was consuming up to 2300 calories a day? no binges, either; not a single time out of control for two plus years.

control was my thing. i didn’t have to deprive myself of food when just restricting my intake did the job: i was losing weight like crazy.

so, yeah, breakfast. at precisely 5:30 or whatever it was. first down a full mug of black coffee so that youre full to begin with. then, oatmeal. 45 grams of steel-cut oats, not 44, not 46. when in doubt round three tablespoons up to 50, such as when you’re at a friend’s house. kitchen scales = essential piece of equipment and your best friend. makes you feel so safe and secure. water, no milk. 15 grams of nuts of your choice. except … walnuts pack a staggering 654 calories per 100 grams, cashews a mere 553 … do with that info what you will. sometimes i would go crazy and add a piece of 99% dark chocolate in the mix and melt the whole thing in the microwave. pretty Decadent, huh? i felt super guilty for being so indulgent afterward tho, so I didn’t do it very often. instead, over time i started making some odd dietary choices, such as swapping nuts for eggs because they loaded more protein for like half the calories. what i generously called “cake” tasted more like soggy cardboard, but i still devoured the whole thing, the noise of my spoon scratching against the bowl waking up my parents in the next room.

or My Spoon and My Bowl, I should say… when you are obsessed with food, you’re pretty particular about that sort of thing. i would get pretty angry whenever some of my utensils were missing when I NEEDED THEM!!! or, god forbid, when somebody else had eaten that sorry cup of low-fat yogurt i was looking forward to that entire day and specifically left that extra 124 kcal of room for. i would get pretty angry pretty easily. well, it was more like i was perpetually irritated or annoyed, ready to pounce on you the instant you inadvertently triggered me with some seemingly innocuous remark.

brush teeth, leave house, go school. arrive early so sift through your food log filled with motivational quotes for “fun”.

DRINK WATER!!!!11111 sOOOO much water. take not one but two 1.5 liter bottles to school and have even that not be enough, so at some point start considering switching to those huge ass 5L bottles instead. go pee every 15 minutes.

DID YOU KNOW…

that on 3 (three) separate occasions on my way back home I peed myself (yes, you read that correctly) because I just couldn’t hold it in any longer between the train station and my house? youd think that one time should be enough, but nah…

you need to hydrate, always remember that ❤️

class … is a blur…

friends … are a blur…

LUNCH BREAK! stuff yourself with whatever you meticulously measured out the day before. i was a big fan of cauliflower. it was low on calories and carbs, yet so damn filling. and by “filling” i mean that it FILLED the entire classroom / bus / wherever else I was with that god awful smell of sulfur that makes you wanna puke. but i didn’t care; i had as much right to eat as anybody.

on my way home i let myself have something sugary, like an oatmeal cookie or a PB+J with banana…on…wholegrain bread… as a pre-workout snack. imagine what that did to my stomach during exercise xD

the original idea was that i would exercise three to four times a week. seeing as i had plenty of time on my hands though, because of my lack of social life, that quickly turned to four to five to six to seven.

oh, i forgot to mention, i usually slept on the bus because I was JUST so full of energy! which was good, because it left me all energized for my workout.

i hated HIIT. hated every minute of it. but home workout videos were easier than going to the gym; at least nobody was judging me. at Pure, the personal trainer who first introduced me to weight training later told me to lay off the treadmills or he was going to tell my parents he was concerned. i smiled, nodded politely, thanked him, said i was fine, kept hitting the elliptical instead for at least a couple more months. they were more effective, anyway.

have dinner, update food log, do homework (necessarily in that order). in theory i could have “everything in moderation”. in practice tho, if you’re cutting calories you’ll likely choose 120g of lean chicken turkey over a slice of salami 99 per cent of the time. stalk celery, which i used to hate, suddenly became my new favorite vegetable.

in my free time i would fill this giant pink folder with article clippings from my two favorite magazines, Shape and Women’s Health. i loved drooling at the pictures next to recipes i was never going to make because they were dripping with fat (like one spoonful of olive oil specifically).

another one of my favorite pastimes was endlessly scrolling through my tumblr feed full of thinspo posted by blogs that mistakenly called themselves “fitblrs”. living and breathing “body goals” screws you up.

when i was out — probably doing my grocery shopping, for i didn’t do much else outside my bedroom — i didn’t see people, i saw sizes. and it’s the weirdest thing… i wasn’t one of those girls who think everyone else is skinnier than they are, i knew i was underweight. but logic didn’t apply to me; i just wanted that rush of finding out you lost another pound, and another, and another. I considered myself pro-health and didn’t see the hypocrisy.

my bedtime was pretty early: the sooner you fall asleep, the less time you have to notice you’re still hungry.

the winter of 2012, it must have been, saw me layering leg warmers on top of jeans on top of leggings on top of tights, and sporting skiing shoes that were larger than i was, two or three pairs of socks underneath, and still shivering with cold.

i remember that Christmas, AFTER i did my usual round of cardio, i exercised for three more hours on my indoor stationary bike just so i could feel okay with having like a dumpling or whatever later that evening.

my formerly beautiful hair became brittle and started falling out in clumps, and hair appeared on other parts of my body that wasn’t there before — i later learned that this is called lanugo and it’s your body’s way of trying to keep itself warm.

my skin was dry, my eyes hollow, and my nose seemed to take up half of my face.

and among all the “are you okays” there were still some “how do you do its”. i dismissed the former, cherished the latter, even when it was coming from my friend’s depressed, insecure, yet herself scary thin mom whom i was actually pretty worried about.

i was an authority on nutrition, people were coming to me for advice, they paid attention. i couldn’t let that go, couldnt let myself slip up; failure wasn’t an option. but i hated the thought that my appearance or my behavior might inspire somebody else to try to achieve that same level of malnutrition. i didn’t want other people to be “fat” or “skinny”; i wanted them to be healthy and happy … just not myself though.

and I could wear ANYTHING! i mean i didn’t; i still thought everything looked awful with my body type so i mostly stuck with baggy sweaters. but i had a CHOICE!

i didn’t admire my friends’ intelligence or their sense of humor; i envied their ability to eat junk food and still have a perfect, flat stomach. i didn’t pursue relationships or good grades, every minute of every day was about making CERTAIN i wasn’t going over my somewhat arbitrary calorie limit.

and all this for what?

i’m not exactly sure.

talk less. smile more

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is I need
Called up to listen to the voice of reason
And got his answering machine
I left my message but did he fuck get back to me?
And now I’m stuck still wondering how it’s meant to be

You’d think being an introvert, I should thrive in self-isolation, right? Not so… for I am a low-functioning introvert: an introvert who doesn’t know how to be alone. An introvert who needs external structure, or she drowns in the emptiness of solitude. I thought I would have written like 20+ posts by now, but blogging — like work — was just another distraction from anxiety.

for the first time ever, i had nowhere left to hide, and the anxiety hit me with full force.

i … survived. i’m surviving. that’s all i can say for now.

it’s not always your fault, part 2

or, my mom called me a stalker

I went to see my doctor yesterday… again. The hospital was almost empty, but the staff were still there. Said everywhere that they’re not accepting patients atm. But I had come there with a specific goal in mind, and I wasn’t leaving until I had accomplished it. I needed to talk to him, and I didn’t care if it came across as stupid, reckless, or desperate. Truth be told, I probably am all of these things.

When he saw me, he reacted in much the same way he always does: hardly at all, with a hint of annoyance. He got impatient and tried to send me home, because of course he did, but I kept talking, kept apologizing.

… I guess I need him to like me — or at least to forgive me — after all…

At that point he interrupted me and assured me that everything was fine and I should really just go home.

I heard him say it, but I didn’t believe that it could possibly be true… it just didn’t register that he could have just forgiven me, forgotten the whole thing, and moved on with his life. (Even though logically of course I know he simply cannot take stuff personally at his job, or he would have gone insane long ago.)

I didn’t know how to react, so I decided to behave as if I’d believed him, and I just said, I guess I just tend to overthink people’s — he interrupted me again — May be so. But there’s nothing wrong with that, you know. Now go home already.

And it’s a good thing I was forced to get up and leave his office, because otherwise I would have just opened my mouth and stared at him in stunned silence.

Was that it all along? Was he just a doctor being all doctor-y, and I took his professionalism as a sign of hostility? I suppose that what I could have said instead was, I guess I just take everything personally because I need everything to always be about me. It would have amounted to pretty much the same thing: they both lead to misplaced guilt & excessive self-consciousness.

Realizing that he truly didn’t care was the greatest relief I had felt in months. That comes with its own set of problems, such as my obsessive need for his approval to feel okay with myself. At the moment he’s one more person I define myself by. But I can work on that in therapy.

But to have it pointed out to me just how much I read into everything was… something. When I left the hospital, I was like, Of course he doesn’t care, why would he?… but my brain works rather differently when left to its own devices.

Every neutral expression, every resting bitch face, every blank stare directed in the general area of where I’m standing, gets automatically interpreted as anger or annoyance. Never mind that more often than not a blank stare is nothing more than, well, a blank stare, but even if the person does happen to be annoyed at something or someone,

it really isn’t always your fault.

it’s not always your fault, part 1

10/28/2019

K made me cry today. Unintentionally, of course; she was going for the opposite.

She brought up in public something I’d said to her in private. It made everyone laugh, and I got defensive. When they left, I tried to explain my (over)reaction. That I know it’s not healthy but I need to be in control of who hears me say what, and that I don’t like other people relaying in my presence something I said to them before, because I have trouble communicating in the first place, and that only further distorts my intended message. And because it draws attention to me that I would never draw to myself by saying certain things in the company of more than two people.

She didn’t understand.

She said she saw nothing wrong with sharing with other people a neutral statement somebody else made, and it didn’t matter who shared it or what effect it had on those others. It didn’t occur to her that I make myself look stupid so often, I don’t need other people making me look stupid in front of additional witnesses. Nor did she take into account that “neutral” statements still say something about the person uttering them; not always something positive. (She claims to have social anxiety by the way. So I kind of expected her to sympathize? But our experiences of anxiety vary wildly.)

But that’s not what made me cry.

What made me cry was how she responded to my saying that I know it’s wrong and I don’t expect her to change, but just want her to understand my seemingly irrational behaviour.

And she said

that maybe I should stop seeing everything in terms of it being something wrong with me, and consider that maybe sometimes, it’s something wrong with other people; maybe it’s something wrong with her?

And I just started sobbing. Straight up bawling, because of how right she was. And I never thought of it that way. My feeling bad is always my fault, and I never even entertain the thought that somebody else might (also) be in the wrong.

I mean, obviously, in this particular case she wasn’t. But I’m pretty sure it was the first time I had ever stood up for myself and for my right to feelings, however irrational. It was an uncharacteristically confrontational behaviour on my part, broaching the subject as soon as I could and being (more or less) unapologetic about it. Putting my feelings first.

I always thought I was selfish. But maybe not in all the ways I could be.

walk down memory lane

A high school friend reached out to me (hi, P). It’s nice, though admittedly somewhat strange, to get back in touch with people who knew you way back when.

I feel so much different, but I am pretty much the same person I was all these years ago: just as dumb and aimless as i was, only now it’s more obvious. I’m more aware of it, so i dont even try to hide it anymore.

Because that’s all I talk about, it may seem as if I were capable of change. I don’t think I am though, and I worry that people like her will give me a chance and I’ll just disappoint them all over again.

(by the way, it’s really quite strange being able to tell you’re idealizing someone as it’s happening. She’s my savior. She understands. She inspired me to quit my job. P, if you’re reading this, please don’t be overwhelmed. it’s normal for me, it happens all the time. and let me tell you what comes next: i see a sign of rejection or mild disapproval, and i withdraw into my shell. Or that’s what usually happens… I’ll do my best not to let it.)

talking to her made me realize that my self-perception is even further from how other people see me. which one is more accurate, then? if, going by what she said, in high school I appeared driven and conscientious, does that mean I was? even though it was the last thing i wanted to be?

I have had people comment that i seem really calm, and i always had to stop myself from laughing in their faces. but, i mean, they only have my behavior to go on, so i guess their impression kind of makes sense??

all this makes me wonder how much of what I think about other people is drastically different from what they believe about themselves or feel internally.

But yeah, apparently people admired my good grades or my English or whatever. but who the fuck genuinely wants to be the teacher’s pet in fucking high school? of course i would rather have had a social life of some sort and had people actually like me,,,, but i was unlikeable and insecure, so i resorted to controlling the only things i knew how to control.

But maybe the image we project unintentionally is more genuine and has more merit than your own self-judgment? if i seemed like a nerd, then, well, i must have been a nerd. so what i didn’t feel like one. so what “driven” or “ambitious” were far from what i would have considered accurate descriptions.

I was so lost. So lost. I had absolutely no clue what i was doing. I clung onto school because that was what gave my life a semblance of meaning or a sense of direction, but the truth was, all I needed was a friend, a true friend who would have called me out on my bs and made me confront all my pain and grief and get real about what i wanted.

but none of that had any chance of happening since i was so proficient in the art of denial and keeping people at arm’s length.

still nothing’s changed.

a life of non-statements

I’d like to preface this by saying that I experience the world, including my own emotions, in very physical ways. which is to say that when i’m talking about food, for instance, i’m not really talking about food, you know what i mean? With that in mind, i present to you a conversation about moisturizing.

the back of my hands gotten all irritated again. I showed it to my parents and kind of laughed about it, but they didn’t seem amused one bit. Stern looks on their faces, they kept asking why i don’t do something about it, and i kind of just stood there limply, not really knowing how to respond.

They were both growing increasingly frustrated, so i thought about it for a moment and replied (let me remind you they are very right-wing), You might be relieved to learn that it’s not a feminist statement where i make myself purposely ugly or anything like that. I just… don’t care.

they looked at each other, their expressions going from blank to baffled to offended, and then my dad asked, Well is there anything you care about?

Another pause from me, then a tentative shake of the head “no”. they stared at me in disbelief. The conversation ended there, and i went to my room.

And I’m sitting here, confused as to what it was that so exasperated my parents. and also — was my answer accurate? was it genuine? im inclined to say yes to both, because it was spontaneous, and, in a way, uncalled for. What i should have said instead was something along the lines of a dismissive “ughh you know my lazy ass & how i am about wearing gloves!”.

i don’t know why i decided to be honest when put on the spot today. probably because i had never tried to get to the bottom of my own poor decisions before. I didn’t have time to process the conclusion that i arrived at at that very moment.

But it’s really quite simple: I just… don’t care.

part of it is because i don’t feel like i deserve to feel good about myself. another part is that i’m really too lazy and lack initiative. yet another is that im too indecisive & easily overwhelmed. maybe i want someone to take care of me. maybe i need attention. but it all comes down to the same thing.

let’s extrapolate to something more serious than my 80 year old’s hands. let’s take education. work. dating. friendships. that catch-all called “personal growth”. let’s take something as basic as physical health.

I used to care. but it was all… too much. too much effort & too little payoff. too many disappointed hopes. too much stress & pain. too many… options.

I’m still in two minds about the relationship between my lack of internal motivation and lack of self-esteem: i cant decide which one caused the other. but maybe at this point it doesn’t even matter. it’s a vicious circle, anyway.

I’m empty. I sympathize with nothing. I strive for nothing. I stand for nothing.

i learned a valuable lesson today. it’s that there’s only one way to find out what i want. i need to at least perform acts of caring, if only to realize at the end that i didn’t “truly want” anything; if only to be able to say that i didn’t give up.

but it’s so hard, so scary, to allow yourself to want.

wait… so most people don’t feel this much? or, emotions i didn’t know i had

i’d like to explore the idea i brought up in my previous posts of being annoyed, offended, or otherwise hurt by the smallest things people do… also known as being “oversensitive”. and i’d like to connect that to underdeveloped emotional intelligence, lack of self-awareness, and being too reticent for your own good.

One time in psych class, I had to make a presentation in front of the entire auditorium. it freaked me out so bad, i went past nervousness all the way to zoning out. i’m told it went well, but i have no way of knowing because i don’t remember any of it. at the time i thought i had pulled myself together; in fact i completely fell apart, just… differently.

I fall apart a lot; usually in very unremarkable ways. I don’t even suffer from panic attacks or anything like that. Most of the time, my reactions to stress are more… spread out over a period of time. More inconspicuous, more… sneaky.

They have masqueraded as my personality for so long, they’ve been integrated into it. I didn’t do my growing up when i still had the time, so now i’m cranky and bitter at 24.

I admire people who are always kind and generous, regardless of how they’re feeling or even whether they like you. i hate it about myself that i’m only nice when it suits me. when i’m in a good mood, when it’s easy. it tells me that i’m fake and superficial. it means that what ultimately drives my behavior isn’t kindness at all, but a sort of short-sighted self-interest.

if i feel at all threatened, i’ll snap at you. if you say the wrong thing, i’ll become passive-aggressive. It doesn’t even happen on any conscious level, it’s just my natural response, which somehow only makes it worse.

it’s not like i’m rude to you on purpose. but when i’m feeling particularly insecure — exactly when i would logically need people most — something takes over me and makes me push them away.

i constantly switch between feeling for people — an intense, visceral kind of affective empathy — and objectifying them — where cognitively i can comprehend their mental states, i just don’t seem to care; or rather, i seem to derive some sadistic pleasure from causing them psychological suffering. i have to admit, it can be satisfying.

but these are usually people i’m uncharacteristically close to in the first place. like i need to test the limits of their love.

The thing that would have helped me at my worst? Somebody calling me out on my bullshit. Somebody who was close enough, who cared enough, to do what was painful but what was right. But I had no such friend. And I don’t know that it would have solved all my problems or anything. But it would have made a difference.

My motivations are still a mystery to me. I can know I’m being self-destructive, or hostile, but as long as I don’t know why, I can’t do anything about it. and I can’t know why if im so immature and i refuse to talk about my feelings or so much as think about them. i can’t act rationally unless i can understand and accept that my instincts are sometimes wrong.

Back when Mom and I fought about everything, as soon as she started yelling I would withdraw to my room and pout. I would give her the silent treatment… and then, after a while, she would usually apologize for acting out.

That’s the level on which I operate, emotionally: I don’t process what happens or my role in it, I just passively wait it out or find quick fixes that, when applied over the long term, come back to bite me in the ass.

But I didn’t realize all this. I didn’t know that not only do I need better coping skills, but I also need to know what I’m coping with, in the first place. I thought my reactions were normal, and I never gave them much thought.

Only recently did it start to dawn on me that not everyone is so sensitive to external stimuli. That not everyone’s nervous system is so responsive to criticism, rejection, shame. Or if it is, at least they know it and can take steps to counteract it.

My behavior right now might very well be caused by something that happened a week ago.

On a more positive note, the medication has been indescribably helpful in realizing this, and identifying at least some of the feelings and emotions behind my behaviors. dissociation isn’t a positive feeling overall, but some aspects of it can be very… illuminating.

I’ve only accepted that my unhealthy habits are actually maladaptive coping skills because I tend to do them less the less stress I experience in my daily life. But I still can’t seem to make the connection between unproductive / harmful actions I take and the events that precipitate them; I just don’t understand the causal relationship between trigger and behavior.

I hope i can learn to identify more of my emotions and not let them get the best of me all the time. But i doubt it’s something i can do on my own, if it’s at all possible.

it wouldn’t be so bad if i could limit my acting out to, well, acting in. but no, i have to get everyone else involved in my shitty mood even though they’ve done nothing wrong. damn, it sounds like i’m making excuses for treating people like shit. i believe there is no excuse for that kind of behavior, which is exactly why i feel shit about it.

how i wish i could be gentle and kind. actually im neurotic and irritable.

yay neurodiversity.