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.

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.

bottomless well

You seek to protect your ego at all costs. But that requires a great deal of cognitive dissonance, since your particular brand of self-acceptance, if you can even call it that, is very conditional: you’re only worthy IF.

And every time you find out that you don’t meet your own arbitrary criteria, you have to go through a grieving process. One of a number of things can happen as a result:

  • total denial of the issue (not sustainable)
  • you can tweak something here and there by lowering the bar and/or overestimating your own abilities (not likely)
  • or, you can accept that you’re a failure & give up on yourself altogether, which is what I usually go for.

and you keep letting go of condition after condition, but not of their “objective” significance. Meaning, you still believe them to be true and right, you just lower your standards to accommodate your new & ever evolving definition of “bare minimum”: you expect less of yourself, but you also think less & less of yourself.

and you keep adjusting to the new lows, until apparently there is nowhere else to go, but it is never enough. and right when you think youve reached rock bottom, it turns out there is one more thing you’ve been taking for granted.

and you keep reevaluating your situation. You’re forever chasing after the most accurate way to assess how you compare to others, because you cant be happy UNLESS.

Of course a happiness predicated on the notion of being somehow “better” (as “good enough” naturally implies that some people… aren’t) is presumptuous, superficial, and bound to always induce anxiety and a lingering sense of inadequacy — ready to come out the moment you sense that you are “worse” at this thing or another.

What’s more, I don’t actually believe the same things about other people: I think everyone else can & should be happy, regardless of their looks, health, intelligence, personality, sense of humor, you name it. Well… that is all fine and dandy, but people who were blessed with more desirable traits probably are happier.

But okay… let’s not consider social approval for a second. How do you maintain a steady sense of self worth regardless of external validation? Or put differently, what amount of reassurance and compliments would it take to make you feel secure?

…ah… I see.

Paxil™ is bae

This post is emphatically not brought to you by GlaxoSmithKline! 😀

cw: suicidal ideation … physiological functions? sorry, i’m not good at TWs

youll know by now that i dont have that many opinions. and even when i do, they’re rarely some firmly held beliefs. the controversial statement above, i’m not particularly attached to, either. but it is the way i feel, at least for now.

antidepressants can cause weight gain. true. also? irrelevant. they can increase blood pressure + sugar. the list of possible side effects goes on and on. for me right now, it’s memory problems and dry skin. oh, well.

now weigh that against the deepest, most profound and absolute sense of hopelessness and worthlessness you have ever felt in your entire life. a loneliness and insecurity so severe, for the first time in your life you start vaguely contemplating suicide not because you want to die, but because the thought of going on like this indefinitely simply feels unimaginable.

I shudder to think about the depths of depression people have descended to who are physically incapable of getting out of bed. That they live to see another day is an achievement in and of itself. I didn’t have it that bad, but it was still getting too much for me.

and i didn’t see a way out.

I remember going to Open’er Festival last year, excited to stay at the campsite for the first time ever and to see The Strokes, Interpol, LP, The 1975, Tom Walker… Vampire Weekend, who are one of my favorite bands of all time… I was going alone, but that was normal for me, I usually travel & go to concerts alone.

but when I arrived, I immediately wanted to leave. not go back home, but bury myself in a deep dark hole and never get out. i was surrounded by people who were all happy to be alive, enjoying their time together with their friends, and i felt like the loneliest person on earth.

and there was no way out.

obviously I couldnt leave. so i stayed. i stayed, and i forced myself to get out of my pitch black tent… sometimes. i had to summon all the willpower i could just to put one foot in front of the other, and there were times i almost stopped in my tracks and lay down on the grass. i had to keep going though, because if i stopped, it felt like i might never ever get up again.

at times i found myself going through the motions of “having fun”. i’d be standing close to the stage, mouthing the lyrics to my favorite song, and then a minute later it’d be like i wasn’t even there.

i was completely isolated and detached from what was happening around me. i ended up only seeing parts of the acts i wanted, and none of the “fillers”, even though i usually go from one artist to another and try to experience as much as i can possibly cram into one short day.

this time, though, I lay motionless in my sleeping bag, hardly registering Kylie Minogue and Swedish House Mafia performing at the main stage. To me they were just background; just noise, cancelling out my own thoughts.

and still no way out.

I came back home, and I… immediately asked my Grandma to get me a psych appointment. i couldn’t go on pretending any longer.

My doctor first prescribed duloxetine. It’s a strong SNRI, and it took the edge off. …across the board.

On my third day on the drug, I went to Berlin, to see AnnenMayKantereit live: a concert I’d been waiting forever to go to. The concert itself was great, though I would have enjoyed it much more fully sober. But at least that poignant feeling of loneliness wasn’t quite as bad.

Adjusting to the medication took a while. I would sweat like a pig, have heart palpitations and anxiety attacks, wake up very early in the morning. I would get dizzy just standing up, and have unpredictable mood swings. I also had really bad constipation. (Sorry!)

But…

god, the clarity.

it didn’t come on immediately. I was in Berlin for four days, and I spent most of that at a nearby Starbucks, reading research papers on antidepressants for seven hours at a time. i was in some sort of hypnotic trance where that seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to spend your time. And anyway, I also got tired easily, so i liked the not moving part.

But I was starting to see a way out.

Cymbalta wasn’t perfect for me. In the end it made me impulsive and sort of crazy. But in a way it saved me; it did exactly what it was supposed to do: it dulled the pain. It alleviated many of my physical symptoms, and there was a short period of time where it gave me some insight into my mental states.

Because i was so bad at expressing myself, I accidentally offended my psychiatrist when trying to tell him that I wanted to try something else. I stayed on it for two more months, and then, after hearing some of my symptoms, he complied with my wishes…agreed that duloxetine wasn’t good for me, and switched me to something else.

and that something was paroxetine, and it made a world of difference. it’s not perfect either. perfection doesn’t exist, you see. but its pretty fucking great.

it made me gain weight… and those hands, ugh, i need to moisturize like 24/7.

but it is so worth it.

Because now, I can see a way out.

and for the first time in my life, i can understand that the road to recovery is long and bumpy and far from linear… and be okay with it.

I owe it to Cymbalta that I was able to tell my doctor that I wanted to go off Cymbalta. It started to happen often, me recognizing my needs and not being afraid to tell people about them. I owe it to Paxil that I finally did what I should have done years and years ago, meaning starting this blog.

Continued use of antidepressants over several years may or may not be harmful, as anyone in certain facebook groups and some professionals disillusioned with their own field will tell you.

Moreover, I myself don’t believe that they’re the solution to the underlying problem. I would gladly stay on them forever, if not for the side effects and certain health concerns. Not because they solve the problem, but because they help. Simple as that.

Because there is a way out.

and now i can see how good life could be. and it’s like the negative experiences in my life hadn’t affected me. and i feel less anxiety. less shame. less dependency on other people. and things aren’t as black and white anymore.

i had absolutely no idea how many of my most basic assumptions about the world where wildly inaccurate. it’s kind of insane how one small pill a day can change your perception of everything that happens to you (or not even to you, but just in general). in very subtle ways it reduces the feeling of being inadequate, a burden, incompetent, that sort of thing. finally i can take criticism and not be tormented by it, or by whatever mistakes i make, for days afterwards.

i feel it’s important to keep in mind that the meds have changed my personality in some small but significant ways. contrary to what some of you may believe, though, it’s mostly been positive, and im far from the medicated zombie that some might make me out to be.

i feel as though i’d been deprived of an inner life before, and it’s now that i can finally process all my negative feelings. take a step back and assess them more rationally, because it doesn’t hurt as much.

What’s more, I’m not afraid of being vulnerable. coming off as silly. making a fool of myself. because i just. don’t care. and i know this kind of disregard for your own … dignity? migh be dangerous for someone who’s naturally more open about their feelings, idk, but for me it was eye-opening.

it’s now — on Paxil — that I wrote those notes to my family. it’s now that i started the blog. it’s now that i’m affectionate towards my loved ones, i sometimes joke around with friends from work, and i occasionally giggle (out loud!) when i read something funny. all of these seemed impossible just last July.

I can still (genuinely) laugh. I do still cry. And, to my own surprise, i find it easier, not harder, to empathize with people; possibly because I’m not burdened by my own emotions all the damned time.

and i can finally see how far up my ass my head has been all this time — and, importantly, still is. you have to be comfortable acknowledging your flaws if you’re ever going to change. damn right i’m narcissistic. and lazy. i can work on it.

Lastly, I would like to point out that initially, being prescribed antidepressants felt incredibly validating. i thought i wasn’t “sick enough” to seek help, but that prescription was proof that what i was going through wasn’t normal. i didn’t hide the fact that i was on them, but i didn’t overshare, either.

well, now i’m all about oversharing, haha. neither bragging, nor complaining, but simply stating the fact: antidepressants can help. they have helped me, and my only hope is that the withdrawal symptoms aren’t too bad and i can keep at least some of that positive outlook when i stop taking them.

i hope a similar peace of mind can be achieved naturally, if you know what you’re going for. that it is within your reach. in this way it’s a helpful therapeutic excercise that can teach you by how much your own perspective can change depending on the circumstances.

i believe the above is true for me. if you feel that you’re always going to need antidepressants, i can see where you’re coming from. they’re more than just a crutch, and i hope with time there’s less and less stigma surrounding them.

you take care of you, and do whatever you need to do. ❤