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.

two I’s in friendship. one I in… I?

The day L left, I went into survival mode. I’ve been hanging on by a thread for going on a decade now, which is more time than we were close friends while she was still here. Of course L is her own person, and I shouldn’t be building my healing around her any more than I should have built my life. She has her own identity that goes way beyond being a signpost for my life or my recovery. Above all else, she’s a dear friend, and the last thing I want is to objectify her like that.

Regardless, in my mind, she stands for everything wrong with me. She wasn’t a person in my eyes; she was way too perfect for that. And by idealizing her, I failed to acknowledge that she, too, might have her own feelings & needs; I was too immature & superficial to meet them, though.

She went on to develop more mutually satisfying relationships, and I was hurt… now I know why: ours was a very asymmetrical one; I got emotional support, she got blind loyalty. Now she gets to be vulnerable and understood, too.

All this being said, even though I understand those dynamics in retrospect, I can’t change the past. Her departure was the catalyst for a process that had been a long time in the making: the disintegration of my own identity.

She is her own person. But, to me, she is also a stark representation of the idea of relying on someone else for your own sense of self, like I did for mine. She deserves more than being reduced to an archetype… but, again, to me she is both.

Since she left, I’ve been… getting by. Coming up with countless ways to not think for myself; to not think at all. I always had poor impulse control. I feel like it might have something to do with not using your internal monologue to its full potential. And when I shut it up altogether to avoid confronting painful feelings & ugly truths about myself, I also deprived myself of a tool that could have been incredibly helpful in regulating my behavior.

It’s not a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” kind of situation. I know I must have always gravitated towards certain types of people because of a natural inclination to follow rather than lead. It’s just that I wouldve saved myself a lot of pain if I had figured it out sooner, and perhaps taken steps to counteract it.

As things stand, I still seek that perfect relationship to lose myself in. I have this need to merge with the other person so completely that there is no more “you” or “I”, there’s just “us”. And I still believe that finding that person will solve all my problems: that they will live my life for me; that they will regulate my behavior; that they will fulfil all my needs.

I don’t (intentionally) deny the other person their right to privacy and their own complex and separate identity… As far as I’m concerned, they can even lead a life all of their own; Ill be sad and jealous, but I’ll understand that I’m not enough for them. But I need them to know & take care of me. To take the lead. Anticipate my needs. Tell me what to think. Is that mommy issues or what? 😬

In the absence of a favorite person to cling on to, and with no hope of ever finding one (because now I know it’s simply not possible in the sense in which i mean it), I am completely lost. I know I’ve discussed this before. But here I’m not talking about emptiness or idealization themselves; im talking about how they relate to impulsivity.

I always used to assume that the latter was an attempt to remedy the former, substituting compulsions and obsessions for a personality. I’m afraid the truth is much simpler than that: because I don’t think for myself, all I’m left with are my urges & no way to talk myself out of giving in to them.

It’s hard to exercise any degree of self-control when you have no sense of self. I may or may not be capable of “self-discipline”, but I’ll never find out until I know what my goals are & what’s good for me. Without some sense of your own personhood, there’s no self-discipline; there are just random rules and restrictions. And why follow those, if going against them doesn’t seem to interfere with any of your goals?

Of course I do have goals. Hopes. Ambitions. Which is why numbing out is so frustrating: every time I engage in harmful behaviors, it takes me that one step further from what I’m too afraid to admit I want.

I

am so…

c o n f u s e d.

Realistic Change

day by day, i’m peeling off layer after layer of my most basic assumptions about myself. i feel like what little i used to have in the way of a personality or a sense of “wholeness” has completely disintegrated. but maybe it’s for the best?

when i look in the mirror, i don’t see the same person i was last August. furthermore, it’s hard for me to think back to a time when i was drug-naive. because the meds opened my eyes to things i would otherwise never have realized on my own — but once i have, there’s no going back to how things were.

before, i was just impulsive. now, i can see the potential for healthy spontaneity and deliberation — even if i can’t yet execute them perfectly. before, my eating pattern was the problem. now, i see it for what it is: just one among many expressions of my impulsivity, and an attempt to ground myself firmly in the present instead of dealing with my problems.

i know i keep talking about drugs. but that’s only because of how transformative they have been to my self-perception. in ways not always positive, but mostly productive. ive been on medication for so long, it’s become my new normal. i’ve adjusted, more or less returned to baseline, and started taking this peace of mind for granted. but things will never be the same, even after i taper off.

i honestly can’t begin to comprehend how so many people can be so matter-of-fact about taking medication. it’s like, no, you don’t understand, i now feel like a whole new person! not because i behave differently, but because i perceive my own behavior in a different light. and im less attached to it; i see more potential for flexibility. it would not be an overstatement to say that i will probably forever see my life as divided into the pre- and post-ssri eras.

the first day was a revelation, in the most literal sense possible. it was like waking up in somebody else’s body. i’ll freely admit that i might not be thinking clearly right now. but it’s nothing compared to the thick, opaque, syrupy fog that i had lived in all my life. i was a child stuck in a young adult’s body.

you could argue that i might have achieved some self-awareness without pharmacological treatment, because i was simply ready to be honest with myself. even if that’s true, the meds make it that much easier and less painful & scary. but i highly doubt i could have.

the medication isn’t the only thing though. even just seeing somebody and talking about myself, just myself, sort of in the third person, where i can be concerned about my own wellbeing and kind of own all my fears, but also hopes. even just being open right here. validating my own existence. it has all made a world of difference.

the pills don’t have magical powers; they don’t alter your personality, making you into something you’re not. ha! i wish that were possible. but there’s no pill in this world that could make me into what i think i “should” be. and besides, therapy doesn’t have to be about “change”; it can be about acceptance through understanding, and about learning to play the hand that you’ve been dealt.

what the meds do is they make you … notice. because of the contrast. what i’m saying is, i always knew i was anxious, for example. but i had absolutely no idea just how anxious i was truly am. and this is not a value judgment, by the way, im not saying that anxiety is inherently bad, necessarily. but it can be a pain in the ass.

yes, the first words that come to mind when i try to describe the effect that antidepressants have on me are still “numb” / “dull”. but a certain degree of numbness can be invaluable to someone who has thus far felt everything, all the time, and they didn’t even know it.

i have a limited vocabulary for describing my internal states, but at least now i know when something is happening. it may sound odd, but i used to be completely oblivious to my emotions, how, or that they affected my behavior.

i had a general idea of some of my problems (though it is a bit intimidating to consider what i might still not know that i dont yet know about myself lol). but i couldn’t point to specific instances of when they tended to crop up. i had no clue the extent to which they permeated all areas of my life.

but in order to combat a problem, you need to be able to identify it. that in and of itself seemed unfathomable to me. firstly, i was too caught up in my own feelings, and secondly, i was too insecure. it made it impossible for me to admit to my weaknesses, never mind analyze & try to overcome them.

what’s a bit overwhelming about having more clarity is that i’m more aware of how i’m acting in the moment, and all the other ways i could theoretically act instead. i say theoretically because just realizing that other people in your situation would act differently doesn’t automatically mean that you can actually act any different. you are, after all, still you. i am indeed still me, and i still have trouble translating knowledge into action.

im also kind of confused as to what approach i should adopt. i can (sometimes) tell when im being defensive, or impulsive, or even lazy. but because i have a very narrow repertoire of communicative strategies, i will usually stick to what i know best. i simply don’t know what would work best, or even what “best” means for me; what would help me accomplish my goals, because i don’t have any (or if i do, i dunno what they are!).

one thing that truly bothers me is that i feel “normal, only better”, and at the same time i can’t recognize myself. and the longer i stay in this inbetween state without anyone to guide me through genuine, lasting change, the more likely it is that my newly developed yet equally unhealthy patterns will once again crystallize, and for good this time. and what’s going to happen when i eventually do go off the medication? it was supposed to be a stepping stone. something to help me during a particularly tough transitional period. but what if, in a month, or half a year, or two years, still nothing has changed?

i may be numb, but i’m still apprehensive :/

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.