The Slippery Slope

February 19, 2013

Last night as I was driving, I had the feeling that I was on the edge, poised to fall off into depression again.  I was tired and fearful.  My mind was racing forwards and I was imagining all sorts of evils related to my jobless situation.  It was a horrible feeling.  That the precipice on which I stand was about to crumble.  I felt quite powerless and afraid.  I don’t ever want to go back to how I felt in the fall, winter, and into January of this year.  So many years of my life have been lost to illness of some kind.  I would like to think I have left anorexia behind me, but the thoughts and the images still haunt me.  Perfection is a goal I have not given up yet, either, although it is ludicrous to think that I could ever achieve it.  Me…absolutely imperfect in every way.  So hopelessly inept that it is laughable that I would conceive the idea that I could even flirt with perfection in the first place.  But there.  These are negative thoughts.  I must be ever vigilant of these destructive tendencies that I have towards negativity.

Perhaps I am feeling like I am in a funk because I went backwards for a bit.  The days since I last wrote in this journal have not been easy.  The weather has been grey and cold of late.  That also makes it harder for me to function.  I see the greyness and I want to stay in bed.  I had a dreadful “sleep day” on holiday Sunday.  I slept the day and the night away, missing it altogether.  Shades of my recent past.  Today I woke up late, and I have just now got up from an hours lie down on the couch – not actually a nap because my thoughts were racing as I lay inert, but a rest period just the same.  I guess this behaviour makes sense because I am coming off of the buzz of having five sleepless nights in a row.  I hope that is why I feel exhausted, and not because I am heading into another depression.  I would like to get my sleep, and/or lack thereof, under control.  Either night after night I lay awake, unhelpful thoughts bombarding me, or I succumb to a slumber so deep that I don’t gain consciousness for an entire evening and a day.  And sometimes even longer.  It is this up and down existence that is hard to manage.  Let’s face it.  Right now, ALL aspects of my life are hard to manage. The sleep issue just ascorbates the situation.

I have yet to finish my resume, and vacuum and wash the floors.  I’m not following my laid out plan very well, despite the fact I have clearly allocated tasks and chores to do on each given day of the week.  Why do I seem unable to adhere to a schedule of my own design?  The Program showed me that I need structure in my life in order to function…period.  And yet I resist this fact with every fibre of my being.  Why is living each day in a motivated way so seemingly difficult for me?  I know I can do it.  I’ve done it before.  I’ve lived in three different countries on two different continents, and I managed on my own, for the most part, successfully.  Perhaps I am still in the shadows of the overhang of my depression.  What a wretched place to be.  But again, I am drowning in the negativity of my thoughts.  I HAVE been making progress.  I absolutely cling to that belief.  I guess some slips are to be expected.  Just as long as it doesn’t become a long slide down that slippery slope into the abyss of my profound sadness.  How I abhor that slippery slope that I know so well.

I have to go somewhere and phone to get my telephone turned back on again.  That was bad of me not to pay my bill.  No.  I just made a mistake by not paying attention to the due date on my statement.  I am not bad.   Next time I need to be more aware of time and the timing of my bills as they come in to avoid having this happen again. I am totally embarrassed that this has occurred.  What will the person on the other end of the line think of me?  What will I say to try and explain myself?  I hope nobody I know finds out about this faux pas.  I cannot bear to be judged any more.  On the other hand, what kind of a company disconnects a phone just because you are late in paying your bill?  I’ve never missed a payment before.  This seems like a harsh punishment for being derelict in paying my bill once.  AND, I have to pay a fee to have it reconnected.  That really makes sense.  If you don’t have the money to pay your bill in the first place, where are you going to scrape together more money to get your phone turned back on?  It’s hard not to feel like I am one of the downtrodden.  I have been there practically all of my life, but I so hoped I had moved beyond this condition once I had finished the Program.  I guess only time will tell.

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September 17, 2017

The tone of this journal entry has changed significantly, as compared to the more recent ones.  It is laced with negativity and fear.  The feeling that the other shoe is about to drop is as tangible as the shoe itself.  I can almost picture myself looking skyward over my shoulder, waiting for it to fall, and for me to collapse underneath it.  But I can also sense the desperate attempts to rise above these negative thoughts and feelings, as they are occurring.  Only three days have passed since I wrote positively about a memory I had had, but within those three days a shift has taken place.  The pendulum with its perpetual swing is beginning to carry me back to a space I have learned to dread.  A space of darkness where possibilities are vanquished and squashed under the unforgiving heel of a steel-toed boot.

My struggle to overcome contrary emotions and to bask in the light of positivity is tenuous at best; then…and even now.  Although at present I am equipped with strategies that assist me to live on the brighter side.  Mindful breathing, affirmations, and a spiritual connection with the universe all help me remain under the sun of an optimistic lifestyle.  Does the slippery slope still exist?  Most definitely!  However, with the awareness of the choices I make in my daily life, and how they affect me in turn, I am better able to combat the darker influences in my brain and to live a life of peace and happiness.

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A Valentine’s Day Surprise!

February 14, 2013

I had the loveliest surprise on Valentine’s Day!  N popped by.  I had made him chocolates, but I didn’t know when I would get them to him due to the nature of our circumstances.  But sure enough, his familiar knock echoed through my living room in the evening and there he was!  He came in for tea and I could tell he was pleasantly pleased with the candy.  We dove into another one of our fantastic conversations and entertained ourselves accordingly for quite some time.  Then, out of the blue he announced that he wanted to treat me to a new haircut and a colour!  I was totally taken aback, as he had never given me a gift before.  What a lovely gesture!  And so unexpected.  My next thought was that my hair must look pretty darn dreadful for him to warrant such an offer!  Hah!  When I asked him what his motivation was for making such a suggestion, he simply said he had noticed how hard I have been working on putting my life back in order, and he wanted to honour my efforts.

At that moment I don’t think I knew what to think or feel!  My eyes welled up with tears of happiness because I was touched by his kindness, but I was embarrassed as well that I should be in a position where I NEEDED to gather the shards of my existence together and put them in some semblance of order to resemble “normal life.”  I could feel my face begin to redden in anger that he would assume I would need such a gift because I was unable to provide for myself in this matter.  But I also felt sadness because a simple gift exchange such as this was an occurrence that rarely happened in my life because I no longer had many friends.  Anorexia had ruthlessly taken care of that years ago.  Then the sad feeling was chased out by the frustration I experienced because I really DID need his help on many occasions.  Whether it be to open a jar I was not strong enough to crack the seal on, or to listen to me talk and to provide feedback when I felt completely alone in the world, N has been here to help me through.  Albeit on his own schedule, but he does have an uncanny talent for appearing just when I need him most.  And I am always so ill-prepared to return a favour to him.  Shame on me for not being a reciprocating friend.

I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh, or cry, or yell, but I could feel something untoward building in my chest.  It started as a ball of fire that began to swirl upwards into my esophagus.  Its heat grew in intensity as it rose until it felt like my throat was being burned by acid.  The fire caught my tongue and I could feel my eyes begin to water.  Sensing my inner turmoil, N moved closer to me in concern.  He placed his big, strong hand on my shoulder and he leaned forward towards me.  I had no idea what I was going to say to him because of all my conflicting emotions, but I knew I was going to say something.  Just as the heat threatened to blow off the top of my head, I opened my mouth to speak and…I burped!  Loudly!  Of all of the responses to his generosity that I could have elicited at that moment, that one had to be the least anticipated!  The air was deadly quiet, as my eyes flew open in horror at my faux pas.  I heard the steady, ‘Tick, tick, tick’ of my living room clock, and then…we both erupted in peals of laughter!  “Dear me,” he finally said in his soft accented speech, and I showered him with a jumbled up combination of apologies and thank you’s until we both settled back down.

It was so great to see him on Valentine’s Day!  It is super to see him on ANY day, but today was special.  He is a dear man.  I care about him deeply, but I can do nothing more that that because of the impossible situation.

N confirmed again tonight that we would do my yard in the spring.  I really look forward to that.  I’m sure it will be hard work, but I love being outside.  I also really like physical labour.  There is something really satisfying about working with the dirt.  The land that I live on.  The land that I cherish.  My little piece of utopia.  My heaven on earth.

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July 18, 2017

What a funny memory for me!  Laughing with a good friend is one of my favourite pastimes.  I have come to appreciate how both laughter and friendships are priceless commodities that must never be taken for granted.  They both provide great joy, and they need to be valued in kind.

Being the best friend I can be brings me tremendous happiness, as well.  To me, friendships are living, breathing entities that require nurturing and attention at all times.  I know, however, that they are well worth the effort and the time I invest in them.  The give and take between friends is a natural phenomenon and not something where a score needs to be kept to ensure each partner is giving the same amount as the other.   When the connection is true, balance ensues.  As the years roll along, I find I have fewer friends than I did when I was younger.  But the ones that I do have, are rare finds that I treasure with all of my heart.

Facing the Day

February 6, 2013

Another sleepless night for me.  I am weary today, but I am afraid to take a nap in case I don’t sleep tonight.  I haven’t followed my schedule today, or for that matter, in several days, as I lay in bed for a long time willing myself to get out of bed.  Getting up each morning is still so hard.  I don’t hate the day the minute I wake up anymore, but I just don’t seem to want to get going.  I guess I am still hiding out from the world.

I have made some good strides forward.  Dr. F is amazed at the big leap I have taken.  But I fear that this supposed progress is only temporary.  I hope I am not falling back.  I couldn’t take that.  Being on my own is difficult, as I no longer have an enforced set of activities I am required to complete.  I am my own boss.  This is a role I am not comfortable taking.  More truthfully, this is a role I have not a clue how to adopt and take on for myself.  How can I not know how to manage me?  How is it that I have never learned this basic survival technique?  It is unfathomable how I could have gotten so far into my life without grasping this simple premise.  And yet here I am.  Blindly making a muck out of experience after experience.  Terrified to step out on my own.

How do other people manage themselves?  Why is it that I have never thought about this crucial piece of reality until now?  What a simple concept, and yet it is one I don’t understand.  I have been ill so much in my life.  Hospitalization after hospitalization, to the point of sometimes becoming institutionalized due to the length of my stays.  I think of all the help I have received and the care that has been given me.  I have required this attention because of my illnesses, but at what cost?  Is it any wonder that I have difficulties standing on my own two feet?  Couple that with the fact that my family sees me as being fragile and unable to cope.  They have tried to protect me from what?  Myself?  The world that surrounds me?  Whatever the answer I am left lost and alone.  Feeling unprepared and unable to face each day as it greets me.

OK.  My heart is pounding, my chest feels constricted, and I have a nauseous feeling in my gut.  These physical signs are telling me that I am panic spiralling.  Never a good thing.  I must do some breathing exercises and focus on the moment of now.

I look at my luscious plants.  They are so beautiful and green.  Such a variety of different shades of colour.  It’s quite remarkable and spectacular at the same time.  Like me, they love the sun!  Basking in it each day brings me warmth and satisfaction.  A comfortable feeling of contentment creeps in as I feel the subtle warmth of the rays on my arms and hands.  This morning it was cloudy.  A greyness permeated the sky that suggested snow was on the way.  But now it is delightfully sunny with a slight haze in the sky.  It is like the clouds from this morning haven’t completely burned off.  I look up into the depths above me and marvel at its perfection.  With all of its different moods, the sky remains constant.  Something I can count on seeing each day and night.  If only I could learn to count on myself, then I, too, would be able to take care of me and face each day with dignity.

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May 27, 2017

I like most mornings, now.  I arise very early and then relax into my day by luxuriating in the downy folds of my cotton bedding while repeating my positive mantras at a lazy pace.  I am then able to eat breakfast, and although I cannot say I enjoy it particularly, I like the idea that I am feeding my brain and my body for whatever comes my way.

There are still days when I struggle to get out of bed, dreading what awaits me.  During those times, I strive to think of what I have to be grateful for, and I do my daily affirmations with a blind fervour, trying to occupy my mind with positivity, as opposed to focusing on what is negative.  This can be a challenging activity because for so many years my brain has been bent in the direction of negativity that I naturally navigate towards it.  But the more work I do establishing new positive neurological connections within myself, the better able I am to reach and remain on the bright side of that spectrum.

Now the grand question is whether I have learned how to take care of myself.  Anorexia has shattered what little self-esteem I possessed before its onset, so many decades ago.  It has not been built up significantly to date, despite my concerted efforts in this area.  And I remain rail thin, which would indicate that my ability to care for my basic need of sustenance is one that is sketchy at best.  But I AM functioning in the real world.  I have maintained a career for several years, and although I would like to have a partner, I live somewhat successfully on my own with my dear doggy and kitty.

True happiness still eludes me, as countless years of self hate have taken their toll, and the ability to be kind to myself is grossly impeded by my inner critic.  But I have learned to accept most days as they come, and to do my best to focus on the moments that occur, in real time, regardless of whether they are moments to remember, or ones to forget.  I hold onto the belief that with continued hard work on myself as a person, I WILL find total peace, and even true happiness.  In the meantime, I welcome contentment as my companion as I face the days that come before me.

The Hungry Mind

February 25, 2013

I am very hungry.  There.  I said it.  I listened to my body and acknowledged the sensations that I am experiencing.  Hunger.  How I vehemently dislike that feeling, and that word.  It has been a long time since I had the rumbling, hollow emptiness that signals the need to eat.  Or more correctly, the desire to eat.  When I habitually starve myself, or rather restrict my eating significantly, which is my modus operandi, the sensation of hunger dissipates until it disappears completely.  For a time, there is a numb feeling that permeates the stomach cavity, but eventually that goes away as well, and there is no longer any evidence of feeling that is associated with hunger at all.  It is quite delightful really.  Once my brain has been trained to ignore the sensation of hunger, I no longer require set times to eat.  Nor do I fixate and salivate over special foods that at one time tickled my taste buds and satisfied my ‘need’ to eat them once they were devoured.  There is simply a nothingness that my subconscious accepts as my regular state.  When I do eat, I only allow myself certain ‘set’ foods that I have allocated as safe to consume.  My diet is made up of the same few food items eaten regularly, day after day.  That way I know exactly what I am putting into my body, and then my weight doesn’t change.  But ever since the end of the Program, I have been eating more…and more often.  When I start eating more, I start wanting more food to eat, and then I begin to get hungry, and consequently I eat more.  It’s a vicious cycle.  So what do I do now?  Give in and eat, or abstain and suffer the pangs of hunger?  Why am I even having this thought?  The obvious answer for me is to refrain from eating until the absence of the sensation of hunger returns.  The Program is tricking me into believing that I deserve to eat whatever I want to eat, whereas I know I can only eat what I have deemed alright to eat.

Really wanting to lay down right now, but it is only 5:07 PM.  I still haven’t cleaned the main floor, or taken down the Christmas Tree.  That is pathetic.  An entire month has passed since Christmas, and my Christmas tree and decorations are still up.  There is so much to do, and all I want to do is to go to bed.  I don’t think that is a very good sign.

I have (in a few hours), survived my first entire weekend since the end of the Program on Tuesday.  A couple more days and I will have a whole week of successful living under my belt.  I think I have made it thus far thanks to my regimented schedule, my big, blue binder full of strategies for when I begin to struggle, and for the opportunities I have had to go for coffee…by MYSELF…Hah!…and for lunch.  I am trying to pack in activities to fill up my day with.  The busier I can be the less time I have to ruminate on my failures, and the lack of prospects I have for my immediate future.  Hmmm.  Perhaps that’s what it’s all about.  It’s not about the Hokey Pokey after all!  Hah!  Fill up my day and the meaning will come later.  I’m looking for the meaning and not doing anything.  Sitting in the doldrums and being as active as a sloth may not be the best use of my time when looking for purpose in my life.  Maybe it is time to try a new tactic.  Fill the day up and let the meaning come afterwards.  OK.  I’m challenging myself to do this very thing.  And ‘filling the day up’ can mean with cleaning chores part of the time, too.  I HAVE to get my place presentable again.  It has been over a year since I did anything with it.  I don’t even remember the original colour of the hardwood, as it has been a grey, gritty mess peppered with mammoth dust bunnies for so long.  How shameful is that?  To punish the Hungry Self by living in filth and denying it the comfort and cleanliness of a well cared for home?  No.  I learned in the Program that I am worthy of a clean and respectable place to live.  Now I just have to get off my butt and actually do some cleaning to bring about a new reality.  And I WILL do it…if only the couch wouldn’t continue to call to me to cuddle up and slumber peacefully on it.

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March 26, 2017

That was a mish-mashed piece of journal writing if ever there was one!  I can sense a growing panic about the mounting hunger that penetrated my body at the time.  With that hunger and subsequent eating would come the inevitable weight gain of which I dreaded…and still do.  So much of what I described about the controlled way in which I ate back then, is still present today.  I indulge in the same practices regarding how and what I eat.  The non-existent ‘feeling’ that accompanies the absence of eating is still my constant companion.  An old friend that keeps me from enjoying the social aspect of eating.  An old friend that keeps me from enjoying ANY aspect of eating,  But that is the price I pay to continue being small.  A lifelong goal that still doesn’t make any sense to me.  Why small?  Why not big?  What do I gain by remaining petite?  I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that the secret to getting and staying thin is not so much in what and how much you eat, or how much you exercise, but in how you think, or actually do NOT think about food.  Once my brain is trained not to register hunger, I refrain from thinking about food and I cease to be hungry.  I continue to live in this way, and I guess it is fine, because I rarely think about food anymore.  In fact, I have dismissed it and consider it to be a nonentity in my life.  But for a thing of no importance, it is interesting to me how much time and energy I spend obsessing about the topic, as has been evidenced in both of these journal entries.

Being active is an excellent thing.  Having activities to do is an enjoyable way to pass the time.  I don’t think, however, that filling my day in such a way is how I will find meaning in it.  That comes from appreciating the moments in my life.  Both the wonderful ones that I will treasure, and the difficult ones that afford me the lessons I am required to learn.  These snippets of time provide what I need to possess a peace of mind, and a love of self.  I see this collection of poignant bits as a lifelong process.  I cannot say that I have achieved either a calm and mindful state, or self-love at this time.  But I do my best to be aware of the many meaningful moments in my life that shape who I am today.