They say when life gives you lemons you should make lemonade – but what if you don’t have sugar or water?? And what if life isn’t ‘giving’ you lemons but it’s shooting them at you with a freaking potato gun? There you are bruised and thirsty. So you just pick up a damn lemon and start sucking on it for lack of better options. And all this does is give you a stomachache and erodes the enamel on your teeth – yeah, super positive… So, while you’re sitting there sucking on that lemon you realize that the people firing the ‘lemon gun’ don’t really give a damn and they seem to have an endless supply of lemons. Well, this has pretty much been the story of my life for the past nine months.
This thing called life, well, it happened and for a good long while it wasn’t awesome fun times. My job (that I recently resigned from) was SUPER stressful (READ: Shit on my head every single day for about 8 months…) and to tell you that I handle stress well would be similar to when Bill Clinton told the country, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” And I may be a lot of things, but a liar is not one of them. Yeah, I pretty much have the coping skills of an 11 year old. I say that because the age of 11 is when I first got ‘sick’ with the eating disorder that has plagued my life for the past 25 years (damn, I’m getting old…). To put it simply, I’ve got pretty much one way that I deal with things and that ‘way’ isn’t exactly productive or healthy.
So… As painful as this is to write, it needs to come out. It’s not like I set out for this to happen and I’m not gonna lie, it blindsided me too. I was still talking regularly with my doctor, although it was much harder with the chaos that was my life, and although there were signs, I kept telling myself that I was ‘okay’. I HAD to be okay – I could NOT be going down this road AGAIN. Every single day, I told myself that ‘today will be different’, that I would change my destructive course. And every single day, that commitment lasted about 20-30 solid minutes. Once the shit storm of work started, my best laid plans went right down the drain. Work became my priority and my health and sanity took the backseat. I kept thinking that once work calmed down things would go back to ‘normal’. Well, unfortunately nothing calmed down – there was no break. I spent most of my days feeling like I was going to throw up (because that’s what stress does to me) and unable to breath (anxiety from hell). I was drowning and no one would throw me a life preserver or even a damn floaty. I was on the edge of a breakdown and I couldn’t see a way out. Things just kept getting worse. There was a point where I just laughed when the latest new crisis emerged – it was that or cry and I had no more tears. Every day when I got out of my car at work (I was covering a full-time RD position and trying to do my real job at the same time…) I asked myself if today was the day I was going to either quit or have a nervous breakdown. I needed one of the two to happen – but I wasn’t that lucky and I just kept coping the only way I knew how… And we all know how that played out. Again, NOT POSITIVE – not even a little bit.
I talked to my parents and told them I couldn’t do it anymore – they saw what was happening, but felt I needed this job, or A JOB in general. The overall consensus was that quitting this job without a new one in place was a bad idea. I tend to be a ‘people pleaser’ (SHOCKER), so I hung on – even though it was destroying me. My dad confronted my weight one morning at breakfast and I was straight-up. I told them I was struggling and that the stress was too much. My dad looked at me and said, “What does stress have to do with this?” He still didn’t get it. My eating disorder has NEVER been about food or exercise and the “all you have to do is eat/stop exercising” is NOT the ultimate solution. I couldn’t make him understand that my destructive coping mechanism was, in some ways, the only thing that kept me going – even though it was killing me. I wanted my parents to get it and the fact that they didn’t (and might never ‘get it’) hurt(s) like hell. But it is what it is and I kept going. I knew at some point either everything would calm down OR I would end up breaking down. Either way – it would end at. The only question was, how long would it take?
Finally in June, my three new-hire RD’s started and things chilled out for about three-seconds. I found a local therapist that’s also an RD. I NEEDED to talk to someone that would listen to me and help me. I needed to hear that I wasn’t crazy and that I was going to be okay. I needed to start taking care of me again. I started looking for a new job because I came to the realization that things were never going to settle down for any length of time at my current gig from hell. And FINALLY, at the end of September I found that new job and gave my 30-day notice. I’m finishing out my “sentence” as I write this (if anyone from my company happens to be reading this, I am writing it on a Sunday and I will be working on work things later, so don’t worry I’m not abusing your time…).
I’m taking care of me again. During a recent appointment with my therapist I asked her if I would ever be free from this eating disorder hell. She was honest with me. She told me that I was likely ‘one of those cases’ that would always struggle and that I will always have to fight to stay on top of it. I will never just be ‘normal’. But it’s okay, I’m a fighter and I will NOT let ED win. For me, recovery is not some destination I will likely ever reach – but I’m not going to give up. I won’t stop moving. We only get one shot at this life thing and if I’m completely honest –my brain tells me that I suck at it (life, that is), although my therapist and my mom tell me I don’t (but I pay my therapist and my mom might be a little biased…). One thing I know for sure though is that my suckiness and struggles have helped me help a lot of people. So, I’m going to keep trying to get it right and hopefully change some more lives in the process. An eating disorder might be in my genes, but giving up isn’t.
This is my struggle. Know that regardless of how awesome anyone’s life appears on social media, a blog or in-person – everyone has ‘junk’ and it is totally okay to not be okay and to admit that. You are not alone and there are people that understand. I know I’m a little slow to the game and it took me about 6 months to call myself out on my shit – but I did it and you can too. Own it and FIGHT IT like you’ve never fought. Every day, wake up with determination, commit to the fight. Some days you will lose and that’s okay, those are the days that we learn from and the journey is NEVER perfect or without bumps, twists and turns. Other days YOU WILL WIN. Celebrate every victory and know that by not giving up or giving in – you are winning the fight.