Feature images: Demi Lovato’s book, Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year.
Where do I even begin? 21 days since I last blogged and holy crap have these past 3 weeks been difficult. I suppose a good place to start would be why I chose those images since I don’t usually put pictures in my actual blog posts. The reason I haven’t been blogging is very much related to those, they’re incredibly fitting actually. I have been feeling all kinds of emotions the past few weeks. Primarily sadness, but also shame, and a lot of stress. Those emotions have of course amped up my anxiety and made my depression more present than it typically is. I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life (not recovery or eating disorder related) and it’s been draining me. I’ve been trying to avoid it all and just shove it away in a box and deal with it later. In case you were thinking about trying that, don’t. It does NOT work. In fact, it only makes everything worse.
One of the most frustrating parts is that I know that, I’ve known that for several years. Yet, obviously, when the emotions are painful enough, I still try to avoid them. Maybe subconsciously I wanted myself to be in pain? To suffer through it and come out stronger? Honestly not sure, that’s just a theory. But the point is that while I may preach positive coping skills, and self-care and all of that, it doesn’t mean that sometimes it’s not still incredibly hard. Usually, when I’m going through something, one of the first things I do is journal, because that’s one of the most therapeutic coping skills I know. But the only writing I’ve done since my last blog entry prior to today was all school-related. I kept telling myself every single day, “Cmon Emily, snap out of this. You’re better than this, you need to be doing better. Use your damn skills, journal journal journal! You’ll feel so much better once you do.” But I never listened to that voice, well not until today.
FINALLY today I opened up my journal and wrote 5 pages about all of my thoughts and feelings that have been floating around for weeks. When I journal I usually will write a page or two at a time. So the amount is a very clear indicator of how badly I needed it. Once I got to about page 3 or 4 I could truly feel my anxiety lowering. My whole body felt lighter, my head felt clearer, I didn’t feel as though I was in quite as much pain as I’d been. My writing was helping me make sense of things like it always does. It was helping me like I knew it would.
Some people carry stress in their shoulders, among other body parts. I carry it in my stomach. I’ve always found that slightly ironic since my stomach has always been my biggest insecurity. That’s the place where I physically feel stress, I get a knot in my stomach, or cramps, among other things. I get this burning sensation of anxiety. For almost 2 years now I’ve been struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I’ve gone through tons of tests and trial medications and different dietary changes and absolutely nothing makes it better. Some things make it worse, like certain foods, so I steer clear of those. But aside from that, it’s something I’ve just had to learn to deal with and adjust my life around a little bit in order to manage it. One of the things that I know for a fact makes it worse is anxiety and stress. It makes total sense, if I carry my anxiety and stress in my stomach then, of course, that would affect my IBS. So on top of feeling like shit emotionally, the last few days I’ve also felt awful physically. I can’t control my IBS, but I can control my stress and anxiety, at least more than I have been. So now I can’t help but feel guilty. Guilt for making my IBS worse than it already is. Guilt for putting myself through emotional and physical pain and not dealing with it the way I should or could. Guilt for shutting down and not journaling sooner. Guilt for snapping at people like my mom because I’ve been so emotionally on edge. Guilt for not sleeping well because my head has been spinning. Guilt on top of shame for doing this to myself.
The one thing I can be proud of myself for is continuing to refrain from eating disorder behaviors. No matter how badly I’ve wanted to use bingeing as a coping skill, and believe me, I have. I’ve found other ways to cope. Even if it was avoiding everything and just watching Netflix, that was better than giving my eating disorder power in my time of struggle. So for that, I am proud and grateful that even if I haven’t been coping super well, I could’ve been coping way worse, and I’ve continued to choose not to.
Life is bumpy, it’s a never-ending roller coaster. You can’t see the end, so you just have to ride the wave. Lately, I’ve been riding that wave by watching Netflix, listening to sad songs, but also some uplifting songs. I’ve been clinging to home and trying to take care of myself. But I know I could be doing so much more to help myself get over this hump, so I’m going to push myself harder than I have been. I will push myself to listen to more uplifting music so that I can get my mojo back. But I will also listen to sad music so that I let myself feel the sadness, rather than pushing it in a box. I will push myself to journal nearly every day. I will push myself to not isolate from the world. I will push myself to talk to people other than myself and my journal about what’s going on and how I’m feeling. I will push myself to fight through the storm rather than letting it pull me down. I will not only continue reading Demi Lovato’s book, Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year every day, but I will listen to her. I will not just agree with how wise and helpful she is, but actually, take her advice to validate my feelings rather than pushing them away. I will continue to fight no matter how exhausted I am from life getting worse right after it gets better. I will not let my strength get put on pause but work to improve it.