Binge On This is a year old!
Twelve months ago today, we sat at our computers, 1400 miles away from each other, staring at our computer screens as we realized this was it – the blog was finished. Our intro posts were complete. All that was left was to hit the button to launch.
We counted down and hit that button together. What you saw was the intro to our blogs, our stories, our journeys. What you didn’t see was the two of us flailing at each other on Skype, making noises that would probably make a dolphin wince.
It’s been a tumultuous year, in both good ways and bad. The two of us set high goals – two posts per week, one each, plus an additional co-post per month. While we initially were able to uphold those standards, eventually – well, not so much.
This year, we’re being more realistic – as you’ve seen, we’re only posting once every other week, for now. We want to continue to offer you quality, informative, and yes, sometimes emotional content, while still holding onto our sanity (well – what little sanity we have left at any rate.)
Why, you may ask, are updates coming so infrequently? Well, the short answer is, our lives have exploded into a sparkling fireworks show of chaos.
And if that’s not enough of a visual for you, here’s the long version:
Last September, I started graduate school at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service. In the beginning, I was excited – I’ve wanted to go back to school for so long, and the time was finally here! That excitement quickly faded as I was overwhelmed with the work load – hundreds of pages of reading per week, on top of my assignments, on top of a full time job that I hate, on top of life in general. I was sick twice in less than a month. I procrastinated enough that I spent three nights in the Fordham library working on all of my final papers – twenty-eight pages total in three days.
To say I was exhausted would be an understatement. This semester is going better. I’m keeping up with my assignments – my schedule allows me to spend Saturday afternoons in the library, doing most if not all of my work for the week.
I also started working with a new therapist. I’ve been struggling a lot for a while now with my eating disorder and depression, which exacerbated my migraines, on top of a painful, misery-filled flare-up of my PCOS right around Christmas. I haven’t relapsed (thankfully), but I felt I needed something more intensive to really push through. While I liked working with my previous therapist, I just wasn’t getting anywhere. The work has been hard – after pretty much every session since the new year, I have texted Laura saying “This session was hard, I feel miserable, I [insert expletive here that rhymes with ducking] hate this” – but mind-blowingly insightful. I’m still exhausted most days, and getting out of bed is still often an exercise in attempting to move mountains, but it makes me feel a little bit better, knowing I’m trying to help myself rather than just wallowing in it.
Right before we launched the blog, I fulfilled a promise I made to myself in treatment – that I would finally get my first tattoo.
I chose a blue butterfly for a few reasons. One is sentimental and silly – the singing, dancing, silly blue butterfly from The Last Unicorn was a childhood favorite. I found the exact image I wanted in a deck of tarot cards when I wasn’t even looking for it (this one to be exact). The card was Six of Wands, meaning victory, rising up. Triumph.
The second is a lot more personal. When I was in college, I started seeing butterflies everywhere – while I was walking to and from class, while I was at home for the weekend. A huge monarch butterfly even flew through the window of one of my classes in college and landed on my desk, like a blinking neon sign that change was coming.
That’s the third reason – the butterfly symbolizes change, transformation. Joy. I wanted a tangible, physical reminder that I traveled a long, hard journey to recovery from my eating disorder, and came out the other side a changed person. The road ahead wasn’t easy, but I could always look down and remind myself of how far I’d come. (The charm bracelets are from my mother and one of my best friends. They help, too.)
I’ve been struggling a lot the past few months, feeling hopeless and exhausted from constantly battling back my eating disorder. I hesitated writing all of this, because for an anniversary post, it all just seemed so sad. Laura is the one who reminded me that not all posts have to be happy. They don’t all have to be upbeat. That’s not how recovery works.
Recovery is a funny thing. It’s messy and it’s complicated, as dejecting as it is triumphant. If you created points on a chart from first day to last, it would resemble a heartbeat rather than a straight, upwards-climbing line.
Actually, I rather like that metaphor – I’m still here, still fighting. My heart’s still beating, pushing me towards recovery.
The picture of my tattoo popped up on my Facebook feed as a memory I would want to share. I’m choosing to take it’s appearance as a sign: Look down. Remember how far you’ve come. And keep going.
A month after we launched our blog, I had my last session with my first therapist who specialized in eating disorders and switched over to a new nutritionist. It was one of the hardest and scariest things in my recovery at that point. I talked about the experience in the Losing Your Treatment Team post. What I didn’t talk about was what was going on behind the scenes during that whole ordeal which made the entire situation worse.
Like I’ve said in other posts, I work in a healthcare facility. For the past five years, we’ve been working toward the goal of moving into a brand-new facility since ours was failing the needs of our clients. At the time, I had multiple jobs in the facility and was learning a new position, so that was stressful. I was the only person in charge of computers and various electronics in our facility, and I also was learning how to create the 24 Activity schedule, where every hour of each day has to be accounted for for each of our clients, which would have to be completely rewritten for our new facility. I was in charge of packing, moving, and setting up each computer on top of the three other jobs. What this meant was that in the months up to moving day, which was November 1st, I was extremely stressed and overworked. Before, during, and after the move, I worked 33 days straight, with no day off. I was basically a zombie. This was the height of Positive People Interaction, and I had a lot of people very concerned for my health. I brushed them off, because I had a job to do and no one else to do it if I couldn’t.
I was seeing the therapist that I did not work well with, and I felt like my professional support system was gone. The stress of the move plus stress of daily life caused a lot of health fall-outs for me. My migraines have returned, my anxiety skyrocketed, and I didn’t take good care of my body in many ways, including what I ate. The negative effects have gotten so bad that I’m back on preventative migraine medications, a daily anxiety medication, my muscle relaxer dosage has been doubled, and I’m lined up for a number of tests because while the stress of the move is gone, my body hasn’t recovered and is on a downward slope.
It’s a scary process, and just the thought of going through the years of pain and fear where my only comfort was eating caused a bit of a tiny little breakdown. I’m so thankful that I found my new therapist, because she’s challenged me and made me realize that what I perceive as weakness is anything but, and I need to start giving myself a break. Both she and my nutritionist have helped me create a schedule where I’m only at work for as long as I need to be, I leave at a certain time, and I have scheduled times for health food and activity. I’m still incredibly nervous about the upcoming tests, those results, and what’s in store for me in the next year, but making this post has actually had such a good impact on me.
After we launched the blog, I bought two rings – one says inspired and the other fearless. I wear them on my thumbs nearly every day. At the time, I felt inspired and fearless. We both opened up about our eating disorders and mental health problems to the world. We created a space for eating disorder support and a place to talk about the ups and downs of recovery. Some days it’s hard to wear the rings. Some days, I don’t feel inspired or fearless at all, and I battle against my own brain in order to leave the bed.
I had one of those days today. I cried on my way to work, cried when I got to work, and had to take deep breaths and force a smile on my face when I leave my office. And as Andrea and I write this post, I’m reminded how far I have come. That despite all the scary things happening, all the stress that I’ve endured in the past 365 days, I am where I am because of me. While I had the support of my treatment team, my family, my friends, and especially Andrea, I overcame my disorders. Me.
This morning, I didn’t feel worthy enough to wear my rings. Sometimes when that happens, I leave them on my dresser and go about my day, but today I put them on as I walked out the door. And as I compile the stats from the last year, read through comments and emails we’ve received, I realized self-perceived worthiness has nothing to do with it.
I am inspired and I am fearless. And thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me. You really did save my life.
As of today, we’ve had almost 5,000 views to the site from 35 different countries, and we are so, very, incredibly grateful to everyone who has liked and shared our posts on social media, left a comment, or subscribed to the blog.
Things to look forward to this year (for us and for you):
We are once again partnering with NEDA for NEDAwareness Week, Feb 26-March 5. We’ll be posting once a day every day that week, so be sure to watch this space for some new and exciting content.
We will also be participating in World ED Action Day later on in the year.
But probably the most exciting bit of news is WE’RE GOING TO SEE EACH OTHER IN MAY! Laura is coming to visit Andrea in NYC with our friend, Liz (who has written a guest post on this blog.) We’re going to be vlogging, and will be posting our adventures on this blog. We promise it won’t just be us screaming and hugging each other.
Well. Not entirely.
Thanks again for reading Binge On This, and here’s to an even better year than the last!