I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts deedaleedee

You know what recovery gives you?

Fun weekend getaways with your best friend.

This weekend I went to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire with the besticle and family.  We were lucky and had some beautiful summer weather.  I was a bit stressed out about going because a weekend at the lake includes wearing a bathing suit and inevitably eating my weight in junk food while mindlessly snacking on the dock.  However, all my apprehension went away when I saw Aaron’s bat signal in the sky.

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I mean, seriously.  This (double) rainbow was HUGE.  And we were so close to it.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.  From there on out I knew it was going to be a good weekend.

Triumphs of the weekend:

  • I wore a bathing suit.
  • I drank beer for the first time in months and it was wonderful.
  • I had Dunkin Donuts twice.
  • I went out to eat 2 nights in a row.
  • I didn’t skip breakfast even though I really wanted to.
  • I went to Kellerhaus and ate a gigantic sundae.

And the best part about it?  I didn’t feel guilty at all.  It’s hard to be down on yourself when you’re too busy laughing and surrounded by people you love. 🙂

Thought of the day:

Be with the people you love, do the things you love, and FUCK THE REST.

Oh and you can’t be sad when this is your phone’s background.

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Badasses can be 5’2″ and blonde

I have countless role models among my family and friends that keep me going.  But I also look to fictional characters for inspiration.

Before the eating disorder and severe depression, my fictional gal pal was Rory Gilmore.  In high school, I easily related to her.  She was quiet, witty, and loved books.  Pretty and brainy – what more could I want to be?

Well, a lot more actually.  When I revisited the world of Stars Hollow during my college years, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at Rory.  She was deemed perfect at everything she pursued, denied being privileged despite her rich grandparents paying for everything she did, had a complete disregard for reality, often times treated her friends and boyfriends like crap, and yet somehow she had a parade of followers who worshipped the ground she walked upon. (For a more in-depth analysis why Rory Gilmore is a destructive and completely unrealistic role model for girls, please read this article.  If I could sue someone for plagiarizing unspoken thoughts, I would.)

Needless to say, Rory is no longer an inspiration to me.  But that’s okay.  Her exit made room for a more worthy heroine: Veronica Mars.

Let’s backtrack to 2011.  By then I had gone to treatment, started classes at a new college, and was chipping away at recovered life in Boston.

The first year of recovery is the hardest.  In some ways it’s harder than a year of sickness because you are no longer numb.  You begin to thaw.  Eating disorders stunt your growth as an individual, and when you’re released from its cage, you feel mentally overgrown and awkward.  Nothing is simple.  Word vomit is a frequent occurrence.  You are constantly crying, getting emotional over things you can’t explain.  The entire time you keep thinking you’re more crazy and unstable than you ever were before.  But you’re not.

As 2011 progressed, I was beginning to not only see myself differently, but the people around me through new eyes.  I didn’t like everything I saw… I had never considered that I would lose things in recovery.  After all, wasn’t that the reason why I went to treatment?  To save everything I loved?

But still in the midst of my slow, but steady progress, I was going through what turned out to be the last rough patch with my then best friend and ex.  For a multitude of reasons, one of which being I was finally speaking my mind.

Enter Veronica Mars.

One day I was at the Cambridge Library killing time before my ballet lesson. (Yes, you heard that right.  Me.  Ballet.  It happened.)  I was looking at the DVDs for something that would soothe the usual wave of anxiety after spending 2 hours in a leotard, when I stumbled upon the first season of Veronica Mars.  I remembered commercials for it years ago, but had never seen it.  So I checked it out and an episode later, I was hooked.

If you’ve never seen the show before, Veronica Mars is a modern-day and infinitely more badass Nancy Drew.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good overarching storyline with witty dialogue and an interesting ensemble of characters.  For a show that was originally targeted for a teenage audience, it has some of the best writing I’ve heard on television and delves into territories of social and economical class, rape and slut-shaming, race and ethnicity, sex and gender.  Unfortunately, it only lasted three seasons, but Veronica Mars will always be known to me as the girl who helped me find my inner badass.

Veronica Mars emulated everything I was too afraid to be, but knew I had in me.  She is strong and independent.  To me, there is nothing and will never be nothing more attractive and admirable than intelligence.  Veronica is known and respected for her brain.  That is her biggest and most celebrated attribute on the show, in my opinion.  So I started believing in my own intelligence rather than constantly putting myself down and focusing on my body.

My confidence sky-rocketed, and with confidence, my recovery and happiness reached an uncharted high.

I learned that I can stand up for myself with intelligence and class.

I fight my battles with a quip in my heart.  There is a huge difference between communication and confrontation.  I don’t like confrontation.  I mean, who does?  I find no pleasure in it, which is why it bothers me so much when someone is unresponsive or worse, thinks I’m a bitch.  I don’t like it either, you know!  I still get scared speaking my mind.  But I do it because I’d rather demand respect than sit comfortably in insecurity.  It is not overreacting to ask for what you want and need.  Telling someone that what they do hurts your feelings or bothers you doesn’t have to be an accusation.  When I approach someone, I don’t yell and toss the blame at them.  You don’t have to say hurtful things to throw a punch.  I’ve learned that intelligent and honest words will make a bigger (and more effective) impact.

Veronica didn’t take shit from anyone.  But even with her hard exterior, she had a heart that was just as easily hurt as anyone else’s.  Having a heart isn’t a weakness.  It’s okay to not be tough all the time.  It’s okay to be marshmallow.  It’s also possible to be serious and tough, but still retain femininity.  I like polka dots.  I like skirts and tights and fancy shoes.  For whatever reason, my love of pink apparently makes me soft.  But remember, it’s all fun and games until someone ends up with my stiletto up their ass.

Just because she had been through a lot of traumatic experiences, she didn’t deny herself the desire to love and be loved.  Better yet, her relationships never defined or radically changed her personality.  Having a boyfriend was never a priority.  That isn’t to say when she was in a relationship, he wasn’t important to her.  Quite the opposite actually.  But she embodied the idea that you can follow your dreams and have a relationship.  I feel like we’re taught that you can only have one or the other, and to have them both, you’re putting yourself at risk of losing your way.  But I find happiness in both and believe there’s nothing stopping anyone from balancing the two.

Just like the show, Veronica isn’t without faults.  She is stubborn, unforgiving, and at times takes cynicism to the whole new level of extreme.  But that didn’t stop me from admiring her.  Instead, it helped me accept my own self-proclaimed flaws and move past them.

Veronica Mars didn’t teach me how to be a badass.  It was always there.  She just helped me get a new contacts prescription so I could see that I already had it within myself.

You’ve got it too.  Be cool, soda pop.

When the Pawn…

Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right.

This is the title of Fiona Apple’s second album.  It’s actually a poem she wrote, which I didn’t know until now.  I find it so fitting because it was the soundtrack to my relapse last September.  I haven’t listened to it since then, but I rediscovered it last night, and after reading through this poem several times, I’ve decided it’s going to be my new mantra for recovery and life in general.  She is my favorite songstress; her words pick my chin up and break my heart  all at the same time.  And that’s what recovery does.  Sometimes the ache is the most honest thing you’ll feel.

Fiona is my queen.

Calories vs. Feels

Today was a bit disheartening.

I deliberately skipped breakfast.  Again.  I got up early to drive to Carver and even though I knew I should eat something, I told myself, “Ehhhhh no.  I’m not hungry.  Just wait until lunch.”  I’m not going to beat myself up over it because I know it’s just one slip up, but one can lead to 100 so easily.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, my hunger cues have been kind of off lately.  When I wake up in the morning I’m not hungry, which makes it tempting to skip breakfast altogether.  It takes more effort than normal to bring myself to eat, and when I think about eating, my body gets turned off to it.  It’s almost like a slightly  nauseous feeling.  Very subtle.

The frustrating thing about all this is that I feel good.  I have my bad days, but overall, I’m content.  Usually loss of appetite is a signal for something negative (i.e. stress, ignored inner turmoil, bottled up feelings), but I really don’t feel bad (most days).  I can acknowledge maybe 3 things off the top of my head that have valid reason to stress me out, but they’re comfortable discomforts, meaning I’m not worried about them.  I’m optimistic and keep on goin’ with the flow.  It’s all good. 🙂

Now I’m going to break a rule here and compare myself with someone else.  I promise it’s to make a point.  When I look at my general diet, I see it as pretty healthy.  It’s fairly balanced and the portions are reasonable.  The concept of eating 3 times a day is still something that makes me uncomfortable, but I do abide by it.  But then this weekend, I visited my sister.  In my eyes, she and my mom have always been the epitome of healthy.  Her 3 meals a day put mine to shame.  They are actual meals.  My idea of a meal?  Well, an orange for breakfast counts as a meal, right?  WRONG.  I’m confusing a snack with a meal.  My sister and I were making lunch and she was asking me what I wanted, listing off options.  Pizza, macaroni and cheese, quesadilla, etc.  Everything she offered was (in my mind) too much for lunch.  Eat a quesadilla for lunch AND eat pasta for dinner?  I couldn’t possibly do that!  Especially since I had cornbread and butter for breakfast!  Jesus Christ, you want me to have orange juice too?!  TOOMANYCALORIESDEARGODNOHELPMEASDFGHJKLASDFGHJKlASDF

THAT, my friends, is disordered thinking.  Again, forgive the comparison (I’m already awaiting a text from my sister yelling at me), but I thought it would be worth it to illustrate a point.  Out of everything that comes with an eating disorder, the one thing that I truly have not shifted in my mind is the number of calories I, as a twenty-something year old woman, am supposed to be eating daily.  Usually that number is around 2,000-2,400 cal.  My mind runs on a 1,000-1,200 cal basis.  Granted, as someone who used to only consume (aside from nothing) 300-800 calories a day, it’s an improvement.  But it’s still too low.  I don’t know why, but just as 800 calories used to boggle my mind, eating over 1,000 is still hard to wrap my mind around.  Even today, I ate homemade pizza with my grandparents and then they made chicken salad sandwiches, potato salad, and salad for dinner (ha lots of salads).  It’s like I still have trouble processing eating those two (again, in my mind) big meals consecutively, which is frustrating.  Something’s wrong with me.  I feel like an alien. :/

So here we have reached the dilemma.  I’m happy and comfortable with what I’m doing in my recovery.  Even if I don’t meet the advised caloric intake per day, I feel fulfilled and healthy.  The question I keep asking myself is, do I still need to consider upping my intake just to meet a health standard?  Or do I measure myself with how I feel?

Planned on writing all day…

and spent most of it like this:

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I have a song my friend wants me to write lyrics for and I’m in desperate need of getting a story of my own off the ground.  I need a writing partner.  Like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett or John Green and David Leivthan.  That would be cool.  Or maybe not even a partner, just someone to shift the boulders around when writer’s block kicks in.  They just have to settle for my level of mediocrity and be okay with that.

I love writing.  I wish I was better at it.  Before I decided on going to college for music, whenever anyone asked what I wanted my major to be, I always told them creative writing.  I hadn’t even entertained the possibility of music.  It kind of just happened.  Actually the whole college thing kind of just happened.  But creative writing was my default answer… sometimes I wish I followed through with it.  My head has always been too full of stuff and I think on paper is the only place it belongs.  I spent most of my high school career holed up in my room writing.  My AP English teacher adored me and for once it wasn’t because my sister was THE Katherine Sullivan.  No, I was Kristine Sullivan, the girl who always had a stack of books on her desk apart from the assigned reading and a writing voice all her own.

But then I went to college and everything changed.

My depression and subsequent eating disorder scarred my imagination.  I stopped reading.  I stopped drawing.  I stopped writing.  I had experienced too much of a sick reality to bring myself to write stories about lives I would never live.

Recovery gave me back my voice and that is something I do not intend on wasting.  The pen is mightier than the sword, or razor blade, or empty plate.  Use it.

“I wish I had the willpower to not eat.”

Fuck you.

Fuck pro-ana sites.  Fuck this mentality that starving is some gift of strength.  Fuck thinspo veiled as fitspo.  Fuck fat shaming.  Fuck society’s standards for brainwashing you to think thin is power.  Success.  Pure.  Perfection.  Happiness.  Fuck all of it.  Ana and Mia are just another pair of fucking two-faced bitches who pretend to be your friend and then stab you in the back.  Having an eating disorder is not some badge of honor.  It’s a disease.

But if you really want to know the truth, starving isn’t the hard part.  No, that’s the easy part compared to everything else that will follow.  But you know what?  I’m too tired and disheartened tonight to address the hell myself and others have been through so I’m going to let Lucy Howard-Taylor take it from here.

“If you want to be anorexic, this is what you have to be prepared for: the stomach pain, the heart flutters, the blackness, the uncomfortable nights because every way you turn your bones stick into the bed, the constant accusing and pathetically pitiful stares, the crying, the friends who abandon you, your school marks which plummet, a brain that does nothing but think food, food, food, being kept awake every night planning what you’ll eat the next day and then not going to sleep because you are so hungry, the nightmares about gorging yourself on food from which you wake up crying, the handfuls of hair that come out and cover everything, the blue and lumpy fingernails, the unhealable bruises, the goose bumps, the cold, the absolute obsession with cooking and feeding other people, the self-hate, the loneliness, clothes that will never fit no matter what size, the constipation, the awful depression when you’ve finished your tiny breakfast and realized there are four hours to go until lunch…You will stop talking, listening to music, seeing your friends, patting your dog, planning your life, dreaming, doing work, feeling happy, going on the Internet, reading, watching TV (except for the cooking channel)…you will stop living. You will find no pleasure in anything. You will be moody. You will never laugh and you will rarely smile, except with pride, perhaps, as the scales drop lower. Then will come the continuous doctors’ appointments and the ultimatum: put on weight or drop out of school and be an invalid for the rest of your life before you eventually die of starvation and/or heart failure. It will be torturous. The antidepressants will feel like they are killing you. You will lie in bed for days unable to move. You will not care about anything but holding on to the anorexia. You would prefer to die. You will try to die. Then the re-feeding (horrible, horrible word) will begin. You will panic whenever you have food in your mouth. The anorexia will shriek at you to get it out, to spit it down the drain, scrape it from your teeth and walk around the block for good measure. You will hate yourself with such a passion that you will want to rip the fat off, shred it and tear it, cause yourself as much pain as possible. Then you will realize that you cannot kill yourself now because you wouldn’t be thin enough in the coffin. People would walk past and murmur, “Oh! Wasn’t she fat!” It will fail to register that you are still severely anorexic at this point and will be for some time. Sometimes you will see yourself in the mirror and briefly gasp with horror at the sight of your own bones. And then truth will melt into delusion, and your thighs will spring back and your stomach will bulge over rippled ribs and you will feel horribly normal once more. You will be scared to go outside just in case your utter grossness is spotted by someone else. God forbid they should see those arms or that face. You will feel like a nobody, a worthless nonperson who deserves nothing, has nothing, is nothing. The depression may swallow you in its blackness. You will withdraw from everything. You will spend hour after hour lying motionless on your bed, suffocating under a black cloud, hating yourself with a sheer intensity incomprehensible to those on the outside, willing yourself to get up and burn off that sordid food you were forced to eat. But you will be too tired. You will not be able to physically raise your head…Months will melt away into nothing.”

I survived.  There’s your goddamn willpower.

30 Day Recovery Challenge – Day 2

Who in your life knows about your eating disorder? Has sharing about your eating disorder been helpful for you?

Well, seeing as this blog is public, anyone who is bored enough to read it ha.

But no, it’s vague common knowledge among friends/acquaintances.  I’ve only confided in a select few people that I trust and only have a couple people left who have been with me from the very beginning.  My extended family doesn’t even know, though I’m sure there’s been speculation as my weight-loss my first year of college was drastic and then even more my second year.  Regardless, those who do know are supportive.  If anyone were to ask me about it, I certainly wouldn’t turn them away.  I’d be as honest as I could.

It took me a long time to open up about it though.  It’s still something I have a hard time doing.  I suppose having this blog is a tool to get over my fear of being open because it really is helpful to talk about it and be upfront.  Building a support system is a crucial part of a recovery and in order to do that, you need to honest with the people closest to you.  Keeping everything bottled up inside is like drinking poison.  You’re just going to get sicker.  Even though I am not my disorder or depression, it is a part of my identity.  It has helped me grow into the person I am today, which I am happy to say is a person I love.  To share my experiences is empowering.  I don’t have much of a problem acknowledging that I have an eating disorder.  But to reach out to loved ones when I’m struggling and expose them to the nature of the disease is extremely difficult.  Depression is a cunning little bitch and can bring out the darkest parts of people.  It’s still a struggle for me to open myself up to even the people closest to me, people I trust… I am often ashamed of my disordered, depressed self.  Vulnerability scares me.  What if I opened up to someone I love and after seeing that sick side of me, they left?  What if it changed how they looked at me?  What if they don’t love me anymore?  None of those things are unreasonable for anyone to be afraid of.  And it’s happened before.  So to say to someone I love, and I know loves me, that I am depressed or struggling is a risk, one of which I rarely take.  If I ever have taken it on you, well… know that you are special.

Looks like I have new tenants…

A family of spiders decided to move into the house so I’ve been freaking out all day.  They’re teeny tiny, but they are all over the place.  If you know me at all, you know I am deathly afraid of spiders so it been one long 24 hour panic attack.  I had bats living in my apartment this past year, and I would gladly trade spiders for bats any day.  I’m just waiting for the mom to seek vengeance for killing her babies.  It’ll probably kill me in my sleep so if you don’t hear from me after tonight… well… you’ll know what happened.

With that in mind, I’ve been on edge all day, jumping at every tickle I feel on my skin, real or imagined.  So I went for a walk and magically stumbled upon a Dunkin Donuts…

YES I BROKE MY NO COFFEE STREAK.  And you know what?  The guilt lasted about 2.5 seconds.  It was like drinking the elixir of life.  Java Girl was alive and well for a day!  No regrets!  Same goes for the bagel and donut I ate.  Three fear foods in one sitting?  I’m fucking awesome! 😀

Bad part?  I didn’t eat much else for the rest of the day.  My hunger cues have been really out of sorts for the past week.  I’ve been waking up with no appetite.  But I make myself eat, so at least I’m trying.

Anyway I’ve decided to do a 30 Day Recovery Challenge, which essentially will be 30 days of recovery related writing prompts.  I need some motivation and direction.

So without further ado, here is Day 1!

Day 1 – Where are you in your recovery right now? What are some goals you are working on to help you to move forward in your recovery? 

I am in a stable place in my recovery.  I owe a lot of that to being away from the college environment.  I eat much more healthy, don’t drink, and am less distracted by potentially toxic temptations.  That being said, I feel as though I’ve been struggling more with the depression side of the disorder than the physical aspects lately.  This is entirely normal and not to unexpected in periods of recovery.  Eating disorders act as survival tools.  A lot of the time for depression.  This is true in my case.  So when you start to eliminate the mechanism you used to cope with it, the depression comes back to the surface, more intense and you must start to use healthy methods of coping.  The best thing I can do right now is to reinforce the progress I’ve made by utilizing positive coping skills.  For me, I lean toward my creative side so I do a lot of writing, reading, drawing, etc.  It’s also helpful to be open with your supports.  Though, I admit I have had a hard time lately reaching out much so that is definitely something I need to work on.

There are days when past events or people that have no current relevance in my life cross my mind, and I can’t do anything to stop a tightness from taking root in my chest and tears from welling in my eyes.  It could be something that happened years ago, but I’ll still grieve over the loses and the ache of their absence.  It makes me feel stupid, but I don’t think I’m the only person who has those moments or hours or days, and that’s comforting.

Note to self

Chill out.

(I mean that literally and metaphorically – this humidity is disgusting!)

Kristine, you are not an Olympic athlete, and that has never been one of your aspirations so stop being hard on yourself.  You’re doing something, which is always better than nothing.

I know recovery is hard and attempting to lose weight the healthy way is a challenge, especially when you have a disordered voice nagging you all the while.  But stick with it and stop with the negative self-talk because what this is really all about is feeling good.  How can you do that if you let all these negative (and untrue!) thoughts into your heard?

Think of all the unhealthy things you don’t do since you’ve come home.  You don’t drink alcohol.  You don’t go out to the bars on a regular basis.  You don’t eat fast food ever.  You rarely eat junk food.  You don’t drink any sugary or artificially based drinks.  Quite frankly, you don’t miss any of it.

Now think of all the healthy things you do.  You prepare and eat three balanced meals a day.  You drink lots of water.  You beat your Dunkin Donuts addiction.  You exercise moderately.  You get eight hours of sleep every night.  You’re managing to take some much needed “me” time without isolating.  You write.  You draw.  You read.  You daydream.

Reflect on that for a minute.  When was the last time you’ve done any of these things for a prolonged period of time?  And not only that, but at the same time?!  This is huge.

So please, cut yourself some slack and acknowledge the changes you’ve made.  You’re doing great.