“For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse.

So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your destruction.

This is your birth.”

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Today has proven to me, in more ways than one, how quick people are to joke and/or vilify people who suffer from a mental illness. Between the hateful words plastered on social media concerning the whole Kayvon Edson Boston bombing performance piece and my own personal day-to-day interactions, it’s been a very frustrating and disheartening day.

I can only say this: ignorance is not bliss to those who are touched by your words.

But seriously guys – who shuffled the cards?

I really dislike my writing lately. If anything, it’s a less than profound literary reflection of myself: repetitive and lacking any sense of growth. Maybe it’s because I’ve been slacking off for the past few months, but when I think about, well, things, I spend most of my time staring at my notebook trying to remember the letters of the alphabet.

Everyone in their twenties feels lost, regardless of having a mental illness. Isn’t being twenty-something a mental illness in itself? But when I really think about it, I don’t feel lost. I’m very aware of where I am. I feel stagnant, which is not a bad place to be for me, to be honest. But it’s not great either. I feel like I made a very important phone call, but I’ve been put on hold for months and am now stuck listening to the same annoying, easy listening hold music while I wait.

I’m still waiting for that post-college adventurous gene to kick in. Is that how it worked for all great explorers? I don’t remember reading anything about that in our class’s skewed teachings of Christopher Columbus. But everyone all seems to be setting sail for the Great Perhaps, while I’m still trying to blow up a life raft. I feel trapped. Chained to a place that is littered with anchors. All I see is someone else’s perfectly filtered future on instagram. If only I could pin all my insecurities on my 16th century phone for not having an app to validate the happenings of my existence.

I want to eat up all the stars and recharge every nerve in my body. There’s a brighter future out there. I know it. I can feel it burning my skin. But I stumble – arms outstretched like a baby taking their first steps, needing to caught by their mother – blinded by the sun.

In just a few months, 2014 has already tested my commitment to recovery. In a lot of ways I feel very strong and tough and stable. It’s rewarding to actually see that I can take the punches life throws at me with grace. But when I ice the swelling, I have to decide whether to let everyone see the bruises or cake on make-up. Lately, it’s easier to apply a smile with lipstick. But the way I see it, in recovery, there is no quick fix so I might as well rock the red lips.

Even though I’ve been questioning a lot lately and I can’t truthfully say that I haven’t had my lapse days, in the end I always come back to the same painful truth: Addiction is a rigged game. Starving, drugs, drinking – it’s all the same. The entire time you think you’re winning. But when you finally lay your cards on the table, you have a losing hand. You might as well forfeit before the stakes get too high, skip the inevitable repercussions of relapsing, and stick with recovery even when it seems like you have nothing to lose.

As I told my best friend recently, you can kiss your demons good morning when you wake up or you can roll out of bed and wash them off in the shower. That choice is presented to me every day. Some days it doesn’t even cross my mind. And then other days it rings louder than my alarm and long after I’ve hit the snooze button. I know it’s hard to let go of something that once was your best friend. You loved them. Maybe you still do. Maybe you always will. But if you have to kiss ’em, kiss ’em goodbye.

Ranting: A Memoir by Kristine Sullivan

Hold up. Hold the fuck up.

I don’t live in a Nora Ephron movie, do I? Then why exactly do I get reactions ranging from incredulous to pitying whenever I tell someone I asked a guy out on a date? So I like to get shit done rather than wait by the phone. Fucking sue me.

Here’s how the conversation usually goes:

Me: “Hey guess what? I have date with (insert name here).”

Friend: “Oh my gosh! He finally asked you out!”

Me: “No, no I asked him out.”

Friend: (with noticeably less enthusiasm) “Oh.”

Me: “Yeah. Well, we’re gonna hang out, get take-out, and watch a movie or something.”

Friend: “He’s not taking you out?”

Me: ” No…”

Friend: “Oh.”

Me: *internally screaming*

After about 2 or 3 more “oh’s” I mentally fling myself from the roof top.

So let me get this straight: I have the balls courage to put all the cards out on the table, tell someone how I feel, and somehow you’re embarrassed for me? That’s adorable. The best is when things don’t pan out as I had hoped and their immediate response is, “Well, you asked him out.” Oh yes. YES, that must be it. It must’ve been doomed from the start because I asked him out instead of leaving my romantic life in the hands of a man. Yes, brilliant. I was so blind before. Let me go dust off my crinoline and write up a dowry.

Trading in “sick” clothes and wearing vulnerability

Today, for the first time in three years, I bought a new pair of jeans.

I am devastated.

I woke up this morning at an ungodly hour for a day off.  My first inclination was to stay in bed all day and, in all honesty, not eat.  But instead, I decided I wanted some retail therapy and to blow my grocery money (a mere $20) on something to help me feel good about myself.  My wardrobe is made up entirely of “sick” clothes.  Clothes that by all rights I should not be able to fit into.  I am not 100 lbs anymore and haven’t been for a long time now.  But I still haven’t let go of what that number stands for.

I went to T.J. Maxx, the site where I had my first realization that I had an eating disorder my freshmen year of college.  Now, a 24 year old woman, I knew as I walked in the store that this would probably ruin my day off.  Sure enough, I left the fitting room with the familiar chokehold on my throat that had seized me 6 years ago.  But instead of running out and crying to my mother on the phone, I bought some soup and Christmas chocolate and walked home.  I cried all the way.  I cried when I got home.  I ate the soup, I ate chocolate, and I went to sleep for 6 hours.  I woke up, and now I’m crying some more.

Anorexia is a disease.  It is an addiction, and when you choose recovery, you have to deal with symptoms of withdrawal.  Addiction tames you before it hurts you.  As awful as it makes you feel, it also makes you feel high and invincible.  Nothing can touch you.  I miss that.  I miss feeling like I had skin made of steel.  Now I just feel ripped open and vulnerable with mangled guts for anyone to sink their hands into.

So yes, I am devastated.  I know that is a strong word to use in regards to the simple act of buying new clothes.  But to someone with an eating disorder, it’s not just a pair of jeans.  It is a scarlet letter burning, “I’m not good enough.”  Now they’re sitting untouched in a bag at the end of my bed waiting to see if I’ll be strong enough not to return them and exchange them for bad habits.

I’m back

Yes, I am alive.  I’ve just been very busy with the move and starting work and settling in.  But I promise to resume updating regularly again.  Tonight – a short post.

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I have to wake up at 4 AM to open so that was a lovely birthday surprise.  I can only hope that something better will come out of tomorrow.  I’ve finally warmed up to the number 24.  It can’t be worse than 23.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.  I have a pretty good feeling about it, but I don’t want to jinx it.

My birthday has always made me inexplicably sad.  Actually, not so inexplicably, but not many people understand why when I try to explain it.  It always comes out sounding self-deprecating.  I had a birthday party when I was in kindergarten, and apparently, I told my mom I never wanted to have one ever again.  And I didn’t until I was 21.  I was fresh out of treatment and felt like I needed to celebrate me for once.  So I did.  My best friend threw me a party and my ex took me on a weekend trip to NYC during the Christmas season.  Ever since then I’ve felt more comfortable with my birthday, but it still usually puts me in a 24 hour funk.  Growing up, the thought of anyone celebrating me made me very uncomfortable and overwhelmed and self-conscious.  Obviously, now I know that I am fucking awesome, but still.  It’s a day that makes me anxious.  I get stuck in my head.

I want a lot of things this year, but mostly, I want good things.  No matter how old I get, I will always pick up pennies off the ground and search for the brightest star at night.  But wishing can only get me so far.  It’s up to me to go out there and find those good things.  I’m up for the challenge.

When I’m Twenty Four

I’ve come to realize that freaking out about the future is a regular occurrence after you graduate.  It’s not just a 20-minute plot-line of a sitcom that is dealt with and forgotten by the next episode.  No.  So far it’s been a HBO mini-series with infuriating cliffhangers and no laugh track.

As I’ve mentioned before September is a rough time for me, and by the end of this month, I was feeling really low and not like myself.  Ruminating a lot, feeling lethargic, and being hypersensitive to everything going on around me.  I was second-guessing every decision, worrying about what I’m “supposed” to be doing, and letting fear of failing or getting hurt hold me back.

But then October 1st hit and suddenly I went from neurotic basket-case to employed, optimistic (but still neurotic) soon-to-be 24 year old.  How this can happen in less than a day is beyond me, but I’m just going to go with it.  I’m fairly certain it’s something I’m going to have to get used to for the rest of my life.

I’m not very good at change, or rather the anticipation of change.  I’m told constantly it’s a common flaw in eating disorder patients, but I personally believe it’s a quality shared by the entire human race so I don’t really feel like I should have to apologize for it.  Once I’m in it I’m usually okay, but that moment before the jump is when I start to sweat.  Recently, I think a lot of that has to do with feeling like I need to make up for lost time.  With everything that has happened in the last five years, I’ve put so much pressure on myself to do good and be good.  It’s too much.  I didn’t have control then, and I don’t have it now.  And if there’s anything I’ve learned since I’ve graduated, it’s that life is more enjoyable when you go with the flow.

Last week I was freaking out about my birthday that’s coming up in a month.  I’m turning 24.  That number sounds dreadful.  24.  That’s almost 25, which is halfway to 30, which means I need to get my shit together and why is everyone getting married and having kids, what the hell am I doing, who am I, I need to live my life to the fullest DEARGODBUILDMEATIMEMACHINE

….then again, it also sounds, dare I say, exciting?  Aside from money, there’s very little holding me back.  I’ve got an amazing family and group of friends I can always count on.  For the first time ever, I’m not ruled by classes and homework.  I’m done with school – I have been dreaming about this since naptime in preschool.  I’m single, and not that I’d ever let anyone hold me back, there is a certain freedom in that.  I can just work my ass off and in my free time pursue all the things that I like, which mostly consists of coffee, books, and music.  I have no obligations to anyone or anything, except to myself.  When I think of it that way, 24 sounds pretty freakin’ awesome!

I really need to remember that thought whenever I panic about the future because, as calm and collected as this post sounds, I will freak out again.  It’s just in the nature of every 20-something year old.  And I’m not going to fight it because even in the midst of my string of panic attacks and days of self-doubt, I’ve felt a growing sense of hope in me that’s been getting stronger and stronger since this summer.

No, I don’t have a 5-year plan, but I do have the next 5 days planned, and that’s a start.

Secrecy feeds eating disorders

The most valuable lesson I’ve taken away from recovery is to never apologize for showing feeling because it only means you’re apologizing for the truth.  Learning to speak my mind was the greatest gift recovery gave me.  I am a much happier person for it.

However…

Sometimes I just want to say, FUCK THE TRUTH, and let it fester away and die.

It is hard for me to admit that I need other people, as well as their support and love.  It’s terrible to need.  I hate it.  Somedays it’s hard to no longer live in a body sheathed with the ironclad armor of an eating disorder.  Empty is strong and invincible.  When I feel overwhelmed and vulnerable, it’s a tempting to retreat back into its’ shell… I miss the days when my eating disorder and depression were secrets.  I know it seems a bit contradictory to have a public blog dedicated to my recovery and struggles when at times I feel crippled by shame and loathing and guilt, but I know deep down it’s too late to go back.  I can’t hide this part of me, and even if I could, I shouldn’t.  One of the reasons I started this blog was to accept that.  Secrecy feeds eating disorders.

It’s lonely when such a big part of your life is secret to your friends… but sometimes I wish I was strong enough to be alone, than risk losing more people I care about or infecting them with this disease that is so damn hard to understand.

There’s a point in everyone’s recovery where you realize that you cannot do it alone.

3 years out of treatment and I still struggle to accept this.

Every time I reach out to someone, I feel this sharp pang of idiocracy and embarrassment mingled with the guilt that I just disturbed the universe.

I wish pumpkin spice lattes and wooly sweaters were enough to keep the triggering thoughts of this time of year out, but they’re not.  The sadness just lays across my eyes and I pass through the days in a haze.
…..I’ll still keep drinking the lattes though.

It’s a chronic illness.

I’m going to apologize in advance for any lack of grammar and eloquence this post may contain.  I’m emotional and in my experience, those things tend to go out the window when I’m in such a state.

I either want to be locked away so no one can see me or I want someone to wrap their arms around me and smother every bit of doubt pulsating through me with kisses and snuggles.  A tad contradictory, I know.  But I feel like such a nuisance and am embarrassed of my disordered thoughts and momentary breakdowns.  All of a sudden, I feel utterly disgusted with my body and life for reasons that probably have nothing to do with my weight, but of course, I will fixate on.  Why?  Because weight has a simple solution.  Exercise, starve – problem solved.  Associate weight with any other problem and with every pound you lose, your problems will shrink as well.

That’s how eating disorders work.  Or at least, one way they work.  Eating disorders and depression are far too intricate to have just one explanation.  Either way, it’s just a lie presented in a pretty little package begging to be unwrapped, and right now I feel like a 4 year old waiting to rip open every present under the Christmas tree.

I’m scared.  I thought I was doing so well.  I exercise moderately.  I eat moderately.  I’ve been feeling good and confident.  Then I go out and socialize, indulge in things that I like, and then feel like utter shit after.  I just – asdfghjklasdfgwhatthefuck?!  Is this how life is always going to be?  Take a couple days off from exercising and suddenly I’m the victim of self-abuse?  Has the progress I’ve made these past 3 months been an illusion?  I don’t think so.  Then whyyyyyy?  Will I ever get to a place where I can do things without a free pass from exercising or starving?  A place where if something unexpected or bad happens, I don’t immediately fixate on my body and beauty.  I just can’t imagine a world like that.  Not today at least…

I’m grateful for the growth my struggles have given me, but god dammit, I hate this fucking disease.  I hate my polluted blood.  There are days where I just get so mad that this happened to me.  Days where I do nothing but cry over the person I might have been if it had been different and pine after the years I’ve lost to this disease.  I want it gone.