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.

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.