In the eyes of many, I am a "recovered" anorexic after struggling as a dangerously unhealthy person for four years in college. Although I am no longer the 79 pound 20 year old I was 9 years ago, all those demons and feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt never went away - and I don't know if they ever will.
For the past 14 months, I have been struggling with major depression - and actually have been hospitalized twice for suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, it's been almost 9 months since that second visit, and I am working so, so hard to try to pull myself out from this new kind of pain. The problem is that now I feel like I need that control that my eating disorder gave me before. In the two weeks since school let out, I have felt myself slip so easily back into my old habits. The obsessions about every single calorie I do or don't eat, the constant looking in the mirror and seeing something so awful, and the drive to see those numbers on the scale go down are all there. Already, I can feel that my body is weaker and tired and starving, but I continue to ignore it. My head knows what's going on and knows better than to let this happen again, but the emotions and the drive are so much stronger right now . . .
I just don't know how to fight something I know is so wrong right now. Life just seems so overwhelming right now, and I don't know how to fight all the daily battles I face - the strength it takes to just wake up and feel like I can face another day, the struggle to feel like I belong on this earth, the intense pain of believing I am a burden to those that love me, and now the inability to stop the one thing I actually feel like I've been successful at doing in my life - starving . . .
I saw a nutritionist for 2 years and worked with a therapist for 4 years in the depths of fighting anorexia the first time. Now I see a psychiatrist and am on medication and work with a therapist for my depression. I am blessed with an amazing support system of people that love me when I don't deserve it. And, with all of that, I am still a disappointment and a failure . . .
How do I find that strength to fight for myself again?
Simply love yourself. As hedonistic as it sounds it is what I find can get you through the storms. Love from another can get you over many hurdles. Remembering the support and love that others gave you is also something you can hold dear to your heart and help you.
I cannot agree more that even though you and I have stopped the E.D. there are the demons in our head that make daily life horrible. Finding your center, a little cocoon in your brain that you can retreat to when you feeling the self loathing is what I do.
So how do you find strength? It is kind of like kindling a camp fire. You find the materials that will burn and keep you warm. You find a spark to set it off. You caress it and nurture it with your every breathe. It slowly build it up until is can sustain itself. You must then keep it protected from the rain, the heavy winds, and the lack of fuel.If the fire goes out or reduced to embers, you start again.
You have proven to be a fighter already. Also you are compassionate in your reply to Kate. I am sorry life seems overwhelming but even with all that you posted, you took time to help support another. That makes you pretty great in my book. :)
I don't know if you remember me (I used to be upstatedizgirl/~dizzy back on the old boards years ago), but I definitely remember you! You have that same knack for responding with such an amazing insight . . .
I love the metaphor of finding strength as kindling a fire (or simile maybe? That's why I teach math!). I am going to use that to write some things on my mind and maybe share with my therapist in a few weeks. My life recently has been spent restarting the fire after it going out again and again . . . but that must mean I have some kind of strength to keep going, right? I guess it's just hard to believe, after all of that, that there is still enough strength inside of me to keep going on.
I truly do hold all of the special things those that I love have done from me very close to my heart. My principal has become like a second father to me - he was the one that took me to the hospital last May when I was suicidal and continues to care so much about my well-being. My old gymastics coach is still one of my best friends - I will never forget the day she sat me down to confront me about my eating disorder years ago. My parents and sister and brothers continue to love me, despite being the only one who has "issues" I guess.
I think my center has always been that need to be here for others, to support them and help in any way I possibly can, and to never, ever disappoint them. It's been something so impossibly hard for me to find a center for *me* where I feel like I actually value myself. Loving myself is that huge hurdle I haven't been able to jump over yet . . .
I am just rambling now - but thank you so much for that response and for giving me some important things to think about today.
Trying to help and support others is something very important to me. I teach 8th grade, and I work really hard to understand my students as people beyond their grades, you know? I care about them and love them and want to do anything I can to support them and help them grow. It's the same thing with friends, both real and *virtual* - the pain I see or read about others feeling is real to me too, and I don't want anyone to feel like there is no one who cares or understands.
It's a great feeling to be able to help someone, and it's not at all about needing or wanting praise for that. Right now, if I can't love myself, I want to be able to feel like I have a place on this earth -
For now, I just have to hope that one day I will be able to believe the nice things others may say about me and accept myself as a worthy, beautiful person - inside and out.
There is a love in the the gift of giving. Glad that you can do that. It may be difficult to "love yourself" but you can have a conversation within you that is a loving, building, nurturing voice rather then a self destructive one.
A soft voice that says to you that it is ok. A voice that calms the mind. when it catches you screaming to yourself to not eat another calorie. A voice that says, "You know what? This is where I am right now and it is ok?" It is ok not to be on my A game today or even my B game. I am glad to hear that you have the coach and the family close in your thought.
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