5 Things I Want You To Know

Now that I am at a strong point in recovery, I want to share some things that I still want others to know:

  • I am not always as strong as I act
      • It is really hard for me to allow others to see me vulnerable, so sometimes putting up a strong front in public makes me believe that I am in control. I am much stronger than I ever was before, but inside I still have my anxiety monster wanting to come out and play. I still really appreciate random check ins every now and then because it reminds me that I am not in this fight alone.
  • Recovery is not linear
      • I still hear Ana everyday; the thoughts really don’t go away, they just get muted. She is still in my head, but I have more strength and control to ignore her. Somedays I may listen to her more than others. That doesn’t mean I relapsed though. It just means that I hit a bump and that’s okay.
  • Sometimes I miss being sick
      • This is very disordered, but sometimes I really miss the comfort of my eating disorder. I do not know how to explain it, but there is a sense of safety that I feel with my anorexia. I have lived with this disease for so long that it has become the norm for me. Being healthy and recovered is new for me and I am not fully comfortable yet with the unexpected.
  • My coping skills are imperative to my health
      • I have my coping skills and they have become like rituals for me. For example, I need to be able to have 30 minutes of just me time everyday. If that ‘Liv Time’ gets interrupted, it really throws me off and causes me to spiral. Even if the interruption is the smallest thing like someone losing my pen cap (sorry, mom). I need to have these moments because recovery is hard and it is so important for me to take a little bit of time to do things that make me happy.
  • I have never been happier
      • I am so in love with my life and I cannot thank my treatment team/support system enough for helping me get here. I went from having to stop halfway up a flight of stairs to being able to play tennis again. My eating disorder took away so many things that made me happy and I can finally enjoy it all again. RECOVERY IS WORTH IT AND LIFE IS A PRECIOUS, BEAUTIFUL THING.
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The Nontraditional Journey

A little over a week ago, something wild happened- I graduated from college.

Yeah, you read that correctly, I Olivia, am officially a college graduate with a full time teaching job. Starting in August, I will be living on my own and teaching fourth grade. I could not be happier because I am finally living the life I dreamed of.

To say my college experience was nontraditional would be an understatement. From transferring universities, taking a semester off, going inpatient for 5 days during my JR year, experiencing wild side effects from years of destroying my body, and the other random shenanigans in this lovely life on mine, it wasn’t always the easiest. To be honest, sometimes I am even I am a little surprised that I was able to graduate on time.

This isn’t going to be some post about how hard I had it. Rather this is about how lucky I am to be supported by people who encouraged me to take these untraditional risks. You see, not many people are given as many chances as I was. Not many people are lucky to have such supportive family and friends. I was a lucky one because I never had to do any of this alone.

My mental illnesses had quite an impact on my past 4 years and to be honest, it sucked. For awhile, I used to be scared that a girl like me could ever actually recover and live a normal life. But I did it and if anyone reading this is in a similar position, just know that you can do it too.

Transitions are scary and college can be a weird time. Trust me, I know. We grow up believing that things need to be a certain way. Ever since a young age we are told that if we want to be happy, we need to graduate college and get a job. I don’t know who started that rumor, but your life doesn’t have to be that way. Its okay to take a semester off. Its okay to transfer universities. Heck its okay to not even go to a university.

When I was 18 years old I had NO IDEA what I was doing and I am glad I had enough courage to go against the norm and take that semester off. Had I not taken that semester off, I would have missed out on those 5 months of self-discovery to figure out what I really wanted to do. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Sure it wasn’t what I was ‘supposed’ to do and some people thought it was ‘crazy’, but that didn’t hurt me. If anything it helped me.

The only mistake we can make is to live a life that isn’t what we want it to be. If you are unhappy think about what you can do to change that. Its so simple really, but yet we love to complicate things because of this pre-determined idea of how things are supposed to be.

I support the nontraditional journey. I support the traditional journey. I support whatever journey you take as long as it truly makes you happy. You will end up where you need to be, but the path to get there is up to you. Make it a good one.

A letter I wish I recieved

The hardest time of the year is quickly approaching—holiday season.

Between thanksgiving feasts to Christmas dinners – not to forget the temptations everywhere of homemade cookies and hot cocoa, I have to fight really hard to stay ahead of Ana.

I think back to the stranger I once was. That scared, little girl who thought she was only beautiful when her body was completely empty. The girl who always had a plan of manipulation in mind to get what she wanted.

I compare her to who I am now and I struggle to fathom that this ghost was once me. This past month alone was filled with so much success and love. So many happy memories and genuine smiles. I realized MY purpose.

I wish I could talk to my younger self and tell her what I know now… but, I cant. So, instead, I hope that someone who is currently in a place like my past self will stumble upon this letter.

Dear friend,

Hey. It’s been a wild year hasn’t it? I know you’re scared. Holiday season is coming up and that normally means there will be a lot more food to eat with big groups of people. Not to mention in these big groups of people, there are those select few who will be nonchalantly watching you and they will notice any of your unhealthy tricks. Your little mind right now must be scattered with backup plans trying to figure out what tricks will work. I know you think that not eating is going to be the best thing for you, but lets stop and think for a second. Write down what you value. Now add in a goal you have for your future self. The goal can be big or small, just something that can be worked towards. You don’t have to tell me what you wrote, but just picture in your mind what your life would be like if that was the focus. I know Ana is living in your head. Telling you that all of this is a lie and that you should never trust anyone. I bet right now she just told you I am trying to make you fat. Tell Ana I say hello, and that I don’t miss her one bit. I can’t wait until we are both free from Ana.

What is more important to you? Sharing time and memories with friends or passing out after walking up a flight of stairs? Would you rather eat a cookie even if your mind is telling you how wrong that is or would you rather be in the hospital hooked up to a tube force-feeding you the nutrients you keep depriving yourself?

I have a feeling your goal for yourself was not something about having years filled with therapy and self-hate. Or spending more time in a hospital than with the people you care about. But, if you keep letting Ana in, that’s the direction you are going.

Harsh? Yeah, it is. But it is also the reality. This holiday season is about love and joy and being with people who make us feel good. Yeah I get how tempting that sounds to sleep through Thanksgiving dinner, but then, let me know how much fun you have spending your days alone in the hospital. I will always remember my 17th Thanksgiving as the day before I went to treatment.

That is Ana’s goal. Ana, the one you TRUST, is really just your escort to death. Don’t let her win. Listen to me when I say the hospital is not a fun place to be. I am pretty sure they purposely keep the EDP unit on the coldest temperature. Maybe it is so that Ana will freeze to death so that YOU can live again.

I do not expect you to take my advice and make these changes right away. You will not disappoint me as long as you keep trying. I know you’re scared. I was and still am sometimes. But now the reason I am scared is because of the consequences for how long I danced with Ana. The longer the dance, the longer it takes for organs to heal.

This holiday season, lets find a new dance partner. I will not let you feel alone or that nobody cares for you. Because I do. Even if I have never met you, I care. If you start to slip and lose hope and you do not know what to do, I am going to tell you right now what to do. You are going to reach out to myself or someone you trust. You are not going to let Ana win. You are so much stronger. You have no idea how much greatness and unconditional love there is for you. So, until you can see this on your own, I am your anchor. I will not let you forget how worthy you are.

xx Liv

A Breakthrough

Yesterday I had a breakthrough with recovery after seeing my dietician and therapist. My dietician showed me proof of my body cells clearly leading to heart failure and irreversible neurological damage; along with a high increase of not being able to have a baby or instead, having constant miscarriages. I always hated my therapist because she is a bitch to me, but I finally understand what she is doing.

I have spent so much time obsessing over what’s wrong with me and trying to get people to understand how serious my demons are, when in reality, I need to channel this energy into positive thinking. By making my main focus my ED and my Bipolarness I am not letting myself enjoy life.

If you’re reading this you might be thinking, “well duh, Liv, obviously positive thinking leads to a positive life. And that by being so focused on the negativity was hindering me from LIVING.” From now on, only positive things will be my focus. My journaling and painting is where I express the negativity. Of course I might still ask for help in regards to eating and grocery shopping, but I will get to that point where it gets easier. I AM NOT MY ILLNESS.

I looked at myself in the mirror today while changing and started crying at how unhealthy my body looks. I do not want this to be my life. It is not normal for my rib cage to show every bone so clearly and to have such protruding hipbones. This IS NOT how my body should look and I need to start loving my body AND myself.

I thank you all for the support, it really mean a lot. BUT, the only one that can save me is MYSELF and by finally realizing that I seek attention through my actions is not the way to go about recovering. I am scared to admit when I am struggling, but I need to express this in healthy ways. Hurting myself is not the answer. I am not saying that my mental health is made up or attention seeking, but I am saying that when I get so desperate and so consumed by my thoughts, I do not properly handle myself well. It is okay to just say, “Hey today is a rough day for me, but it will pass.” It’s SO much better than trying to give off clues that I desperately need help by making it physically obvious. I have a voice that can express what is troubling me. My journaling is for my demons. Not my friends. My friends are my support; not my therapist. And my perspective on my mental health is finally starting to change.

My new life begins now; A life of positive growth and positive thinking.

The Secret Illness

You know that saying that goes something like “treat everyone with kindness for they all fight their own secret battle.” We say it all the time, but do we ever actually think about it? Do you ever think about how your best friend could be depressed or anxious and hiding it all from you?

One of the most mind-blowing things for me to think about is how there are so many others who suffer with mental illness and we do not even know about it. SO many people have a struggle, yet almost every day we see perseverance in this struggling friend. We would never think he or she could be mentally ill.

I was talking to one of my professors the other day. See, I had a major panic attack in her class. It was really embarrassing for me because it made me feel like I was failing at recovery. I went to my professor’s office to talk to her about it and I went into more detail about my history with mental illness. This conversation was so meaningful because my professor said she would have had no clue that I fight myself everyday. People know me for my outgoing personality. I always have a smile on my face. It is hard for others to fathom that I suffer so much.

It’s kind of scary in a way to think about how good I was at hiding my mental illness. I got through high school with very little people knowing I was sick. (Even with missing a month of school for IOP!) And I will NEVER forget that one day senior year in English class, when my teacher made a comment about my cut wrist in front of the whole class. It took him a moment to realize the major mistake he made.

Think about the stranger you sit next to everyday on the train. Or one of your co-workers that you kind of know. He could be suffering and maybe that smile you give him is the highlight of his day.

Think about the ones you loved. We never really know how much someone is struggling until they crack. But what if we took more focus on how our loved ones actually are. Then it would not escalate to the point of danger.

It’s scary to think that people can hide their demons so well.

Everyday, my alarm goes off and I dread getting out of bed. I know that for the next 12 hours I am going to have to be a ray of sunshine, running all over the place, and pleasing others. It’s a lot of work, but it makes me feel good most of the time, so I keep doing it. Sometimes I’ll admit I do need a break. That’s when I hit snooze a little bit longer and stay a little quieter.

Every time a meal comes along I feel full just from the anxiety. I do not think I will ever understand how people get excited about meals. I still do certain behaviors, but no one knows that my weird eating habits are unhealthy.

When it’s finally time to sleep at night I am wide-awake with voices of all the things I  think I did wrong running through my mind.

Mental illness is unpredictable. It’s not a fun thing to live with. Which is why we need to show more compassion to those we love.

We need to be more inviting to companions we do not yet know well. Exchange a smile; genuinely show care about how someone’s day is. Make an effort because you never know what someone is going through. Mental illness can be silent, but deadly.

Ambitions

So why am I up blogging right now at 4:45 am? Yesterday depression won. Yesterday my depression had me sleeping for over 16 hours. So now I am feeling pretty awake and motivated.

I want to talk about my ambitions-my motives.

Why I blog, what I want my life to be one day.

I blog for myself honestly. That probably sounds selfish, but the original idea of this was for me to be held accountable. Writing has always helped me control the thoughts. However, there have been times were I wanted to stop blogging. I continue to blog because of my readers. I just hope to inspire someone and ease them with recovery.

I will be blunt in posts and never hide my emotions, but that’s how recovery goes. 

I don’t blog for attention, or to get “blog famous” for it. This is for ME- and also, now for my wonderful readers who encourage me when I’m feeling low.

So now that that has been addressed, lemme fill ya in on how I picture my life.

I used to say I would be dead before 25 and I would beg anorexia to just take me sooner. Now, not so much. Now I want to LIVe for a long time 😉

I choose recovery so I can be a(n)…

  • Teacher who is able to interact with my kids and teach them to love each other and themselves 
  • Mother who is strong and unconditionally loved by my future family. To teach my kids how to love who they are
  • Wife who can enjoy date nights and go on fun vacations without worrying about calories. 
  • Inspiration who travels to schools and shares my story. I want to motivate other people to recover and to have someone look at me and say, “wow, Liv came over all of that, I can too.”

But most importantly I choose recovery so I can LIVE

I want to be healthy to…

  • Travel
  • Be an au pair
  • Sky dive
  • Go cliff diving
  • Explore a cave
  • Go in a hot air balloon
  • Visit Alaska
  • Teach yoga
  • Teach abroad
  • Zip line and white water raft in Costa Rica again
  • BE HAPPY

my list is endless and I will do whatever it takes to do as many adventures that I can.