Day 78

8PM:

The demeaning thing about this disease is that it takes away your ability to see true and false sometimes.  I have written about this before and it reared its ugly head again.

The complexities of this disease/disorder make it so that during times of great stress or when there are major stressors/conflict, when it is one of those times that Gibbs would tell you to “trust your gut,” you just can’t or you’re not willing to or you’ve been stripped of that ability.  I’ll give you an example: last night, my wife and I were at an all-you-can-eat mussels restaurant (FYI, be careful with mussels, because if they aren’t open after they’re cooked, don’t eat them – trust me), using eight portions plus the wiggle room to allow for a cheat meal of no portion counting.  It was really nice; not the food, but definitely the company and the experience.  In fact, the food was really unbalanced, which I guess is how I felt because three plates of mussels in and it settled, appeared to be the end, having had a satisfying amount of food and another plate would be overkill.  However, even though I didn’t want that fourth bowl, there was that tiny voice in the back of my head saying “are you sure?”  And in that circumstance, I was pretty sure that my motivations were true and as the night progressed, I was right.  Then comes today . . . same trust issues, but totally different aspect of the blackness shows up.

Cutting to the chase, I feel that Mom is going behind my back and playing both sides with Family Friend (who has dropped all pretences and appears to not give a fuck about this at all, but I’ll get to that I’m sure).  It appears like she is breaking the trust that we have been working to build as a support system to combat the blackness.  And like an abused puppy, the slightest raising of the hand (or in this case, the appearance of raising a hand) causes me to flinch, get my hackles up and lash out.  In this circumstance, as I was getting angrier and more frustrated, I doubted my motivations, I wasn’t sure that they were true.  I couldn’t tell if it was the blackness egging me on, sitting in the bleachers yelling slurs, throwing bananas and spewing hate to rile me up.

I was wrong.  I was very wrong.  There was no intent to injure, but yet I flinched.  The complexity of this disease, of mental illness in general, is that it takes away your ability to step back and say, “who is this?”  Is it me who is now yelling at the unknown cause of the ABS brakes kicking in when I’m driving?  Is it me who is now punching TVs and doors and metal poles out of pure frustration?  Is it me who is dropping F bombs in front of administrators?  OR is it the blackness’ tendrils leeching the goodness out of me?  That is what is demeaning and disheartening.  I don’t know how long that voice will stick around or how long it will be this loud or where the source of this anger comes from.  It is so spider-webbed on my insides.

I’m going to believe that this is the evidence of wear and tear, of inhuman degrees of internal and external stress (some of it self-inflicted, I’m sure), that it is the flakes of rust coming off.  This is evidence of the balance sheet being unbalanced (past slip-ups out-weighing the present-day), but they are being re-weighted.  Believing that I don’t know the motivations, whether I should attribute this to me or the blackness, all goes back to that lack of confidence.  However, let’s go back to Occam and his Razor: I know I am not a bad person, I do not want to be angry or frustrated or make people feel bad.  I don’t want to be that person.  So Occam’s Razor being as it is, if I don’t want to be that person and I’m not trying to be that person, we should believe the more likely scenario: there are flakes of rust, flakes of decay, flakes of blackness that we are stripping off.  There is work to be done and the ugliness of shoving charcoal down my throat and waiting for it all to erupt was on display today.

I know that I have a kind heart, I know that I wear my heart on my sleeve – it’s the reason why I feel this so very much.  That’s why it is going to take a kind heart, a kind soul (in fact, many kind souls who love and are understanding and believe that the kind heart will prevail and the blackness won’t be a cancer on my kind heart anymore) to help me through this.   So until the flakes of rust float away and this blackness still has a hold on me, we say, “darling, we ain’t fucking giving up, because that’s what we do.”

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Day 77

3PM:

RECOVERED V. RECOVERING

The first of these terms denotes (or connotes? I’m never sure) an end.  There is a solution, a magic pill or technique that will take this all away.  There is a holy grail to find.

For the second, there is an ongoing-ness, an alcoholic who never will have a good relationship with booze and can’t walk into a bar or in my case, always going to have the blackness in my head during times of struggle.  When stress gets tough, I will have a voice in my head that tells me to seek comfort in falsities: losing weight, restricting habits, constricting myself, hiding and destroying.

However, this is not a bad thing, knowing that I am a recovering whatever-the-fuck-this-is.  The hunt doesn’t stop, but instead of solutions or singular magic pills (anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, my brother’s cannabis), strategies need to be found.  There is a journey to this, one that can be enjoyed as opposed to endured until I’m recovered, one on which I can hold her hand and know it will be there throughout, one that we can watch the penguins fly by as we find our way.  Being a recovering whatever-the-fuck is not a curse, it’s a freedom to look up, to not postpone living anymore, to not let this blackness take any more away from us than it already has and could very well continue to if we wait for “recovered.”

Day 76

11AM:

The magic pill – the glorious gift Family Doctor feels would make my guilt go away, the wondrous worry-waster that would soothe my woe-begotten mind, the nourishment that would nix the nasty necromancer that I call the blackness.

Staying up at night spinning out of control = gone.

Worrying about what I look like in the mirror = gone.

Not appreciating the wonderful things that life and my world present to me = gone.

Overthinking decisions that otherwise should be routine = gone.

Attacking myself for wanting to sit down or read or rest = gone.

Not having the strength to follow through with my food-decisions to not skip meals or not eat too much bulk = gone.

The debilitating amount of effort it takes to look up = gone.

Not being able to find quiet, calm, peace = gone.

It is an amazing proposition.  It would take the strain off my relationships, take the focus off me so we can focus on our marriage, take the distractions away so I can look up.  It makes sense that he would be adamant about it given my brother’s diagnosis (mental illness can be genetically connected) is significant, my previous use of pills and his “wheelhouse,” but it really does sound too good to be true.  I am not confident yet with taking this on ourselves.  Taking this recovery in our hands seems dicey and therefore, I am shaky, I am wavering and I doubt.  That is probably from where the “gone” statements arise.  So when I have a trained professional tell me that pills will be the end to my troubles, the lack of confidence and self-worth listens.  It still is talking as I write, as I’m trying to find the courage to battle through and stay the course.

Occam’s Razor: entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily, or in less confusing terms, the most likely explanation is usually the right one.  The magic pill is a nice dream, but I have never been an unrealistic dreamer.  I am a realistic dreamer too full of heart and so I avoid unrealistic dreams to avoid disappointment, sadness, unfulfillment.  This magic pill is something I let myself unrealistically dream about, which is why I can’t let it go, why I can’t brush it off, why it hurts my heart so fucking much.  “Some people care too much. I think it’s called love” – A.A. Milne.

Day 75

4PM:

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day today, which tries to bring awareness to issues of mental illness in Canada – a very noble effort, one that is obviously close to my heart.

I spent the last year and a half in relative emotional squander due to the fact that no one “talked,” no one asked how I was doing or invited me into (or even showed me a glimpse of) a safe and supportive environment.  The type of environment in which you feel comfortable being vulnerable, sharing your issues and fears, breaking down and make mistakes = this type of place was missing from my world.

In my personal life, this has changed with my wife’s recommitment to our bubble and her bringing my parents into the fold with her Letter.  There is still great work to be done to bring warmth and comfort and trust back to the bubble, back into my personal world, but there is movement, there are steps, one foot after the other.  I wish there were more people in, more people searching for answers, more who could bring comfort to this world in times of need (even with soup or cookies), but “we shall get there some day.”

Professionally, which does have the habit of becoming personal (in fact, I wouldn’t separate the two as personal and professional, but more like work and home, because – and this could just be the nature of the job of being a teacher – I am just as personally invested, just as personally represented in my job as I am in my relationships), this still isn’t the case.  Today, I had the chance to visit my old school, where I was brought into the teaching profession.  It didn’t feel exciting or joyfully nostalgic; it actually was a little melancholy.  My first department head and I talked openly about the eating disorder, with her not just listening and cognitively coaching, but actually caring and contributing (not wisdom or advice, but being a part of the conversation as opposed to being there for it).  My first mentor, with whom I had lunch, seemed to falter a little at the beginning, saying that “I know something is up, but I won’t pry,” leading me to believe she was like the others, not willing to cross an imaginary line to save a falling friend.  Her true colours, her true nature and the nature of our relationship was revealed an hour later though when she hugged me and explained that she can’t tell if I’m hurting from where she is, but that if I need her, just text message a bat-signal and she’ll be there in an instant.  This was not a “hi, how are you doing” situation where the question is asked but the answer is moot.  This was not her saying this because that’s just what you say to people.  She loves and is willing to cross that line, saying it in not so many words.  She cares and there was something in her voice, in her speech, in her face that revealed this.  She made me feel safe and supported, like I could talk.  A feeling I haven’t felt in close to two and a half years where I work now, even with as many hints as I drop to Work Friend to make her cross the line, have the conversation, pry so that talking can happen.  The words were the same as many before her, but the caring that had been missing in others was so blatantly evident in her at that moment – I trust it, she made me trust it; I didn’t have to make a leap of faith, she made me feel like I could jump and that she would catch me.

I want to be back there, because it feels like my house with knots in it that make you laugh and cracks that make you smile and remember.  I don’t think this was nostalgia, although I’m sure there are problematic things about that house that I’m ignoring right now.  However, I think these are the imperfections I am willing to live with – the piles of clothes on the floor, if you will – because I love.  I love and therefore the small imperfections are not flaws, they are reminders that I love.  If I were not to move schools, if I wanted to stay somewhere and live out my days looking up, I could call that place home.

Day 73/74

I threw up last night, on purpose.  In fact, I have for the last two nights now.  Each time, my stomach hurt so bad that I needed to get some of it out.  Vestiges of an older me, a not-so-enlightened me.  A very unexpected occurrence too.

I understood my cues all through Saturday (Day 73): when spinny, it usually meant I had to ingest something; when grumpy, it usually meant I had to ingest something; and so forth.  Starting to get a handle on my cues when social stuff or work obligations don’t get in the way (that will be another hurdle, eating when I have to even when it interferes with my wife/my plans and work shit, like it did today and I didn’t acknowledge them by having a snack or an actual lunch), but then, it snuck up on me.

It was clearly too much to eat at once, but that didn’t stop me from sticking my finger down my throat.

It went against the add-two-portions experiment (and as such, the experiment will be repeated today, because I think that could also be impacting my gym/strength gains with my grandfather’s strength gaining system; also interesting that part of me didn’t want to give up those boxes yesterday and today anyway – maybe I am hungry for it, for more food…), but that doesn’t stop me.

It was clearly the wrong thing to do (not even getting into the starving African children debate), but that doesn’t stop me.

It goes against my wife having faith in my ability to be strong through this, that in understanding it, she and I will defeat it, but that doesn’t stop me.

Only I can stop me from becoming that bulimic monster again.  It takes the food out of my system, takes away the bloat, but more than these, it takes away my satisfaction with eating.  It is weird, because I actually feel hungrier than just replacing the food thrown up.  I throw up two pieces of bread, I feel like putting two pieces back in wouldn’t be enough – almost as if giving in to the eating disorder, the perfectionism, the blackness, as if it strips more from me than what I see in the toilet bowl.

Day 72

8:20AM:

So an update: slept really well, even after drinking a bit (nothing out of the ordinary though and not for the wrong reasons).  Not quite sure if it’s because of the two extra portions or what, but going to give it another shot tonight (because exhaustion cures the issues of an insomnia sometimes).  It’s ok that we’re not quite sure.

I would pray for patience, for strength, for wisdom, for serenity, for love, for courage, for respect and support, but I’m not really the praying/religious type.  Instead, I will look to the things in which I feel God resides (it’s funny how I can be so comfortable with my relationship with God not being part of an institution, being part of me and not necessarily similar to anyone else’s relationship, not be self-conscious about that and yet, here we are because I get so distressed about the minutiae of food, resting, activities…) = love:

PHILOSOPHY OF POOH

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart.  I’ll stay there forever.”

“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.”

photo

Day 71

10AM:

Lordy, was yesterday ever a tough sleep.  Nothing in particular precipitated it – not too much booze; spinniness about work was a symptom, not a cause (as evidenced by spinniness about recipes and related things as well); room was comfortable – but I have a suspicion that it could be hunger.  I don’t really know though, truth be told.  I could be wrong, I could be right, but tonight, I will add two portions to my day to see.  And I have the strength to do it on my own (or at least, if I write that I have strength, I can fake it…)