Rising When We Fall
Everybody who knows me well knows I have a huge obsession with Taylor Swift. She is the one artist that I could listen to day or night, and without meaning to sound "cliché", her music really speaks to me. I first saw her in concert in Boston when she opened for Keith Urban in 2009, right after my discharge from my first inpatient eating disorder treatment. I remember listening to her songs as I was in the recovery process, and always felt a special connection to the first album she released.
Say what you want about Taylor, but I consider her to be one of the greatest powerhouses of our generation. Not only does she write her own music, she also puts on one hell of a performance, and brings me to tears every time.
But, this isn't (unfortunately) a blog post about Taylor Swift.
I mention her because Taylor aside, there are currently no other artists that I am "obsessed" with. I relate more to individual songs, and especially the lyrics. My music interests range from The Cranberries to Drake to Ariana Grande, and everything in between.
There is one particular song that I can't get enough of at the moment. I first heard it on Grey's Anatomy, and while I can't remember the context in which it was played, I immediately googled the artist and the lyrics so I could add it to my playlist.
Rise Up by Andra Day
And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up
High like the waves
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousands times again
Rise up. Two powerful words. Life has a funny way of beating us down, time and time again. I don't believe in many sayings, but "when it rains, it pours" seems to be all too relevant to me these past couple of years. My eating disorder has been knocking me down for just over a decade, and truth be told, it is becoming harder and harder to "rise up" after I fall.
This week, I was particularly frustrated with my eating disorder. For months now I've been working so hard to simply keep my head above water, but recently, I feel more like I've been drowning. I have received an outpouring of love and support from friends, family, and strangers alike, and my treatment team has made it very clear that they are not giving up on me. But I think we have all been in a situation where we are tired of fighting. Whether it's mental illness, physical illness, or simply the pure stress of having adult responsibilities, life can feel a little too overwhelming at times.
I often doubt my ability to rise up when faced with a challenge, or to get up when I fall down. The effort needed to pick ourselves up is incredibly taxing, especially given the fact that some of us are already vulnerable to begin with. These days, all of my energy goes into simply "making it through the day". So when my eating disorder knocks me down, I don't have much in the "reserve" to muster up the strength to get up.
So, what do I do? I cry a little. Okay, maybe a lot. I cry in frustration because my eating disorder is sucking up all of my energy and most of the time, I feel like I "don't have it in me" to continue the fight. I allow myself some time to cry and be angry and be upset.
And then, I take a deep breath. I reach out. The other day, I reached out to my therapist. I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed at Day Program and when I saw that no one had cleared the table after lunch and there were dirty dishes spread all over the place, I literally thought I was going to explode with anger (clearing the table was not my task, and the fact that it wasn't getting done and I would probably be left to do it was enough to send me over the edge).
"Do you have a minute to talk?" I asked her.
We stepped outside and I vented. I had my arms crossed in anger and I let my feelings out. I was frustrated with my lack of options for treatment and I was even more angered by the fact that my eating disorder felt stronger than ever, and I was losing hope. I cried and I raised my voice (which I hardly ever do) and I allowed myself to feel.
And then, another deep breath. I pulled myself together.
You see, falling down can lead us to feel defeated and discouraged. Those two "D" words are some of the most dangerous words we can encounter as humans. Defeat and discouragement often lead way to "giving up", which can have disastrous consequences. What makes this whole thing complicated is that giving up is the easier option - it requires less effort and energy. It is almost easy to throw our hands up in the air and say: "I give up". I give up on this task at work, I give up on getting my child to do something, I give up on the fight to full recovery from an eating disorder.
BUT WE CAN'T GIVE UP.
When you feel close to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on. Reach out to someone you trust and let out your frustration, anger, sadness, and/or anxiety. Take a deep breath. Start again. Start climbing your way back to the top of your mountain.
Whatever you do, don't fester too long when feeling defeated and discouraged. And let people help you. Let people in. My greatest hurdle in ED recovery is that I DON'T let people help me. I need to use the people in my surroundings to support me and give me hope when hope feels lost, and I often refrain from doing so in fear of burdening them.
But human beings are not meant to get through life alone. Everyone has someone, even though that can be hard to believe at times. Take a look around you and see who is reaching out their hand. Use all the hands that are outstretched to you to RISE WHEN YOU FALL.
The view is nicer from the top, anyways.