When Everything Goes Well You Panic, Right?
I don't know what the heck happened to me this week.
It's been three months since I was discharged from treatment in New York (wait, only three months? Feels like forever ago...) and overall, my life has been pretty damn good. I started back at work mid-September and have been loving (almost) every minute of it. I work with a great team and I watch amazing students progress on a daily basis and truth be told, I have never felt more comfortable in my position. I mean, I still make mistakes and there are always things to learn, but I am so HAPPY there.
I was able to keep my apartment while I was in New York, and although it was expensive to pay rent for the three months I was away, I don't regret it at all. This apartment is the first apartment I've ever had, and it's the first space I've ever been able to call my own. Even after living here for nearly a year and a half, I still feel at peace when I walk in after a long day at work. I love crawling into my pyjamas and settling onto my couch with my iPad and a good show on Netflix. After 16 months, it hasn't gotten old. I love being social but I also love my alone time, and my apartment provides me with that balance.
My mood has been pretty good over the past three months, too. Things don't stress me out or make me anxious anymore, when they otherwise would have thrown me into the deep end. I remember losing it because I didn't know how to fill out a government form, and having a breakdown because my dad didn't empty the dishwasher when I had asked him to. Those little things literally drove me past the point of sanity. Now, my mom puts the wrong name on her reservation and she can't check in for our flight to New York? They run out of my favourite kind of coffee at the grocery store? I am late for work because of train delays? I swear, it's like nothing phases me anymore! I don't really know what happened to cause this shift, but truth be told, I believe it is related to the anxiety medication I started taking just over a year ago. Regardless, sometimes I smile at the fact that I don't freak out... like, ever. And that feels pretty awesome!
So, I have an amazing job. I have great friends and family that allow me to laugh, which is so important to me. I have a wonderful apartment and my mood has been nothing but "chill". I have a therapist that I trust and tell everything to, and she is someone I can rely on through all the ups and downs. I have friends that I have "met" through social media who continue to be an incredible source of support.
And when everything goes well you panic, right?
I'm still trying to figure out what went "wrong" in the rational part of my brain this week. My thoughts looked a little something like this: "Is something bad going to happen at any moment? Should I be expecting the worst to creep up and cause all the "good" to come crashing down?"
And the truth of the matter is, the "higher" you are, the harder the fall when things begin to go south. Falling from "on top of the world" to "rock bottom" is a big drop, and that thought really scared me. Might as well self-sabotage so that the fall doesn't hurt so much.
But, what I think is more accurate, is the fact that I still have this deep-rooted belief that I don't deserve anything good. Part of the reason I restrict my food intake is because at times, I feel like I don't deserve to eat. I don't deserve to treat myself well. I don't deserve to take care of myself.
Now, this issue is longstanding and I still haven't gotten to the bottom of it. Have I done anything in life that would put me in the category of "not deserving to eat"? Well, the answer is clearly no. I remember that a therapist once told me: "Meghan, even CRIMINALS are fed in prison!". He's right - even people who have committed murder are given food in jail. Food, after all, is a basic human right. So, armed with that knowledge, I aimed to scratch off the belief that I don't deserve to eat. However, I have only been semi-successful.
Okay, so maybe sometimes I can convince myself that I deserve food. But then comes the idea that I don't deserve good things. I don't deserve for things to go well, I don't deserve success, I don't deserve happiness, and I don't deserve peace of mind.
Again, have I done anything in life that would put me in the category of "not deserving good things"? No, but... somehow the irrational thought still comes up from time to time. This week it resurfaced. I think some of us (myself included) feel guilty when things go well in life. It may feel strange, especially if we are used to hardship. And it may feel like we aren't supposed to experience joy or success because of feelings of low self-worth. Truth be told, I have never been this happy in the history of my eating disorder recovery journey. And I think that with the realization that I am blessed with a lot of things at the moment, I panicked.
I stopped taking my anxiety medication this week because I wanted to make things harder for myself. I wanted to feel like the "fall from greatness" wouldn't hurt so bad, should that fall start to happen. I felt like I didn't deserve food, or my apartment, or my job, or my friends and family. I felt guilty because I was actually happy. So, I self-sabotaged. I made my life a living HELL for four days due to the strong medication withdrawal effects I experienced.
I'm back on track now. I feel a lot better (both physically and psychologically) and I plan to keep it that way heading into the holidays. I know that self-sabotage was not a smart move, and it was completely irrational. But it's almost like I wanted to test myself. I wanted to see what it was like to feel poorly again. I wanted to give into the thought that I didn't deserve anything good.
The belief is still somewhat there, but I'm trying to put it on the back burner for now. I'm trying to listen to everyone around me who tell me it's okay to feel good and it's okay to be happy. In fact, all the better! This was a weird week, and I know I have some work to do in terms of my self-esteem. But, like anything in life, it's all a work in progress, I suppose.