A Week In My Life Volume 2 / Living As An Adult With An ED
I started this A Week In My Life series as a way to mimic those YouTube vloggers who go about their daily lives just like you and me, but film themselves while doing so. YouTube is a social media platform that has really taken the world by storm. Just this week, I was asking one of my younger students what he wanted to be when he was older. "A YouTuber", he responded. Seriously. The school-aged generation is now aspiring to be social media influencers and powerhouses. Who would have thought!
I mentioned this in my previous post, but I am not ready to make the move to YouTube. I am way too critical of myself on camera and I prefer to use blogging as a way to get my message across. (Never say never, though. A couple of years ago, I never would have imagined that I would have a blog!).
Nonetheless, I do like seeing what people get up to on a daily basis. And as the majority of you on Instagram voted for my next blog post to document A Week In My Life, here we are.
A Week In My Life Volume 2 / Living As An Adult With An ED
Last week my file closed at my eating disorder treatment centre. Because it is a public institution, the treatment centre closes patients' files after 16 weeks if they are: a) doing well, or b) not on any kind of waiting list for more intensive treatment. Although I will be continuing to see my therapist in the private sector, it was still sad for me. I had been a patient there for almost ten consecutive years and closing that chapter was bittersweet. Of course, the fact that I am no longer a patient is a good thing, but a decade of my life was spent working with the nurses and doctors and therapists, and it made me all emotional to say goodbye.
But then, being an adult, there was no time for tears because I had to head straight to work. That's the thing, about being an adult with an eating disorder - you have more responsibilities. So sometimes it's like: dry your tears, walk out the door, and head to work. And try to hold your head up while doing so.
I'm not saying that denying yourself a good cry is a good thing. (I do actually believe that crying is therapeutic and provides a huge sense of relief). But having responsibilities, like a full-time job, means there is not always time for self-care. And that's just the raw, honest truth. Yes, there are days when I probably should take a mental health day and call in sick to work. (Although calling in for mental health reasons is still incredibly difficult for me to accept). But at the same time, I have commitments to follow through with at work. I have bills to pay. (Rent!).
Working full-time while also recovering from an eating disorder means dealing with the odd panic attack, too. Because anxiety is oftentimes comorbid with eating disorders, we are left to tackle more than one issue at once. On Wednesday, I quite literally held in a panic attack. Yup, you read that right. I had a couple of hours left at work and I was ready to "explode". Or maybe "implode"? Regardless, I had to keep it together because I was at work, and I was teaching. A couple more minutes, I kept telling myself. I felt like a kettle reaching the boiling point on a stove, the steam ready to burst out at any second.
I grabbed my jacket as soon as the clock struck 6pm, ran out the door, and started crying. I cried all the way to the subway, on the subway, and all the way home to my apartment. Of course, it was the one day I forget my sunglasses, so many Montrealers saw the tears streaming down my face. I bawled to my dad on the phone about how I was stressed and... TIRED. "I'm so tired", I kept repeating to him. Tired physically, because I have low iron levels, but tired emotionally, because fighting this fight is exhausting.
The following day, I was still somewhat shook up from my panic attack. Starting on a certain medication just over a year ago really did the job in decreasing the number of generalized panic attacks I experience. And when I say decrease, I mean they were decreased by about 95%. But last Wednesday, I had one. And it was awful. So the next day, I did my best to "take it easy", while managing to go to work. Being around my co-workers helped me feel more at ease, even though inside, I still felt wildly unsettled.
Basically, my life involves running from work to appointments and back and managing the occasional bout of anxiety, while trying to maintain a somewhat normal social life. Throw in grocery shopping and meal prep and trying to convince myself to actually eat 3-5 times a day is pretty much what I have become accustomed to. My life is a constant battle between: do I eat? Do I not eat? No one is watching over me.
Yet at the same time, there are goals I set with my dietitian and my therapist. Food goals. Weight goals. Goals like buying something that MEGHAN is craving, even though the eating disorder is yelling at me to get out of the store. (Quite literally. The other day, I was embarrassed to even BE in a bakery. What if someone saw me? What would they think? Would they judge? I ended up kicking ED's ass, though, and bought two French macaroons).
It's messy. It's difficult. It's like that whack-a-mole game where just as you hit one mole on the head with the hammer, another mole pops its head up.
But I choose to go to work every day. I choose to go to therapy every week to talk about my issues and release some of the eating disorder build-up. I choose to text with my friends and see them on weekends to try and keep up some semblance of a social life.
There are no parents hovering over me at home. There are no rules dictated by a treatment centre. There is no missing school to catch up on rest and work on my papers from home. I have to buy my food. I have to make money to pay for my food. (The whole "working to buy food" thing is still kind of weird and ironic to me). I have adult responsibilities like rent and cleaning my apartment, and I'm pretty much in charge of myself.
My life is far from normal. But whose life isn't, really? Everyone has their baggage. Mine happens to weigh a lot (pun intended), but ultimately I'm just doing my best to navigate the "recovery seas" while keeping myself afloat. I don't think I will ever have a completely carefree relationship with food, and I think I will always be preoccupied to some degree with weight and body image. After ten years, though, there is still a little bit of fight in me... and I'm choosing to remember that all anyone can do is their best, really.