I write this sentence from a place of loss. A family member passed away a few days ago and I’m still sitting with that hollow coldness that accompanies death. Then I smile. I smile because today even with that hollow coldness sitting my chest I got to be thankful. I try to be thankful for oxygen everyday; I know it sounds silly but I remind myself that even at my lowest, feeling my worst (emotionally and physically) – it’s there keeping me alive. I try to be thankful for the people in my life right now; the ones that I love and the ones that I don’t because they are helping shape me and teach me how I want to be. I try to be thankful for all the people in the past because I wouldn’t be who I am today had it not been for them. I try to be thankful for my days, hours and seconds; my ups and my downs; my journey. It is impossible to know where I will go but right now I can say “I am” and I am going to be thankful even with that hollow coldness in my chest.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
Anorexia, Anxiety, awareness, beautiful, beauty, borderline personality disorder, Bulimia, Coping (psychology), depression, Disease, eating disorder, God, health, hope, Lizzie, Mental disorder, mental-health, Miracle, recovery, strength, treatment, understanding
By: Guest Blogger Lizzie Elsberg
I remember, one time in college, telling a friend, “It will be a miracle if I ever get better.” And when I said “miracle”, I truly meant a walk on water type of happening. I did not think recovery from my eating disorder was possible. It is this very mindset that keeps so many people stuck in their diseases; they don’t have hope. They are in such a dark place that they can’t see the light. It is very easy to believe that seeing a therapist, or other taking steps to heal from a mental illness is a waste of time – why put so much time and effort into something when it won’t do any good? That’s what I thought. “Therapists don’t understand me”, “medication doesn’t make me feel different”, “coping skills are stupid”. I’ve said it all. After all, recovery would take a miracle, and miracles don’t happen, right?
Recovery is not easy. In fact, it’s probably the most difficult thing I have ever done. It’s not a quick fix. Ever since I actively started pursuing recovery, I wanted immediate results. I wanted it to be like flipping a switch – turn the dark into light, just like that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Though I consider myself to be in recovery now, some days are still dark. Some days are brighter than I could have ever imagined. Most days are somewhere in between, and that’s okay. I’m learning to accept that that in-between place as normal; it’s called life. I love it here – I’m not blinded by the darkness, nor am I burned by unnatural brightness.
So, how did I get here? Honestly, I don’t really know. I guess the answer would be that I never gave up. I was honest, I kept appointments with my therapist, and I returned to treatment when I needed to. Sometimes, even to this day, I say to myself, “I haven’t really come that far.” That’s because recovery is a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s like when you see a baby growing. If you’re with the child every day, you don’t notice that much of a difference. But if you only see the baby every few months, the change is drastic each time you meet. I feel the same way about my own growth in my recovery. No, I don’t think I’ve changed much since yesterday, but if I compare myself to how I was a year ago…WOW! That’s when I notice the difference, and it’s a big difference. You see, a year ago I was dying. Now, I am living.
My point is, there is always hope, even if you don’t feel it yet. This is not to say that hope is devoid of pain. Living in the disease is horrific, because the life is literally being sucked out of you. Living in recovery hurts too, but this time it is because you are healing. Hold onto that hope through it all, though, because the pain gets less every day.
I guess miracles do exist. I’m here. I’m alive. I have more good days than bad. That’s how I know they exist – because I am my own miracle.
My name is Lizzie and I Stand for believing in miracles.
By: Erin Elizabeth Casey
Throughout treatment we constantly say the words “I feel”
I feel angry – I feel sad
I feel hut – I feel mad
I feel lost – I feel tired
I feel anxious – I feel inspired
The hardest thing though is when you just want to let go
Of all the feelings that we feel so deep inside
And wish they would pour out of our soul if we just cried
But feelings cling to our souls it seems
And maybe our only relief is in our dreams
Don’t fool yourself though “numb” is a feeling like every other
It’s worse though because it has the capability to smother
Smother your desire to be you
And do what you do
So feelings I admit, we cannot escape any second or day
But we must also make note they are not all bad anyway
I feel joyful – I feel good
I feel loved – I feel understood
I feel strong – I feel kind
I feel able – I feel relaxed and unwind
So while feelings can be difficult, challenging, and sometimes hard to swallow
It seems like even though there are bad feelings… good ones tend to follow
So remember that just like how – what goes up must come down
There is an end to every frown
Feelings don’t last forever; they change, shift, alter, and swing
Remember life is a ride, but you decide what you want to bring
Leave as much baggage as you can
Grudges really hurt a man
And hold your beautiful memories up high
They will help you soar through the sky
Tonight I feel peaceful, a little sad, excited and nervous, uncomfortable too.
Tonight that is how I feel – what about you?
We all know sleep is important and sometimes hard to come by; check out this article in the New York Times about Sleep and Depression! Very interesting read!
“It makes good common sense clinically,” she continued. “If you have a depression, you’re often awake all night, it’s extremely lonely, it’s dark, you’re aware every moment that the world around you is sleeping, every concern you have is magnified.”
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand
I want to list for you some of my personal goals over my short lifetime:
And just as I found that my life would not, or could not devote 100% of my time and energy into one of these things my brain would switch to another one (at least no one can fault me for not being driven!) The truth is though that these things created a lot of perceived failure in my life. I remember the day that I realized I pretty much hated science (and wasn’t very good at it). My dream of being a doctor crushed and with it an entire onslaught of feelings of worthlessness.
It’s common for individuals with mental health concerns to pin their pulling out of their disease on the accomplishment of a goal. “Once I ______ then I will feel better an everything will be okay again.” The truth is the semester I made all A’s I was still sick, when I was certain I was one day going to practice law – I was still sick. The idea that recovery comes with perfection in another area in our life is a lie that we buy into to keep ourselves sane in some of the darkest times of our life. It is a false hope that we feed ourselves because we don’t understand real hope yet.
Let me share with you some of my goals today:
You may be thinking “Wow, she really has lowered her expectations!” I feel exactly the opposite. When I am not taking care of myself and chasing something that I think will help me rather than doing things that I know to be helpful I am hurting myself today and in the future. So often we live in the future. The person we are today is the person who is going to get us there.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.
Current City: Lorton, VA
Topics: Eating Disorders, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Trauma, Abuse, Recovery Topics
Lizzie was born and raised in Virginia. Though she came from a privileged, loving family, she also learned many of life’s difficult lessons from a very young age. These circumstances gave Lizzie a huge heart for those who struggle with abuse, addiction, and mental illness. She hopes to use her experiences to help others.
Lizzie graduated from the University of Virginia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Ethics. After taking a few years off to focus on her own growth and recovery, Lizzie plans to return to graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University to study Social Work in the Fall of 2014. She hopes to, one day, be a therapist working with individuals suffering from mental illness.
Why Where I Stand?: For years, I lived in silence. I was too ashamed to admit that I saw a therapist, that I took psychiatric medications, that something was wrong with me, mentally. I now realize that I had no reason to be embarrassed; I had a disease, and I was definitely not to blame for things that had happened to me. When I finally started telling people that I suffered from an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression is when I started to get better. For the past two years, I have been in and out of treatment for my eating disorder. Along the way, I opened up about past abuse. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and suffered from dissociative seizures. It was a hard journey, but it was a journey that I do not regret. Once I broke my silence, I realized that I was not alone. Once I told the truth, I started to heal.
Lizzie’s Interests: writing, shopping, hearing about other people, mental health issues, games, and playing with her puppy, Sophie.
Please visit our guest blogger page to learn more about our other guest bloggers for Where I Stand! Click here. Are you interested in becoming a guest blogger for Where I Stand? email Whereistandblog@gmail.com.