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Monday, March 20, 2017

The Day My World Changed Forever






As I was trying to decide what to blog about this weekend, I had many things I thought about writing, but deep down I knew what I needed to share.

March 21, 1993 was the day that changed my life forever.  I can remember that day like it was yesterday.   That was the day my youngest brother and only sibling,  Mathias died in a car accident at age 17.   I was 19 years old. At the time I was living in North Carolina.   My brother was my best friend growing up and the grief of that loss put me in a downward spiral that resulted in my attempting suicide less than four months later.

I had struggled with depression most of my life, many times wishing I wasn’t alive, but it wasn’t until the days following my brothers death, that I actually wanted to die and eventually resulted in my suicide attempt.

This will be the 24th anniversary of his death and it has been a very long and tough journey.  "Mathias each year I mourn your death, I mourn my loss of your friendship, being your brother and I mourn that I won’t ever be an uncle to your children."   Each year I cry; sometimes externally, sometimes internally, sometimes both.  I usually try to keep myself very busy on this anniversary and this year will be no different.

In the 24 years since my brother died, I have felt  lost so many times.   I remember someone asking me many years ago to look for the good in his loss.   My response was pretty much "Fuck You".  

But as I sit and reflect the weekend before this painful anniversary, I can say I have learned a lot in this time. I’m not going to say it’s a silver lining, but I have grown as a person.   I am able to use the pain I have felt to allow me to better connect with the people I work with who are experiencing emotional pain.   Without my being suicidal and attempting suicide, I would have never gotten involved in suicide prevention and I would have never felt this passion, this drive to make a difference.

Clinically I have learned what risk factors  and warning signs are and which ones I had. I also learned what drivers I had as well shadow factors.   I know now when my sleep gets really bad I'm at risk, and need to make changes.     This knowledge allows me to help me look for these things, as well as other things, in others.

I have learned I will always hurt, I will always have this void, and that is okay. Your life was worth me feeling a void, but  I know that void doesn’t have to define me.   I can use this to help others who also feel a void.  I also no longer have to say what if, I can say, what can I do.


So to my brother, "I always will love you.  I will always miss you.  Your death has forever altered me.   I will choose to continue to move forward and you will always be a part of this with me."

(Note:  the picture was taken in January 1992 when I was at home after completing boot camp)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Is Today the Day?


Is today the day that I am able to eat a meal and enjoy it or will I have extreme feelings of guilt and thoughts of failure for eating what others consider a reasonable amount of food?

Is today the day that I can look at my body with pride for what all it has experienced and overcome or see it as a myriad of little parts that need to be fixed?

Is today the day that I will be able to adequately verbalize my experience with an eating disorder or will I be met with confused looks and misunderstanding?

Is today the day that I will be able to be vulnerable in sharing my thoughts that are ever present in regards to my eating disorder and be met with compassion and an attempt at understanding or will I  be dismissed and told to love my body?

Is today the day that I will be able to go through the day with little to no thought about food, body image, or my eating disorder or will those thoughts and feelings come crashing back with a vengeance?

Is today the day that I will be able to receive a compliment and believe the compliment or will I assume that the person is being patronizing?

 

This is what my recovery from an eating disorder looks and feels like to me. There are days, weeks, and hell even months that go by when I think that I have recovered. Then, when I least expect it, the thoughts, feelings, and even sometimes the behaviors come back with a vengeance. I have had to reframe what recovery means to me. Recovery used to mean to me that I would be 100% healed, cured, fixed, etc. However, that is, quite frankly, bull shit. My recovery is not that neat and pretty. My recovery is inconsistent, messy, frustrating, confusing, ever changing, and powerful. I choose to look at my recovery as powerful because I  have learned that although I don’t know what each day will bring, I also know that I am strong enough to overcome it. My recovery is powerful because I can use my recovery to empathize with others who are recovering as well. My recovery is powerful because at one time, I did not see or experience the strength that my recovery has shown me that I possess. So, even though my recovery is messy and frustrating, it’s mine. Is today the day I will struggle or is today the day I will triumph? The truth is today may be the day that I experience both.