Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 28 years old. Since at one point in my life I was on a pretty fast track to dying young, I think keeping myself alive for another 366 days (leap year) in a row is an accomplishment. This post is more or less a lengthy reflection of nothing about politics, philosophy or anything except personal reflections of the past year in my life.
Exactly one year ago yesterday, I went to my doctor for help. I was at my wits’ end because I couldn’t stop thinking about killing or harming myself. I didn’t think I actually wanted to kill myself; it wasn’t like it had been before some of my previous attempts where I didn’t think I added value to the world or the lives of my loved ones. I wasn’t exactly caught in a depressive episode and I didn’t know how to get free. My doctor was concerned at the state I had let myself get into and gently suggested that I might consider a short hospitalization. I declined because I had a final exam that evening. I’ve done the psych patient dance before – holding in the ER a few times and as an outpatient for several months.
So much progress has been made in my life over the past year. I went back on medication and began regularly seeing a psychiatrist who helped me find a really good combination. A relapse into self-harming behavior in June confirmed that I actually do really rather poorly on SSRIs, and my psychiatrist figured out that at least some of the self-harming thoughts were actually a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder because I would go out of my way to avoid certain activities if I worried about my behavior and I would get caught up in obsessive loops trying to make sure to myself that I really didn’t think killing myself or chopping off a few fingers was a thing I wanted to do. Those are called intrusive horrific thoughts and if you suffer from them, you are not alone or broken and help is possible.
Shortly after I started seeing my psychiatrist, I also began working with a dietician to help address some of my eating issues. I had been working out five-seven days a week and I was frustrated because I wasn’t successfully losing weight. When I started seeing her I was eating only roughly 900 calories a day and almost all of the carbohydrates I consumed were from two pieces of fruit a day. And then every week or every other week or so I would massively binge 3000-5000+ calories in a sitting. Shamefully. Insanely. Completely out of control. Over the past several months, I have gotten much healthier in my eating habits. I still sometimes find it very difficult, especially since I have had to opt out of the weekly potluck at games night with my friends because I needed to make better nutritional decisions for myself. It’s difficult when my friend tells me that he brought a certain type of muffin without nuts because he remembered about my sensitivity and I have to turn it down anyway because I am currently following a strict meal plan to help me achieve a healthy weight in a healthy way and continue to work towards my fitness goals. While this continues to sometimes be difficult, it is no longer the desperation and panic-inducing topic that it was.
Relationships with the people in my life have been up and down. A sister had her first baby in November, bringing my niece/nephew (there really needs to be one gender-neutral word for them) total up to three lovely little infants. My parents and I have continued to have a tenuous relationship. After a fight at Christmas (over text messages, even) it was several months before we spoke. My mother wished me a happy birthday on the right day for the first time in several years, so that’s a thing. I got Snapchat and started chatting amicably with another (vaguely estranged) sister in the past month or so possibly more than any other time in the last ten years. It’s been interesting. I have continued to make what I think are solid efforts to keep up with friends in my life. Some I see more frequently than others, but I try to reach out with texts and make time to hang out whenever our mutual schedules allow. I think that’s just adult friendship in effect. In early summer, I had a spectacularly stupid attempt to engage in a romantic relationship with a relapse-prone addict. I am sort of just calling that a learning experience and chalking it up to an altered mental state and trying out various new medications. I am allowing myself the grace to understand that those decisions were not in my best interest but that not all of the experiences I had during that time were terrible. The pain of the situation just isn’t worth repeating. Shockingly, he remembered my birthday and sent me well wishes.
Taking on some volunteer commitments is leaving me fulfilled in my personal life and truly helping me feel like I might be making a difference in the world, even if it is behind the scenes taking minutes at meeting and organizing stuff so the people who really know what they are doing can do it.
I reengaged with my creative mind and began writing more, including getting started on some more IF games, poetry, short stories, and this blog. I randomly did some painting and photography recently and have started keeping an eye out again for some found-object art, which I enjoy but has the potential to literally create a pile of junk in my house if I am not intentional about it (this was a problem when I was a child; I brought home more things than I actually used in my art projects).
Overall, my year started out in a sort of state of crisis and has progressed to a point of stability, sanity, health, productivity and enjoyment. I enjoy my life and while my life is not and will never be perfect, I can look back on all the hard work that goes into getting and keeping me in a good place. I hope that if you are going through a tough time that you are able to get whatever help you need to improve your quality of life in whatever aspect(s) are most affecting you negatively.