Yes, I’m alive and kicking

HI GUYS!

Holy crud.

I haven’t posted since May.

It’s been over three months.

I’m here. Alive. Kicking. The stress fracture is healed and I’m healing/working through the soft tissue crud that comes along with overuse. It’s been a long summer. I worked and took multiple classes – sports and performance psychology, cognitive psychology, and abnormal psychology (this one actually is still going, finishes September 1st!), in addition to the usual frolicking up mountains and casually lifting weights. Fall classes start today and I have a unique semester ahead (I’ll get into this). Overall, it was a good summer. I had a TON of realizations, experienced a lot of feels and definitely grew as a person (depth, comfort zone, aka the tough stuff).

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View from North Twin

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View from South Twin

Okay, so let’s delve a bit deeper, shall we?

The stress fracture. It’s healed. It was a long couple of months, taking time off from running/hiking/kickboxing/lower body lifting (except non weight bearing… e.g leg ext, hamstring curls, GHD, monster walks – which btw, NEVER EVER get easier), and partaking in usual physical therapy, massages, stretching, and RESTING. But, I’m happy that it was just a stress fracture and I only had to take a couple of months off. In the big picture, this isn’t the end of the freaking universe. I lived despite thinking I was going to spontaneously combust out of lack of endorphins and anxiousness. I learned that I can take time to heal and that this is 100% entirely acceptable and even welcomed by my body. I learned that just because I am injured and “out” for a bit doesn’t mean I will never be back. It doesn’t mean I can’t continue to fuel my body. It doesn’t mean I will become un-fit or un-healthy. All the injury actually meant – it was a wake up call.

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I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. This could be because I’ve done enough questionable stuff in my life that I need a solid explanation for (running head on into a tree I was just sitting against (it was night time mind you), having a stress fracture and relapsing and then having another one and relapsing again (2008/2012), spontaneously signing up for an ultramarathon in 2011 and falling in love with the sport/community, changing majors to then change back again, quitting a job to then go back because they are actually super awesome/flexible with school, ect.). We learn from what we go through. We GROW through what we go through. Anyways, I’m going off on a tangent… Everything happens for a reason. I got injured for a reason. It took a lot to process this one and it took even more to not fall back entirely into my eating disorder because this is the first injury in my life (since ED) that I haven’t severely struggled with ED behaviors because of the uncertainty and unshakable sense of fear with being injured. My ED is a coping mechanism, a shitty and maladaptive one, but a coping mechanism nonetheless. Exercise is also a coping mechanism, a better one, but still inextricably meshed with the ED. This is why, in the past, I’ve flip-flopped back and forth. Exercise, injury, relapse, repeat.

However…

This time was different.

What changed?

Simply put, I’m more removed from my ED (in terms of years out of treatment), I have better coping mechanisms, closer relationships/a different social life, and I am more self-aware/confident in my abilities and trusting my judgement even when my judgement tells me to ask for help/to reach out to my closest homies. I also attribute some of the business with summer classes and keeping myself busy to be helpful in the healing process.

I will do an entire post detailing this process (might vlog?! we will see). Ultimately though, this time was different because my circumstances were different, my outlook was different, and my introspective abilities are stronger. Additionally, I think that now at 24 versus 15-20 years old, I have entirely different experience with the world. Don’t get me wrong, I had those nasty thoughts rearing their heads and they were loud as loud can be. I stumbled a bit a couple weeks into the injury, specifically once I learned it was a stress fracture and not “just” a sprain. But I’m learning how to take care of myself rather than destroy myself. I decided that my long-term health is more important than my short-term ability to feel in control (not to make it sound like an easy choice… it isn’t… it’s incredibly difficult and takes YEARS to accept). Heck I still haven’t fully accepted it but the majority is in favor of wellbeing.

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Presidential Range

Until I blog… vlog. Until I discuss details, I’ll be keeping myself busy with school. SO what constitutes a “unique semester”? Well, my course-load is a follows: online general education course (environmental change), ASL 1, capstone (senior project) which is TA/independent study for psychobiology, and then TA/independent study for sports nutrition (working towards nutrition minor). I’m honestly pumped. While I am petrified of learning a language, it will be a good change of pace, interesting, a helpful skillset, and eye-opening.

This was a longer update than I had anticipated so I’m going to close the curtains on this post. I also want to go eat lunch before heading back to campus for the TA positions 😉

“Don’t let the expectations and opinions of other people affect your decisions. It’s your life, not theirs. Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Don’t let the expectations and ideas of others limit who you are. If you let others tell you who you are, you are living their reality — not yours. There is more to life than pleasing people. There is much more to life than following others’ prescribed path. There is so much more to life than what you experience right now. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. Adventure.” Roy T. Bennett

If I’m being honest

Hi guys!

IMG_5536 May or may not have found this lying on the back counter at work… hah 😉

So, now that that’s out of the way… let’s get down to business. This post is going to be an overview, not to mention brief and to the point.

It’s been a hot minute. What’s new? Lots of things on my side. I’ve been on break from school since December 17th and start back the 26th (so like a week) which is crazy long. I’m honestly all about it. As much as I love learning and my coursework I needed a break. I kept things pretty under the radar last semester in terms of what was going on inside of my little brain. I’m here to start that discussion today and it’s probably going to take longer than just today.

Last semester did not go as planned. I’m going to do a brief history first off –

jump back to spring 2013: I was in the middle of an outpatient treatment program for my eating disorder, in school, working, not in the gym. I had taken time off from the gym in order to separate my ED from the gym which in hindsight was definitely a good idea and did help a lot. I did well in school even in the midst of having so much time and energy being placed into bettering my mental health but I wasn’t enjoying it all it. At the time I was in community college and driving about 45 minutes to get to school, would have my classes, drive an hour to get to treatment which was four nights a week from 5-8, and then drive another hour home to do homework and keep my grades up. On the nights I didn’t have treatment it was called work or sleep because my body was so utterly exhausted.

Spring 2014: in recovery and doing really well with that. I was back in the gym and absolutely loving it. My anxiety was low to moderate but completely manageable. I wasn’t seeing a therapist nor did I feel like I needed to at this point. Everything in terms of my ED history was managed and I felt good about that. I was in school and doing well with that except for the fact that I couldn’t handle certain things: feeling inadequate, certain noises (breathing loudly, chewing, and typing mainly). There were times I would need to leave class because of these feelings but overall I was very high functioning in a school setting. Work, school, gym, repeat. Still at community college at this point and beginning to think about my transfer process into a four-year university and extremely excited about this.

Spring 2015: I was now a student at a four-year university studying neuroscience and in absolute love with my courses. I started to become interested in research and ended up joining a lab which I worked in that spring semester and through the summer and ultimately needed to leave because I wasn’t full-fledged into the topic which I’m choosing not to disclose here and never felt like I “fit in” to the fellow group. Also, many of the things were pretty triggering for me which I actually haven’t discussed before right here in this post. I was becoming more serious with the gym, with lifting, getting stronger, and ultimately to a fault beginning to place more pressure onto myself. My ED was also managed really well here still, doing what I needed to continue with my recovery process and keep on the path that I knew I deep down wanted and was best for my wellbeing. I noticed that my anxiety however was increasing rapidly, as with self-doubt, mild depression, self-consciousness not around my body though, and an increased sensitivity to certain noises.

Current: I’m still doing well with my ED recovery. I’m still in the gym, although taking it a bit easy for as long as I deem needed while I work through more important things and feeling extremely proud that I’m able to recognize that’s a needed thing to do. But, I’m nervous about school this upcoming semester. Last semester while I did receive the grade I wanted, I had only one course because I found myself needing to drop the others as I didn’t have a plan of action going into the semester. Throughout the semester I was able to work with my university mental health services to get specific accommodations in place to help my educational pursuits continue. My hearing/sound hypersentivity has never been as bad as it is currently and I partially attribute that to the fact that I have been in remission from my ED for close to three years and my brain is “functioning better” (read: I now feel emotions, feeling, and the processing of those isn’t too hot). Typing, clicking, chewing, excessive sniffling, opening mail, silverware on dishes, unloading the dishwasher, the squeak noises certain machines at the gym make, people scuffing their feet, ect. ect. send me into a complete fight or flight response. It’s called misophonia. Google it. Seriously it’s a thing and it’s becoming increasingly heard of but still people have zero idea. My goal here isn’t to teach y’all about this though, that’s just a side tangent. So, hearing is wicked (sorry new-england term) sensitive, anxiety is BAD… like BAD. I will just start crying out of nowhere and for the most unnecessary reasons. I have accommodations in place at school and pretty much just need to meet with professors at the beginning of the semester to get details sorted out which I’m incredibly thankful for but am feeling really pathetic about needing them. Here I am (pity party for .05 seconds here) a neuroscience, pre-med, 3.89 GPA student and I can’t longer be in class because my classmates make me want to scream, throw their laptop, smack them if eating/chewing gum, leave via temper tantrum. Yep. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I feel pretty f***ing (am I aloud to say that on wordpress?!) worthless even though I know I am doing everything in my power to help myself get over this and that it’s nothing I’ve done “wrong”. I’m working with a therapist. I’m moving to campus to try and lessen the stress of commuting. I’ll be in an apartment so I have my own kitchen and share a bathroom with only one person. I’m taking smaller sized and very interesting to me courses with word on the street great prof’s. But I’m apprehensive. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid I can’t be perfect anymore. I’m afraid that I’ll mess up and will prevent myself my reaching my goal of becoming a doctor all because I’m having a really hard time with my mental health now. Ultimately this is all pretty irrational IF I keep doing the things that will help me get better.

I realize that at thing point it’s up to how I want to take the wheel: either lift myself up and advocate for myself and what I need in order to be successful and ultimately get back to a place of better mental health, or pull myself down by isolating myself and just going through the motions but never really rallying for myself. I think each day is a choice between the two. Perhaps even a couple times a day and I keep telling myself that’s ok. I considered taking the semester off but I know myself well enough to know that while this is probably not going to be cake walk, keeping on keeping on… for me… is better than taking a break. For me, sometimes taking a break is what leads to pulling myself down. I’m not doing that no matter how tempting it is because it feels easier. But, if I’m being honest, it’s not easier.

That’s that for today. I’m not posting this for anyone to be like “omg, I hope you feel better”. Seriously. This is for an honest update to my blog. It’s for awareness of mental health. It’s for the beginning of advocating for me. This one is for me and it is for all of you out there who might also be struggling. Keep going.

“If the grass looks greener on the other side, stop staring, comparing, and complaining, and start watering the grass you’re standing on.” – Eugene Cho

Hiking and just living in a ‘flow’

Hi there! I hope you’re all having a good Thursday thus far and ready for a nice weekend ahead. Hopefully good weather in the forecast wherever you may happen to live, NH is looking like solid string of 80’s and sunshine this weekend – so that’s definitely beneficial for that vitamin D requirement. Can we just talk for a quick second about how it’s almost the third week of August and school starts in less than three weeks!?! Uhhhh. OK. Not sure how I feel about that, more to come on fall happenings later, but for now… I’m just leaving it with the fact that I am convinced time actually is moving faster and there are only 20 hours in a day. Plausible theory in my humble opinion. Thoughts?!

Onto hiking. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since a fairly young age. Being outdoors for me is insanely therapeutic, add in a mountain and I’m blissed out for days. Growing up my family went camping regularly (close to every weekend May-October) and even took some week-long trips. These always included kayaking, hiking, and general exploring. Having not been involved at all in the past few years, it’s safe to say my craving for some major outdoor time was high. Last weekend I had the chance to head up just north of Conway NH and hike Mt. Jackson with a good friend. The weather was phenomenal (sunny and 70’s), there weren’t a ton of people, and the hike itself was gorgeous.

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It was a weekend that helped me remember why I am doing the things I am doing. For me, hiking is both an escape from reality because you literally are in the middle of no-where climbing a mountain, but also a grounding. It takes me back to what I refer to as my ‘core being’ and gives my soul a hefty dose of excitement. There is just something freeing about being in nature, using nothing but your own two feet and energy, and setting out for a day of adventure. It’s an experience that I’m grateful I’m able to have and partially bummed that I haven’t taken the time over the past couple years to take day trips for myself. Definitely an eye-opening weekend in terms of balance, mental clarity, physical health, and future goals.

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The hike itself was awesome. Mt.Jackson is one of NH’s 4000 footers with a 360 view at the summit. From the trailhead the path is fairly windy, lots of roots, and some rocks – highly typical. About mid-way up the mountain the path takes a lot of corners, there are considerably more rocks and some rock scrambles, and even some down-hill areas (minor, but, in which my friend and I kept looking at each other like “really, this again?”…). The final bit leading to the summit was fairly short however a pretty steep rock section, but once you are up there boy the sights are so incredible and worth it. Hiking, for me, is a love-hate relationship. Starting off at the trailhead, I’m excited, inspired, and ready to have a great day. In the middle of the hike when I start to get a little tired and just want to get to the summit I find my mind will wander a lot, I’ll lose my focus a tad, and even get a little anxious to summit. When very close to the top, I usually find myself having bursts of energy because I want to finish so badly. Then finally, at the summit, I’m just purely inspired and full of joy. It’s a process. It’s a process which reminds me of life. Life will excite you and motivate you, but it will also tear you down and that is when you absolutely need to just KEEP GOING in order to reach your goals.

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Crow pose on the summit, had to do it. 😉 #meatheadyogi

Living in a flow… To me this is having the ability to go with the flow on a day to day basis. It’s not panicking about the little things but rather accepting them as they come. It’s not planning every single second of every single day which is something I fall victim to verrrrrrrrry easily (and often, to be honest). While I completely dig the concept of living in a flow, it’s not natural for me even as much as it would be a huge benefit for me. It’s a philosophy that I’m working hard on adopting but that feels so incredibly impossible because it is not what I am used to. However, I will say that I find the days when I’m less anxious and more focused on my goals – those are the days which are less intensely planned. They are the days which motivate me on keeping an effort going on living in a flow.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “wasn’t she just talking about hiking? What does living in a flow have to do with hiking?!!”. Good question. I found that on my most recent hiking trip, while it was still amazing, I really tried to have it all planned out. This definitely removed a lot of the enjoyment from this trip because I was so wrapped up in my own mind and unable to fully accept and enjoy the moment at hand. With hiking being something that I grew up loving so much it really got me thinking about my life, my priorities, and my goals. This trip was definitely one that I needed, it helped ground me so that I could take a broader look at my life. Why do I feel it’s necessary to plan everything (and I mean everything) out? Why do I always need to be in control? Questions to ponder. Questions that I am still working on answering. I think a lot of it comes back to my childhood anxiety and that need to feel in control. I’ve been on this self-healing journey for a while now, and I’ve come miles, but still have miles to travel. And that is OK because as I like to say… progress is a process. You learn by living through hard times and working through them. Living in a flow, living true to your soul – it’s easier said than done especially when it’s the complete opposite of how most of my life has been played out to this point. But I’m not giving up.

 

You will either step forward into growth, or back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

MIA and staying on the better path

Hi there! It’s been quite some time since I’ve been active on here. Over the past month I kept considering posting but choose not to do so ultimately because I wasn’t mentally there. It’s been a rough few months and admittedly I fell into the trap with my recovery of thinking I had been solid for over a year, and therefore I was “fine” and completely solid. Nope, cracks still exist.

Over the last bit I’ve been trying to accept that those cracks still exist and that I am not perfect in my recovery and that by trying to be so I will end up falling back rather than keeping going on the better path. Maybe I’ll always have those things that get me, and honestly after 10 years I probably will. Many times people think someone with a mental illness is good after treatment. That could not be further from the truth in most cases. Sure, they are better. Sure, they are functioning with society. But it’s still there. It’s called an illness for a reason. It doesn’t just magically go away.

I am a hell of a lot more aware of myself and my actions now than I ever have been in my life. I’m motivated. I’m hitting goals. I’m stronger mentally. I’m stronger physically. I’m stronger emotionally. BUT I still have cracks.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to re-focus myself and see that what I was doing was just spiraling me backwards. Maladaptive behaviors are my high. They are numbing. They make me not feel my feelings. They make every problem go away because I get so wrapped up and consumed inside myself. One thing that has taken me forever to take away from my experience is that living in that high isn’t living. It’s self-limiting. It’s dangerous. It’s not worth it. It’s the opposite of what I actually truly want to be doing.

That’s why it’s referred to as an addiction. It is.

But breaking that? breaking those habits. breaking the cycle… that is living. That is pursing life and goals and hope and healing. It’s better. It’s life.

Right now I’m extremely focused on filling those cracks. I’m not trying to make them go away, I know they will always be with me, but I’m trying to bury them deeper. At this point in my life I am actively letting go of my past because it no longer serves me anything but instead I now see it’s hurting me more than I ever was aware of.

Right now, I’m focusing on just living. After all, it’s life.