Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Not an End; It's a Continuation

Careful....feelings and incredibly personal life accounts are ahead.

Self harm comes in many, many packages. And I’ve engaged in more than one of them. It’s been years since I’ve engaged in the most typical form of self harm…self injury.
From my early teens, I made the ill-informed choice to deal with depression and anxiety by physically harming myself. Cutting, burning. It went in phases; I’d sometimes go years without using that as a coping mechanism. It reared its ugly head once again in my twenties. During the most difficult and challenging time in my almost 40 years, I was the most depressed I’d ever been. I was given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder type II, with psychotic features (aural and visual hallucinations).

Over the course of five years, I was hospitalized several times, on three separate medical leaves from work that totaled close to a year when added together, and was thrust into a year long custody battle with my ex-husband. There were a couple of times where I really thought it was over for me; somehow I came out on the other side with a few scars (see “before” pic below…there are many more than that) but still alive. I’ve been medication free, shaken the bipolar diagnosis, and other than a recent and difficult bout of depression and anxiety brought on by a job that was crushing me, I’ve never felt more emotionally healthy. (I was able to move into a different position with my employer, that I am absolutely in love with, and that’s all it took.)

I also consider the way I’ve been living my life, and the unhealthy choices I’ve been making, a form of self harm. Repeatedly losing weight and subsequently putting it back on, and more. Finding comfort and friendship in food and excessive sleep, also harmful in my grand scheme of life. Knowing how much better I physically feel and how much more energy I have when I make the choice to put nourishing food in my body and to get up and move my body, yet falling back into old habits…leaving me physically exhausted and lethargic…self harm in my definition of the term.

After almost 2 months of living an overall healthy and active life, I slid backward over the last 10 days. I’d gone back to not wanting to get out of bed until the last possible minute before walking across the hall to my home office. I found myself, once again, taking unintentional sitting up couch naps after eating a carby, greasy dinner. It’s time to face the facts that feeling this way is not worth the 15 minutes of overindulgence or hour and a half of extra sleep. It’s time to put that semicolon in my life. The marked segue between the similar thoughts of living and FUCKING LIVING!

If you’re not already familiar with Project Semicolon, it’s worth a look. Every time I want to skip the early rise to treadmill, or switch the banana nice cream for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, I’m going to take a small pause, look down at my forearm, and remember. Remember where I’ve been, and where that had my life headed. And I’ll not expect perfection; that’s impossible,  a set up for a feeling of failure, and the urge to “go back” and give up. No. I want to FUCKING LIVE, for myself. So I can do the things I want to do. To be able to dance at my son’s future wedding without feeling self conscious or getting winded. To book a flight to anywhere. To finally go for a fucking run, gods I want to be a runner. I want to do the Color Run. I want to do the Dirty Girl Mud Run. That’s what this semicolon represents to me. My mark. My reminder that I’ve chosen not to end, but to continue.

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