Thoughts about what recovery means to me
I have just opened up my emails and came across this blog talking about what recovery means to them. I have been thinking about this for quite some time. The thing is I am not horrifically underweight anymore. My skin is glowing and my body is a normal size. I am on medication for both my Chronic Anorexia and my Bipolar and yes this medication does keep me well most of the time; I can go through months of being mostly well with the odd fluctuating mood. I can eat food these days without feeling too much guilt.
I agree that recovery is a word that is misleading. It kind of hints that a person is miraculously well and cured of all maladies. This is not the case. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t wake up thinking about my weight or going to sleep thinking about my weight. I manage my illness differently to how I have in the past. I do more of the things that keep me well. Tools that I am going to pass on to others with WRAP and other workshops and groups that I go to, arming myself with knowledge and the correct jargon to use and a set of principles and actions that have been proven to work to help people manage their illness.
With my Bipolar I tend to get very elevated in mood rather quickly. I’m like a whirlwind. I’m pressured to do things. LOTS OF THINGS NOW! I am impulsive and not usually able to see warning signs. I can just as quickly go down in mood as quickly as the proverbial ‘hot air balloon’. I usually go through longer periods of the depressive side of Bipolar. It is like being in Antarctica- colourless, cold and isolated. I can go for months sleeping my days away. Sometimes medication -like antidepressants or antipsychotics( mood-stabilising drugs) and anti-anxiety tablets don’t work. They may be able to take the edge off but the illness can become ever so consuming and slap me with such a force I wonder if I dreamt my better moments. My recovery.
I have been suffering more than usual lot with my illnesses since June 2015. I have been using the tools I learned to use when my daughter was in care. have been keeping busy. Trying not to weigh myself as many times as I would have in the past. I have cut out on foods but I eat healthily, I exercise -a huge stress release for me. I talk to my family and medical professionals in my life. Instead of starving myself and taking overdoses and getting into fucked up relationships – platonic or not. I now channel my energies by volunteering with people who are focused on being well. I blog. I challenge myself – an example is I have signed up for a writing challenge called NANOWRIMO. My partner cooks for me and my daughter because I don’t feel comfortable cooking in a kitchen. This might sound crazy but it is a way around so I do eat. I take extra medication or PRN. I take this extra medication when I need to bring myself to a safer level of mood.
I agree with moodscapes blog that the best way to manage an illness is to power up and educate yourself about yourself and your illness. Learning never stops unless you stop. I look like any other person in this world. I cope differently but I am not immune to relapsing. I am, after all, only human. If I could be more than human I would strive to be more. I’ve been in more contact with professionals lately and yes, I will have to go and have a chat with my psychiatrist and inform him what is going on so he has a clearer picture of how my mental health affects me and if the pattern has stayed the same or veered off on another course. I have a lot of support around me that I access and I am so grateful to have them in my life. Recovery implies ‘fixed and repaired’ to me. Recovery is a process-maybe even a lifetime process. I have been weighed down with terror and panic at all the worms that have started to slither their way out of every orifice they can find, to escape. Fighting them to go back and mutate into something more constructive for my mental health has been an ongoing struggle. When I found out I had Chronic anorexia I thought it meant me and revolving doors and hospitals. It was like that for many years but I understand that chronic can build up and up. I may shrug off the thoughts or try to take my meds. I do positive things with my life but chronic can mean debilitating to me. It is a chronic struggle. Some days are worse than others. I could easily hide away from the world and live life as a recluse but I choose not too. I fought every enemy to keep my child and that was when I decided to get in the race of life. I got her back. I still had times when I broke down but I got her back. Stress and threats to my life ie. financial stress, family issues, weight fluctuations, wedding planning, being a Mom being an engaging partner can wrestle havoc in my mind and my ability to get to the point where I am managing better again.
There are no quick fixes in life. My illness, labels and how I experience them and how they affect me are not textbooks. Nobody is. I liken myself to a house; I have built firm solid foundations so that if the roof blows away or the house gets damp or needs repair, that solid framework -the skeleton of the house is still there to rebuild. I know that people may think that some of the courses I go on and share on my blog seem elementary but they are not. There is so much power in getting thoughts out of your head – it could be writing things down, painting knitting, writing a mini stage play, going for a run. Writing and keeping busy help me. This morning at 6 a.m. I feel the weight pulling me down, the anxiety clawing its way around my gut. I’m going to take my meds, make sure my daughter gets to school and get myself to the ‘parenting and mental health’ conference that I have been so excited about, since I found I got a place to go to it. One moment at a time. One day at a time.. Thank you to Moodscope for helping me find my voice to write about something I have been struggling with.