Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Frustrations, Limitations, and Fear

I spent about 24 hours out of my mind with anxiety, and then thanks to time passing and some tears on the phone with Mama Bear and a lovely reader who spent literally HOURS chatting with me about books, movies, TV, life, etc. (thanks C), it eased up and now I'm basically back to baseline, though a little shaken.

This seems to be the pattern now. Most of the time I am basically very stable, not perfectly happy and content and ecstatic to be alive, but basically fine. Then every couple months something triggers a brief episode of very nearly debilitating depression and/or anxiety, and I'm a wreck for X days/weeks. So far they've always resolved themselves, and I'm still here. But every time, a little bit of my identity/self-confidence/sense of security gets chipped away. And I come out out of it a little less me than before.

I think I have been underestimating how traumatizing all of my health problems have been. Not the basic eating disorder health problems; the aftermath. The stuff no one talks about; chronic infections, IBS, dry eye, nerve damage, pain. The stuff that had me chasing my tail for over two years searching for solutions to problems no one had ever heard of.

I survived it all. I have been, dare I say, thriving. I have not been underweight since 2013. Essentially pain-free for close to two years. I am stronger, physically and mentally, than I have been in a long time. But I've gotten cocky. And defiant. I want to be invincible now. I want to go all out and not worry about getting sick or hurt or fatigued. I want to run marathons and swim the English Channel and climb mountains and deadlift 400 pounds. I don't want to take days off. I want to skip dinner sometimes and be fine. "Moderation" is not in my vocabulary.

And I don't necessarily want it to be. It's not just an ED thing; it's being twenty-something and not wanting to waste a minute. It's not even really about losing weight anymore, it's just about feeling alive and healthy and totally free.

Before I hurt my foot I had been running hard, adding in sprints, and walking several miles per day. When the boot made that impossible, I adapted. I started off swimming thirty minutes twice a week and biking thirty minutes twice a week. Within a few weeks the volume doubled, and the days off disappeared. No surprise I started getting shoulder pain and back pain, the old nerve pain spiked, and my period was two weeks late last month.

And so, in typically fashion, I fell apart. If I can't go all out, I don't even want to show up. What's the point?

I don't know how many more tries it'll take. How many more times I'll have to humble myself. To discover I'm not invincible, I can't go all out, I can't be as carefree as I'd like.

I know that I am prone to anxiety. Not just in the "I have an anxiety disorder" way, but in a very constitutional, personality-driven, this-is-just-how-my-brain works way. I have always been like this (though it hasn't always been debilitating, of course). But periodically it knocks me flat on my back and I become very nearly non-functional. I can't imagine going back to be being sick and in pain all the time. But I also can't imagine going the rest of my life being afraid.

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