We all spend so much time taking pictures. Whether that be for instagram or something of the sort. I recently got back from a trip in which I practiced this new type of bucket list I thought of. I call it, “The present bucket list.” What this means is to go into a situation that is either on your bucket list or just a situation you find yourself enjoying, and then take one picture of it, but just one. I mean, we all know that in good situations these days, most of us, including myself, want to take a picture of it. This isn’t a bad thing in any way at all. Pictures are memories but it gets us into trouble if we only see what’s in front of us from behind a camera. What I did this week on vacation, doing things on my bucket list and looking at the scenery is take a picture, and then be sure that I am mindful. Mindfulness should take up most of the time spent on this. Not taking pictures or videos. Make sure if you are in a situation where you are ready to check something off your bucket list, make sure you really look at it. Act as though, for a few moments, that the different view of a camera never existed. Act as though your hand physically cannot move to place a checkmark next to this experience until you have practiced mindfulness in this situation and really looked and felt everyhing.
Growing up I felt envy a lot. I was envious of girls if they were pretty, smart, funny etc because I wanted to be just like them. With an eating disorder there is a triggering aspect of one person doing a behavior and then the other person wanting to do the same thing. When one person says they have done something I feel horrible about myself for not doing it. It shows when I was in treatment and we would talk about our behaviors from the night before. If I did well, I felt bad for that if someone else used a behavior. The reason for this was because I felt they had more control than I did. Then I would go and do that behavior the next night. Once someone said something about something I ate in a treatment center and I have never been able to eat it since because I felt bad about myself. (This fear is a great motivation for being strong so I will get over this fear of this food and soon) Now that I am doing well I have something else to give to myself besides pain. My eating disorder was a form of self-harm I believed I deserved since I was young. Now I want to give myself physical and mental strength. When I see people who are strong, I look up to them, and then when all I want is some trivial, thing just to be accepted, I envy. Finding the beauty in a vision for yourself that also helps you life a happy life was my key for envy to disappear. Normally I would be jealous of the people who have what I strive for, but now I respect them for being this way. I respect my co-workers immensely for being all that they are. I don’t envy them, I admire them. I see them as beautiful but I don’t envy them, I look up to them. And the envy disintegrates as I make my way towards a recovered life forever. Recovery has given me the lovely feeling of seeing a dream of worthiness in myself reflected on someone else and being able to feel happiness instead of shame at my own self. Striving for strength seems to be the key. Striving for perfection left me envious and striving for strength left me inspired and happy. How much more free would we all feel with inspiration rather than evny? I would surely feel like I was dancing in the wind with birds fluttering around me writing yes into the sky. Moral: When you strive for something just so others look at you differently, this leads to insecurities and negative emotions. When you strive for something to help yourself, you can find the beauty in this new you and live a happy life.
I must say first that this method might not be for everyone. Eating disorders thrive on secrecy and if you are one of those people who feels that they need to hide their behaviors in order to continue doing them, then this isn’t the post for you. When I have been in treatment, you have to talk about your behaviors every morning. When I was in PHP last year we spent eleven hours in a program, seven days a week and went home to sleep. I was ready to recover so much. However, I get extremely triggered by talking about behaviors. If I didn’t do any behaviors that night and someone else did, I felt out of control and guilty. Then I immediately regretted it and wanted to do behaviors the next night. Sometimes the only thing that got me through that morning was the fact that no one else did any behaviors. I still do understand the secrecy though. If I had done behaviors, I might have kept them to myself, but I would have felt like I was in more control. So last year, I did something different. All of us had sheets we filled out that had charts to check off each morning. They would ask for behaviors and urges. After we read this aloud, they would always go to our therapists’ mail box for them to read. I would write down my answers honestly, to take away that secrecy, and then I would read them off as if I were cured. People would be talking about their behaviors and I would say I didn’t even have an urge. (I must also point out that I’m not trying to say people are weak for talking about behaviors. This is just me. If I go against a crowd doing these things, then I feel strong, but that doesn’t mean this kind of strength is strength for everyone. If secrecy is what your disorder thrives on, then you are strong for speaking of your behaviors) I would write down any urges and behaviors but make sure I didn’t say them aloud. This wasn’t me trying to be sneaky as it might sound, I was trying to be strong and defy the eating disorder. I felt like that picture I have that makes me love confidence. That girl getting her hair cut. My brain is telling me to be like everyone else. Do what everyone else did last night. Make sure they all know you are not weak. Make sure everyone knows you are in control. Or don’t tell them anything…but be in control. Well, letting everyone know I had no urges, I was looking up into the air with my eyes closed. Birds were fluttering around me writing yes into the sky. And as soon as the words escaped me, words that basically say, “I am cured,” I open my eyes and feel liberated. Image: Pinterest
I used to face my fears a lot as a child but not because I wanted to nor did I do it joyfully. I was afraid to tell someone that I didn’t want to do it, so I went ahead and did it. My fear of telling people no was an avoidance in itself obviously. I used to play in volleyball games when I was too nervous to. I used to give presentations when I would have rather done anything else. We all hear that facing our fears makes everything easier right? Well, that’s not what happened in my case, when I was insecure. When I finished facing my other fears, such as being the center of attention in the volleyball games or doing presentations anyway, the fear made me feel worse. I never thought of the fact that it was amazing for me to be facing this fear. Even if I am afraid to tell someone my fear, either way I am facing something. When I was done facing my fear, I only felt empowered if I didn’t feel fear during it. If I felt horrible during it, like the time I almost vomited during a presentation at school, I felt weak, because I felt weak. I didn’t feel strong because I got through it. Now I realize that even if I get through something and still shake through it and feel fear throughout the whole thing, that makes me even stronger. The fear stayed with me, because of my negative attitude. “I did horrible. I never want to do that again. I’ll always be afraid.” Now my attitude is, “I am strong for fighting through my fear. Lets try again next time.” I have shown you in my last post about the beauty I see in confidence. I faced my fears as a child but I never looked like that girl in the picture of my last post. The girl who is getting her hair cut and looking up with her eyes closed with confidence and ferocity. I faced my fear then got up with negativity filling my mind and walked off insecure…off to being scared in the future of the same exact thing. A lack of fear was the only road to confidence for me. But that mindset made me scared. I hated fear…so I had a lot of it. Now I’m okay with fear, and while I still have it, I am a lot happier. So face your fears, and let yourself shake or let yourself be steady, but when you are done, make eye contact with others, and walk off like you have just conquered the world.
The moral of this story that I needed to hear: Fear, failure…none of that matters. All that matters in life is that you try.
There is a therapy skill called broken record and it basically says that if you tell yourself or someone else something over and over, you or they will eventually understand. I have heard it being used for things like when someone doesn’t listen. Just tell them over and over until they understand. But I have noticed that the other way works wonders. This way is telling yourself something until you understand it…until it saves you. So in therapy I have spent a lot of time listening to professionals telling me that nothing is bad or good. We all have different opinions. I know I have been talking about that a bunch in my blog about how we are all different and beauty is the eye of the beholder, but I thought I’d share with you how I got that attitude. I thank broken records for that one. So basically, if you read a book you think is bad, it’s not “bad.” Some people think it’s good and some think it’s bad. Dr. Suess was rejected 27 times before he got published. They thought he was bad, I think he is good. Not only is it helpful, but it makes sense too! I’ll give you an example or two on how it has affected my life. I was told by someone that something I did was bad. (Vague, I know, but it wasn’t meant in a malicious way and I don’t want it to seem that this person was trying to hurt me, so I don’t want to go into details.) Instead of thinking, “Oh my gosh I did something so wrong!” My brain was too occupied with the thought, “Wait, you used the word bad. That’s not a word anymore. I wonder why she is saying that when that word doesn’t make sense.” It even works for good things as well. I volunteer sometimes and our team leader said thank you to me and said I’m a good volunteer. It was a nice compliment, but again I was confused, as the words good and bad don’t make sense. We are taught to use the word effective. “With the volunteer work I am doing, I am doing everything I am supposed to do in an efficient and effective manner.” And with the person who said I didn’t do something correctly, it could have been said, “I do not like it this way, please do it this way from now on.” This is really helpful because it gets me distracted from negative things being said to me, and it makes sense that nothing is actually good or bad. Now, thinking that things aren’t good is a hard thing to make yourself grasp. I understand that this one might be hard to pull into a loop over and over again in your head. But taking away the word bad doesn’t work unless you take away the word good. Saying I was a good volunteer made me feel good, despite thinking that the word good makes no sense. I knew what she meant and I was still happy.
Now let me break the records for you.
“Good and bad do not exist.”
“Good and bad do not exist.”
“Good and bad do not exist.”
And it was just lovely. I stopped sulking and dwelling and I started being strong and doing what I need to do and more since this recent wave of depression hit me. I have decided to make an adventure book (like the one from up). I have already made one but it’s not too sturdy so I want another one. I am going to put my bucket list in for in case I am depressed and can’t think of something new to try to feel strong. The bucket list part is for following my dreams. My dreams though, when related to depression, are the epitome of the journey and not the destination. When I am depressed, I plan to get out of bed when I do not want to do even anything, and then I will do anything I can to chase my dreams. How strong I will feel when I do this. Chasing your dreams seems so much more empowering when you feel you have nothing left, not even the joy of reaching your dreams. Well, I’ll still try. People always say the journey is more important than the destination. A hard journey when you’re depressed seems like the journey would then be 10 times more important. I am also going to put in things that can go on a to-do list for when I am depressed. These things will just be guidelines for future to-do lists. These include finding at least one event to go to in public, visit with a friend, do laundry, clean, take the dog on an extra walk, write, etc. There was even something I did today. My dietician told me I need to make an appointment with my psychiatrist and I’ve been so busy that thinking about it kind of stresses me out. Normally, I would just say I would do it, then hope everyone forgot. That was the first thing that popped into my head when she told me to make this appointment. “I’ll say sure then we’ll both forget, right?” But then I called the office. (They were closed so I’m calling tomorrow). Just that made me smile. How underrated strength is to your own happiness. This should be shouted to the heavens that strength has the power to make you love yourself even for a moment. The thing about the cure for this wave of depression for me was all about the view I have of strength. Now, I have wanted to be strong for a long time, but this is the first time I have applied strength to when I am depressed. I have thought I cured my own depression before, and sadly I did not. This new ‘cure’ might not be permanent, but now that I want so badly to be strong, being strong during the depression has actually made me happy. Strength is a universal good thing. (Yes I know I’m not supposed to use the word good and bad anymore but I feel this is an exception.) Being strong is motivating to others and it helps you be more happy. This is good. So when I know how bad I just want to sulk I’ll think of my quote I have that always puts an ever better light on strength for me. A quote that always puts a vision in my head of how I will be when I am strong. The quote at the top of my page. “She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her writing ‘yes’ in the sky.” When I want to give up, I will picture myself forcing myself to do things that always in the end make me happy no matter how depressed I feel. Then once I feel the happiness that I had to ‘climb a mountain’ to get, that’s when I’ll be able to imagine birds fluttering around me, writing ‘yes’ in the sky. All I need is a genuine smile and glowing eyes that came from the core of depression and numbness. That grew from there out of strength and it will be easy to picture in my head, these birds flying around me like I am free. I challenge any who read this to find a quote or picture that represents an amazing view of strength to you. Then when you feel like giving up, remember how amazing it will be when you are one with this quote or essence of strength that you so love.
Now I’m not big on “what happened this year,” or “New years resolutions,” but I feel these two years can be exceptions. I feel that I found the journey to loving myself in 2016. Now I’m not completely at loving myself, but I found the path to get to that dream. I started a job that made me love the vision of being strong, which is the sole purpose of my recovery for myself. Finding the beauty in everything has shown me that recovery for myself is possible. I did struggle with my eating disorder but I was able to overcome it more than ever. I was able to grasp onto a different type of control and a different type of person I wish to be, which is a strong version of myself. I was able to push myself with my job and feel better about myself. I was able to face fears and for the first time, embrace fear as it is part of the path I found to loving myself. Now I have a new years resolution that has come from a big part of 2016. I wrote Nanowrimo for the first time and I made it. I was able to get myself to write 50000 words in a month, and it showed me that I am able to do anything if I set my mind to it. This made a determination and a new piece of a personality flow into me. Feeling the desire to keep going with those 50000 words, and feeling it genuinely showed me that I do have the power to be a person who doesn’t give up. It doesn’t have to be fake. So this resolution was to write another novel. Then I realized how perfectionist I am. I used to write all the time and then I quit. Nanowrimo gave it back to me. I never finished the things I wrote unless they were songs. But I always think my songs and stories are not good enough so I delete every word. This year, I vow to try to write two novels. One of them being one I am proud of through every word and moment when it flows from my mind onto paper. (or screen in this case). The other novel is one that I don’t want to write. I will dedicate 50000 words from my mind to this novel that my head tells me isn’t good enough. When my hand moves to the backspace button, I will push on. Like climbing up a steep mountain, these words, I vow, will stay on the page. I have my idea ready and hopefully this year, this rebeilous act against my demons will push them away into oblivion. I’m feeling kind of wary about this post as it doesn’t really seem to be anything that would help anyone, it’s more of a story but I guess it’s worth it to post it anyway. Happy new year!