Recovery is a constant battle. There will never be a time when I don’t have problems with food and that is something that I have come to terms with. But because of all of the help I was finally able to get, it is something that is much easier to deal with and something I am always aware of. I will never allow myself to go back to the place I was in before, that is not an option. But that doesn't mean I don't have periods of time where I feel close. About two years ago I was able to leave a job that I was not only miserable at, but pushed me into a place I never thought I'd go back to. It's not the company's fault, I just wasn't fit for the position. Mundane office work in a place where there is no room to grow is brutal. I was miserable and feeling completely beaten up by New York at the time. Nothing seemed to be making me happy anymore and I had full blown relapsed to the point that I was actually binging while I was at work. I don't know how I let it happen but I gained 40 pounds.
It took way too long for me to finally stand up and do something about it, but when I did I knew I had to explore options other than talk therapy. All I did was talk. It was the lack of doing that was the issue. So one day, after a meditation class at my yoga studio in Brooklyn, I asked my teacher if I could work with him one on one. I had known a lot of people who had gone to him and had great success but I never thought that I would be able to afford it. A day after I started to set up the appointment, I found out that we were getting bonuses at work. My bonus was the exact amount, and I mean exact, that it was going to cost me to start these sessions. I took it as a clear sign that this was going to be what gave me my life back.
The work that I have done with David Harshada Wagner changed my life in an unbelievable way. In two months I was out of my job, in three months I had started writing what manifested into this memoir, and in a little over a year I was out of New York. My relationship to myself, to Ben, to my family, to my friends, have all improved and healed in a way I had been faking for so many years. Lately, I haven't been as consistent with my practice but there is no question that it is what saved me, or rather woke me up again. To be honest it wasn't just the practice of mediation, but the advice he gave me and the constant calling out of all my bullshit. It seriously blows my mind at how many incredible people I have in my support system, and how it seems to keep growing at the exact right moments. I really am so truly truly blessed.
The 40 lbs I had gained has been slowly coming off, but coming off none the less. My diet this time has become more about health than calories. After being strictly vegan for almost a year and truthfully not feeling so great, I am currently following a mostly paleo diet. I know it seems from that sentence that I'm fad diet jumping but what I've come to realize from eating within these guidelines is that every person's body is different and needs different things. For me this just seems to be what is working. Could that change in the future? Sure. But right now I feel better than ever.
The last ten years of my life have been all about learning how to heal and take care of myself. It has manifested in a million different ways. And has worked and failed so many times. Recovery or even the "simple" act of self care is the hardest and most worthwhile thing to fight for because recovery is basically just another term for really being alive. Things aren't perfect and I'm not going to say I don't fall into funks, but I can say with complete honesty that I have more true moments of happiness than I have ever had in my life before this.
As horrible as the fights with the insurance companies were I am in many ways thankful that they happened. I needed to have gone to both Warner and Chestnut and that never would have happened if they had approved me right off the bat. It is because of what I gained at each hospital individually that gave me the strength and knowledge to achieve and succeed at recovery. Regardless of that, my story is a testament to what is wrong with our healthcare system. There are people out there in the same situation I was in. Fighting to get help, pleading for it and being refused -- not because they don’t need it or deserve it -- but because a multi-billion dollar industry doesn’t want to pay for things even though that is their sole purpose for existing. It is unacceptable that we are still dealing with this issue. There should be no politics involved in healthcare. There should be no partisan fight here. It is a universal human right to be given help when you reach out for it and I do not understand how anyone could think differently.
In November of 2007, a couple of weeks after I met Ben, my mom and I went on a road trip down to Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with my uncle and his family. On the trip down we decided we would make a pit stop in Virginia. Two years after having been discharged, we were heading back to visit Chestnut. Worlds away from where I had been when I was admitted I was still terrified to be heading back there. The night before we arrived, we stayed in another hotel. I couldn’t sleep so I called Ben, who I had met only a week before, and would end up talking to on the phone every single night of this trip. When I got off the phone with him I sat alone in my mom’s car and once again journaled.
November 18, 2007
I can't believe it's been so long since I've journaled. So much has happened. I met someone....I think. His name is Ben and he's amazing, but thats not why I'm journaling right now. I'm in Virginia, sitting in my mom’s car hoping she won’t wake up and realize I'm not in the hotel room b/c I should be asleep since I'm doing the first leg of the drive to Georgia tomorrow. More importantly I’m in Virginia...to visit Chestnut. Tomorrow at 9 am I'm going to be at Chestnut. It's so surreal...I can't believe it. I don't even know what to write here. I've come so far. I'm a completely different person. I'm happy, I'm skinny......I'm.....beautiful. Chestnut, as fucked up as it was really helped me get to this point. I can't believe I'm going back tomorrow. I think they're all going to flip out when they see me. I feel like I should be writing some really profound journal entry right now. After all this is also research right? Because I'm GOING to write about all of this. I know I am. I guess it just hasn't really hit me yet.
Tonight we were at dinner and I kept thinking of my last meal the night before I went to Chestnut. It was at this Mexican restaurant. I thought of it as my "last meal". I stuffed my face. I was miserable. I had no idea what I was about to get myself into. I had no idea what my life was going to be like for the next six months. Now I'm a visitor. I'm visiting my past from the state of my present. I'm saying good-bye to that unhappy, unhealthy miserable girl. Ben came into my life at the perfect time. Everything is coming together it seems. I don't want to Jinx it. I'm scared of scaring him off....but he seems to really like me. He calls me just to say goodnight, he WANTS to talk to me. For the first time in my life I'm feeling what it's like to have someone reciprocate my feelings. I'm feeling what it's like to be wanted..desired emotionally and physically. Everything is coming together as I get ready to let go of my past. It's time to say good-bye. It's time to allow myself to think about it and be able to write about it. It's no longer my life. It's officially my story.
I should be asleep. Mom would kill me if she knew I was up. But I needed to get this out. I'm about to do something really intense. I should go take a Tylenol PM. I have to wake up at 6:30 am and run.