Mountain therapy

Hey folks!

Today I’m just writing, expressing my thoughts and general feelings about how the mountains provide a sense of therapy for my soul and my being. Mountains in the sense of hiking, mountain running, snowboarding, and honestly hands down just being in the mountainous areas of New Hampshire (note: yes, I just used some form of the word “mountain” three times in one sentence). There is a specific series of feelings I experience when in the wilderness. They are nearly in-explainable, but I’m going to try and replicate them here.

I’m free.
I’m not, but I am.
I’m trying to be.
I feel it.
In my bones, being, soul.

I feel free.
At ease.
I feel like everything is in order, taken care of, checked off the infamous to-do list.

I don’t think about anything other than the moment at hand.
Those hours, minutes, seconds.
They are real.
Raw.
They exist.

I’m breathing: deeply, consistently.
Inhale. Exhale.
I feel my lungs full up with air, diaphragm expand.
Alive.

Suddenly, I have a flashback of when I didn’t feel alive.
When I felt like the world might end or that my world was ending.
I remember, vividly, to a time where I didn’t see hope or worth in my existence.

It fades as quickly as it came.

I’m walking.
Step by step.
It’s been a mile or two or ten.
I feel like I just started the hike or the adventure for the day.
Hours have passed.
My brain is in the zone.

Nothing is wrong.
I feel good, safe.
In flow.
Everything will be ok.

My mind wanders back to those thoughts of unease that arose before.
But, they aren’t uneasy or hopeless.
They just exist.
Simply, they are there.

The current flow and state of feeling like my world is together mends the wounds.
I feel alive.
I feel ok.
I trust myself.

Breathing, in and out.

I trust myself.
I know I can do whatever it is that my mind is thinking about, processing.

The world doesn’t feel so heavy.
It almost doesn’t exist.
The flow state, mentally I’m lost in that.
Everything seems to move so slowly but so quickly.

I’m moving through space.
walking.
breathing,
I’m moving forward.

My entire past and history and story is at my damn fingertips ready to fight.

But,
it doesn’t need to.

I don’t need my strength of shutting myself down or shutting the world out.

I am alive.
I feel good.
Everything is ok.
I don’t need my history or my past skillset.
It’s there.
It’s part of me.
I don’t need it in this moment.

I need this.
This as in where I’m currently at.

I need the mountains.
The wilderness.
The forest.
The fresh air.

I need the space.
The quiet.
The time with my humanness.

I am alive in these seconds, hours, days.
They transpire into all over parts of my life.
My motives become one.
My existence has a common purpose.
I no longer have any desire to take myself out.

I just am.
I am me.
I’ll continue on my path,
whatever that may be.

Everything feels ok.
I keep moving,
breathing,
existing,
feeling.

Everything is right there underneath my skin.

But, for a series of moments, hours, days,
I am free.

June 1st 2008: a story of what it’s like to be living with an eating disorder

Hi all!

Happy Sunday 🙂 Post number five for Eating Disorder Awareness week. This was 4567% unplanned. I wrote this post very late last night while sitting on my floor (sit on your floor often kids, it’s very very grounding), drinking bedtime tea, and instead of reading like I have been doing before bed I decided to open a can of worms… metaphorically speaking of course.

This post induced some crying. When organizing yesterday I saw my binder from treatment and some old journals. Flipping through one of the journals, one page was folded. After reading, I don’t remember why it’s folded. Perhaps that will come. But I think the universe meant for me to read this, and that may or may not be a future post. As I say often when talking about recovery, it’s a process. Let’s say for example there are 20 phases of recovery (arbitrary number for example purposes only): where 0 is the initial starting point, 20 is it never happened, and 19.5 is pretty much as far as one gets (aka “recovered” or “in full remission”)… I’m at like 18. I’m still IN this process. For my process, phase 18+ is the deep inner child work.

I’m sharing this to shed light on what it is like to be living with an eating disorder. I say “with” because it literally is like living with another person, a very abusive person, but one that somehow still gets the final say.

I’ve shared a journal entry before, from 2013 during my time in treatment. It’s linked so read that if you wish, but I think this one, at least for me, is even more powerful because my 26 year old self can feel that sense of fear and pain that comes with the beginning.

Only parts of this entry will be shared below, some parts that get into specific behaviors are omitted for the sake of it not being extremely triggering for anyone reading that is struggling. It is from June 1st 2008. Close to 12 years ago. This is between my freshman and sophomore years of high school and about 4 years into my eating disorder.
Side note, low key pats on back/high five to 2008 Sarah and her writing abilities. Love, 12 year older self.

*Disclaimer: if you are actively struggling with, in recovery from, or feel at risk for developing an eating disorder PLEASE read this only with your own needs in mind. If you feel like this will be triggering please don’t read this post.*

“I don’t understand how this happened. When I hear the word “anorexic” it makes me cringe. But there is part of me that feels a sense of accomplishment. I did enough of what I was told and reached something.
I highly doubt I’ll ever 100% beat this. I want to but I can’t. I feel like even when I’m 50 years old things will still be like this because I’m too far gone. But I don’t want it to be like that then. I want to remember it, how bad this sucks, how much pain I’m in that nobody sees. I need to remember it so I don’t go back.

When I really look at myself all I see is a ghost. There isn’t a person here anymore. It’s all restricting, finding creative ways to get rid of food, losing my friends, losing jumprope, feeling guilty about every single thing.

I can’t focus. My brain is consumed by thinking about how I will act, eat, burn it off. On repeat. It never stops. At home, at school, at practice *I was in cross-country at the time*. I’m obsessed… with myself… with taking myself out… to feel like everything will be ok. Why? What went wrong that this happened.

I want to let this go. I don’t know who I am or what I even like. I’m all over the place. I feel like if I stay scattered people won’t be able to see me. It feels fucked up because I am alive in this world and am grateful for that yet I hate myself. It is like living inside a game, a game in my head. I look into the mirror and don’t like what I see but what I’m most scared of is me.

I hate that I let myself get as bad as I did last year. I’m my own worst enemy. I’m afraid to let this go and this causes me to be in a constant battle with my mind. I don’t know who I am anymore or what I am going to become.

I have good memories of before this all started. But I also feel like I was never enough. Nothing has ever been enough. Especially with my dad. We always fight and it makes me extremely uncomfortable but I don’t know how to stop it. I feel like I’m mad at him because he doesn’t care care of himself. He has Crohn’s and has gone through over a dozen surgeries and I know it’s becoming more of a problem even though he tries to hide it. I’ve told him how I feel and asked him to try to take care of himself. He says he will try but doesn’t and I feel like he is just giving up. I feel like whenever I do try to connect with him about my life he gets angry and is disappointed. And then I get angry. I feel lonely, like I don’t belong.

There’s so much that nobody knows, that I think will be a secret until much later in my life because I don’t want to add more negatives or be seen as weak. The past four years are built on secrets, lying, hiding, and destroying my life for a voice that isn’t even mine. I want to beat this, to feel like I have a family again, to feel comfortable. But I think I still need what I’ve been doing.”

After my own reading this:
26 year old self to my younger self –
Thank you for doing what you needed to feel safe, even if at this point it was terrifying for you, this was a protective mechanism. You weren’t able to make sense of it then. You were young when this all started. You did your best with the resources you had.

“Be the love you never received.
Be the acknowledgement you never got.
Be the listener you always needed.
Look at the younger versions of yourself within you and give your self what it is you always needed.
That is the first step of healing.”
– Vienna Pharon

Myth bustin’ + quote sharing: Eating Disorders & Recovery

Hey blog fam!

Post number FOUR for Eating Disorder Awareness week is all about busting some myths and sharing some quotes that either may be helpful for someone struggling or are just concepts worth thinking twice about. I’ll flip flop back and forth between myths and quotes to keep you on your toes things varied.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ― Anaïs Nin

Myth: Eating Disorders have a “look”
—> an individual can have a life threatening eating disorder regardless of weight/shape/size

“With food restriction comes life restriction, and with life restriction comes misery.” ― Amalie Lee

Myth: Eating Disorders are all about control
—> it’s possible for this to be the case for someone but this cannot be a blanket statement across the board. Each person develops an ED for a different reason or reasons.

“Complimenting someone on their weight loss doesn’t validate their effort – it validates that their effort earns them value or worth.” ― Sara Upson

Myth: Once someone is done treatment they are all better
—> Often times post-treatment is where the “real work” begins. Treatment provides a space to get someone to a medically stable place. The ED served a purpose, that purpose takes time to unravel and create new thought processes and brain pathways around. Learning how to understand and take care of oneself (especially in a society which allows us to disconnect on the reg’) is tough work. It takes time.

“Survival mode is supposed to be a phase that helps you save your life. It is not meant to be how you live.” ― Michael Rosenthal

Myth: [I] am/was not sick enough if: “I didn’t lost my period”, “I wasn’t in an inpatient treatment”, “I didn’t go to treatment”, “I never hit rock bottom”, etc.
—> If you are suffering, you are “sick enough”, and are fully deserving of love and support and care. ALWAYS.

“I’ve never met anyone with an eating disorder who hasn’t had one for a reason. I’ve also never met anyone with an eating disorder who chose to have one.” ― Rebecca Manley

Myth: It’s about the food
—> It becomes partially about the food, but it isn’t about the food.

“To recover is to create a life in which numbness is no longer necessary for survival.” ― Jean McCarthy

Myth: It’s not that big of a deal
—> Anorexia has the highest mortality rate out of all psychiatric illnesses (source). Long term (chronic) and short term (acute) health consequences (from any ED) are a big deal. Health consequences may include: osteopenia/osteoporosis, irregular heart rhythm, refeeding syndrome, heart failure, reduced blood pressure, ulcers, blood sugar, insomnia, seizures, amenorrhea, hair loss, kidney problems, anemia, and more.

“I’m fighting for recovery from an eating disorder in a culture that continually reinforces every behavior I’m trying to break free from. And it’s absolute shit.” ― Shira Rose

Lastly:
Shout out to all you badasses doing this work.
I see you.
You are worth it.
Keep coming home to yourself.
Keep doing the work.
We all grow at different rates.
♥ XO

A letter to my body

Happy FriYAY folks 🙂

This writing I’m sharing today isn’t new. I wasn’t planning on sharing it. But, in honor of it being Eating Disorder Awareness week, it’s fitting.

As I stand on these summits,
hike up the trail,
walk around day to day,
hold my body up when I practice yoga,
when I move,
and when I breathe…
I can’t help but feel grateful,
proud,
and respecting of my body.
For what it has done and continues to do for me.

Seven years ago I wouldn’t have had the strength to make it up one mountain,
nevermind all of the the other mountains I’ve climbed,
literally and figuratively.

It blows my mind how resilient our bodies are.
How efficiently they can work.
How they can go from rock bottom to full days of hiking, biking, school, work,
the numerous things we throw at them,
and ask them to do without push-back.
They are magnificent beings,
with an innate power to heal,
restore,
and to work with what they are given.

I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors.
Nature and the silence which it offers holds a special place in my being.
It’s a space to cultivate a stronger bond with my “roots”.

Within ourselves we know what is best for us and what isn’t ideal,
whether or not we choose to listen to or follow this guidance.
For over a decade I let the other voices dictate my path and win every battle.
I destroyed my body and being –
physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

It was a darkness that occurred as part of needing an escape,
being out of touch with my whole self,
and not understanding that in order to really fully get out of it,
I needed to do something I had never done before –
appreciate myself and my darkness.

Embracing the darkness,
letting it teach me how to work with myself,
teach me what felt good and felt like shit,
giving myself space and grace,
permission to grow and cultivate a sustainable relationship with my being…
This was the key.
The key to beginning a lifelong understanding that my body is here for me and I need to be here for it too.

To my body:
Thank you for sticking with me as I figured out and continue to figure out my path.
Thank you for being resilient even when I treated you like actual garbage.
Thank you for allowing me to see and explore beautiful magical places.
Thank you for not throwing in the towel when I felt like I needed too.
Thank you for healing.
I love you.