What recovery feels like

Hi all!

Before I even get into the depth of this post I’m adding two disclaimers… one for myself and one for many of you whom may be reading this.

  1. This is one of the more vulnerable yet freeing blog posts I’ve written. It’s also likely the longest.
  2. If you currently are struggling with, are in recovery from, or feel at risk for an eating disorder please read this post at your own discretion.

No introductory paragraph needed, this post is a long one as is. Let’s go…

A few weeks ago a close friend asked me something I’ve not yet been asked – “what does recovery feel like?”

An on the spot question that I didn’t feel prepared to answer. Crap. I wasn’t taught this in therapy or treatment. I was given tools to work with myself rather than against myself in my journey to become “whole again”, whatever the heck that means. I wasn’t told how to respond to what this all feels like…

My response: well, uhm… challenging, freeing, comfort-zone breaking, and well, really really terrifying.

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Let’s talk.

Recovery is messy. But, on the other hand so is actively living with a raging eating disorder. And, for those of you reading this despite the disclaimer who may think “but my ED is under control, not raging”, this applies to you too.

Before I can even begin to discuss what recovery feels like, which will take up the bulk of this post, I must briefly discuss what living with an ED feels like. Rather, what did this feel like to me, because everyone’s experience is unique. I’ve written about this before, even posting a journal entry which I’m going to take an excerpt from…

The manifestations inside of my brain are a complete madness. The voice which leads me to follow down the path of habitual maladaptive and self-destructive behaviors. It’s a complete psychosis. All I’m trying to do is prove myself to the voice inside of my head. It’s pathetic.

Living with an ED is hell. It’s having two voices inside of your head, one which is you and wants to see you follow your path, your soul, and fulfill your dreams. This voice is who YOU are, it’s the one which you will hopefully become friends with in recovery. The other voice is “ED”, it’s the devil. It’s the voice which tells you the despite your hardest effort you will never be good enough. No matter how “sick” you get it’s not enough (but, remember, it’s your loved ones that are saying you’re sick… ED says you’re stronger than the rest, that you’re better, that they’re all wrong). Sickness can be felt as strength in an ED. Sickness being following the commands of the voice inside of your head that is trying to kill you but also the voice that is followed because it makes you feel put together although in reality you’re crumbling apart by the second.

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In the same post, from the same journal entry (just go read the post, it’ll make much more sense), I get into some of what recovery feels like… especially the being triggered part.

Recovery is messy, but relapse is deadly. In recovery the voice partly subsides. It’s weaker. Your now not completely starving. Memories begin to feel more like imaginations, almost as if the eating disorder doesn’t actually exist and you haven’t played around on the fine line of life and death for the past however many years. But you have to remember that’s a lie and you did. Then you question yourself. Was I really in that deep. Did I actually do that to my body, my soul, my life. I know it happened but it feels so surreal. Almost as if it’s someone else’s story that I heard before. My mind doesn’t want to remember the past. The pain. The struggle. It wants to make it better.

Then you remember. What’s worse than remembering the truth is that your mind begins to feel the same way as when your head was in the toilet or as when you could count with your fingers what you consumed last week. It’s sick. But it wasn’t that bad, right?

My recovery has been going since 2012. It’s had some pot holes and some speed bumps. I would be lying if I said recovery is easy, simple, free of hiccups. I think the bumps are what have made it, at least for me, “work”. I think the plethora of hiccups have made me stronger, one by one, in fighting the ED voice in my head.

I wrote a few months ago about having had a stress fracture earlier this year. This was my first major injury (the type that kind of makes you press the pause button) since treatment. I was nervous. I felt like part of my identity was being taken from me. I told myself to just go with it. Day by day. Hour by hour. Minute by minute. Cliche but it helped. I won’t say I felt entirely in control throughout the whole healing process, that’d be a full-on lie… BUT, I trusted my ability. I trusted all that I’ve been through in the process of recovery and that I could get past a slightly larger speed-bump. I was honest with loved ones about what I was feeling. I jumped on the fu*king do this bandwagon and went with it.

Arguably the most useful skill I’m cultivating is to ebb and flow.

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Writing about recovery is equally as hard as writing about what living with an ED is like. In one way I think it’s more challenging because everyone experiences recovery differently, and that’s what makes it last, it’s individualized. That said, ED’s come in all forms and affect people differently. I don’t want anyone to take my journey as an instruction manual. That can go both ways, I don’t want me writing about my darkest moments to become a goal to get sicker or deeper into the illness. Conversely, I don’t want anyone to follow my recovery path step by step because it worked (is working) for me. Moreover, out of all of my friends with similar struggles, all of our ED’s and all of our recovery processes are quite different.

Begin-again

It’s not sunshine and rainbows. I think most know it’s not. While sometimes the image of being recovered may seem like this magical place where the demons are gone and you’re no longer sick… I’ve yet to come across someone where this holds true. I won’t say it doesn’t exist, I’m just saying the process is much more raw and you have to get your hands dirty. It’s a process. Recovery, or as I prefer to call it, remission, is a continual journey of triumphs, road bumps, setbacks, painstaking realizations, a whole lot of crying and accepting. It’s wanting to throw in the towel, and maybe that does happen. Maybe somewhere in the process it’s too much for that moment and a slip up happens or a relapse happens. That doesn’t make it any less real. It doesn’t make it a failed attempt. It doesn’t make you weak.

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” – Banksy

Getting past the darkest moments is what made me stronger. They are what made me believe in my ability to keep going, even when I don’t want to, don’t feel like it, or feel like my remission is an inconvenience to my life (and yes, that’s present tense… because  it’s often a lifelong journey). Trust me when I say I can count the number of times I’ve been pissed off that I’m in recovery, mainly in the beginning stages. I used to feel guilty for having to put my mental health first. I felt ashamed to need to make sure that I was having my personal needs met because that meant I would (hopefully) take care of myself. Still from time to time I feel this way, like when I say no to helping out at work because I have a plan for a hike that day and I know that hiking is the most amazing thing I’ve found for my mental health. I’m better at knowing my needs now, understanding what is within my capacity and what is absolutely going to lead to a meltdown. Just because I “know myself more” doesn’t mean I don’t still feel guilty about it no matter how much I’m told I shouldn’t.

I wanted (and tried) to throw in the towel at-least a half dozen times but something kept me going. I had the slips, the near falls, the desire to just be like “I’m over it” or “I’m better at managing an ED than dealing with the insanities of remission”. I literally felt like I was losing my mind, that everything I worked for was slipping away. In reality it was the opposite. Everything I worked for was everything my ED wanted me to work for. It needed to slip away. I needed to let it go for the sake of healing. I needed to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. NO. I needed to get comfortable with being really uncomfortable. NO. I needed (and have) accept being uncomfortable with being really uncomfortable.

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Undoubtedly the most uncomfortable I’ve been in this process is dealing with the mental discomfort associated with the physical discomfort. Let me clarify in a rather abrupt manner… Gaining weight because I medically needed to → ED telling me I’m a pathetic piece of shit; dealing with the 5-6 month pregnant look of bloat because my body didn’t understand how to properly digest food for about the first YEAR of recovery AFTER regaining weight → everyday wanting to crawl out of my skin and feeling like I was; having a tooth break because you “floss too much” → well maybe something caught up to me; having blood work come back abnormal → equally terrifying (healthy voice) and amazing (ED voice…. the “you’re finally sick”); being 24 with osteopenia that you’ve had since 17 → still processing this one; being 24 and spending upwards of 2-3 hours a day in the bathroom because my GI is still not fully comprehending what eating to fuel my body means → I sometimes study in the restroom because #aintnobodygottimeforthat.

Coping with the physical aspects which arise is challenging especially considering I’m working my way through a mental illness and my coping mechanisms are kind are what got me into this lovely mess (sarcasm). I think that sarcasm and sass helped me cope. They were two of the things I was good at that weren’t necessarily maladaptive. Sure, lessening or making jokes of my tendency to annihilate myself isn’t super positive, but it sure beats crying for an hour, in my mind that is. It worked for me and that’s what I care about. It helped me ignore a lot of the noise going on between my ears which would otherwise destroy me.

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When I entered my last treatment (IOP) I was well into weight restoration. I was working out, not excessively but I was working out. I had previously taken months off during my relapse, I’m the person who hates working out when I’m in the throws of a relapse… will discuss hold tight… I was told to stop going to the gym, running, ect. To let myself heal – mentally and physically. After some solid counterarguments I did what I was being asked told. I hated every second of it. I wanted the release, the passion, the excitement. I wanted something I felt good at because I felt pretty bad at the whole “getting better” thing. This was a major turning point for me because up until this point, if I was at a stable weight and food intake (and no I don’t mean “healthy”), I would exercise. In my mind I felt like it was safe and totally okay for me to continue working out in the program I was in. NOPE. Taking time off to really separate things and work on my health without the addition of external stressors was key. In hindsight, I agree completely.

On why I wouldn’t work out when I relapsed in 2011 – exercise and sports were a part of my life prior to the development of my ED, and I like to keep them as separate as possible. While yes throughout the years they have become intertwined, but as I like to make a counterpoint of, everything in my life has become intertwined because my ED started at 11, my last relapse was at 18, and I’m now 24. For me, fitness is a positive thing. I LOVE IT. I, as in me, as in Sarah. The ED voice tries to rear it’s head in and overdo it but it’s me that enjoys it. It’s taken years to disentangle this mess. I’ve learned, rather felt, that when it’s the ED voice in control of over 50% I workout because I feel like I need to, not because I necessarily want to. If life gets in the way I lose it, crumble, I can’t manage NOT working out because at this point it’s a compensatory behavior. When I’m in a good place, I want to be there, I take more days off and accept the “shit happens” better. The mindset difference still blows my mind, night and day.

Throughout the past few years I’ve worked tirelessly to reach a point where I cherish off days, and instead of making off days into active recovery days, I now just take OFF days. I’ve embraced changing my workout plan up when it’s needed, deciding on a whim to head out for a ride on the bike versus lifting if it’s what my brain needs for positive mental health. As much as I despise the saying about balance being key, balance is key when it comes to my lifting, biking, running, hiking, yoga-ing. There’s a line, I respect the line. Not saying I don’t ever cross it, I am human, but I acknowledge it’s existence.

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During my time in IOP I was working, taking a full class load, and then going to my group 4 nights and 1 weekend day. It was a lot. I find myself sometimes thinking that I don’t know how I did it but then I think that’s why it worked for me. I didn’t try to solely focus on getting better, my life didn’t revolve around just that. It was the major focal point, but I was also a student and employee. I learned how to work getting better into my daily life versus being given skills and then thrown back into my life. I’m grateful that I was at a point in my illness where this was an option. IT WAS NOT fully supported but I did it. I’m not being like wahoo yay me, but we’re all different. Some people need the recovery process to be a bit less hectic, and some, like me, find the hecticness is almost healing. However, now, I choose to live a slightly less hectic but very supportive of my needs lifestyle because it’s good for me.

This taught me a large lesson in choosing what to add and subtract from my plate. One of the most valuable life lessons I’ve taken away is that while I might be entirely capable of doing something, that doesn’t mean I always have to do it. Just because we as humans have this interesting ability to shove things down and keep pressing forward to get everything done, doesn’t mean we need to do this. What if something needs to be removed from the daily routine? It doesn’t make you any less worthy. It doesn’t mean you can’t handle it. Maybe it just means it’s not best for your well-being. Routines ebb and flow, busyness comes and goes. Just because we had a hectic routine for a few months or years doesn’t mean it need be maintained for life. Breaks are allowed. Your worth is not defined by your capacity to drive yourself into the ground.

You have innate value because you’re alive.

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I think that while when I was in treatment and the beginning stages of recovery, the time when I absolutely feared the bumps, the hard-times, the triggers – that these are actually the things which made me resilient. I’m not perfect, nor do I wish to be. Trying to be perfect almost killed me, so I’m actually rather against that notion. This entire process is learning to understand yourself. As simple and as complex as that is. We are all built on a foundation of sunshine and thunderstorms, positives and negatives. We all have our own personal shit sandwich. WORK WITH IT. Don’t work against yourself by fighting with the summation of things which comprise your foundation, your story, as a human.

A lot of the work is done by yourself. Sure there may be loved ones in your life, or a therapist, who can help you by supporting you on your path. Ultimately though, it’s you for you. It was me for me. I am the one still making sure that my mental health needs are met because I know what happens when they aren’t. I’m still watching out for that. Nobody else knows how you’re feeling, even if you tell them. Our understanding of the world is entirely up to us. Our ability to flow with life is entirely up to us. It’s hard. The continuum from sick to well is a long one and it’s different for everyone. Some of the times when I felt the sickest were when I looked the “healthiest”. Mental health doesn’t always show up in a physical capacity. We are the only ones who realize the depth of the demons inside of our heads and are the only ones who can choose and keep choosing to fight the fight.

The ED voice, it’s almost as if it’d hardwired into my mind at this point. It’s still there, it’s less frequent and has much less power, but it’s there deep down in some form or another more than I’d like to admit. A major focus area for me has been working to stop the habitual pathway of thoughts in my mind. Right now I’m going with the flow, I’m doing what feels right to the voice in my head which supports me and helps me grow as a human being instead of the one which wants to send me back down the rabbit hole. Not all days are of the positive type where I end the day thinking “I can do this, I’ve got this”. There are plenty of times still, 4 years later, where I want to just be over it. I accept that while I’m past the major hurdles, my remission is still the most important thing in my life because it’s the closest thing I have to feeling like I’m being the “best” version of myself. It’s what makes me, well, me. I’m enjoying not being in control over everything and you can sure as hell bet I’m going to continue winging it.

“You must want to spend the rest of your life with yourself first.” – Rupi Kaur

XO, S

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Wrapping up the semester

Hi all! I feel like I’ve been just posting at random. This semester has been a loaded one and I’m going to get into this a bit.

First off, pictures from what I did on Thanksgiving… Hiking in the Presidential range with a very dear friend.

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Oh hey there

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Decisions decisions…

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True friends are the ones who fulfill our souls

YES, I spent my holiday in the mountains. YES, it was amazing and I’m beyond grateful to have re-united with this gem of a human. NO, I wouldn’t trade this day for the world. And YES, I’m hiking every holiday for now on because I believe holidays should be spent celebrating what we are thankful/grateful for, appreciative of, blessed to be a part of.

Deep belly laughs, mountains, hand-warmers in my pants, friends, sunshine, and frozen sandwiches = the perfect day.

This break has been much needed. This current fall semester is a full plate and while I’m legitimately loving it, it remains taxing. I think having re-charge time is essential, for everyone. I realized I haven’t really talked about the semester much yet, and it’s ALMOST DONE. What am I up to this semester? Well, I’m taking four classes, two of which are independent studies and one of them is fulfilling my capstone (think senior project?).

  1. Independent study/TA for psychobiology
  2. Independent study/TA for sports nutrition
  3. Sign language 1
  4. General education course

My schedule however is great, I have classes M/W/F and have T/R to meet with students, grade a bit, work on my classes, work, let my brain chill. I’m very fulfilled. I’ve been teaching some and have subsequently fallen in love. I’ve realized that I’m “doing it right”, life that is… my path. I’m doing what I am meant to be doing, for me.

I’m happy. I am on a path which I feel 100% good about… Not 99.9%, 100%.

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But… really

Never would I have thought in a million years I would be happier with my education as a psychology major and nutrition minor than as a neuroscience major. Never would I have thought that “casually” pursing a career as a therapist would be my path. It was always doctor or physical therapist. Well, maybe the story changes. Maybe I realize that I am so extremely passionate about mental health and than I want to work with people from a different angle. Regardless of career specifics (e.g MD, DPT, ect…) I’ve always wanted to work with female athletes dealing with RED-S, female athlete triad, anxiety, ED’s, over-training, stress management, ect. SO, just maybe, instead of being a doctor, I can work with these individuals in a different capacity, as a therapist. A novel approach (insert sarcasm). I understand from a first-hand perspective how key having a support system is, and how essential a therapist who “gets you” is.

On the other side, solidified by this semester, I totally dig teaching. It’s fun. I like the process of preparing to give a lecture, lecturing, and *hoping* to receive questions (you know, the ones that you know the answer…). I’m thankful I’ve been given the opportunity to teach in both of my independent studies and that each lecture has gone well and shown me that teaching is something I’m not only interested in but enjoy doing.b73bef1adf3f8167dd580f8f09485639

So, what’s the plan? Well, for one I’m going to keep casually winging it as I like to call it because it seems to be working wonders. For seconds, my eyes are on a PhD in clinical psychology. I’m not saying this is 100% what I’m going to do. I’m terrible at commitments, hence why winging it has worked so well. But, for me, this feels right. And for the few close individuals I’ve taken time to discuss this with, their feedback has been all of the positive and uber supportive type.

I feel like there is so so so much more to talk about… because there is. I’m not going to bombard the blog with a 20 page life update and will rather keep this short and sweet (not long and spicy?). Things on my mind for the next few posts: what recovery feels like, why I like casually winging it, and what the heck am I doing (e.g do I still lift or just climb mountains).

“All good things approach their goal crookedly.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

XO, S

Prioritize your needs

Hi all! As promised I’m back with a post between the spring semester ending and summer classes beginning. I literally cannot believe another semester is done. It feels like just yesterday I was frantically deciding whether to change my major from Neuroscience –> psychology or outdoor education and last minute sneaking my way into classes.

The decision was made and I’m good with it. While I’m extremely interested in a outdoor education, having a solid background in outdoor adventure groups and communities growing up it’s something that I’m really passionate about. On the other hand, it isn’t something that I felt like I wanted to major in “enough” to put myself in a position of taking that many more classes. The way I see it is, if that is the direction my life is meant to go it will happen regardless and psychology is also a great background to have for the field of outdoor ed/adventure therapy.

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Throwback to Mt. Isolation (september 16′). 12 miles, 5k vert gain. One of my favorites thus far. The suck was real but so was learning to love the process.

One year left, one year left. I keep telling myself this on repeat and it helps. It’s not that I’m “bad” at school. I’m for the bulk of my college career a straight A student minus the period I attempted balancing school + work + treatment. Rather, it doesn’t feel right. I enjoy learning, I love it and feed off of it. Increasing my knowledge base and understanding of both the material I’m studying and the world in general makes me feel grounded. However, sitting in a class full of other students with numerous stimuli and distractions doesn’t jive well with my brain. I can rarely focus and while that was okay the past two semesters, I’ve been apprehensive about the upcoming school year. So I’m doing something about that and choosing to be proactive and supportive of my needs rather than just being in la-la land and pretending I’m a perfectly productive student in the classroom.

. Four FULLY ONLINE summer classes. There is the money honey. I honestly dig online classes, I feel that I’m able to grasp the material equally as well if not better than in-class lecture format because I’m not wasting time sitting in classes unfocused and angsty only to go home to teach myself everything I supposedly just learned in class. I feel very uneasy in classes/on campus which fascinates me because it’s only been like this throughout my time at my current university. It could be the school (size), it could be that my mental health is in a different place now than before and I tend to actually feel my feelings, not feeling like I fit in AT ALL, a combination, or none of the above.

Life is said to be this balancing act – a see-saw if you will. I agree with this, there are good days and bad days, days of growth where you thrive and break down walls, then there are days when the going gets tough and honestly I think the best way to manage these days is being able to take care of yourself. Life isn’t giving in or giving up. It’s not hiding from the world or holding yourself back. It’s owning up to yourself, being present, and showing up in the world.

As I mentioned in a couple posts back when discussing the process of overcoming an injury, “count your rainbows not your thunderstorms.” – Alyssa Knight

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In addition to this, I think it’s being capable of accepting and honoring where you are at now, which may be an entirely different place than a month ago, a year ago, or two months in the future. As human beings we constantly are growing, evolving, and increasing our depth of understanding – having the mental flexibility to allow this and accept/be okay with it is HUGELY IMPORTANT.

I am not where I though I would be at 23, almost 24 years old and that is okay. There is no universal law saying that I need to be doing X or have accomplished Y by the time I’m 24. These are my own self-imposed guidelines/goals/expectations. They are the feelings that strip enjoyment out of life. The feelings of being a failure because I decided that I don’t want what I once thought I did, or wondering why I’m unable to roll with the punches the way society expects me too.

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I’m not abnormal. Heck, what even is normal?! I’m working with who I am to develop the best version of me.

There are days where I have to take a step back from everything and just try to enjoy the little things. Focusing on small stuff helps keep the big stuff more manageable. In the past year I’ve come a ways in terms of being able to recognize when I need to do this instead of keeping pushing through which inevitably leads to either becoming burnt out and/or increased anxiety/panic attacks.

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Enjoying the little things – favorite space in my bedroom – lilacs, star dish with sea shells and tea bag quotes, a few pictures, my globe (in the back), and a card a dear friend gave me.

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Close up. Oh hey Panda 🙂

SO what have I been up to in my week off from school? A whole lot of nothing. I’ve worked pretty minimally, enjoyed the sunshine and warm temps, spent time with friends, and given myself space to prepare for the hefty load of classes in my near future (tomorrow!).

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Sports psychology/mindset reading

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I biked and she ran 🙂

I think that while I still deal with anxiety on a regular basis I’m much more accepting of it and I understand it better than I ever have. Taking time to just be and really pursue the things which light my soul on fire have been absolutely essential to my mental health. That and forcing myself to do things which while sometimes uncomfortable are only going to help me grow. I believe that there is a difference between doing things which are uncomfortable but promote growth versus things which are just not good for our personal needs (e.g online vs. in-class courses). I believe understanding where to draw the line for yourself and prioritizing this is the base of the pyramid in terms of self-care.

Prioritizing is knowing what you stand for. What are your goals? What makes you tick? What are you willing to put up with, sacrifice, leave behind, etc. etc. Learn to maximize everything that will help get you to your end goal. Look at the end goal and determine what needs to happen to get from now –> then. Focus on that stuff.

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clotuds, everything.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

What are my coping skills?

Hey all! Happy Monday 🙂 What the what… I’m back here on the blog again… so soon. Also, who in creation says “happy MONDAY”?!? I’ve been posting more lately and it feels right. Does that make sense? Doing what I love and what makes me smile – writing and sharing!

What am I here to talk about today? Coping mechanisms and skills for your mental health toolbox. OK, so, I came across a quote the other day which inspired me to sit down and journal about what I define to be my purpose and goals. I’ve been extremely on edge lately and dealing with way more anxiety than “normal” for me. Knowing this, I knew that I NEEDED to take some time to myself and just write, process, and understand my feels. In doing this, I decided to define what my coping skills are or what could be a genuine coping mechanism for me and my life. Coping skills are a necessity, and in my opinion, the more in-tune we are with our needs and what things are supportive of our needs the easier reaching goals becomes. It’s never a bad thing to utilize skills and cultivate habits which support our goals and fall in line with what we feel is our purpose on this planet.

I am such a quote person it’s slightly ridiculous, not a bad thing, merely an observation. Anyways, “Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” ― Neil Gaiman

Like I said, define my purpose. Before getting into specifics, I just wanted to share some hiking panoramics which I love to look back at and reminiscence between hikes. THIS is a huge coping skill for me.

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All of that said, let’s jump into the primary topic of this post… coping skills. The categories to define various coping skills are some that I learned while in treatment, and honestly, I think they’re gold.

Based on the five senses, what are things that soothe you?

  • Sound: birds chirping, rain, thunder, the ocean, bells,  music
  • Smell: pine, coffee, mint, smoke from a campfire, lavender, fall leaves, cinnamon
  • Taste: berry, mint, coffee, cinnamon, vanilla
  • Touch: comfy clothing, hugs, hot showers, sauna (heat), soft blankets/being under multiple covers in bed, walking barefoot
  • Sight: sunshine, rain, the forest, waterfalls, mountains, blue skies, the ocean, wildlife

What can you do to reconnect with yourself physically?

  • Run OUTSIDE
  • Yoga
  • Go for a walk
  • Hike

What can you do to reconnect with yourself mentally?

  • Meditate (guided or unguided)
  • Journal
  • Write a blog post
  • Listen to a calming music playlist

What will you do if you need an out?

  • Remove myself calmly from a situation
  • Text a friend to call me/call a friend
  • Accept that saying NO is acceptable

What can you do to distract yourself and/or remove yourself from anxiety (I filled in this question with anxiety to get more specific)?

  • Meet up with a friend
  • Work on homework
  • Plan a workout
  • Read a book
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Take a nap
  • Take a hot shower
  • Hold a frozen orange (cool and useful technique learned in my program… keep an orange in the freezer and if you feel a panic attack coming on just sit down and hold said orange, your focus will move from negative and very robust emotions to the fact that your holding a freezing cold non-melting object… if this isn’t enough you can resort to filling a bowl with ice water and sticking your head in… YEP, I have done this (twice), and YEP it does the trick). I do think processing the feelings which led you to needing to utilize this skill in the first place though after the fact is important.

What will you do if you feel stuck?

  • Attempt to decipher my feelings
  • Talk with a close friend
  • Read old blog posts and journals to try to help regain a sense of self and light a fire under my ass
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Best friends make the world go round

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Replace and anxiety for depression and #nailedit (also nails it for depression also, of course!)

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Had to share this… Left class one day and just sat outside for ~ 15 mintues because I needed a moment (a lot of moments). Decided to snapchat a friend instead of getting lost inside of my head. #puttingskillstowork

What are some of YOUR coping skills? We’re all different.

Any quotes that speak to you lately?

Thanks for reading 🙂 xo, S

Do more of what makes you FEEL good

 

Hi all! It’s been a super hot minute since I’ve posted on the blog but that’s ok. It’s Friday. Yippee. It’s also the end of week SIX of Fall semester, nuts. Thus far I’m really digging being back in classes. Never actually thought I’d say that considering how rough the entire past academic year was. Insert eye roll emoji here. This directly ties into the title of this post, do more of what makes you feel good. Seems simple, right? Common sense? Of course. Do I follow this advice? for the longest time, nope. I attribute this semester going well to the fact that I’ve been doing more things which speak to me and letting go of the things which stress me. Easier said than done, but the outcome so far has been well worth the struggles along the way.

I’ve always been a people pleaser. I genuinely want and enjoy helping others but there is a boundary (at least for me) that needs to be set here. I can’t go out of my way on a consistent basis without taking care of myself because that leads to burnout mentally and physically. Not only a people pleaser but if someone is upset with me, has a difference of opinion, doesn’t like the way I handle X/Y/Z, then I would take it out on myself and myself only. I never actually realized how much this was hurting me on an emotional level until I’ve been working on the way I go about my day to day and filling my life with more activities that truly benefit my wellbeing. I hate saying “no”. It’s so hard for me because I feel like I’m letting someone down and will ruminate on that feeling of not pleasing said person for hours, days, weeks. It’s absurd. Seriously, not ok in any way. Having this kind of mentality isn’t healthy, beneficial, or even sane for that matter.

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I think I’ve shifted away from this mentality easier recently because I’ve been doing more things which I enjoy and therefore feel better in general. I’m less anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a general baseline anxiety and there are days when I’m convinced I’ve gone off the deep end. But, the bad days are further apart now in comparison to the past probably ten years of my life. I will take that and run with it. I no longer throw a complete tantrum like every other day over little things that won’t matter twenty minutes later. I’ve been staying in my classes and coping better with the stresses of school for the most part. Like I said, I still have my moments for sure but after all progress is a process. I know my anxiety is deeply rooted into my being, and breaking free from it is going to be a long and daunting haul. Rewarding, worth it, and beneficial to my health… YES absolutely. But emotionally a roller coaster also. I also believe that over time dealing with my anxiety I’ve become a bit more resilient in managing it, so to say, I’ve become accustomed to it. More adapted.

I keep mentioning that I’m spending more time doing things which are enjoyable to me. The biggest one here is hiking without a doubt. Additionally, just spending more time with friends and enhancing my social life has also been very helpful! I’m what I like to call an outgoing introvert. I need my space. I need “Sarah time” to recharge, sleep, focus, breathe, and chill. But for a while I had too much me time, and that wasn’t good either. I notice that if I’m alone too much I tend to ruminate more, which I would say is probably common for a lot of people. I was stuck in this place of not really wanting to be social because I was afraid or anxious about not having enough time to myself when in reality I had too much time to myself. Catch 22 I guess.

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Back in July I went on my first hike of this season and the bliss I found from this hike was something completely inexplainable. A week later I met with a friend from high school for another hike. A few weeks after the same friend (she’s fabulous) and I went again. One thing that has been super cool is the social aspect I’m getting out of this hobby/passion also. Between reconnecting with a high school friend to actually meeting a social media friend for the first time (and we’ve now gone on two hikes together) is amazing and I’m so grateful for these friendships.

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It’s been a consistent pattern of hiking every weekend to every other weekend since July. I don’t think this is stopping anytime soon. A total of 16 New Hampshire 4000-footers since July. Most of these hikes take up an entire day: leave at 7am, begin hike by 9:30am, hike lasts anywhere until 2pm-6pm, get home between 5pm-8pm. Day done, legs tired, belly full of protein bars and turkey sandwiches and I’m happy. I think about nothing else for a whole day. The driving is usually spent talking and jamming to good music while drinking copious amounts of coffee to prepare ourselves. The hike itself is pure bliss, being in nature and focusing on hiking (read: not tripping over myself every .9 seconds). I feel so good. Not to mention, the views are phenomenal.

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South Twin mountain.

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Zealand mountain.

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Garfield mountain trail. GUYS look at this. Seriously. How can you not be completely at ease after a day spent walking along this trail?!

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Casually standing on top of the entire world. E.g Mt. Zealand lookout spot. Straight up cheesin’ so hard. Endorphin rush to the max!

I’m going with these good feels. I can firmly say I feel more confident in myself and my abilities than I have in years. It’s a good place to be mentally. I still have work to do, but I think I’ve found something that will help me get it done. For me hiking is the best meditation, and meditation is where I calm myself, let go of all the negative feels, and realize that everything will actually be ok despite thinking the world may collapse under me some days.

Tonight a friend is staying over (also hasn’t happened in years because I’m absurdly uptight) and then tomorrow we are… guess what… HIKING. Trip report to come! Also to come – what I’m taking for classes, fitness updates, new job(s), ect…

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir (clearly my end of the post quote had to be this one… so fitting! Winking smile)

Pursue YOU

Hi all! Gosh it felt good to finally get something up last week after being on a complete hiatus this semester.

New tunes: tune in while you read. See what I did there? Winking smile

I know I usually (read: always) end my posts with quotes, but today I’m starting with one because it totally ties into all the stuff I’m about to lay on the table.

“NOTHING KILLS YOU LIKE YOUR MIND.”

Well, that’s bold and abrupt. But so f**king spot on. I saw a quote somewhere recently (probably Instagram, lets be honest) and it said: my brain has too many tabs open. THIS. I try to do all the possible things full speed and get myself into so much trouble. Anything and everything that I’m remotely interested in I will try to make something of it. This is both a fun and destructive way to live. I’m terrible at saying “NO” because I think I’m super woman. I’m definitely getting better but I’m stubborn and try to be two-three people on a regular basis. It’s a work in progress. I know I need to cut myself some slack because I’ve cut a bunch of extra baggage from my life in the past year which didn’t belong anymore and this shows progress which I’m happy to recognize.

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When Kombucha bottle words always nail it

I can’t help but feel lately that I’m going after the wrong goals. What? Wrong goals? I *should* say things that are beneficial but not entirely my calling. I found this list of 100 questions to ask yourself on Mind Body Green and wanted to share a few + my answers here.

What lessons am I learning right now? I am learning to honor my body – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually even more. I am learning that although I feel like I should have my life figured out it’s not necessary or typical. I’m 22 not 42, even then, things change, life changes directions. What is stable one day might not be a week later. Life is dynamic and fluid not static.

What expectations am I willing to release? I need to release the expectation that when I make a plan of attack it will go my way… always. This isn’t possible. LIFE happens. Like I said above, it’s fluid. Life ebbs and flows, ups and downs. I like to have a plan and that is ok. However, I need to be ok with it changing. Goals evolve.

In what ways can I be kinder to myself? I need to let go of expecting myself to be able to do it all because this is the thing which is undoubtedly driving me off of the deep end. It’s been all or nothing in each part of my life since I can remember, always saying yes, always going full-in or not going in at all. I need to learn to be ok with the unknown and in-between.

What in my life am I forcing? being a full-fledged science person. This is confusing, complicated, and messy. I’m going to try and explain: I love science. I love learning about new findings, research, medical approaches, holistic medicine. Reading articles on epigenetics or the newest finding on how x chemical affects x hormone is REALLY FUN for me. Listening to podcasts on autoimmunity, the microbiome, or synthesis of vitamins. This stuff utterly excites me. I love the learning and findings but am not so thrilled with being the finder. Does that make sense?!? I like interpreting and understanding. I want to be able to apply this to my career and future life. I don’t want to be the “finder” per say, rather a healer, guide, interpreter.

Where have I been playing it safe? in the gym. I want to compete again. Rather, I want to pursue what lights me on fire more than anything else in the world (yep, even more than reading microbiome articles). I’ll get into this more next time but there will be some changes around here, kids. Expect that. Smile

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“Find a way to block out all the noise around you, create a tunnel and dig.”

You know what you are capable of. Trust that.

Live FIERCELY.

Hi guys! It’s Tuesday Smile  In my Literature and Business course we recently were asked to read an excerpt from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and while there were definitely some good and interesting points discussed… it just didn’t do it for me. I’ve written some posts on this blog as motivational sources for both myself and my readers. I’m currently working on a side project also and have taken some of a couple of posts to make one big post which I’m sharing today on living fiercely and my personal vision of success and life purpose. These are my opinions and views, so take with you what works and leave what doesn’t. After all, everyone is different in terms of what motivates them.

Ready? Set go.

OK wait… first some tunes for reading. Please please don’t tell me I’m the only one who needs good jams.

Always be yourself, that’s what everyone says. In a world committed to beating the guy next to you, striving always to get ahead, to have the balls to go after your own dreams is a novel idea in and of itself. It’s a hard choice to keep up the pursuit of your dreams, goals, passions, hobbies, the things which light your soul on fire. However, a crucial one nonetheless.

What gets in the way? Why do people feel it’s necessary to just live inside the bubble society has created and continued to morph as the years go on. Why do we conform ourselves to the needs of society versus the needs of ourselves?

Self-limitation. Self-sabotage. Whatever term hits you the hardest – go with it. Boy is that a concept. It’s also something most people do on the regular, whether or not they are actually aware of it. It’s hard not to. We are brought up in a society that tells us as children that well, we are amazing and can do whatever we set our minds to. Which if you ask me, that’s great. But what’s not so great is that as kids get older the support and the “you’re the greatest” start to leave the scene, and rather quickly. We end up with young adults who are trying to find their life path and also simultaneously being bombarded from every angle with messages about how to be richer, prettier, skinnier, how to succeed, how not to succeed, what you’re doing wrong, why you’re not X/Y/Z, how to be “healthy”, and the list goes on and on. Then of course there are the more important things like actually being a responsible adult, having and maintaining a job, college, graduate school, starting a family, ect. It’s a lot of pressure, so it’s natural for people to be hard on themselves and doubt their abilities. Things cost money, it’s easy to question if something is worth it and subsequently talk yourself out of things. It seems safer to go with the flow of society rather than carving your own path. Safer doesn’t always equal easier.

What we are not taught? How to listen to our inner fire and let go of our inner critic. Now that’s a concept worth actually pursing.

The one thing I have learned over the years is that it’s best not to run from your demons. Running from the negative doesn’t typically create a positive. It creates a void, a void that most people don’t know how to work with. Instead, work without them, accept them, be at peace with them, and if you really must – use them… but, don’t let them use you.

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I think we tend to get so caught up in the past and the future that we forget we are actually living currently, in the now. It’s a constant challenge to keep the mind focused on the present moment and you might find yourself present one moment, and then thinking about next Tuesday three minutes later. It’s natural for the mind to shift, to oscillate between past, present, and future. Our brains have so much going on, so many functions, things to process, and information to relay to us. I think what’s essential however is to be content and happy with the now so that the reason our mind is wandering isn’t to escape the present moment.

How to be successful in your life? Accept that it’s worth it.

It’s worth it for fucks sake. Whatever the idea is that you have in your head, pursue it. What if you are successful? What if it makes you happy and in love with every.single.second of your life? If it doesn’t… well you tried and after all it’s all about experience. TRY IT. Take a chance, or two, or three. Go out on a limb and explore new things, new boundaries, new places. You might end up finding yourself in a place you’ve only ever dreamed of being. Explore your limits. Explore your comfort zone. Say YES. And then say yes again. Listen to your soul, your body, your desires and get after them. Set up your day to day in order to reach your goals. Nobody is going to get you there except for you.

One of the hardest parts about reaching a goal: allowing yourself to try. I’m not talking about the give it a week or a month of slowly and ever so casually working on a goal. I don’t mean give it a week, then fall off the wagon, then two weeks later get back on the wagon. I mean give it all you have. If you want something bad enough give yourself the true opportunity to reach that thing.

People underestimate the true amount of time, effort, hard work, and pure determination that go into reaching a goal. It’s easy to leave out the key pieces, to not go full throttle. It’s easy to quit and say “it’s just not for me” or “I’ll try again next year”. Stop limiting yourself. Stop limiting your life. Stop taking it easy when the going gets tough. Choose the hard way. Choose to create a better life. Choose to reach what it is you truly wish to reach.

Throughout my experiences one of the hardest things I’ve come to terms with is what I feel that I *should* be capable of. I would take ego, standards, and previous accomplishments and hold myself accountable to what I believed I needed to be doing. I felt I needed to be the best at competing, a straight-A student, working full-time, always performing better than any other individual at a given moment – all while keeping myself together. I tried to be invincible, like super-woman. For a period of time I was able to adapt to these extreme standards, but soon enough I started to show cracks. It’s quite difficult if not impossible to maintain near perfection in every realm of life at each given moment.

Where did I learn these beliefs? Why is it that I hold myself to standards set higher than a majority of my peers? But better yet, why is it that I’ve met other people who have similar if not identical lifestyle patterns? In my opinion, it’s about trying to prove ourselves as human beings. It’s about your worth as an individual.

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All in all accept yourself, continue to grow into who you are and be a better version of you not your neighbor. Find what makes you come alive as a person, what it is that has you thriving in life and do that thing. Don’t be the reason you didn’t reach your goals. Stop holding yourself back because of trying to be the best at everything versus trying to be the best at your thing.

You have innate value because you are alive. Accept that.

So decide what you want to do. What’s important. What you want to work on. Decide what defines you, your life. Be extremely stubborn about your goals but stay adaptable. Keep evolving, both internally and externally. Mentally, spiritually. Focus on your shit. But be aware that other people have their own shit. It’s not yours to fix. Just be capable of listening. Make your work ethic respectable. Be humble. Remember the game when the going gets tough because it will get tough. Understand your thoughts, your emotions, your needs. Accept them. Don’t let them control you. Work with them. Use your voice, collaborate, help others, be kind always. Tell people how much they mean to you. Love every single part of yourself. Surround yourself with people who support your most difficult dreams. Keep reflecting and adjust what needs adjusting but make sure it’s for you – know your vision. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Let it go. Laugh. Don’t be so serious. Seriousness can come across as being an asshole. Figure out your shit. Don’t lie to yourself. Roll the dice and play the cards. Be capable of inspiring yourself. Know when it’s time to put your big girl pants on and know when it’s time to say fuck it. Be what you want to be.

xo, S