Self Care: A Stomach Full of Orangeade and an Arm Free of Scabs

Spring leading into summer is a hard time for me. There are some seriously painful anniversaries coupled with school and work stress rising to their peaks. 

Each year, I find myself attempting to stay at the peak of recovery mountain, a place I happily reside the majority of the year, only to slowly slide down the slippery slope that quickly becomes relapse. 

Anxiety and depression replace my normal ridiculous, silly personality. I “have no time” to eat. Studying and cleaning overtake the time I normally spend walking my dog, or adventuring around to local businesses. My love of all things food related slowly caves to the horrible thoughts of being “summer ready.” The body I have come to love so much slowly starts to be seen through Ed’s “ugly filter” and I begin to hate it. I get so stressed about school that I often fall so ill it appears I have the flu for several weeks. 

This year, I began to slide down that slope. I began to “food check” myself. Essentially, rather than eating and drinking what looks and feels right, I began to acknowledge the different components of what I choose to eat as “good” or “bad” rather than simply fuel. 

I started to grow uncomfortable with my weight. It’s been stable now for over a year. It is the epitome of a healthy, strong figure, yet I began to hate it. All I saw when I peered into the mirror were flaws. 

But slowly, I reset myself. I challenged myself to eat what I wanted not what I thought was “right”. I stopped telling myself Foods weren’t allowed and I reminded myself that it was okay to indulge in moderation. 

I forced myself to shower, and sleep, and to stand outside and let the sun warm my skin and heal my soul. I walked my dog and made myself get out of bed. I studied some, but stopped as soon as I felt myself edge towards mania. I folded clothes, but did not scrub my room and bathroom with bleach and a tooth brush. 

I slept in this morning and ate a good breakfast, full of all the necessary nutrients. I drank just one cup of coffee and I took my exam. I walked out of my exam scab free as I had not itched myself to pieces. I felt relief. Instead of panicking over what my future would look like if I didn’t get a 100 on the exam, I closed that part of the semester and set my sights forward. 

On my way home, I wanted an orangeade, so I stopped and got an orangeade. 

All of these things seem so small, but to me, they are huge. 

Just one year ago, I was either bedridden with depression or overloaded into compulsive actions with OCD and anxiety. I gave up sleeping and eating and showering to study and exercise and I allowed myself to ridicule and critique everything I saw in the mirror. 

Each year, when spring comes, I brace myself. I prepare to cling to my therapist for dear life. This year was no different, I prepared to cling, but I didn’t have to. I was able, on my own, to regulate my emotions, tolerate my distress, and communicate my wants and needs with words. The work she has done with me over the last 2.5 years has changed my life. I am so thankful to tell you today that it can get better. She has shown me the way out of the darkness and into the light. 

Oh what a year can do for a person. 

Make self care a priority. Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have. And most of all, put in the work and the effort and over time, things will get better. 

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