Life Abroad, Again.

Today has been one of the hardest days I’ve experienced since moving two and a half months ago.

I didn’t go out and experience anxiety. I didn’t encounter language barriers or culture shock. I barely even made it out of the front door before turning around and coming right back inside, where I stayed all day.

When I first moved on November 1st, I had 9 days before one of my best friends came to visit. Between her visit and another friend, I wasn’t alone until beginning of December. After that, I had about 2 weeks to workout, explore a bit, and have a small taste of life in Japan before another friend’s 3 week visit. He left on January 4th, and I’ve been fighting like hell to stay above water ever since.

I am disappointed in myself for not being able to handle this experience with the strength and courage I expect of myself. I feel ungrateful for not constantly going out to explore all that Tokyo has to offer. I feel like a failure for not being able to implement some of the key principles I learned from “The Power of Now.”

I feel like the anxiety that built up has manifested as depression. I am sad. I am tired. I frustrated. Getting out of bed each morning feels like a huge task. Making myself go to the gym and workout alone feels like trying to climb Mt. Everest. Most days I don’t even make it to go explore until D gets home from work and we can go together.

I’m not really sure where to go from here, so I’m going to start by listing some facts and some self-reflections I’ve had today.

1 – I am in Japan for at least 89 more days. Between visitors, planned trips, and weekends, at least 47 of those days will be spent by myself. 47 days isn’t much. 89 days isn’t much. When I look at it from a larger view, it seems manageable. It’s the day to day that gets me.

2 – I need to be around people. Not just any people – the people I care deeply for. D and the home team, friends, S, family. I thrive when I am in the company of these people. I find joy in hosting, in bringing people together – the laughter and camaraderie, in making people smile. I don’t like being alone. Alone is where I get in my head, where I overthink, over analyze, it’s where I get stuck.

3 – Although I love Crossfit, pushing yourself through a tasty WOD is difficult, especially when you are by yourself. There is no accountability, no support, no encouragement – it’s just you and thrusters or burpees or the fucking ass bike. It takes a hell of a lot of motivation to push yourself at that point – and that’s motivation that I currently can’t seem to find. It makes me really sad to feel this way because Crossfit has become such an integral part of my recovery and health. Now I’m stuck working out because I feel bad/fat, but then having a bad workout because I’m not motivated, and feeling negative about that as well. I miss my Crossfit family. I miss the sanity Crossfit provided.

4 – I miss S. There’s no way around this one. It’s difficult to wake up each morning with the realization that she’s not going to be laying on my head, panting, or pawing me in the face.

5 – I started using a diet/meal plan to help me stay on track during the times we don’t have visitors and we aren’t traveling. I just wanted something to help me hone in during those times so that I wouldn’t feel as guilty for indulging at other times. What started out as a very helpful tool has become a little restrictive due to my mindset. I feel very out of control here, and once again, food is the first thing I turn to. At first, if I followed the diet minimally – just as a general guideline – I felt good. Now, there are days that I feel really negative about veering off of it for a meal or two.

I was very proud of myself for how I used it in the beginning, and I think under different circumstances, I will be able to use it healthily. But right now, I need to change my mindset if I’m going to continue using it.

6 – I am terrified to open up and share any of this with my home team. I would do anything for this group of people – I love them unconditionally – and deep down, I know hope that they feel the same. I don’t feel very worthy of friendship. The reality is, I don’t know why they choose to be my friend, why they love me, why they accept me. I’ve spent the last few months really working on dealing with the trust issues I have regarding friendships. I think it’s improved – I do trust this group. But, even though I trust them, I don’t feel that I deserve them. I still worry that they will wake up and realize that I’m nothing special – easily replaceable with someone less mentally fucked. I’m worried that they will eventually get frustrated enough to give up on me. That they will walk away.

7 – I feel like I am wasting an incredible opportunity. An opportunity that most don’t get to experience. I feel selfish, ungrateful, and gross. I want to make the most of my time in Tokyo. I want to look back with no regrets. But, I don’t know how to get to that point.

8 – I don’t know where to go from here. I am too stubborn to move back without D, especially given that we have such a short time left (and visitors/trips planned).

I thought I was strong enough to handle this move, and now I’m questioning that strength, questioning my judgement, questioning myself. Maybe I’m not the person I thought I was.

Ending on a positive thought that I am trying to remember each day –

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore


Moving and Anxiety

Shallow, unsteady breath, heart racing, uncontrollable shaking, the taste of metal in my mouth, lump in my throat, red hot tears stinging my eyes on the verge of spilling over, nausea, the feeling of the walls closing in around me, and the thoughts…all of the thoughts.

Quite a few of these “episodes” have left me exhausted and disheartened the past few weeks.

On November 1, I joined D as we moved to Tokyo, Japan. We left S at D’s parents, we left our home, we left our friends, we left comfort. Normal life is on hold, and the anxiety I had been working to conquer now has its claws deep inside of me, again.

I feel like a disappointment for reaching this point. How, after a previous international move, too many goodbyes to count, therapy sessions, self-help books, talking all of this through with my home team, all under my belt, how is this still a thing? How have I not conquered this already? Why does it still have its grip on me?

I am so torn between wanting to experience Asia, wanting to make the best of our short time here (6 months), and wanting to throw in the towel and go home. But, I am the most stubborn person I know, so I know that I won’t. I don’t want to be a further disappointment. I don’t want to be seen as weak or a quitter. I don’t want to be known as someone who gives up when shit gets hard. So, I will stay.

I am trying to keep in mind, “wherever you go, there you are,” and to remain present and grounded in the now. I am working to implement ways to lessen or prevent anxiety in certain situations. I am trying to prove my strength and resilience to myself and to others. I am learning to surrender.

“Don’t look for peace. Don’t look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.” – Eckhart Tolle

Moving Feels

The reality of our impending move is setting in hard.

I don’t know that I am ready for this next phase, and I have all of the emotions and feelings.

I am excited for the possibilities this new chapter will bring.

I am afraid of the unknown and unfamiliar.

I am happy for the opportunity to travel more.

I am worried about losing the friendships I’ve made.

I am curious about the culture (and food) we will learn so much about.

I am nervous about the possibility of repeating our last move.

I am apprehensive about S being on the plane for so long.

I am scared to relive the homesickness and loneliness I felt throughout our last move. I am scared of driving people away because of my insecurity in our friendship. I am scared of ruining D’s time abroad, again. I am scared of missing out on things happening at home. I am scared of feeling worthless, helpless, stuck. I am scared of the feeling of not having a purpose. I am scared of relapse with eating, with self-harm, with OCD thoughts and habits. I am scared.

I am anxious.

The past few weeks have been riddled with anxiety. Nights are hard. Sometimes I can’t sleep. Sometimes all I want to do is sleep. Days are okay – alone time is hard. An okay morning can quickly snowball into an anxious afternoon if I think about moving for too long. It hits me out of nowhere – I can’t breathe, and the next thing I know I’m sitting on the floor, crying. I feel pathetic. I don’t understand why I can’t handle this. I’ve been there before, I know what to expect, and yet it’s still just as hard as last time.

It doesn’t make it any easier that we still don’t have exact information regarding the move. I knew to expect this, so I’m not sure why I am surprised. But, I want answers. I want to know where exactly we are moving. I want to know when. I want to know exact lengths of time. I’ll have some of these questions answered, eventually. But most will remain unanswered sources of anxiety.

I know the success of this move is mostly dictated by my attitude about it. I will make or break my success throughout this chapter. That’s a scary thought, especially since I know negativity will most likely break it, and I’m feeling pretty fucking negative right now.

For now, I will focus on breathing, being open and honest, and trying to create a positive outlook on this incredible opportunity we’ve been given.

“Negativity is cannibalistic. The more you feed it, the bigger and stronger it grows.” – Bobby Darnell

“So, you didn’t always eat like this?”

“So, you didn’t always eat like this?”

I’ve reflected on this question many times since it was asked last week.

A year ago, this question would have set me on edge, left me feeling fat and unhappy. Now, this question made my day.

I spent last week eating, drinking, and having an amazing vacation with a friend in Mexico. I spent most of my time in a bikini, and I never once had an urge to use an ED behavior. I ate when I was hungry, drank when I wanted to, and was able to walk around without hating myself.

That’s not to say there weren’t some negative ED thoughts creeping in. I had to work hard to not compare myself, I didn’t necessarily feel confident in the bikini, and I left knowing there are still parts of my body that I want to “fix.” But, it was a success in the sense that I was able to let those thoughts stay just thoughts and not control everything I did.

I had fun. I got to spend quality time with a new friend, getting to know each other and making memories. I chose happiness.

I know that I worked damn hard to get to this point. I put in the effort and tears and uncomfortableness. And honestly, I am still working hard – it is still a battle I have to guard myself for, even though the fighting is easier and way less frequent.

After some recovery wins, followed by a few days of trying to decide what diet I want to start in order to “fix” the parts that made me uncomfortable in said bikini, I let my guard down and watched both “To the Bone” and “Feed.”

I had seen the trigger warnings, the reviews, the negative backlash that “To the Bone” had received, and alternately, the praise that “Feed” received.

“To the Bone” was just as expected – a rather underwhelming account of a “typical” ED experience. Yes, it was triggering. No, it wasn’t very realistic – at least not in the sense of the struggles I’ve witnessed and watched others go through at the hands of the disease.

Definitely wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone not significantly far along in recovery.

“Feed” was different. Written by Troian Bellisario (PLL is a guilty pleasure of mine), “Feed” is a dark movie depicting an ED from a slightly different angle. Sure, once again, you have the “typical” ED movie background, but if you look past the white, valedictorian who experiences a trauma that sends her spiraling out of control, you get a true sense of what it means to “hear” ED.

That got me.

I’m hesitant to admit that it took me at least half of the movie before I realized **spoiler** Matt’s ghost (Tom Felton) was indeed ED. It’s all woven together very carefully. Olivia (Troian Bellisario) believes that Matt shows back up to help her through life, when in actuality Matt is her ED voice, controlling her every move.

The power Matt/ED has over her was all too familiar – the constant nagging, pitting the world against her, telling her she doesn’t need the food, telling her that without him, she would be nothing, telling her she’s not sick – these are all very real ideas that ED can drill into a brain. It was intense to be on the outside looking in.

Overall, I thought “Feed” was an incredibly powerful movie that more accurately displayed the mental side of ED.

After watching these two movies, I feel a little emotionally raw. Like seeing pictures of someone who was once a good friend enjoying spending time with someone else. I find myself missing the comfort of ED, especially in this uncertain transition period for D and I.

So, I am continuing to reflect on the question – “You didn’t always eat like this?” That question means the world to me – way more than my friend will probably ever know. It shows me how far I’ve come. It shows me my strength and courage. It prevents me from wanting to go back. It holds me steady. It proves that there is hope for growth and change.

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow