Yesterday I reread almost all of my diary-style entries from 2007-2010. The way I wrote was less creative or story-telling and more what was happening that day or week. When I first started reading them I closed out a couple times without even getting through an entire post. I was so embarrassed by my younger self. Then, I realized I was so consumed with eating disorder thoughts that the only words I could even type were eating disordered. What a judgmental, critical, harsh, egotistical, bitch!
I don’t even think I could see how harsh I was being on myself. I think I thought it was actually helping me succeed in life.
As soon as I realized that, a little compassion came to the table for my 18-22 year-old-self. Today, after sleeping on it, I feel quite a bit of grief for all the time stolen by my eating disorder from 13-years-old to now.
Even more amazing is the fact, as evidenced in those old entries, I could not access my emotions. At all. I was completely blind to any trauma. I even said multiple times what a perfect life I had and how I have no valid reasons to struggle with disordered eating. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to be anxious. And I could not for the life of me understand why my chest hurt and I couldn’t breath (panic attacks). I thought the depression and suicide ideation was because I wasn’t thin enough, and once I liked my body, those would disappear.
Upon recognizing all of this, I became angry, too. Isn’t it kind of unethical to agree to treat someone with an eating disorder and not address trauma? Isn’t it A LOT ignorant to assume the reasons of my eating disorder were simply underlying mood disorders, lack of spirituality, or college running pressure? Three separate reasons I was told by three separate counselors in that time frame a decade ago. It makes me angry that those people in helping professions refused to acknowledge they didn’t have the expertise to help me (or they were unaware, which almost seems worse because then what did they even learn in school and how many other people were psychologically harmed!?). And when I reached the time limit (12 weeks in one case, maternity leave in another, I left the others after 3 sessions because it was that bad), I was magically well enough to not deserve a referral? I know that I wanted, so badly, to be done and be well, but could no one read through the perfectionist people-pleasing part of me that would have done anything to look like I achieved success in the allotted time?
Maybe that’s asking too much. No one is a mind reader. But aren’t mental health professionals trained to be aware of all that? Trained to know the red flags for trauma? Trained to know when they don’t specialize in an issue that needs specialization or at least supervised experience to be ethically treated?
It all sort of makes me sick to think about. I went a very long time–8 years–before I tried to get help again. Followed by another 3 years before I THANK GOD, thank God, thank God, found legitimate help.
Dear Diary, I do not hate myself. I don’t hate my younger self. I was surviving. I didn’t have access to proper helpers. And I couldn’t help myself because I still needed to survive.