I know I have been worse than negligent about posting on this blog for the past two-plus years. But it’s never too late to take a deep breath, turn the key in the ignition and get moving again, is it?
Times have changed, and now this blog needs a more sustainable fuel. Just like with the post-industrial era: Gasoline was once adequate, but now we know that relying on a fuel made up of dinosaur corpses can only lead to our own desperate asphyxiation as the last drips run out. Similarly (though less tragically for the world), my food creations have been running dry as I’ve started college and become more interested in writing, ocean conservation, and other activities. Therefore, WordPress-gods willing, I’m hoping to reinvigorate this blog with posts of a different nature, focused primarily on growing an actively positive relationship with the self and the world.
To be honest, I have had a hard time figuring out how to be an adult human. To be totally, brutally honest, I never really figured out how to be a teenage human either. Even during the three years or so of high school when I was frequently blogging on “True Healthy Me,” I sometimes felt hypocritical. I feared I was writing as a fake, 2-dimensional impostor, trying to shield the Internet’s eyes from the unsightly grease that slimed up the hidden corners of my brain’s back-room machinery. I know I am far from the only 21st century human to experience dissonance between my Internet self, real self, and the “ideal” self somewhere in between.
That’s not to say I was fantasizing myself entirely from thin air. I did make a lot of progress in my first year of recovery from my eating disorder – I stopped starving myself and then worked to stabilize some body systems which had been thrown somewhat off track. But when I reached a comfortable threshold, I stagnated.
I was living an okay life through Sophomore, Junior, and early Senior year, calculating my calories every day – several times a day – nine to seventeen permutations per calculating session, plus the background murmurs numbering my mind throughout the day… I was not losing or gaining weight, so I looked and felt “cured.” But there was (and is) still some work to be done. I was not yet comfortable with eating in various social situations. My need to calculate – and yes, it was a need in my brain – suffocated my lifestyle flexibility. You can imagine it might be inconvenient to have to bring a measuring cup to a friend’s house for dinner, and how some hosts might take it the wrong way when you “didn’t want any” pizza or cake at a birthday party.
But in order to feel safe, I needed to close the doors between myself and many opportunities that might have enriched my life. I avoided many restaurants and didn’t dare dream of dating guys; domestic and foreign travel was basically ruled out, as was hosting my own parties or even saying yes to most invitations from others. My careful homeostasis kept me (apparently) sane, but this effect only worked when the world around me was standing still. The world usually doesn’t stay still, so in practice I refused to participate in its moving parts. I did try to get more flexible with food and counting – at least, my conscious mind intended to try at the beginning of each new dietician or therapy assignment – but it was like asking a hermit crab to come out of its shell and dance naked on a table. Not even with a lampshade over my head was I about to take up that challenge.
I always knew I wanted to go to college, or at least I had always preferred it to the alternatives, or my parents convinced me that I did. To orchestrate this major transition, towards the end of Senior year, I finally said yes to the proposition that had been nipping at my heels all along: prescription medication. Prescribed to me, of course (I’m not a drug abuser, thankfully!) The last summer before college was a quest against the clock for a pill that would make me relatively normal. Happily, by the end of August, I had found one: the antidepressant enabled me to take in some fresh air, throw the post-its and calculators into a corner (sort of) and take off in that plane from Los Angeles to Portland to meet my roommate (shudder) and see if I could do this college thing like I was supposed to.
I adjusted quickly. But I was not ready to give up on the negativity that had kept me safe from an inner enemy for years. As a result, I eventually found my outlook on life slipping. Mild depression that had been lurking unaddressed in the recesses of my skull for who knows how long, now roared up like traffic at rush hour. Progress – or my perception of it – trickled to a frustrating red crawl. In these days, I had trouble staying awake; I refused to sit with anyone at meals or go to very many social events; I obsessed over a jerk who would never like me back, a traumatic experience that eventually left me doubting that any human connection was worth my energy. By the end of Freshman year in college, I was so afraid of other people that I would cringe when I walked past tall jocks who could crush me with their lacrosse biceps; I would start crying at the smallest provocation. Then for a while I didn’t really cry at all, just kind of glared out at the world from my colorless inner space while inside I still secretly, paradoxically, dreamed of participating in it.
After transporting my heavy corpse home for the summer, I went and got my diagnosis for moderate to severe depression and for social anxiety. I also got some new pills that were supposed to help me stay awake. Part of my constant fatigue, I was told, could be a result of the antidepressant that was calming the awakening neurons in my brain which had also triggered much of my anxiety. So I took a new pill on top of the original pill, in order to counteract the fatiguing effect, but the newer pill threatened to add anxiety back into my daily regimen. This perilous system has sort of been working for a while, but it still has its flaws.
A certain amount of stress and searching is normal for a young adult, or for anyone going through a transition in their life (so old wise folks have told me.) My journey was no different from that of billions of other people throughout history. It’s just that at a certain point I decided not to put up with this elevated level of stress that was making it impossible for me to grow. This decision is not unusual either, but it could and should be even more usual. If we are all facing the same direction we should not see ourselves as standing alone.
I started this blog during my first year of recovery from a disorder that resembled anorexia nervosa. My initial goal here was to communicate a healthy mindset to readers anywhere and everywhere: It is possible to be happy with yourself, you can stop trying to destroy yourself to fit some useless standard constructed by other sick girls, and it is possible to feel good about yourself while eating enough to fuel your brain and your body. I ended up transmitting that message (very, very subtly!) through the recipes that were my main posting content. Starting now, I plan to center back onto the blog’s original intention, focusing more on the mindset aspect than the physical aspect. (There will still be some recipes, just probably a larger proportion of short inspirational quotes and real-life talk.)
Furthermore, I want to articulate a new layer of that original mission: the intention to rehabilitate my own brain, possibly inspiring outside observers along the way. I am slowly (re)learning to be and practice love, of myself and my surroundings and the world I live in, complete with all flaws. I am learning to move past my old unsustainable belief that the only way to be special was to make myself sick. I am done thinking the only way for a girl to find love was to fall distressingly into the arms of a knight in shining armor, asking for nothing but weeping for external validation and a ring.
I believe in women, men, and everything outside or in between those gender constructions. I believe that all beings are people and that we humans have a lot to learn from members of other phylogenetic families that love themselves and others without question and live their lives without waste. I believe that no individual can take all of the world’s problems onto their shoulders alone, which is why people have to unite in search of mutual compassion, freedom, and honesty. We need to forge a path forward to an older style of existence in harmony with the planet, to heal it and our lives which can only exist inside its unique atmosphere.
To facilitate all of the preceding beliefs, I believe that love starts within oneself. It is not accorded to us by some outside authority. It is not rationed out based on our physical attractiveness, our talents, our birthrights, or our psychological disorders. Love comes from trying the best we can to light the intention for happiness within ourselves first. Then we will be able to light the way for others. Finally, in the distant future, when people do reach the end of the path to a healthy relationship with Earth – there will be more path still ahead. Always there should be something for the human being to do; we would have to evolve into a different species to lose our need to create and discover and belong in our environment. Hmm… Perhaps we will get gills or grow extra legs at some point… For now, however, that’s way beyond the scope of this blog. Maybe check back in some hundred million years?
In the meantime, I hope you stay tuned. Look out for regular snippets of encouragement to search for our truest lights and extinguish the false fluorescence of chronic unhappiness.