For those who don’t know, or who didn’t see my post explaining the three states of mind, I personify my emotion mind since she’s usually the one taking control. Her name is Sasha. She’s a sly fox, a devil in disguise, and of course, she’s drop dead gorgeous. Her goal in life is to hurt me, make me jealous, spiteful, unhealthy, and impulsive. So far, she’s done a pretty good job of it. This #MentalHealthMonday is my middle finger to her.
Lately Sasha has been in my head non-stop. She’s been convincing me that I’m not good enough. Not talented enough. Not pretty enough. I’m technically underweight and yet Sasha tells me I’m not thin enough. She sees all the fat that hangs from my bones and puts a fun house filter on my eyes when I look in the mirror. She convinces me that food is unsafe and will do me harm. For a long time, she convinced me to lie about these feelings. To my friends, family, and treatment team, I was on the road to recovery; progressing steadily. On the inside, however, Sasha was telling me that if I told anyone my secret, they would make my life a living hell. They’d force me to eat, step me back up in care, and ultimately, judge me for not being the perfect patient. So for weeks I stayed silent. This past weekend, however, I think Sasha needed to get a drink of water after spending so much time yelling at me. During the silence of her sips I could hear the whisper of my wise mind telling me to come clean and that things will be better when I do. Within a split second, Sasha was back, jumping up and down, ready for a fight.
I clung to that small voice, though; the one telling me I could do it successfully. I could be honest. So I reached out to a few friends from my ED program and confessed to them. They were completely understanding, and encouraged me to share what I was going through with my therapist. Sasha threw a temper tantrum. But even so, my wise mind’s voice got a little louder.
Sasha gets scared easily. Usually it’s because she feels like the spotlight is no longer on her, or when I witness bravery in others and feel inspired to be brave myself. Sasha does not want me to be brave. She needs me dependent on her, otherwise she will waste away in the back corner of my mind. One morning at clinic, before breakfast, one of my friends- a fellow patient- stood up, marched to the middle of the room, and lay her sneakers down in front of us. Crying, she said that she was giving the shoes to her therapist so that she would not be tempted by her eating disorder any more.
It was the bravest thing I had ever seen. Someone not so different from me stood up, said to her disorder “I choose life, I choose freedom,” and willingly gave up the most secure, comfortable, unhealthy part of her. I could see how hard it was on her face. And I could see the hope that shone through the hurt and despair. I will never forget that moment. The memory is burned into my brain, never to be removed.
I felt Sasha shudder that morning. Bravery was not something she wanted me to get accustomed to. Bravery meant I could stand up to her, to fight for my right to be happy and healthy. It was because of that recollection of bravery that I reached out to my therapist on a Saturday night and admitted that I wasn’t ok. That Sasha had tricked me, and was continuing to lie to me about my worth. As soon as I let the truth slip, Sasha created a storm in my head. Regret, self-hatred, and hopelessness flooded my mind, and I wished I could take it all back. I was comfortable in my disorder. I was on track to lose the weight I wanted to lose, and I stopped myself. It was difficult to separate Sasha from myself that night. To realize that what I had done was brave, and that I was taking back control of my life and my body and my health.
As you can imagine, Sasha is not pleased that I am showing her hand to all of you. She knows that this means it will be harder for her to lie to me, to seduce me back over to the dark side. And to that I say: Screw you, Sasha. It’s time for you to sit down and knit a f#cking sweater.
(I swear I had this drafted and ready to go before the clock struck midnight, but then I had to be an adult and finish my taxes. It’s only 90 minutes after Monday, so I’m still counting it as a #MentalHealthMonday post. Try and stop me.)