The last two weeks have been good. I've worked out 6 days out of 7 both weeks and ate healthily. I haven't binged, purged or starved myself. My fibro symptoms don't feel like the constant burning flames they usually do. I've had the dieters ideal couple of weeks, I've had my idea two weeks except it's still there. I didn't think 'it' would go away completely but I'm doing it the right way, the healthy way yet my old habits have been replaced by new ones making my eating disorders voice still as present. It happens every time, regardless of how I'm eating, the disorder adapts itself to whatever I'm doing.
It's there when I purposefully go to sleep late so I wake up late and I won't have to have breakfast because the thought of 3 full meals a day makes me feel sick. It's there whispering 5 more minutes when I'm at the gym, over and over again. It's there when I look in the mirror everyday and my hands automatically start pinching at the fat. It's there when I think about the amount of calories in everything I eat and if they're worth it. It's there when I work out how long I need to exercise to burn off at least half the calories I'll have consumed in a day. It's there when I do choose to indulge making me feel guilty for every bite. It's here as I write this, furiously picking at my skin and bringing tears to my eyes.
It's not here in the way it used to be though. It isn't here telling me to binge or to go buy a bunch of food. It isn't here telling me to have another biscuit because it doesn't matter. It isn't here telling me that I will be fat forever so I shouldn't work out or take care of myself. It's different. And I can't decide which voice I prefer. They both tell me I'm fat, worthless and my body will never be good enough yet they do it in such different ways. Ultimately, they're both horrible and both lead down a slippery slope. I'm trying my hardest to resist going down it but after 8 years of this, I know how it works.
The other day I was in the shop looking at alcohol, I had decided to go out that night. It was a bank holiday the next day and I just wanted to have some fun. I went early on in the day and spent over 25 minutes googling the amount of calories in certain drinks to then figure out how long I needed to exercise for. As I was doing it I knew it was crazy behaviour, I even laughed about it with a friend because I sounded so silly. But in the back of my head, IT was telling me a night of drinking would make the 4 pounds I had lost that week all come back. And I believed it. So I set out on a 4 mile walk. It was all a numbers game, I burnt 700 calories on my walk, calculated the walk home later that night and the dancing that would most likely occur to make sure I had burnt over 1,000 calories that day. And yes, I realise that isn't how most people would prep for a night out ;)
It's like that every single day, numbers flying around my head and silently whispering horrible things. I knew it wasn't going to go away in 2 weeks of living "normally" but I've stopped binging and that's a huge victory for me. Yet if I've been restricting then maybe I'm not being a healthy as I think I am. But at what point do I admit it's a problem? The voice is so incredibly powerful. More powerful than people could imagine possible. Some of the things I do may seem like poor choices but I am not underweight or malnourished or critically ill so it's okay, right?
I'm eating healthily and exercising. I'm eating healthily and exercising. I'm eating healthily and exercising. I have said this to myself over 20 times today to silence the voice and as a way of proving to myself that I'm okay. Except I haven't eaten healthily, my only full meal today was dinner and even then I wondered how many calories I was consuming. It's a constant war between knowing how to lose weight the healthy way but my disorder knowing how to do it faster. I'm sure tomorrow will be a normal day. It comes and goes in phases, much like everything else. This, this right now is not a relapse, I tell myself. It is simply a bad phase and they're destined to happen.
That's the thing about eating disorders, it's always at the point when you feel most in control that you really start losing it and realise you never had any of the power. Maybe I haven't got this under control...
Some time after I had recovered from the darkest depths of my depression I began to have this sense of urgency in finding a meaning for the suffering. To me, there had to be a reason because why on earth life would throw me this great big hurdle that ruined my life for no reason. I couldn’t understand it. I had spent the best part of a year not feeling anything but emptiness and suddenly emotions just came pounding down on me. I had finally got my head above the water again but coming back to reality after the depression is just as hard as the suffering. It still is.
Over a year later, I feel like I am still trying to grieve for everything I lost. Often times when I wake up, I have to consciously make the effort to not think about “where I should be” or what I “should” be doing. I get tiny moments of defeat thinking of what depression took from me. It took my friends, chance of going to university with the rest of my peers, travelling and much more. I know living in the past contributes to depressed feelings but it can be so emotionally draining to pretend that I’m not angry. I’m angry with myself, I’m angry at my brain and most times, just plain old angry at the universe. It doesn’t get me anywhere; I know that, yet my mind can’t seem to forgive itself. Sometimes anger is just anger- it's not a feeling that is masking any sadness, it's the sense of knowing what could have been and desperately trying to move forward.
Pain wants to be felt, it lets us know something is wrong. But the brain is different; we push this pain away because it doesn’t demand our attention until it has taken things away from us. I didn’t care about my life or its worth until suddenly I was overcome with desperation to live it. We see in films how a tragic event brings people together and gives people a new sense of life but in reality that's not what happens. I didn't reach some miraculous epiphany on how to live my life to the fullest because I had suffered.
Depression was nearly the end for me. And now here I am convincing myself that I can’t of come that close to death and it not mean anything. I wish I could say it has inspired me to fulfil my dreams but it hasn’t. I wish I could say it has convinced me to get healthy but it hasn’t (although having fibromyalgia has done that!). I wish I could say it hasn’t made me bitter but it has. I’m a good person. I can say that with no guilt or shame. But am I a much better person for what I’ve been through? I don't think so. Stronger, most definitely. But it’s made me weary of the future, it’s made me angry and I’m no longer the carefree person I used to be.
Maybe there isn't ever going to be a clear meaning. I am not the type of person that believes everything happens for a reason, I wish I was but I don't. I believe that some things will never have a reason for happening and they are just simply crap. Depression was/is utter crap. Yes, it's taught me many things but that doesn't mean I always think there was a reason for it.
So I begin the search to find myself again. Not to find a specific meaning but to find me. The new me. Maybe this year of hell isn’t going to have meant anything other than I’m strong and depression is the worst thing ever. But a part of me believes good will come out of this and that good will be finding myself and who I really want to be without depression on my back. I’m a believer and depression didn’t take that away from me. I go through life with a hopeless sense of optimism that I’m going to find my way someday. My day may not be here yet but I will get there. I believe I can become a better person again. I also believe that at some point this suffering is going to have meant something.
I'm guessing most people who suffers from a mental illness has something they say to keep themselves going when it feels like the pain will never end. For me, I somehow keep my faith by saying "maybe tomorrow". Maybe tomorrow I'll achieve everything I set out to do, maybe tomorrow I'll wear nice clothes and make up, maybe tomorrow I'll go to dinner with friends, maybe tomorrow I'll bake, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up feeling refreshed, maybe tomorrow I'll manage to will myself out of bed before 12, maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe, just maybe, I'll feel happy. The thought of a better tomorrow carries me through my current day. If I can hang on to the hope that tomorrow could be the day it all starts to get better, then I have no reason to give up today. Although in the back of my head, there is a list of a thousand reasons to pack it in. But if I can keep the positivity of a better tomorrow, then I can power through my day, no matter how difficult it feels to move and breath.
Maybe tomorrow sounds like an excuse to not try in the moment, I know, but sometimes I'm so caught up in not being able to do something that saying maybe tomorrow gives me courage that I could achieve it, not today but tomorrow. Often my "tomorrows" aren't really the next day, sometimes they're weeks later. But when I finally achieve something that has taken weeks of saying "maybe tomorrow", I get a huge sense of success and relief. Relief because I could do it, eventually. Relief because I didn't give up. Relief that although my mental illness stops me from achieving many things, that one day it didn't.
There is no magic cure for depression and anxiety, nor would I want it because having to fight makes me stronger, or so I hope. Sometimes my "maybe tomorrow" is filled with broken promises, guilt, and sadness. But, they are always said with strength and optimism. My brain, mentally and physically, can't handle everything, every single day. However, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up with a smile.
When I decided to start a blog, I had completed every process before deciding a name. It's something that took me over an hour to think of and even then, I wasn't sure that Maybe Tomorrow was going to be the right name. I sat here designing things and writing my first post, trying out different names but I kept coming back to it. I worried it wasn't clear enough or didn't make sense but then came to realise my blog name had to mean something to me. And Maybe Tomorrow does.
It might not scream mental health in your face and I don't think you can necessarily know from the name what my blog is about. But it offers a sense of hope and that above anything is what I want this blog to be. Somewhere that you can come and feel like you aren't battling this all on your own. There is hope and there is life during depression, you just have to stick through the dark times to get to the days filled with sunshine.
I'm sat on the tube going to meet my mum and some family friends for lunch and I'm waiting for that tiny little voice in my head to start pounding my brain with fear. On days when I really put all my energy into helping myself I can use some of my CBT techniques to calm myself down but some situations always bring out an intense anxiety that no amount of coping strategies will help, for me travelling is one of those things.
"There's a suitcase over there, no one is touching it and loads of people have gotten on and off"
I'm starting to scan all the people sat by it, willing my brain to try and figure out who's it is as my anxiety starts feeding itself off my fear. I start tapping my leg and picking at my lips. I'm looking for anything, a quick touch of the suitcase, a glance in its direction. Anything to acknowledge whose it might be.
"There's definitely a bomb in it. You should get off the train, Jasmine. You know I'm right, just get off at the next stop."
My leg tapping gets quicker and my eyes are darting from one side of the train to the other. I'm now worrying that people are looking at me weirdly. I desperately try to focus on the music playing in my headphones but it isn't loud enough to drown the voice in my head. I start debating whether I should get off at the next stop.
"No wait, don't get off because then the whole plan of the journey is derailed. We spent time this morning worrying about being on time and everything going to plan."
My mind is racing, do I feed into my anxiety and get off the train or do I push through it so I don't screw up my journey? Suddenly I notice the next stop is mine. Ok, one more stop and all this is sorted. What are the chances of anything going wrong within one stop, I mean really? I stand up and move my way through the crowds of people to get by the door. I can feel my breathing changing and I'm willing myself to calm down before a panic attack starts. Finally I'm off and for just a second all my fears have vanished, I can breath.
"You're such an idiot, why on earth did you think there was a bomb on that suitcase? You know you shouldn't listen to me, I'm always wrong but you're stupid enough to fall for it every time."
And so starts the next phase, the beating myself up over what just happened. This one lasts the longest and is often the most painful. You see, I know all my anxieties are irrational and I know the likelihood of them actually happening is pretty slim but it's that tiny chance they could that gets me every damn time. There's a voice inside my brain that overtakes my whole body and makes me believe every whisper it utters. I try my very best but anxiety's voice is a powerful one.
Next time you see a nervous mess of a person, don't stare because you don't know the demons they are battling. Offer a reassuring smile and continue doing whatever it was that you were doing before their fierce leg tapping caught your attention.
Hey there, I'm Jasmine, your average 20 year old working as a nanny and play assistant. Maybe Tomorrow follows my journey living with mental health issues and chronic pain, all whilst trying to have some fun along the way.
Follow the blog on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest below....