The Story of Ed, the Voice in My Head

This is the first time I have decided to write in almost 8 months. I haven’t had the most enthusiastic attitude for writing, but now that I do, I am ready to share another difficult aspect of my life and C-PTSD recovery. His name is Ed. He has been in my head for as long as I can remember and he has tried destroying my body, every hour, of every day.

It was not until about May of 2019, that I realized Ed had been controlling my mind. He had been there for every critique in eating and my own body. He made me starve my beautiful body that deserved the uttermost care. This is when I became aware of my Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is a mental illness, similar to depression, as that is also a factor of it. Many people seem to stereotype anorexia as a “choice,” but it is quite the opposite. Imagine two voices in your head; your mind/body/soul as one and a lying, tempting thief as the other. I refer to this other voice as Ed, because it makes it easier to differentiate the two, specifically when I am struggling.

Anorexia is an eating disorder, in which, the mind is brainwashed to believe that ones’ body is imperfect in every possible way. Ed made me believe that I was fat, that I was everything but beautiful, that I was not worth anyone’s attention, and most of all, that I had to follow his rules to be happy. Ed told me that if I starved myself, I would be happy. It was a triumph whenever my clothes became to big and I had to buy new ones. There was a celebration in my mind when I skipped a meal or went to bed hungry. What’s wrong with going to bed a little hungry anyways? Well, this all eventually added up to the point my body began turning purple, my anxiety/depression where significantly worse, and all I could think about was what I was going to do for my next meal or if I would even have one.

Along with Anorexia, I also became aware of my binge eating disorder. A binge eating disorder is categorized as a disorder in which one obsessively eats, and cannot stop. For example, typically I would starve myself most of the days and then some days I would eat an entire pint of ice cream or an entire bag of chips. It did not matter to Ed how full I already was, I kept eating. Ed told me I was disgusting after doing this, he bullied me everyday and every night. His logic being, if I binged yesterday, I should starve myself today. Everyday was a battle and I was so lost and confused. Why couldn’t I eat normally? Why was I so anxious about eating in general? Why couldn’t I fix it? The answer to all of these.. Ed.

When I finally became aware of my disorders, I reached out to family members and loved ones for support. It is nearly impossible to get through an eating disorder without emotional and physical support. I had siblings who were struggling in similar ways or ones who had been in the same position. The hardest part of reaching out for help, was Ed trying to pull me back from it. He continuously told me that I would be happy with the way I was eating and there was no reason to be asking for support. I eventually began to learn that I needed their support if I was going to get through this. I needed people to keep me accountable and tell me that they love me and how proud they are of me for small breakthroughs. I needed the kind of support that doesn’t give up but empathizes and sympathizes.

As a child and into teen years, my narcissist mother would buy me clothing items that were never my size. They were always smaller than my actual size so it was an indirect way of telling me I needed to starve myself to fit them. That is exactly what I did. For 18 years, I starved myself without thinking anything of it or thinking it was wrong. For 18 years, I watched my own mother as she starved herself some days and constantly changed her diets. Some days we didn’t even have dinner. We weren’t allowed snacks before dinner and if we did, it had to be monitored and small. During summer, we had to spend a certain amount of time outside before we were allowed to eat. We were forced into unhealthy habits, and in return, we were allowed to have meals we NEEDED.

A few months ago, I finally removed all of the clothing from my closet that has always been to small and would never fit again unless I starved myself. I had to buy a whole new wardrobe of clothing in a size I still wasn’t familiar in buying. In fact, I felt utter shame. Ed was right there in my head, taunting me and telling me that I was too big. Meanwhile, during the time I was extremely sick, people used to tell me I was too skinny or make jokes about how little I ate, or how I would fly off a motorcycle because I was too thin. A lot of these jokes were made in my work environment at the time. There was a specific joke that would go around about being “slender.” It was not only belittling, but also extremely unencouraging to my recovery. Hearing things like “you could fit into the smallest box here,” made me feel self-conscious and depressed.

It is NOT okay to make these kinds of jokes. It is NOT okay to comment on someone’s eating unless it is supportive and gentle because you are aware of what they are going through. It is NOT okay to assume what someone is going through. Anorexia, bulimia, pica, binge eating, and disordered eating are NOT choices. These are mental illnesses. People with these disorders are looking for answers in the dark. They need support. WE need support, unconditional love, compassion, and empathy. It is very possible to die from these disorders and it is something so terrifying for someone to go through alone. Out of all of this information, eating disorders are the same severity as someone with pneumonia or the flu. Self-love and compassion are two of the strongest components in working through these illnesses.

It is okay to breakdown. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to feel confused or lost. Nobody asks for an illness, but they do ask for unconditional love and support, that they may never have experienced before.

The Person Living In My Head

For as long as I can remember, I have always looked for aspects of myself that I should hate. These aspects are including physical and internal/emotional aspects. However, because I have been conditioned by my parents to criticize every detail about myself, I am just now learning how to validate these emotions.

Almost everyday of my life, I have changed my outfit multiple times a day. This was mostly because I had so much anxiety about what was appropriate to wear for certain occasions and what people would think of me. I have always found something about myself to be dissatisfying, in regards to the way I physically appear. This was an aspect my own mother made fun of me for. She knew the difficulties I had with my self-esteem and used it as a means to make me feel even worse about myself. She intentionally encouraged me to wear more revealing clothing. Along with this, she continuously tried to discourage me over the idea that I didn’t have a boyfriend. This recurring toxic shame caused a feeling of being unworthy of anyone’s attention, including my parents.

Furthermore, I also very clearly remember holding a smile back that showed my teeth when I was younger. My teeth were extremely crooked and I had always been self-conscious of it until I got braces in 5th grade. My piano teacher, at the time, had even asked me to smile for recital pictures. He also asked my mom about why I wouldn’t smile and in response, she would essentially tease me over it. I was self-conscious because of her.

As I continue to validate my feelings, I realize more and more about my self-critic. This critic in my head is always the voice of my mother. Until I recently removed her from my life, she deliberately tried to make me unhappy. For example, every year for Christmas/my birthday, she would give me something she knew I would hate. One time, she had gone to the beach and had come back with gifts for everyone. My gift from her was a razor with shaving cream because, at the time, I was in 5th grade and had expressed that I wanted to start shaving my legs. All of my other siblings received an actual gift and I received a necessity as a “gift.”

Recently, I’ve found it even more difficult to fall asleep. I’ve always had issues sleeping because of insomnia, but recently it’s because I am genuinely afraid of falling asleep. Typically, when I do fall asleep, I will have a nightmare with someone from my past who happens to make me uncomfortable. Most of the time this person being my mother. Although, she has been in my nightmares for years, my past few nightmares have included eye contact with her.

Due to the fact that I am still living at home and I am surrounded by past/current negative energy, it is particularly difficult to receive any kind of mental recovery. The past couple of weeks have revealed to me how serious depression is. I used to invalidate those feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. I’m finally learning to validate the feelings of my inner critic and my inner child. As a way to help cope with this, I like to place myself back into the mind of my younger self. I give myself feedback like, “You weren’t safe before, but now I will keep you safe,” or “you’re not alone.” Although, it has been particularly difficult recently, I know I can learn to protect and love myself more than what my parents have ever been capable of.

Neglect

As I continue to come to different realizations, they become more in-depth and detailed. I’m in the process of forcing myself to remember certain scenarios, along with how those scenarios made me feel. It’s brought up a lot of difficult emotions and becomes exhausting. Even though I’m fully aware that these realizations are a part of the healing process, it’s still one of the most challenging things I’ve had to work through. In regards to the recent flashbacks and realizations: they have all been centered around the idea of ‘neglect.’

Furthermore, as I’m getting older and continuing to mature, I’ve seen my childhood in a completely different light. In this perspective, I have come to realize how little my parents paid attention to me as a child and even more so now. I was taught for as long as I can remember that my feelings were invalid and I believed this to the point that I even began telling myself that my feelings were not real. Even as I work through difficult emotions with my therapist, they’ve had to stop me to tell me that I need to validate my own feelings because I’m still subconsciously invalidating them.

I remember growing up with health issues that were inhibiting me from reaching my fullest potential and I expressed this to my parents from a young age, but as I got older I learned not to say anything at all. Reason being, the invalidation from my parents, of what I was feeling. This goes along with physical health, as well as mental health. With that being said, my ability to notice these things from a young age has helped me mature and grow from the situation. However, it is still one of the most painful aspects about my childhood that I can recall so far.

Seeing as I’m still living in my house, it seems almost suffocating. I feel a significant difference in my house than I do in anyone else’s. It feels as though there is a weight on my chest and I’m unable to speak freely. Its difficult to be around family members constantly while also working through flashbacks of things that occured in this house. Although, I have made a lot of progress, I find it most challenging that I am treated the same way I’ve always been and I have absolutely no control over it. This concept of not being cared for in the way that a child needs is known as, neglect.

The Benefits Of A Sensory Deprivation Tank

While being in Colorado during the month of February, I not only had the opportunity to experience beautiful exhibits of nature, but I had the privilege to try out a sensory deprivation tank. For anyone unfamiliar with this kind of therapy, a sensory deprivation tank is in the form of a pod/tube with water and an abundance of epsom salt. The epsom salt that is within the water, allows the body to float effortlessly, while also providing proper support and a sense of relaxation.

My first experience with a sensory deprivation tank, was a bit unsettling at first. I was placed in a room that provided a shower with shampoo/conditioner/body wash, a toilet, a couple towels, and the floatation tank. The tank was in the form of a tube and looked rather intimidating at first glance. However, after the process of removing clothes, putting in ear plugs, showering with shampoo/body wash, I climbed into the tank and prepared for one of the most relaxing experiences of my life.

This experience included a complete cutoff from any external stimuli and with the ability to float, the body is in an effortless mode of relaxation. As I had been practicing meditation for months leading up to this, I found it easy to ascend into a peaceful mindset. I focused only on my being in the isolation tank and found myself in a state of complete relaxation. With this being said, it did take a little bit to adjust and find the most comfortable position to float in. Another thing that was difficult, was the idea of being in a small space. But I was able to ease my mind by thinking only of the breath and the relief I would feel afterwards.

After a ninety minute session, stepping out of the isolation tank I had felt almost magical. I felt a sense of weight and pressure completely lifted from my chest. I could feel myself glowing and felt a sense of peace and contentment. After this session, I made it a priority to look into this kind of therapy in York, Pennsylvania. Seeing that I prefer natural remedies over any kind of medication, I found it best to invest in a monthly membership with an organization providing sensory deprivation tanks.

Furthermore, the benefits that the isolation tank had on my anxiety and C-PTSD, are unmatched compared to anything else I have tried. The sensory deprivation tank, after three total sessions, has improved the following: focus, insomnia, creativity, intuition, stress/anxiety/depression relief, and clarity. These are just examples of how it has improved my health, but it benefits people in many different ways. I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with anything similar to what I’ve struggled with. Seeing as medication is always a gamble, the sensory deprivation tank provides one with a sense of clarity in many aspects. But the most important being that medications are only crutches and true relief comes through natural remedies and realization.

The Handmaid’s Tale

By Margaret Atwood

Summary:

This story is based around a dystopian world, in which women are used simply for their ability to give birth. Women are constricted to a home with several other women, all in the hopes that they may have a child. For in this society, having a child was considered to be the most respected position for a woman. The main character of this novel, is conflicted between betraying the society or completely leaving behind the slightest glimpse of freedom she has. This story projects the independence of a woman, as well as her ability to break societal norms with pure confidence.

My opinion:

I personally really enjoyed this novel, as it portrayed a restricted, dystopian world. Along with this aspect, the main character is placed in a position in which whatever decision she made, was publicly judged. With that being said, the main character breaks away from every societal normal to find what suits her desires most. However, breaking societal norms is seen as basically breaking the law. This leaves the main character with a scenario, in which, she prioritizes her own needs and desires before anyone else, this being the first and most dramatic way of doing so.

This novel, leaves the audience in suspense and anticipation, as it is an open-ended conclusion. It is written from a point of view that makes it nearly impossible to ignore. It is particularly compelling due to the fact that the author is able to make connections between modern day society and this dystopian-world stance on society. The readers are able to make connections and assumptions based off of how it made them feel. It is broken down in a way that is not seen as overly graphic or harsh, but is seen as a fierce break for freedom. Seeing as the chapters were shorter than typical novels, it encourages the reader to continue through the story.

Rating:

9/10

Flashbacks: Remembering the Pain and Overcoming It

I am creating this post for two reasons, one being the idea that I am able to create a detailed image of what exactly happened during my childhood. The second reasoning, being the idea that I am still working through these memories and it is important that I understand how certain situations made me feel. The more I think about my childhood, the more dramatic & insane it looks to me. I want to make it clear that I am not creating this as a bashing against any family members, but simply as an outlet for myself.

As I continue working through C-PTSD and the flashbacks that come with it, there is a specific memory that keeps sticking out to me. It is certainly not the most violent and dramatic, but, this memory is one that includes my mom following me around the house while yelling hostile and hurtful words. This specific conflict arose over summer, when I began defending myself and siblings more often and confidently. My mother and I were already having several issues and I had communicated with her that I wasn’t going to stay silent about them but that I also needed space. Seeing as she is incapable of civil, intellectual conversation, she never understood these needs. What I write below is every detail that I have been able to pick out from the situation fully from my perception…

I remember earlier in the day I had communicated with my mother about something in regards to the well-being of my siblings, & she used this as a means to verbally abuse me. I went to work shortly after our argument and my mother texted me a long message, expressing how I needed to start being a better influence and that my negativity was affecting everyone in the house. At the time, I was working at Wyndridge Farm and when I received this text, I had to drop what I was doing then go to the bathroom so I could pull myself together. I cannot begin to explain how suffocating it is to have the urge to cry because of your own mother, while also being at work.

During the shift, I texted my best friend Sara and told her that I would be staying with her that night. I drove home from work in tears and I was only focused on going to my house, packing a few days worth of clothes and then leaving. However, this is not what happened. When I got home, my mom immediately followed me up the stairs and badgered me with questions, as to why I was so ‘unhappy,’ why I was so ‘cruel,’ why I wasn’t a better ‘influence,’ why I wasn’t more ‘put together,’ and why I wasn’t being more ‘helpful.’ Keep in mind, I was already practically parenting her kids at this point. As I continued moving to my room, I told my mom that I just needed space and that I wasn’t ready to talk.

Furthermore, it was at this point in the scenario in which she followed me into my room and continued to scream at me for starting so much drama and being so unhappy living there. I began hyperventilating and in between breaths, telling her to give me space. She stayed in front of me continuing to yell at me. I collapsed and my entire body was numb/tingling, while I kept my face in my hands. She told me I needed to get myself together and then left my room. I finished gathering my clothes and went over to Sara’s in a very distressed state of mind.

This situation is only an example of the kind of treatment I endured from my mother. There were many cases in which she was physically violent. Looking into her unremorseful face is what made this so damaging. My mother is the reason for the majority of my mental issues today and though I feel I have moved through a lot of it, I still have much more to work through. There are memories still to go through that cause me distress to think of. However, I find relief in sharing my experience and validating it. For the longest times, my emotions and personality type were seen as irrelevant and invalid.

When these flashbacks occur, I cannot predict how it will make me feel or for how long but it is typically unpleasant. It is mentally exhausting at times, seeing as I have no control over when it happens but I know that this is the single most important part of my healing process: remembering the pain & overcoming it.

Finding Contentment through Mental Recovery

Over the course of the past two weeks, I have made it a goal of mine to specifically focus on my own well-being. As I have expressed thoroughly on this page, the source of most of my anxiety is having constant concerns about my siblings and whether or not they’re okay. To an extent, it is okay to worry about others, but what I failed to realize for a while, was the idea that one must also focus on themselves.

At the beginning of February, I was experiencing a level of anxiety in which I had never experienced before. Each day, I found myself realizing more, and with this, it brought many unpleasant flashbacks and memories. Seeing that I struggle with C-PTSD, these flashbacks caused anxiety attacks and a suffocating feeling of not being able to stop myself from crying. I did not understand why I was experiencing these things so frequently, and did everything to remove them from my thoughts. I had made so many positive changes to my life, including; meditating, eating healthier, therapy, exercising daily, hydrating, yoga, proper sleep schedule, spending time outdoors, and spending time alone. I was at a point, in which, I thought this feeling would simply never end.

During the time in which I was experiencing this level of anxiety, I found it best fit to remove myself from the environment I was in. That environment, being my own home. This was rather confusing for many individuals to understand, considering I had already made many other positive changes in my life, however, it was a necessary change to make. This change in environments, was truly necessary because I obviously did not see the toxic pattern in which I failed to differentiate my own needs, from the needs of others. However, I was able to differentiate the emotions between either. I felt so overwhelmed with the idea of not being able to help all of my siblings, that I forgot to love myself in the way I needed it most.

As I began planning for this change in environments, I considered admitting myself to a mental health facility. This is something that I would never have even considered, until I had reached the point that I did. I felt so at a loss and such a need to be completely alone, that I contemplated isolating myself completely from society. Overall, the idea sounded appealing to me because though I had never experienced being in a mental health facility, I needed more than anything, to be alone. I mentally and physically could not handle the pressure I was experiencing. It was at this point, I decided to confide in one of my closest friends; Cat Zeranski.

I discussed with Cat the point I was at in my life, and the love that both, her and her family showed me, is too great for words. They showed me an endless amount of support and love, as they knew my situation and realized the importance it was for me to get mentally back on track. I truly cannot explain the amount of appreciation I have for this family, because during the time I was there, I learned what it truly meant to take care of myself. Certainly, I was doing many things to physically rejuvenate myself but my mental state was deteriorating every other asset in my life. I returned all of my belongings home yesterday, and though the environment is not as comforting as the one of Cats family, I reached a point in which I have found pure bliss and contentment.

After the week and a half, in which I was away from home, I was able to focus solely on my mental recovery. Though I still have mental obstacles to work through, I am finding more and more each day that I am beyond capable of this. I am truly content & seeing as I am still living at home, this feeling will only grow once I move out of my house. A specific goal I have at the moment, is moving out. As much discouragement that I have gotten, I am so excited & determined. There is a true misunderstanding between my level of capability and the credibility that I receive from family members, teachers, and coworkers. But thats okay, because I am happy and doing well, which is something I have never been able to say, up until this point, completely truthfully.