An Eating Disorder Relapse

An Eating Disorder Relapse

So here’s to starting over. Here is to day one of being symptom free again.
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I should have called.

I knew he would have stopped me, even from miles away.

My eating disorder and familiar foe, Ed, knew that as well. What was earlier a sweet victory bowl of ice cream in celebration of a symptom-free month soon became a tinted binge. We stuffed and shoveled as a I felt my 40 days free from Ed coming to an end.

I should have called.

But Ed sang his sweet siren song of freedom.

"Purge," he sang. "Purge and be free from the hurt and the fear of being alone after being discharged from treatment."

I should have called.

Each spoonful becoming more tasteless as this bowl of ice cream became less of a late night delight and more of Ed's controlling binge.

I should have called.

He would have stopped me, Ed knew this and sang his siren song louder.

"It's just a bowl of ice cream," he sang. "Everyone eats ice cream!"

"Indulge," he sang. "You deserve this after how hard it was during those 40 days without me."

With that, he captured me with his siren song and I began to eat spoonful after spoonful of what once was a happy childhood treat, now turned to Ed's binge food.

Keep going Ed sang. My stomach tightened and began to hurt from being overly full. Never the less, I kept shoveling spoonful after spoonful until...

My spoon reached the bottom of the carton and Ed began to sing a different tune.

I should have called.

As I stared at the bottom of the carton, I felt Ed’s lyrics of worthlessness sink in. Sitting alone in this unfamiliar house, motionless on the kitchen floor, my world slowed. The realization my 40 days of being symptom free were coming to an end at this very moment.

I was falling too fast to catch myself or even reach out for help.

I should have called.

Ed took advantage of my vulnerability and sang his familiar song louder and louder.

I walked to the bathroom on autopilot. I turned on the sink faucet, drank in the key to my freedom, and felt the defeat as it all came back out. Right then and there, my symptom-free streak ended.

Waves upon waves came out as Ed sang praises to empty my stomach into the porcelain.

And when it was all finally over, Ed was silent, nowhere to be found. Ed left me with my thoughts of despair and failure after my first relapse since finishing treatment.

And that’s when I finally called.

But it was too late, Ed’s siren call had ended.

Ed had left me empty, worthless and defeated.

Causing my loved ones to be disappointed and angry.

40 days of being symptom-free and Ed defeated me with a bowl of ice cream.

After tonight, I can't promise I won’t relapse again.

But I can promise that I will learn.

And what I learned from this relapse is that next time Ed sings his siren song, call.

Ed can not take away my 40 days symptom-free, I won’t let him.

So here is to starting over and to day one of being symptom free again.

He may have won this battle but God willing, I will win this war.

Cover Image Credit: Pexel

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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Chronic Pain Can Ruin Your Life If You Don't Have The Right Support

The pain makes everything else stop.

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Chronic pain can stem from many disorders and even from mental illnesses. In many people, levels of pain vary throughout the day and depending on the person's pain threshold can affect them in different ways. However, understanding that chronic pain is diverse in its effect on different individuals is important. Chronic pain is often not visible externally, so unlike many other disabilities, there is no visual symbol like a cane or unique features that would indicate what is often an enduring and challenging to deal with ache.

Chronic pain is something that affects a person's appetite, mood, and ability to focus/do productive tasks.

This lack of functionality often leads the a struggle to find the motivation to keep going with one's day and pursue one's goals. People often lose friendships and a sense of social life due to constant isolation. This only further deteriorates one's ability to find fulfillment in one's life. It is a ruthless circle of pain.

To have a nonvisual impairment can be very difficult to explain and be taken seriously. And often, one can be perceived as whining if the person who witnesses a person in chronic pain is not aware of symptoms. So, if you see someone who does not look elderly or pregnant sitting in a seat on a train or bus meant for disabled persons, do not assume they are abusing the system.

Many of the causes of chronic pain are disorders that can never be 100 percent corrected or cured, which means the only method of surviving and prospering is trying to create a support system that is relenting and constantly encouraging because chronic pain is more often than not very demoralizing. It is also important to have a drug schedule that manages pain reasonably and is approved by a medical professional.

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