Warning: This post may be triggering to some, so please proceed with caution.
After my post last week for Bell Let's Talk Day, I was blown away by the messages of love, support, and people sharing their own stories of their journeys with me. But what I loved most were the questions you sent! So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to answer some of the more common ones.
Anyway, let's just jump right into it, shall we?
You've talked before about having an eating disorder. Are you recovered?
I've had an eating disorder since I was about six years old. It stems from being sexually assaulted for three years. It wasn't until shortly after I turned 21 that people found out about it. I was a binge/purger type, with some days it was more about the binge than purging. Bulimia and binge eating were my diagnoses, and I went into a three-month treatment program in Guelph, Ont. for it. Fast-forward 12 years later, it's still a daily struggle. I pick at my body. I look at my collar bone constantly (trying to stop this), some days I forget to eat, other days I'm so stressed that I binge to feel better. Since my stint in rehab, I've had my slips, I can't deny that. Recently, that slip was becoming more of a slide and I took the steps I needed to stay on the course of recovery. I will never be fully recovered. It's like with any addiction (drugs or alcohol), it's a constant struggle but I have to fight the good fight because I know it's worth it.
Are you afraid of your boss or future employers finding out about your "issues"?
Yes and no. This is something I've always struggled with. How much is too much sharing? For me, this blog is a place for me to just be myself. No mask, no filter, just raw. To some, that's a little much, and to them, I say there are billions of other webpages you can go to lol. But in all honesty, I've been very open, honest and vocal about my struggles and my journey since rehab. I consider it as part of my recovery. Now, I also talk about other stuff on this blog (and probably should think about posting some more lighthearted stuff soon - open for recommendations lol), but I can't portray sunshine, rainbows and lollipops all the time.
I'm beyond fortunate that my boss has also been a bit of a confidant for me when it comes to opening up about my mental health in the workplace. I've opened up to her about my "mask," the struggles I have with food and taking ownership for when I'm just having a day where I'm not winning the battle. I can't even begin to tell you how much she means to me for letting me be my true self with her.
As for future employers, being in PR, I know the importance of your personal brand and your presence online. This is part of me. This is who I am. Whether they read about it now or learn about it when I'm in your office. It's taking me a long time to not be ashamed of who I am. So, no, I'm not afraid.
You've talked about coping mechanisms for some things, but really works for you?
Guuuurl...I've run the gambit of coping methods for years trying to find what works best for me. Some methods were clearly bad options (binging, purging, cutting), but others have really resonated with me. Now, there is no one coping mechanism fits all, but what I find works for me includes:
- Writing in my journal - Trust me, my journals go dark and into the depths of everything I'm feeling. I write anything and everything I'm feeling in them, but I never let myself read any of the already written pages. Once a book is filled, I throw it away. That issue, concern, meltdown, uncertainty has been dealt with and can leave my life. That's how I see it.
- Cuddling my dogs - My poor dogs. There is something about being able to hug them and know that they love you unconditionally, no matter what you're going through, that just brings me comfort. I could hug them all day long, but then no work would get done, so...balance lol
- Being alone - Sometimes, my thoughts, emotions, just everything is simply too much for my brain to cope and I just need to be alone. This usually entails me closing myself off in my bedroom, blaring pop tunes and just dancing it out. That's right, I totally pull a Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang and dance like a fool. I'm not trying to mimic Britney Spears' epic choreography or anything, I just need to reconnect with my goofy side to help me out of the darkness.
- Going to the gym - This is a new one. Yes, working out releases endorphins and making people happy. However, I have to be careful with it because it can easily slide into that whole excessive exercise thing and then it goes downhill really fast. I limit my gym time to one hour. I have to be in someone of a good headspace, otherwise, my God, my bring will go through all the negatives in my life and I will cry on the rowing machine hahaha.
- I talk to my best friends - I have no clue how these two put up with me, but I would be completely lost and alone without them. They listen to my bitching, my crying and never judge me for my mistakes, but rather help me make things right. They aren't just friends, they are sisters.
Are you happy now?
To be honest, it depends on the day. For the most part, I am, but some days I'm just not. And that's OK. I have to embrace it, work through it and add it to my list of things I overcame. I try to be happy. I want to be happy. But, some days are still very much a struggle and I've learned that that is OK.
How do you remember your strengths and worth when you're depressed or in a dark place?
When I'm feeling great, I actually make lists about things I'm proud of myself about. I have a journal of just lists. I add to them every time I do something good, overcome something I didn't think I could, or simply found an affirmation that brought me joy. When I'm really into the depression, I'll open the list journal and just read through them. And let me tell you, the backtalk I give myself for it is hilarious. I'll actually think things like, "Bitch, why would you be proud of that? You really thought eating three meals was a big deal that day? Don't you think this list is ridiculous?" But I keep flipping through the pages until that stupid voice shuts up and I actually start to remember that I've come so far. I'm worthy. I'm strong. Sometimes I need to read more pages than others, but it helps.
At work, I actually have a "Yay Me" folder in my emails. Anytime a colleague sends me a compliment for a job well done, I pop it in there. This folder helps me whenever I'm sucked into the whole impostor syndrome thing. I'll open it and read through them and remind myself that I do know what I'm doing. I am good at my job. I do deserve to be working here. Some of you may be thinking, "Didn't you win awards for what you do? Does that not tell you you're good at your job?"
Let me tell you, I'm still sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for all those places to come back to me and say, "Sorry, we need those back, we made a mistake."
I know, that sounds stupid, but that's impostor syndrome for you lol.
All that to say, I'm a damn work in progress. I'm also an open book when it comes to this stuff, so keep your questions coming!
Until next time...