I was sick of waking up in a panic. Except now, it wasn't just in the mornings or at night —it was all. damn. day. 48 hours after my doctor increased my daily dose of an anti-depressant, Wellbutrin, it seemed that this overwhelming sense of impending doom consumed me. In a previous post, I discussed, my experience with some pretty scary anti-depressant side effects. I thought, isn't this shit supposed to make me feel better? And that's just it —it was making me worse. So I did what any millennial in this type of situation would do —I researched those effects. Per my Google search, I better call the psychiatrist prescribing me these meds. He was nice, supportive and sorry I had such a bad encounter. After the conversation, I learned the side effects were, in fact, outweighing any positive leeway Wellbutrin could do for my depression. I was a little bummed. TBH, I still am. Because I thought the increase was really going to help. But no. No way, Jose. So I went back to my original dose and, "We’ll go from there," he said. A part of me felt like I was taking a few steps in the wrong direction. But I’m trying to remember that sometimes, going back is exactly what we need to move forward. So I did just that. But then, other weird things started to happen. And I call the doc again. At this point, he agreed, the side effects I was now experiencing were not your standard dry mouth. He wanted to see how I'd feel if I stopped the meds completely. Because what I haven't mentioned are two new symptoms —a few somethings my doctor said were indications of a bigger issue. Because now, I was having difficulty swallowing and breathing, which was scary AF. I mean, that shit was serious enough to warrant a discontinuation. So that's exactly what I did. And here's why. Here's what happened next.
I'm a type one diabetic. So every single morning, (heck, every single day, multiple times a day) —I take something called insulin. Most people have the luxury of making it naturally. But not me. I have to physically inject myself with it because the beta cells in my body stopped working with my pancreas to make it on its own. It's crazy because too much can kill me, just enough keeps me alive —but not enough, and I'm dead. Not to be so blunt, but, it's true. What's even crazier, is that somedays I can do the exact same thing I did the day before but my body won't always react the same way. That's what happened last night. And let me tell you, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted because yesterday my blood sugar dropped dangerously low. I went from 159 to 40. Do you know what that means? In case you don't, I'm about to break it down. This is what you need to know.
A few months ago I met with a genetic counselor for the second time. For those who don't know, I'm BRCA2 positive, which means based on family history and this gene mutation I have, I will likely get breast and/or ovarian cancer by the age of 60. Damn. That's a lot to take in. That's a lot to process. Because when I originally found out, I was 22. I remember saying I'll worry about this when I'm 30. It's weird because back then, 30 seemed so far away. Like I'd never actually get there. Well, now I am and it's real. I think that's the hardest part to deal with. Because sooner rather than later, I have to do to something about it. It's like, do I undergo preventative surgery and remove my breasts and ovaries —the things that make me feel like a woman. Or, do I risk it and wait? I've always said I'd have the surgeries. It's just time crept up and now it's here. I have some big decisions to make and I don't feel ready. Are we ever though? Here is what I want you to know.
Dear Food. For years I restricted you and then binged on you —part of me struggling to give myself enough of you and the other, demanding I get rid of you. I know so much more now than I did when my eating disorder (ED) first started. But it still creeps up. Who am I kidding though? Myself probably. Because I spend the majority of my day either feeling fat or obsessing about how much I weigh; trying to keep my P.T.S.D. induced flashbacks at bay. Whether I'm body checking, on the scale or trying not to open the flood gates, sometimes I eat even when I'm not hungry. I say flood gates because once I start, I find that it's hard to stop. So if I don't start, I don't have to worry about not stopping. A lot of people say, one bite won't hurt. But for me it does. Because I can't just eat one. Because I need the whole thing. I like foods that take a while to eat. Because I love eating. At the same time, I hate how this shit makes me feel. And yes, I know we need food to survive. But when I'm eating and eating and eating, I don't want to stop. And when I don't stop, afterward, I'm full. Really full. Too full. I have to lay down. That's usually when the food shame begins. Because my brain starts talking shit about how gross I am. Why did you eat that, Macey? The thing is, I know about trauma, dissociation, and how bingeing can’t be “fixed” with restriction. I know all this crap is interconnected. But I do it anyway. The worst part is —when I restrict and then finally eat, I tend to go overboard. Binge. Because I basically starved myself all day. So when I eventually allow myself to eat, I'm so excited that I can't stop. I need everything. So I eat everything. And then I feel bad. Shame. So I tell myself I won't eat a lot tomorrow, which usually turns to nothing. Restricting and then binging. It's the same thing all over again. And this is how it goes.
I'm sure at this point in your life, you've been sick at least once. When that happens, normally you have two choices. You either go to the doctor for some type of antibiotic or you sleep it off until you feel better. But what if you never got better? What if that cold or flu never went away? What if those temporary aches and pains and feelings of fatigue were permanent? What if it got worse? Like when the winter blues turn into a full-blown state of depression and you can't find a way to see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? What then? Seriously. Imagine the anxiety of knowing what you have was constant. Imagine what it would be like if that doctor of yours said there was no cure, and that it would, in fact, be a part of your life forever? Now, envision trying to explain all of this to your friends, family, and co-workers. How do you describe this shit in a way they'd understand? Because you look perfectly fine —on the outside that is. How would you cope with having a chronic, invisible illness? Would you be deemed lazy or even crazy? Would you be treated differently? Would you be excluded from activities or on the contrary be so tired that you continuously say no to those friendly invitations? At that point, would it start hindering your relationships, both personal and professional? The short answer, yes. Absofuckinglutely. Because when you break a bone, your physical disability is apparent to the world. Friends, family, and coworkers can see the cast on your arm and know without a doubt that you're sick. “Get some rest,” they’d say in a concerned voice. “You don’t look well.” But that’s the odd thing about not feeling well —you don’t always look the part. So yeah, I'm not the girl I used to be and here are four reasons why.
It all started because I had nowhere else to go. Well, technically I was still a resident at that Delray Beach halfway house I had been living at for the past few weeks. It's just, my tenant status was about to erupt. And my world was about to go up in smoke. As if it hadn't already. Because that's just it. It was all smoke and mirrors. You can only fake it 'till you make it for so long. And after failing a surprise drug test, instead of getting kicked out (which is normally how it goes down), the house manager said she saw something in me that she didn't see in anyone else. So she decided to put me on probation rather than kicking me to the curb. You'd think I would have been happy. I guess a part of me was. But for some reason, I was pissed. Truth is, I was in a full-blown relapse. Wanting —turned into doing and before I knew it, I was doing it every single day. It didn't help that my new boyfriend was a straight up junkie. Like between the two of us, we couldn't fucking stop. And then, the other night like a few days ago, when I couldn't fall asleep, instead of counting sheep, I spiraled. It felt like I was back there on that awful fucking night. Long story short, I found an article of this guy I used to know. And I say that with a mouth full of rage. Because this particular guy was just sentenced to 35 years in federal prison. What did he do? Well, he raped this 23-year-old girl. And he also raped me. It's not exactly what you're thinking. I'm sorry to say it's probably worse. So when I found out that he's been doing the same shit this entire time to even more vulnerable girls —well, it pissed me off even more. The worst part is, I've never really talked about this shit like ever. I don't even like to think about it. But seeing his photo and his victim's description of the attack, it made me even madder that I didn't speak up before. Because everything she said —like her description of the event, it gave me the fucking chills. Because it's quite literally what happened to me. Here's what you need to know.
I've always wondered what it would be like to look at myself and see what's actually there. When I stare back at my reflection in the full-length mirror that hangs from my bathroom wall, I don't see what you see. The eating disorder community calls this body dysmorphic disorder. I call it my every day. I've also wondered what it would be like to not compulsively obsess about my appearance. Because I'm not vain but my eating disorder would tell you otherwise. Even though I'm not "active" in it anymore, I find that it still creeps up. Because when I wake up each morning, I run to the scale. Depending on what reads back will, in fact, tell me how good of a day I will have. Slowly though, I'm learning that my value and self-worth doesn't change when or if my weight does. If anything, you become smarter when you finally see all of the lies about body size equaling happiness. But to me when I'm in the thick of it, it takes over. It's no longer about facts. It's not rational. Because most of us know it sounds crazy. Hell, it is crazy. But it's real and we simply can't help it. We can, however, control it or at least attempt too. Because I'm not lying when I say I don't see what you see. I never have. And for some reason, I still fear getting fat even though I've never been overweight a day in my life. So here are three reasons why I shouldn't fear any of that. And for the record, neither should you.
I've been complaining of pain for a while. Honestly, though, it's hard to put into words exactly how I feel and I think that's the problem. Because I don't know where to begin. Because for the past few months, I didn't know what was wrong with me. I knew something wasn't right. I mean, it's not normal to feel sick all the time. But after visiting multiple doctors —all telling me I was fine, why wouldn't I believe them? They're the ones with a medical degree, right? It's just this thing is really hard to figure out. Did you know 10 years is the average length of time it takes to get a diagnosis? That 68 percent of women are initially misdiagnosed with another condition? Oh, and that 50 percent of women with endometriosis also experience infertility? I didn't. What I do know is that it's exhausting. It's hidden. Not seen. Not talked about. Embarrassing. But it's not —at least it shouldn't be. Except, it is according to society. Not anymore though and definitely not here.
Sometimes I feel as if I’m a failure at a disease I never asked for —something I could have never prevented. Most days, yeah. I look like everybody else. But I’m not. I want to feel normal. I don’t want to be different. But I am. Every single morning, I get out of bed just like you, but my routine is probably different than yours. I mean, how would your life change if you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that you were told was incurable? For me, I’m tired. I’m tired of having to prick my finger every time I want to leave the house or do anything for that matter. I’m tired of worrying that maybe one day, I will not wake up. Because yeah, there’s a chance, I won’t make it past a certain age because of some diabetic complication. Oh and, I’m tired just thinking about how tired I am. But no one really notices. No one actually wants to talks about it. But I do —even though, most can’t understand. No one understands because you don’t until you do. You don’t because you don’t have too —until it’s you. Well, now it’s me. I was never good at math but now I have to be. And even though, it's apart of my new normal, I don't think I'll ever get used to it. So this is what I want you to know.
I bet you know more people than you might think who have at least thought about committing suicide. I bet you wouldn't expect that I contemplated it myself. I actually tried to end my own life. So when I heard the awful news about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, it hit home because I've been there and from the looks of it, I'm not alone.
I've been putting this one off. It's hard to go back there —even if it's just through writing. But by talking about it (because I haven't since it happened), I think it will help me move past it a little more. And deep down, I know it's about that time I get it out. If you remember from a previous post, I had just gotten myself out of a sticky situation a.k.a. rock-bottom number two. I was laying low, hiding out at a friend's house. Turns out, this "friend" wasn't a friend at all. But not yet. Back then, he technically just saved my life. It was a confusing time, I know. Because the lines were more than blurred. I’m doing my best though. Ready or not, here I go.
I was more stuck than ever but I couldn't let anyone else know how bad off I really was. So I'd put on a mask and pretend I was enjoying the bed I made. Except, I wasn't happy, sane or functional. I was addicted, defensive, and in full savage mode. Things were different. No matter how bad it got in college, I always had Brad. We kept each other in check, but this time, I was all alone, with no one to look out for me but me. And you definitely didn't want this junkie on your side. I mean, I was the girl who robbed you and helped you look for it. I was the girl who used to have it all together. Except now, I had nothing but pill residue everywhere. So how did I afford to keep everything up? Three words: pawn shop madness.
As if things couldn't get any worse —I was still a hostess at The Office, an $18 gourmet burger joint on Atlantic Ave. in Del Ray Beach, Florida. If you remember from a previous post, I relapsed and eventually found myself homeless after getting kicked out of the halfway house I called home. I also found another pill-popping boyfriend who tried his best to save me. Turns out though, I needed to save myself. When a friend turns foe, before I know it, I hit rock bottom for the second time. Except once you fall as far as I had, there's nowhere to go but up. Here's what went down.
Regardless of the politics, it was still hard. In short, I hated being home. It was a shocking reminder of how messed up my family life had become and I didn’t want to deal with that or feel any of these feelings. I mean, what teenager would anyway? I remember wishing I was anywhere, but here —be careful what you wish for. At the time, I was a freshman in high school. I lived in an affluent suburb of South Jersey and up until this point, everything was fairly "normal" —except, a few somethings were about to go really wrong. It would later be revealed that my once perfect existence was really all smoke and mirrors. But let's start at the beginning.
It's been a month. I feel good. I feel better, not perfect but getting there. I'm on my way to sanity. Except, for some reason, I'm still feeling left out. What were my druggie buddies up too? I couldn't help but think back. It wasn't all bad though. As the days went by, I started opening up more. I gave myself over to the process. I followed all of the rules and did my best to be my best. Eventually, I started to heal. When that happened, I realized that healing doesn't mean the damage never existed. I mean, the damage had been done. But that's irrelevant. Healing actually means the damage I caused no longer had to control my life. And when I figured that out, well, shit just made sense. Here's what a day at the mission looked like for me.
My family had finally figured out what to do with me. They weren't about to throw more money at the problem; so they found a free long-term treatment facility in Savannah, Georgia and prayed I’d find my way back again. Destination —Mission Teens. I liked how they treated each person as family. Everything was self-sustaining. If there was a problem, we didn't call the maintenance guy down the street. We'd fix it. And so, as I moved up in the program, I got more responsibilities. It was there that I realized sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, is where you find yourself. And so, on May 16, 2012, my dad and I drive from Orlando, Florida to Savannah in hopes this place would save my life.
I remember love. I remember laughter. But I also recall resentment and tears. I will say that growing up, I never went without. In fact, I always had too much. And I think that's how my addiction ultimately began. My family was loving. My mom, selfless. My dad, the provider. And, my sister, my role model. We were small but close-knit. I'd like to say fierce. They always had my back. They were (and still are) a bit overprotective but you'll never hear me say they didn't care. So if you're wondering why I am the way I am today, read this.
Home —what was that? I hadn’t had one in what felt like forever. The only thing I had was fear. Except, today, I was an official resident at my very first drug treatment center. I made it through the intervention, the detox —both which I never thought would happen, and now this. I remember arriving in the druggy buggy (our way of saying a white van) directly from the county ran detox that I didn't want to admit, saved my life. I remember them searching me. For once, I had nothing to hide. I remember them finishing up the in-take process and taking me to my new home away from home. I was ready.
You know that moment between sleep and wakefulness —when you're just getting up and reality is a little warped and everything seems OK? Well, that moment ended. Everything comes flooding back when I realize, it wasn’t a dream. What the fuck was I going to do now? I was in love with yet another addict and I would later learn that my bad taste in drug dealing boyfriends only escalated the inevitable. But eventually, I learned that when you refuse to settle for less than the best —the best tends to track you down. I was actually being treated right. I wasn't lied to. I wasn't being deceived. Because of that, I wasn't lying or deceiving either. And after that, well, things just started working out.
As my addiction grew stronger, so did my efforts to remain high. Eventually, I had to do things I never wanted to do. I knew they were wrong even then but that didn't stop me. It hurts like hell to think what chaos I caused —especially to the ones I love the most. These are the people who loved me when I couldn't even love myself. But when it's all said and done, it really does start and end with family. Here's how addiction affected mine.