​’Finding Elena’ NOW AVAILABLE

Well, here we are, my dear friends. I’m finally able to take a deep breath and say, “It’s finished! My book ‘Finding Elena‘ is NOW AVAILABLE.

OH, MY GOD. HOW COOL IS THAT? I AM BEYOND EXCITED FOR THIS RELEASE.

This book is a huge accomplishment for me. I have poured my life, my heart, and my soul into these pages and I am overwhelmed with excitement that it is finally published. The continuous work I have put in has finally paid off.

I am also very grateful to my family, my friends and my publishing team for all of their support, love, and efforts to make this book possible. I could not have done it without them. My family has been there for me every step of the way, and I could not be more in debt to them for everything they have done for me. My friends have been there for me and shown me so much love even when I was down, and I am grateful for their kindness. My publishing team has been diligently working hard to make sure my standards were met and that the book looks amazing.

I am just so thankful to be able to do this, and so blessed to be able to share it with all of you.

So here it is. ‘Finding Elena.’ My heart and soul splayed out on white pages for you. My everything in the grasp of your hands. Get your copy today!

Finding Elena is available on Createspace. Soon to be available on Amazon and Kindle. Here is the link: https://www.createspace.com/7164582

xoxo

-E

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My First Book

So, I’m putting together my very first book. Exciting right? I thought so too. Apparently so did a few other people I know that have not failed to put their two cents into the creation of this book and its process. Oh well, they’re helpful, so I’ll take it.

I am beyond hopeful that this book helps people understand what it is like to live with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Binge-Eating Disorder (BED), and Depression. It’s a lot I know. Tell me about it; I have to live with all of it. It sucks most of the time.

On a lighter note, I think this book is also going to give hope to those who suffer from mental illness because I try to end on positive notes at the end of my pieces. I also don’t like having my readers feeling sad as they read what I write, but sometimes I have to be dark and twisty with my words. It’s the only way I can honestly express myself for some things.

Below is the table of contents with the titles of all the pieces I plan on putting in the book. I am still working on the title, but I suspect that will be the last feat I will have to overcome with this masterpiece I am trying to create and publish.

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*Pictures I’ve taken will go between all mini-essays and poems.*

A Gallery of Thoughts and Feelings / Thoughts and Words: A Memoir / My Personal Gallery / Finding my Way / Finding Elena / 

  1. Introduction
  2. That Feeling of Icy Emptiness
  3. That Feeling
  4. A Nightmare Dressed as a Daydream
  5. Road to Recovery: My Mental Health Journey
  6. Rock Bottom
  7. Blank Pages
  8. Anxiety
  9. The Silent Killer
  10. 16 Days
  11. 16 Days of Lessons
  12. The Media and Mental Health
  13. Scars
  14. Ripped to Shreds
  15. How I got BPD and tried to cover it up with food and smiling
  16. Tattoos
  17. My Biggest Trigger
  18. Labels
  19. Shame
  20. Self-love and Acceptance
  21. I’m Sorry
  22. Undone
  23. Because I am Continuing

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This has been a sneak preview of what my book is going to be about. If you haven’t followed through, reading my blog from the beginning, I suggest you do. This book is essentially a selection of blog posts that I have written, along with photos I have taken, put together into one little book that hopefully will capture your interest.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m scared as hell to do this; especially since I’m still in university and I’m only 20 (going on 21 soon!). Many writers are older than I am. But I won’t let that stop me. I am publishing this book for me, my fellow sufferers, and those who do not understand mental illness. This is for us, my friends, for us.

-E

Because I am Continuing

To all of you who have diligently followed my everlasting journey with me, thank you. You give me the courage and the strength to write in an expressive way so others may understand the daily struggles of someone with a mental illness.

To those of you suffering, I am with you. I understand, and I am here. I am fighting for freedom and sanity along side you and I will not give up. I will support you with all of my beings; from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.

To my loving family, thank you for every sacrifice you make for me. I am forever in debt to your kindness and gentility towards me.

And finally, to my own self, keep going. The light at the end of your dark tunnel is just around the corner.

-E

My Biggest Trigger

People always say to stay away from your triggers. People always say not to run back to what broke you. People always say to stay away from danger. But did people say that sometimes the danger you should stay away from would be the people you shouldn’t have to stay away from? Did they tell you how painful it would be to struggle between wanting to stay away and staying close to them because that’s all you’ve ever known? Did they tell you anything at all?

I don’t want them to be a trigger for me. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want it to be this way, but it is. It has to be this way. I have not come to fully understand this until now. My biggest trigger is my mom and dad.

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Detachment from your primary caregivers is the one thing that can ruin a family. It sucks the life out of every member of that family and takes its dreary toll on them over the years. I mean I could tell you about how much it sucks but I won’t. The words ‘detachment from your primary caregivers’ should be frightening enough.

Being Borderline has made my family’s life hell for most of my life. My detachment has made my family suffer through so many years of trying to understand where they went wrong or how they could help me more. This, in fact, is somewhat untrue because my family has helped me in more ways than I can count. Their love and devotion to try and understand me have been present since day one. They also didn’t go wrong. They did the best they could with what they knew, and that was it.

Being detached from the people you love is definitely a difficult thing to be because, the farther away you are from them, the harder it is to connect with them. That familial connection is so important. For my family, there is a minimal connection. We fight daily about the smallest and biggest things that mean nothing and everything all at the same time. I mean really it’s quite the war.

This war amongst my family members and myself has been happening for as long as I can remember. I was detached from my parents and siblings even as a child. I just did not have a bond with them like I did with my grandparents. My grandmother and grandfather were the centers of my world, and they still are. We would spend every second together; laughing, playing, singing, cooking, doing chores, gardening, swimming, going on adventures, learning; basically everything. As Julia Child’s husband would say, they were “The butter to my bread, the breath of my life.”

The ‘Golden Years,’ as I like to call them, were short-lived. Seven years. They lasted for seven years. Once my grandmother passed away, my grandfather and I were never the same. I bottled up my pain while he freely let it show. I don’t know how he did it, but he found peace. I wish I could say the same.

In any case, the dynamic between my parents and my siblings has suffered a great deal. I am…detached, for lack of a better word and for the sake of using the correct terminology. I have yet to understand why this detachment still exists, but I do know that the reason I was detached as a child was that I was so close with my grandparents. I know this hurt my parents a lot, and I have so much sorrow inside for what they have suffered, but I do not regret and will not apologize for the wonderful times I spent with my grandparents.

I’ve noticed just now as I’m writing and re-reading what I have already written is that I am telling a very skewed story here. I mean, yes I had a great time with my grandparents, but there were also wonderful times with my parents and siblings once they were born some years later. I can just see the joy and love in my mother and father’s eyes as we play a family game or do something together as a family without arguments. Those moments make me happy too.

I realize now that I’m rambling (sorry), about my crazy family life. I guess I’m just hoping things get better so that we can get back to laughing and having fun as a family. I miss those days. I miss being able to share my happiness with my grandmother; my grandfather and I get so lonely without her sometimes. We miss her so much. So much…

Some days, I feel as though my family is too broken to be fixed; too hurt and destroyed to be glued together again. Other days we are soaring through the day on good terms and having the time of our lives. Well, at least this is how I feel and see things. I hope my siblings and my parents see this too.

If you or your family life is in danger of being torn apart by a member of that family who has a mental illness, please seek help. Our family has looked into it but has not decided on anything yet. This is from someone who is the only family member with a mental illness and the only family member who is seeing a social worker and a psychiatrist. It’s a way to alleviate some of the pressure and the pain off of the shoulders of yourself and your family members so please, go seek help if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help. Do not feel less than anyone because you did. You need to do what is best for you and your family, not anyone else.

-E

Shame

She stuffs her face until she can’t breathe anymore. The food is barely chewed, more so swallowed in large amounts and in quick motions to try to finish it before someone sees her eating. She hates when people watch her eat. She feels like they’re staring at her and judging her. The more she eats, the more she craves. The more she craves, the more self-conscious she gets. The more self-conscious she gets, the harder it is for her to accept herself the way she is.

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“Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.” (National Eating Disorders Association, 2017)

Binge-eating. It’s an eating disorder that I have struggled with over the past year now. I was in remission from an episode of binge-eating a few years ago, but I have unfortunately relapsed into my old ways of self-destruction. This is a very sensitive topic for me to write about. It hurts me to the core of my being to share this, but I feel as though many other people who struggle or have struggled with an eating disorder would be able to relate.

I hate my body. Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to change it to look as perfect as a model’s. That’s my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in one of its many forms presenting itself inside my mind. But because of this total self-image distortion, I have continuously had a rough time with food. It is my greatest and most difficult vice to get rid of. No matter how much I try, I am not able to get rid of it forever. It keeps coming back, sneaking up on me when I least expect it; especially when I am triggered and find myself crippled by my emotions in an episode.

I cannot tell you how much this hurts me to say, but I have no self-control when it comes to food. I’m cringing at the fact that I just wrote that. This is what I hide behind my smile and my laugh every day. This is what hurts me deeply; slices right through my core and binds me to self-hatred. This eating disorder paired with my BPD has made my life almost unbearable.

I want to get better. I want to be Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) free. I want to be able to not have to worry about what people think of me as I eat in public. I want to be able to choose the right portion of food for my stomach so that I don’t over-indulge in foods that I should not regularly be eating. I want to have a healthy relationship with food.

Some of you may be thinking, ‘All this talk but no action.’ I know. I’m trying my best. Getting rid of an eating disorder is harder than it looks. You can’t just stop; sometimes you don’t even realize you’re in an episode and do it; it’s a mental reaction to pain; it takes years to overcome; many people have it.

IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY.

To my fellow sufferers, we will get there. We will overcome our eating disorders. We may relapse, but as long as we get back on track, we will be okay. Do not be afraid, I accept you and love you for who you are, flaws and all. I am here suffering with you, and I will not let you down.

Xoxo

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Below are some statistics are taken from the National Eating Disorders Association website that gives a vivid description of how severe Binge-Eating Disorder can affect people:

  • “A 2007 study asked 9,282 English-speaking Americans about a variety of mental health conditions, including eating disorders. The results, published in Biological Psychiatry, found that 3.5% of women and 2.0% of men had binge eating disorder during their life. This makes BED more than three times more common than anorexia and bulimia combined. BED is also more common than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia.
  • When researchers followed a group of 496 adolescent girls for 8 years until they were 20, they found: 5.2% of the girls met criteria for DSM5 anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. When the researchers included nonspecific eating disorder symptoms, a total of 13.2% of the girls had suffered from a DSM-5 eating disorder by age 20.
  • Combining information from several sources, Eric Stice and Cara Bohon found that
    Between 0.2% and 3.5% of females and 0.9% and 2.0% of males will develop binge eating disorder. Subthreshold binge eating disorder occurs in 1.6% of adolescent girls.
  • Research estimates that 28.4% of people with current BED are receiving treatment for their disease. 43.6% of individuals with BED at some point in their lives will receive treatment.
  • BED often begins in the late teens or early 20s, although it has been reported in both young children and older adults.
  • Approximately 40% of those with binge eating disorder are male.
  • Three out of ten individuals looking for weight loss treatments show signs of BED.”

“BED is one of the newest eating disorders formally recognized in the DSM5. Before the most recent revision in 2013, BED was listed as a subtype of EDNOS (now referred to as OSFED). The change is necessary because some insurance companies will not cover eating disorder treatment without a DSM diagnosis. The formal diagnostic criteria are:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
    -Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
    -A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
  • The binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    -Eating much more rapidly than normal.
    -Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
    -Eating significant amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
    -Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
    -Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months.
  • The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging) as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.” (National Eating Disorders Association, 2017)

-E

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Source: National Eating Disorders Association. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder.

Tattoos

“My skin is so thin that the innocent words of others burn holes right through me.”

“She was too quiet or she was too loud. She hated with every fibre of her being or loved with every piece of her heart. There was no in-between. It was either all or nothing.”

“She was a beautiful dreamer. The kind of girl, who kept her head in the clouds, loved above the stars and left regret beneath the earth she walked on.” ― Robert M. Drake

“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.” ― V. Vale

 

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I can feel the cold liquid is spread onto my forearm and the stencil is placed on it. I can hear the buzzing sound of the needle start up beside me and I clench my teeth. This is going to hurt. The buzzing gets closer to my body and I start to shake. I sense the familiar feeling of the needle scrape against the surface of my skin. Instant pain. I gasp and flex my forearm muscle but it’s no match for his strong hands keeping me from moving. After a few moments, I calm down, letting the pain of the needle continue its path to creation.

And then numbness creeps up and overcomes me. It consumes my entire being and shows me a light at the end of the dark tunnel my life has turned into. The sensation of releasing myself into the hands of someone else’s conquering power gives me the rush of adrenaline like no other. I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to be. Whisk me away and do everything you can to keep me from drowning in my own sorrows and tears.

The pain of the needle becomes one with my body and it feels as if it is a part of me; a part of my being. The consistent hum finally settles my nerves and gives me a sense of place in the world; a sense of belonging to the earth. I can almost taste it.

The feeling of that needle keeps me from screaming. The etch of the design on my skin is my way of coping; my way of not self-harming but still getting the feeling of self-harm in some way. It’s a soothing feeling, one that I can identify as safe. Safe… Safe from… Safe from I don’t know what yet. Maybe from myself; from my own demons that fester inside of me. These demons bury me in their infestation of despair and loneliness but I am able to breathe fresh air again through the injection of the ink.

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“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” ― Sylvia Plath

“Death is the easy part, the hard part is living and knowing you could be so much more then you’re willing to be.” ― Robert M. Drake

“Sometimes the most beautiful people are beautifully broken.” ― Robert M. Drake

“We swallowed the chaos because we knew we didn’t want to be ordinary.” ― Robert M. Drake

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If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You may even agree with me when I say it’s a coping mechanism. It’s also a way of expressing to others in a creative way what means the most to you and what you have suffered through during your lifetime. Recently, or rather extremely recently, I got another tattoo. It’s a peonies flower with the roman numerals XVI. That’s the number 16. It represents and serves as a reminder to me of the 16 days that I spent in the psych ward.

When I look down at my skin, it brings back vivid memories of things I will forever unwillingly remember; but it also helps me live through tough times. To look at my tattoos and know that I will survive is freeing for me. They give me strength to face whatever bullshit is being thrown at me that day, that week, that month or even that year. They are my security blanket and I am not ashamed to admit that.

Over the past three years, I have gotten quite a few tattoos and piercings. For some people, they are rebellious and unacceptable. For others, they are ugly and a waste of money. For me, they are my story. My tattoos are what have saved me from self-harm. My tattoos have made me feel human and real. My tattoos have made me feel like me.

-E