It took me a little over a year to finally decide to share my story.
I have issues; I am insecure and overly paranoid.
I also fear that what I am about to disclose would do a lot of harm to my career and the people I care about. And if there is one thing I fear most (next to weight gain that is—ha!) would be rejection.
But damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I guess my consolation is that I may get some validation that I am not missing out on my past life and that there is a much bigger community out there that accepts me sans the stigma. Hearing such would also verify that choosing life was by far, the best decision that I have made.
So here’s my story…
Everything just snowballed the moment I was diagnosed and hospitalized for anorexia nervosa at age 14. Need I mention the self-mutilation and over a dozen failed suicide attempts under my belt?
Yes, I was that not good enough; I couldn’t even hit the bullseye in pushing the right self-destruct button.
While I can write about the reasons why, I’d rather not. Not because I’m in denial, but because I know, deep down, that while those things turned me into the monster that I was, it later on became my choice.
Behind the hunger strikes, the masochism, drugs and all that shit was my obsession to take control not only of my life but of the people around me.
Feeling weightless was tantamount to more love and attention—I was much talked about. I was cool (so I thought…) and this made drugs an easy option when all of the throwing up and dieting was not making me lose weight fast enough anymore.
My neurotic personality rubbed off on me so quickly that I felt unsavable from my own self. I pushed people to their limits and used my sickness as a get out of jail free card to get amnesty for my craziness.
But who was I kidding? I guess those times when I tried to take away my own life were virtually my admissions of guilt.
I was literally digging my own grave with my over the edge drug abuse, combined with the erratic eating patterns and the throwing up. There were days when I’ve purged so much that my throat would bleed, my face swollen and my eyes blood shot for weeks. Days when I was too stoned on meth that I’d be asleep for three straight days, missing out on important events with friends and loved ones.
I’ve lost friends—and the trust of many. The consequences, I still have to bear, now.
It was in 2006 when I pulled the last straw: I downed over 250 pills of valium and ended up in an institution where I spent the next 36 months. While rehab did wonders keeping me from another suicide attempt and kept sober from drugs and purging, the self-hatred was ever present.
My insecurity manifested itself in my competitiveness and this time, the insatiable hunger to be perfect. I became the poster girl of rehab and even excelled as one of the facilitators.
However, my insides remained a bottomless pit, and it only took a lover gone bad to pull the trigger.
I was back to the binge-purge cycle not later than a year after graduating the program. Worse, I was drinking chronically too. I couldn’t handle the heartbreak and rejection and adapted the best way that I knew…by playing the victim.
Truth be told, I had it coming. While I was fortunate enough not to experience a full blown relapse (meaning drugs included), it was then when I lost all hope in getting better. To me, recovery was just an illusion.
Overnight, I succumbed into the same old angst that I knew so well; I was a walking hand grenade and thought that I would be the unsung member of the 27 Club.
Fate or fluke…but it was on my 27th year when I re-encountered yoga. While buying time before pulling the pin on the grenade, I made the decision to find a job and work in Singapore, away from the people and places that bring back familiar feelings.
Maybe it was serendipity that I was too lonely and too depressed for any sport or activity that involved much social interaction.
There was no magic. I struggled with the poses. But somehow, yoga kept me going. Just one more day…and then another. Like how it works in a 12 step program, one day at a time, but this time I was more connected, and I was doing everything on my own volition.
Yoga just made delaying the gratification for the next fix much easier; whether it was to cut myself, throw up or jump out of a window.
I turned 29 last January and as of date, I have been seven years sober from meth, two years from my last bottle and cigarette and six months since the last time I picked my throat to vomit. Suicide has also been out of the question for the past several months.
It does not seem like much of an accomplishment but to me, a clean day is always a good day. And I owe that to the practice of yoga.
I remember a question asked by the multiple psychiatrists I’ve visited in the past: ‘Do you hear voices?’
My answer would be a constant ‘yes’, which of course led them to think that I was delusional, ergo the anti-psychotic drugs, anti-anxiety pills which I, knowing myself, just abused and cocktailed with other drugs.
It was through the practice that it dawned on me that this voice was my own.
The same voice that told me I was too fat to be loved, and that drugs were better then boyfriends—or any relationship for that matter—because I could not endure being left again. And while there is that manipulative voice in my head, there was also that one little voice telling me the contrary.
Yoga has taught me to listen to that little voice…to scratch deeper from the surface in search of that voice amidst the more audible voices nagging at the back of my head.
There could not be a more grounding practice. It is a reminder to be non-violent and self-forgiving for the past and the present; to unlearn old habits and to create new ones.
While two years is too short a time to reap the full benefits of yoga, I am now more willing to go through that lifetime, without a deadline.
There are days when I still stare at the toilet bowl after a good meal—and some days when I get vivid flashbacks of my glorious days on drugs but I don’t obsess over it, nor do I waste hours checking the scale and reading calorie labels.
I have a have a daily practice ,which is adding weight to my old 100 lb 5’7 frame…and it doesn’t bother me much actually.
In fact, I kinda like it.
Jordan Kate is a Filipino based in Singapore, living her nth life as a preschool teacher. She dreams of quitting her job to do more yoga and to share its gift to people like and unlike her. She is an ashtanga junkie and an aspiring yogi, in the real sense of the word. Email her at [email protected] or find her on instagram @dandinaaa. Please note her name has been altered to protect her identity.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise