My head is resting heavy on the seat of my toilet.
My arms are spread weakly alongside, and a small trickle of blood is running out of my mouth. My eyes are closed—I’ve lost consciousness from too much exhaustion.
I have been vomiting all day, totally lost in the vicious cycle of eating, puking, and flushing masses of food down into the sewers. Yet, I am feeling too weak and numb to even be disgusted. Why on earth did it happen again?
“What everybody’s got that chapter
of dark and darker days,
Saturn seems to be returning
and his essence can’t be tamed,
Some may light to fight it,
Try to plan a secret attack,
But the more you push it,
The more it’s pushing you back.“ ~ Trevor Hall, “You can’t rush your healing”
I’ve suffered from various eating disorders for 17 years.
Those days, they have been dark…and painful. I mean, I have enjoyed happy and light moments as well, of course—but my suffering was always just a footstep away.
I started on my path of healing seven years ago, when I hit rock bottom and had to go to the hospital for three months. It was the first time I spoke openly about my suffering, the first time I took off the mask of “everything is alright,” which I’d been wearing for so many years. Even my closest friends did not know how serious my condition actually was.
Besides conventional therapy, I explored many things on my path of healing. I walked 2,000 kilometers along “Way of St. James” across Spain. I did a yoga teacher training in India, joined a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, attended tantra seminars, as well as other different self-exploration retreats.
Through it all, I got more stable. I made relevant steps in moving from self-hate, to self-love, to self-realisation. Yet, I am not always happy. Not always thankful. Not always feeling bliss.
The years passed—and somehow, this mantra got stock in my head: I should be happy. I should finally be healed.
How much time am I allowed to take on this path of healing? How often can I relapse? I mean in our performance-focused society, it’s better to heal quickly—to get back on track, get things done, and not waste time wallowing.
After all, what have I got to be unhappy about? I should be happy, because if you look at my life, I have “got it all”—a good career, a nice boyfriend, a lovely house, a healthy baby boy. I should simply be exceptionally happy and grateful, right? And, isn’t it so often said that our thoughts shape our reality? “You will only be as happy as you allow yourself to be.”
However, our reality—and we, as human beings—are much more complex. Sometimes, like me, you might wake up feeling really unhappy: sad, weak, unworthy. You may want to step out of your body and step out of your life—and, at the same time, you feel guilty for feeling this way.
So, where has all the love and light gone? Come on, girl, simply shift your mindset and get back into the flow of positivity. Don’t hang loose with your anxiety.
In moments like this, it seems like all the lessons I’ve learned over the years have simply vanished overnight, and I find it so hard to accept this state of dissatisfaction in which dark, heavy clouds loom over my head. Why? Because when I was most vulnerable, nobody ever gave me permission to feel this way. I never understood that it’s okay to feel angry or disappointed—or to feel sad, to cry.
When I was just a child, my father told me not to use my tears as emotional blackmailing. Wipe them away fast. Put a smile on your face, and be happy—or, at least, quiet. There’s nothing to moan about.
My mother did the same, in regard to my anger and aggressiveness. “You have everything and more. I support you in every possible way. Why aren’t you just happy?“
To be clear, I am not blaming my parents; I am just realizing that I never properly learned how to deal with the darker side of my emotions. I never learned that I am still loved, even when I’m angry. Instead, I learned that it’s better to wipe the anger away, as quickly as possible, by telling myself that I have everything I need and by looking at the beautiful, shining sun and the pretty flowers along the road.
The point is that I’ve never known how to deal with these kind of emotions: mainly, anger and sadness. When they’d arise, I just wanted them to go away as quickly as possible—because they made me feel guilty. I live in an awesome house, and I have a healthy baby—why be sad? But, by repressing my emotions, I got depressed. I got sick.
So, one day, I figured: I never learned how to deal with my emotions, so I have to learn now. For the sake of my own well-being and for the sake of my relationships.
However, healing does not happen over night—and this is totally fine. There will be flashbacks, moments in which you feel like you are back to the same old sh*t again.
“You can’t rush your healing,
Darkness has its teachings,
Love? is never leaving…
You can’t rush your healing,
Your healing…“ – Trevor Hall
But, from my experience, I want to let you know that once you set your focus on the path of healing, things will start to get better, little by little. Even if you are taking tiny baby steps, and even if you relapse sometimes, you will start to heal.
Whether you’re dealing with anger, depression, or frustration, it is important to have tools to address the emotions causing you distress, both short term and long term.
Here are some things I found to be very helpful:
Acceptance. It is okay that you are sad. It is okay that you are angry. It is okay that you are feeling unhappy in whatever your circumstances may be. Give yourself the permission to feel this way. Because if you don’t, you will feel guilt—and if you feel guilty about it, you will feel even more unhappy.
Talk about it. Sometimes just opening up to somebody can be exactly what you need to deal with your emotions. There was a time when I was incredibly ashamed of my anger, of my sadness, of not feeling love and light. Don’t be sorry for your emotions—we all experience this sort of thing from time to time. Which becomes more apparent when we talk about it, and somebody else can tell you: “I feel you! I’ve been there too.”
Write about it. I’ve discovered how much writing helps me step back and explore my emotions, and at the same time, not over-identify with them. You can watch them and explore by writing a poem or a blog about your anger. Write down what has happened, what you feel, and the duration and severity of the emotion. Even by organizing these thoughts into a piece of writing can help process the emotions.
Sit, breathe, and explore. We don’t need to do anything to overcome our negative emotions: They will go away at some point. Rather than trying to push them away, try to sit with and feel them. Find a calm spot where you can sit quietly and breathe and feel. Emotions are part of you, so welcome all of them! Explore how they arise, linger, and then also fade away.
Let it all out. Cry, shout, and scream—anger wants to be felt and sometimes needs to be heard. You can scream it all out in the forest, or scream along to some aggressive music.
Learning to deal with your emotions is a powerful healing process. It might take some time, but keep going. It will get easier and easier!
Author: Daniela Singhal
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis