Something I find profoundly true to my recovery is the need for happiness. Without at least one small thing to look forward to in a day, I cannot maintain life. Perhaps it’s because my mood and my eating disorder are so closely related. Whatever the case may be, because it is so imperative for myself, I believe it to be crucial for others, as well. It’s true, there may be those out there who can still eat appropriately, who will resist self-destruction, in the face of despair, yet, I find it hard to believe it will be as satisfying to sustain a life that’s lacking the desire to live.
I was reminded of this when I had a series of days in a row where I woke up excited to get started with all that lay before me. This past weekend, my friend from LA came to stay with me on campus. Having someone fly across the country to spend time with me made me feel important, deserving, and happy, but it was not only this that made her visit so helpful. It was also the reminder that life can be filled with fun.
From the start, there was laughter. Whether it was watching the Parent Trap (Lindsay Lohan version, obviously) or Pretty Little Liars (new obsession on Netflix), showing her campus or Newbury Street, drinking tea at the site of the Boston Tea Party or dining in Little Italy, or simply being with someone who makes you feel known, I was content with where I was and what I was doing. And that felt new in an old way.
It was a familiar feeling to fill with energy with the events of the day. The excitement in the now and the simultaneously satisfying idea that the future might be even better is something I worked hard to maintain in transitional and even harder to realize was possible in residential, but somewhere along the way, I lost that in the midst of midterms and re-scripting Agamemnon. I didn’t recognize it was lost until I felt it again, and then I was reminded of the significance in reestablishing it.
I decided I would make a plan to create a mini “Katie visit” for myself, every day. When I looked at my current schedule, attempting to find places where I could insert activities that would make the less enjoyable parts of my day feel balanced out, I saw the dilemma. Since starting at BC, I’ve kept “me time” sacred. I’ve made sure each night I get to bed on time, and established a routine to reduce stress, giving myself time to watch TV and eat. However, all of the things I have put in place that were meant to give me a break, have started to feel like tasks, in and of themselves. At nine, I watch Netflix, but it has become more of a check point, rather than an enjoyable indulgence. It was my mentality that had shifted when my friend came, instead of the actual events that took place.
At first, I thought, “well that’s easy,” I just need to enjoy what I’m already doing. Yet, in a lot of ways, it’s almost more difficult to change my mind in an experience, than simply add the experience. Still, I now know where the lack is: the impression of my moment, my consciousness of my foundation. Recognizing and accepting is one step closer to change. With this, I am beginning to work on reminding myself of the things I have to look forward to, in order to build my happiness. Waking up and listing the things in my day about which I can get excited might feel artificial at first, but I’ve been here before and I can work back to where I was. The thoughts might be forced, but, hey, energy follows thought. Not every day can be a visit with a friend, but sometimes you need to fake it until you make it.