Many of you have sent your thoughts and prayers my way without knowing the full scope of why I need them.
I'm a very private person (especially when it comes to my health), but what better day to post an update than the start of Mental Health Awareness month? Warning: for those of you who know me, some of these photos may be disturbing.
Early this year, I started experiencing difficulty swallowing due to dry mouth in the morning. Little by little, the swallowing issue became anything but little. Swallowing became increasingly difficult as the weeks went on.
In February I could no longer ignore the issue - this whole time I had been hiding and dealing with it alone, but I finally broke down (literally) and let my fiance Michael know what I was struggling with. It was a difficult thing to describe, but I knew I couldn't carry this alone. I was upset, embarrassed, confused, and very frustrated. And, worst of all, very rapidly losing weight (very scary for a person who's already underweight).
I lost 30 pounds in two months due to this illness.
Saying that I reached my lowest is an understatement. I've been through more mental and physical issues than many experience in a lifetime, but this took the cake (no pun).
I nearly lost my faith in everything that I thought I believed in...energy medicine, higher self, numerology, tarot, oracle, "source" or God...I felt very much abandoned by everything that I had chosen to dedicate my life to.
Except astrology. Ironically enough, I was able to pinpoint the exact aspect that has intensified the issue. For you planet aficionados out there, transit Uranus is in my 6th house, opposite my natal Pluto in the 12th. Yeah. Major life-threatening shakeup for sure.
Three emergency room visits and two week-long hospital stays later, I finally got closer to getting the help I needed (shoutout to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula!). What I'm experiencing is not an eating disorder - it's disordered eating, a different type of mental health issue. In addition, I have been diagnosed with Graves disease (hyperactive thyroid).
I feel that all of the stress and anxiety that I've been harboring for years finally caught up with me. The freelance life is no joke, kids.
I weighed in at 67 pounds when I was admitted to CHOMP. I was delusional, insisting that I felt fine. The fear of needing a feeding tube for the second time in my life (the first was due to Crohn's disease) was too much for me to bear. But bear it I did, and wear it I am. I got through it and am now able to nourish myself again.
As someone who prided herself on being med-free and often dealt with stuff through a combination of grit, gripe, delusion, and a dollop of martyrdom (wounded healer vibes), having no choice but to opt for acute treatment and a cocktail of medications was scary.
This experience taught me some hard lessons, too:
1. You have to do what you have to do
2. You don't have to do it alone
3. Family is more important than anything on earth
My sister, Bria, was the pillar that prevented the ceiling from caving in on the rest of us. She researched tirelessly, and schooled the doctors on less-common eating disorders. When I denied that I needed Western treatment, she reminded me that I myself wouldn't treat someone with an illness this acute and serious, so why did I feel I could solve it by myself?
My fiance, Michael, witnessed my lowest points, experienced his own, and has stood by my side every single moment during these darkest of times. His research, loyalty, unconditional love, and encouragement...words are not enough. I can't wait to marry this man.
My mother, Diana, never took no for an answer, and dropped everything to ensure my safety and care. My other family members have been unendingly concerned and supportive. I'm a very grateful girl.
I've been out of the hospital for about three weeks now, and I'm healing well. It's slow-going, but I'm seeing this as a lesson in patience and faith...
What I nearly threw out with the bathwater, I'm now returning to with new eyes. I've realized that it's hard to heal yourself when there's little self to heal. Now stable and gaining weight, I'm able to take the time to rest. Reflect. Pick up the pieces and mend.
Thank you all for your thoughts. They mean the world to me. As I'm still in recovery mode, I'll still be somewhat absent. But my heart is strong and is with you all.