Giving myself a little credit

After reading the replies to yesterday's blog post, I really started thinking. I had a long drive to the university library this afternoon- an hour through the flat Midwestern countryside- to do some research for my class, which made the perfect atmosphere for some deep thought.

Dearest Sarah said that mental illness is so often an invisible burden- and I think that's why I like all of you out there in the blogosphere, and especially all of you here in the cul-de-sac. You get it. You know what it's like to be faced with a situation, only to have it compounded by whatever it is that you're dealing with. That sometimes, being marginally psychologically intact at the end of the day is enough.

I would like other people to give me credit sometimes, to say "Wow, that must have been hard for you." On the other hand, you can't tell just by looking at me. I don't look like I have an eating disorder, or depression, or OCD. I look fairly normal.

Even then, people don't get it. They don't get how hard it can be sometimes. How much you can miss out on things. How tiring it can be. Even me. I don't always get it for other people, even those with the same mental illnesses as me.

I did NOT want to go to the library today. I was looking forward to it about as much as a dentist appointment. I didn't want to have to go and talk to a librarian, explain what I was looking for, feel like a numskull, look some more, once again look like a numskull, and eventually, 10 hours later, be on my way. My advisor said "Just ask the librarian." I hate talking to new people. Specifically when I have a large chance of sounding like a jackass.

But, hello...I worked in a library for two years. It's not like I haven't heard people not know what they're looking for. Or judged them because of it (except the guy who was looking for porn but trying not to look like he was looking for porn. That was pretty funny. I led him to the art books and left him alone.)

But I went to the library. Sounded a bit like a numskull. Searched Medline for four straight hours. Emailed my advisor. Sounded like a total idiot. She emailed me back. Things got settled, but she must think I'm pretty dumb.

But I emailed her. Got things straightened out. Coursework is almost ready to go.

I felt stupid and I did it anyway.

I doubt the librarian will remember me in the slightest. I know I didn't have the strangest request (could you show me information on the use of involuntary treatment in tuberculosis?), and I sounded competent. The words "teaching a Johns Hopkins in the fall" tend to do that for a gal. And maybe my advisor thinks I'm dumber than dirt. I don't know, and I wouldn't expect an honest answer if I asked. But I'm still going to be teaching and still going to be paid.

(I know I assume a lot about what others think of me. I know it's fairly self-defeating. But that's not the point I'm trying to make)

There are times when I want to yell from the rooftops, "I ate my snack when no one was looking. I could have thrown it out, but I didn't." That's where I come in. Pat myself on the back, Good job Carrie. It's nice when you get complemented for a job well done. That happened to me many times in the course of my life.

It didn't mean anything because I didn't believe it. Good job for a 98% on an exam? Seriously- you didn't see the two questions I missed. And that paper? I wrote what the prof wanted, I knew a lot about the subject, I found a really good book, I got lucky. Are you kidding? I pulled that stuff out of my ass at the last second. It's garbage. Believe me, I'm not thin. There is so much flab left on me- look at this! ::tugs at skin on stomach:: You can't even see my ribs!

I think you get the idea.

Now I'm not intending to try and give myself credit for being thin. Aside from the immediate medical complications, no one outside my close family and friends really cared what I weighed. Anorexia is not something that I would take credit for, even if I could.

But the other stuff? Maybe I did talk to a librarian who knew his stuff. Maybe the prof did ask the questions that I happened to know. It's entirely possible that I land on dumb luck sometimes.

There are other things, though, smaller things, like getting out of bed in the morning, fixing myself a hot dinner rather than munching on a Snickers and calling it a meal. Asking a friend out to lunch again (yes, that's the him friend. Just trying to figure out how to approach him. No comments necessary- I've already talked it over with Wonder Woman, aka my therapist). Not playing with sharp objects just for fun. For eating everything I needed to in order to maintain recovery.

I need to start giving myself credit for that.

So good job, Carrie, for making it through another day and doing the utter best you could.

::pats shoulder::

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mary said...

We all like to be given a little praise along the way, have someone notice our contribution, even if it's to show up for the day.
I saw your post after I hadn't heard back in an email and my first thought was, Yeah, Carrie's back, :) then I thought,I hope she's going to share how she got around that hole she was faced with on her path, and you did. And you did fantastic. Except the name calling...knock it off. Unless of course you want to call yourself a flipping genius and therefore unable to ask questions. That's what brothers or sisters are for!
Keep working on giving yourself your "Well done Carrie" as you are the one who will be most effected by whether you honor yourself or not. If it helps you can smile at your new found self confidence.

BTW, I haven't got an Ed that I'm aware of but I've had moments, okay days, of insanity. I don't stay in the cul-de-sac though...more like the wild forest and mountains. I don't do clubs. Still, I think I get it.


samsi77 said...

Carrie, I sent you an email so please read when you get a chance. I do not want to sound condesending (sp?) but GREAT JOB, for getting the job done, for using "Opposite Action" and going to the library, using your interpersonal effectiveness skills to get your needs met and for doing what was effective to get through the day but most importantly to protect and to defend Carrie and your recovery. I can only imagine how challending it is for you to get through such times but I do see how hard you are working and I have also seen the brightness in your eyes when you recognize how hard you are working and reap the benefits. I have half way through your book and I need to tell you, although I know that I am biased, however I am also qualified to offer feedback, it is terrific. You know your stuff obviously, you have an incredible manner of writing that is professional, factual and yet still exhibits your personality and allows others to relate. That is really a gift that you have. Please for all of those people out here that need you and for you, Carrie, don't let ED take control, you are the captain of the ship and when you are in control you are capable of phenomenol acts! Remember the wise words of an up and coming writing "FORK ED"

ms. em said...

i've found myself saying, "i'm proud of me." it feels good to associate pride with taking care of myself.

credit to yourself due.

you deserve it.

i understand the struggle. i do.

i accept and am grateful that not everyone understands the struggle. i don't wish this mental illness on anyone.

sending you a virtual high five.

with hope,

ms. em

p.s. my father-in-law gave me the best comment a few weeks ago. He said, "You look like a person who takes a lot of pride in herself."

i think that one should be shared so others will be encouraged to use it:)

Jeanne said...

First off, as a librarian whose motto is "the only stupid question is the one left unasked," let me say (even without knowing for what you were asking) you did not sound like a numbskull! And unless your question involved something completely bizarre (and thus interesting,) it went in the librarian's ear and out the other.


Good for you for patting yourself on the back! That is an amazing step - to realize that it is MORE than okay to give yourself credit for your accomplishments!!! So difficult, and yet so important!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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