Backwards Advice

There are a lot of articles about “what I would tell my younger self”. Today, I feel the opposite. I’m looking at my younger self for advice.

After getting my heartbroken by my first love, going through my parents divorce, putting myself through different schools because I felt so lost and dealing with a sibling that I lived with yet, didn’t speak with, I gave myself the best advice. And that was. Do what is best for you.

I put my heart and soul into swimming. I went to bed early. I woke up early. I gave 110% at practice. I ate the right foods. I said no to dances and proms because I wanted to be the best athlete I could be. It was the one thing that I had control over and it was the one thing that I felt such an amazing reward from.

I did have fun, had friends and I went to parties but I also had my heart set on me.

I won’t forget how awful it felt those first mornings after my break up without text messages from my now ex boyfriend. It would be before 5am driving to swim practice and I would just tell myself it’s okay because I’m going to get faster today in the pool and that’s going to make me happy. The happiness I got from swimming completed me.

I think over the past 3 years as I’ve gone through the ups and downs of bipolar, I’ve lost that girl. I lost that competitiveness and that drive.

That girl has come back. I’m working on bringing it back because I’m changing my mindset. The moment that I have my priorities and what I love and my health in check, everything else will fall into place.

My dad is coming this weekend and he’s the only person in the world I want to see. I have this huge sense of relief and comfort when I’m with him. But we’re having dinner with some of my friends and my one friend keeps trying to get me to drink…why? I don’t know. She knows about my illness, my hospitalizations and my medications. She knows I have trouble monitoring my drinks and I blackout. And it bothers me that she’s so insistent about me drinking and it also scares me that I’m going to.

But I have to keep telling myself no. I have a goal. I have commitments. I have promises to myself that I have to keep.


When Bipolar isn’t your only problem..

There are some types of axioms that make up your mental health diagnoses. Probably for health insurance, I don’t really know. But I know my primary is Bipolar 1 Disorder with mania, psychotic-whatever features. And my secondary diagnoses are general anxiety disorder, ADHD and anorexia nervosa. Sometimes depression is thrown in the mix.

Anorexia is something that I have had a weird relationship with for as long as I can remember. I can remember, at a young age that I played a video game called DDR, a game where you dance on a mat connected to the TV and it has a calorie count in the corner. As a child I asked my dad “how many calories are in a pound?” He said, “3,600 calories are in a pound”. He was definitely concerned as to why I cared at such a young age, but life went on. I was astonished as to the large number of calories that equal one pound on my body. I freaked out mentally and wanted to dance forever to get into a calorie deficit.

I remember being in 1st grade. I was 6 years old and my parents had this amazing 3 angle mirror in the hallway of their individual walk-in closets… it was a ridiculously amazing hallway. But I looked at myself and at that young of an age; I determined that I was pregnant. That was the only plausible reason for my stomach being so large. I was 6 years old. I didn’t know where babies came from but I couldn’t believe my body. Looking back, it’s like I thought I was the Virgin Mary but in reality, it was my budding eating disorder and probably a sort of body dysmorphia

Fast-forward to 11 years old and my second major panic moment of, I’m going to be fat for life. I started taking pictures of my body, my love handles, my thighs, and my stomach. I wanted the picture so I could compare progress during dieting. I wanted a before and an after progression. I wasn’t struggling physically, yet, but I was emotionally and mentally.

I went to high school and would binge eat unhealthy food like ice cream sundaes before my 3 hour swim practice. But during the day I was restricted to fruit, oatmeal, turkey and scrambled eggs, I didn’t weigh my food or count how much I ate, but those were my “safe foods” and I could have as much as I wanted. I was a competitive swimmer and I had an average body weight for my height, I wasn’t physically suffering, just yet.

Fast forward, again, to college. It was hard to escape the late night pizzas, long days of tailgating football games to napping to drinking at night and waking up with weird food in my bed. I basically put my diet on “hold”. I ate foods I deemed healthy in an orthorexic way but I never calorie counted. Until I graduated.

I had a weird college time line so my actual graduated of Spring 2015 ended up being Summer 2016 due to being mentally ill. When I had my first manic episode I became extremely anorexic. A glass of juice would constitute as 2 meals, breakfast and lunch. I was convinced that the medications I was put on would make me fat. I was so manic, I had no appetite so it didn’t matter to me much. The “meals” I ate, I would purge. I had no shame about puking in an NYC restaurant bathroom with a line out the door.

After I was stabilized, anorexia followed me right into my core. I moved up to Boston and I had my first manic episode away from my parents. At first, I lost 10 pounds in less than a month. I don’t remember much. I just remember leaving the hospital and being happy with the fact that I looked thin and I wanted to keep myself that way. I remembered that I was once really thin from a manic episode then I let myself go..that wasn’t going to happen this time around.

The mentality of maintaining “thinness” sent me into actual anorexia nervosa. I calorie counted to a T. I had a food scale. I had multiple food calorie counting apps on my phone. I had multiple body weight scales that I hid in my closet from my roommates. I logged EVERYTHING. I hated dinner; I went months without consuming dinner or lunch. I had numerous food rules. I became secretive and a liar. I would plan binges when I needed to breakdown and when I did, I would purge it up in my closet. I would sometimes have garbage bags of vomit in my closet for days. I hated living with roommates because I couldn’t live out anorexia and bulimia.

I moved out. I moved into a studio, closer to work but ultimately I needed it so I could weigh myself in peace, binge eat in peace, starve myself in peace, occasionally exercise (if my energy level allowed) and live out my eating disorder.

Paranoia is already a huge part of being bipolar. But add on anorexia nervosa and paranoia exponentially multiples. Co-workers noticed how thin I became. I would be asked what I had for lunch. I would be asked how I have no body fat yet never work out anymore.

I was the worst version of myself. I was miserable yet I loved trying on a 00 and having it fit poorly. It’s the most twisted knowledge. I would spend more time in a grocery store than you could ever imagine, just taking in nutrition facts, mentally calculating if I could consume it, usually no. Once I got so drunk, at 4am I raided a guys’ fridge I was dating at the time. I was so embarrassed he figured out my ED, he didn’t. I once ordered 5 pizzas, individually, after going out. I was so hungry and so drunk. The delivery man kept showing up in 5 minute intervals and I was so confused as to where these pizzas were coming from.

Eventually, I couldn’t do it. I decided I needed to seek out help. I found a dietician and a therapist who specializes in food and former athletes. Perfect match. They both dumped me because I basically refused to follow what they said. I didn’t want to eat carbs and this and that for breakfast. I loved my controlled diet. I couldn’t eat my fear foods. I couldn’t eat dinner. I couldn’t go to events revolving around food.

I went a long time of eating 600 or less calories a day. But as time went on, I became manic. And with mania came alcohol. Wine slowed down my mind. And wine came calories and eventually, drunk eating happened. I remember specifically, my birthday. I was going to Martha’s Vineyard with my mom. I would be in a bikini the entire weekend. The night beforehand, I was of course drunk and ate an entire dominos pizza. I couldn’t stop asking my mom if I looked fat. In retrospect, I was 25 pounds skinnier than I am now.

I don’t know what happened. Mania took over. I went to the hospital. Thin as a rail but no one cared. Mania and bipolar was my first priority so that’s what was taken care of. It was lithium levels, sleep, mood stabilization, etc. But I left the hospital and ever since, my anorexia has come and gone. I still weigh myself from time to time but what really saved me was running. With running, I’m not able to starve myself. I need fuel in this furnace to complete a half-marathon or just simply commute to work. Sometimes, I’m afraid I’ve turned the “#strongnotskinny” corner but, to be honest, it’s better than the way anorexia took over my life.

The point I want to drive home is that, bipolar, schizophrenia, major mental illnesses that debilitate you, have such a huge impact. But there are so many crossovers with addiction, ADHD, OCD, anxiety and more. It’s tough to my “secondary” illnesses to get the attention they need. I’m still working on bringing them forward with my doctors. It can feel scary to me. But it’s important because sometimes, I can’t help my bipolar recovery if I don’t have my anorexia under control.

A Little Thursday Motivation

I re-did my entire running plan and made it a little easier, thinking I was being too hard on myself after having a really painful last week of struggling. I had so much anxiety about the fact that I have no idea how to run, I’ve never been coached, I can’t pace properly. But I just told myself to shut up. I re-did the plan, realizing it’s not as hard to coach myself as I think.. I did it great for my 15k. And onwards I went…just trying to not be so aggressive on doubling up, tripling up workouts.

But yesterday, I did what I do. I said fuck it. I signed myself up for spin class at 7am. Got on the T to Harvard Sq to see my psychiatrist and then did a 10 mile run back. I made the mistake of eating before and at mile 4 I contemplated stopping. But I didn’t. I just kept going.

Last night, I had a meeting for an event I’m helping plan. After the day of work I felt too mentally and emotionally weak to say no to wine, which is always there. I felt guilty for not going but I knew I would drink and I know I can’t, especially not right now.

Now I have an 8 hour shift until 9pm….ugh retail during the holiday season.

Here’s a little motivation to get us through the day, luckily some of you are already almost halfway there!


I Feel Tired.

I feel so tired.

From drinking all weekend long.
From training for a 15k and a half marathon.

From working and being on my feet, selling all day long.

From worrying about money, my family, my holiday plans, my schedule.

I am just tired.

I feel like I could sleep forever. But I don’t. I wake up, I run, I go to work, I grocery shop, I feed my cats, I watch TV, I read magazines, I read books, I go on the internet, I do my dishes, I take out my trash, I do laundry, I clean, I feed myself, I cook for others sometimes. I am here, I am alive, I am trying, I am capable.

And for right now, I am so tired. But I am keeping on. My favorite aunt sent me a bracelet that said, “I can and I will”. I wear it every day and it reminds me that I am so capable. My therapist tells me how capable, smart, intelligent and how I can impact the world, but just seeing the words “I can and I will” 24/7 is the best reminder, especially coming from someone close to me.

We can. And. We will. No matter what. Keep on keeping on.




I quit my job. 

I quit. It was a constant battle. 

It was the temptation to drink myself to sleep every night. It was the verbal fights with my mother. It was holding back tears at my desk. It was throwing up my dinner after I promised myself I stopped my ED habits. It was not talking to anyone at work all day. It was ending up drinking 2 bottles of wine because I didn’t want to feel.

Then It was feeling guilty for doing things I enjoyed, like swimming, because it interferes with work. It was feeling ashamed of having mental health appointments during work hours. It was being confused. It was feeling like I don’t belong. It wasn’t making eye contact. It was discomfort and rejection. 

It was my mom telling me to not be emotional about it. It was the guy I’m dating telling me to do it if I make “a lot” of money. It was people telling me it’s temporary, stay for a year, just stick it out! 

Life’s temporary. Snow storms are temporary. An overdrawn bank account is temporary. Warm towels from the dryer are temporary. Eating a really good meal is temporary. Having an intimate conversation with a lover is temporary. Waking up next to my precious cats is temporary. 

Summer is temporary. Fall is temporary. Winter is temporary. Spring is temporary. Everything in the entire world is temporary. 

Including pain, agony, misery, shame, pride, happiness, excitement, beauty, love, discomfort, hate, anxiety, stress, intimacy, sympathy, comfort, inadequacy. It goes on. 

Today, I talked to HR and my supervisor, I walked out of the meeting with tears welling in my eyes.

I left. I left the building and I thought. How can I ever return? 

What would it take to make this all go away? How can I do it? Never have I ever thought of a plan, but there I was, thinking how to end my life. I thought of what I would include of my letter.

My whole life, my dad was my reason for living, I could never leave him. But for the first time, my pain felt greater. I felt that I couldn’t survive on this planet, in this situation. He could survive without me more than I could survive in my awful situation, with him. 

I called my dad, sobbing and he told me point blank- “you’re quitting because you aren’t going back to the hospital.” He said we’ll take steps back to take steps forward. 

Things are going to be different now. I’m building a life that’s healthy for me. For me, for me now. And this is my new beginning.

Hello new life. My name is Michelle. 

The “work” world is my oyster 

My first full week back in Corporate America has been a struggle. I thought yesterday was Friday! It was Tuesday. I frowned but turned it into a smile, it’s all I can do.  

I’ve been applying to jobs like an addict. I get phone calls but nothings really what speaks to me so I usually don’t respond. Not productive. 

I’ve been trying to create a life worth living by doing everything else outside of work be something that makes me happy. I started swimming again, the thing that made my world go round. I joined a social league to meet people my own age. I started working at a boutique with great people and great products. 

But today, nevertheless, I go to the gym midday and I get a text from my boutique’s owner, 

“If I could make it work, would you be interested in potentially working for us full time if we gave you a bump in pay?”

For a little background. I started here a few weeks before I went back to my real job. Let’s say it’s been 3-4 weeks. I was still on FMLA and needed spending money. The store was close to my house and the merchandise was adorable, why not? 

I had a background in retail. I love people. I got the job. 

Long story short, I fell in love. I fell in love with the girls who work there, the clients, the owners, the day to day tasks, the merchandise, the special moments like gender reveals or when I’m asked to model dresses for the stores Instagram. Best part is my commute! It’s only a few blocks from my house. 

How can I say no?! 

Health insurance. Low Salary. Benefits. Will I be protected if I need ADA accommodations? Transportation cost. 401k. So on and so forth. 

I’m not your normal case. I have a wonderful father who’s been footing my bills since I moved out of my hometown last fall but still. This job is a step towards something I love and that’s so important but it’s not a step towards establishing independence from my family, financially. It’s not a step towards being able to tell them I don’t need help, I got this Mom and Dad. And that hurts my heart, a little. 

But, I think I’m going to take the job, as long as the details work out. It’s important to be happy. When you have a mental illness, what more can you prioritize than happiness? With happiness comes stability, sleep, socialization, exercise and so much more. Happiness is the root to all, we all deserve. When happiness is within you, it seeps into all areas and everything is in sync, in happiness

What do you think I should do?

Stay at my law firm where it’s boring and I don’t talk to anyone but have great benefits and a nice salary. Or skip out on that to have fun, smile, meet great people and hang out with my friends that makes life feel like work. 

I’ve never had to go back to work after a hospitalization so this is all new to me! 

A fun fact is I stop by the stores almost everyday on my home from work 🤗 I love it that much!