Post Card from Hell: The aftermath

I realize that I haven’t posted on this blog since June, even though I promised to document the whole journey. Here’s the issue: This part of the journey sucks. It’s not good news and exciting changes. It’s struggle. It’s depression. And it’s hard to write, which is a guarantee it will be hard to read. But I’m finally ready. I won’t sugar coat it, and I won’t censor my thoughts. Hopefully that won’t offend anyone, but in my opinion, the raw and ragged truth of it is what makes it worth sharing.

I was on a high after buzzing my head, for like, 3 weeks.Β  I was proud, my head felt soft and fuzzy, and I literally didn’t even have to towel my head dry after a shower. It was ahhhmazing.

Don’t these look so happy?? This is one and two weeks after the buzz, that’s why.

Then–no big surprise–the regrowth started. And it didn’t hurry.

Pretty soon I looked like a full-blown baby gorilla. You know what I’m talking about. 2 inches of straight up fuzzy helmet hair. I couldn’t style it. I couldn’t make it behave with product, I couldn’t even comb it. It was funny for a minute, but then my demons emerged.

Last fall when I started this hair thing my motivations were two-fold. One, I wanted to try all the hair styles. Fun, scary, exciting. That sounded like a recipe for empowerment. And two, I wanted to challenge my looks. My eating disorder was ruling my life and my body image issues had become unmanageable. If I changed my hair and eventually buzzed my head I’d be forced to face down all the shallow parts of myself. I pictured myself laughing at them. I pictured myself cleaning out these closets in my soul and when I found the brutal abusive boyfriend people refer to as ED (Eating Disorder), I’d laugh at him and kick him out. Like a boss.

What I found instead was more like that creepy little girl from The Ring, staring me down and leering from a haunted corner of my mind. Every time I tried to tell her I was strong she smiled her disturbing, crooked smile and whispered her little lies in my head. I believed them.

Dammit, you guys, I believed them.

I don’t have many pictures of this time, for obvious reasons. But here’s one where you can practically feel the insecurity oozing off of me.

I can’t get into all the details, but what followed was a summer of defeat. A summer of complete undoing. I’d been convinced that I didn’t have good looks anymore, so I had nothing. I was nothing. By the end of July, I realized something.Β  Maybe people that took their own lives hadn’t necessarily quit. Maybe they didn’t do it because they were selfish. Maybe, just maybe, they had taken their lives because they’d tried everything else. Maybe they knew their load was so heavy they wouldn’t make it into their golden years still carrying it. Maybe they were out of ideas, and tries, and couldn’t stand to watch the people around them try to help, knowing it wasn’t helping, but their loved ones still had to deal with them everyday.

I began to empathize with suicide. And it scared the hell out of me.

Nathan, of course, had noticed this drastic darkening. He’d seen me retreat into myself and become a bitter, snippish version of the girl I once was, and he was scared, too. And when I finally confided the depth of it he stepped in. He was strong enough to do what I couldn’t. He didn’t suggest professional help. He demanded it.

I can see now that my hair journey did exactly what it was supposed to. It took me to the shallow parts of myself and I faced them. I just didn’t picture that enemy being so out-of-my-league. I really thought I was strong enough on my own to let the illness go, guys. But I wasn’t. And so began the chapter of my life I call the hell of therapy. It started with intensive work at the Center for Change eating disorder clinic. I’ll tell you all about my tyrant dietician, and the Hallmark-movie group sessions, and my excruciating one on one sessions. But I’m not gonna lie. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’m not done. So, if you want the truth, stay tuned. I’ve been promised it will be worth it in the end.

This is me at the end of September. One cool thing about baby gorilla hair is the amazing bed head.

P.S. Comments on and sharing this blog is greatly encouraged. I love to feel connection, especially with those that are suffering these things along with me, and also with those that love and care. Please feel free to share the blog posts with others, and comment away.

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40 thoughts on “Post Card from Hell: The aftermath

  1. Being in-patient in a psychiatric unit for well over a week was the single best thing that could have happened to me. Yes, I fought it with every ounce of my soul. Yes, I assured them that dying was still the goal. Yes, I thought this was for people in straight jackets who talked to themselves. But, in the end it saved me. I was safe there. I am so grateful for the intense therapy and rest I received while there. I truly believe that if I hadn't had it prior to this latest trial, I would not be here typing this to you. You really are stronger than you think.

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  2. I love you to pieces. For real. Like, you're one of the few people that when I think – what if we'd never met? My eyes tear up. And I'm not usually a crier. So. there you are. Also. You are one of the bravest people I know. No platitude BS. For real. Bravest.

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  3. I have to second what Jolene said.

    Also, I had no idea that things had gotten so dark..my heart breaks for you. And I understand that maybe I'm too far away to be the kind of help or support that comes from being local and around you. But I want to do all that I can for you.

    And I stand with Nathan on his decision to push you towards professional help. Because I love you and I want to see you happy and healthy in every facet of your life. And you are brave. Because I'm too chicken to barely get a haircut!

    Thank you for sharing this. I think it's incredible what you're doing both emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And I'm always a listening ear should you need one. I know you have been one to me in the past and I cannot express how grateful I am for your confidence and discretion.

    All my love girl. All of it.

    Gina

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  4. You will never know how many people you have and will help by being unapologetically authentic – sharing your story – allowing others to see that no one is perfect and that it's ok to talk about the weak, rough and vulnerable parts of mortality. We are here on this earth (non translated) because we all have trials and experiences to learn from. It's impossible to express how much my family and I love and support you.

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  5. Rach,thank you for sharing your journey!! I said it the other day, but want to say again that I'm so glad we reconnected πŸ™‚

    I have lots of weakness, but one that cripples me most often is my self consciousness. I apologize to the point of annoyance, and worry beyond reason, but can't seem to turn it off. And I guess I'm mentioning it here because when I look at you, and your no BS (as Jo put it πŸ˜‰ I stand in awe. You're a huge example to me of someone who is full of courage and soooo many other things I envy!! Love you!!

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  6. I will love your face forever, and not just because it's beautiful! I've lived 24-7 with you, and it left a lasting impression on me! I've been blessed to know your quirky, crazy fun side as well as your spiritual powerful side. My mission and life wouldn't have been as full without you. It's been far too long since we've caught up. I'm looking forward to a reunion in Utah soon!

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  7. No need for envy. You are such a powerful and polite person. I love that you never interrupt. YOu don't judge. You listen and consider. YOu have this steady love for people that you might be overlooking, but others don't. You're a breath of fresh air, Nat.

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  8. You should know that some of my very best memories and testimony building experiences in young women's happened because of you! I specifically remember you testifying of our Saviors love at a time when I really needed to hear/feel it. Thank you for that and thank you for sharing your experience here!
    Lots of love from the Serafine family:)
    -Allison Wilson

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  9. I love you Rach. I love every single thing about you. I especially love your courage in sharing your story. I miss you and wish I was there to smother you with hugs. And thank you Nate for being an advocate for my precious Rachel.

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  10. Ally, I think I could say almost these exact words to you! I think of you as a ray of sunshine and honesty. Thank you for stopping by and offering your love! I love you right back…and your whole family!

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  11. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to call you, and talked myself out of it! I love you, Tess. You represent so many good strong things in my life. Your example has ALWAYS been positive! I love to hear what you're up to, what you're creating. Your happy, singing influence on me is something I lean on a lot.

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  12. I don't feel like I know you well enough to be a huge support, but I'm so glad you have a support system in place. How courageous to let your husband know you were in a bad place and to let people help you. You are winning.

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  13. I know we don't know each other very much but I've always admired you and Nate. You may not feel it but whenever I was around you I felt your strength and love. You are such a sweet strong soul. Thank you for sharing,

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  14. Rach your words made me tear up. I think to myself all the time with my own issues- shouldn't I be getting over this by now? I mean I'm almost 40, and I'm still dealing with my same baggage?! Even Jake will tell me “you've gotta find a way to get over this”. Looking at our issues under a microscope or through the objective eyes of a third party, is sometimes the only way to learn how to resolve (or in my case try to deal). Thank you for sharing what most of us are afraid to. I love you! (And I love the validation and sometimes painful clarity of therapy- yep, plenty of experience there…!) And you are still totally HOT!!! Melissa never gave me a Latin solo! Love ya!!!❀️

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  15. 16 years ago i was there. Inpatient at the Center for Change. It's much different now… and so am I. But it was a starting point for help i needed but was not ready for. You are in the depths. The raw hard nasty place where you feel like you are being torn apart just to grow. You can do this.
    Its not perfect but its a process. And you are in it. Thank you for sharing… some things I really needed to hear.

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  16. 16 years ago i was there. Inpatient at the Center for Change. It's much different now… and so am I. But it was a starting point for help i needed but was not ready for. You are in the depths. The raw hard nasty place where you feel like you are being torn apart just to grow. You can do this.
    Its not perfect but its a process. And you are in it. Thank you for sharing… some things I really needed to hear.

    Like

  17. Rachel I had no idea that you struggled with this. I too am in therapy for my eating disorder that I have struggled with since I was a teenager. I feel like people don't talk about it enough and it's a really great thing to talk about because you aren't alone. I realize now that I will always have my eating disorder wether I act on it or not and it's a constant fight. Just like an alcoholic will always have fight the want and urge to drink. Thanks for sharing!!
    -Lauren F. (Old 6th ward!)

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  18. Rachel I had no idea that you struggled with this. I too am in therapy for my eating disorder that I have struggled with since I was a teenager. I feel like people don't talk about it enough and it's a really great thing to talk about because you aren't alone. I realize now that I will always have my eating disorder wether I act on it or not and it's a constant fight. Just like an alcoholic will always have fight the want and urge to drink. Thanks for sharing!!
    -Lauren F. (Old 6th ward!)

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  19. Annie, you are one of the best examples of grace while handling heavy baggage. And honesty about it. I always knew I could say anything to you and you'd accept it without judgment. You understand people's loads. And we love you for it. πŸ™‚

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  20. Lauren, my sister! I had no idea you struggled, either. One thing I have a tough time with is the “once an addict, always an addict” mentality. I get that I'll always be susceptible to the kinds of body image lies I'm entrenched in now, but I've got to believe I'll be free of this one day or what did Christ come for? Right now the idea of surrender is such a paradox, but I think I'll get there. I'm happy you told me, let's talk! I'm right around the corner, girl! πŸ™‚

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  21. Dear Rachel, My heart goes out to you. A quote from hymn 220 comes to mind: β€œβ€In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.” Truly, everyone has something they really struggle with. I hope you feel proud of how courageous you have been to put voice to your struggles. These things fester and grow in the dark when left unvoiced. Bringing struggles out into the light is such an important step to being able to access the True Healer, the Light of the World, Himself, Jesus Christ. Christ is all-powerful and heals all things! Carlyle and I send our love. We know that love is another important part of the equation! ~Lisa Curtis

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