Ed and his thoughts

This blog post is dedicated to KG. The girl I spend 24/7 with, can talk about anything, will listen to my problems, and has phenomenal turns. Love you to the moon and back and thank you for taking my thoughts away just by being in my presence. XOXO

 

Will the thoughts ever go away?

 

While I was going through treatment and as I continue in recovery, a thought that runs through my head quite often is, “Will these FRITOCKING thoughts ever go away.” The past week or so has been difficult, to be completely honest. I am no longer working so my days are not fully occupied and I have a lot of down time. Now, that may seem like a dream to some people but I dread downtime, I mean absolutely dread it. It means more free time for my eating disorder to penetrate my mind and more time for me to sit, consumed by thoughts of food and hunger cues, and it means more time of just Ed and me (a relationship that I really do not want anymore). I think the thoughts are some of the most difficult parts of having an eating disorder. I heard time and time again during treatment that thoughts are the first to come and the last to leave. Well that SUCKS! Even though I am behavior free and have been for a while now, I do not feel mentally free. So I turn to this question, “Will these thoughts ever go away?”

 

 

Let me backtrack a bit, I have been asked a big question by friends and family quite frequently, “What types of thoughts do you have? I mean what even are these thoughts.” Honestly, such a great question. For me, they crept up nice and quietly on my little 13 or 14 year old brain. They were “positive” thoughts that were helping me “care for my body” and teach me how to “love myself” (FALSE!) They were hints of information about certain foods I could eat or ab exercises I could add to my routine. The thoughts that possess me now are similar. I will be sitting on a couch trying to enjoy the latest episode of The Bachelorette, when I find myself calculating how much I have eaten throughout the day. I constantly check my watch to see what time I am allowed to eat (there will be another blog post on this later). I will grab at my stomach rolls to help me determine how hungry I am rather than letting my actual stomach dictate how it is feeling. It is so easy for me to slip into these thoughts and not very easy for me to fight them off. At first, the numbers of calories and the plans of exercise racing through my brain is a comforting feeling, my eating disorder disguises it that way. But the more I think about it and the higher that the calories climb, the more I recognize this is not what I want my life to be anymore. I do not want my days to be focused on how my stomach looks when I sit down. I do not want to spend hours in the morning ripping my closet apart trying to find an outfit that I can feel comfortable in.

I know I have had moments, even days of absolute freedom, when I am not consumed, tormented, and dragged down by the sinister voice of my eating disorder. I hold onto those moments and hope to find something that will eventually allow me to not just have moments but rather forever freedom. I find myself at a peace in the presence of others. I firmly believe that an important part of recovery is to surround yourself with people you are comfortable with and with whom you can be yourself. When I’m with people like my best friends Haley or KG, or Kelly S, or Nico (and so many more, I am truly blessed) I am at such a peace it is as if my eating disorder does not even exist. Those are the moments my thoughts have vanished; they cannot exist around these people. We honestly could be sitting on a couch, hanging out in a Starbucks, or driving through downtown LA and I am so free and at ease. I grasp onto those moments and they are what allow me to continue on in my recovery. They are the moments when I know that it is truly possible to not be consumed by pain, suffering, and ED thoughts. Each moment not spent in my eating disorder is a beautiful moment and thanks to all of these amazing people in my life I am able to continue on. So I guess to sort of answer my own question (and also to just keep a positive mindset), I do firmly believe that these thoughts will go away. I do firmly believe that one day I will be able to make a difference in other people’s lives and help other people struggling while I myself am no longer struggling. I am confident in myself and all my friends that I have found in treatment that we will be free to enjoy shopping and clothes. Free to enjoy our food. Free to enjoy our guilty pleasures (The Bachelorette). And most importantly, free to enjoy our lives.

 

 

heinkevisual

Neutron Stars and Eating Disorders: yes, they relate

I was sitting in Starbuck’s today while attempting to do some wondrous science homework and in the midst of the conversation I was reflecting on some ideas for my next blog post. One idea that kept coming to me was my eating disorder’s great deal of judgment. When I was mired deep in my eating disorder, I was not only very critical of myself and how I looked, but also of others. As I would walk down the street I would look at only bodies, “she’s X pounds”, “woah, that is a fat lady”, “she should not be wearing that”, “BMI of X” and so forth and so on. At every meeting, I would scan the room; I knew I didn’t have the highest SAT score or the richest parents or the most expensive clothes, but I was most definitely the skinniest and the most disciplined. My life was full of assumptions based on what people looked like from the outside. I dismissed people based on their weight or what size they were. In the midst of these reflections, the inspiration/analogy I needed for this post came from above, literally. I suddenly was smacked in the face by some tiny object that fell from the ceiling; “Oh my gosh, that thing is so tiny, but it felt like a boulder hit my head,” was my immediate thought, and then the light bulb flashed on.

 

Ok so has anyone ever heard of neutron stars? Well many of you may know about neutron stars but I knew absolutely nothing until I needed some evidence to support my theory. Neutron stars are collapsed cores of large stars but the coolest thing about them is that if you scooped one teaspoon from a neutron star it would have a mass of around 10 billion tons.[1] I understand you all are probably wondering how in the world this relates to eating disorders, I swear, it does.

One tiny little teaspoon of neutron stars weighs 10 billion tons. If one were to ever look at that tiny teaspoon, they would never guess that it has a weight of 10 billion tons, nor would it be important to them. Also, if you had a ginormous bag of feathers, they’re feathers so they’re not going to weigh that much. It doesn’t matter how many you stuff into a bag, they’re not going to weigh a ton.

 

My point is that judging the appearance of a person, a bag of feathers, a neutron star or whatever, assumptions are rarely accurate. So much of an eating disorder (for me at least) was getting to my ideal weight because once I got there, I thought I would be happy. Once I got there, everyone would finally recognize I was skinny and they would know my weight. But the truth is, people are not very good at guessing weights. I had a four year old that I was working with tell me that she was 200 pounds and I was 400 pounds. Weight, weighing, scales etc. can be such a difficult thing for someone struggling from an eating disorder; in fact it can make or break their day. The number means I am worthy or I am worthless. The number means I am a success or a failure. The number represents what I look like on the outside when in reality, I’m not going to guess that a teaspoon of neutron star is 10 billion tons, I am going to guess it weighs a couple grams, at most. The outside appearance and the number to “what things look like” ratio can be very skewed and creates a host of insecurities and problems.

 

Now yes, I get that I just compared the idea of weight and what humans look like etc. to a neutron star, but I felt as if it explained my realization very well. It doesn’t matter how small I am, or how little I weigh, or how much I weigh, or how big I look, every single person is different in the way his or her bodies are shaped. So next time I have an urge to step on the scale or crave to know how much I weigh, I want to remember, others are not going to know the number based on what I look like so why do I need to know too?

 

Images:

  1. http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2013/03/correct-amount-of-matcha-on-tea-spoon.html
  2. http://www.wired.com/2009/11/neutron-star/
  3. https://www.pinterest.com/debbiekujawski5/feathers/

[1] http://io9.gizmodo.com/5805244/what-would-a-teaspoonful-of-neutron-star-do-to-you

Ed’s Affect on School

Question: How did your eating disorder affect school?

Thank you so much to the amazing girl, JP, who messaged me on insta and asked me this question! Hope this helps a little 🙂

Ah, what an amazing question and honestly I’m sorry I have not written on it sooner. As many of you may know, I am a rising senior in high school. I am about to enter the wondrous world of college applications, portfolio making, essay writing etc. I have already stepped into the world of standardized testing, ACT, SAT, subject tests, you know… all that super fun stuff. So what did I do about school?

 

To be 100% honest I have not “schooled” since February. I spent my junior year in France, or a part of my junior year in France. I think that this made it more difficult to be able to enter back into school but I was also very fortunate. Right when I got back from France, I was put into a residential treatment center (where I would be for the next 10 weeks or so). I was not able to and chose not to enter into any school during that time so I spent my days doing ACT prep and math pages that Doc A sent me from France. My family and I agreed that time was the time to focus on recovery not on school or putting more on my plate than what I was already dealing with (A very smart decision, I feel) Now there is another factor. I have not been at POLY since May 2015, which I feel is an entirely different level of school and something that I will not be used to come August.

 

My eating disorder also made it incredibly difficult for me while I was in school. Because my brain was taken over by another “voice” and the majority of my time was spent counting calories, worrying about my food intake, planning exercise, and then executing it, I did not have the time or the energy to focus on school. A simple math problem could take me hours and reading just one chapter would take me days. I did not have the motivation to or the ability to do my homework or pay attention in class. A lot of the times someone who suffers from an eating disorder also suffers from depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts etc. These make it difficult to wake up in the morning and even go to school. Education and learning was not my priority anymore. School took a backseat to my eating disorder, which was plaguing me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

 

As some of you may know, I do not quit; sometimes out of my own stubbornness, other times because it’s not the right thing to do, and many times for fear of what others may think of me. I know very well, after having been Ed’s “best friend” for four years or so, he does not like to quit either. He will not give up without a fight and let me tell you the fight he is putting up now is maybe the strongest force I have ever encountered. When I was in France and my parents proposed the idea of me coming back to the United States, every single part of me, SHAE, said yes, take me home, yet every word out of my mouth was “no” and some other bs explanation on why I had to stay in France. My dad and best friend, Haley, had come to visit me during Christmas Break. The week after they left, I completely spiraled. I barely showed up at school, studying was non-existent, and homework was absolutely impossible. I felt completely out of control but that is when I had the ability to say I needed to go home, at least for a few weeks (there was no way I was going to stay, I told myself).

 

When I got home, I was basically told I was not able to go back to France. That meant QUITTING school, GIVING UP, and FAILING, or so I thought. I felt as if my whole world was coming down. Polytechnic school is a place where you succeed. It is a place where failure is not an option and where we breed perfectionists and the best and the brightest, except for me. I slowly learned thought that while Poly does have these expectations it is not a requirement. I am doing my best. I am learning and finding subjects that I am passionate about, which in all honesty, is good enough for me. I got my class schedule today and a “small” wave of panic came over me as I realized even though I am 350 pages into my summer reading book, I am still only half way done. And I pushed my AP Bio textbook to the side in order to set this computer on my desk so I should probably open that and start reading. The nice thing is now, I will actually be able to finish a sentence.

Being there for someone with an ED

How to help someone with an eating disorder

I went to a support group the other night for people struggling with any kind of eating disorder and in any part of their recovery (ie. just starting, 1 year in, a couple months in etc.) One of the topics that came up was the lack of support or understanding from loved ones. My perspective? It isn’t their fault. In fact, there is just not enough education or information available for loved ones to understand how to support. It is obviously different for each person but here I am going write some things of helping/supporting your loved one through an eating disorder.

NOTE: These are all sayings that I have had said to me and I am just talking off of my own experience

1.“You look so healthy” “You look great”

For someone that is struggling with an eating disorder (talking for myself in specifically anorexia) healthy = fat. Healthy means that I am overweight, or that I have failed my eating disorder, or that I am ugly and unlovable (for people who have studied CBT, yes I can see the distortions too) Distorted or not, these types of comments are not helpful. They can send someone struggling with an eating disorder into what I call “analysis mode.” Analysis mode is where the person struggling is trying to figure out the small underlying layers of what the person may mean (even if it is completely unreasonable). For example if someone said to me, “You look great!” I may interpret it as, “They knew I was struggling with an eating disorder and I have gained weight since I last saw them and so therefore they think that I am fat.” Ok, obvious irrational distortions there but that is what is going on in many people’s mind. It is also a comment on bodies and that is a big no-no… leading me to my next point.

 

  1. “She should not be wearing that” “I look so fat today” “That skirt looks so good on you now that you’re weight restored!”

This is a hard one but please no comments on bodies (yourself, the person struggling with an eating disorder, strangers, actresses, magazine photos etc.)

Ok so after reading that sentence who thought, “Wow, well that’ll be walking on egg shells.” CHALLENGING PERFECTIONISM HERE, we’re all human and nobody has ever been perfect at anything (Thomas Edison didn’t make the light bulb on his first try, did he?) I understand A LOT of people struggle with body image and some comments may slip out surrounding your own body image or insecurities. I understand it is totally normal to talk about celebrity weight gain or new plastic surgery or bikini bodies or whatever. I understand it is very easy to say, “Oh she shouldn’t be wearing that.” These are all very normal, understandable, human things BUT it is not only NOT helping the person struggling with an eating disorder it can also put certain thoughts into their head such as “Well that is how I see myself yet my (fill in loved one here) thinks she is ugly and shouldn’t be wearing that, she must not love me” It can also reinforce the thought that EVERYONE is looking at, judging, talking about etc. the person that is struggling with an eating disorder. I know I am very at fault here. I have made too many comments to count and I wish I could blame them all on my eating disorder voice. It is a very difficult thing to do but each time you refrain from commenting on body image of yourself, someone else, the person struggling with an eating disorder it is setting a good example and reinforcing positive thoughts!

 

  1. “Just eat!” or “So you’re finally eating again, you must be better!”

Eating disorders, while they manifest themselves in the form surrounding food and eating are not strictly disorders of food. They go so much deeper than that. They are a mental AND physical disorder. A lot of the time depression, drug addiction, self-harm etc. comes along with them too. Just because someone in recovery is eating does not mean they are better. If you tell me to “just eat” I am not all of the sudden going to do my biggest fear and pick up a fork and eat whatever you want me to, I am sorry you don’t have magic powers. As I said earlier (quote from friend) Eating is simple, NOT easy. Eating disorders are not like a broken bone. Once the cast comes off the wound isn’t automatically healed. There are months and years that have to be put into treatment doing the work, pushing yourself to limits sometimes more painful than what the eating disorder did to you. That is why I cannot “just eat” because my entire being does not want me to.

 

  1. “Are you sure you had anorexia? You don’t look like it!”

UMMMM… NO! First of all, what does “it” look like? What am I supposed to look like to fit your criteria so that you will believe I had an eating disorder? I am so sorry but anorexia (and bulimia, BED, and EDNOS) does not have a body type. They affect people of all races, sizes, ages, genders etc. Eating disorders are not selective and the victim of one does not have to fit your tiny little box that was created by the misinformed people of society. This reinforces the idea also that the person struggling with an eating disorder does not need help or they are not “sick enough” This is only feeding into their eating disorder letting them know that they have not accomplished their goal.

 

  1. “But you’re not fat!”

Thank you so much but this is not helping. I am physically not able to see what I look like. It is called body dysmorphic disorder for a reason. The way I see myself is not the way other people see me. I see myself through the eyes of the eating disorder, which is cruel and irrational. This is also making the assumption that eating disorders are only related to how you see yourself. There are days where I can recognize what my body really does look like but it is still not good enough for my eating disorder, which is a very manipulative and unkind voice.

 

  1. “I’m going on a diet where I’m not going to eat (fill in food groups here)”

I understand that the diet industry is a $60 billion industry. I understand that dieting is apart of today’s culture, America’s culture. This only feeds the eating disorder voice even more. At almost every single lunch since getting out of treatment, there has been some kind of diet talk, some kind of I want to lose weight talk, or some kind of “I ate fruit for breakfast so I can have a donut now” justification talk. It occupies almost every single meal and every single conversation. The eating disorder voice starts jumping with excitement, “Well if they are allowed to cut out bread and not have to go to treatment, why can’t we?” or “Look at their strength to say no, we can say no too!” I just feel as if this is a way to help everyone, eating disorder or not. There are so many other things to talk about than dieting. There are so many more amazing and interesting things happening in the world today!

 

  1. Glorifying eating disorders

This is probably my biggest pet peeve. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder for 4+ years and has seen many of my friends be chewed up and spit out by this awful thing, it is NOT something to glorify. There is nothing good about eating disorders, so please do not tell me that I look really great because I lost some weight. Do not ask me my “secret” because it was years of isolation, depression, suicidal thoughts, self harm, fighting my own self, self-hate, and little to no reward. There is not one eating disorder that is better than another. Please do not say to me, “Well at least you have anorexia and not bulimia or binge eating” This is in no way acceptable because it says to the person struggling with anorexia that they “chose” the better disorder and that people struggling with bulimia or binge eating are somehow “less” or “less deserving of treatment” Do not tell me how great you look after you had the stomach flu and have not been able to eat. Please do not tell me how you just don’t feel like eating anything because maybe it will help you lose weight. These words and phrases are just not necessary and do not need to be apart of any sort of conversation.

 

I know the majority (or all) of these are very difficult and asking a lot. I don’t want to come across as harsh or as if I am condemning all loved ones. I know that I have said many of these before (probably for different reasons than loved ones do). It is easy to talk about diets. Living in our society today it is expected that girls are stick thin and look like the Victoria’s Secret models that are pasted across every billboard. I know many people who do not have eating disorders but struggle with body image, which can come about in conversation because it is something that many people can relate to. But being in a house or being around someone that is struggling with an eating disorder, it is best to try and refrain from these 7 things. Remember it is totally ok to make mistakes and slip up. You might hear people who have eating disorders glorifying eating disorders or body shaming themselves or commenting on other people or saying they don’t look as if they have an eating disorder or talking about their diet etc. etc. the list goes on. That is their eating disorder voice talking. It is enough for me to have my ED voice talking in my own head, I really don’t need it coming out of others mouths too.

Going on Vacation: easy for some, difficult for me

I remember sitting through many lectures and discussions during treatment that talked about different triggers for relapse. I understood a lot of them such as certain comments, stressful events, a big change, seeing your weight etc. There was on though that I struggled to understand until I recently experienced it. That trigger was VACATION. Now, vacation may seem like a very relaxing time where one can forget about all worries and struggles and just be able to wind down. However, for someone with an eating disorder, a vacation can bring about a whole host of other problems.

 

Just this past week, right after my discharge from treatment, I went on a week long vacation with north to a family camp in the redwoods called Mt. Hermon. This is something that I look forward to every year. I love the fresh air that floats through the Santa Cruz mountains. I love the shade that the redwoods provide as I stand in the middle of the forest surrounded by thousands of trees. And, I love the people that are there. The crazy dance sessions during worship, the shout of 47 seconds as the timer counts down, and the race to save the very first row because that has been tradition for the past 8 years. This year was a little different. I still had the trees and the fresh air and the people, but I also had an extra “voice” that had spent a couple years nestling itself into my brain.

 

At Mt. Hermon we have all of our meals provided for us in a buffet style dining hall. They also constantly provide snacks throughout the day such as donuts, cookies, scones, ice cream etc. I found that during my time there, a common topic at meal time was how much food everyone ate. I heard comments such as, “Good thing I did the morning trail run” or “I just find myself eating, eating, eating, I’m going to have to go on a diet when I get home.” I sat through a lunch as one woman counted out each and every goldfish to make sure that she had the exact amount for one serving while explaining to us how she had to be “disciplined” and can’t have too many carbs. My eating disorder thrived on this. Of course they didn’t know that I was struggling, how could they? I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want everyone around me to adjust. I just wanted my eating disorder voice turned off and to be able to sit through a lunch without shaking with anxiety. I hated having limited options to choose from. I hated being worried about how much I was eating. I hated the reminders of when I was back in my eating disorder.

 

It was more difficult at the beginning of the week. I felt so lost and alone. The trees weren’t as beautiful, the smiles weren’t as bright, and the air wasn’t as fresh. I felt as if I was walking through life in black and white (not the CBT distortion 🙂 , just the lack of color) As the week progressed however, so did my recovery voice. The more I hung out with friends the more comfortable I became. I walked mindfully through my favorite redwoods and was increasingly relaxed. I had psyched myself out for vacation and focused only on the things that had triggered my eating disorder instead of all the things that were building up my recovery voice.
The week flew by way too quickly and my family and I piled into my mom’s minivan ready to make the trek home. I looked at going home as another trigger in and of itself. I was returning to the hustle and bustle of work, family, driving, and life. I wanted to stay on my vacation because it had finally become the definition of vacation. It was a period of rest. It became a period of relaxation. It was a time for me to unwind and finally separate from my ED. I had thought that at the beginning of the week this vacation going to lead me back into treatment. But instead it built up my recovery voice and helped me continue on my path of recovery.

Quick Entry – October 14, 2015

Note: This is the passage referred to in the last entry (Reflecting Back on Treatment)

Quick Entry – October 14, 2015

This is something that I wrote when I was deep, deep into my eating disorder. It consumed every part of me and stole my focus from school, friends, homework, life, and grammar, as you will see in this.  Please ignore my incorrect grammar, misuse of certain words, lack of punctuation/capitalization etc. This  piece was written during one of my lowest points and captures my raw emotions, thoughts, and perspectives. I have not edited it since it was written in October. I hope you enjoy!

(Just as a disclaimer for anyone who might be triggered, I do NOT use numbers relating to calories, weight, sizes etc. but I do talk about my struggles with food.)

 

i hate it when people tell me i am motivated or disciplined or ambitious or even worse addicted to my healthy nature or my workout regimen. i hate it when people say they wish they had my determination to be so healthy because i have felt for so long now my “healthiness” has become unhealthy. i was scrolling through instagram last night and started crying as i came across a post it said “i destroyed my body for a peace of mind i never got”

when people look at me and see me refuse to eat sugar and fried foods and processed foods and when my conversations always consist of something of healthy information – they don’t know that when i go home i practice some of the most unhealthy habits. i chew a pack (or 2) of gum a day just so that i won’t eat. i drink bottle after bottle of water so that i’ll feel full. i workout as much as i can on the little food that i eat and i count calories as if its my job. if you spent a week with me i don’t know what you would call it but its not healthy. i would not consider myself healthy or determined or obsessed i would consider myself a little bit sick maybe. because i spend 24 hours a day thinking about food. i spend hours calculating how many calories i can eat and how much exercise i will have to do. the mirror is my enemy and i don’t want to step on a scale because when i do the deep seeded hate i have for myself is overwhelming even though the number is far too low for my height, but, i step on it anyways because it tells me i need to. i am so tired of dipping my fork in dressing because i won’t eat it poured over the salad and peeling the cheese off the pizza – never eating a whole slice, unless i made it because i know whats it in it. i spend far too long looking at recipes, workouts, and unachieveable bodies and when I’m not doing that i think about the rolls on my stomach the cellulite on my legs what i will eat next. grocery shopping is a nightmare. i could eat EVERYTHING in the grocery store but i usually exit having purchased a banana or an apple to curb my hunger while my friends leave with the tastiest most unhealthy snacks in the world. WHY CANT I BE LIKE THEM! For one second i would love to just not care just for one second. i want to enjoy actual not 100% chocolate, i want to eat pizza and a croissant aux amandes or enjoy something just something just ENJOY IT!! WHY CAN I NOT ENJOY IT! i wouldn’t consider myself anorexic I’m rarely hungry or at least i don’t feel hungry. I’m just obsessive and i can’t deal with that anymore

Reflecting Back on Treatment

I honestly cannot believe that Saturday was my last day in treatment. It has gone by so quickly! I still remember sitting in the psychiatrist’s office as she told me I had anorexia. That word stung my ears yet felt so peaceful in my head because my “best friend” finally had a name. I let out a little laugh and thought back to a passage that I wrote in October while in France (see next post for passage). In the very last sentence I said, “but I don’t have anorexia, I’m just obsessive” The thing is though, I did, and this lady here was telling me to go live somewhere for treatment, also partially debunking my 2nd automatic thought/theory/idea type thing that “ok, so I have an eating disorder, but I’m not as sick as REAL anorexics” So I left and packed for the next day where I would enter a residential treatment center for the next ten weeks of my life.

 

When I was in it, it was the most terribly long process I have ever experienced. It turned me upside down, inside out, and ripped my heart out then sewed it back in and then ripped it out again. If that sounds dramatic to you, let me tell you there was a lot of drama there. There was a lot of love too. A lot of love for the amazing girls I met there (KG, JD, JF, IT, CL) and the wonderful chef and fellow Pisces, R, and of course my amazingly intelligent and supportive dietitian, NA. I cried when I left but I wanted to go and it was my time to move on to the next step in my recovery. I wouldn’t miss the rules or having to sing while I was in the bathroom or not being able to watch Scandal, BUT, I would miss the people, the safety and comfort of the place and of course my little sister (you know who you are JF). So, I set off on my next adventure… PHP.

I was excited to return home and be in my own bed with my family in the room next door. I was happy because I finally had an amazing therapist and family therapist and I was back with my love (KG). It was going well and I was working hard. I was in PHP for a while, around 8 weeks or so. Throughout that time, I proudly watched JD and CL graduate. I celebrated two birthdays of two new people I met in treatment that have become some of the most important people in my life (all my love for LV and BC), and I learned probably one of the most important but very difficult “philosophies” of self care and letting myself feel and express my emotions (thank you to the amazing LV for that). I spent my Saturdays sitting and participating in five hours of treatment which actually wasn’t bad because of LV and all of the other girls (coming soon, a blog post on these Saturday sessions). These weeks in PHP were some of the greatest, most difficult yet rewarding days of my life. Before I knew it, I was in IOP which suddenly freed up a lot more time so I started working more and going out less (who am I kidding, I didn’t go out before!) I missed my friends more and found myself never wanting to leave treatment. I didn’t want to leave the learning or the safety, but most importantly, I didn’t want to leave my second family.

 

It was bittersweet as the days in IOP decreased, moving from six to four to three and then none. I spent a lot of my time in group texts trying to coordinate when my friends would be there so we could see each other. I had some of my hardest times in IOP but I also had all the strength that I built up over the past three months. At the end, I didn’t want it to be over. I wanted to walk into the group room one last time. I wanted to prep my meal and clean the dishes as the laughter of my friends rang through the kitchen and the clomping of the therapist’s high heels echoed through the hallways. I remember when I was told I would be discharged. My immediate reaction was sobbing, you want emotions?… I’ll give you emotion! I thought immediately of my friends, my girls, my family (#2). I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to believe I was ready but the (sad) truth is, when you want to leave most you can’t leave, but when you are ready to go, you don’t ever want to. My therapist (the phenomenal AD who has cared for and helped me so much!) told me that is how I know I am ready to go. And another truth is, I am ready to go. I am ready to kick some ED ass. I am ready to be able to live my life to the fullest and embrace each moment. I’m ready to cry tears of joy over my accomplishments rather than tears of sadness of the number of calories in a food item. I am ready to sit a dinner table and talk with the people around me instead of the voice inside of my head. I am ready to go out and see what God has planned for me, because I have a feeling that it will be great.

 

I remember hiking with a good friend of mine a week or two ago and talking about some struggles with my ED. I was explaining how I was scared for discharge and how it is sad that not many people know much about eating disorders. Because of this lack of understanding certain people may make some insensitive c0mments like, “Well, why don’t you just eat?” And then, he hit me with the greatest quote that has stuck with me for so long which is, “It is simple, not easy.” The act of picking up a fork is simple but for me, eating the meal is a very difficult task. It is something I struggle with just like some people struggle with their own demons.

ANYWAYS… relating this to discharge, anyone can just drive into treatment and sit through groups, but the hard part is the listening and participating. It is simple for me to sit in a group and nod my head but it is not so easy to talk about my darkest times or see my best friends cry as they talk about theirs. Treatment, and I mean actually doing the work of treatment is not easy, but it is so worth it. It is so worth the hours of therapy and talking about emotions. It is so worth the tears and having to be vulnerable. It is so worth the pain; the physical, mental, and emotional pain that stings throughout the whole process. It is worth it because YOU are worth it. It is a long road but there is a beautiful, freeing, peaceful ending where you can live the way life was meant to be lived, free from the ED.

This blog post is for LV, somebody who has helped me through some of my most difficult times. Thank you for your compassion, intelligence, passion, and care. I am so thankful to have met you and that you were/are one of the key people in this very hard yet not impossible-to-beat times of my life. All my love <3

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Talking about it (something we don’t do enough)

This entry is dedicated to all the people who dedicate their lives to talking about it

AD, LV, AW, JS, KD

Thank you so much for all you do XO 

So, if you remember from my first blog post (which was a couple weeks ago, so I don’t expect you to), I explained that one of my main reasons for starting this blog is because eating disorders are not talked about enough. There is not enough awareness of them in the world and they tend to be a very secret thing, something the eating disorder thrives on.

I was in body image group the other day  and we did a very difficult but important exercise. We had to write out positive things about our bodies whether we believed them or not such as, “I love my stomach” or “My thighs are just the right size” and read them outloud in front of a mirror (AWKWARD… Thank you JS :)). Basically the whole idea and point around this exercise was that if someone says something, repeats something, or even talks about something enough they become more aware of it. It becomes more fact and becomes more known and that is what needs to happen in our society with eating disorders.

 

Today I basically wanted to talk about the lack of “talk” surrounding eating disorders. I went to Vroman’s a few hours ago and asked the lady working there if they had any books on eating disorders. She responded with a confused, “Ummmm” before telling me to follow her and we ended up in the tiniest, most miniscule section of books I have EVER seen in my life. Deep in the psychology section, mixed in with numerous books about depression, addiction, bipolar disorder etc. was a tiny white placard with neat black writing printed “Eating Disorders” and on the shelf sat 13 different books to choose from. “13!!” I said it so loud making the guy next to me jumped a little bit. I understand there are a lot more than 13 books written on eating disorders in the world, but the fact that this huge bookstore with rows and rows and sections and sections and genres and genres of books has only 13 books on a disorder that plagues countless men and women and has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness*, I honestly just could not understand it. No wonder it is so easy to hide in the dark with an eating disorder. Why would anyone want to come out and express their struggles with something that many consider vain or shallow? Why would anyone want to show their pain and suffering when many people consider them weak or say their disorder is “non-existent”? This is a big problem with not talking about it. When we don’t talk about eating disorders people can’t possibly understand. That isn’t their fault, they’re just not educated. I wasn’t educated when I first got diagnosed and I have an eating disorder. I could tell you the nutrition facts off the top of my head on any product you showed me. I could recite ingredient lists and calorie amounts, but I didn’t know anything about the voice inside my head that was doing this to me.

A couple of Saturday’s ago we were talking about the myths surrounding eating disorders and oh my gosh were there so many. The stigma surrounding eating disorders is incredibly sad, hard to break, and can be very triggering for those who are victim to it. When I went to my school for our Spring Musical, an event I had been looking forward to going to for a while, I was walking through the lobby when I heard a comment, “Are you sure she had anorexia? She doesn’t look that skinny.” A knife to the chest to say the least. In order to have an eating disorder you have to be skinny… ummmm I am so sorry but no! This is a very common belief among many people and probably the most common one that I have come across. And the reason for it is that we don’t talk about what eating disorders are or what they look like. Eating disorders are not super skinny people or just girls or just teenagers. There is not one race, one socioeconomic class, one gender/sex, one age range, one weight, or one family background for someone to struggle with an eating disorder. People from all races, ages, shapes, and sizes can struggle for an eating disorder. There is common misperception (thank you again, society) that only people who are incredibly skinny have eating disorders, and if you do not look that way, well, you do not have one. Society has contributed so many negative perceptions and stigmas around eating disorders (and other mental health issues) and has relied on the fact that people are too closed off to talk about it.

So, I am starting the conversation. I guess I am actually helping the conversation continue on and become much louder, and stronger, and more powerful.

Fighting eating disorders is not an easy process and by having people who understand makes it all that much easier!

PS. Picture at the top are the books that were in Vroman’s

*NEDA https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders

Dear Body Journal Entry: 04/01/2016

I have been debating whether or not to post this for a while now. Obviously if you are reading this, I have decided to post it. This is me being incredibly vulnerable. To be honest, this blog is me being incredibly vulnerable but I am doing this because I am tired of being scared of what everyone thinks of me. Being vulnerable, open, honest, and 100% me is the only way I will be able to love the real, authentic me. This is a letter to my body where I apologize and just express the regret of everything that I did to my body and that my body went through. So, here it goes.

 

My Journal: Dear Body 04/01/2016

 

Dear Body,

You have been broken down and beaten up but still fought on. You have been deprived and neglected but still continued. When I think about you and how I battled you for so long and played my little trick, I feel sad and I feel as if I have betrayed you, I know I have betrayed you. You have given me so many memories and so many second chances. You held on tight when it was easiest to let go. You put my two legs on the floor and pushed me off the warm bed in France and carried me to school everyday as you shivered to keep you warm. I haven’t thanked you or at least given you the thanks you deserve. Thank you, body, for protecting me when I didn’t know how to protect myself. Thank you for allowing me to run, jump, laugh, and discover. Thank you for keeping me strong enough to make it back to America. My dear body, I have been so consumed with hating you that I have never told you how much I love you. I love you because you are the strongest body I have ever met. Because you have carried me from the mountains to the ocean (literally). Because you stuck with me and always stuck it out with me. I love you because you have taken the most hits from me but still continued on. No matter how many times I broke you down, you still built me back up. Dearest body, I am so proud of you. You are so wise and you knew what was best for me even when I didn’t. You took a storm of hate, pain, and neglect, yet still persevered.

Dearest body, I am learning to love you because you are MINE and that needs to be good enough for me.

Recovery: The Scariest (and most rewarding) roller coaster out there

This entry is about my perceptions on/what I have learned about recovery. I just want to explain my reality of it – not 100% great, not 100% awful.

 

My Journal: Recovery Blurb 04/20/2016

 

Recovery goes up, down, backwards, and forwards. When I first heard this in my Monday night support group in my first week of recovery, I had NO clue what they meant. Now, I completely understand what they mean. It is truly a roller coaster.

There have been phenomenal days when I am so motivated, my recovery voice is booming, and I feel so confident and strong. There are the other days though where I feel as if I’m going to have my eating disorder forever (cue black and white thinking here), and I hate everything about myself. The lump in my throat has turned into a boulder, and all that I have learned about the pain that my eating disorder caused, has vanished. But hun, that’s life and that is what I tell myself. I am supposed to be living my life, but I wasn’t actually living with my eating disorder, I was kind of just existing. I was honestly just a zombie or a robot, programmed to count calories and plan out exercise sessions. That is not living, it’s not even breathing (when I could actually breathe or wasn’t passed out). It was such an out of body experience that I could not even grasp during the time I was deep in my eating disorder. It was painful, hey, it is painful. But this is life and I want to be able to live it. That is why I go through the backwards to get to the forwards and I embrace the downs because I know the ups are coming too.