Denim Day

This post is dedicated to all survivors of sexual assault and rape as well as those who have experienced any form of sexual harassment or violation.

In 1992, a woman in Italy was horribly raped and violated by her driving instructor. She was brave enough to talk to her family about it and eventually the authorities and make the decision to press charges. The rapist was originally sentenced and convicted of this terrible crime until the case reached the Italian Supreme Court in 1998 where it was overturned. Why was it overturned, you ask? Because her jeans were too tight. I’m not joking. That was their reasoning. Her jeans were too tight for the man to take them off himself so therefore it must have been consensual. I am sure this is shocking to all of you reading this. But people did not stay silent about that case, or any of the other cases that plague America and our world. Today is Denim Day, a day where women and men across the world unite and speak out against sexual violence. Peace Over Violence, a phenomenal organization that promotes this work says it best, “Wear jeans with a purpose, support survivors, and educate yourself and others about sexual assault” Sexual assault and rape is no joke. It is not something that only happens in the bad parts of town or just to one race or age group. Sexual assault and rape is on college campuses, among friend groups, on high school campuses, and in the safest of neighborhoods. Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, and that is just in America. That does not include the millions of people on this earth being forced into sex slavery, constantly having their bodies violated and choices stripped from them every day. That does not include the women that live in the 195 other countries on this earth. As someone who has been the victim of sexual harassment as well as sexual assault, I can say that wearing denim today is more than just a fashion statement. When I put on my jeans this morning I was able to do so with pride in myself as well as others for surviving the horrors that they have experienced. When I put on my jeans this morning the person that sexually harassed and the person that sexually assaulted me, lost. They did not have the power over me. Yes the words of said by the boy that sexually harassed me are forever ingrained in my mind, but he does not have to win. I am proud to be a survivor and I am proud to wear these jeans. Last year I almost missed denim day as I was locked up in treatment and my eating disorder told me I was too fat to wear jeans. But I did it. I did it for myself and the women in this world that do not have a say and that have not found justice. I put them on and I will continue to do so each year, not just on denim day, but any day. Because I am a woman, and I happen to have an ass, and my body is not an object for men’s pleasure; because I am proud of what I have overcome and because I know there is a brighter future for me. The simple act of wearing jeans is a phenomenal encouragement and reminder that we stand united, as women, our body, our choice. There is no excuse and NEVER and invitation to rape. So next time you slip into your jeans, think about the impact that they have, think about the importance of them, think about the power that you hold to make this world a better and safer place where women are not constantly worried about their safety or walking down the street.

 

Denim Day – Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Peace Over Violence:

http://www.peaceoverviolence.org/

http://denimdayinfo.org/

 

Common Application: Being Vulnerable to people I don’t even know

I’m not going to lie, the college process sucks. For months I sat hunched over my computer staring at a blank word document trying to figure out what the heck I was going to say to these people that I don’t even know. I had to be vulnerable, but couldn’t show that I was “messed up” I had to show my strength, but not come off as too cocky. I had to display what I was proud of, but also be maintain humility. They told me to brag, but in a respectful way. They told me to show them who I really was, so I did. Considering I got denied from my top 9 choices, I don’t know if I did something wrong or if this is just how the college process is nowadays. Now don’t get me wrong, I will be going somewhere next year and with my positivity I will make the best of it, but what about all my work? My tears that I poured into each word of my essays were tossed out of the window due to a “low” (but actually really good GPA). My thoughts and ideas were dumped because I couldn’t score as high on my ACT as the statistics wants to maintain. I was angry. I cried more tears because I just received denial after denial after denial – just more reinforcements that I was a failure. But I’m not a failure. I am proud of the work that I did so I want to share it with you. Here is my common application essay. I sent it to 7 seven schools, got denied from all but 1 one of them but I am still proud of my work! So here it is. Completely vulnerable and raw (oh and under 650 words!) Please enjoy 🙂

Landing at LAX, clutching my US passport, I began to cry as I walked out of the terminal and saw my parents sprinting towards me; I didn’t know my mom could run so fast! My parents cried too, but for a different reason. They could see it in my face and eyes: I was sicker than they thought. My first stop was home, but quickly after came the doctor’s office. My time in France was supposed to be the greatest nine months of my life. I would finally find fluency in the language to which I had dedicated four years, make new friends, and of course eat the delicious French pastries. Instead, I got sick. I sat in the doctor’s office as the word “anorexia” rang in my ears, combined with the sounds of my mother’s sobs. Then the doctor said an even scarier word that left a sour taste in my mouth and a knotted feeling in my gut: treatment.

Entering high school, I had a plan. I would go to school, do my work, become president of Young Life, and go to my dream school. I would wake up, succeed, and learn. I never anticipated the way high school actually was. I did not expect that I would study abroad and I especially did not imagine myself in a treatment center or missing class for therapy appointments. After sophomore year, my life took a turn. I embarked on my year abroad in France where I would learn another language and appreciate a new culture. Inspired by my school’s Global Initiatives Program, I chose to pursue a path that involved four years of language study, service learning, and discussions on global conflicts. When I started my year with SYA, everything seemed lined up for success. Struggles with eating cut my “year” abroad short. Initially, all I could think about was my plan. It did not matter to me that I had almost died nor did I recognize that my mind and body were suffering greatly. I wanted to be back in school, taking classes, and preparing for college — just like everybody else. That was the problem though, I am not like everyone else and my high school experience wasn’t going to be like everyone else’s. At first, I viewed this as a setback. I sobbed in my first college counseling meeting, thinking that success was eluding me. But talking to other patients about their experiences and observing their varied responses, I realized my options: succumb or use my experiences to help others. I chose the latter, and my parents’ love and my faith sustained me. I worked for my recovery because it was important to me that I be my healthiest self — I had dreams I wanted to see through. In treatment, I came to understand the importance of a healthy body and healthy mind to fuel a healthy life, full of hope and anticipation. My eating disorder was the hardest thing I have gone through, it was an uphill battle with no breaks or room to breathe, but I would not change it. Through reflection, I proved to myself that I had not failed; I had not allowed the “bumps” in my journey to derail my plan. In treatment, I (re)gained a sense of worth and purpose. I learned things about myself that I would never have learned otherwise, such as the strength, independence, stamina, resilience, and perseverance that I possess. As a senior, I returned to my school, friends and teachers, and I chose to turn my struggle into something positive. I started a body image club at my school where boys and girls talk about society’s affect on how we view ourselves. As I look ahead to college and moving away from home, I know my grit, personal growth, open-mindedness, compassion, and fascination with languages and global engagement have prepared me for great experiences.

To the people who hate themselves…

To the people who hate themselves…

If I asked you who told you all these lies that run through your head, these terrible comments and putdowns, these hateful words, that flood your mind when you look in a mirror or walk down a street, could you give me a name? I’m serious! Who is creating standards that are forcing men and women into an eating disorder to feel accepted or only being able to cope by cutting themselves up. Can you tell me why you don’t think you’re beautiful or why you think your butt is too full of cellulite or your stomach has a couple too many rolls or your legs are too jiggly? Who created the standards? Who says a size 2 is the only one people can wear? They make size 14s and 16s and 18s and beyond because HUMANS wear those sizes too. Because every human on this corrupt and brainwashing planet is goddamn beautiful. Because living your life covering yourself in photos or munching on kale is no way to live. To the people who hate themselves, can you tell me why? My best friend in the whole world is the most loving, thoughtful, attractive, caring, and wonderful human being – so why does she hate what she sees every time she passes by a mirror. My other friend works his ass off all day long – no room to breathe, no space to relax but each goal that is missed, each grade below an A, each note not perfectly hit, each plan gone wrong, it’s himself he hates. Tell me why no matter how many times someone compliments me I will only continue to hear my own internal dialogue – society that has plagued me and made me its own robot. To the people who hate themselves, can you give me ONE reason not related to a grade, or a weight, or a body type, or an event that really wasn’t your fault but you think it is, one JUSTIFIABLE reason for you to hate yourself. Perfection is a lie.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary “perfect” adj: having ALL the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics. (and) verb: make (something) completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.

I don’t know about you, but do you know anyone on this entire PLANET that fits that description? If you think you do, wrong. But it’s ok to be stubborn J Perfection is unattainable but you already exist. You all, yourselves are phenomenal people. You don’t need societies standards (or fulfill) them to be human, you already are human. So finally…

To all the people who hate themselves – there is no formula where you can plug in a, b, or c and BAM! conclusion reached! No one deserves to hate themselves. We can into this world and were handed terms and conditions that we really did not agree to sign. But fortunately there is no legal binding to this bullsh*t! So to all the people who hate themselves – it won’t last forever. Perfection is not real or achievable but you are already AMAZING the way you are.

So folks, it is better to be YOU than to be PERFECT. That would be boring anyways wouldn’t it?

This post is dedicated to Leaky, JL, and Bling 2. Couldn’t live without you all!

The Descent Down and the Climb Back Up: My lifelong journey of happiness, self-love, and utter confusion

For my English final this year we were asked to write about our journey through Poly. This is my story. Please enjoy!

 

6 am is the earliest I had woken up in a long time. The sun was not up, the birds were not chirping, and Oswald wasn’t even on yet; was there a point to being awake? My mom rushed around the house trying to get my sister to stop crying and attempting to get me to wear something that matched; apparently striped rainbow pants and a polka dot t-shirt doesn’t go together, but to my four-year-old mind, I looked great! I walked out to the kitchen sporting my outfit proudly and grabbed my orange bucket hat off the table; this completes every look! My mom let out a big sigh, but what was she going to do? It was my first day of Pre-K and man did I look good; there would be no getting me to change my stubborn mind. I sat down at the table fully expecting my daily plate of heaping pancakes with syrup on the side but instead I was greeted with toast. “TOAST!” I screamed. My mom obviously couldn’t deal with my complaining because she shot me a look of death and next thing I know the toast was in my hand and I was gladly eating it. I was shuffled outside mid-bite to take my first day of school picture. I hated pictures and my mom hated that I looked like a wreck in all of them, “Just one decent one for the grandparents, please?” I didn’t know what she was talking about; my frizzy hair and sleepy eyes were beautiful. That is the last compliment I remember giving myself. It seems like the day I started school was the day that I began the descent into self-doubt and self-hate. Each day the compliments that I gave myself dwindled and the flaws I saw in my body, my mind, and my actions became more apparent.

My first day at Poly is a vivid memory. I sat on a bright rainbow rug (the green row, obviously) and we read a book about animals. I ate my peanut butter sandwich (with no crusts, of course!) and was the tagger in PE. So young and innocent, an authentic smile plastered across my face, and real laughter shooting from my mouth. As time went on, however, that smiled faded and the laughter became forceful. As I made my physical journey from Pre-K to kindergarten to first grade and finally to second grade, I was also making a mental journey as well. A few days ago I found my journal from second grade and wow did I have awful handwriting. That’s not the point though (even though it seemed like I was decoding the Rosetta Stone), one of my journal entries went like this:

Dear Dairy (commentary: yes I called my diary “Dairy” it was her special name and I felt hilarious for coming up with it),

I am already in second grade. I am getting so old! So basically I have learned a lot about states and Indians wait no native americans (sorry Mrs. Ganter) and puffins too they’re a bird which is cool (I’m a very deep child, can’t you tell?) (due to privacy I have removed her name) (she was a girl at my school who I was utterly jealous of) is still the prettiest girl. I’m just the fat one so we need to figure out something to do about that. My legs spill over the chair in class and my belly jiggles when I play tag with the other girls. I eat too much chocolate. I’ll only eat one piece a day instead of four that’s smart. Ok well I Hannah Montana is on so I have to go now!!! BYYYYYY (I really didn’t know how to spell “bye” but I do know so at least we made that progression).

I was shocked. Not actually that shocked but I was sad. Had my seven-year-old self really had those thoughts? Has it really been ten years of hating myself? Second grade flew by though, as did the rest of lower school. I kept to myself most of the time. I didn’t eat as much chocolate and made my mom buy wheat bread. I navigated through school by hiding in classrooms and bathroom stalls. I conversed with teachers instead of students and read stories of people’s lives instead of living my own; I was too scared of what might happen. I cringed through fourth grade as my test scores were announced in the front of the class, and no it wasn’t because they were good, and my papers were handed back to me with sad faces on them. I powered my way through fifth grade year just hoping that middle school would be better and spoiler alert, it really was not.

I entered sixth grade with a sense of excitement: free dress, a new schedule, different teachers, and new friends. The first month was fun but those feeling quickly dwindled as girls in my grade started bringing in fresh pressed juice, had skinny jeans that hugged their perfectly thin thighs, and my incapability of doing math became blatantly obvious. I found myself making daily trips to my mom’s office so I could have someone to talk to. I was alone and I thought I didn’t mind it, but I realized more and more over time that being alone is not “normal”. Sixth and seventh grade were blurs, and I’d prefer to keep them that way. I got braces (which were not as cool as I thought they would be), my boobs got so big I was nicknamed DD (for my size, later changed to GG, not my proudest moment), and I had this knot in my hair that forced me to wear a bun everyday with a bow on top; I was basically a Flintstone!

Eighth grade is not so much a blur but rather, it was a series of unfortunate events strung together on loop in my memory. If you know me, you know that I am always looking for the next “thing”, and as much as I hate that word it is so true. In lower school ALL I wanted was to be in middle school but once I got to middle school ALL I wanted to be was in high school and so on. I was never content in my place and the event in eighth grade definitely catalyzed that feeling. My dad went to school at the crack of dawn, so it became my habit as well. I didn’t mind it though; I played games on the computer, g-chatted with my friends (yikes, still can’t believe I thought that was cool), and read books in the library. One morning however, I logged onto my email and found an email from an anonymous account. I opened the email and found the most vulgar, sexually explicit, and vivid descriptions of my body, what this person was going to do to it, and how my body made them feel. Each and every word is stuck in my mind like glue. I felt so dirty. I ran to my math teacher and cried in her arms. I didn’t know what I had done to provoke this. I wore long cargo shorts and big t-shirts to school everyday. I never showed my legs, or my chest, or my belly or anything. I hid my body because I hated it and now I began to hate it even more. This event sparked everything for me. So small tangent but it’s relevant, when stonecutters are hammering away at their stone and they make tiny blows with no crack, but then all of a sudden the one hundredth blow splits the stone right in two, it was not that last blow that split the stone, but rather a combination of all the blows together. That was how it was (is) for me. Tiny little blows to my self-esteem, my intelligence, my self-love built up a sensitivity that was then ripped a part by this one incident.

My journey from that point on was a painful one. I spent the rest of eighth grade

in my mom’s office. I was angry and sad, but most of all I was numb. I didn’t know how to react to something like this. My innocent thirteen-year-old mind had been plagued by the sexual fantasies of a boy and his dick. I entered high school and the competition became more apparent. My internal struggle externalized itself and manifested in ways that I would later have to face. I spent my days in the bathroom or strolling through Whole Foods reading labels, making sure my sugar and caloric content remained at a minimum. My nickname of GG faded as I became known as “the health nut”. I was introduced to the gym and the idea of exercising and never looked back. But I still didn’t like myself. I blamed it on Poly, on my parents, on my sister, for God’s sake I probably blamed in on my dog, I was so unhappy. Every morning was a struggle to get me out of bed, get clothes on my body, and get me into the car. My grades were awful and I started my descent into nothingness. This part of my pilgrimage is the part where it is negative 10 degrees, your tent blew away, your oxygen mask is running out, and a storm is coming. Everything piled on at once. I didn’t want to deal with it so I decided I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t spend another day sitting in the science bathroom stall eating my lunch. I wouldn’t spend another day hunched over my desk pulling my fat. And I most definitely wouldn’t spend another day at this school. So I left.

When I applied to go to France I thought it would be the greatest year of my life. No parents, no one telling me what to do, and most importantly, no Poly. When it came time to leave, however, I really didn’t want to go, but I didn’t want to stay either (this is why men say women are complicated). My time in France was cut short, as I was suicidal and on the brink of death. My pilgrimage through life had done a complete 180 and led me straight into Tartarus. Surprisingly enough, when I returned home all I wanted was to go back to Poly. I realized all the things I had missed about it, the teachers, Arden lawn, the big lockers, and the music blasting on the patios. That desire could not become a reality as treatment decided to claim me as its own. So off I went, to some white picket fenced house up in La Cañada where I stuffed myself silly and talked about my feelings, it was just GREAT! Without treatment however, I would not be experiencing senior year as I am now. I would probably be in a hospital bed somewhere with a feeding tube stuffed down my nose, or worse, dead. Instead, I am at school. I go to class, I have applied to college, and I laugh with my friends.

Back when I was struggling with my eating disorder, my goal was always a weight or a certain body type. When I was in middle school my goal was always to either get an A or be as pretty as the other girls. My goal now is simply, happiness. I look at my past experiences not with anger, regret, or sadness, but rather I look at it as lessons learned and memories made, whether they were good or bad. I am still working on my goal, it will be a long journey with more bumps in the road, but I can see my destination now. I am living for myself, as well as others, and not just for the approval from others. I want to help others, as that feeds into my happiness. My body image club, SPEAK (self perception, esteem, acceptance, kindness), is one way I want to reach out and let other people know that they don’t have to have the same experiences I did. I have dreams and aspirations now that reach further than a number on a scale or a test score. I want to become a doctor not because I want to show off to my peers, but rather because I want to use the talents I have been given to help those who truly need it. My life today is still full of ups and downs the only difference now is I’ve got past experiences to let me gently go through the downs and then fiercely pull me up. I don’t go to the science bathroom anymore to cry or purge, instead I go to pee. I sit in my dad’s office working on a biology lab or talking through his lessons instead of sobbing into his shoulder. I eat plenty of chocolate because one piece isn’t enough (and plus, it’s good for your heart!) I am living because the journey that my body and mind has endured, while painful, is a beautiful one and one that will continue to carry me every day.

 

The “Perfect” Body.

 

The Perfect Body

This blog post is dedicated to Catherine Adams, an incredibly beautiful, caring, and loving mom and an amazing friend! Much love to you.

If I were to ask you all to explain to me societies perception of a perfect body how many of you would automatically think of another person whether that be someone famous, a family member, or a friend? Now what if I asked you to explain to me your perception of a perfect body would you have the same checklist as society? I asked my sister what she perceives as societies expectations for girls and she gave me quite a lengthy list: big boobs, curvy, perfect skin, no muscle but not bony thing, can’t be too thin but no fat either, long legs, thigh gap etc. Then I asked her what her idea of a perfect body is and she said, “I don’t me, you, dad, mom.” That shocked me (but also made me so proud – society hasn’t touched her, praying it never will!) A body is a body right? Is it really necessary to have a definition of perfect? There are 7 billion different bodies on this plant and I believe that each one should be accepted. In treatment we did an exercise where we drew what we thought we looked like on a big piece of butcher paper and then the therapists had us lay down and they drew around our actual outline. Each one of the patients drew a person that was a) not themselves on any level and b) overweight. The media has created a new f word. Fat can’t be a bad word, it shouldn’t be a bad word. Skinny is a compliment and fat can ruin someone’s day? A size 0 is a New Year’s resolution and size 14 is a shame for many. I for one am not looking forward to the New Year’s talk of everyone’s new diet and weight loss program, quite frankly, I don’t care. The diet industry makes twenty billion dollars a year from over 108 millions customers*. They use advertising tactics such as shaming people for how much they have eaten over the holidays or pushing the upcoming bikini season. So why does the diet industry make this much money and have this many customers; you got it, SOCIETY promotes these ideals. Fat which has become like a curse word is associated with being lazy, undisciplined, dumb, weak, unworthy and I could go on. But why? Why does the way your body is shaped define who you are inside? People associate being overweight with depression but I would be too if I was constantly shamed, persecuted, and hated on for what I looked like. Our society has this idea that women (and I only speak about women because I can speak from experience but I know this is an issue for men as well) need to be skinny, but not TOO skinny. They need big boobs, a big butt, and still have curves. They need to look good in a bikini and in every outfit they wear out. We have entire magazines, TV shows, businesses, etc. dedicated to shaming celebrities for the outfits they wear. We have scales of rating women but how can we put everyone on the same scale when everyone is so different! I look at myself and want to love myself just the way I look at other people and love their bodies. Everybody is a beautiful body. There is only one F word (and it rhymes with luck). I want to say to every single human being out there that despite what society says, despite what people comment, if you are healthy then your body is a beautiful body.

 

* http://abcnews.go.com/Health/100-million-dieters-20-billion-weight-loss-industry/story?id=16297197

Eating Disorders Suck

I am sorry I have not written in a while. I don’t know if it is because I was struggling so I didn’t want to make something up and say I was fine or maybe it was because I had been writing so many college apps so just thinking of writing something else seemed so “tedious”

 

The last time I wrote was 2 months ago and so much has changed since then. I can’t believe I’m a month away of being a second semester senior. I can’t believe this school that I have dedicated 14 years of my life to will not be where I drive everyday next year. I can’t believe that in just a matter of months I will be deciding where I go (Lord willing I have options haha – nervous laughter voice). I can’t believe that I went to treatment. I have found myself pondering that thought for the past two months. When I last wrote, I was the happiest I have been in a long time. I went on the greatest trip of my life to the greatest city to see the greatest friend. Then something happened. I don’t know what. Maybe it was the fact that I went back to school or maybe it was the fact that being so happy seemed so foreign. I didn’t know that feeling was really real. Was I scared that I had it or was I worried that I would never have it again? This leads me to my main topic of this blog post (or semi what I am trying to write about)

Why eating disorders suck.

Eating disorders suck to state it plainly. It plagued my life for 4 years and when it almost killed me, I still defended it. When my eating disorder was ripping me apart physically and mentally I still clung to it. I didn’t know who I was without it. I didn’t know what I was without depression, self-harm, and calorie counting. I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy, that would be too cruel. You know why? You guessed it! They suck. An eating disorder pretends it’s your friend. It slowly slips its way into the innocent mind of its victim dropping seemingly “constructive” hints like, “you know if you eat a little less at breakfast, you could run faster in that race” or “you know that boy you like will notice you if you were skinnier which I could help you with” I’m personifying my eating disorder because it was like another person. It was a voice in my head that was controlling my mind and body. I still hear those voices but I won’t let them overtake. I also won’t let them overtake my friends or anyone I know. NO ONE deserves to have an eating disorder, I don’t care how mean you are or how much bad you’ve done, the eating disorder has done worse. 5-10% of people struggling from anorexia die within 10 years and about 20% die within 20 years. The number of girls age 15-24 who die from anorexia is 12x times than all other causes of death in that age group. 91% of college women were on diets or dieted seriously to control weight and about 55% of the adult population is currently dieting. (http://www.mirasol.net) Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder – that around 24 people a day or 8,700 people per year and that does not include suicide related to eating disorders (http://www.anad.org) Eating disorders aren’t there to be the victim’s friend. The eating disorder only wins when the victim is dead. Eating disorders suck because they implant themselves into the victim’s brain. They rewire thoughts and actions. They take away the ability to function (literally). Eating disorders rip out the identity of the victim and implant their own. I did things that I never thought I would because of my eating disorder. Now I can look back and see how ridiculous all of my thoughts were. They weren’t ridiculous at the time; they were my life. I am trying to let all of those go, but it is hard. My eating disorder grew and fostered itself inside of me for 4 years. I had to do work to reverse all the crap it put me through. Now I see others going through it and it scares me. I recognize the same actions and thoughts that ran through my mind possessing others. I want people to know that eating disorders suck. Along with the eating disorder itself comes anxiety, depression, self-hate, physical losses (such as decreased bone density, loss of a period (for girls), serious heart problems, stomach problems and so much more), and a loss of opportunities. I missed out on my first prom. My best friend missed second semester senior year. I missed basketball games and cross country meets. Eating disorders are not there to be your friend. They suck because they suck the life out of you. I want people to know how serious eating disorders are. I want people to know that eating disorders are not shallow or about being skinny. Eating disorders are not a joke. They are not something to blow off or deny. Eating disorders are real. They are difficult. They change people, they steal things from people, they kill people. Eating disorders do not only affect the victim, the entire family is affected too. Eating disorders hurt me. They hurt my family and my friends. I hurt my sister because of things that my eating disorder implanted in my mind. When someone is struggling with an eating disorder, they are not themselves. Please be aware. Eating disorders suck

TRIP TO NYC, NEW HAVEN feat. thoughts throughout trips Week: Failure, Patience, and Hard Work

This past week was trips week, meaning while the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors all embarked on their outdoor education trips, whether that be biking, hiking, backpacking, white water rafting, surfing etc. the seniors did not have school. This week is provided to seniors to work on the wonderful common application, visit colleges, or do any other sort of work required to enter the amazing world of college, and I had one of the best weeks of my life. College applications and extreme excitement may seem like oxy morons, and they are, but I was lucky enough to work on these fantastic essays in New York City and Connecticut. This week was maybe one of the best weeks of my life. It was a week where I could relax and be in one of my favorite cities on the planet and with some of my favorite people. I did not have to worry about school; the panic while rushing from class to class, my ultra colored planner, with random highlighter marks and notes of everything I have to do in my life, and the pressure of school that only increases the magnitude of my eating disorder. The hustle and bustle of Polytechnic school was replaced with the fast pace New York City lifestyle, rushing up and down 5th Ave, waiting for my subway (hoping it is the right one), and the never-ending sound of honking horns and sirens. To some people, this may sound like a nightmare, but to me, this was (is) heaven. The colorful highlighter that is found across every page of my weekly planner (aka my Bible) was exchanged for the flashing lights of Times Square and the leaves beginning their color change all around New Haven (ok, not quite there yet, but I know it will be coming soon and I wanted another comparison 🙂 ). I understand these two places are completely opposite, the millions of people that are crammed into New York City versus the 130,000 people that are spread out around New Haven. Both of these places however, made me the happiest I have ever been. Now, I understand nothing can make you feel anything, but I couldn’t help but feel happy, comfortable, and at ease in both of these places.

 

Before I left on my trip, I was incredibly nervous about embarking on this vacation. As some of you may remember, a little while ago I wrote a blog post on vacations and how for people struggling with an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, or any other type of mental illness, vacations can only make all of the above problems worse. I was worried that if I went away I would all of a sudden fall apart. Instead, I felt completely whole. I was not scared of the food I was putting in my mouth, I did not care what people thought about me as I walked down the street, and I learned a couple of important lessons that I hope to keep with me not just through this college process but throughout my entire life.

I know the majority of my readers can currently, have in the past, or will soon relate to this wonderful college process. When I type the “n” into my search engine, Netflix no longer pops up, rather Naviance automatically opens, GREAT! The Common App is apparently my most visited website, and I currently have 8 drafts of my essay, all of which consist of, you guessed it, random streaks of highlighter marks, and random notes in multicolored pens that I swear are incomprehensible to any human being, including myself (maybe that is why I have not gotten very far in it yet!). So needless to say college is important to me and something that I care deeply about. I work incredibly hard yet still feel inadequate. I feel as if my dream school is just that, a dream. My dream life is also just that, a dream. One very important thing that I really need to hold onto, and I am not giving advice, but to all of you people out there who are struggling with something (so all of you), might want to hold onto it to, is that dreams can be realities if you wake up and work at it. I was talking to a really good friend of mine, who is a really important part of my life this past week and who has had incredible success… because he worked at it. If you wake up and put in the effort, and focus on your goal, and believe in yourself you will reap what you sow. Now I want to clear something up, I am not saying if you work at something you are guaranteed that exact thing in return, but you will be rewarded… in time. Which leads me to my next idea/revelation/belief to live by.

All this stuff takes time. College apps are due November 1 if you’re applying early and for regular decision sometime in January (just in case any of you forgot, here is your 1 billionth reminder 🙂 , you’re welcome). College applications take time. They are a long tedious process filled with writing, rewrites, double rewrites (is that a thing? Probably!), long nights, little bit (a lot a bit) of crying, fear, major self doubt, but ultimate reward. Another conversation I had this past week enlightened me on the idea that as humans, we want everything NOW. We don’t want to wait in lines (which is how Disneyland makes so much money off of Fast Passes), we get frustrated if our waiter takes more than 3.5 seconds to bring us our food, and we certainly hate waiting for answers to big life decisions (ie. College). I have talked to so many people who say, “I just want to know where I am going and have it be May already.” Sure, that sounds great. Would I love to know where I will be spending my next four years? Of course, that would take a huge weight off of my shoulders. But do I want to skip these moments that I have lying in front of me to get there? Absolutely not! If I had skipped to May I would have missed this incredibly eye opening and incredible week. I would have missed countless Young Life clubs, friend’s birthdays, Christmas (I’m obsessed with Christmas), and I most definitely would not be prepared for the AP Bio test considering I would have missed almost the entire year. I have lived my entire life waiting for the next thing to come. In kindergarten I wanted to go first grade, then I wanted to be in fifth grade, then middle school, then high school, then senior year, and now all that time has flown by and I don’t know what to make of it. When I was living in France, everything is so slow paced and the French take their time and savor each moment, which  drove me absolutely CRAZY! I did not understand how someone could spend their whole Saturday relaxing, that word is not in my vocabulary! But this idea of patience (which is slowly working its way into my vocabulary) is so key and I have found incredibly helpful. It makes me stop and smell the roses. The week flew by so quickly because I was having so much fun and loving every second but I also savored each and every moment. I did not want any moment to end and hoped it would last forever. It was the first time I was not thinking about the next thing that would be going on in my life but rather about the people/person/scene that was right in front of me.

Finally, I recognized that people tend to sell themselves short (something that is pretty obvious, but not often acknowledged). I think so highly of all of my best friends. I believe they are the smartest, kindest, most intelligent people on this planet and deserve all the best things life has to offer. I couldn’t understand how any of my best friends would not get into their top choice college – I mean they’re perfect for crying out loud! But then I turn to myself and I do not see the same. I have had so many talks with people who feel like they are inadequate but then are so quick to jump and tell me how great I am when in reality I see all the positive qualities in them but none in myself. I have had people tell me the colleges I am applying to are unrealistic and I shouldn’t even apply. My old French teacher told me I would never speak French (mais, je parle français maintenant donc…). My eating disorder told me I would never recover, my depression and anxiety told me they were never going away, but I told myself otherwise. I don’t care what people say you can and cannot do, because when it comes down to it, they are not there with you while you study for hours, or while you cry before a meal because you know you have to eat it for recovery but it will be so incredibly hard. These people who say you are not capable of doing something that YOU want to do really should just shut up, to put it as nicely as I can. If you want to be a doctor and build a rocket but also own a 5 star restaurant in New York, do it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, because you can. You can do anything that you set your mind to and others aren’t there watching your every second or hovering over your every choice. I mean look at Steven Spielberg, one of the most renowned directors of all time, he was denied from USC’s film school (arguably the best film school in the country), or Walt Disney who was fired from a local news paper due to his “lack of creativity and imagination” or Michael Jordan who got cut from his high school basketball team. These are all people (along with many others) who persevered after what are thought to be enormous failures. I have learned through treatment, this college process, my near encounters with death in France, and the continuing process of recovery that failure is 100% inevitable. Do I like failure? No! I don’t know anyone that likes failure. I can understand someone that appreciates failure because some of the most beautiful lessons or opportunities can come out of it. When my old French teacher said that I would never speak French it only made me more determined to learn the language and to prove her wrong. I am now fluent and came from a D average freshmen year (started from the bottom now we’re here!) Failure sucks in the moment but is a beautiful thing in the long run. If I had been accepted to every program I applied for or “succeeded” at my eating disorder or got 100% on every test I took without studying, my life would be completely different. I would probably be swamped with responsibilities, I would still be battling my eating disorder (or have already been taken away by it), and I would never have learned the value of hard work. I work for everything that I receive (something that I learned from my parents). I don’t believe in being handed anything, although it seems like a really nice alternative to hours spent bent over and AP Bio textbook. I remember a couple of years ago we had an incredible runner on our school’s cross country team, Wesley. He was the most beautiful runner and ran so fast you could barely see him as he passed by. I remember my dad telling me that each race, no matter how much pain he was in or hard it had been, meant a lot to Wesley because of all the work he had done to get to the spot he was at. If he woke up one morning and could suddenly run a five minute mile with no effort put in, what would the reward be? The beauty of success is that is derives from failure. I cannot name one success of mine that has not come out of something difficult or had some type of setbacks. So to everyone, as they go through life, college applications, friendships, sports, whatever it may be, remember that it is ok to not get 100% on every quiz, the Ivy Leagues are not the only colleges out there (although they are great places!), being denied somewhere may mean a better opportunity at an unexpected place, and being told you’re bad at something does not mean you are (those people don’t really know you!)

I don’t really know what the main topic of this post was. It was a sort of recap on my trips week but I just had so many good conversations with my friend that stuck in my head that I just had to write about them! I hope that these are some things that you all can hold onto as well during difficult times!

All my love to you all! You are stronger than you know and others can’t dictate how your life turns out.

And to leave you with a quote from an amazing human being…

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneresimg_1008Yes, I ate that, and it was hecka good!img_0925loved this place so much!

Self Esteem – Journal Entry

This is a short piece on self-esteem. I am in the process of writing a longer blog post surrounding self-esteem but it is such a big topic that applies to so many people (those with and without eating disorders). Here is a little journal entry that I wrote all the way back in March! Please enjoy 🙂

Oh self esteem, what a good friend that I really wish I knew better and was closer to. I spend a lot of time thinking about self esteem and wishing that it was something that I could truly embrace and actually have a bit of it. Anyways, here are some of the many thoughts that I have had about the ever so important aspect of self esteem.

 

My Journal: 03/25/2016
We are our biggest critics but that means we also have the capability to be our biggest supporters. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” So often we (or at least me, I can’t assume for everyone), allow the words, thoughts, ideas, and perceptions of others affect what we think of ourselves and how we see ourselves. Someone can receive 1,000 compliments everyday but still hate themselves because of that 1 thing someone said a couple months ago. Or maybe because they spent the morning in front of the mirror pulling themselves apart. Or maybe because they scrolled through instagram staring at the photoshopped, fake images of Victoria’s Secret models or bodybuilders and wondering why they didn’t look like that. While external self esteem is important, knowing it inside of you is probably even more important. Everyone could love and adore you, but you don’t know unless YOU know it inside of you (if that makes sense). Once I see myself for who I am as a person and just as the girl with an eating disorder, I will better be able to love myself. I want to become strong enough to the point where I know myself enough that is someone puts me down or says something negative, I can reach inside myself and realize that was nothing against me, rather problems with their own self.

Back to School: A difficult but rewarding transition

Tomorrow I start my first whole week of school. I have had a total of 7 days of school, which have included my first test (thank you AP biology), the first few days of rehearsal, a short “monologue” presentation, a quiz, and a narrative essay. In these last 7 days I have had more work and less time than I have had during the past couple of months. Going back to school has been incredibly difficult, to say the least.

 

It has been harder than I ever could have imagined and I imagined it being pretty near impossible. The schoolwork is difficult, the social setting is difficult, but the effect that it has had on my mental health has been more than difficult. It has not been the glamorous return to school, start of senior year that everyone paints in their minds. It has not been an “enjoyable” or “exciting” walk to classes or rush of people through the hallways trying to be the first in line at Fun Food Fridays. Instead, for me, it has been crying in my dad’s office (the main MVP), shaky hands as I rush to take notes in class after school, anxiety as I try to participate in group discussions, and hateful words of comparison and self-loathing running through my mind as I try to mind my own business. Do I want it to be this way? No. Do I want to struggle through my senior year (what is supposed to be the time of my life)? No. I want to enjoy laugh with my friends, focus on the classes that I care about rather than the eating disorder that I don’t give a damn about. How am I going to do this?

Well that’s a really good question that I wish I knew the answer to.

 

Any sort of transition is pretty difficult, something I assume (making an assumption, I know but we can make on quick exception) you all could relate to. Whether it be changing schools, or jobs, or moving to a new city, home, starting university, or even just starting a new year of high school – it is a scary time in anyone’s life. It is scary to need to meet new people (or in my case, re-meet people I thought I knew), go from a period of no work, to nights spent bent over an AP Biology textbook or in front of a computer typing up an analytical essay while combing through a 600 page book filled with annotations. I am transitioning back into a place where I have spent 13 of my 17 years on this earth (and probably even more than that considering my parents have worked there double the time I have been alive). I was born wearing orange and my first words were the color shout. I have been a Poly Panther since my birth on March 17, 1999 but the thing is, I have never felt like a “Poly Panther.” In fact that identification feels as like the most distant description I would ever use for myself. This is in no way anything against Polytechnic as an institution or a school it is merely just an expression of my struggles trying to re-integrate myself back into an environment that I never even felt apart of. I am fortunate to have people that support, love, and care for me everywhere I turn on Polytechnic’s campus. That is comforting to know and it is something that I can focus on. It is something that can help me through. It is something that will help me through this transition. This transition is an important and difficult one, but not an impossible one.

 

I also feel as if it might be even harder now that I don’t have my eating disorder. This statement might be confusing to some people because of how difficult my eating disorder was/is and the impact that it had in my life. I am so thankful that I don’t have my eating disorder anymore, senior year would be more difficult with it, but it also is harder without it too (if that makes any sense). A lot of the times eating disorders are not 100% surrounding body image or the need to be skinny but rather it is a disorder of control, it provides (artificial) control when there is a lack of it. Right now, I feel as if I don’t have any control, my academics, my happiness, my social life etc. I feel trapped, overworked, tired, and scared and in the midst of all that, the loudest voice in my head is that of my eating disorder. I have not given in yet, thanks to the amazing support of my friends and family and AP Biology because if I don’t have food my brain shuts down and I can’t focus on the one thing that I love. It is still incredibly hard though having to be in an environment plagued with triggers and advocates for my eating disorder. It just makes it that much harder to recover. I was thrown into an environment that I feel like I don’t belong in and with people I feel like I don’t belong with taking class that I feel like I am not smart enough for. I am trying everything I can to focus on why recovery is so important to me (my future, food tastes hella good, my friends, my happiness) and hold on to that list every second of every day.

 

Some people may read this post (in particular the people who see me everyday at school) and think is that really how she felt/feels? To be honest, yes this is how feel and I feel as if it is time for me to be completely honest about it. Going back to school, back to the environment that contributed so much to my struggles and where a lot of the pain started is a little bit like getting the wind knocked out of you. Right now I am trying to catch my breath and figure out how to start breathing (living) again. There are things that I love about school and I am focusing on those people, events (or “checkpoints” as I call them), vacations etc. to get me through this year. This MY senior year. This is MY time to enjoy what I am doing in my life. It is going to be a good year. Hard doesn’t mean bad (thank you Alec) it just means that I am learning something, and that’s what school is supposed to be, isn’t it?

Six Month Mark: Reflections and Thank You

Hello blog readers! First of all, thank you so much for supporting me thus far and continuing to support me through this journey. As you might be able to tell from the title of this blog post, today marks my sixth month in recovery. It is crazy to think back at this whirlwind of an adventure (except adventures are supposed to be fun and this one is not what I would consider “fun”)

 

Six months ago I was not myself. I was a zombie. I was existing, not living. I drug my weak body around with me day after day with a brain that could not think and a heart that was struggling to beat. I isolated myself from people that I loved and cared about and I was fighting my own self. Now, I am getting ready to start my senior year of high school (that is so weird saying out loud). I am still struggling, but not as much. I am still fighting but instead I am fighting for my freedom instead of fighting my own self. I have met my best friends and become closer to people that were already in my life. I also distanced myself from “things” that did not need to be apart of my life, for example, umm… I don’t know, my eating disorder. That was a GREAT good-bye.

 

I figured this blog post should probably have a point to it and here it is. I have learned so many things by going through this process. Here are a FEW of the many things that I have learned and took to take to heart (or at least trying to) during my time in treatment.

 

#1 Life is too short to pick cheese off of your pizza.

This has a bigger analogy than it seems, but it is also very literal. Cheese is on a pizza for a reason because it is an incredibly delicious and necessary part of the pizza. Yes, I was scared of it so I just avoided it. But when I took my first bite without my rituals of dabbing and picking and ripping etc. It was the most delicious thing ever. SO, with that, sometimes the things we are afraid of and avoid, do us less harm when we finally accept it and let it into our lives. I thought that if I had eaten the cheese off of the pizza I would be weak, worthless, and fat. I had a fear and anxiety surrounding that. When I ate it though, it showed me that all of my fears, thoughts, and worries about the pizza were false. I had taken a leap, one that I did not want to take, and I was fine. I was 100% perfectly ok and that makes me happy to think about. The same goes for life. The things we avoid and are afraid can sometimes be good for us when we let them into our lives and we recognize how strong we truly are.

 

#2 (My) first impressions and assumptions are generally wrong

Some of you may know this but I make assumptions pretty quickly (about people, situations etc.) One of my best friends (shout out to KG) is a prime example of this. When I first met her in treatment I never in a million years thought we would become best friends and end up practically living with each other (sorry for taking over your house, KG). In my eating disorder, I was very closed off and did not give people many chances to show who they truly were. Another example is my math teacher in France, Doc A, pretty much one of the greatest human beings on the planet (along with his wife, Catherine) and without whom I don’t know if I would be alive today. When I first met Doc A, I was intimidated to say the least. I thought that he absolutely hated me and so therefore I started the process of shutting down and cutting off. I then came to realize that he and his wife would end up being the biggest support system I had in France and one of the main reasons I woke up in the morning and continued on with life. I never imagined that these two people who I judged at first would become some of the most influential and important characters in the story of my life.

#3 It is not self-centered or egotistical to love yourself

This is something that I have learned but I am still trying to implement into my life. I find it incredibly sad how society nowadays tells us that loving yourself, being proud of yourself, being confident in your body or who you are is selfish and egotistical. Well, it is not. It is actually a beautiful thing to see people who are proud of their talents, their assets, their intelligence… THEM. It is such a rare thing to see someone who is confident in who they are and that is not ok that it is so rare. It is not ok that it is less common for people to love themselves than to hate themselves. It is not ok that there are entire news articles dedicated to everything wrong with celebrities. It is not ok that human beings are constantly told they are never good enough. It is not ok that it is normal for people to rip themselves apart because that is what they are conditioned to believe. Am I currently practicing what I preach? Well, not really. But it doesn’t mean I’m not trying. It is not an easy thing for me to love myself after having spent years listening to a voice (ED) telling me that I am worthless and picked me apart until I could not stand it anymore. So ladies and gentlemen if you take away one sentence from this post, society is wrong, it is ok, AMAZING even, to love yourself and be confident in who you are. So go out and flaunt who you are. Post selfies, please be proud of your bomb contouring, please be proud of your 92% on a test even though it is not an A, please be proud of your uniqueness, please be proud of YOU, (after all, you are the only you on planet earth and that is pretty cool.)

 

#4 Treatment sucks but is also the greatest thing that has ever happened to me

I remember the day my doctor told me I had anorexia (whatever that meant). She recommended going to see someone to do intake for treatment. Ummm, excuse me, what? Treatment! I did not sign up for that, there was no way I could be sick enough for treatment. That word stung and I had no idea it was where I would be going for the next 5 months. I thought treatment was a couple weeks, talking about your feelings, eating a couple meals, and then boom, FIXED! I could not have been more wrong. It was a roller coaster, a constant up and down of emotions, thoughts, and events. It was not reality either. In residential I was not living, I only existed, kind of like in my eating disorder except now I had a purpose, to get better. I woke up and ate my meals, talked in therapy, gave the counselors the BS they wanted to hear, and went to bed. I was a robot and I went through my day like clockwork. After I left RTC, I dropped down to PHP (partial hospitalization) treatment. It was an amazing change. I met some of the greatest people I know. I met people who cared and listened. I had (and have!) the most amazing therapist one could ask for. I had a safe space where my eating disorder could not exist. I had people to go to when my eating disorder wanted to creep back into my mind. I still had the tears, the struggles, and the pain but I also had people to help me through all of that, for lack of a better word, crap. I look back to six months ago and I don’t remember exactly how I looked or felt but what I do remember is that I never want to go back. I know that because of treatment and because of people like LV, AD, AW, JS, KD I have been saved from many months more of pain, depression, and being victim to my eating disorder.

 

 

 

#5 Isolation sucks

I am a very outgoing person. I love people and I am even considered a social butterfly by a lot of my friends and family. If you had first met me during my eating disorder however, you never would have known that. I went to school, attended classes, and returned back to my host family’s home to hibernate in my room for the weekend. I did not go out, participate in group activities, or make many plans with people. Why did I do this? My eating disorder. It was safer for my eating disorder to be locked away in my room. There was no one there to debate my distorted thoughts, keep track of what I was eating (or lack there of), and my eating disorder could have complete control over me. It told me exactly to the second when I could eat. It told me how many sit ups I needed to do for the rice cake I would eat at exactly 3 PM and could not finish until 3:30 PM. It was just ED and me. I was closed off from the outside world but never felt lonely because I always had Ed by my side. So in simple terms, isolation sucks. The way the eating disorder manipulates the brain into thinking that being alone and in solitude is the best thing for you, sucks. I learned that I really like my outgoing side of me and I never want my eating disorder to ever take that away (any piece of motivation counts J )

 

#6 I don’t NEED my eating disorder

One of my biggest struggles with entering treatment is that I did not want to let my eating disorder go. ED had been apart of my life for so long and letting him go felt like a failure and felt like losing my best friend. I thought I needed ED in my life when in reality I just didn’t want to let it go. My eating disorder sucked the life out of me, made me feel weak, inadequate, and worthless. It took everything I loved about myself and ripped it up. Yet, I still loved ED. It gave me the body I thought I wanted. It gave me discipline, control, a coping skill for difficult times, and it made me (artificially) unique. Over the past six months and with the help of treatment I realized everything that my eating disorder did to me. I realized everything that my eating disorder did to my family and friends, the people that mattered most to me. I don’t need that pain or negativity anymore. I don’t the self-hate anymore. I don’t need the depression and anxiety. I just need me, without my eating disorder. I don’t need my eating disorder in order to be good. I don’t need my eating disorder in order to be liked or appreciated or cared for. My eating disorder did not give me anything desirable. I romanticized my life with anorexia while I was in it but now looking back I see all the damage that it did. I don’t need my ED in order to succeed, I don’t need to change myself to be loved by others. All I need is me and that should be good enough.

 

This is not all that I learned in treatment (that would be an entire book), but these are some important things that really mean a lot to me and I felt might be able to resonate with some people. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been there for me at some point during this six month journey. I could not have done it without you all and I would not be where I am today without them.

 

 

 

 

 

Doc A and Catherine – 2 people who literally saved my life in France and in treatment. 2 people who encouraged me and prayed for me daily and never gave up hope. I don’t know what I would have done without you

 

The treatment team – who continues to care, love, and support me. All my love to The BV.

 

KG, JD, JF, IT, EM, GV, BNC, BV – the girls whom I could not live without. Love to you all!

 

Nico – the girl who has the greatest stories and the funniest things to say. You never fail to make me laugh. LUHH YOU

 

Haley – Bling 2, the girl who visited me during my worst times and managed to make it the best of times. I love you to the moon and back.

 

Cooper – a woman’s best friend, my best friend. Even though you can’t talk you always listen.

 

Kena and GB – making me laugh in treatment is the greatest gift you could give someone, thank you so much. Love you girlies XOXO

 

Young Life (and everyone apart of the program) – a break from reality and a sense of freedom from my eating disorder. Thank you for giving me a gift so incredibly rare.

 

My SYA Family – the ones who were there during the worst of it but still laughed at my jokes and worked with me through my difficulties. Vous me manquez!

 

Dieds – Ma prof et mon amie. Je ne pouvais pas vivre sans toi!

 

Tina – the one who brings out the best side of me. Thank you for supporting my creativity, dreams, and making them all come true.

 

And of course, my family – the people that are there for me through thick and thin, who never leave my side, and who support me even on the ups and downs that life throws at all of us.