Monthly Archives: August 2016

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.

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.

 

 

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.