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

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.

Thoughts on the ED

As you might have been able to tell from the title of my post, this is a section from my journal. I was reading through my journal the other day, as I sometimes do because you know, got a lot of free time, but I found this little “blurb” that I thought was interesting. This was written during a time I was really struggling in my recovery and my thoughts have been adjusted and reframed (thanks CBT 🙂 I now am finding my “replacements” etc. but anyway, here it is.

 

My Journal: 03/16/2016

My eating disorder is kind of like an appendix. It’s in you and it’s there and it starts to bubble and it kind of explodes or bursts into a big mess and needs to be taken out. It’s not a necessary part of the human being and with it taken out, I am not really losing anything big, I am just losing something detrimental to my life. Right now, my eating disorder is my identity and I am scared to lose it, even though it is slowly killing me. Like the appendix, it doesn’t really need to be replaced with anything but I just think it does. I am scared to lose the eating disorder because I might not feel whole. I am worried about what will replace it when sometimes the “replacement” is already in me.
I don’t know if that made sense at all but something that has helped me through my recovery is analogizing my eating disorder to “tangible” things. For example, the appendix can kill us if it bursts and we recognize that so that the patient will survive. But with an eating disorder, a lot of victims don’t recognize they are suffering, in danger, or even dying. I know I was oblivious to the fact my eating disorder was killing me, but I  continued with it anyway.

Dealing with triggers

Triggers. What a big topic. There are paragraphs, essays, even books on this topic because this is such a big topic. I couldn’t talk about it all in one blog post so I will give the “shortish” version.

 

For someone who is going through recovery for an eating disorder and then has to reintegrate back into the world is incredibly difficult and comes with a host of what people call “triggers”

Each person entering and following the process of recovery has their own unique and individual set of triggers. “In much of the eating disorder community, trigger is used to describe things that are upsetting and can lead to eating disorder behaviors. It is common to hear a patient speak of being “triggered” by specific foods, situations, and interactions.”* This definition, I feel, simply describes the meaning of a trigger. There are many different types of triggers one can experience. Many common ones include seeing one’s weight, shopping, parties/scenes with lots of food, certain comments about appearance, diet talk, the eating habits of others etc.

Ok, enough clinical talk, I don’t have a degree… yet, hehe.

 

Deep in my eating disorder and even at the beginning of treatment I was apparently triggered by a lot, but I didn’t even realize it. I would buy my friends food just so they would eat more than me, I tracked what my family ate along with what I ate, and if anyone talked about someone with a good body it propelled me into constant conversation (more like me listening to) my eating disorder voice. My first few weeks in recovery, I would feel so ashamed if I ate my food quicker than the other girls, if I finished my meal, if I chose a more “challenging” snack etc. Actually, my eating disorder felt ashamed and guilty. I wanted to be the best anorexic out of all of them and I know, I know that sounds kind of sick and twisted but that is just how much my eating disorder manipulated my mind. My eating disorder made me detest certain people because they were “skinnier” than me and I didn’t even take the time to get to know them as a person. To say it simply, I was triggered by so much which then affected so many relationships and made it difficult to go out. But, along with the eating disorder thoughts that once plagued my mind, my triggers decreased as well. Through the three months I have been in treatment, I have discovered the plethora of triggers that I never thought would bother me and as I learned about them, I learned how to battle them.

 

Triggers are an incredibly difficult thing to deal with. To be quite honest, they absolutely stink. I mean, as if it is not hard enough already to be fighting the own “little” voice in my head, I know have to fight outside forces as well, hell am I tired! Honestly, there is no “How To” on how to not let triggers be a both or an outline and exact plan on how to decrease them, but there are some things that I did, that helped me.  I believe one of the biggest triggers in eating disorders, or at least for me, is being around others that are struggling with the same thing. Seeing girls that are skinnier than me, eat less, exercise more makes my skin crawl.

 

The person who makes it furthest in their eating disorder ends up gone and never actually gets to live a life. I viewed all these girls as competition instead of humans. I viewed all of my now closest friends as people that I had to beat. I had to be sicker than them, skinnier than them, eat less than them, and why you ask? Well to be completely honest, I don’t know. It seemed perfectly rational back in the depths of my eating disorder, but now I look back on it and just think how absolutely ridiculous I was being. Of course I didn’t see it then and it is still difficult for me to channel my rational mind when I am surrounded by a group of people that are talking about dieting or when people talk about how little they’ve eaten. But the biggest thing I have realized is that I have been in that spot. I might have triggered others at one point and look at me now, I am struggling. These people that are participating in diet talk etc are struggling just as I once struggled. They are not holding these conversations around me to trigger me instead I should look at it as something that I relate to and identify with. I guess what I am trying to say is that I have learned these people are human beings just as I am. Now, not saying I am 100% over all triggers, I just now have an idea implanted in my head to help me get through each triggering moment, of which there will be many because that is the process of recovery and that is the path I have chose to continue on.

 

*Eating Disorders Glossary

http://glossary.feast-ed.org/5-psychology-and-therapies/triggers

Question 1: June 1, 2016

Question: Why is it so hard to get rid of an eating disorder?

My friend asked me this question the other day as I was explaining my idea to her about having a question/response section on the blog where readers can ask me any questions they want and I will respond to them and post them in the response question. ANYWAYS… here is my response to this very important question that is very hard for many people to understand.

To be completely honest, before I fell victim to my eating disorder and even entered recovery I wondered why it was so difficult to go through treatment for a mental illness such as an eating disorder. I have perceived in today’s society that there is such a stigma surrounding eating disorders and mental disorders in general. Eating disorders in particular are rarely talked about. I remember researching eating disorders when I was about to start recovery and I found a lot of pro-ana (pro anorexia) sites, a few quotes, and a bit of research. I know that our society is progressing and we are starting to be more open about mental disorders but to be completely honest, right now, the stigma surrounding eating disorders sucks. When people don’t talk about a particular topic, how is anyone ever supposed to learn and understand what the whole idea is about? I mean, I knew nothing about chemistry before I started talking about it in sophomore chemistry class. I then became educated, learned the rules and basics surrounding the subject of chemistry and to be honest the same can be done for eating disorders.

I swear I am getting around to answering the question, just bear with me. I am going to be completely honest, there are some moments when I don’t know why it is so hard to “get rid” of an eating disorder. It is not like an illness where someone can take a couple antibiotics or lay in bed for a couple days and they are all better. I have heard from too many people who think that this is the way it is. I go to treatment and as soon as I am eating the food, I am ok. I am all better if I am weight restored or I can all of the sudden eat a cupcake without having a panic attack. Nope, that’s not it. I so wish it were that way. I wish there was a magic medicine to get rid of the eating disorder, or a formula that worked for each and every person. An eating disorder is so much more than just an incapability to eat food. It is something that plagues its victim from waking to sleeping. It is a cover up for a much bigger and deeper problem. Some people deal with repercussions of sexual harassment, verbal abuse, emotional abuse etc. It is a way to cover up and cope with all of the underlying issues and that is one of the biggest reasons why it is so hard to recover. Once the eating disorder is gone, you are forced to deal with all of the problems that lead to the eating disorder in the first place. It is so incredibly painful to be losing something that was considered a “best friend”, and then have to gain weight, and then on top of all that, have to deal with the emotions and the painful past that might have contributed to all of this.

As detrimental as an eating disorder is to one’s health (physically and mentally), I have experienced my own personal inner struggle with recovering from my eating disorder. My eating disorder gave me everything that I could have ever asked for. It gave me the body I thought I wanted, it gave me what I thought was strength and confidence over others, and it took away any problem that could have confronted me because of the numbing pain that is brought. But, as I have learned through recovery, these were all false “gifts” that the eating disorder bestowed upon me. The eating disorder is the most manipulative, mean, cruel thing I have ever encountered in my life. I can’t even see it so I don’t know who to talk to when I am trying to fight it. An eating disorder plagues the mind. It makes it impossible to see what the body actually looks like. The distorted perceptions and ideas are so detrimental to the uprooting of the eating disorder.

There’s a quote saying, “You can miss something but not want it back” and that is exactly how I feel about my eating disorder. I know I really really don’t want my eating disorder back, but it is hard to actually KNOW that I don’t want my eating disorder back. It is so hard to get rid of an eating disorder because a lot of the times a victim doesn’t even want it gone. How are you supposed to get rid of something that you love or that you think you love? It’s really, really hard, but not impossible. It is day after day of saying no to the voice in your head. Meal after meal of just picking up the damn fork and putting food into your mouth. It is thought after thought racing through your mind telling you how worthless you are and not knowing how to stop them. They are there in a power struggle every step of the way until years later into recovery they finally give up and the person battling it keeps fighting on.

A day in the life of & other thoughts

I get many questions from my friends and family members inquiring exactly what it is like to live with an eating disorder and then have to fight through recovery. In treatment we dedicate entire days to help our family members and other loved ones understand what it is like to live with an eating disorder and what exactly goes through the mind 24/7. So I guess I could give you a quick “run down” on what it is like.

 

I am a morning person, always have been, always will be (I hope 🙂

I wake up each and every morning at 6 or 7 am and that is when the voices start. I only get peace when I am asleep, but it has been getting a lot easier through treatment. I fight to access my rational mind through my breakfast preparation and then as I eat the food I just put together. I use the wondrous coping skills of Netflix (currently watching Hawaii 5-0, highly suggested or even more highly suggested… Scandal!!!) I take my puppy Cooper for a walk and then come back for miscellaneous activities such as journaling, knitting, writing for this blog, catching up on school work, looking for a summer job etc (see, I am kind of just like a normal teenager!) and then it is off to treatment!

 

I am currently in PHP (but soon to be moving to IOP!) which means 7 hours a day 6 days a week of treatment (at least it’s not residential). Each day we have miscellaneous groups such as CBT, Process, Body Image/Mindfulness, Discharge Planning, Yoga, and so much more! I try so hard to listen to each and every word the therapists say during the groups but it is so hard when there is this voice in my head screaming at me, forcing me to think about my next meal or what food I will be eating and when. I don’t want to think this way, it is just that I don’t know how to stop these thoughts. For those of you who understand what this constant waking to sleeping struggle is like also understand just how draining this process is. Even if I am eating, or I am weight restored, or I am not having behaviors, I am still having those thoughts (as of right now, I am working to get them to go away). Eating disorders don’t go away just like that. It takes time and it takes healing. Recovery is a powerful, overwhelming, painful yet beautiful process, that is why I go to treatment each and every day. That is why I wanted to create this blog. I am hoping it will help me process certain ideas, talk about a rough day, but also reach out to others that are struggling too.

 

Back to my day… before I entered treatment, my day was spent in my room; shakily counting calories, planning my next workout, panicking and feeling guilty about how much I ate or how much I will be eating. Now, I laugh as I prep my lunch, play games as I eat my dinner, and head into the next group with few feelings of guilt or anxiety (usually). I used to cry everyday because I had eaten or because I had failed my eating disorder, but I cry now because all I want is for it to be gone. I talk with many of my friends that I met in treatment (there will be a post about all of these amazing people later) and just the pure frustration that the eating disorder instills. It is honestly just so frustrating and infuriating to live with an eating disorder. Like I said previously, my mind is always focused on my biggest fear. Imagine being arachnophobic and having to be surrounded by spiders 24/7. My eating disorder is scared of food and I must be surrounded by it 24/7 for my health, that is so incredibly frustrating. During any sort of down time I frantically search for a coping skill to occupy my time. I have filled up 200 pages worth of journal, watched 11 seasons of 4 different shows, 21 movies, driven to the beach just because, cleaned my whole house at least 5 times, and cooked probably more than a professional chef does, all to take my mind off of my fear.

 

As I go through each day of treatment, I recognize each day is different. There are many days where I am the most confident person on the planet and it is as if I don’t even have my eating disorder but there are many others where I feel as if my eating disorder is my identity and will be for the rest of my life or that it will be just me and Ed forever… BUT it won’t. It can’t be. I had a life once with no eating disorder and I will get back to that point again with the help of the amazing people in my life. Recovery isn’t all bad or all tears. I have met some of the most amazing, kind, and beautiful people and I thank God for them each and every day. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. I am thankful for recovery and this process even though it is a long and tiring one.

 

Love to all!

 

For my loves,

JD, JF, CL, KG, RC, EM, IT, GV

 
“Surround yourself with people who get it”