Tag Archives: anorexia

#TruthTellers

Why are we so afraid to tell the truth? Isn’t honesty the key to any successful relationship? It doesn’t have to be romantic relationships, it can be relationships with friends and family members. Instead of being honest, we tend to tell “white lies” and justify them by convincing ourselves we were just looking out for those around us. Half of the time we don’t see white lies as lies at all, so the conscious backlash we feel towards ourselves is minimal at best. Maybe we even start to be honest with those closest to us, but never really give the whole story, out of shame or fear. Again, there’s less guilt attached to this because technically we didn’t lie, we just didn’t tell the whole truth.

But what good does lying or covering up some part of the truth do for us? Trust me, I used to be (or at least I like to think I was) an expert half-ass truth teller. In the moment where your kind of lying but not technically lying, it may seem worth it to keep that arms-length distance. Nobody gets hurt, and your real pain, the shame or the guilt is still protected in this nice little cocoon of deception. Do you want to know what I believe is the number one reason for why we lie to those around us when we’re walking through some hard situations? Ok even if you don’t want to know, you’re here reading this so there’s a 99.99% chance you’re going to hear it anyways.

We don’t want to be vulnerable

That’s really all there is to it. I remember when I was in the depth of my eating disorder and self-injury I would half-ass the truth constantly. Someone would ask me if I was eating (because apparently I was looking like I was losing weight fast, even though I couldn’t see it through the funhouse mirrors that were my eyes), I wouldn’t lie but I wouldn’t tell the entire truth either. I’d tell them “of course I’m eating! I’m just watching what I eat and working out more”. The truth is, what I was eating was more like what I wasn’t eating. I was also working out so that wasn’t a lie either, but the amount I worked out was enough to cancel out the miniscule number of calories I consumed that day. I felt this strange ownership over all of this too; it was mine to have and I’d be damned if someone wanted to take it away from me. To put it simply, it became my entire identity. I was no longer a daughter, a student or a friend; all I was, was that number on the scale that was always too high and the number of calculated calories I consumed and then disposed of. So when I got asked about it, I didn’t want to be vulnerable so I hid behind deception and half-assed truth.

Sooner or later, however, I did start telling the truth and boy was it painful. But I didn’t start being a truth teller until I was on the other side of those things. The “shame about the pain” was too great for me to face when I was plummeting towards rock bottom. I remember the first time I was able to tell the truth and be vulnerable, I was in a room with a bunch of people who were broken just like I was, and man did it suck. The ironic thing is, I had been in therapy for a couple of years before all of this too, but I never once told the honest to god truth. I was 23 and in a residential treatment center, and then again at 24 in an outpatient treatment center (which sucked so much worse than residential! I actually had to deal with real life… ew). Truth telling felt fake at first, because I realized that even I was starting to believe my own crap. The sick part of my mind made up the lies to begin with, but soon they became who I was in a way. But when you’re in a room of broken people who are just like you when you’re being honest and vulnerable, you get a lot of head shakes and “me too” as feedback.

Yet truth telling in treatment is so much different than truth telling when you’re placed back in your life. Like I said, I didn’t start really telling the truth to my family and friends until I was certain I was on the other side of most of my crap. I was ashamed if I was struggling and I was “just wanting to protect them” (another lie my lovely sick mind created). There’s a phrase one of my therapists in outpatient always used to tell us; she’d say that sometimes we just need to sit in it (the “it” being the discomfort and everything else we were avoiding by using our eating disorder). Well, I didn’t want to sit in it, because sitting in it requires facing life and feeling vulnerable. So instead of sitting in it, I’d lie and tell people the half-ass truth so I could continue using the one coping mechanism I found to be most successful in avoiding vulnerability. Yet I realized that not telling the truth to those people in my life when I really should be not only hurts me, but it hurts them as well. I like to think of keeping up those walls and giving the half-assed truth as a nonverbal middle-finger.

A lot of it too has to do with how we feel society wants us to be. Go on Facebook or Instagram and people have their lives displayed like it’s a freakin’ Hallmark movie where everything is just peachy. I’m pretty sure we all know that that is a load of B.S, but that’s how we feel like we should act and portray ourselves even offline. Everyone has their crap, but we put our stage lives out there to hide the behind the curtain reality of what’s really going on with us. We get this feeling that people don’t want to hear about our struggles so we bottle it up and say nothing, only revealing the scars after the wounds have healed. Is that fair to those who love us unconditionally? Nope. Is it fair to us, who deserve to be loved unconditionally, supported and valued for being who we are? Nope. So here’s what I’m learning lately:

  • Being vulnerable sucks
  • Hiding behind shame and fear is easy
  • Being a truth teller is hard
  • Covering up the truth with lies is easy
  • Shame only amplifies the pain
  • People closest to you in your life won’t judge you for being honest, and if they do they’re not the people you need walking the path with you
  • It’s better to be vulnerable with others when you’re going through hell than to be vulnerable alone
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IM GOING TO POLAND! 

I’m so excited for the next month. I’m going to Warsaw, Poland to study abroad for a few months… Oh and the cool thing? I’m going for free! 

I applied for a grant that was given to my schools psychology department by the university I’ll be studying at. I didn’t have anything to lose so I filled out the application, submitted it, and a few days after it was due I found out I was the student who was selected for it. I may or may not have jumped up and down & screamed when I received the email from the department chair saying I won it. 

So come October I will be living in Warsaw, studying psychology and having opportunities to travel Europe! 

I do have to admit I’m terrified. I have never been out of the country, and the fact I will be over there all by myself is giving me anxiety. That, and the food part.

I’m scared that I won’t find any foods over there that I can eat comfortably. It’s going to be a huge test of my recovery and I’m absolutely terrified. But I can’t let that get in the way. Life is too good to fuck up. 

I haven’t updated this in a bit so I just wanted to give my followers an update on my life! 

3 Years

Today is kind of a weird anniversary for me. I was scrolling through TimeHop this morning (people still use this app right?) when I came across a post from 3 years ago today. I left for treatment for an eating disorder/self-injury that day. I remember (vaguely, however) being terrified to go out there and have all my vices of coping and not feeling stripped away from me. I was incapable of feeling anything besides numb. There were no plans for a future in my mind, no hope of things ever not feeling as if though they weren’t going to get better. All I remember is being exhausted 24/7; emotionally and physically.

I was vulnerable to the voices in my head telling me that if I only lost a little more weight I’d be happy, I’d achieve that goal of wanting to disappear, to live a life unnoticed. Only the thing is, the more I tried to disappear the more I stood out. That’s where the lies came in. I lived a life of lying, skirting around the truth that I was slowly killing myself. My closest friends would ask what I was doing to lose the weight I had, or if I was eating. I didn’t exactly lie to them, but I wasn’t telling the whole story. I was simply working out daily and watching what I did eat (although a piece of toast with a very miniscule amount of peanut butter isn’t exactly eating). I hid my eating disorder so well and didn’t disclose information about it that my therapist I was seeing at the time didn’t even catch on to what was going on with me (which led to a lot of misdiagnoses, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder) until a month or so before I was sent to treatment.

All these memories came back when I saw those posts from TimeHop this morning. It’s still kind of mind blowing to me that it was 3 years ago, because it honestly feels like it was yesterday. I have come such a long way in my life since going to treatment.

I feel content with my life and where it’s going. I’m now a senior in undergrad with a pretty killer GPA. I’m graduating with research honors next May and hopefully will be going off to grad school after that. Yes I still struggle with my weight, appearance and eating disorder thoughts sometimes but I don’t let them consume me anymore. I have so much to offer the world (that didn’t sound conceded did it?) and after years of struggling, have a pretty good sense as to who I am. The areas of my life which I lost to my eating disorder and mental health struggles, I have either gained back or am working on gaining back. There’s relationships I’m hoping to still amend and the friends I still do have I appreciate them and no longer take them for granted.

There is so much that I have gained over the past 3 years, that it’s incredible to think about how my life has changed for the better. The road here absolutely sucked and was painful. One psychiatric hospital stay, a month in inpatient treatment and a year in outpatient treatment (which sucked more than the hospital or treatment center) are now on my track record. I hated the things that beginning recovery entailed, but if I got my life back in a better way than I could have imagined, I guess I’ll take it.

So today is the anniversary of the day I began the long journey of getting my life back. It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve last self-injured which is huge after engaging in it for 10 years. Being in recovery from an eating disorder is something I feel like I’ll always have to deal with. Every day I have to make choices and check in with myself some days to make sure I’m going down the right path because it is so easy for my emotions to take over and run the course of my life. But I genuinely love my life right now, and I’m so glad I am still alive to have these experiences.

Life After

With it being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to take the time out of my night to sit down and write something meaningful about this week. Reading post after post of individuals’ stories about life in the grips of an eating disorder and how they’re now on the other side, I decided I wanted whatever I wrote to be a little different. But how do you make your writing different from the thousands out there that are writing about the same issues?

I have noticed a theme over the week within those posts, however. There’s always that silver lining moment at the end where the writer describes how much life has gotten better since they entered recovery, and I have to agree that it’s a fucking incredible thing being in recovery and not having the obsessions about food and weight on your mind 24/7. But the posts always end there, leaving a sort of cliff hanger, especially for those of us who know what going through the recovery process is like. But what I want to touch on is something I haven’t read much of in the posts:

            The bad days of recovery.

Because guess what guys, it’s not always an easy task and some days those thoughts and desires to once again self-destruct come running back to you. People expect you to struggle while you’re getting back on your feet while in treatment, whether that be inpatient or outpatient. But what I’ve noticed in my own life is that nobody really talks about the struggle so many of us face after we’re discharged from a treatment program and are fully integrated back into our lives. That’s when, at least in my opinion, real recovery starts and is tested on almost a daily basis.

I’ve gone a couple of weeks without the intrusive thoughts about my weight and calories, but something I’ve noticed is that it always comes back. We learn skills to fight those thoughts out, as well as behavioral components to engage in to not fall back into the very thing we were once so comfortable in. My own therapist has told me countless times that yes it may be so much easier to just say ‘fuck it’ and go back into living a life of an eating disorder, but there’s so much more to lose at this point in your life now that you have experienced what living is supposed to be like.

Let’s be real here for a moment though guys, sometimes the idea of living this new life, for the rest of our life mind you, seems overwhelming. Some days I wake up and don’t want to continue living this life of recovery. Some days I want to jump right back into the arms of an eating disorder, because coping with the emotions that come from every day life experiences can really fucking suck. They talk about the ebbing and flowing of motivation for recovery in treatment all the time, but just because you’ve been discharged from a program doesn’t mean that ever really stops. It becomes less frequent of an issue, but an issue still nonetheless.

You can go weeks feeling on top of the world and loving the life you worked so hard to get, but some days those thoughts and physical feelings can come back and come back with a vengeance. It’s in those moments though, that you really have to put all of those skills that were drilled into your head into use. It’s a struggle, because now you have insight. You know you can kick those thoughts’ ass, you know you can hold off on engaging in whatever behavior it is your head is telling you to do, and you know all of the things that you could lose by letting yourself get engulfed in those thoughts and actions for even just a day. Because I think we all know that a lot of the time, that one day is all it takes to flip that switch and you’re plummeting backwards.

But unlike the days you were in treatment, there’s not that team of people right there to catch you before you smash into the ground. So it’s all you, and you know you can do it if you choose to. It’s those choices that can either make or break you. It all comes down to choice. There’s this internal battle you enter into with your old self and the new, more insightful self. So what are you going to do? The guilt of fucking up and having to explain to either your doctor or your therapist as to why the scale says you lost weight when you go in for your next appointment or session can be overwhelming enough. To be honest, that has been something that has kept me on my toes a lot over the past year. Having to come up with some lie that seems like a legit excuse isn’t really worth it, because if your therapist is good at their job, they’ll dissect the shit out of what you just told them until they reveal the truth behind the fact you lost weight again.

But I guess I should probably end this post on a positive note, eh? I mean shit if I stopped right there we’d all be fucking depressed and not want to continue trying our best to live a life of recovery. So here it goes, that silver lining moment we all love:

Some days of recovery suck. I mean really fucking suck. But it’s only a day, or a moment or a thought. It doesn’t have to become the catalyst that slides you backwards. If you’ve made it this far to where you can say you’re in recovery, well dammit you can make it past the shitty days too. Without trying to sound like one of those cheesy motivational posters that are scattered all over the place, you’ve already proven to yourself that you can do this. So when you really feel like recovery is a joke and you can no longer keep it up, remember the way you fucking rallied to get to where you are now, even if in that moment it feels like you didn’t make as much progress as everyone around you is telling you’ve made. It’s always hard to see the progress you made for yourself, but you did it yourself. So keep calm and stay strong.

Up to MY Standards

I’ve always been a perfectionist, I mean just go ask anyone who is close to me and they’ll tell you just that. Maybe it’s because of my childhood (all the Freud lovers will give a fist pump at that) and living with that nagging voice placed in my head by those who bullied me and the teachers who never really believed in my abilities (High school guidance counselor, I’m lookin at you!).

So as I got older and became a young adult, I saw a shift in my mindset. I found things I was good at and considered it my pride to excel at these things. Some were healthy, such as my ability to play guitar and make music, and some not so healthy. Those who were seemingly better at whatever it was I too was good at, were seen as a threat to me. I know, it’s absolutely ridiculous to say out loud but it was the truth. But that truth has dangerous consequences.

Musicians around me became the enemy, a source of jealousy and viewed as yet another individual rubbing it in my face that I was in fact not as good at music as I thought I once was. I no longer wanted to learn from them, because when they tried teaching me new things, in my head all I could hear was them saying “look what I can do and you can’t”. Relationships that could have been so enriching never had the chance to grow because I pushed them away. I felt insignificant in who I was as a musician when I compared myself to them, even though a majority of these individuals had been playing music longer than I had even been alive.

Then there were the not so good things, body image being the main thing. I got sick in my early twenties with an eating disorder, after I decided I was going to go on a diet to lose some weight. Needless to say, that car soon spun out of control and took over my life. But there was something about it that made me feel so in control and on top of my world. Finally, I remember thinking to myself, I had found the one thing in my life that nobody else could be better at than me. I would listen to people all around me telling me that they found it so hard to stay in a commitment to the gym and stick with their diets. That losing weight was not as easy as I was making it look. That was all I needed to hear to give me that little extra push to keep going. Not to mention the fact that my perfectionist attitude always made me feel like crap about myself when I would finally reach that goal weight, because anyone who has ever had the misfortune of having an eating disorder knows that the original goal weight never stays the same. Once you get there you know you can go lower, and suddenly that number on the scale that you once would have killed someone to see, is no longer the number you feel happy with. There’s always more you can do to get lower. That perfect number just barely out of reach.

But where I really want to go in this is the recovery aspect of an eating disorder. Those perfectionist attitudes never really left, and I’m not sure they ever really will if I’m being honest. It’s a long road ahead of me, probably something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. Because I live in such a small town (we joke and call it ‘Smallbany’) I have run into people I went to outpatient treatment with at school, some of them in my classes. I remember the beginning of the semester someone who was in treatment with me, who I never really cared for, walked into my class. One look at them and I saw what I wasn’t any longer. They, in my mind at least, looked good. They had the features I so badly wished I could have because to me in the most fucked up way were what I consider attractive. Suddenly my body image was out of whack and I once again felt inadequate. Sure I have come a long way in recovery, but seeing others look the way that I never had the chance to look, really kind of triggered me. To me, they looked perfect. I, with some weight restored, did not look perfect.

Sure I had my schooling and the fact that I am really freakin’ good at it, but all of that was negated by the fact that I was no longer the best at the one thing I spent so many years being proud of. Someone else could lose weight and be thinner than I am. Suddenly, I was no longer up to my standards of perfect.

But what is perfect? I honestly don’t know if perfect even exists. I remember last week after taking tests I received the grade for one and it was below my expectations. I knew I could have done better, and kicked myself all day for the fact that I didn’t get that grade I knew I could have. My mind took over and I began hearing that voice in my head that told me I wasn’t ever going to measure up to the standards I once believed I could. But this voice carried over into every area of my life. I was no longer good enough at anything, whether it be school, the way I looked, or good enough for relationships (not romantic but friendships and the like).

I know this is all negative, but I think I finally found the silver lining. My standards for my whole life have been set at a place that is almost unreachable but not totally out of sight that I can’t see the end game. I can see it, and that only fuels the need to live up to my own standards. So I’ve been working really hard on giving myself a break, and it’s not as easy as you would think it was. It’s a daily internal struggle, and at times it’s absolutely exhausting. But maybe, just maybe, my standards can change, or I can at least give myself a break and some grace for not reaching that bar that is set so high. So I didn’t get a mark on a test or paper I knew I could have gotten, in the long run will it really matter? So I don’t feel like I’m the best at things I once did, who really cares? I’m not the best musician? At least I’m not the same as I was a few years ago. I’m not the best student? At least I’m not the same student I was when I was told I wasn’t good enough for college. I’m not the best looking? First of all, what does that even mean, and second of all, looks are the least of everyone’s concern at the end of the day. I realize that sounded shallow, and being the best looking wasn’t what fueled my illness. It was the need to disappear and not be noticed. But as I entered recovery, looking good, meaning healthy, became important for some reason.

I may not be perfect or up to my standards, but I realize now that nobody on this earth is perfect. We all have something that someone else wants, but at the same time we are all so completely different, and now in my life I’m trying to accept that and believe it. So maybe now I will try to set a new standard, a standard of giving myself grace.

 

Why I Love Research

Being a psychology major, one of the requirements for my school is taking 2 courses surrounding the topic of research methods/statistics. I started out that journey hearing horror stories of how difficult it was, how much work and time and energy went into it, how I’d have to conduct my own study and write a paper about my research, not to mention the fact that being a junior and knowing I wanted to work with eating disorders and addictions I had absolutely no interest in doing any sort of research. Here’s why:

For the past few years being in a few treatment programs I’ve heard a lot about research. “according to research…”, “the research does say that…”, was an infamous line that came out of therapists mouth almost on a daily basis and frankly, I was sick of it. Research, as far as I could tell, wasn’t accurate. At least not for me. I’d smirk whenever the psychologists would start a sentence out using those phrases. How would research benefit me? Nobody ever included me in one of the many studies done, so how the hell do they know?

So when I had to take a research methods and statistics course, I thought “oh boy, here we go. This class is going to suck”. Sure I’d try my hardest to get a good mark, but once that year was over with I would have nothing to do with research for the rest of my life and career in clinical psychology. But something happened the more I learned of the methods, research is so much more than just one individual.

Anecdotally speaking, research pertains to the vast majority of a population you’re studying and what I love about it is you can gain further perspective into human behaviors and cognitions by studying a sample of the population. So to bring it back to myself, as much as I hate to admit it, I was in part contained into the population of those with eating disorders. The research behind the disorders make sense and the more I look into areas of research I can see now that what researchers found in their results and analysis make total sense.

I love coming up with research questions about topics in the field I am passionate about. There’s something intriguing to me about having all of these questions, reading what other researchers have found and trying out methods to test my hypothesis. If you told me a year ago that research would be an area of psychology that I would end up being passionate about I would have laughed at you, but now I am actually in the beginning stages of my 2nd research project. This time I have higher goals than just to get a passing grade. I’m working with my professor who was also my research methods and statistics professor, and this round I’m working with her instead of doing everything on my own. I’m genuinely excited and to be honest I would probably do the project even without the incentive of earning Independent Research credit.

Thanatology became a high interest area of mine last semester when I took the class. It was relevant because of everything I was experiencing with my Grandma, and knowing this professor had research interests in that area I knew it was a good match. We met a few weeks ago and decided to do a study on social media/networks and coping with death. I am so excited about this and get more so as I read more and more articles pertaining to the topics.

For this research I want to present it at a conference psychology majors from my college go to every year, and there was even talk at our meeting of publishing the research. All of these things are what I was wanting to accomplish the minute I fell in love with research. It’s so much more than numbers, it’s a way to observe human cognition and behaviors in a hands on way. Wanting to be a clinical psychologist my whole undergraduate career I can see now the more I get into research why it is so helpful to the field.

Vacation

In a couple of weeks I’ll be going on my 1st vacation in about 4 or 5 years. The last time I was planning on going on vacation was in 2013, and I was going by myself to spend a week or so at my Uncles place in Florida. Nobody knew that the vacation was my last “hoorah”. I was really sick in my eating disorder (although I didn’t want to admit it), hated myself more than any other time in my life and with more intensity & this time I wasn’t about to pussy out of my plan. The plan was to party it up while I was down there and do whatever it was that came to mind (be carelessly compulsive), get home that Saturday and not wake up Sunday. I had it all narrowed down. I did the stereotypical move of giving my shit away and other things I’m sure but don’t remember.

Obviously none of that happened.

The day I was meant to be on a plane to Florida, I instead found myself on a plane heading to Chicago where I’d transfer on a plane out to Arizona for treatment. I remember a week passed and I was out in the smoking area talking to one of my housemates when I told her that I should have been dead in my room that day instead of sitting in a treatment center for anorexia. In that moment it felt like everything I spent the past few months working up to was stripped from me.

So now I’ll be going to Florida in a couple weeks, this time in recovery from my anorexia and for the first time in my whole life am living with knowing I have a future. But I’ll admit I’m scared shitless.

Normal people don’t panic over the food they’ll have on vacation; in fact it’s usually the time of their year where they can guiltlessly indulge without feeling like shit about themselves. I am so fucking terrified that because I’ll be staying at a hotel (which means I have no real option of cooking food every night) that I’ll get home and when I’m weighed at my individual therapy session the scale will show a much higher number.

My mom told me I don’t have to eat a lot of stuff on vacation. I know she meant well, but does that mean I can restrict a little bit? I’ll be at the hotels fitness center every morning before the day starts because if I have to eat out a lot I need some sort of “compensatory” thing so I don’t blow up. It’s only an 8 day vacation but I am so terrified about it.

I’m sure it won’t be as bad as the voice in my head is telling me it will be, but it doesn’t lower my anxiety any less.

How Treatment Changed My Life

As a lot of you know, I’ve spent almost the past 2 years in and out of treatment. My 1st stint in treatment was the summer of 2013 when I was out at Remuda Ranch which for those of you who don’t know is a residential treatment center for eating disorders. Thanks to my lovely insurance company (I’m pretty sure any case manager who works with eating disorders hates them) my treatment only lasted a month until I was cut off and forced back home and to the real world. A few months later I found an intensive outpatient program (IOP) only 20 or so minutes from my home and that is the place where the work really began in my recovery.

For months I thought I was wasting my time attending groups for 4 hours a day, ,3 days a week. I wasn’t motivated to change and I picked and chose the things I would use in my own life. I spent a year and a half in that program until I was finally discharged.

Looking back on those 2 years of many ups and more than enough downs, I realized that treatment changed and ultimately saved my life. I didn’t appreciate it at the time because it was the biggest and most promising threat to ending my eating disorder, but looking back I can see so many things that have changed for the better in my personal life that wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for a team who wasn’t afraid to kick my ass with honesty.

Since I was a little kid I always struggled with how I was feeling. I remember being 12 or so and feeling depressed and like the only way out was to end my life. Yet what kept the mask of happiness over my face for years was knowing there was no external stimulus causing this depression. It’s a total mind fuck when you can’t even place a finger on a cause for your depression and want for your life to end. But when I got into treatment I realized I wasn’t the only one who ever felt this way. The hardest lesson I had to learn was that I had every right to feel what I was feeling and that nobody could take how I was feeling away from me. Now this is totally different from acting on your emotions (you have every right to feel emotion, but acting on them is something completely different). The more and more time I spent talking about how I felt and having people nod their heads in agreement and giving me the feedback that I wasn’t the only one made me realize that I was important and my feelings mattered. It’s not everyday you can be in a place where you’re not only told that you have every right to feel how you feel, but to have those emotions validated? It’s life changing, and once you bring that outside of those 4 walls of a treatment center it can change your life so much in terms of how you handle relationships.

The second biggest thing that changed my life was acting as if. For so long in my life I had acted “as if”. As if I wasn’t depressed, suicidal, full of self-hate towards my body, so when we were told in CBT group to try and act as if I was hesitant. But the therapist wasn’t telling us to act as if we had something dirty to hide, he was telling us to act as if we didn’t have eating disorders when it came to exposure challenges. CBT is big on cognitive and behavioral stuff, seeing as how it’s even called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. So I gave this skill a try a few times when it came to facing huge fears of mine out in the real world and you know what? It actually fucking works! I was astonished!! Soon the things I feared with enough practice became the size of mole hills instead of mountains.

The last thing I want to talk about is assertiveness. This skill I had always sucked at throughout my life. I had this crazy idea that I had no right to ask for what it was I wanted and it hindered a lot of my life and I ultimately became an emotional doormat. Learning to say no without explaining myself was so empowering. Sure there are still things that owe an explanation to, but saying no and sticking to your guns is huge for me. Even calmly explaining how something made me feel or what I need from someone, all came from the 4 walls of the group room where I attended IOP.

I never knew it at the time I was there, but I picked up a lot of skills that has thus far bettered my life and made me happier with what I have in life. Sure I struggle with behaviors here and there, but what person fresh into recovery doesn’t? Yet I’ve found that the more and more capable I am at handling interpersonal relationships (too clinical sounding? Sorry), the less anxious and stressed I become about how I’m feeling and focus less on “how I should feel”.

Recovery is not a straight line

pss-recovery

A lot of people with or without eating disorders can fall into the trap that once you’re “in recovery” everything is so much easier when it comes to food. For the longest time I too thought that once I was out of treatment life involving food would be easy peasy, but I’ve come to realize and even accept that it’s more like a wave. Like every other normal person on the earth, we all have our good days and bad days. But over time you find that those bad days aren’t as bad as you once would have seen them as. Sure it may suck, you may be more vulnerable feeling in front of food but you realize it’s only 1 day out of your entire life. That bad day no longer dictates the rest of your week, and once you view it as just a bump in the road you’re better able to adjust, pick yourself back up and dust yourself off.

What I’ve learned over the past few months from being in my life without the guided hand of a team telling me what to do is that I am stronger than I once believed I was. Yes some food challenges I face cause me to stumble a little bit but when I wake up the next day I try and go about my day like the previous days challenge didn’t happen. It’s in the past and really it doesn’t have that big an impact as I thought it would when I was faced with the challenge.

For me recovery has also been (and still is) the process of learning how to love and accept myself for who I am. When I look back on how far I’ve come over the past year or so I see that I am not that same woman who entered into treatment (whether residential or outpatient). I see the future for the 1st time in my life, I have the drive and motivation to succeed and the further along in undergrad I get, the more I am able to realize I can do what it is I want to do .

There’s still so many things I need to work on when it comes to my recovery, there’s still so many challenges I have yet to meet and make myself do and some distorted beliefs I still have. I’ve still yet to figure out what’s an acceptable amount of time to spend at the gym which is why I have been sticking to home work outs and outdoor activities now that it’s nice outside to actually do them, but getting back into the gym is something I want to have happen for me this summer.

Everyday when I wake up I find myself motivated to do life and be healthy about it. That is a huge change from a couple of years ago. When I first began outpatient treatment I was under the impression I needed to do everything right, but over time that became exhausting. It took me a good year to finally release the ropes on doing recovery and learned to relax. I began giving up a little control here and there, tried trusting my treatment team a little more and found that recovery wasn’t perfect, but when I had those wins in my life that recovery was easier than staying sick and being controlled by food.

It’s not perfect. Trust the process and have a little grace towards yourself.

RecoveryRoad

The Media Is Not The Bad Guy

Internet-news The media has always received a bad reputation when it comes to mental health issues, where people see it as the root of all evil to those struggling with things such as eating disorders, depression, self-injury and so on. But you know what guys? I don’t really believe that the media is as bad as everyone would like to think it is.

Honestly, I believe we use the media as a scapegoat to not face the underlying problems. Sure seeing extremely thin individuals all over the place could cause some discomfort amongst those either in the midst of an eating disorder, in recovery from one or even healthy minded individuals who have some sort of body dissatisfaction (because let’s admit it here, we all do to some degree). But to say “hey I saw this on____ and it caused me to develop____” is a cop out.

Eating disorders aren’t media fueled developed disorders, but for a lot of people they like to point the finger towards mass media. The truth is, these disorders are much deeply rooted within the individuals mind than simply a mere exposure to what everyone unfortunately sees everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the world we live in today is all about the latest health/diet fad, exercise and having an “attractive” body which all boils down to being thin, but when someone develops an eating disorder it is not the advertisement company’s or production teams of movies and television shows that caused it.

The individual struggling with an eating disorder have probably always had a deeper issue,probably stemming from self-worth, self-image and self-esteem issues throughout their life. Nobody wakes up one day, sees an ad or commercial and decides that that day they will be anorexic, bulimic or any other eating disorder. These disorders never start out as full blown disorders, for many they simply start as a way to lose weight or have a healthier life style. But there’s something inside of their brains that becomes addicted to the weight loss, the exercise, the lack of food consumed or vise versa. The media only fuels that desire to fit in or “be perfect”, which I believe was never their intention.

I think it’s time we stop using the media as a scapegoat and really look at the bigger issue at hand here; that issue is inside of us.