Tag Archives: bulimia

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.

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.

You Don’t Need a Label

I’ve heard countless times people trying to place a specific label on their issues, specifically when it comes to eating disorders. They’re not as black & white as the world would like to think they are. It’s not bulimia, anorexia, EDNOS, binge eating disorder. No, they’re so intertwined into the personality, and the personality isn’t something you can place neatly in this cute little box. Neither are eating disorders.

“I go days without eating.. but then I eat and eat. I must not have anorexia”

“I binge and purge. But it’s not all the time. Or sometimes I don’t purge but I kill myself at the gym. Does that make me bulimic or not?”

“I eat normally. I don’t throw up, but I can’t stop using laxatives. What does that make me?”

“I can eat my whole kitchen in under an hour. But then I don’t eat for days to control my weight. Am I anorexic, bulimic or something?”

Do you want to know what I’ve learned? It doesn’t matter the label. If you have an eating disorder, you have an eating disorder. It’s just my opinion but you don’t need that neat tiny label place over it and frankly I don’t understand why labeling something like this is “needed”. Maybe it’s more socially acceptable, maybe it’s an indicator for your friends and loved ones so they can “”understand”.

Sure someone who doesn’t get out of bed for days can easily be labeled depressed. Someone who attempts to take their own life can be labeled as suicidal. Someone who hears terrible voices in their head that compels their behavior can be schizophrenic. Someone who has manic episodes followed by terrifyingly dark depression can be bipolar. And for the longest time as I was in treatment, I would wonder hours on end just what labeled category I was neatly placed into.

But as I said, these disorders are so far from a simple label. I don’t know about everyone else, but my symptoms can switch like the seasons. I restrict, work out til I pass out or my muscles get deprived of oxygen that I have no choice but to stop. I eat more, but make sure to take laxatives until I lost the weight “I must have gained” that day. It’s not black and white, in fact a lot of the time those living with eating disorders live in the grey areas, and yes it can be frustrating as hell.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you have symptoms of an eating disorder that control your everyday life, you have an eating disorder. There shouldn’t be this added pressure to fit into a category identified by the DSM-V or professionals diagnosis. Nobody fighting like hell for their lives everyday don’t need that added pressure.

A disorder, mental illness or addiction are just that no matter what they look like.

Body Dissatisfaction Amongst College Males

shutterstock140181568Featured Image -- 342Hey guys so as the title hints, I want to talk about something I have been noticing on my colleges campus lately. Maybe it’s because the nice weather has finally arrived (it’s about damn time too!), but over the past couple of weeks I’ve been noticing a lot more males on campus have been making comments about their appearance and it strikes me as interesting.

As you know I talk a lot about eating disorders on my blog, and I must admit I am guilty of aiming it towards young adult females probably because I am one (if you didn’t know that, now you know.. See you learn something new everyday!). But as some of you may know, when it comes to body image, body dissatisfaction and characteristics socially associated with eating disordered behavior, males tend to be placed on the back burner so to speak.

I was in class the other day and this guy was talking to his friend sitting next to me about how he was working out in the campus fitness center. He said something that struck me as odd, yet sounded all too familiar as I often say something extremely similar. He mentioned something to the effect of how he hates working out on treadmills because of the bars on both sides meant for balance if you were to lose it mid-work out. He went on to say how he feels confined in them because his “fat ass” is too large for the space provided on the machine. Now, sitting two seats away from him I heard the whole conversation between him and his friend, and I must say I was in awe. Looking at him he was the furthest things from fat. In fact, from appearance alone he looked pretty damn normal to me. But I knew how he felt, as I struggle with my body image on a daily basis (it’s the biggest mind fuck when it comes to maintaining recovery from anorexia, at least in my opinion).

Yet his comments really made me start thinking, and I realized that males too struggle with this more than we as a society like to realize.

Research has shown that variables such as family pressures and self-esteem levels contribute to a poor body image in males (Palladino Green & Pritchard, 2003). I also found on the National Eating Disorder Association’s website that in recent years, when a survey has been given to men the findings researchers come across is that body image concerns across the male population has dramatically increased over the past 3 decades from 15% of males being dissatisfied with their bodies, to 43% (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-males-and-eating-disorders, 2015). This means that almost half of the male population in the United States dislikes something about their physical appearance.

Heart breaking isn’t it?

It’s true that disordered eating habits and distorted thoughts about ones physical appearance doesn’t discriminate against gender, age or race. I wish more people would start speaking out for males, as the stigma of being dissatisfied with your appearance is strictly taboo for the male population. Hell, it’s hard enough for the female population to talk about eating disorders, and males have an added societal pressure on their shoulders of being “manly” or “macho”. So I can only imagine what it’s like for a male to feel like his body looks wrong, yet can’t openly talk about it. Things need to change people!

References

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-males-and-eating-disorders

Palladino Green, S. & Pritchard, M.E., (2003). Predictors of body image dissatisfaction in adult men and women. Social Behavior and Personality, 

The Real World & My Distorted World

**Possible trigger warning**

How does everything come back around to my eating disorder? As far as recovery goes, my mindset lately has been anything but recovery based. It’s frustrating as hell for me that I’ve been having such loud eating disorder thoughts the past month or so (god that’s such a cliche eating disorder treatment thing to say.. I apologize for that), and as the stress of life escalates more and more I find myself “not having time to eat” or simply being way too busy to eat breakfast or even a snack before leaving for class. It’s not too glamorous might I add. But like I said, everything fucking thing is coming back down to my eating disorder and I hate it.

If I do shitty on a test or quiz, I resort to counting calories again or simply not eating. I’ve talked about it in therapy tons and I know the reason I do it is because I know in my heart that without a doubt I am great at my eating disorder. How sad and pathetic is this? Call it a Type A personality, but my perfectionism has always gotten the best of me in life and as I’m fully in my life now it’s reared its head again and it couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time.

As I write this I know of everything I have going for me but when I lay my head down at night or am stuck in my head throughout the day, none of these things seem as promising or even significant as compared to things like my weight, how I look that day or other stupid and exhausting thoughts I have. That’s right, it’s fucking exhausting living in my head.

Even my relationship with my boyfriend is impacted by this stuff. I love spending time with him, but every time he touches me all I can wonder is what he really thinks of my body. My therapist would tell me he’s not even thinking about the things I’m thinking he’s thinking about but that feeling of disgust scares the shit out of me and when we’re together and doing things that couples do, I don’t enjoy any of it because I’m so inside my head. I don’t know if he even realizes that I’m not present and that I’m in some fucked up world where the staple in my stomach comes undone and he can see what I feel I really look like.

I always thought that after I got out of treatment I’d have a better mindset and things wouldn’t be this difficult. I knew that the day I got discharged from treatment that I wouldn’t be fixed, but shit y’all I at least thought I’d be able to manage my recovery in the real world and was strong enough and had enough of those lovely CBT skills that were drilled into my head, to be able to manage life stress without slipping down that slope that only leads to being sick.

Life thou art a heartless wench.

Prochaska’s Stages of Change & How it’s Relevant to Recovery

As a psychology major I have been loving research papers of studies done by others. For a while now, before I even entered into Research Methods & Statistics courses I have had a favorite study that has been of great interest for me: Stages of Change and Decisional Balance for 12 Problem Behaviors. I found this study after being suggested I read it by the person who is in charge of the IOP program I was in; it came about because I wrote a research paper on the differences of outcomes between residential treatment & an Intensive Outpatient Program for my English 105 course when I first went back to school last year.

Mainly because I have so much respect for the woman I interviewed and because it was so relevant to what the paper would be discussing, I took to the interwebs & found said research article. Reading the work of Prochaska made so much sense to me and was so relevant at that time in my life, and still is today.

Basically Prochaska says that when one is stopping an addictive behavior they go about it through stages (which isn’t all that shocking as a lot of psychologists have theories of stages in their works); yet with Prochaska those stages are more concrete instead of abstract. His seem to be (in my opinion) more measurable or observable.

Precontemplation

Contemplation

Preparation

Action

Maintenance

Over the past year or so I have heard those stages be discussed numerous times in psychotherapy group and I always struggled with pin pointing where exactly I was at that time. It was until recently that it really became clear to me that recovery & the motivation to do so really does “ebb & flow”. What does that mean? Think of a wave in the ocean as motivation. When you’re riding high on motivation it’s incredible, yet something can happen & you lose the motivation, thus crashing down into the ocean at the bottom of the wave you were once on top of. But rest assured, there will always be a new wave & your motivation will come back.

Since starting outpatient I don’t know if I ever was in precontemplation. I feel like I entered into the program in the preparation stage (seriously considering choosing recovery in a short time), but as we said time & time again in that program, “life happened” and I would find myself back in contemplation (considering making a change, but still holding off on said change). Prochaska’s 2nd & 3rd stages were the main ones I stuck to for the first 6 months or so I was in the program. It’s easy to dream of change, but when push comes to shove, I wasn’t all too open to experiencing that discomfort & anxiety.

I think the 4th stage, the action stage, tends to scare the shit out of a ton of people. It’s then where you actually have to do the terrifying, uncomfortable, anxiety inducing work that is mandatory if a real & valid change is going to occur. It’s in the action stage where a lot of us with eating disorders struggle with the voices telling us we can’t do it. I know personally, the action stage has sent my motivation for change in my eating disorder in a fucking tailspin so many times I lost count. I always seemed to get to a certain point & I would give a big middle finger to the treatment team & recovery process & quit. Where did that get me? Abso-fucking-lutely nowhere my friends. In fact, weaving back & forth between action & contemplation only made my stay in the program months longer than it had to be.

The maintenance stage is something I find hard to identify if I am in or not. For Prochaska, maintenance was defined as a period of 6 months or so after action is 1st taken & requires a continuation of change. Maybe it’s just because I am harder on myself than need be, but I’m not perfect & recently I’ve been slipping a lot. So does that negate all of the work I am doing & thus as a result places me back into the action stage? I don’t know.

But I do know that the very idea of being in the stage Prochaska would consider to be maintenance scares the ever living life out of me. I can’t imagine at this point in time being 100% symptom free for longer than 6 months. That’s a lot of skeletons in my closet I’d have to let go of, a lot of lying I’d need to come clean about and the biggest variable holding me back: a lot of fluctuation in weight that I am proving I cannot handle.

So yeah, maintenance stage is fucking terrifying. But taking this back to Prochaska, his theory makes so much sense. I have witnessed it time & time again, this ebb & flow of these stages, in not only myself but in the lives of my friends I am going through recovery with.

Sparks of Hope (January 30th)

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

– Steven Furtick

 

I often find it difficult to not compare myself to others. It’s when we engage in this unconscious activity that we end up damaging our own self-identity or self-esteem in ways we never intended. Nobody has their life completely together and we don’t know what that person who we are comparing ourselves to has had to walk through to get to this present moment. On the surface they may appear to have the life or the body we want, but it’s the things lying underneath the surface that matter more. For myself, I am my own worst critic and I can look at others around me and wish to have their life because it looks so much more glamorous than mine. But that mindset is not only a delusion, but a dangerous one that can land you on a slippery slope.

 

Goal: Today instead of looking at others and being envious of what they have, think of your own journey. Write down 5 things you’re thankful for having or experiencing at this moment in your life. It’s when you learn to accept & appreciate what you have, that you can learn how to embrace the path your on and not want to be where others seem to be.

Sparks of Hope

Hey guys happy Thursday!

So last night I decided I wanted to try something a little different with some of my writing time. I’ve found it so easy again to let my negative thoughts come out on paper as of late and writing has become more of a “need to do” leisure activity than a “want to do”. I’ve always loved starting my days off with a positive quote and so I decided to try and come up with my own so-called daily inspiration book. I’m thinking that at the start of everyday I will jump on here and post what I have for the day, and maybe even impact others day by sharing what is on my mind in a positive way.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the bad and forget all about the good things in life. Below is the first entry I’ll be posting and I hope you all sincerely enjoy it. Comment below if you wish, I’d love the feedback from you guys!

canstockphoto-spark


“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”

                        – Rachel Naomi Remen

When you have close friendships or relationships in your life that hold meaning to you those people tend to come to you when they’re facing difficult situations. Often times while our friends or family are talking to us, explaining their situation, we are in our own heads trying to come up with a possible solution. I know for me, I have always been the kind of person who had to fix everything. But some situations I’ve learned don’t need that silver lining or words of wisdom; all that needs to be heard by those who come to you is that you heard them.

 

Goal: This week if a close friend or family member confides in you, make a conscious effort to simply listen. Try your best to hear what they are saying, pause before speaking and remove the pressure from yourself of having to fix it.


Mental illness: to those who struggle

Having any form of mental illness can be isolating. Whether it’s: depression, anxiety, substance abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline personality, obsessive compulsive, post traumatic stress; any of these things can take so much away from your life. I’ve heard it said before about a certain mental illness that it is a “disease of disconnect” (those of you who know exactly who I’m referring to are probably laughing reading this right now).

I’m not going to bombard you with statistics about these things, because having a mental illness doesn’t make you a mental illness and you (and I) are so much more than a statistic of generalizations. What I do want to say in this post however is, having a mental illness (whether diagnosed or not) does not make you a flawed individual, a failure, a weak individual or incurable.

There’s a lot of things people who tend to have a microphone and are talking about mental illness never seem to fully grasp, and not to sound like an ass hole but I think it’s because they aren’t fully grasping it, nor can they. I’m not trying to say that professionals out there who speak to an audience on mental health are incapable of this, but I feel like in order to really grasp it and to make an impression, it means more to the audience (who the majority are probably watching you speak because they either are living life with an illness or know someone very close to them who are) if you can speak from experience and truths about what life is like rather than spewing statistics and facts.

Do statistics and facts help? Of course they do! I wouldn’t be a psychology major if I didn’t agree that research and statistics surrounding mental health weren’t of extreme importance. What I am trying to get out in my round about way (which has probably been more of a rant thus far) is that when it comes down to it, those listening to people discuss mental illness are really just looking for hope.

Over the years there have been many things I wanted to say to a community of listeners who were seeking hope and facts (because I believe you can’t have hope without knowing some of the sobering facts), and I wanted to take the time out of my day to begin talking about some of those things.The following list is sobering, yet hopefully to those reading this, will also be encouraging and relatable.

1. Mental illness isn’t a death sentence

2. There’s always treatment available if you take it

3. You’re not the only person you know that has a mental illness

4. It’s ok to talk about and should be talked about

5. You’re going to have bad days/struggle

6. No matter what you believe, there’s people around you who love you and want to support you

7. You are not “__enter your diagnosis__”

8. Having a mental illness doesn’t have to shape your entire life (it will always be with you but it doesn’t have to BE your life)

9. People will more than likely not understand what you’re feeling, but it doesn’t make you different

10. The process of managing it is long and difficult but very possible

I hope I didn’t sound too motivational speakerish with that list. I never write anything on here that I don’t stand behind 100% so believe me when I say I truly believe every word I wrote.

Stay Strong my readers!!