Tag Archives: college

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! 

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.

 

Livin’ The Dream

It started out as a joke that whenever someone would ask how I was, I’d respond with “livin’ the dream!” Only now if you know me, you know that when I get down time and get into my head, I wonder some really deep almost philosophical shit. I’m not sure what brought this on tonight, but I’m sitting here wondering how do you know when you’re actually living the dream?
It’s easy to say it when you’re joking and you’re actually working towards your dream, but do we ever wake up one day or look around our world and realize we are actually living it?
Here’s what my dream looks like:
Have my degree in clinical psychology/mental health counseling
Have a job as a psychologist
Own my own place
Have a gentleman caller in my life (yeah, I called a boyfriend a gentleman caller so deal with it).
I’d say my dream is pretty black and white. Right now I’m starting my senior year of undergraduate (eegats! so exciting!), working two jobs to get by and all the while keeping my eye on the prize. I know what my dream is, what the end game is but like with a lot of things in my life, I wonder if I’ll even realize it when the time comes.
Do we ever really live the dream? I mean, time moves so incredibly fast that I feel like half the time I don’t realize the significance of things until they’re just a memory. What if instead of living the dream, I’m missing out on parts of my life right now that were once a dream to me? Bare with me here guys, I know this is all getting to be some Twilight Zone thinking shit in here.
The fact that I’m even in college (and doing well might I add) is a dream come true, but it took me sitting down to write this to realize it and have it hit me. Shit, the fact that I’m alive is a dream. If you know my story you know the meaning behind that last sentence, but my past dream was to live a life of being happy, confident and motivated. To 20 year old Jess, this time of my life is a dream.
I’ve muttered the phrase “livin’ the dream” countless times over the past few years, but I never really meant it. We live in a constant state of future chasing. In different times of our life the end game can change drastically, and as we get older we see it alter greatly. So I guess to answer my own question here (sorry, us psychology majors who love research do this all the freakin’ time!), it takes reflection of your past self to realize if you are living the dream or not. Only it’s not living the dream, as much as it is living a dream; because let’s be real, you’re dream life a few years ago is more than likely not the dream life you wish for now.

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.

Palliative Care & Anticipatory Grief

So yesterday the nurses stopped the majority of my Grandma’s medication and reduced her tube feed a little bit. She’s in what you would call palliative care, so now it’s all up to her when she wants to go. For those of you who don’t know what palliative care is the World Health Organization defines Palliative Care as:

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

I thought hearing the update from my mom today would make things easier on us, but the anticipation is still there, and it’s getting worse now. None of you have ever met my Grandma, but she is such a strong, independent and stubborn woman, so the fact that now her days are up to her scares me because I know she’s stubborn enough to keep going like this for months or even another year.

They took her off the thyroid medication, blood thinner, antibiotics for her pneumonia and as I said before they reduced her tube feed because they can’t legally remove it from her. The scariest thing is that she’s no longer on the blood thinner that has been keeping her blood clots in the brain and heart from getting bigger and causing another stroke or heart attack.

With all of this happening my mom and I have been talking and we all agree that we think Grandma needs to hear that it’s alright if she wants to let go. Truth be told I avoided going to visit her today because I know what I eventually have to say, and I don’t want to have an end of life talk with my Grandma. Even up until now I’ve been her Grand-baby, and I don’t want to say goodbye to her and give her that permission to go. I know I have to tell her that I’ll be alright, that I’ll get through it but I don’t know how much I believe it. I’m already fighting like hell to keep it together. I’m working my ass off in college because of her, I’m trying like hell to keep my recovery for her. I want to be alright because I know she always worried about me and everyone else.

Being in this position isn’t easy. The past few months her nurses have told us she wasn’t going to pull through this pneumonia but Grandma always did. So now with her being in palliative care I don’t even know what to expect. I don’t want her to die, I’d give anything to have her stay alive and be my Grandma again, but I don’t want her being this hollow shell of a person any more.

I live everyday wondering if my life is going to change forever that day. I never go without my phone any longer and when I’m out I have the ringer on and I always dread the day I see my moms name pop up on my phone at an odd time of the day. It’s all killing my mom too. She’s reaching a breaking point with this and she’s not herself as of late. She seems distant and exhausted. I understand why she is the way she is, I just wish there was something more I could do for her to help get her through this.

Needing to be the Best

School is seriously weird. I never feel more in my element than when I’m doing my homework, sitting on campus or in the classroom. But I’ve noticed that since I’ve gotten to know some of my classmates I find myself internally competing with them. I’m not sure whether it’s my insecurity or that sick need to be the best at something but I become competitive when I hear their grades if they scored higher on a test or in a class than I did.

I know it’s not healthy, but I can’t help but feel like I should give up some of the down time I have worked hard to have over the past few months just so I can be my best academically. Usually I throw my life away in those 3-4 months school is in session. I hide away in libraries or in my room and bury myself under books and assignments just so I know I am doing everything in my ability to receive the grades I know I am capable of getting at the end of a semester. As I’ve learned to relax I have seen my GPA drop a couple points and it’s terrifying. I am no longer “Jess, the girl with the 4.0”, I am just “Jess, the  undergrad student”.

That 4.0 gave me a huge confidence boost; it made me feel like I was finally the best at something and that feeling was phenomenal. Now, I don’t have that GPA and I feel like everyone else. It’s funny because the entire time I was in treatment being normal and like everyone else was all I wanted. But this semester, with this new life of no treatment and full time school and part time work I feel like there’s a void I need to fill.

I was alright last semester because I still had a part of my eating disorder and that made me stand out. No I wasn’t parading around announcing it to everyone I talked to or made eye contact with, but I knew I had it and it somehow made me feel alright. Now I am working on a new life of recovery and that means I am just like everyone else. I don’t have something that makes me different or stand out since i am trying not to give in to my eating disorder thoughts as much and I no longer have the 4.0 on my record that tells the world “I am the best in my class because nobody can get higher than a perfect 4.0”. It’s a mind fuck simply because when I was still sick, in treatment 3 times a week and individual therapy 1 time a week AND working a job part time I managed to get that 4.0. I’ve been wondering if there was a link between my anorexia and my academic achievement of a perfect GPA, which I know I should probably CBT sheet that shit or something (treatment friends know what I’m talking about haha).

So I’ve been feeling a little lost since school started last week. I feel pressure to once again give up my social life for school work and assignments just so I can get a letter on my final grade report that reinforces the “I am the best” mindset. Life is getting complicated again, so I’m sorry if these posts seem all over the place lately. I’m just trying to figure all this shit out while not knowing what the fuck I’m doing.

Body Image Fuckery

**This may be triggering to some of you, but I’m not sure so here’s your warning**

Today I feel like shit about myself. It was the first day of classes, and I was super anxious; not about the classes or the work that is soon to come my way, but of the way others would see me. It’s like I’m caught in the middle of two fears:

1. I don’t want people looking at me and speculating I have an eating disorder

2. I don’t want people looking at me and thinking I’m fat

See my problem? I’ve had this struggle pretty much since I entered residential 2 summers ago. Even there I felt like a lie. I felt like I was the fattest person to ever be admitted with anorexia, and even today being in treatment and therapy I still feel like a fraud. I see new people come in who are loads smaller than I am, and I wonder if they see me as a binger, not a restricter. I know it’s completely selfish but the body image piece still brings me to tears. I don’t see what I look like, but I feel like I’m hands down the largest person to have anorexia. It sucks but it was what went through my head all day today on campus. I was in class wondering if those who were in my classes last semester saw that I had gained weight, I wondered if I looked sick to them (and the fucked up part is I kind of want someone to tell me I’m ‘skinny’). I want that validation that I’m not this overweight person my mind makes me think I am on a daily basis.

I know I shouldn’t be feeling this way still, but I am so fucking conflicted it’s not even funny. I hate body image shit, and I just want to see myself the way I really am before I gain too much weight.

Again, sorry if this fucked with anyone’s head.


I’m not going to miss 95% of life to weigh 5% less.

Holding On and Moving On

There’s been an internal fight I’ve been having with myself the more I look at possible schools to apply to once I graduate from undergrad: is it really alright for me to be that far away from home?

It’s not that I’m scared to be away from friends and family for a bit, I experienced what that’s like when I was in Arizona for treatment. What I’m scared is being away from my Grandma. It’s been a year since she got sick and in a few weeks she’ll be turning 88. I promised myself that night last December that I would be here through it all until the end. I’ve said it before but it unfortunately took this shit circumstance for me to realize how much I loved her, admired her, aspired to be like her and the relationship we had since childhood so now that I’m planning out my future, I’m scared I’m going to miss it.

I’m scared that I’ll be at school in Arizona or Florida and receive that call from my mom that she’s going. I’m scared I won’t be able to get home in time to be with her when she’s dying and I won’t get to say my goodbyes. I know without a doubt she’s beyond proud of me. I’m the only grandchild who graduated high school, and even more went on to  college. That thought is what keeps me going. I love visiting her and telling her all about my successes in school and the grades I’m getting from working my ass off, even though she is unable to respond or show any sign that she is happy for me; I still know she is.

I still fully intend on applying to the schools I have been looking into out in Arizona and down in Florida, even though the fear is telling me to stay local. I know Grandma wouldn’t want me to put my life on hold or not go for my dreams because of her, so I’m trying to keep that in mind when I think about the future.

Undergrad: On the Home Stretch

Hey guys happy Monday!

I’m pretty excited for next Monday as it’s the day classes start up again. I love college and the whole experience I’m having so far as an undergrad student. Last semester was one of my favorites and I’m so excited for this semester. I realized that I’m not the odd one at my school and there’s more older students than I once thought. It was so relieving talking to some of my classmates and finding out they’re either the same age as me or a little bit older. I felt normal, and less like I was behind where I should be in life.

Things in my life are finally looking up and I haven’t been this happy in so long. It’s refreshing to say the least. Here’s how this semester is going to be great for me:

  1. I’ll be conducting my own research project; something I’ve been looking forward to since last semester.
  2. I’m taking a ton of psychology classes instead of mostly lib eds.
  3. I no longer have to go to IOP, but I still have individual therapy and a step down group.
  4. I’ll be preparing to take the GRE and looking seriously into graduate programs. I’m hoping to get into a PhD program but to be safe, I’m really looking into a Masters program as I know doctorate degrees can be quite competitive to get into.
  5. In May I will be a senior! I can’t believe I’m nearly almost on the homestretch of my bachelors degree

I say it at the start of every semester but I’m really anticipating what the Spring of 2015 semester is going to bring my way. It’s funny to think how I didn’t think I would change by going to a four year school but I have, a lot, and I am finally feeling happy with myself and life. Confidence has been a huge thing I worked on, and I’m really starting to love myself in a way I didn’t think possible. It’s no longer a fake it ’til ya make it type of happy; it’s a genuine “I know what I want and I’m good enough to get it” type of happy.