Tag Archives: laxative abuse

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.

The Talk

Hey guys I hope you’re having a good week so far!

So I’ve been struggling with something lately and I’m honestly not sure what to do about it. I know I haven’t posted on here about it, but I’ve been dating this guy for a little over a month now. I gotta say, it’s incredible having a boyfriend who treats you like gold and always tells you you’re beautiful but I somehow feel like I’m lying to him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really into him but there’s a huge part of my life he knows nothing of and that’s my eating disorder. He was there when my Grandma passed away and I loved that about him, but now that we’ve been dating for a bit and the feelings between the two of us are getting stronger I feel as if though I should tell him that I have an eating disorder; I’m just not sure how to go about it.

I don’t know how to tell him that lately every meal has once again been a struggle, that I spent years obsessing over things such as weight, calories and working out. Yes I’m trying to stay in recovery right now, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I want this to work with him, he needs to know about it. We haven’t gone out to dinner yet, it’s something I’ve been avoiding but sooner or later it’s going to happen and I really don’t want that to expose my secret.

So I guess what I’m asking of you all who read this, and have had a similar conversation with a boyfriend or girl friend, is how do I do this? I’m terrified he won’t see me as he sees me now. I don’t even know how to start the conversation out or even what words to use. I’m scared he’ll see me as weak or broken and that he’ll get scared and break up with me.

Please comment on this post with any tips or words of wisdom.

Thanks guys!

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.

Future, Food & Flexibility **May be Triggering**

Today isn’t a good day & I’m so in my head about the consumption of pizza last night at my friends Super Bowl party. In the moment I enjoyed it, I felt normal and wasn’t worried. But after a few moments and that feeling of fullness & the distorted feeling/image of my stomach expanding I began feeling super anxious. All I wanted to do was go home, use laxatives & simply isolate myself, so others at the party didn’t have to be subjected to my weight gain.

The later in the day it gets and the less I am able to do because of this ridiculous snow storm I’m finding myself even more in my head and worrying about the future.

My dream is to be married & have children one day. I don’t think that’s very different than a majority of young adults out there, but I get so freaked out when I really take the time to think of the logistics. There’s so much I don’t want to subject my family to when that time of my life comes. I haven’t touched sweets in so long, & the thought of eating that piece of wedding cake seems impossible right now. I can picture me not partaking in that aspect of the wedding & people left to wonder what is wrong with me.

Then there’s the thought of my child, if I decide to have one. I am still so rigid with my meals & the times I eat & where I eat; I don’t want to raise a child in a home where the mom is bat shit crazy & obsessed with times and amounts. I am working on this currently but it’s so hard and I think I will probably be this rigid for the rest of my life, as well as obsessed about not putting “unsafe” foods in my body. The thought of eating certain foods is enough to induce a panic attack in me so how unfair would it be to my husband and child to not allow those foods in the house, or even reject my presence at a restaurant where the only option is said “fear” foods?

I don’t want to project my disorder onto others, and the biggest fear I have about this part of my life is that I’ll accidentally raise my own child to have an eating disorder as well.

Writing this has actually made me realize how sick I still am and that there’s still a long road ahead of me in regards to recovery. Thanks for listening & I hope you guys had or are having a great start of the week.

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.


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.

Regret and Recovery

I’m living with every step. I can’t live with regret. The past is the past. I’m not worried about it. I can’t change it. I can’t fix it. It is what it is. I’m just living.
-Ryan Sheckler

I’ve been thinking a lot about the person I have been over the past few years and all of the things I’ve done that unbeknownst to me removed the trust people, especially my parents, had in me. Now that I’m working my way back to a healthy, well balanced life of recovery I’m finding areas in which my trust still needs to be gained back; and the majority of those areas circle around food.

There are so many moments where I mention I’m not all too hungry for a meal or that I want to wait a bit to eat as to let myself feel that hunger because I still cannot justify eating when I don’t feel hungry. I never really noticed it before, maybe because I was in treatment and my mother didn’t have to worry that I wouldn’t eat, but lately when I talk to her about food I notice this look of worry and concern as if to say “I don’t care if you’re not hungry, you’re eating. I don’t want you getting sick again”.

It wasn’t until a couple of days ago where I realized I was lacking trust when it came to eating dinner, and it was discouraging to say the least. All I can think of doing is to continue eating the meals my mother says we’re eating (even though I’m pretty sure she doesn’t eat a lot during the day which I still don’t see as fair but I’m a grown ass adult and I can’t base my life and actions on those of others… still a big struggle of mine, but whatever). I want to make another goal of mine for this year to work on gaining that trust back.

I’m finding that when you really start working on yourself all of these moments from the past when you weren’t thinking straight come back to the surface; and it’s in those moments I’m also learning that you need to face them head on. I regret losing the trust of others, and seeing that as them pushing me away and out of their life. Now, I don’t believe they were pushing me away, I think they just distanced themselves and watched as I continued to ride out the shit storm of an eating disorder and depression and letting me get to a point where I couldn’t continue living the way I was. I think it’s that distance that allows us in our sickness to make our own choices and because loved ones know that we won’t listen to heed their warnings that all they can do is sit back and hope we don’t hit rock bottom and drown in our illness before they can reach us again.

I regret not listening to my friends and family and even more so I regret worrying the shit out of my Grandma. I love her to pieces and am so blessed that I have such a close relationship with her. I remember a couple of weeks before I went into residential I was down at her house spending time with her and she looked at me and flat out asked me if I was losing a lot of weight. I remember the worried look on her face as she gave me a glance and as I lied to her face with my classic “yeah I am. I’ve just been working out and eating a little less than I was before”. I regret that moment more than anything because I lied to the one person I love to death. She played a big part in raising me and too see me deteriorating must have been fucking terrifying for her.

Recovery comes with a lot of regrets about the past but like they say, all you can do is learn from them and better who you are in the present.

When You Don’t Feel Like Eating

I have a confession to make: I don’t want to eat today.

I guess you could call today a bad one. Every week in individual therapy I get weighed now that I’m not in outpatient, and we spend some time in session discussing and processing how I feel about my weight. Let’s just say this past week I didn’t like what I was. I’m in that range the Dr.’s want me, but it’s not where I would like to be. I look in the mirror and hate what I see. I don’t feel attractive or whatever and it makes the voices grow louder.

Living at home still isn’t helpful either. I can’t escape from eating when food is the last thing I want, and it only makes me resent being stuck at home.

So yeah, I’m not in a good place today and I guess I just needed to write about it. I don’t want recovery today and I know this is usually where I begin my slippery slope back into my eating disorder; I just wish I could take a few days off from feeling this way but I can’t afford to go backwards. I don’t know what the rest of the day will shape up to be, but right in this moment I couldn’t give two fucks about it.

When the Cell Doors Swing Open

I’ve been having this strange feeling as I go about my days lately. I stop and think about my life, how happy I’m becoming and how in an overall sense of the word, my life is pretty good right now. Since I was 12 I haven’t felt happiness like this and it’s kind of an odd feeling for me to have. There’s really nothing happening right now in my life to cause this wave of happiness, which I always thought had to be in order for me to feel happy.

I think my problem is that I view happiness as a fleeting emotion. When I was in my teen years I would find moments where things weren’t that bad, yes I was still depressed but the need to kill myself or hurt myself wasn’t there and honestly I knew in my heart that this moment of whatever it was wasn’t going to last. Maybe it was that self-fulfilling prophecy or what have you that caused my inevitable spiral back down into depression that made me want to end my life. But right now, I am trying to change that mindset I’ve had for over 10 years.

To give this as much clarity as to what/how I’ve been feeling lately I’ll try and describe it as this:

Imagine being in a prison for years with no hope of parole. You start forming your every day life around this sentence, knowing that this is just the way your life is going to be from here on out. Yes you’re stuck in a cell with other prisoners who are serving time like you and there’s that universality of being a prisoner. Everyone gets that you’re going nowhere any time soon. But one day, the cell door swings open without warning and you’re allowed to leave. At first it doesn’t feel right so you sit in the entrance of the cell expecting it to slam itself in your face the second you attempt to get even a foot outside those steel bars. Yet you try, as anyone with that opportunity would and the door remains open. It can’t be really happening so you move slowly, the slowest you’ve ever moved in your life, as your feet begin moving your body outside of that cold dark cell of yours and you catch a glimpse of life on the outside for the first time in years. It’s terrifyingly liberating, and you realize you must once again adjust to such a drastic change. 

You’ve become to institutionalized (in a way) that living your life on the outside seems wrong. At any turn you expect to either wake up from this dream you’re having or expect to be thrown right back into that now oddly comforting cell you’ve come to know as normal. Life on the outside at first just doesn’t feel right or safe.

That’s kind of what I’ve been feeling lately, but I’m trying not to keep those thoughts in the forefront of my mind as I go about my day to day life. Maybe all of this therapy and treatment over the years is finally being of some use to me, or maybe I’ll get sent back into the cell, but I’m trying to not think so far ahead and enjoy the life I have here and now.