Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Not (only) about Body Image

Body image is (obviously) an issue for those suffering from eating disorders, but I think the media portrays it to be a more prominent factor than it truly is. I will give "them" credit for saying there is an underlying issue most of the time-but the majority of information/articles/TV shows/portrayals of eating disorders etc., focus on a person just obsessing over their body.

While this is true to an extent- I know in my experience there came a point where I no longer focused on my body. Of course I didn't want to gain weight, I am not saying that, but I was no longer restricting my food intake to become thinner. I was refusing to give my body nourishment because mentally I could not do it. I could not even handle the thought of consuming calories; the thought of my stomach feeling full, and not because of the effect it would have on my weight but because my brain told me it was not ok.

Many times in the beginning of my recovery I  remember wanting so badly to be able to just eat!-but I couldn't. I couldn't because I was sick. My brain was not well. This is where I think many people get confused. They think anorexia is a diet that went too far-and yes, that is usually how it starts, but a mental illness is not something you can just "get from dieting." It is a disease.

A disease where you literally look at yourself in the mirror and see something different from reality. A disease that tells you to ignore your body's natural cues. A disease that controls every.single. thing. you do.

It is not just an obsession over being thin. It is not just a diet gone wrong. It is serious mental disorder.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Free Time

Work has been slow the past week or two, and besides a few social activities on weekends I have not been very busy in general. Being bored is very tough for me. When I was not doing well (AKA struggling with Ed severely) I was never bored. My mind and body were constantly occupied with Ed. Either working out, thinking about working out, reading fitness/diet magazines, thinking about food/wondering through the grocery store to look at food, looking up calories online (sometimes of restaurants I had not even heard of before.... just because it would be nice to know what foods to avoid if I ever was faced with such a terrible situation).

That was one thing the eating disorder gave to me-I always had something to be working on, a reason to keep going...because what was life besides running and calories? 

Being on the recovery side of ed, I look back at my old self and cannot believe how I filled my time. Was looking at calories from restaurants in California really what I did for 2 hours on a Saturday? Even if I do not have lavish plans on the weekend now, I would  never want to do that activity again! One of the many perks of recovery is that you get to choose how you want to spend your time (opposed to Ed choosing for you). However, it's hard when almost all of your previous free time activities are Ed related...

Instead of exercising (beyond what I am allowed), I have recently begun journaling again, a habit I really got into during my stays at treatment when free time was frequent and behaviors were not an option. I have found that writing makes me feel tremendously better. Even if I am in a good place, writing soothes me.

My new routine is to go to Starbucks, order my iced coffee with extra soy milk, now that it's cold outside I'll probably switch it up to a cinnamon dolce latte :), and settle in for an hour or so of writing. 

I used to think writing without a real purpose or without something significant to say was childish. I have since changed my outlook completely.

I realized that the act of writing, whether it is about a sweater or life and death is important, for me at least. Every sentence doesn't need to be a breathtaking string of extravagant words. I can write whatever I want because there are no rules.

Now I might simply write about my day-the mundane meetings I had at work or something really exciting at work like seeing caramel flavored creamer at the coffee bar (yes, this is exciting).Other days may be more intense and I'll find myself filling the pages with emotion and adjectives I didn't even know that I knew!

Realizing my enjoyment of writing makes me wonder what else I really enjoy doing - things that are not just what Ed has told me to like. Discovering my real interests is a step in recovery that I haven't taken thus far. Unoccupied time has been dictated by Ed for far too long. I am excited to learn what Julie enjoys doing in her free time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hi, my name is...Runner?

Running. I have written before about how this has motivated my recovery in the past, especially in the beginning stages. I would look up races and training plans online; basically salivating over reading the miles I would run. However, I have lived for so long without it, that it hasn't been a pressing motivator, but rather, a thought in the back of my mind: "I am a runner. Eventually I will get back to running."

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my RD about it, and she was brutally honest with me. She told me she didn't think running was a good idea right now, and maybe not a good idea ever. I was shocked. What did she mean ever? This has always been the long term goal! Run half marathons. Be a runner.

She explained her concerns about how my Ed was so closely tied to running. And yes, I have recognized this and heard it (many times) before, but my counter argument has always been, "But I liked running before my eating disorder!"

She believed me and asked me a question I have been pondering since that day. "Do you really like to run or do you like the idea of running/being a runner?"

I was silent. I didn't know! Both..I think?! I began to journal and ask myself why I wanted to run. Since Ed had been my identity for so long and I no longer desired that, I think I latched onto the idea of swapping "girl with eating disorder" for "runner." Runners are crazy human beings who like to do something most people hate. It was a coveted identity (in my mind) for most people since it is associated with burning a high number of calories. I realized how similar wanting the 'runner' identity was to the Ed identity. Thinking it was special, above others, somehow superior (which is 100% false btw).

Something I have been told my entire life finally took hold: I do not need any identity outside of Christ. 

I am not going to pretend like this realization has made me forget about running. I still want to get back to running, without being obsessive about it......someday. But I do not need to make it my goal for life. Being a daughter of the King needs to be my sole/soul (get it?) focus.

I am working on accepting the fact that I might not be able to return to running without falling back into ed's grasps, and that is not worth the risk. If I never run again, I will be ok. That dream of running half marathons doesn't need to be my motivation to continue to be in recovery. I am in recovery because I was created to glorify my Creator!

Maybe in the future I will write a post about how I went running and hated it, or how I loved every second of it. Either way, I need to accept the fact that neither one of those outcomes affects my identity or purpose.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Thought It Was No Biggie

The past few weeks have been a little rough. Ed has been loud, but I have been blowing it off. Telling myself it's no big deal. I have been kind of "winging" recovery for the past few months. I haven't been creating a detailed meal plan to go over with my R.D. each week. I just know my exchanges and try to meet my plan 100%. Try is the keyword here. If I miss a snack I  just tell myself not to worry about it! I can eat more at dinner or snack or later on that night. But that hasn't always been happening. I've become rather lax about my meal plan, which is good on one hand-not being obsessive over it-but negative on the other because if I do not care, I usually don't meet my meal plan needs.

I am not in a terrible downward spiral or anything, but I realized last night that blowing off recovery IS a big deal. 

I made dinner for the guy I am dating and myself last night.... lasagna roll ups (delish btw)! After dinner we were watching TV and he got a chocolate bar from the freezer. He broke off two squares and gave one to me. I ate a tiny bite and gave it back to him. He said, "Eat that whole thing. That is nothing." I thought about it, but I just could not do it. I was planning to go home and have my planned night snack, and if I ate this piece of chocolate I would not be able to have my snack, would I? I didn't want to risk messing up/over doing it. So, I told him I couldn't. After a few comments back and forth he said, "This is going to be a problem for us." That hit me. I had been thinking I was fine! Since Ed wasn't controlling my life anymore, I thought I was completely fine! But when he said that, I realized Ed was still an issue. I had put the thought of "full recovery" on the back burner, thinking this was as good as it was gonna get. FALSE. My little ed habits getting in the way of my relationship? I DO NOT WANT THAT. 

Last night was a wake-up call. One I needed. No, I am not dying on a hospital bed but that doesn't mean I can put recovery on the back burner, 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

ED is Not Special

A few weeks ago, I went on a weekend trip with friends. I had a great time. It wasn't until after it was over that I realized how far I have come in recovery. I think it was more of a realization of how AWFUL my life (couldn't even really be called a life) was with ED.

I ate (and enjoyed) unplanned meals with my friends. Foods that were prepared by others, foods that I had not measured, and foods that certainly were not on my safe list. I'm not going to say I didn't have some anxiety, and ED was screaming at me, but I shut him down. He no longer dictates my actions. 

Thinking about the normal things I am now able to do, things that don't even seem like a big deal until I compare them to my past, I am shocked and saddened. It is hard for me to believe that I used to be that shell of a person.

I think the biggest lie I bought into for far too long was that ED was special, and that he was MINE. I was the girl with the self-control;the eating disorder that kept me skinny and safe and untouchable. Competition lurked everywhere. Is she skinnier? Why isn't she eating dessert? I was obsessed with making sure that ED only belonged to me. Even during my multiple  treatment stays the fact that ED wasn't solely mine didn't click. I accepted those in treatment as my ED equals, but anyone in my "real life" could NOT take that away from me. 

It wasn't until late in my college career that I started to realize how big of a lie that truly is. I saw so many people struggling with ED that he was no longer able to convince me that I was his only friend (captive). 


The eating disorder literally destroys life-physically and mentally. In the depths of the disorder, I was so sick that I could not see how I had been taken away. The staff at my last treatment center told me how my voice even changed as I started to get better. 

I am thankful I can now see beyond the lies. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Whole New Light

I have recently come to a point where I am ok with the way my body looks. I have bad days, but overall I can say that I am mostly content. This amazing contentment was ruffled and hindered this past weekend when......I tried on a bathing suit. Suddenly the body I was ok with became appalling. I saw cellulite on my thighs, my stomach looked huge. The only part of me that I wasn't disgusted by was my arms. Which is ironic, because I often see my arms, in short sleeves, and are not that fond of them. I had a moment of panic. How do I fix this? What kind of food do I need to avoid/what new workout regiment do I need to begin to get rid of this cellulite?? But luckily I was able to reign in my thoughts, for the most part, and think about how even when I was extremely thin (sick) I was not happy with my body. Negative thoughts still lingered, but the next day I went shopping again in a different store. 

I saw myself in a new light (literally). The lighting in this dressing room was different. I no longer saw my body in the negative way I had the day before. The cellulite that was so prominent before wasn't even visible. I was ok with myself again. So, the lighting in a dressing room is going to determine my happiness? Definitely not. This just reinforced how I cannot trust what I see in the mirror. It can be distorted by my view point, the lighting, the clothing, everything! I need to focus on trusting my treatment team that I am at a healthy weight, learning to workout in a healthy way (for my heart/bones) and eating a balanced diet. That is what I need to be focused on for my recovery-not picking apart flaws that I can see only in certain lighting. 

This is a hard truth to accept, especially when everyone is talking about getting their "bikini body." But stay strong recovery warriors! Keep up the fight. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Jar of Hearts

I used to be very hesitant speaking about my struggles with eating in the past. That had been my identity for so long that I needed distance. I needed to be known as ME-not the girl with the ED. I am not super open about it now, but the further I get into recovery, the more I realize that it can be helpful for me and those struggling to share my experiences. It keeps me in a recovery oriented mind set and could encourage others.

I do not, however, think it is beneficial to anyone EVER to share specific behaviors, weight, calories- anything that could be latched onto as a comparison tool (just needed to make that clear).

This past weekend I drove to Nashville to meet up with some of my friends from treatment to do the NEDA walk. Driving up alone, I was able to reflect on my recovery thus far. No, things are not perfect and I still have a ways to go, but they are the best they have ever been since ED entered my life.

The last treatment center I went to in 2011, we had a fire and burned things that could potentially keep us holding onto ED. Mostly clothes. I burned multiple pairs of jeans. During this ritual I played the song "Jar of Hearts." Every lyric in that song spoke to me-it was my relationship with ED. Except one line of the song I didn't agree with: "I wish I had missed the first that we kissed." Even in treatment burning my old jeans, I didn't wish I had never met ED. I still was thankful he had come into my life and "made me skinny." WOAH, WHAT? That is such a disordered ED thought! Yet, that is how I felt until literally this past Saturday driving up to Nashville. I listened to "Jar of Hearts" and belted those words loud and proud, "I WISH I HAD MISSED THE FIRST TIME THAT WE KISSED!"

This was the first time in my entire life that I saw ED as the complete enemy. He has done nothing good for me at all! He destroyed my life. I didn't get skinny because of him. I got sick. I almost died. I missed so much LIFE. And only by the grace of God was I given the opportunity to go to treatment and have an awesome outpatient team that has helped me come so far.

I feel like this past weekend was one of realization for me. ED is glorified in our society and I bought into that idea, even in recovery. No more will I be fooled.