Tag Archive | Bulimia

What Are You Afraid Of?

I used to be afraid at night. Afraid of the dark. Afraid that just beyond the point my eyesight allowed me to see that there was something lurking. Afraid that the darkness itself would somehow surround me and swallow me up…as if darkness were anything more than simply the absence of light.

I used to be afraid of tomorrow. Afraid that who I was would continually dictate who I am, and that who I would be might be someone who I didn’t like very much at all…as though there was no such thing as being made new.

I used to be afraid of opinions. Afraid that though words would not break my bones, they certainly would shatter my dreams…as though I started doing this for the approval of many, rather than the glory of One.

I used to be afraid of failure. Afraid of losing. Afraid of falling. Afraid of being wrong, creating busts, and looking absolutely stupid, because who am I to think that I could ever actually make a difference? As if those setbacks were anything more than the laying down of stepping stones on the path to success.

I used to be afraid.  Used to.

But then I did a little research.  And by that, I mean I re-searched, and I re-searched, and I re-searched, over and over again, and through all of my re-searching, I kept coming up with the same exact question:

What room does fear have?

What room does fear have when I cling to TRUST? What room does fear have when I lean on HOPE? What room does fear have when I search for something more, when I discover and realize what’s good, and when I stand in AWE? When I run with PERSEVERANCE, when I walk by FAITH, and when I rest in COMFORT. What room does fear have when I sing with PRAISE, when I take hold of INSPIRATION, explore the POSSIBILITIES, and step into FREEDOM? What room does fear have when I discover STRENGTH, EMBRACE COURAGE, REMEMBER PEACE, DECLARE TRUTH, CHOOSE JOY, EXPERIENCE LIFE and CONQUER DEATH? What room does fear have when I find perfection in the one place I never thought to look? In weakness, when I’m saved by the most unlikely of heroes. By grace, when I’m invited into a relationship more loving and intimate than I could ever imagine, as a child of God.

I’ll ask you again: what room does fear have when I step out of the darkness, and I bask in the light? When I let the past be the past and the future has no limit. When they can talk all they want, but their opinion doesn’t matter! And when failure is nothing more and nothing less than the road by which I walk my path to success.

I’ll ask you one last time: what room does fear have when in His Word, He tells me three hundred and sixty-five times DO. NOT. BE. AFRAID. As if I needed to hear that every single day. And as if that’s how many times I needed to hear it before I finally believed it.

What room does fear have when I make room for LOVE?

What are you afraid of? 

 

-Jon Jorgenson

 

Here is the video if you want to watch him speak it.

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Strong(her)

I have been thinking back on the years of therapy, and looking at how far I’ve come, as I patiently wait to completely finish and I thought about how much shame and embarrassment I felt for even having an eating disorder. I wanted to hide this disease from everyone and if people found out I was terrified they would judge me. I can’t say I’m one who broadcasts it to the world, but I can say that I no longer feel shame for saying an eating disorder was a part of my life. I no longer feel shame or embarrassment attached to the idea.

I think we live in a world where eating disorders are seen as something that is vain, and many people don’t understand them, but we also live in a world where the stigma of mental illness is losing the grip it once had. In this information age, people are realizing more and more that illnesses like depression isn’t just something that people can “get over” and smile through, and eating disorders aren’t about beauty and food.

So, what if you looked at the eating disorder through a different lens –  How would you view yourself?

Think about.

What if you saw it as something that wasn’t so shameful, or embarrassing? What if it was just something that you needed for a time period? What if it was something that you turned to for help for a period of time because you didn’t know what else to do? Would you cut yourself a break? What if it was just a coping mechanism, or a survival mechanism, to get you through a terrible life situation, or to help you deal with something that was so traumatic or difficult? You know, like a survival skill you learned.

How would you view yourself now?

Would you view yourself as having a shameful flaw, or would you view yourself as being strong for figuring out how to survive? Given the situation that you were in, you found a way to manage (Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a healthy way to manage, but you found a coping skill when you had none, even if it was an unhealthy coping skill – and you didn’t end your life). When things were so hard to deal with, you found a way to handle what you were going through… you were able to say, “It’s okay, I’m going to do ______ and I’m going to be okay.” You made an attempt to “be okay.” You wanted to be okay. You fought to be okay when you felt like you had nothing else. Doesn’t that make you strong?

Think about it.

What does it say about you going into recovery? It says that you no longer need the eating disorder because it no longer serves a purpose in your life. You are willing to accept help and change. You’re now even stronger than you were before because you are willing to learn new and healthier ways to cope with life. Maybe it did serve a purpose for some time, but now you realize that it no longer does what it used to do for you. You’re stronger because you can see that these disorders kill.

Sure, it was a maladaptive coping skill, but that maladaptive coping skill saved your life for a period of time. It kept you fighting through a difficult situation – whatever it might have been. Now you’re learning new coping skills; healthy ones. You don’t need the eating disorder because you don’t have to do it on your own anymore. You are stronger because you are willing to save your own life now – you don’t need the disorder to do it for you.You don’t have to figure it out on your own anymore because you have support.

Think about it.

You’re eating disorder doesn’t make you weak… It makes you strong because you thought to hold on and find a way to “be okay” in a dysfunctional situation you might have been in. You did what you had to do to get through, but now you don’t need that survival skill anymore. You were strong by yourself for long enough. Now, in order to stay alive, we have to let go of that maladaptive survival skill we learned because it doesn’t fit in our lives anymore. Each day you are even stronger because you are learning to live without it. Recovery is for the strongest ones.

strong her

What worked for you?

“What worked for you?”

I’m often asked this question by other people going through recovery. The answer is always simple – “I don’t know.”

I answer “I don’t know” because I really just don’t know. If I look back and say what I’ve done with my therapist in the past, I could tell you several things we’ve tried (like the really annoying “responding to ED” with feelings), but I can’t tell you all that we’ve done; all that works. I sometimes write down notes and thoughts after sessions, but I don’t have a detailed record of all of it.

My answer is vague because I’ve come to realize that therapy just becomes a part of you. It becomes a part of your everyday life when you start making the changes that are suggested. Really, we are all in therapy because we have to change something, so to think that we don’t have to work for it, is absurd. When you “work” in therapy, the discussions, strategies etc. merge with who you are and who you will start to become.

I really don’t think there is one specific thing that will work for anyone. There isn’t one “ah-ha” strategy, or one thing that makes the big difference. Eating disorders are complicated illnesses to overcome, so to think that one thing will work is just asking to be frustrated – and it’s sending you on a hunt down a rabbit hole for something that is non-existent.

I remember walking into the treatment program at Hershey talking to my assigned therapist there. I said, “I want to recover. How do I make the best of being here and get the most out of it?” Her answer was so simple that it seemed like it wasn’t enough. She said, “Just be present – in all groups and discussions, be present and try to learn.” Admittedly, I walked out of her office saying she was a quack and that was the crappiest answer I’ve ever received…. but her answer was right on target. Let’s be honest, we hate to admit it, but it’s rare for your therapist to be completely wrong. Her answer sticks with me today, in therapy, and in everyday life. We are such busy people in our world today, and we learn to do so many things at once, we forget how to be present. There is always something else to worry about or something else crowding our mind.

Being present might be somewhat of a good answer to “what worked for you?” I’m constantly working on being present in everything I do. When I sit in church, I work to be there, in that moment listening to the Word and enjoying that experience. When I’m running or doing yoga, I work to use the time for myself; to enjoy that I can still do those activities and to not think about the other worries or obligations I have.

If there is anything that is easy and could work for everyone – it’s being present. Being present in all therapy, group, medical or dietary discussions. Being present, and a participant in discussions. I have noticed that this process goes faster when you are an active participant. Note that when I say “faster” I really mean that it goes at “normal speed” because when we aren’t active, we only slow ourselves down.

Truthfully, any person in any walk of life could work on being present. Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a state of being.

Think about it —- where do you stand when it comes to being present and in the moment?

“I hate everyone who has an eating disorder”

I’m blunt.

“I hate everyone who has an eating disorder!”

I find myself saying this over and over in therapy and sometimes to other people. Why do I hate them? I have one!

I found that I hate this “eating disorder” community so much, that I want to get away from it in any way possible. How can you hate people for something they have?

Here’s why:

There is a secret language in the eating disorder community that many won’t admit to. They will agree while reading this post, and then deny it once the reading has stopped. Some, under a guise, may comment on my post and agree that this has happened, or others, in denial and wanting to defend the language, will comment stating that none of this is true. We all fall somewhere.

Skinny camp (partial hospitalization) wasn’t easy. Here is what I found: This language of trying to “get to know” other people, was really something that sized you up (haha. pun intended) to see how much “street cred” you have. The caring questions of “what disorder you have” or “how long you’ve had it” and “how many times have you been through treatment” are simply to place you in a category. They are to find out how much credit you deserve. You know it, and I know it.

Then comes the questions of whether or not you’ve been hospitalized. Seems like people want to know what we’ve been through, and how hard this road is…. Nope…. They want to know if you’re stronger with your eating disorder than they are. There is a statement, or an awkward pause, that comes after if you answer “No”… oh, that means you were apparently NOT as sick as others. And for those who were inpatient for suicidal thoughts — apparently they do not have as much cred as those who had some type of medical emergency. The statements of : “she was just in because she tried to kill herself” or “she was just in there for a week” tell others how “bad ass” she is with her eating disorder.

Here comes my favorite — somewhere in discussion they will slip in their weight. This is either when the therapist leading is in the bathroom, before or after group, or when you become friends on facebook (cause you all know you do in treatment even though it is frowned upon). That is where the real dance happens. They try to sound insightful though, “When I was _____lbs and on a feeding tube, my parents forced me into treatment.” It sounds so honest, heartbreaking and scary (I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had a feeding tube….. oh snap! She said it! Street cred down just a little…. So sad…. I’m now LESS of an anorexic than the one next to me).

Really these comments sound honest and therapeutic because she’s opening up, but it’s flaunting. It’s flaunting how low your weight was, how terrible your vitals were, how sick you were… oh but more importantly….. how much you accomplished! How good you were at your eating disorder!

Does a therapist see this? I don’t know. Can they hear our language? I’m not sure. I am fluent in it – and we all are the first time we meet another ED person. We learn the language fast and clear based on our first interactions with people as they try to find out who we were.

Oh- I wish I could describe all the looks I got when I explained that I was not inpatient….. oh – there she goes again people! 🙂

Part of me thinks that the therapists don’t know this language or see what is going on; maybe the really good ones do. I’m not sure.

Is this language even able to go extinct? Probably not. This language exists because we are in competition with ourselves, and then in turn, others as well. Most importantly – we are IN the ED and want to stay in it.

I think I’ve figured out which ED persons I hate…. They are the ones who speak the language fluently and all the time. They are the ones who perpetuate their sickness by trying to speak that language at possible moment they can. They treat it like it’s high school French… if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. They can’t stop talking in that language and bring the topics up. They go out for “coffee” and want to constantly hang out to feed the desire to keep speaking the language more freely. These are the people who want nothing more than to keep talking about what their eating disorder does for them.

There are people who speak the language of health, or WANT to speak the language of health (but maybe don’t know how yet). Those people pull away from everyone else. They disconnect and want out of the world so badly. They try to pull away from the sick language so they can “lose it”. Those people do exist.

So, does my irritation for these people help me? No, probably not. I’ve learned I have to turn that hate out and simply feel sorry for those people. And really, I don’t hate them…. I hate the disorder that they are stuck in, and what it has done to their lives. There are some who are so stuck in it, and don’t want out, so they won’t get out. It doesn’t matter what you say, they just want to speak that language because they want to know more and more where they stand in the ED world. I feel sorry for them.

Sometimes it’s hard walking this path of recovery. We all walk at our own pace. It’s hard because sometimes there are people walking slower than you or faster than you. Some people have relapses that last longer or shorter. Sometimes there are people who are farther ahead of us, and sometimes there are none directly in front of us.

Although this is a very individual disorder, I do think it is our duty to share our knowledge and learning; one more person recovered is a life saved. That’s why I write.

stubborn

stub·born  

/ˈstəbərn/

Adjective

  1. Having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good arguments or reasons…
  2. Difficult to move, remove, or cure.

What does it mean to be stubborn? I’ve been told it’s one of my qualities.

Stubborn is a hard adjective to describe a person. Can it ever be a good thing? If you look at the definition, “dogged determination NOT to change… in spite of good arguments or reasons”, you’ll see that maybe it’s not such a good quality.

Here’s what I’ve learned in being so stubborn. The one most negative attribute to being this way is I sometime refuse help. I refuse help to prove a point, or because I don’t want to think I can’t do something myself.

Where does that get me? Nowhere.

Being stubborn only builds walls between me and other people. The more stubborn I act, the stronger that wall becomes. Then, I get used to it. Then, I am less frequent in how often I open up. In fact, I find that I put walls up more and more often, not knowing why I’m being so stubborn – I’m just doing it because it’s what I do; what I’ve been told I do.

I noticed something about being stubborn – when I’m stubborn, nobody wins. I surly don’t win – and others don’t win as well. I’ve noticed that being stubborn and trying to prove something to yourself or somebody else really serves no purpose. It simply breeds discontentment in your soul and allows whatever the object is to keep the negative energy.

I talk like I know how to stop being stubborn, but I don’t. It’s something to think about, and work on.

Assertiveness

Empowered Living

In the last year, I’ve become a very assertive person (note that assertiveness is NOT being overbearing, pushy, angry or bitchy, as some would try to tell you). I’m becoming pretty comfortable being assertive, because I’m learning what’s right for me, and I don’t depend on others to decide that for me (minus this whole eating thing). Becoming assertive is something I’ve had to learn and grow into. However, please realize that when you begin to be assertive, and when you’re comfortable being really assertive, some people around you are NOT going to like that at all.

People who respect you already will not be threatened by your assertiveness, because respectful people are normally comfortable in respecting others’ personal rights and reasonable boundaries (please note reasonable boundaries). But be prepared for an onslaught of disapproval, criticism, insults and scolding of your newly found and shown assertiveness.  It will come from people who don’t like it that they can’t manipulate and control you any longer, that you won’t lay down and be their doormat, and that you can and will stand up for yourself at all times as a person worthy of respect, dignity and honor. It will simply come because people aren’t used to you saying, “no” when they want you to say “yes”.

When we finally decide to make a stand, and start acting like we have the right to choose what our life will look like (and how we will and will not allow others to treat us), many will be surprised and some won’t be happy. That’s okay as long as we don’t let them keep us from assuming ownership of our lives. Some will be happy for us, or barely notice because they were respectful in the first place — but others will be irritated because finding your own assertiveness and ability to say what you should is a game changer. It’s a game and relationship changer. Some won’t be able to hold on to this new-found You.

As time goes on – you’ll be happier. You will win some, and lose some (friends that is). Those who aren’t happy shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Those who support you are the ones who were meant to be there all along.

What do you do when others try to squash your assertiveness? You continue to be assertive anyway, because that is now exactly what you are.

assertive

Is “fat” really the worst thing a human can be?

“Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”

–          J.K. Rowling

 

From time to time this quote pops into my head. I think about it when something happens to direct me straight to my body. After I realize that I’m criticizing myself for getting fat healthy, I stop and think – “is this really the worst thing in the world?” Truthfully, saying this is just a band-aid at the moment, but it does help to get through the times when I’m overwhelmed by the thoughts of my body and how it has changed through recovery.

 

This quote makes perfect sense. Now, it won’t make perfect sense to the media and the social lifestyles of gossip and celebrities… but really, it makes perfect sense to the rest of the world – which is about 99.9% of it.

 

As I was thinking about this quote, and how it relates to recovery, I realized that it is right on. I hate to admit it, but we are some crazy people when we are IN the eating disorder and not looking at recovery. We are isolated, rude, insincere, distracted, unemotional, cold, vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain and can be cruel as well – (add in any other descriptive words you can think of in your situation). You know it’s true; don’t deny it.

 

Having fat health on my body isn’t the worse thing in the world. It is worse when I’m throwing tantrums in treatment telling my dietitian that I hate her…. Or throwing food at my therapist because I can’t stand the feelings (or it)…. Or screaming at my husband for unplugging the treadmill. “Fat” – “Health” is not as bad as those things. In fact, those things are worse. They take away from who you are as a person. They make you a person you’re not.

 

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’.

–          J.K. Rowling

 

With media at the tip of our fingers, it’s hard to look past all the messages. Really, it has to become a choice that you make. It has to be something you choose to ignore.

 

“Fat-bashing in all its varied forms–criticism, exclusion, shaming, fat talk, self-deprecation, jokes, gossip, bullying–is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice. From a very young age, before they can walk away or defend themselves, women are taught that they are how they look, not what they do or what they know. ”
― Robyn Silverman

 

We have to choose not to dive into the body talk that so many people engage in. It’s a commonality that women can find – a part of your body that you don’t like… or the fact that you ate that cupcake and shouldn’t have.

 

No really, you should have eaten the cupcake because it was damn good.

 

So moments (during lunches and breaks) when women talk about “having to go to the gym”, “needing to start that diet”, or the discussion of the guilt from “eating that ice cream” need to change…. and that can only be done if you choose to change it.

 

As women, we aren’t wired to know to change those discussion or thoughts. How do you choose to change it? You stop the conversation. You can state, “You know, hating my body is an exhausting job to keep up with, I’d rather not take that on.” …..

Or, you can ask:

“Why do you feel guilty for eating the ice cream?”

“Why do you have to diet?”

“Why do you have to go to the gym?”

“Will losing 5 lbs really solve your problems?”

 

Once faced with how stupid and shallow we sound when saying this, we are often left speechless…. we are left with few words to say because all we know is that it is the message received with no backing. We blindly follow what we’ve been told through pictures, media and commercials.

 

We learn so early that part of our worth is tied up in how we look. Truthfully, it’s not.

We hate a bitchy person – fat or not.

We avoid the chronic liars – fat or not.

We run away from the “negative Nancy” – fat or not.

We do not associate with criminals – fat or not.

The people you choose to spend your time with are typically chosen based on personality…. Let’s be real…. Your looks are not going to keep us friends, especially when I’m bored with conversation.

 

jl

 

So, really….. is “fat” really the worst thing a human you can be?