At some point I stopped counting the months. At some point I stopped celebrating them. The first year I was home from CFC I celebrated (and usually blogged about – check the archives if you are interested) each month I was home from CFC. One month, I would type into my faceboook status leaving the world to guess. Two, then three and finally the big one SIX MONTHS HOME IN RECOVERY. I shared then because I had stopped hiding behind any facades. I had a two year gap on my profile from when I was in treatment, no answers from well meaning (or not so) people when they asked what I was doing (I actually started spouting off ‘finding myself’ if I got too irritated) and of course I’d started this blog. Hard to hide when you have a blog with your real name attached …And that was just it I didn’t want to hide anymore. So I didn’t. And I shared each of those milestones on here….seven months.eights months. nine months….ONE YEAR.
And after a year I continued celebrating. I didn’t count the months on facebook or on my blog. In fact, I didn’t count them for myself unless I delibratingly stopped and thought. There was a rough patch. A long one right after six month mark and into the year and a half mark while I waited for Benny to arrive. It’s seems like I spent more time in the psych. hospital than out while we tried to get me mentally stabilized and diagnose me correctly and a short stay at a trauma facility. But I never relapsed back into my eating disorder. I came close a couple of times but somehow I kept a hold of my recovery.
And then this year I celebrated my two year recovery anniversary – this past February actually. My parents and I went out to dinner (how appropriate and wonderful way to mark a recovery from an eating disorder). They gave me a sweet gift and so did Ben (:D).
And so I’ve continued. I’m not counting the months anymore. I suspect I’ll always mark the year. Maybe not publicly Maybe not with anyone else but to me February 22nd (or aroundish there) will always be a day of rebirth. But the moments, the minutes, the months that I stay in recovery? Oh, I let those fly by.
Except I stopped the other day. I was handing cash to a person in a drive-through and I looked down at my left wrist where I have a tattoo that says hope with the o replaced by the eating disorder recovery symbol and was suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. And as I drove away from the drive-through I replayed it in my head. Slowly.
I. Am. In. Recovery. From. An. Eating. Disorder. That. Almost. Killed. Me.
I’m here. Handing cash to a person through a little window. Driving with the windows down and a dog’s head stuck out the back. Bad music coming from the radio. Not in a sterile hospital room. Not running laps around the block. Not dead. I am in recovery.
There are a thousand other scenarios that could be taking place today had I not stumbled onto hope and held onto it and let it lead me into recovery. But I did hold on. I did make it here. And I realized that yes, I do celebrate my recovery once a year perhaps it is something I should remind myself more often how precious it is. Not only is the reminder tattooed on my wrist it is around me in every way. All I have to do is look.
Filed under Ben, depression, dogs, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, Hope, Identity, life events, Life Story, NEDA, New Life, Recovery, service dog, survivor, the past
Today is the final day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA Week) 2013. The Theme for this year is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. Eating disorders are widespread illnesses and can affect anyone regardless of age, race or gender. This week I am going to focus my blog on eating disorder awareness, what it is like to have an eating disorder and share some bits of my own journey. To learn more about eating disorder please visit the NEDA’s website.
“It’s not your fault you developed an eating disorder or depression or an addiction or whatever else is trying to steal your life away, but it is your responsibility to save yourself. And you can.” – Josie Tuttle
Today bring NEDA week to a close. It doen’t mean awareness should stop but it does mean for this year the one week that is dedicated to awareness is done. I choose tonight to write about something that I have come to firmly believe makes the difference in whether one recovers or not. Now I really don’t know anything. I’ll tell you that upfront. I haven’t been fighting back that long (only two years), I’m not a clinician or an expert. I’m not recovered however I do believe that there is one thing that decides whether you will or won’t recover and that is making the conscious choice to recover.
I’m not saying you wake up one day and decide ‘hey I’m going to recover’ and then magically you are healed. I am saying that if you do not make the decision to seek out recovery with all of your heart and soul you will not recover. There is simply no way. The best treatment center in the world can’t make you recover. Your parent’s can’t make you recover. Your husband cannot. Your pet cannot. Medication can not. Only you can choose recovery.
It sounds harsh maybe. And I’m not saying you chose your disorder. Far from it. But I am saying that once you learn the skills you must make that decision to seek out recovery. It doesn’t mean you won’t lapse or relapse. It doen’t mean you will be perfect. It does mean however that you are trying your damnest to get to where you want to go and you know that the only way to get there is to keep holding onto to that choice you made at that point in your life when you had hope. And that choice was to seek out recovery and to one day be recovered.
I know not everyone agrees with me. But this is my belief and as NEDA week wraps up I thought it was appropriate to share it with you.
Thank you all for spreading awareness and reading my blog. I will continue blogging about the challenges and triumphs in recover along with mood lifters, stories from my life and endless tales of my service dog. I hope you will choose to follow my blog and join me on my journey as I live into recovery.
Filed under coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, Hope, Independence, NEDA, NEDA week, New Life, quotes, Recovery, survivor
Today is the sixth day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA Week) 2013. The Theme for this year is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. Eating disorders are widespread illnesses and can affect anyone regardless of age, race or gender. This week I am going to focus my blog on eating disorder awareness, what it is like to have an eating disorder and share some bits of my own journey. To learn more about eating disorder please visit the NEDA’s website.
Today is not only day six of NEDA week but it is also designated as Self-Injury Awareness Day. The majority of people with eating disorders suffer from some type of co-morbid illness. Co-morbid illnesses mean a secondary diagnoses such as post-traumatic-stress disorder, anxiety, depression or some other mental illness. Often, eating disorder patients will also exhibit other negative coping skills and one of these is self-harm also known as self-injury.
Self-injury is exactly what it sounds like. It is deliberately injuring yourself. This can be completely separate from suicide and when talking about self-injury it is assumed that it is. The reason a person chooses to injury themselves vary. It can be a distraction, a way to express pain, a way to suppress other emotional pain, a way to numb out, a way to become un-numb, it can be a punishment, an act of self-hatred or for many other reasons. Many girls I met during my time in treatment also had a history of self-injury, myself included. This is a part of my past that is difficult to talk about. It’s shameful to me and I think to many others. While eating disorders are becoming less stigmatized, self-injury is not. It is not understood and is still associated with “crazy people”.
In treatment as the refeeding process begins many girls find it hard to cope with emotions as their previous coping skills (behaviors around food) are taken away and turn to self-injury to compensate. This is the first time I self-harmed. I no longer felt the numbness of starvation or the pain of hunger and I felt a need to punish myself and get that feeling of nothingness back so I attempted to self-harm. This was a mistake that would open the door to self-injury for me and one that I have since struggled to close.
I’m not alone in finding it hard to stop self-harming. The second treatment center I went to treated self-harm as the most dangerous of all behaviors and the consequences were drastic. I spent many weeks dealing with my own actions and urges in the most secure and safest level of treatment (which was also the hardest and most isolating) as did many of the girls I have come to love. Outside of treatment I continued to struggle and was hospitalized many times my first year home.
Eating disorders can become a type of self-injurious behavior. I know I have used my eating disorder for the sole purpose of harming myself. I chose my eating disorder as a form of slow suicide. Today, I do not separate my eating disorder behaviors from my self-injury behaviors. They stem from the same desires inside of me. The desire to punish myself or to find an ‘easy’ escape from life. My eating disorder is not about my appearance but instead about what damage can I inflict on my body. Yes, I get hung up on whether I’m fat or not but my most severe use of symtoms is always used as a way to self-injure or self-harm. I am thankful that my second treatment center recognized this and treated my eating disorder as such.
I can say today that I struggle most with this aspect of my recovery. Keeping myself safe from myself. It’s hard when your worst enemy is your own mind. But this is exactly what eating disorders and the behaviors of self-injury are. Your enemy is your own thoughts and feelings and the only way to fight is to learn how to address and deal with those urges. It’s a terrifying process and one that can’t be hurried or rushed. This is why the process of recovery is not done overnight or even done in a year or two years. It can take years or even a lifetime. But it is a process and like all processes you move forward and there is a goal in sight. And that goal is to be recovered. I know I’ll get there. I’ve seen other people get there and I will join them someday – eating disorder and self-harm free.
Today is the fifth day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA Week) 2013. The Theme for this year is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. Eating disorders are widespread illnesses and can affect anyone regardless of age, race or gender. This week I am going to focus my blog on eating disorder awareness, what it is like to have an eating disorder and share some bits of my own journey. To learn more about eating disorder please visit the NEDA’s website. Also, tomorrow is purple friday. If you have something puprple to wear (the color of eating disorder awareness) please wear purple in support of NEDA week.
It has occurred to me that I throw around recovery and eating disorder language like everyone knows what I’m talking about. For instance I’m often talking about being in recovery vs being recovered. In the eating disordered world there is a difference and there are variyng philosophies surrounding these beliefs. So tonight I thought I would try and shed at least a little light on what is already a really confusing subject for those of you who have no idea of the semantics behind eating disorder recovery.
How recovery is defined is a huge deal in a person’s life who is taking the first steps to move away from their eating disorder. As a person looking from the outside one would assume that recovery would be one definition and one definition only however in the world of eating disorder there is a broad range of definitions and beliefs about just how recovered one can be. Here are my interpretations of the definitions of recovery that I have been given or have heard of in the eating disorder world.
- recovery definition 1 – You shall never be fully recovered. You will have times where you will have little symtoms but you will never be free of the thoughts. Your eating disorder will be with you the rest of your life.
- in recovery – this is a transition time. A person can be in this time for years but a person continues to improve while not without lapses or slipes eventually the thoughts can and will become less leading to…
- full recovery also called recovered(period) – this is why a person no longer is exhibiting symtoms. They no longer diagnosable as having an eating disorder. They don’t have the thoughts of an eating disorder individuals. In essence they are recovered. The disease is gone. They live their lives free of an eating disorder.
Different treatment programs, different treatment professionals, different patients etc all hold differing beliefs about recovery and just how far a person can come towards being recovered. The first definition of recovery I was introduced to was what I define as in recovery definition 1. At this point in time I had no idea what I wanted – if I wanted any type of recovery or even to live. And so when I left my first residential treatment center it was with the belief that I could never fully recover. I would always live in the eating disorder world I would just reside in different degrees of hell. And so to me it was hopeless. Why even try recover when it was almost ensured that I would end up back in the depths of my disorder? And so I promptly relapsed.
When I was admitted to my second residential program I was introduced to the idea that full recovery (recovered) was possible. In this treatment center, it was believed that everyone could and would recover. To present myself as a hopeless case was not tolerated. There was no such thing as no hope, I had the chance and most importantly the choice to recover.
This concept of full recovery has allowed me to stay in recovery and every milestone that I pass, every lapse I come back from brings me closer to that day I can say I’m recovered. I know many people hold many different opinions about recovery but if you want my opinion it is that no one is hopeless and that if a choice is made and a person works towards it full recovery is possible maybe not now, maybe not in a year, maybe not in five years but someday a person (me) can be fully recovered.
And that is why I keep going, keep working and what keeps me moving forward. I will be that girl who can say I am recovered period.
Today is the third day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA Week) 2013. The Theme for this year is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. Eating disorders are widespread illnesses and can affect anyone regardless of age, race or gender. This week I am going to focus my blog on eating disorder awareness, what it is like to have an eating disorder and share some bits of my own journey. To learn more about eating disorder please visit the NEDA’s website.
Eating disorders control the mind but the toll their have on the body is devating according to NEDA here is just a few of the dangerous consequences of eating disorders.
- Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as the heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
- Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
- Muscle loss and weakness.
- Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
- Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
- Dry hair and skin; hair loss is common.
- Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.
- Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death. Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium, sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
- Potential for gastric rupture during periods of bingeing.
- Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
- Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
- Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
- Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol levels.
- Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels.
- Type II diabetes mellitus.
- Gallbladder disease.
I have so lucky to have walked away from the most devastating time of my eating disorder with few side effects. During my eating disorder I had heart problems, nervous systems problems, electrolyte imbalances, severe dehydration, an inability to walk, to digest food properly and many others. And yet today? I am relatively unscathed. Not many are as lucky. I truly am blessed and lucky to be alive and well.
Below is a letter to my body I wrote during my time at The Center for Change.
I don’t know how you are still beating, still breathing, still moving. You amaze me at your resiliency I have put you through too much to count. Not only have I starved you to the point where your heart struggled to beat, legs struggled to move and brain struggled to function but I have cut, smothered, let you fall to the ground and deliberately placed you in danger time and time again.
Thank you body for surviving all of that abuse. You have cried out at times, bled at others or lost touch of reality but you still keep fighting. You fight when I cannot and when I am your biggest enemy. Although I have wanted to destroy you, you resist and fight for me and God has truly made you wondrous.
It is a miracle I have no lasting medical complications and it is not my strength nor my choice to have it be so. It is the life within you. You want to live and I can feel you fighting for this chance. You keep me alive when I cannot and now although at times it pains me to do so I thank you.
I don’t know how you grew so strong and resistant. It is not I who made you so but God. Each organ, limb and muscle works together so perfectly that when I stop to think about it I’m amazed Even fat which I am most afraid of has a purpose to keep me warm, act as a reserve source of energy and has many other functions I know nothing of.
Finally, I thank you because I can hear. I can see. I can run. I can hug. You have given me this. Thank you body. It is partly you who makes me who I am and able to do things I long to do and can do. Thank you for noting giving up on me.
Today is the first day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA Week) 2013. The Theme for this year is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. Eating disorders are widespread illnesses and can affect anyone regardless of age, race or gender. This week I am going to focus my blog on eating disorder awareness, what it is like to have an eating disorder and share some bits of my own journey. To learn more about eating disorder please visit the NEDA’s website.
Music has been a huge influence in my journey to recovery. This is why I often choose a Sunday Song to showcase (go here to see a list of previous songs). While music can have a huge positive affect it can also cause be used to create motivation to stay sick or remain stuck in an eating disorder. There are many songs that ‘glorify’ eating disorders whether they mean to or not. On Youtube many, many eating disorder victims have put together videos that showcase their sickest pictures accompanied by songs about eating disorders. A common song that is often chosen is the song “Courage” by Superchick. I have no doubt that Superchick wrote this song to be encouraging to those who struggle but sadly it has become an anthem for those who are sick. One of the first steps I took in my recover was deleting many songs that I listened to in my sickest days. In their place I have found other songs I love to listen to instead. And this song is one of them:
A really quick song post. Lately, my body image has quite frankly sucked. This song makes me smile and reminds me “who says” that I’m not the right weight or that I’m ugly. No one other than me.
So here is “Who Says” By Selena Gomez
During National Eating Disorder Week of 2010 I was living in Tulsa at Laureate’s transitional living home. We were required to go to their evening event where a singer named K.C. Clifford performed. K.C. had been a patient of Laureate’s a long time before and since had gone on to be a singer/songwriter. I loved her music and bought one of her CD’s. I have been updating my itunes and came across several of her songs so I thought I would share one with you for my Sunday Song post.
“Loud and Clear” by K.C. Clifford
I’ve been absent from regular posting for awhile. Things here have been more challenging as of late. The magnitude of the changes coming this fall has suddenly seemed to weigh (no pun intended) down on me and made it somewhat more challenging to cope. I’m making it through however – day by day, minute by minute.
Now…while I have been struggling some things have not been all bad. For instance on Wednesday night I got my tattoo. I have been planning on getting a tattoo for over a year now. It was to celebrate my one year recovery anniversary but took a little more time until I got around to getting it. I loved the place I went to and my tattoo artist was amazing. She was so patient and understanding. I really didn’t think it hurt although my body did have a strange reaction and my blood sugar dropped. They got me a Dr. Pepper and so I passed another milestone (the first full sugar pop I have had in five years).
I love my tattoo. There are pictures below but let me explain the significance to you. Hope was such an important theme during my time at CFC. I had to learn how to have hope and I can honestly say that one of the most meaningful things that I learned was hope. My tattoo symplozies the time I spent at CFC learning to have hope and then to the following year as I learned to make it a part of my everyday life. The place where the o normal would be is the eating disorder recovery symbol. I placed it on my wrist so that I could constantly be reminded to have hope.
Getting a tattoo was also important to me for several reasons. One it was something I never would have done before beginning the recovery process. I was so straight-laced before recovery that I never would have dreamed of getting a tattoo. In this way it was a release from some of the impossible to meet principles that I was trying to live by. However, most importantly was that this tattoo was the first positive thing I have done to my body. I have starved, cut and taken pills to harm my body but I have never in such a final and decisve way done something lasting to my body that is positive. To know that I made the decision to get a tattoo and that is has so much meaning is a powerful thing for me to know and remember. In other words, I can have control over my body in ways that don’t involve harming it.
Someday I’ll probably get another tattoo (however not for another year, I’ve made a promise that I will think about it for a year before acting on a decision). This next tattoo will symbolize the next phase of my journey. And with everything in me I hope that tattoo will read “survivor”. Until then I have my new tattoo to look down upon and remember that even through this time of transition there is always hope.
Filed under body image, coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, Independence, life events, NEDA, New Life, Recovery, survivor