Tag Archives: eating disorders

“it’s nice to be tempted” – Rich Mullins

I was messing around on Youtube today and ended up watching videos of Rich Mullins. Rich Mullins was a christian singer in the 90s who is famous for writing the song “Awesome God” and writing many other poetic songs. As a child and young teenager I often listened to his music to calm myself and find comfort. Anyways, I was watching videos of him today which I enjoy doing because he often ends up saying some pretty profound things before he sings and this one really hit home for me.

Sometimes even if you aren’t going to sin, it’s nice to be tempted.

This simple sentence describes why I torture myself by still immersing myself in the eating disorder world. I still check tumblrs of girls active in their eating disorder, read eating disorder books and just generally keep all of my ties to that world. It had previously made no sense why I had done so. I want to be done with my eating disorder. I am in recovery. I’m moving forward. I have better things to do that sit and wallow in that former life. But yet, even if I’m not going to relapse it is nice to be tempted too.

And why is that? Well, a part of me still finds that world familiar and comforting. I go there when I am afraid or think I need structure in life. If I still feel tempted to engage in symptoms it reassures me that I haven’t lost the power to return completely to the disorder. I may choose not to engage but it is somewhat reassuring that the urges are still there. That I’m not recovered because that terrifies me.

But is it right that I like to do that? Is it healthy? No. And it is something I need to work to give up to get to that place where I am fully and firmly planted in recovery. But Rich Mulllin’s simple sentence made sense to me and it was nice to put some words to those feelings I have when I visit those dark corners of the internet or fiction shelves. It’s very human and very normal to struggle to give up those last remnants of addictions or disorders and this was also a nice reminder to me. So I have identified another area of recovery in which to work. I have put some words to my feelings now which for me is always a start. The next step is working through them.

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Filed under coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, Identity, Recovery

stopping a relapse with support

I’ve been absent (again) on my blog. For awhile it was touch and go with things related to my eating disorder. I’m back on a more level playing field but I wouldn’t call it stable ground yet. I began to struggle a few weeks ago. For numerous reasons that would take a lot of time to go into here and honestly I’m not quite ready to share. Anyways, after a lot of days of little nutrition, negotiations with parents and treatment team I’m at a place where I’m eating again with supervision and my safe foods. We are doing a step by step approach to add on scarier foods each week but this week was safe foods. 

I’m eating because I’m supervised but I do have a choice. I could sit in front of my parents and say “nope. not going to eat that” but I haven’t. I guess it’s because I didn’t go totally downhill. I didn’t loose enough weight for my mind to become crazy and everything rational to be gone. I could still think and what I thought about was Gus. If I had had to return to treatment (which at several points was looking likely as the amount of food I was consuming was not acceptable at all) Gus would not have been allowed to go with me. At this point in our relationship and his training it would be hugely detrimental. We would loose all of our progress and he could potentially not become a service dog. I know this because I’ve done it before.  

In August of 2010, I had adopted a young pup from the shelter. I named her Shona which is the name of the native language my friend from Zimbabwe speaks. I was just back from Laureate’s eating disorder program and was in a fast relapse after being home a month. I loved Shona deeply from the first time I saw her but a month after adopting her I was off to Utah to The Center for Change for another 5 1/2 months of treatment. While I was gone Shona had a great life, living with my parents but it wasn’t the same. They purposely didn’t try to bond with her so she would know she was my dog when I returned and she did but important time was lost. Shona was never meant to be a service dog at that time but those early months of her first year where she would have learned basic obedience and manners were lost and we never quite regained that ground. Shona never quite developed the level of obedience I wished until she was much older. And I believe this was due to my leaving her at a young age. 

If I left Gus now at 8 1/2 months of age when he is so impressionable and our bonding is so important not to mention his service dog training and obedience training I truly believe we could never make it up. We would never become a service dog team. The idea terrifies me. I love this dog more than most things in my world right now and to be without him seems unbearable. So I was close to going back to some sort of treatment be it full inpatient or a partial program with boarding but I managed to create structure with my parents and treatment team where we created our own sort of partial program where I am basically receiving the same support I would had I gone to a partial program. I have meal support and we have defiantly upped the therapy time and amount of time I’m spending with my dietician. 

Without meal support would I be eating? I wish I could say yes, but I can’t. Not right now. My eating disorder is really strong and the grip it has on me seems to be unbreakable. But I’m learning that this can’t matter. I do what I need to do anyways just with help right now. I don’t give myself a chance to skip meals or restrict my intake because I have a support team around me. 

So am I in a relapse? The answer would be yes – if left to my own devices as I was a few weeks ago. Now I’ve been pulled out by other people. I’m letting them do the work right now while I comply and follow directions. I’m letting myself go on autopilot for awhile. I don’t have the motivation for complete recovery. I do have the motivation to allow others to help me. And this is the first time I’ve gotten to this place and allowed others to break into the dark, isolated world that my eating disorder has created. Progress. 

And so I’m going along. Still living and existing. Starting school. Beginning a pet sitting business. Working with Gus both on obedience and service dog skills. Teaching him to swim. It’s nice to keep these things going and not have to loose them all while I go sit somewhere and relearn how to eat in an artificial environment. I am hugely grateful that my family has made it possible for me to remain in my world and still receive the help that I need. Hugely grateful. And so thank you family. Thank you for allowing me to stay home and remain with my Gus. 

 

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Filed under dog training, dogs, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, Gus, Hope, Independence, psychiatric service dog, Recovery, service dog, Shona

i will throw my roses into the abyss – a post about Cory Montieth

…throw roses into the abyss and say: ‘here is my thanks to the monster who didn’t succeed in swallowing me alive’. – Friedrich Nietzsche 

I’ve thought a lot about that quote in this past week. If you didn’t know the actor Cory Montieth, who played Fin on the popular television show Glee, died last Saturday due to a mixture of Heroin and alcohol. It wasn’t a purposely overdose but an unintended one. Perhaps what makes this even more sad is that the young actor (he was 31) was actively trying to recover and had recently gone to drug rehab.

The story has hit me harder than what it ought to maybe. I can see myself in him. No, I have never struggled with drugs or alcohol abuse but I have danced with my own demons of addictions in the shape of self-injury and my eating disorder. Those too are very real addictions. There is a ‘high’ that comes from starving , overexercising or harming your body in someway. When I began using symptoms much like a drug user I thought I could stop at anytime but I remember that frantic realization when I realized that there was no way I could stop starving. But I’m one of the lucky ones.

Now looking back from the side of recovery I can see how close I came to dying. One more day before I entered treatment. Another fifteen minutes on that exercise bike or a cut a little deeper and I too would be lying somewhere too and my parents would be burying me like Cory Montieth’s parents buried him.

It saddens me when people scoff at drug addicts or alcoholics. I understand these sufferers more than anyone might realize. Yes perhaps my addiction was slightly more “socially acceptable” and in the case of the eating disorder even at times envied and revered (yes, but that’s another post) but in the end it’s all the same. An addiction is an addiction. It eats you alive from the inside out. And if you are lucky you escape relatively unharmed physically (like me) but if you are not you either end up dying or existing in some strange netherworld that is filled with drugs and disease but never life.

I can guess that Cory Montieth never expected that last time using to be his last. Neither did the girls I know who purged one more time or simply went to sleep never to wake up again. But sadly addiction and disease doesn’t discriminate from those who want to get better. In the end it seems to be a combination of luck, timing and fate. And this time in the case of Cory Montieth it seems like something just ran out. I have questions for God (don’t we all?) and this is one of mine: why am I spared when so many others aren’t? Why am I living when others who had so much life, so much promise and wanted so desperately to get better but just quite hadn’t gotten there yet dead? Why did  A., K., N., Cory Montieth and some many more run out of time?

I don’t have the answers to those questions and I don’t think I ever will on this earth. Cory Montieth said on Inside The Actor’s Studio that he wished to hear God say this:

 Uh, sorry I haven’t been around. There’s a good explanation.

I’d like some explanations too but more importantly I simply wish to hear God say that the pain, the sorrow, the devastation that eating disorders and other addictions caused can be healed and that someday, somehow everyone touched by them will be alright.

But right now I will do this. I will throw those roses into the abyss and I will thank God that my own personal monster did not swallow me alive and pray that it never will again.

As for Cory Monteith? I pray that he got his answer.

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Filed under depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, Hope, quotes, Recovery, survivor, the past

nobody’s got it all together (Jill Phillips) – sunday song

I discovered this song before Laureate. I was slowly dying and no one knew and I listened to this song obsessively as I did behavior after behavior. So what prompts me to choose it as my Sunday Song tonight? Well, I think it’s a good reminder that although on the surface it may appear like things are good and well for a person that doesn’t tell the whole story. “Nobod’sy got it all together” is the norm – not the other way around.

 

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Filed under coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, faith, Hope, Life Story, music, PTSD, Recovery, Sunday Songs, survivor

What No Longer Defines Me: 

My eating disorder

Hospitalizations/treatment

This mythical idea of the ‘perfect’ job

This locked in view of who God is

The image of the ‘sheltered one’

Being a ‘drummer’

My school status

Choosing to be “the quiet one”

The victim role

What Still Defines Me But I am Working to Let Go Off

My PTSD

Memories

My fear

That illness

The option of self-destruction

Self-Blame

Shame

The hold they have over me

The attachment to the past

What Does Define Me

My relationship with Ben

The idea that my spirituality and faith can be fluid and changing. I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t have to fit into a mold and that’s okay.

My friendships. The true meaningful ones.

Giving back. Loving more.

Family, friends

Self-respect

Self-esteem

Recovery

Writing

Finding my passions and pursuing them

Dreaming and following those dreams

Allowing myself to Live. Truly live.

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Filed under Ben, depression, dogs, eating disorder, eating disorders, faith, family, friends, Hope, Identity, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, the past, trauma

“My Friend Ana” – a short film

I’ve gone back and forth about posting the video below. It reveals a lot about eating disorders and I suppose that is why I have been reluctant to share. It has one or two graphic moments so if you are easily triggered I would suggest not watching the video. It’s not the graphic moments that have made me reluctant but the raw emotional content that this video displays. Eating disorders take complete control of your mind and this video blatantly displays that. There comes a point when you are in too far to easily get out. That is what this video depicts. I’m choosing to share it because it shows just how all hopeless and all encompassing my eating disorder is and how scary it is that I sometimes teeter on the edge of returning to that place.

“My Friend Ana” – a short film

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letting people in and accepting the reality

Well, the second week of school is done. My anxiety has significantly lessened from the first week thanks to time and Ben. I made it my goal for this past week to go to the involvement fair and I did and found a group called “Feministis On Campus Uniting Students” aka FOCUS. I attended their meeting on Thursday and really enjoyed it. It was a stretch to make myself go. I ended up staying on campus instead of leaving b/c I knew if I left I wouldn’t return. But this group is passionate about things that I am passionate about such as women’s rights in a variety of settings. It’s a small group which is perfect as I am not quite ready for large groups of people .

It’s been weird trying to decide how to socialize at school. How much to share. How to answer questions about Ben. What to tell professors and how to handle the fact that now on the outside I do look like I have a disability. I don’t like the term disability. It feels scary and real. I have such a hard time admitting that my life has been so limited b/c of my eating disorder, anxiety, PTSD etc. that I do fall under the category of disabled. I don’t want to be disabled. I don’t want any of the things that happened to have happened but they did and now I’m facing the very real challenge of acceptance and navigating my life.

Darcie (the trainer from Heeling Allies) warned me that it would hit me that by having Ben I am admitting to myself and the world that I am disabled. I don’t look disabled from the outside (it’s called an invisible disability) and before Ben no one would have known. Well except for the fact that i had a lot of panic attacks, flashbacks and had a tendency to fall down….However, by having Ben with me I am in some sense broadcasting to the world that something is wrong with me.

Some people ask. And depending on the situation I give a variety of answers. In one of my classes I was going to share that Ben was a mental health dog but the teacher went on a ten minute lecture about how she was stalked by a mentally ill person. The lecture was completely unnecessary and very demeaning towards anyone with a mental illness so needless to say I did not share that Ben was a mental health dog. I am afraid I would have been judged as crazy as that is what she was implying during her story/lecture time. So in situations like that I tell people that Ben is an alert dog. And he is. He alerts me to when my anxiety is high, is learning how to tell me to take my medication and does a variety of other alerting actions that alert me to my own emotions.

I have shared a few times that he is a mental health dog. In these, situations I explain that he is for my severe anxiety. I don’t mention PTSD or the eating disorder but instead focus on my panic attacks. And surprisingly people respond to this. They almost always have a story about a friend who has struggled or their own struggles. This has made me think that perhaps it is time to simply tell people the whole truth about Ben. Mental illness has such stigmas attached to it. I want to fight these and perhaps by being open I can.

I realize that as I write this blog that I am in a sense exposing everything about me. But I made a pledge before school started that I wasn’t going to censor my blog. It’s important to me and as I accept facebook requests from people at WSU (two this week) I am very aware that I am potentially opening up my life for others to know way more than I would normally share.  I’m selective about what friend requests I accept but I really believe I must continue blogging in order to let go of my shame. My past is my past and I have nothing at all to be ashamed of. I don’t believe this yet but this is where my blog comes in. Opposite action (for you DBT people out there). Someday, I’ll be glad I shared my story and I can look back at this time as a time of growth, change, transition and healing.

 

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Filed under coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, friends, Hope, life events, New Life, PTSD, Recovery, survivor, trauma

eating disorders and competition part 1

“You throw a gaggle of eating-disordered girls together in a room and guaranteed, the conversation will turn into a macabre game of Whose Life is the Most Messed Up, Anyway? in thirty seconds or less. I’ve seen it. I’ve played it. I’ve won it. If you can call it winning.” – Donna Shute

This is the first in a series of posts I’m going to be writing about the phenomena among eating disorder suffers to compete for the sickest role. It might be impossible to understand to the outside world and I want to try and make it a bit more accessible.

My first treatment stay for my eating disorder was at Laureate Eating Disorder Program in Tulsa OK. I entered there very ill. I was very medically compromised and my weight was extremely low. As I progressed through the program I gained the weight required and needed for my health and slowly left my old self and clothes behind. It was a difficult process to say the least. There was a distinct competition for who was the sickest aka the thinnest and as I began the process of recovery I began loosing the competition. I remember looking at the new girls and feeling envy. It was then that I wrote this poem trying to convince myself that really winning the competition was only destructive and not something I wanted. I’m not sure I succeeded in convincing myself but here is what I wrote.

Warning: I wrote it very late one night when I still had refeeding brain. So quality is not that good. Please don’t judge me.

I Chose Life Instead 

I stare at her.

Jealous of her body,

No – that’s wrong

What body? I see only bones

They poke through her skin.

Sharp, jagged.

They seem to taunt me.

This is what you were.

This is what you had.

But I chose life instead.

 

I stare at her.

Jealous of her body.

No – that’s wrong.

What body? I see only bags beneath her eyes.

They make her eyes look concave.

Lifeless, hopeless.

They seem to tell me.

This is who you were.

This is who you wanted to be.

But I chose life instead.

 

I stare at her.

Jealous of her body.

No – that’s wrong.

What body? I see only stares.

The ones from strangers in the store

They seem to be

Pitying, concerned

Those are what I wanted.

Those are what I received.

But I chose life instead.

 

I stare at me.

And see

Flesh covering my bones

Eyes shining bright

And no recent memories of stares in the store

I’m healthy

This is not what I would have chosen

This is not what I thought I wanted

But it is what I am

For I choose life instead.

 

 

 

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Filed under body image, eating disorder, eating disorders, Identity, New Life, Recovery, the past

back to the basics – round two

So awhile back I wrote about returning to the basics. However, this week I realized that I needed to do more than just calm my life down and fill it with less stressful things. I needed to be dilerbatly working on therapeutic issues and consciously applying my coping skills. I didn’t realize how far I’d gotten until I realized that I had fallen into the hole known as relapse.

Over the past few days I have been working to dig my way out of that hole and I’m on my way. However, it has not been without a ton of hard work, tears and hard decisions. I’ve had to go back to square one. For the first time in my treatment history I went back to where I started and reviewed things I had begun Laureate and continued working on at CFC. I look back upon what we have been working on in outpatient therapy and the tools I have added to my toolbox in that time. I have reviewed worksheets from my time at The Psychiatric Institute of Washington (DC): Trauma Program and realized that I needed to add so many of these skills back into my day to day life.

I reviewed relaxation techniques that I have learned over my treatment time, actually listened with an open mind to Belleruth’s lovely tapes and brought some Marsha Linnehan back into my life (humor tapes!!!). I looked at where I had slipped in regard to food and other behaviors and have begun to correct them. I opened up old documents on my computer that I had used to record emotions and feelings when I first left CFC and have begun to make checking in with myself a form of routine. I have been doing assignments that Beth has given me and allowed myself to begin to accept a diagnoses that I have been denying a long, long time (thus allowing me to begin to move forward a bit).

All of this has been hard. Really, really hard.  I had to take some precautions to keep myself safe and have had to ask for help from my parents, Beth and other people in my life. Most of all I had to once again choose hope. Something that I think I will have to do over and over again while I continue to live. So I have a lot of work ahead. I’ve done a lot of work but it still goes on. Recovery is a series of choices and decisions that when all added up come to mean recovery.

I’m having to be more deliberate in those choices right now but the important thing is that I have not given up. I’ve had help from family and accountability from friends. I have let a door close from my past and have begun to begin to move past that hurt and realize that I don’t need certain things in my life to be ‘ok’. And also that I can survive feelings of betrayal and hurt (thank you P. for helping me see that anger was appropriate and also validating my feelings).

So it’s been a week of hard work. And once again a week of returning to the basics. It will pay off. It already has in leaps and bounds. So once again I say goodbye eating disorder and symptoms – hello life. I’m back.

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Filed under coping skills, depression, eating disorder, eating disorders, family, friends, New Life, Recovery

“never going back again” by fleetwood mac

This Sunday my song post is “Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac. When I was at Laureate Chris sent me a CD with this on it. Since then it has been a reminder to never let myself get to the place I was in my eating disorder when I entered Laureate. I talked a little bit about that in my last post so I thought it was very appropriate to post this song. 🙂

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Filed under eating disorder, eating disorders, family, music, Recovery, Sunday Songs, the past