Trying out a different format for “Things I’m Loving Thursday.” Hope you all like it!
1. Homemade PolarBear Cupcakes. 2. 360 Cashmere Sweater. 3. Glass of Rose. 4. TheRopesMaine bracelet. 5. Essie Mod Squad Polish
1. JCrew pajamas (and yes I do have the matching top haha). 2. Lilly Pulitzer wine glass. 3. Isabel Harvey bangle.
The Columbia Center for Eating Disorders recently released a blog post entitled, “Back-to-School: Top 5 Way to Tackle Your Eating Disorder Freshman Year,” which lays out 5 ways to help individuals who struggle with disordered eating adjust to life, and all the crazy changes that come along with being a college student. I know firsthand just how scary, stressful, and overwhelming this time is because I was in this position a year ago. Even though I wasn’t a freshman, in fact I was a super senior haha, I still had never been at college while in recovery and therefore everything felt totally new and overwhelming. So because of my experience, I thought it might be helpful if I reflected back, by using the 5 suggestions recommended by the Columbia Center, on how being so well prepared when I went back to school was crucial in my journey to recovery. There is NO chance that I would be where I am today if I didn’t have a team guide me (and basically hold my hand) during this transition.
- Establish a treatment plan before you start school: About a month before I headed back to school my team and I set up a treatment plan that was specific to my needs. The most crucial part of the plan was an ultimatum that was put into place, which was that if I did not follow the rules we set up and I faltered in any way than I would need to reconsider my role as a student, and probably reenroll in an intensive eating disorder program. My plan, specifically, focused heavily on maintaining contact with my team from home as well as building relationships with the services that the college offers. I had to speak weekly with my therapist (via Skype), I had to get weighed weekly as well as get my vitals checked at the health center, meet with a nutritionist (which was an epic fail…) and have the highest/most extensive meal plan. Having all of these eyes on me was overwhelming, but it forced me to be held accountable for my actions, good and/or bad, and created stability in an otherwise chaotic environment.
- Don’t be afraid to work with your school’s student health services: I know that opening up to even more people when you feel like you have told your story a thousand times over to those already helping you is daunting, but the more resources you have the better. I couldn’t have asked for a better ally in one of the nurse practitioners at my school and without her I wouldn’t be as far a long in my recovery as I am. Her willingness to listen and her desire to learn more about this disease, and how she could better help all her patients, made me feel secure as well as well taken care of. Since part of my treatment plan was to establish a direct relationship with the health center following through with that really made me feel stronger and safer because I knew I now had even more people on my side who genuinely cared/were rooting for me in my journey to recovery. Also, there is no shame in going to health services. I know that there are generally so many stigmas attached to issues of mental health, but you are doing what many other people are unwillingly to do…creating/working for a better you.
- Think about housing and meal plan options and how they will or won’t work for you: In regard to housing and meal plan options these two aspects of the college experience are where you need to be selfish in your recovery. It has to be less about what everyone else is doing because you know what, they most likely are not dealing with the same issues you are. So what, if living in a single is most conducive to your treatment plan? That doesn’t mean you are a loner or have no friends. What it means is that it is healthier for you to live alone because you have certain behaviors, as well as routines, that you need to follow to succeed in recovery. For me specifically I was terrified of living alone, but knew it was probably for the best because I had adjusted to a very “non-college” sleep plan while taking a year off. Let’s just say I went to bed at like 10:00pm and got up around 6:00am…total grandma status haha. But, getting solid sleep and feeling like I had my own space to retreat to when I felt anxious/overwhelmed made me a better and stronger person. And you know what? I still made plenty of new friends as well as cultivated my relationships with older ones 🙂
- Pick an exercise plan that’s right for you: For me this meant avoiding triggering exercises, like a certain running route, that I knew would bring up memories of when I was really sick. What I ended up doing in order to create a “healthy exercise plan” was setting up a routine that worked well with my class schedule, and also fell in line with the restrictions I had set up with my team. I’m a creature of habit so by establishing a routine that was at a time of the day that didn’t cause me stress and I actually looked forward to was great. It eventually became more of a mindful time and less about a compulsion that is driven by “burning calories.” I started exercising because I loved that time of the day that was all about me and not about sweating off all that I had ate.
- Talk to your parents: Honestly your parents are going to be really worried about you when you go back to school. So just keep them in the loop and be forward with them. You are an adult, but they will always be your parents and they want to know how you are doing, especially after all that you have been through. They want you to recover and thrive so just keep it real with them and don’t be afraid to tell the truth when you are struggling. Mom and dad are here to listen, love, and support you so let them do that! I spoke with my parents daily and was brutally honest with them. Did that cause them some stress? Absolutely. But did it bring us closer together, as well as enable them to see when I really needed their support? 100% yes. I couldn’t have done it without them.
I just can’t emphasize enough that honesty and constant contact with all members of your team, from your parents to your therapist and anyone else who is in your corner, is truly one of the best ways for you to move forward in your recovery. Keep it real by recognizing/sharing when you are struggling, but also by celebrating in your successes. Recovery is a roller coaster ride and is never easy so we must embrace our imperfections while still fighting for a healthier and happier self.
So, all of you lucky ladies and gentleman who are heading back to school in the next few weeks stay strong as well as focused and never stop telling yourself that it can, and will, get better.
(or hero) 😉
So, today for “Things I’m Loving Thursday” I’ve decided to only focus on one “Thing I’m Loving This Thursday.” Earlier this week I came across an article in the Huffington Post entitled, “What Recovery From An Eating Disorder Is Really Like” by Noreena Sondhi Lewis. I am hugely grateful for this piece and Ms. Lewis really hit the nail on the head in describing the hardships ED sufferers face once they’ve chosen recovery. Deciding to let go of this disease is not all roses and daisies, but an extremely daunting journey filled with highs and lows.
I hope all of you will take a minute to read this article, which will help you better understand how eating disorders are mental health issues and have nothing to do with vanity.
Also I encourage all you to remember that recovery is a long and challenging process that can’t be rushed. So, whether you are suffering, or you are supporting someone with this disease, just try to be patient and recognize that even though it’s taking WAY longer than you’d like, happiness and a healthy life are attainable.
I stumbled across this image the other day on Project Heal’s (an amazing Eating Disorder Awareness Organization) Facebook page, and I found it really resonated with my own struggle. I’ve learned that those suffering from disordered eating rarely fall under one category, whether that be anorectic, bulimic, etc. and we all, for the most part have a whole hodge podge of varying unhealthy behaviors that we have normalized. I know, personally, through my own experience I exhibited behaviors that probably fall most closely under the diagnosis of anorexic, but there was one key symptom that I never possessed, and that was being underweight. Did I weigh less than my body type probably should…yeah, but I still never fell into the “dangerously low weight realm” according to bmi calculations and the average weight physicians associate to my height. This fact totally screwed with my own perception of the disease and for months, even after being diagnosed with a severe ED, I couldn’t believe that was what was wrong with me. I just never thought that I looked the part, and honestly many people to this day reinforce this insecurity of mine by saying, “well you never looked THAT thin…”
So, long story short, and over a year of therapy and treatment later, I now know that eating disorders are much less about your physical appearance and much more about your mental state. No matter how thin I got I was never going to be satisfied with my appearance and that is an issue of mental health. My behaviors, not my weight, highlighted the seriousness of my disorder and I see that even more now that I have gained back some of the weight. Realizing that eating disorders are issues of mental health and mindsets is a fact that I am slowly coming to terms with. Some days are obviously easier than others, but I just need to keep fighting and working to make my mind healthier and stronger. Everyday is a struggle, but I’m not giving up anytime soon even when I am beyond unhappy with myself, which unfortunately has been more often than not these days…I know that the only way to cure this is to continue with therapy and to keep positive.
I know that I can do this, but I also truly appreciate the support, guidance and love of others. Sometimes I feel lonely in my journey so just knowing that I have people in my corner, especially those of you who follow my blog, truly means the world to me. So I am continuing to fight and I hope everyone who relates to my story will do the same. Lets stay strong and know that we CAN recover.
- “All About That Bass” – Meghan Trainor: I encourage every women out there to listen to this top song and take in the message from Meghan Trainor. She is a beautiful and inspirational young lady. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her and the strides that she will hopefully make in an industry that promotes unrealistic/unhealthy body images.
- LF Style Closet – The amazing personal stylist, Lindsey Foley, recently started LF Stlye Closet via Facebook. This group, which is basically a virtual consignment shop allows individuals to buy and sell high end clothes, shoes, bags etc. It’s such a great way to get rid of those lightly worn pieces you no longer need and also helps you find great items at discounted prices. Such a fantastic idea!
- Dainty Gold Necklaces – I know, I know, i’ve said it over 100 times, but I am a sucker for jewelry and dainty gold necklaces are probably my all time most loved pieces. I’ve always been a gold girl 🙂 I think it works best with my coloring and it also doesn’t tarnish! Here are a few of my favorites necklaces that I wear all the time:
The monogrammed necklace was a gift from my lovely mom and the elephant is from dogeared
Tiffany rose gold diamond and anchor necklace by Isabel Harvey
- #icebucketchallenge #strikeoutals #teamfratetrain – For those of you who don’t know what the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for ALS is, you’ve honestly probably been living under a rock haha :), but in all seriousness this is a fantastic cause. It’s truly amazing how the challenge has spread like wildfire. Everyone from athletes, entertainers and your parents are participating in it and showing their support. Pete and Julie Frates you guys are so inspirational and all that you’ve done to raise awareness is beyond words. For all of you guys who want to do something more than pour ice on yourself donate to the “Pete Frates #3 Fund.”