Being “Pseudo Recovered” Still Requires Hard Work

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Yesterday I came across this poem that really put into words many of the feelings that have consumed me since I left treatment close to two years ago. I know that I am on the path to recovery from my eating disorder and that I TRULY want to be better, but there are parts of me that ache all the time. I hurt because I am constantly fighting against a disease that is so deeply embedded inside of me, as well as society, that wherever I turn I am reminded of it. From breakfast, to lunch, to dinner… it plagues me. I mean who can say that food makes them “anxious” without feeling somewhat ostracized? Food is nourishment and is an integral part of sustaining a healthy mind/body, but honestly since it’s been my worst enemy for so long I am having a difficult time transitioning back to a normal relationship with it.

I recognize that most people will never understand me, and I wouldn’t wish upon anyone the painful task of spending 5 minutes inside of my head, but I can’t help, but be grateful for the poem above. It reassures me that I am not alone and that it’s okay that I’m still fighting even though I’ve been dealing with this disease for a few years now… It’s a marathon, not a sprint (so cliche I know), but the greatest things in life take time and I WILL be better in the long run.

I truly hope that this poem helps some of you as well. I know that it hurts, but we just have to keep fighting. Happy Tuesday 🙂

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Let’s Stop “Shaming” Once & For All.

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Being overwhelmed, and even debilitated, by guilt is how I often describe what it feels like to have an eating disorder. I’m my own harshest critic and when I was fully engrossed by my ED guilt consumed my every thought. From disappointing my loved ones, to not exercising enough, to eating too much or even the “wrong thing”… I always blamed myself and felt, what I thought was, outright guilty. I never really understood why this emotion was such a dominant part of my life, but I came across a very interesting article the other day that is helping me to comprehend where this emotion emerged from and… more specifically that I wasn’t actually an individual filled with guilt all of these years, but one consumed by shame 😦

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“Shame In Today’s Society: What It Means, And Why It Absolutely Needs To Stop” by Stephanie Castillo for Medical Daily highlights how our culture has become one that is obsessed with “shaming.” Castillo argues that we must put an end to this behavior immediately. One of the most eye opening parts of this article, for me based on my own personal emotions, is when Castillo distinguishes the difference between guilt and shame. After reading her piece I finally understood that I wasn’t simply engrossed by guilt while in my ED, but I was consumed by a feeling significantly more powerful and damaging : shame. In order to clarify the difference between shame and guilt Castillo references June Tangney, author of Shame in the Therapy Hour, who has found that when a person feels guilty they, they say, “I did a bad thing.” When they feel shame, they say, “I am a bad person for having done that.”

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Holy shit was that eye opening for me. From now on I will never define my emotions as guilty ones because they are in fact those of shame. My ED thoughts correlate directly with our society’s need to shame one another based on being “too thin,” “too fat,” “too slutty,” “too prude” etc. and as a result of this I have been relentlessly “fat shaming” myself for the past couple of years. From “fat shaming” to “thin shaming” NO ONE deserves to feel defective, impaired, or wounded, which shame will always cause…and which I can truly testify to…we all just need to

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The antidote, according to Brene Brown, a renowned shame researcher is empathy. “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment,” she said. “If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we’re [struggling]: me too.”

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Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State in Los Angeles added: “The changes we need to see are more realistic media images, [starting to] value women for their minds and accomplishments, and raise public awareness of these eating disorders, and their depth and impact. Change can begin one woman at a time. And instead of shaming each other, we can support ourselves instead.”

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So, ladies and gentleman as someone who has felt shameful because of their eating disorder, body dysmorphia and anxiety for FAR TOO LONG I too am calling for an end to “shaming.” We all have enough to deal with emotionally, socially, mentally and physically so why should we make others feel badly about themselves? The answer is simple…we shouldn’t. Just because our society has become a mean one where it is ok, and even normal, to comment on women’s bodies doesn’t mean that we should continue practicing this behavior.

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From this day forward I encourage all of you to join me in pledging to stop spreading shame by looking inward and attempting to find empathy for others. We must remember that we are not alone even at our lowest points. I truly hope that since I am honest and open about my own struggles than others may relate to my story and realize that no one deserves to feel shame. This will be a challenge and change won’t happen in a day, but I believe in you all and I know that together we can make a difference, so let’s do it 😉

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Cheers to you Mr. De La Renta

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Yesterday we lost a true fashion icon with the passing of Mr. Oscar De La Renta. His memory, however, will forever live on through all of his fabulous creations and he will never be forgotten. In honor of Mr. De La Renta I’ve compiled some of my favorite looks of his, as well as a few quotes, for you all to enjoy! Happy humpday and I hope that these images inspire you.

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Back To School Time…For The Lucky Ones :)

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.

 

  1. Establish a treatment plan before you start school: 358d3dd03858c46245b2b55eff15823c 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.
  2. Don’t be afraid to work with your school’s student health services: b713793c031d592315858b775b38bc45 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.
  3. Think about housing and meal plan options and how they will or won’t work for you: cbc28f0257697a2e63e5ddd2bcd21390 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 🙂
  4. Pick an exercise plan that’s right for you: c1ca4032b8788ccb091b0f9ac6c9dfc8 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.
  5. Talk to your parents: b4e996eeec67a22bfb27b936e445bded 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.

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(or hero) 😉

One Thing I’m Loving This Thursday

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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.

 

 

Happy Monday :)

Mondays, especially during the summer, are rough for many of us because the weekend (aka freedom from our work/school responsibilities) seems so far off. In an attempt to combat the Monday blues I thought I’d share with all of you some images that make me smile, laugh and forget that there are 5 work days before the weekend. Hopefully they will also help you chug along throughout your week! I mean who doesn’t love some pick me ups to start the week fresh 😉

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Why Be Stuck in the Past When You Can Live in the Present?

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Throughout this year I’ve discovered that it’s vital not to harp on why things ended. Instead, I must focus all of my energy on living in the present and becoming a better and stronger versions of myself. Yes, the past is part of who I am today, but I am choosing to use it as a place of reference from which I’ve learned from my mistakes, as well as successes. It’s time for me, therefore, and I encourage you all as well, to take these prior experiences and implement them positively into your present life. I truly believe that everything from this point forward will aid me in my journey of becoming a happier and healthier friend, sister, daughter, etc.

 So, there is no need to stress about why things played out the way in which they did because we can’t go back and change them. We can only learn from our prior experiences as well as our mistakes and make our current life situations the best they can be by taking what we’ve learned from our slip ups, backslides, poor choices, etc and not letting them get the best of us.

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Friday the 13th AND a Full Moon…Oh My!

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Today is definitely one for the books. Not only is it Friday the 13th, but it is also a full moon! Every single part of my being is telling me that I should just stay home and let the day pass, but I know that is not an option. I mean I can’t just stop living my life because of some crazy cosmic forces…right?

For as long as I can remember I have always associated a full moon with a bout of “the crazies” thus it makes sense that I’d be a little uneasy when it coincides with Friday the 13th, which is a notoriously unlucky day. So, the true nerd within me decided to do a little research and actually found that, according to AstroStyle, my personal source for horoscopes, that there are “9 Ways to Soar at the Sagittarius Full Moon.” Who’d a thunk? Check out the link for yourselves and you will see that today’s Sagittarius full moon actually seems like it’s going to be pretty awesome day. According to astrology.com: “When the Moon goes Full in the sign of roam-if-you-want-to Sagittarius on June 12, the desire to expand our horizons becomes an all-consuming obsession. Sagittarius encourages us to aim higher and to pursue only the best and the brightest. There is a contagious optimism to the mutable and fiery energy of Sagittarius.” Therefore we should:

20340030d2633a57b9b5f5b69273e7b1After coming across this I’ve decided to try and fully embrace today and push my anxieties about full moons and Friday the 13th to the side. Hopefully the stars are aligned for me and I take full advantage of this unique forecast 🙂 Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

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Some Much Needed Words of Wisdom

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Last evening I was checking out Pinterest, which I admit I do an embarrassing number of times in a day, and I fatefully stumbled upon this great quote: “Kind Heart. Fierce Mind. Brave Spirit.” This simple phrase was exactly what I needed to help lift me up from the depressing mood that has consumed me over the last few days. I’ve honestly just been feeling kind of blehh, for lack of a better word, and not in sync with myself. As I mentioned previously adjusting to change is a huge struggle of mine and this particular go at it has not been easy. However, even though I’ve been in this kind of dark mood for a few days I know it is only temporary and I just have to refocus and remember that I have a kind heart, a fierce mind, and a brave spirit so I can do anything that I set my mind to, including getting out of this funk. Better days are on the horizon, I am sure, and I am looking forward to the summer and all the smiling I will be doing in the future. So, happy Tuesday everyone and I encourage you all to stay strong and to find your own mantra that will help you if you are struggling greatly or if you just need a little pick me up 🙂

I’m no good with change…

Hey guys,

I wanted to take a minute to explain my lack of posting over the past few weeks. Yes, I did graduate almost two weeks ago and I couldn’t be more proud of myself, but I am also dealing with some issues surrounding this great change in my life, which have left me overwhelmed and, in all honesty, mentally drained. As those of you who follow my blog know I HATE CHANGE and graduating from college is a huge one so it makes sense that I’ve been a little depressed during my first week home. I’m slowly adjusting to life after Bowdoin, but it’s going to take some time. The best thing I can do for myself now is to set up a routine and incorporate things that I love, and that make me happy, into my daily life.

Also, it is crucial that I don’t allow my ultimate goal of recovery fall to the wayside and therefore I must continue to make it a priority, which has been harder than I anticipated. I still have to fight against falling back into certain unhealthy behaviors. I now recognize that every time I change my environment my meal schedules also are altered so I need to figure out first and foremost how to balance everything around nourishing myself. So I am going to remind myself that balance is key and I know that I WILL find it eventually…Hopefully sooner than later though 😉

In an effort to start on the right foot I thought that I would share a few things that I hope to implement into my daily routine that will help lift my spirits and continue to aid me in my recovery!

1. I LOVE to start my day doing something active whether that be taking a spin class at Burn or walking Brewster, but I also know that for me, personally, exercise has to be done in moderation so it is important that I balance between intense workouts and mindful activities.

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Both mentally and physically 😉

2. Coffee, blogging and breakfast time!

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3. The early afternoon is always a tough time of day for me so I’ve decided that during this lull in my day I will focus on catching up with friends, running errands, doing housework, or maybe even soaking up some of the summer sun!

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4. I’m fortunate to have an afternoon job at an adorable boutique in town called Seaside Allure. So work is always something I can look forward to throughout my day.

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5. After work I like to go to dinner or just spend time with my friends and family. Even though there aren’t too many people around these days that’s ok because I can focus my energies on those who I truly care about.

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Although this is just a start I think that’s it’s better than nothing and hopefully it will help me readjust to life at home. However, I plan to broaden my daily ventures over time and am looking forward to what is to come. I just have to get over the initial hump of adjusting to change. Wish me luck!