Posted in anorexia, binge eating disorder, Body Image, Bulimia, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Recovery, Renfrew, Social Media

What Kind Of Eating Disorder Do You Have?

Theres a huge lack of awareness around eating disorders. I do see a shift, however, happening in the media. Celebrating all body types has been a wonderful, much-needed new fad (hopefully one that sticks around).

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Even some professionals lack awareness.

Ideally, all doctors/counselors should be educated on eating disorders, but I understand that they have a heavy caseload: dealing with limitless medical issues.

However, specialist in the field have no excuse, and one should not say they “specialize,” unless they have adequate knowledge and experience.

It takes years to become a specialist and you are directly affecting the lives of those suffering from the mental illness. That is a lot of pressure and I admire the individuals who choose to pursue it.

They know how fragile and complicated eating disorders are. They encourage and challenge, and they put up with a lot. They seem to also be constantly learning from patients and evolving themselves as therapists.

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(To make a shout out, my life has been forever changed by the professionals at both Mount Laurel Renfrew and Ridgewood Renfrew.)


However, there is one person that did not have such a wonderful impact on me. A professional in treatment that was constantly lecturing and not listening to the very crucial things—we as patients—needed to say.

When the other therapists and counselors walked into a session, I felt as though they were sitting with us. This particular woman seemed to sit above us, looking down at her ‘specimen.’

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No matter how educated a person is, they cannot possibly understand the ins and outs of an eating disorder unless they have experienced it themselves OR are open to continuously learning from those directly affected—which she wasn’t.

During one of her spiels, she listed symptoms of our eating disorders. As she said “binge” she pointed to the heaviest girl in the room. I saw my friend’s face fill with embarrassment as she realized the therapist was pointing to her. The therapist then mentioned “resticting,” and her finger went to the tiniest person in the room.

Needless to say, this seemingly innocent action followed my friend out the door, as she cried to me in the parking lot. And I’m sure it followed her into the next day as she chose what to (or to not) eat.

That therapists enhanced her feelings of inadequacy. She also validated the impulse to compare herself to others. And she was unknowingly supporting the restrictive mindset. “You aren’t good enough, unless you restrict. And you’re absolutely worthless, unless you LOOK like you’re restricting.”

I wish I was in charge that day, I would have blindfolded everyone, INCLUDING the therapist. Then I’d have everyone list the complex thoughts we have around food. No one would been able to tell who said what. A body type does not define what kinds of urges you have or the symptoms you use. 

Blind-folded, we would have all admitted to skipping meals because we didn’t think our bodies NEEDED or DESERVED any more food. We would have all agreed that food is the predominant thought in a day. I’m sure all of us have either experienced vigorous exercising, taking laxatives or attempting to throw up because we couldn’t stop thinking about the calories we consumed. And I know none of us feel completely comfortable eating in public–fearing judgment from others.

No eating disorder can escape restrictive behaviors.. We all feel the same self-loathing shame that comes from eating.. And most eating disorders involve purging, which is not  always in the form of vomiting (as we were taught to associate with bulimia).

I am very transparent with my eating disorder. This doesn’t mean I lack embarrassment with all the thoughts and behaviors I share. I am actually highly self-conscious about the things I’ve exposed. But I choose this way of life for a reason. I can’t complain about ignorance, while doing nothing about it.

A common question I get upon revealing that I have/had an eating disorder

(I still have no idea if I consider myself “recovered” or ”in recovery,” that’s a question for another day)977dada99a6acfbc50670fed98b01163

..But everyone wants to know: what kind of eating disorder I have.

People are very kind and always include, “if you don’t mind me asking.”

I absolutely don’t mind discussing anything eating disorder related. If a question is triggering, I would actually like to answer it and let the inquirer know WHY it is so triggering. Or why, perhaps, some others wouldn’t want to talk about it.

I was formally diagnosed by a psychiatrist at 18 years old. I went to him because I wanted to stop binging and purging. He diagnosed me with bulimia. 

It wasn’t until later that I realized I had also experienced “anorexia,” in the years prior to that diagnosis.

My junior year of high school, I started dieting with the intention of getting “bullies” off my back.

I wanted to feel better about myself and I didn’t want them to have a reason to make fun of my body. 

I counted calories, fasted occasionally and weaved out any “unhealthy” foods I read about. This continued for a while–waaaaay before I binged and purged the first time.

My eating habits were viewed as “normal” by most in high school. (To this day, I see other people engaging in these habits. I don’t have all the answers, and I often wonder: do they have an undiagnosed eating disorder or are they simply missing that addictive gene that I unfortunately have?)

Many of my close friends and family have apologized for not catching onto my eating disorder at that period in time; acknowledging now, that it was disordered.

None of my thoughts/urges or behaviors were actually labeled as disordered—until I made myself throw up.

“Binging and Purging” are the actions that solidified a problem. Now, suddenly, my so-called dieting was labeled as restricting. Because no one can turn a blind eye to self-induced vomiting.

I learned about the negative side-effects of ‘not eating,’ so I slowly replaced my goal of ‘restricing’ with ‘clean’ eating. All of my therapists supported this mentality shift.

Obviously, they were not specialists.

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For that reason, I understand why none of them were able to point out how helplessly I clung to a restrictive mindset.

I still counted calories, even if my goal wasn’t to eat as little as possible. I occasionally replaced meals with bars and smoothies. I only ate organic and non-gmo foods. I needed the control of knowing every ingredient going into my body. And I exercised much more often to compensate for the increased intake. 

I also lived somewhat of a double life: the foods I ate in secret during a binge and purge episode. And the everyday foods I ate when I was “being good.” I loved myself when I was working out and I loathed myself if I didn’t have the energy for it. My thoughts were so vastly different depending on which version of myself was in control. 

That stage lasted for 3 years (until I entered treatment).

Knowing what I know now, the proper therapist would have explained how I was merely finding loopholes in the ‘anorexic’ and ‘bulimic’ illnesses I learned about. My eating disorder was still in full control.

And since I was not seeing a specialist, no one was catching on to these new, sneaky methods. 

These behaviors are most commonly known as orthorexia.

However, treatment taught me that the diagnosis doesn’t matter. It is an irrelevant, outdated, and often inaccurate category to place us in.

It has taken many years to put an end to the self-induced vomiting. I live with health issues that can make my urges feel unbearable. Things such as acid reflux and a slow digestive track add to the difficulty of keeping down my food. But I can never use those obstacles as an excuse to purge.

I am very proud of my progress. However, without purging, I’m sometimes left sitting with the embarrassment and discomfort of binging. 

Binging has been the last symptom to leave me. And sometimes I feel it’s the most shameful. It’s wrongfully associated with lack of discipline. And I think most of us have heard the VERY ignorant and appalling comment: “I wish I could throw up after eating all that.” 

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Which leaves someone in recovery wondering, “why on earth would I stop myself now that I’ve binged.. even if it does mean i’m going backwards..”

So now, for me, is the most accurate diagnosis binge-eating disorder?

I don’t want another label. Another diagnosis. Yet another phase of my eating disorder.

But the only way out is through. 

Do you see the problem with grouping eating disorders into 3 or 4 various categories?

All eating disorders overlap. There is no prototype. There is no specific code of symptoms that each type of diagnosis engages in. We have ALL been there.

Walk into a treatment center and look around. Most “anorexic” women/men will not show the body type of the actress in “To the Bone.” 

Painstakingly OBVIOUS (as the media portrays it) ^

Tell me, is it really that obvious?..^

(Sidenote: I am not against the movie, To The Bone. I support the idea of spreading awareness, but they DID indulge a pretty bad stereotype during casting).

The diagnosis is irrelevant. Even the symptoms themselves aren’t a priority. Dig up the emotions. Find the solution.

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Posted in anorexia, binge eating disorder, Body Image, Body Positive, Bulimia, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Recovery, Self-love, Social Media, Writing

Eating Disorder Declarations

Today I reflected on the disordered declarations I used to make every morning while in my eating disorder.

I would spend hours scrolling through fitness instagrams. Updating myself on the latest health trends, finding exercise gurus to follow, and pinning vegetarian recipes.

I would go to sleep with all this newly-found inspiration on how to be thin and active.

It felt exhilarating to create a flawless routine for myself. Thinking: “this time it will work. If I follow this plan, I will never have another unhealthy craving. And I will never want to stop exercising.”

Oftentimes, I fell short of my goal. My motivation to work out would inevitably dwindle, and I’d eat things that caused severe guilt.

I failed yet again. Somehow all these beautiful women I read about could do it, but I wasn’t good enough to keep up.

My personal eating disorder often included binge/purge cycles that crept in about a week after I implemented my strict diet and exercise regimens. And I aways wondered, with such intense self-loathing, how could I allow myself to get to this point, again? What am I doing wrong?

“I just have to try harder,” I would think, as I scrolled though more Pinterest pages and found new ideas on how to tighten the reigns on myself.

I’d spend a long time reading and pulling tidbits from everywhere: what women ate, how they exercised, how much water they drank, how they kept their motivation.

Another night’s sleep would pass in anticipation that… “tomorrow I’ll be good.” and “this is the last time I’ll have to start over.”

Years later, in an eating disorder treatment facility, one of the first steps I took was deleting all accounts that fueled my desire to be thin and fit. I could not allow myself to look at anything that made me feel as though image was ‘all-important.’ This even meant unfollowing certain friends. I made a conscious effort, which was very difficult, to not indulge in the health/fitness and diet culture. I had to be really serious about it.

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Two years later, I hold true to this. However, I still see fitness models and seemingly flawless women all around me. I do not seek them out, but it is truly unavoidable (especially with social media.)Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 3.00.55 PM

I do not speak about it, but I overhear conversations pertaining to the subject. How people plan to lose weight. I hear many people confidently boast about their work out routines, and others “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” at their “dedication.”

I know the truth: coming up with ways to change my body is an absolute waste of my energy and time. I am a better person when I am not trying to be like others. I am proud that I want to obsess over the beautiful/unique aspects of myself, and not pick apart my flaws. My core belief is that self-love is all-important.

But that doesn’t change how hard it is to deal with the fitspo pictures that pop up and conversations surrounding food and body.

When ‘Jill’ talks about how many miles she ran today: I hear the remanence of my eating disorder telling me how flabby I’ve become since I stopped putting so much energy into working out.

When my eyes graze the cover of Women’s Health and I see that another actress dropped ten pounds and gained lean muscle, I wonder: why the hell would I give up focusing on what I’m eating everyday.

I noticed today that my declarations, although lessened, have not stopped completely. They are not as loud and intentional, but they do remain in the back of my head. It’s the little voice that says: “maybe I’ll just give up my mac and cheese.” IMG_8912

or “I have to start using my pull-up bar again.” or “no more desserts for the next two weeks.”

I made a couple of these subtle declarations in therapy.

My therapist stopped me. She reminded me that focusing on food is my way of regaining control in some area of my life. And although my eating disorder isn’t as obnoxious as it once was, it’s still successfully convincing me that I have an inadequate body and I need to change.

If that little voice starts to plan anything related to food or fitness, shift my thoughts and start planing other things: such as what do to with my free time. Start imagining the canvas I plan on painting when I get home from work. Or what facial mask I’ll wear while I pick out a color to paint my nails.

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Declarations aren’t quite as bad as I once thought they were.

I can still wake up exhilarated to start or continue something. But, let your declarations be constructive and worthy of your time. Let them be soulful and artistic. 

Look forward to your current life, do not plan on changing yourself.

“I declare that I will use my experiences to write more” …

Posted in Anxiety, binge eating disorder, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, mental health, Orthorexia, Recovery, Self-acceptance, Social Media

“Wow, I’m Not the Only One”

I had another rough day yesterday. Good things happened, I snuggled a toddler. I laughed with my co-worker. I went to therapy and I bonded with my sister.

But my overall feelings toward the day were exhaustion and slightly annoyed.

I wanted to write, I also wanted to do pilates. But, I was too tired by the time I got home-after a 13 hour day filled with screaming toddlers and not very nice people.

I was happy to curl up in bed and looked forward to falling asleep to My Little Ponies.

Shit, I left the remote in the bathroom. I was not getting back up to get it.

I covered myself with the blankets and decided to scroll through my phone.

I have a personal Instagram account and a recovery account. The recovery account is always used for good—I follow inspirational badasses that post about body love and all that good stuff.

The personal account I hate admitting—but can be used for evil. I don’t mean it! In fact, one of my goals when I first started recovery was to unfollow anyone who didn’t make me feel good about myself. This involved people that post constant diet/body posts; people that talk badly of themselves or others. And  those people that tend to obsess over making their internet lives seem perfect and flawless—not to call anybody out but you know the ones. They make an identity out of their insta-popularity, and want to see how many likes they can get on a new photo of their flawlessly positioned squat.

More power to those people for all the beautiful selfies—but your posts sometimes make me feel shitty about my humanly cellulite ass so I don’t want to look at them.

Anyway, I was scrolling through my personal account and I saw a photo of my friend working out. (These pictures usually don’t bother me, because the friends I follow aren’t disordered: they don’t crowd their pages with these posts, and they don’t make an identity out of it.)

But last night the photo I was looking at triggered me. Mostly because (and I hate admitting this, too) but she experienced an eating disorder as well, and I felt like she was winning. Winning what? God, I don’t know. Can she really have recovery and work out as much as her instagram shows?

God, it really triggered me. I missed the high I used to get when I was back on a workout binge. The lightness I’d feel as long as I was eating only low cal and “good foods.”

I kept scrolling through her page.

Then I started clicking on some other pages: I saw bodies upon bodies of perfectly sculpted humans. Working out, accomplished, smiling, flexing: shit that I clearly am not in this m moment.

I, on the other hand, was drained, feeling bloated from ice cream (that I wasn’t feeling guilty about till this very moment), feeling full. And feeling ashamed of my “recovery body.”

I texted my boyfriend the words that ED was whispering in my ear “fat, lazy, shame, guilt, over-eater, emotional, girly, embarrassing, failure, ugly”

Luckily, I am recovered enough to hear my own voice, as well. And I texted those emotions, too. 

I, Tasha, felt: pride—that I listened to my body tonight and laid down instead of forcing a workout after a long day.

Relief—that I don’t have any urges and that I don’t remember the last time I body checked because my goal is no longer to manipulate my body.

And anger—towards this instagram that claimed recovery but mostly shows photos of working out and ED’s old list of “good foods.”

That is not what recovery means to me.

I know I gave into ED last night and looked at a lot of glamorous photos of women. 

And I shouldn’t judge whether they are healthy or not.

I know that the part of me getting angry at the damn internet is the part of me that doesn’t love myself. It should not bother me what other people do. Or how other people choose to show recovery.

Maybe I can add more to this article another day, and finish it on a more positive note. But for now, I’ll end it like this. And I do apologize if there’s anyone I offended. But, lord I hope that I can touch someone that stalks those beautiful, flawless people, those flexed abs and happy faces after their killer workout—I hope you read this and take my advice. Stop looking. I don’t really think recovery should be like that, and don’t feel bad if yours isn’t. My recovery is a fucking hot mess. What do I beleive? That there is always something missing on those accounts. Something about their mind, body or life that they don’t want us to see.

By revealing my shitty, embarrasing, not so pretty parts of recovery, it’s the only way I can help other fighters say: “wow, I’m not the only one.”

Posted in anorexia, Anxiety, binge eating disorder, Body Positive, Bulimia, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, mental health, Orthorexia, Recovery, Self-acceptance, Self-talk, stress, treatment

Feeling Light

Yesterday I woke up feeling happy.  I literally had zero anxieties. It was strange. My brain didn’t know what to do.

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So here’s a little back story:

I had quite a stressful week. Screen Shot 2016-09-18 at 2.26.57 PM.png

I had gotten violently ill and had to deal with incorporating food back into my life after almost 48 hours of eating and drinking the bare minimum. This is an extremely difficult task for someone with an eating disorder.  Being sick has a psychological effect of wanting to continue to restrict even if the restriction began without your consent. Furthermore, I had to go from Work to Renfrew (16.5 hour days with lots of driving). I made the decision to bail on Renfrew one day which causes me anxiety because I really want to be dependable, but I was putting my mental state first (which typically causes guilt) and I was just too exhausted. I also had to deal with  heightening drama, a boss who put an extra load of work on me, and being taken advantage of by co-workers.

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Thursday I was able to work through it at Renfrew.

At first, I was having a hard time in my therapists office because I did not want my anger to linger. I felt as though I needed a change in attitude before it devoured me.

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I would justify everything as I vented. I’d explain the unfair situation and then say, “But it’s okay because…”

My therapist told me to stop rationalizing it and to trust what I was saying. She told me to get the emotions out without judging them. I rebuttaled:

“I do not want to feed my anger. I don’t like the person I am when I’m going on and on about other people or life being unfair.”

She explained that this was part of the eating disorder. By not talking about it, I am shoving my emotions down and smoothing them over (get it—a direct correlation to what I do with food when I get out of work).

She told me to stick with talking about the reasons why it is unfair.

By removing the judgements (the “buts” and rationalization), I was I able to realize that I can talk about my emotions without being consumed by them. It is therapeutic to spill the emotions out and not just leave them bottled up. I need to either vent to a support or journal in order to recognize why I shouldn’t be treated this way.

Furthermore, it gives me the ability to find a solution. After getting everything out on the table, I can now look at the positives. 

Initially, this situation didn’t seem to have a solution which is probably another reason why I tried to cover my emotions up and “just deal with it.” 

I want to be compliant, I want to be kind, I want to be able to handle what others throw at me. However, I also want to work to the best of my ability. If I am being taken advantage of, it is not unkind to state the facts and express reasons why I have to say no. 

I felt amazing. Venting lifted the world off my shoulders. Being non-judgmental allowed me to forgive myself. And removing the rationalizations eventually gave me solutions.

I continued my day. I was able to be honest with loved ones about my day without crucifying myself for my emotions.

I couldn’t wait for the weekend. I wanted to wake up without any obligations. I wanted sleeeep! 

But a complete worry-free Saturday morning? I have to be honest: when I wake up without any worries, sometimes my brain makes up an irrational one:

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“My boyfriend’s going to break up with me.” “My mom is going to get sick.” “So and so doesn’t like me.” And then I mentally whip out my Renfrew worksheets. “What evidence do I have to support this?” “If this is true, how will I handle it?” It’s a lot of work calming anxieties. 

But I had none. A thought even crossed my mind: “aren’t we worried Rob is going to break up with us…” (ED said)

“No.” I answered.

“Well aren’t you unhappy with your body?” (ED said)

“No, I’m really not. No faking today, I really do like it.” I said.

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I got ready and went to Renfrew. Suddenly, in my euphoric moment I realized I didn’t necessarily want to eat. I was feeling afraid of food, like it might ruin my worry-free attitude. Despite the fact that I’ve had no issues with binging and restricing all week.

At Renfrew a memory came up and I went with it…

I was 17 and at the beginning stages of my eating disorder. This particular boy may not remember saying these words; he may not remember the way he looked at me; but 8 years later–the memory was clear as day.

A few friends were gathered around a fire drinking in the woods. I was carefree and laughing, having a great time and feeling good. On the walk out, I jumped on another boy’s back for a ride. The other one was not amused. He seemed offended as he watched my actions unfold throughout the night. Finally, he lashed out. For no obvious reason, he called me superficial. There had been no talk of image or weight during our entire night so I was very confused. He added to this by bitterly saying I was ‘conceited’ and blamed it my body.

(Many people experience their bodies being a spectacle for peers. This boy considered me “thin.” I’d lost weight after being bullied years earlier for being called “fat” by another boy. Don’t you just wish body shaming of all kind would vanish. It clearly has an effect on all ages especially susceptible adolescent minds.)

I was devastated. I shut down. I tried to continue my good time but it was completely forced. I felt really guilty for being happy with my body.screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-2-51-37-pm

My ‘happiness’ had been labeled ‘conceit’ and according to this boy, my ‘carefree’ attitude was only because I was ‘skinny.’

There are no such things as coincidences. I have been working hard on self-acceptance for many years, and this memory popped into my mind for a reason.

I allowed it to resonate and shared the incident with the supports around me.

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I did not manipulate my body to achieve happiness today, but I due to old beliefs, I thought food would ruin my ephoria. I am demeaning myself because being completely content may make others look angrily upon me. Therefore, I can only be content as long as I have an underlying struggle with my weight

I feel uneasy over loving myself.

Is it all because of this one incident? No. But this boy clearly had the same beliefs as ED. And since ED was just beginning to take control of me at that time, that boy validated EDs lies. Lies that were buried deep in my skull until I had the proper education, coping skills and support to dig them up and plant new ones.

Luckily, we had art next and I furiously journaled:

…”you’re only happy because your skinny.” How can this be true? I had cake, cookies, and pizza this week!

I want to exercise to keep this feeling? But I didn’t exercise at all in order to achieve this feeling…

I haven’t restricted so why do I feel guilty for being happy with my body? Do I actually feel guilty that I haven’t been bingeing?

Do I not deserve to feel “skinny?” Because I have an ED? I don’t know if ED even considers this skinny, I’m just at  peace with my body?

I hate the way that boy looked at me–like I don’t deserve to be happy. I don’t know if I’m actually working through anything or making any sense, but I hope that writing this down is freeing myself of it…

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Happiness is not related to thinness, no matter how many people may hold that belief.

ED gave me a high every time I was happy with my body. But that high was fleeting. It was due to over exercising and restriction.

And I’ve proven many times in recovery that I can experience happiness without focusing on my body or the mirror.

Today’s euphoria was not due to manipulating food or exercising. It was the real thing.

It was due to feelings of adequacy. Feelings of pride that I took care of myself this week. Feelings of contentment for life and love from my boyfriend. It was due to appreciating my kindness both for others and for myself. And my new super-power: venting and finding a solution!

…I was confusing feeling “thin” and feeling “light.”

My ED likes to misinterpret “lightness” as a physical sensation. And often tricks me into restricting and exercising in order to feel “light.” That is why it is a fake euphoria.

I know now that feeling light is a mental state. And food does not affect its ability to come and go…

This feeling will inevitably pass, as do all feelings. But, now I can enjoy it as it comes and not fear losing it because of actions or thoughts associated with food or body.

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Being content with oneself is not conceit. It is kindness and we all need to appreciate it when it comes.

Being care-free is a blessing. There are too many worries in life, and when they seem to dissipate for one beautiful Saturday, smile and go about your day, in hopes of it lasting forever. But also knowing, that if it leaves, it will soon return as long as you take care of yourself.

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