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, Body Image, Bulimia, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Orthorexia, Recovery, Self-acceptance, Self-love, Social Media, vision board

The Dreaded “Tagged” Photo

I preach about self-love.

But let me just say–right now I’m having a very hard time accessing that part of my brain.

So, to begin I’ll let you know my rule when taking pictures: either don’t take them at all, or be prepared to take about twenty until I find one I am comfortable with.

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I want to love my body, whole-heartedly, I really do. But, having body dimorphic disorder challenges that ideal constantly. Generally speaking, I am doing a great job working towards my goal though.

I have a meal-plan, guidelines about what to eat and why. And I am learning more and more about intuitive eating. I try to listen to, and not judge, my cravings and hunger cues.

I am damn proud of all that. I like that I am no longer afraid of bagels in the morning. I love that I can have dessert during celebrations. And I absolutely relish the fact that I never read the nutritional facts of ANYTHING I eat anymore. I look at the ceiling when the doctor weighs me. And I am making great strides in ED urges–haven’t had a lapse in a while. I should be a bundle of positivity and righteousness. Everything has been going splendidly, right? I should have my socks and shoes off and be chanting in front of a mirror about peace and self-love.

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ENTER: FACEBOOK.

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Omg. I look disgusting.

I thought about the night that photo was taken. I was so naive. Seriously, how pathetic? My arm looks fat. My checks are so chubby. Ugh.

I mean, maybe others thought I liked nice. People were talking to me a lot. The important part is that I danced and laughed the entire night—

**looks at picture again**

Oh god, no. I don’t want anyone else to see this picture. I hate it so much. Why can’t I be cute in candids.

Why can’t I be cute like I used to be in photos?

…Like I used to…

^Of course, I’m referring to when I was stuck in my eating disorder. Under complete control of ED.

Do you see how quickly ED can be missed?

My mind immediately thought of an old photo… around a fire, someone took an unexpected shot of me laughing—I was doing the same exact face, scrunched nose, huge smile—but ED made me look so much cuter. And “recovery” now makes me look fat.

These are my harsh words. I feel tempted to erase them. Why would I want to expose such negativity about myself? Especially when I work so hard to show the power of self-love.

Honestly, because it is human to feel this way. It’s human to have moments of insignificance or unworthiness.

But, I also want to share what happens when you face these thoughts and work through them…

I could have easily shut down my laptop. It’s my first instinct. I’m so disgusted with social media sometimes. I could have just said “I hate this stupid photo. Whatever. I just wont look at it again.”

But, what happens when I do that? That image will linger. I’ll be going about my business and I’ll get a twinge of disgust when I look down at my thighs. My body will suddenly be so pronounced, I will feel like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka. And my urges to eat in order to cope with embarrassment will subconsciously surface. And I’ll binge. Or the pressure to work out will be hovering over me. So I will purge with over-exercising. The point is, without facing these ED thoughts about the picture, he’s going to hang around until I give into his urges.

So I looked at the photo.

I’m laughing, I thought…

YES, and I wish I didn’t crinkle my nose like that. (ED chimed back in).

But, when I crinkle my nose it means I’m admiring the people I’m with. 

And that’s what I was doing. I was soaking it all in. MY cousin had just gotten married to a girl that makes him so happy. It was a magical (Disney themed) wedding. My aunt, uncle and mom had been dancing all night—I have never seen them so happy. Rob was with me. He was getting along with my entire family, and everybody loved him. He was looking at me so adoringly. He loves me. He was slow dancing with me, which does not happen often. I was really enjoying my sister’s company—I felt like we were 15 again. I was seriously, genuinely smiling the entire time. In fact,  there was another candid taken of me that I actually liked. Probably hours in between both photos being taken and I was still making that same adorably happy face. At least I liked one of them.

OKAY! we are making progress. I am saying kind words about myself.

Alright. Now we can close up the computer.

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I still felt like a blueberry. But a cute blueberry, that’s recovering—and I’m going easy on her.

I suddenly realized something.

I opened pinterest and scrolled down to an old folder entitled “vision board.” This was created over two years ago. For those unfamiliar with vision boards, I basically pinned all the photos I wanted for my future. And they were chosen PRE-recovery, so some were quite triggering.

And there it was: the photo I remembered pinning two years ago…

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From my “Vision Board” folder

And I remember why I pinned it, too. These two girls are all dolled up at a party:

“I want to go out with my sister, and my friends. I want to be carefree and happy and positive.”

I scrolled down a little more and saw this picture:

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Another “Vision Board” photo

“I want to be genuinely happy. I want to smile infectiously.”

Well, hell, isn’t that what I’m doing in this photo? The one that triggered all these self-loathing emotions…

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The facebook photo I was tagged in earlier.

Oh, that’s right, I want ALL of those things (happiness, family, friends, laughter) but I really need to look SKINNY while doing so.

But ED has those values, not me. And ED was the one who choose those photos to pin for my future.

Tasha is the quiet voice underneath it all saying–“No, I really just want the happiness.” ED may have inspired that Vision Board folder years ago, but Tasha controls my actions now, and it was really Tasha who got motivated to write this article. Because I know it’s wrong to be mean to a girl who is experiencing pure bliss in perhaps a not-so-flattering photo.

(By the way, you may or may not agree with the way I looked at my tagged photo. It’s very exposing to announce the judgements I have over myself. Especially  when I want to be an example of self love. But the reason why I’ve exposed them is because people tend to judge themselves too harshly. It is human. But I wish it would stop. And if you experience body image issues, social media is a breeding ground for feeling bad about your “so-called” imperfections)

I have to take a deep breath while reflecting on all this.

I really want to love myself.

But It’s still hard to push out ED’s criticism.

However, I know I’ll get there. Because I want it.

I scrolled through instagram for some positive quotes (using social media powers for good instead of evil).screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-8-59-28-amscreen-shot-2016-10-29-at-9-03-45-am

It helped. But then I read an old text from a friend. I saved it because it initially made me cry, and I knew those beautiful words could help me in moments of self-doubt.

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I read it over and over. And then I remembered all the kind things other friends, my boyfriend, parents and supporters from Renfrew had said to me.

I felt better. I shouldn’t call myself a blueberry, that’s not nice. And I wouldn’t do it to anyone else.

I’m Natasha, and I work very hard in recovery. I work very hard to love myself. And screw anyone that looks at a photo and judges me for anything less than what I am. Including you ED.

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And I hope to look at that photo someday soon, free of ED, and admire my geniune laugher and beauty. Because that’s what I would see if this photo was of another beautiful, strong and happy woman.

Posted in Anxiety, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Awareness, Eating Disorder Recovery, mental health, Orthorexia, Recovery, Social Media, treatment

Feeling Exposed

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Writing is something I have been struggling with a bit lately.

And if I had to blame it on something, it would probably be because my face is now attached to this page.

It was brave removing the anonymous aspect of anonymous blogging. But the more I think about the people who I know finding me, the more I wonder why I did it. First I was excited. Then I immediately wanted to delete the entire account.

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I get those evil butterflies, and chest pains even thinking about people from my past seeing it show up on their news feed. My anxiety sky rockets and ED urges usually follow. Which is why I have to finally face those thoughts and spill it all out on the keyboard.

The point of this blog was two-fold: I wanted to reclaim my love of writing, and I also wanted to use it as a coping mechanism. Journaling had always been therapeutic for me, but blogging turned it into more of a hobby. Its like story telling. I have to write, edit, re-edit, post, and hopefully look back and admire my work. I also thought it was a good way to embrace my passion for eating disorder awareness and recovery.

My blog is for me, but it’s also hopefully a sanctuary for other’s with similar experiences.

I really like exposing my imperfections. Perfect is not reality. We have all been tricked into looking at socail media and feeling that twinge of jealousy. No matter how many instagrams have pulled this shit and posted beautifully “candid” and “sculpted” pictures (Kylie Jenner, I’m looking at you) this is NOT REAL. That’s why I admire recovery accounts. That is why I started my own.

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The idea of my recovery account being found was always a thought in the back of my mind. However, I figured I’d respond with a “pshh, I don’t care, I’m an open book.”

A real tough guy.

After all, I never try to hide my ED. This makes me proud, as well as extremely self-conscious. I know that others can benefit and be inspired by my honesty, but there are some who can judge me. However, ED is a disease of secrecy and the best way to fight it, is to expose it. If someone asks me where I was, I have no problem saying, “I was at Renfrew, a treatment center for my eating disorder.” I also have no problem telling people I have to eat every four hours and I like to take my time during meals. I correct people when they call things “healthy/unhealthy” and try to always take attention away from what myself or others are eating. I openly dislike any sort of judgement pertaining to weight or diet. Hopefully others view this as a nonchalant approach to life—after all, there are far more important things than how we look or what we are putting in our bodies. As much as I wish that was my only motive, I also know I have to say these things to keep ED at bay. He is a sneaky bastard and if I’m not careful a simple conversation about “eating healthy and working out” can lead me to missing the days where I restricted and over-exercised (or lead me to self-loathing and using food as a coping skill). 

Well, someone from work found my blog recently. Which made me start thinking that others have found me, too. This sent me into a panic (so much for tough guy).

I initially felt exposed and somewhat embarrassed. There were a million thoughts running through my brain: “OMG everything I write is so stupid. What if she thinks this is pathetic. What if she thinks this is for attention.  I need to reread everything I’ve written. Who else has seen this?”

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I had to mention it as soon as I saw her. Her big smile and kind eyes made me feel so much better. She was so loving and accepting and I honestly feel closer to her, not as a co-worker but as a human being, and as a friend.

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I know not everyone will react this way. Maybe there will be people who make fun of me. But the people who respect my journey—and the people who can even benefit from it make that the exposure all worth while.

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Therefore, I will continue my non-annynomous blogging. Slowly, but surely. My confidence may waver. But I really want to continue this for all the powerful reasons why I created it. And maybe one day, my dream of helping others and ridding ED from society will have started with this single step to expose myself.img_8858

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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Posted in Body Positive, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Pro-recovery, Renfrew, Self-acceptance, Self-love

Tricks For Shopping Without ED

Numbers are very defining to an Eating Disorder. No matter how bad you may want recovery, if you suddenly have to go up a pant size, all bets are off and ED is back to controlling your actions. When in treatment, I took recovery very seriously—I was doing pretty well and for that reason I was afraid to go shopping; what if I don’t fit into the same size clothes?

Shopping during recovery:

I decided to grab three sizes (I knew my roundabout number). Without looking at the tags, and making sure I did not WATCH myself in the mirror as I was putting them on—I changed clothes until the right pair fit. Then I bought the most comfortable ones WITHOUT checking the number on the inside. “It doesn’t matter because these look the best on me” I repeated to myself.

Before going shopping:

Goals during ED’s reign over me: Buy the smallest size. Buy the sexiest belly shirt. Keep these in my closet in order to motivate myself to lose weight and work to look like the skinny models that wear them.

Goals during recovery: Search pinterest for models/actresses with REAL bodies (tweak the wording to find different size beauties ex: plus size, curves, real bodies). I discovered so many celebrities with sexy bodies that were not a size 0. (After finding women I admired I started searching specifically for them and copying their style)

(Below: Kelly Brook, Iskra Lawrence)

Honestly, I have no idea if their figures were bigger/smaller or the same as mine, I just know that they inspired me to be proud of my shape just the way it is. They accentuated their best features instead of focusing on bones the way my ED always wanted to.

Vision Boarding:

I made collages of these woman and hung them up on my mirror.

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I also made collages of things I wanted in my future, things that only a life without ED could give me.

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Before Getting Dressed:

(post for my instagram Just_Do_Today

Grab a small mirror and spend lots of time on your make up and hair. Focusing solely on your face, as to not get distracted with your body.

I would carefully curl my lashes, paint on my cat-eyes, and line my lips. I pampered myself until I genuinely smiled and felt beautiful. Then I threw on my clothes. I took a quick glance in the full length mirror and tried to focus only on that smile.

Make a List of Go-To outfits:

Getting dressed with ED can be really difficult. I took hours and I changed clothes every 5 minutes. Whenever I thought I was happy with how I looked, he would point out an imperfection that forced me into changing again. Truthfully: ED was full of shit–when you stare at something long enough, your bound to find a flaw. Therefore, I devote all that wasted time and effort coordinating the outfit I want to wear before it goes on me. Trust your style! They are your clothes after all (and get help from those pictures you’ve pinned).

The trouble is that this is not always realistic. Sometimes we get caught up trying to make sure we look okay, and spend a little too much time analyzing. Suddenly before we know it, we are getting badgered by ED.

That’s when I turn to PLAN B:

Lay down. Take a deep breath. Distract yourself with a show or texting a friend. After ten minutes throw on a GO-TO OUTFIT.

What’s a GO-TO outfit? These are outfits that you’ve worn in the past that you’ve been complimented on; that you’ve found yourself attractive in; that you’ve actually managed to smile about when looking at yourself in the mirror. Write every single detail of this outfit down and DO NOT question how you felt last time you wore it. Throw it on and walk out the door.

My only disclaimer is that you have to be VERY committed to recovery. Do not get tempted by ED when he tries to lure you in (checking the tag inside your pants, scrolling through social media) Be proactive.

Posted in Anxiety, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Pro-recovery, Recovery, Self-acceptance, Self-love, Strength

Finding Strength in Breakdowns

I spent last night drowning in self-pity. I was angry, embarrassed and ashamed of my eating disorder. I called it “disgusting.” Why did this have to happen to me; why is it still happening!?

That’s crap. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself.

I’m not saying it’s not okay to fall apart. Everyone has hardships, and crying about how difficult it is does not make someone a weak person. The difference here is that I was questioning my life and judging an uncontrollable illness. Of course I do not want an eating disorder, but no one knows what cross they will bear. It’s ok to cry when life gets rough, but I was only focusing on the bad. 

I was angry. And I’m torn about that emotion because everyone tells me I should feel angry sometimes, but why? Feeling anger is a slippery slope. In this case, like many others, it assigns blame. “Poor me” because of what so and so did. In this case, my ED. And who was I blaming for having an ED? Life? So I was angry at life? That’s not okay.

Today I woke up, initially embarrassed for having fell apart to my boyfriend. What if I lose Rob over this? I started to panic. Then I remembered my dream last night:

I was dating someone named Kevin, but had been calling him Rob for the duration of our relationship lol. He never corrected me because he thought it was cute (weird) but even dream ME knew it was because I’m only in love with one person and it’s Rob.Believe it or not that’s what made me realize I need to stop drowning in self-pity and pointing fingers at life for what it dealt me. I needed tough love.


What if I lose Rob… What if this….What if… What if… What if…

What if—nothing!

What do I have right now in this moment? I have a wonderful boyfriend that loves me. I have my family. I have the experience of treatment behind me. I have overcome mountains and tackled many fears I had about life. I am thankful to continue down this road with the knowledge I need when things get hard. I have my emotions and the ability to express them: laughter, adoration, gratitude, pride, generosity, compassion, love.

(Below is a tattoo I got– my grandmother’s handwriting to remind me of what I have)


What about the emotion of Anger? I only need anger to show me when I am being treated unfairly. But, that’s a very specific purpose. It takes two seconds to make that sort of realization. And then I can let go of the anger. 

Without anger, I could not recognize that a co-worker acts the way I acted last night every single day. She self-pities and what-ifs and convinces me how hard she has it. I really believe that surrounding myself with someone with these beliefs had an effect on my psychology.

I started questioning if she was right about life. I didn’t know how to react to her opinions.. 

“I should feel bad for her. I’m a bad person because I judge her sometimes. I want to yell “cut it out, it could be worse!” … Does that make me apathetic? Maybe I would be just as ungrateful in her situation. I wasn’t dealt her hand in life. What if these things happen to me and what if I can’t handle it. Is something going to happen to me now…

STOP. Rre-evaluate this situation:

Anyone can drown in self-pity.

Let’s take someone else, perhaps with a similar situation (there are many people who have gone through hardships in life). And yet they wake up everyday and manage to smile. You would never know all the things they go through. They genuinely ask others how their days are going. They appreciate the big things: like what family they may have left, a roof over their heads. They take notice to the small things: like the beauty outside, the laugher of others. They may cry and breakdown, even get angry sometimes, but they always pull it back together. Empathizing is okay, but pitying someone is not. A strong person will appreciate compassion, but will never ask for pity.

And so, if my co-worker is asking for pity I have every right to walk away from the situation. She is reminding me of old fears about life. But I don’t like the person I am when allowing those anxieties back in! I don’t want to be afraid of life! And, I need to gently remind myself, that does not take away from my compassion as a person, but merely adds to my strength as a fighter.


Today, I gave myself a pep talk when I woke up. I know my situation isn’t as bad as I made it seem last night. But I had built up a lot of very real emotions inside me: frustration, confusion and (fleeting) hopelessness (have faith, always find your way back to it in lost moments). Therefore, I forgive myself for the breakdown. Today, I have to go to work and face the person that is angry at life and I don’t want to. I cannot just walk away from her (I’ve tried).


 I made the realization that perhaps she influenced my way of thinking because it reminds me of old habits and anxieties.

I don’t want to have any pent-up anger, and I really don’t want to be surrounded by that way of thinking especially if I am clearly affected by it.

I don’t want someone talking about life as if it such a bad place. (I have to live here too!) I am grateful for it, and anyone can be, even those with hardships.

I am a stronger person after last night. And in choosing strength, I have to let go of badmouthing life and myself. I will not be embarrassed or ashamed for how I acted last night—I am human. But, I can commit to change. I am stronger today. And I am grateful for everything I have in this moment.




Posted in Body Image, Body Positive, Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder Recovery, Recovery

Taking Back July 4th

This weekend was so much fun for me. I did things that I was so proud of; things I had said no to in the past; things I was afraid to do because of my eating disorder. But, in the moment I thought the fun was worth the fear.

What could I possibly have to fear while doing a slip and slide, you ask?

Well, I was already experiencing a huge recovery win not only by publicly wearing my bathing suit, but also eating in my bathing suit.

“A slip and slide?” ED asked in disgust, “You’ll be running in your bikini? You’ll be jiggling everywhere, and not in the good places. And what if your top or bottom slide off? You think you’ve tricked these people into thinking your attractive, wait until they see your real body.”

I’ve heard this all before. Every time a fun summer activity was mentioned. Everyone around me would get so excited, and I would be listening to ED in a panic. The words would get louder and meaner as he relentlessly repeated them.

This weekend, when his horrid voice started, I shut him down. “I’m in!” I said with a smile. My best friend and I shot each other a supportive glance—an anxious but genuine grin, as if we were about to bungee jump (funny how ED can create such fear around trivial things, that’s why its important to have someone who understands the magnitude of these victories).

The game began.

In my friends words “it was one big blur.”

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One big blur of spraying water, sliding, falling and laughing, high fives, and checking to make sure my bikini was still in place (it was-so suck it ED), and then my only thought was to flip that solo cup as fast as I could so I could watch the next person slide.

I don’t know if I jiggled, if my rolls showed, if there was a wedgie while I was sliding. The videos taken showed me two things though: I flopped like a dead fish, and I was laughing the whole time. I was genuinely happy.

I wasn’t standing on the sidelines with ED hovered over both my shoulders. I was ME.

And then I played a water game of kick ball. Where I went sliding through oiled up tarps to get to our kiddy pool bases.

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The following day, July 4th was more mellow. I lounged by the pool with my boyfriend, again in my bathing suit. I say this with hope, and some uncertainty: it gets easier to fight ED’s negative voice after you’ve shut him down before.

Nonetheless, I still expect that his voice will sneak up on me occasionally—a lesson I’ve learned time and time again—so I do not let my guard down in situations that I know to be triggering. ED can be sneaky.

A few other friends showed up, and I kept a cool head while walking around in my bathing suit. As the evening BBQ began, everyone around me was eating grilled chicken. Here comes ED: he wanted me to eat the chicken because it is the healthiest choice. I wanted a cheese burger. “Of course you’re going to ask for the greasiest food, you fatso,” I was literally being made fun of before even asking the cook. It would be easier to have what he is serving, but in the past ED would be so excited grilled chicken was my only option and I didn’t like that ED was getting his way.

I struggled to work up the courage to ask for the burger. I even struggled with knowing if a burger was a good idea since it used to be a “binge-food.”

Binge-foods used to only be eaten in privacy, when I am alone and drowning in self-loathing. They are the foods ED deems off-limits when I am around others because they make me look fat and disgusting.

Recovery has proven that this way of thinking is a lie. No particular food can make me fat, and every food can be enjoyed in moderation. It is nonsensical to prohibit food from touching my plate while with others, knowing full well that the deprivation will cause binges later.

So today, during my July 4th barbecue ED has confused me. Am I eating my old binge-food just to prove a point that I can, or am I asking for it because I genuinely want it?

Seems so complex, right?

The sole question I need to ask when things get convoluted is: what does my taste prefer, and what does my ED prefer?

The decision was made for me because there were no burgers left, lol. But, I was proud of myself for asking, and  I did realize I didn’t actually want the chicken out of taste preference. It’s delicious, but grilled chicken is a safe food that I eat often. So, to spice it up I made myself a bowl of salad with some craisins and a little creamy dressing. In conclusion, I had an awesome dinner.

If it had been a cheese burger: I would have had it with ketchup on a white bun. Eaten slowly, and thoroughly enjoyed it. “Binges/binge-foods/fear-foods” are words from my past that ED likes to throw around and confuse me. I need to remember to trust myself.

A pretty victorious weekend. It was filled with all the things I’ve always looked forward to during my journey through recovery: saying yes, eating with others, asking for what I want, and finally instead of being stuck inside my head with insecurities and ED, I was able to really enjoy the people around me, the activities, the conversations and the laughs. These times don’t come completely free of anxiety, but I powered through it well and that’s all I can hope  to do.

Today is Tuesday, my first day back to the real world. I am alone in my room waiting for my work week to start and I am a bit nervous.

Coming down from a fun-filled and successful weekend of trumping ED, sometimes means he comes back swinging. I don’t have my supports surrounding me, or an abundance of plans to look forward to. I picture him smiling at me like Cheshire cat in Alice In Wonderland. He never really went away all weekend, but he disappeared a little and now he’s coming back to life with that little grin on his face, kinda following me around as I walk around my house.

 

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Things like journaling, art, Pilates, playing games usually keep him at bay. I just have to motivate myself to keep up the coping skills, and then the next day is usually easier. Today, I wrote this article, and hopefully there will be more to come.