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, Eating Disorder Recovery, mental health, Recovery, Social Media, Writing

Find Your Voice

Writing is my sanctuary.

But I’ve been really discouraged lately.

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Who do I want to read this? Girls that I can potentially help? Friends that can validate me and give me kind, nurturing words of encouragement? People that can tell me they are proud of me?

More than just those people are going to read it. It’s out there in the public. My face, my words. And there are people that I am afraid of reading this.

Idealistically, they would respond with empathy or openness. I want people that don’t necessarily understand “ED” to think:

“Wow, we need to change this”

or  

“she’s really brave.”

And then I think: what a load of shit.  Maybe a better writer would get that sort of reaction.

There’s a voice that says the friends that don’t understand ED would be embarrassed for me.

Or that the mean people from high school would laugh at me.

That voice is obviously ED.

And ED sounds a whole lot like 16 year old Tasha.

There’s a few things I’ve desperately wanted to write about lately.

One is how scary it’s been going day to day without symptom use. Constantly asking myself, “Will this be another victory? Can I get another week under my belt? Am I possibly done with ED forever?”

I want to express how exciting and unreal it felt looking back realizing it had been two weeks without binging, purging or restricting. And suddenly—its been two months.

Or the way I fear slipping up any moment.  Sometimes my fight with ED feels just as hard as day one, even though I have all this recovery behind me.

I want to write about how slow moments can go by when I have urges. Or how grateful I am when I realize I haven’t thought about symptom use all weekend. How grateful I am for the people I surround myself with.

I’ve especially wanted to write about the Holidays to help me get through them.

It’s Thanksgiving break, the biggest food celebration. But also, a very loving, family-oriented holiday.

As a writing prompt, I told myself to sit down and describe what I hoped my life would be like in 5 years. At 30, what would an ED free Thanksgiving look and feel like? That imagery would hopefully inspire me. 

And then my fears crept in. My goddamn 16 year old self, worrying what other people think.

God forbid the people I know see what I want for my future. And God forbid they roll their eyes while reading it. God forbid they judge. And GOD FORBID they laugh.

Suddenly, I’m back in high school:

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When I was at Renfrew, worrying what others thought was a common theme. We all knew that people didn’t judge us quite as harshly as we thought they did. But we needed each other for that reminder.

And as for those who are judging —do we really need their approval? I don’t like mean people. So why do JUDGMENTAL people need to like me?

But ED (or in this case, Tasha) still pops up. She wonders what strangers will think? What my best friend will think? What my boyfriend will think? What his friends will think? (…She gives me a goddamn aneurism. I never want to have a teenager.)

I don’t always have my Renfrew family to help me back to reality. But I do have all the things they have taught me. I just have to remember to take care of myself. REMIND MYSELF.

So, what’s something I worry about?

That I’m a hypocrite because I have trouble eating a cupcake but preach about NON-DIETS.

I have to calm my inner, younger self down and say:

I am not a hypocrite. I DON’T believe in diets.

I have, however, spent 8 years of my life following strict rules about food. 8 years using disordered behaviors in order to control my body. Because of how long I listened to ED, I find it difficult to eat certain things when my life is feeling chaotic. Zeroing in on what I eat tricks me into feeling good and as if I have everything under control.

To someone looking in, it may seem hypocritical to not want the cupcake. But, I still try my best to eat without the labels, and listen to my body rather than my mind.

If they chose to judge me without asking about ED, then they are choosing to remain uneducated.

Sometimes 16 year old me pops in to say: it’s extremely unattractive that you binge and purge. It’s repulsive and it’s embarrassing.

Well, it’s also a real issue in our society. I don’t think others who experience it are any of the above. And those actions stems from restricting, deprivation and not feeling good enough—to the point where we fill ourselves up with anything we can find.

And my voice will hopefully inspire others to find help and love themselves regardless of what assholes think.

Do these worries disappear? No, but my kind self-talk does calm down the impressionable 16 year old that creates those fears.screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-27-22-pm

See, I’ve discovered that ED is nothing more than the many voices that have influenced my way of thinking over the years. It’s the misguided opinions of others that we have somehow allowed into our subconscious.

But, I am so much stronger than that young girl who believed those thoughts. And I have to constantly remind myself of that. I have thoughts and beliefs of my own to overshadow theirs.

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But back to my original intent for this article—which I have completely lost tack of now…

Writing is my sanctuary.

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Sometimes it comes easy and I can bang 3 essays out in a day. And sometimes it takes a week to finish a single thought.

Nontheless, writing really is my calling. I know, not because I’m good at it, but because of the way it makes me feel when I do it.

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I started this article four days ago and a lot has happened between now and then.

Thanksgiving has come and gone. And for the first time in 9 weeks I used symptoms. It wasn’t on Thanksgiving, which I am very proud of.

That one moment of weakness when my ED took over, does not take away from my many moments of strength during the time that’s passed.

Thanksgiving was fucking hard, man, but I did it. That’s just as important to recognize.

So, today I made a conscious effort to go back to my unfinished article.

It so happens that after a slip, I fall hard on my coping skills. I squeeze them tight hoping for release. I use them up until I discover what triggered me—or to figure out how to prevent spiraling.

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And I can’t help but wonder if my choice to stop writing over the last few weeks somehow caused the slip.

Nonetheless, everything happens for a reason. And as angry or guilty as slips can make me feel in recovery—every book and every person reminds me that they happen. And that I will learn what I need from it.

They will happen, until they wont one day.

Just like the saying goes: it is what it is, until it isn’t.

It’s as simple as that.

And since I’ve opened my laptop again: I will follow my fist directive. The one I had prior to the Thanksgiving break.

What do I want in five years?:

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Just kidding, I am going to give it some serious thought.

And keep writing…