Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I hope that everyone's holiday season is full of magic and love.



merry christmas!
love,
me

Thursday, December 16, 2010

putting milk in my hot chocolate

Last night after I got home from group. One of my roommates and I used my Cocoa-Latte for the first time. It is one of the presents that I got over the weekend for my birthday (there is a picture of me with it in an earlier blog post). And when I looked through the recipes as we were deciding which one to make, I noticed that all of them called for milk (instead of water) to be used!

My first reaction was "Milk!? I don't put milk in my hot chocolate! It makes it more fattening and besides, why use milk when I can use water - which will not add extra calories to the drink!" I really really struggle with "extra calories." I still to this day, have a really tough time "adding" things to foods when I consider it unnecessary. Even though, it will make the food taste a lot better. The eating disorder has had convinced me for so long that bland, plain food tastes just as good... and in reality - it doesn't. It's just another lie that the eating disorder has you believe as it's slowly killing you little by little... And when I think about it logically, of course these latte drink recipes have you put milk in it - because it makes it taste better. Duh! But I am so used to adding water to my hot chocolate - not milk. At least, that is what my eating disorder has told me was the better option for years and years and... anyways, so here I am with a choice: Do I do what my eating disorder wants (and thinks is healthier and more "safe") or do I pick the choice that will make this drink taste so much yummier? I picked the milk! I listened to my voice and not the eating disorders voice (that was screaming in my head & making me feel guilty about the choice I was making, by the way). And we enjoyed our creamy cocoa latte with honey & cinnamon. Mmm, it really was yummy(!) and it would not have tasted very good if it had been prepared with water.

It was a simple thing. Milk in my hot chocolate. Most people prefer milk over water anyways. Especially when you are making these yummy latte drinks. And even though there were feelings of guilt because of the choice I made. I still drank it. And I drank the whole glass. And then I sat down and watched a movie with my roommates. And I didn't try to compensate and burn some calories afterwards. I just sat there. I took deep breathes and kept reminding myself that I made the right choice, no matter what thoughts were running through my head. Because I knew deep down, that I made the choice that tasted better, and I made the choice to not let the eating disorder dictate how to prepare my food. That is something that my eating disorder is sooo good at! And when I allow it to prepare my food... well, let's just say it's not good. It's very rigid and strict. And there aren't a whole lot of choices or options when your eating disorder is choosing how you prepare and eat your food.

The morale of this story is that sometimes, recovery is simply just putting butter on your toast or mayo on your sandwich, or putting some dressing on your salad, or choosing the creamy sauce for your pasta instead of the "safer" tomato-based kind, eating the regular version of something instead of the low-fat or fat-free option, or putting a bit of cream cheese on your bagel... or putting milk in your hot chocolate.

Even though those things are simple - to some people, like me, they still can be overwhelming, unnatural, and sometimes straight-up terrifying. But the more that we do them, and the more that we challenge the eating disorder beliefs and thoughts - the more natural they will become to us. But you have to challenge them because your food fears aren't just going to magically go away. It sure would be nice if they did but, it takes hard work, commitment, and constantly fighting those thoughts and doing the opposite of what the eating disorder has had you believe for so long. And little by little, the food fears, rules, and behaviors will start to go away. I have seen that in my own recovery with some things that I thought I could never ever(!) eat without feeling completely out of control - yet, I am able to eat them. And not only eat them, but enjoy them. And it's wonderful! It truly is.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

just a quick little update

I didn't have therapy yesterday because my therapist is out this week, but I did have a doctor's appointment yesterday. And it went really well in regards to my weight and my labs. I have gained a couple more pounds and am now just a few more pounds away from my goal weight. And then, the plan is for me to work really hard at maintaining that weight (as that has always been a struggle for me throughout my recovery). I want to be happy. I want to be proud of myself for finally getting myself back up to a healthy weight. But I am struggling with that because what I mostly feel is panic, embarrassment, fear, & guilt... I am not the "jenn" that I am used to. My face and my body look different. My body feels different...feels fat. And I don't like it. I am not comfortable with it. At all!  

But...

I am trying so very very hard to stay positive and rational about it all. I am constantly trying to remind myself of all the positive things about being at a healthy weight & eating properly like...
  • I have the energy to be able to function throughout the day.
  • My mental clarity is so much better.
  • I don't feel like I am going to pass out constantly.
  • My electrolytes are more in balance.
  • I am actually present in conversations and in daily life instead of a walking "zombie."
  • I am not so dang freezing cold all of the time.
  • My hair & skin is looking a lot better.
  • My body is healing and becoming stronger every day.
We also talked about all the health problems I have because of the ed. My labs are looking a lot better! Some of the health problems are improving. Some are slowly improving but not quite there yet. And some won't. Ever. But the important thing to remember right now is that I am getting stronger and healthier every day, and even though there is a lot of permanent damage that I have caused my body... there are some things that can and are getting better. And I am grateful for that. I am alive, and I am thriving! And I am waking up to life again!

Also, I am going back to my old support group tonight. I haven't been there since earlier this year. And I really shouldn't have stopped going considering the horrible relapse I had over the summer but... I was running away. It was around that time that my previous therapist had "abandoned" me (if you have followed this blog for a while, you know what I am talking about regarding that whole situation...) and I had a lot of hurt feelings and so, I completely quite treatment. Therapist, dietician, doctors, groups - I stopped everything. Because I was hurt. I was angry. I was so tired of having non-stop intensive treatment for so long and it didn't seem like it was going to end anytime soon... and when my therapist "peaced-out" on me - that was kind of the final straw.

But I am not going to go into all of this again because it's in the past and I am trying to let go of that whole situation and move forwards! So, I am not going to talk about that right now. And besides, I have a new therapist that I have been seeing since the beginning of the fall and I think she will be really good for me - as long as I am able and "willing" to open up and do the work I need to do in my recovery treatment plan.

So I am excited to see old friends (and meet new ones) tonight at group! I am excited to get more of the support that I need from groups again. And hopefully, be able to support the other girls there too. Recovery is about letting people in, and letting people help you - not pushing them away and trying to do it on your own. I have learned that the hard way too many times. You show strength when you ask for help, not weakness!

Monday, December 13, 2010

birthday celebrations!

Just a little glimpse from my birthday weekend...


A few of my best friends and I right before we left to go out to celebrate my birthday on Saturday night. We had SO much fun, and laughed so much at the comedy club we went to!








these are some of the most amazing gals, who's love and friendship has truly helped save me and they have been there for me throughout the ups & downs of my recovery - I am lucky & blessed to have them as my friends. Seriously!

 






My family and I celebrated my birthday, on Sunday (which is my actual birthday).
I love my neices and nephews...and here are just some of the adorable troublemakers! (lol)
smiling in every picture is soooo boring so... funny face time y'all!!
  Here is just one of the many fabulous gifts that I got. I sure do love my hot chocolate, coffee, & my tea! And now I can make so many more delicious flavors to share with others and enjoy myself... yummy! ; )
make a wish!!
(don't ask about the cake...it's a long story. but bless my momma's heart for trying to do something different even though it didn't quite work)
--
It was a great weekend full of lots of surprises and so much love from many of my family and friends! Thanks everyone for
showing a girl how special and loved she truly is.
-
xoxo,
jennifer

Saturday, December 11, 2010

finding the joy in life again

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that even though there are a lot of things that I still struggle with... there are some things that I am doing right when it comes to my recovery. So, I want to continue with that thought and talk about one of the major things that has changed recently for me. I believe that is it SO very important to be constantly reminding yourself of the things that you are doing right, the things you are improving on, the recovery successes, and the times that you are able to let another part of the ed go - because the ed is such a master manipulator at making you forget those things and only reminding you of all the things that you are doing wrong, and always telling you how worthless you are. But it's not true! We all have so much worth, and so much to live for!

And I am starting to s l o w l y believe that about myself. And those times that I don't believe it, are the times that I am letting the ed control my thoughts, emotions, & feelings. And that is something that I am working on. It's painful & it's scary - but I am working on it. But at the same time, I know that I am holding a lot of things inside still. My recovery started almost 4 years ago, and throughout this time, I have said that I want recovery and I want to get better - but I have only allowed myself (or my treatment team) to delve only so far into the things that keep me holding on to the ed before I panic and, once again, close myself off from those parts of therapy. Because I am afraid, and because it hurts. It's so much easier to numb all that out with the ed. Ed's are tricky things because they are painful and they hurt but at the same time, they are comforting, familiar, and "safe". Or at least, that is what the ed has been so good at convincing us of.

I need to somehow find a way to be strong enough to forgive myself, I need to learn to love myself, and I need to let go of the things that have happened in the past. I need to heal that young girl who gravitated towards the ed for a sense of control, comfort, and distraction in a world that she felt was spinning out of control! I need to do that to be able to really let go of the ed for good and live a "life worth living."

One of the positive things in my life recently has been the re-emergence & improvement in my social life. Throughout my illness, I have gone back and forth between being social, having friends, and loving to go out and have fun, and always being super busy - to isolating and just wanting to be "alone with the illness." And different levels in-between those two extremes. But lately, I seem to be a lot more busy and I am going out more with friends and having fun hanging out, laughing, enjoying time with the people I love! And also, going out and experiencing life - instead of hiding away and numbing out the world. Which is good. It is really good! (because when I am struggling and consumed with the ed, I tend to isolate a lot and push people away, and I tend to spend a lot of time by myself so I can engage in the behaviors and live in my "own little world.")

And another positive thing that I have been noticing lately is that I will pick doing things and hanging out with people (even if its just being at home with my roommates downstairs in the kitchen or family room instead of up in my room alone) rather than engaging in behaviors. Which is a really good sign that I am more in the driver's seat right now instead of the ed. I still do have those days when I listen to the ed, agree with the ed, and end up staying home and isolating when it is telling me things like...

  • "you haven't exercised today so you need to stay home and make sure you get your exercise in!"
  • "you've already eaten too much today (in the ed's opinion, because it will tell me that even when I have barely eaten) so you can't go out, or if you do, you need to make sure you don't eat anything!"
  • "you are too fat, too gross, too worthless and you will just embarrass yourself if you think you deserve to go out and have fun!"
  • "no one would care if you went or not, they would probably have more fun if you weren't there!"
But thankfully, they aren't happening as often as they sometimes do. And even though those thoughts are always in my head, I also feel like I am in a better place in my recovery to fight off those thoughts more often than listening to them and obeying them. And I realize that those thoughts above sound really harsh and really demanding - but these are the kinds of things (along with many many many many many more things!) that the ed has been constantly telling me since I was younger. So it's really hard for me to not believe these things when I have heard them, listened to them, and believed them for so long.

But thankfully, I have amazing roommates, who are also some of my closest friends, and I have amazing friends and family too(!) who won't let me be alone, and they push me to go out and have fun during times when I am struggling and just want to be alone. I love my roommates, my friends, and my family because somehow they can see me through all of this madness. And I am grateful for them. I have lost too many people in my life because the ed got in the way. I don't want to lose anyone else, and I hope to be able to mend some of the relationships that have been destroyed or torn because I have chosen the ed instead of them...

So the point of this blog post today is to say that - jenn is being more social and having more fun! And more importantly... jenn is wanting to be (and allowing herself to be) more social and have more fun! Yippee for recovery, for moving forward, and for choosing life instead of the eating disorder! ; )

Friday, December 10, 2010

exercise confession

The other day while I was waiting for one of my roommates to finish getting ready so we could leave, I started running up and down the stairs at our house. Why, you ask? Because I am constantly feeling the urge to burn extra calories, give my metabolism a little jump-start, calm some of my anxiety, relieve some of the guilt I feel about eating and weight gain...

I don't always give in to the urges (some days are better than other days) and I am not exercising nearly as much as I used to, but little things like this seem to help me so that I don't over-exercise (usually...) - if that makes any sense. And so I find little ways throughout the day to do this. I realize that this is not normal behavior and that it is compulsive, and I am reminded of that every time someone sees me engaging in a behavior (or doing something odd) and points it out to me. Like that night, as I was running up and down the stairs, three of my roommates each asked me what I was doing. I immediately felt embarrassed because I realized that this was not normal behavior, and it was a really random thing to be doing at that particular moment. I have spent over half of my life engaging in ed behaviors that are not normal, so I should be used to it. But I'm not. I know I need to stop these weird exercise habits that I do throughout the day, but I feel like I am trying to stop soooo many behaviors that I have had for soooo long and sometimes, I need to pick and choose my battles, you know?

Another reason why I feel the need to have these little mini exercise spurts throughout the day is because I am really struggling with the weight gain and I notice that sometimes, it makes eating a little bit easier. For example, last night I had dinner with my parents. I was feeling super anxious about what I ate, so I ran on their elliptical machine for 15 minutes (which is not over-exercising, by the way) and I felt a little less anxious and a little less guilty about what I had had for dinner.

But like I said, I am not over-exercising like I used too. There are still those days that I get up early to get a good workout in before work, or those days that I take extra extra long walks (and justify it by telling myself "at least I am only walking and not running!...") but for the most part, I am able to quiet the voice in my head with my mini exercises throughout the day. I just wish there wasn't a voice I had to constantly be trying to quiet. : (

And I hate the anxiety, the fear, the guilt that causes me to feel so compelled to quickly do jumping jacks in the elevator at work. Or to take 30 minute walks outside every day during my lunch break. Or constantly be fidgeting and moving around. Or standing up (or exercising a little) while I'm reading or watching tv. Or anytime I am alone, quickly jog in place or do some jumping jacks or sit-ups for a few minutes... I could go on and on about things that I do, but I will leave it at that and just say that I wish the ed wasn't constantly in my head telling me that I need to be burning calories! It's frustrating. It's embarrassing. And it's not helpful to my recovery.

But like I said, some days are better than other days. So I need to give myself credit for the things I am doing right.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Forgotten Carols


Last night, I went with one of my friends to see The Forgotten Carols. I got the tickets a few weeks ago and have been anxiously awaiting this day to come! It is a musical/play that has been around for 19 years. Here is a brief synopsis about it:

A timeless classic, Michael McLean's The Forgotten Carols have been enjoyed by sold-out audiences nationwide. The Forgotten Carols tells the story of a nurse whose empty life is changed when a new patient recounts the story of Christ's birth as told by little known characters in the nativity story. The accounts from the Innkeeper, the Shepherd and others help her discover what the world has forgotten about Christmas, and open her heart to the joy of this special season.

I am familiar with the story and the songs as I have heard it read, and listened to the cd for many years during the Christmas season (as it is a tradition a lot of my friends have with their families) but I have never seen the actual live performance. And I loved it!! It brings a special spirit into the auditorium and into your heart. I am a fan of Michael Mcclean's and have been every since I was a young girl. (he is a very well-known and popular singer/songwriter in the LDS faith). I was really thankful for the opportunity to finally see this play live and I hope to make it a tradition of my own to go and see this play in person (not just read the book or listen to the cd) every year during Christmas from now on. And when I have a family of my own, I hope to take my children to see this play. It's that special and heartwarming. It brings nothing but warmth, peace, & hope to the people who see it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

my current treatment plan

Yesterday in therapy we talked about all the progress that I have been making these past few months, and my therapist said that as long as I am maintaining and continuing to make progress with the rest of the weight that I need to gain to reach my goal weight/ my body's natural set point she is okay with this continuing to be my treatment plan:

  • seeing her once a week
  • only seeing my doctor once or twice a month,
  • start going to a couple of groups every week again (to get that added support & motivation I need to keep me moving forward)
  • and she is okay with me not seeing a dietician right now
but if I start to slip too much... then she says that will all change! And I have to say, that is really has felt strange to be cutting back on my treatment schedule as drastically as I have, because ever since I started my recovery - I have, at the most intense been inpatient, and at the least intense been seeing a therapist, dietician, & doctor every single week (along with a couple of groups every week). But... she feels, and I feel like I am doing okay enough, and I am stable & strong enough mentally and physically to continue my treatment plan the way I have been for the past little bit. So it's good. It's really good! It gives me confidence to know that I have been able to do as well as I have been without needing the intense treatment that I am so used to.

I have gained a little over 20 pounds since the end of the summer, and I only have about 5 to 6 more pounds to go before I am at my treatment team's goal weight for me. And let me just say that this has not been easy. At all! It has been a rough few months, and I would be lying if I said that I was comfortable with this weight gain. I am struggling so much with my body image, and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not consumed with the thoughts of wanting to lose this weight... but I am holding on, I am leaning on friends, family, & my treatment team for support - and I hope that things will get easier the longer I am able to maintain this "new healthy" body. But I have been able to push myself and do it, and that is a big deal for me because the last time I able to be at a healthy weight (even though it was only temporary) was August 2008. I just gotta keep fighting, and keep reminding myself that I am allowing my body to reach a healthy weight, that I am allowing my body to heal from all the horrible damage I have caused it, and I choosing recovery and life by letting my body reach a healthy weight.

I have been doing really well with the weight gain and pretty well with the behaviors, but I need to work more on the underlying issues that caused the eating disorder to develop (and continue) in the first place - because if I don't completely allow myself to work through, process, & heal those things - then this progress I am making is not going to last and I will continue to go around in circles... I just really struggle with this because I am not good at coping with and "feeling my feelings." Every time I start to get close to honestly work on the underlying issues - I get too scared and I start to retreat and run away. But if I want to truly be able to let go of the ed and move on with my life, then I need to! And I know that... I am just scared. : (

Sunday, December 5, 2010

don't count me out just yet... i'm still here!

A few days ago, I went with a friend to see the movie Burlesque - (which was really good, by the way!) And Cher sang a song that really moved me and gave me chills - because I feel like every single word in this song describes me, my life, & especially my journey to finding recovery, perfectly. I love it!, and the words are so powerful. My eating disorder has brought me to my knees, it has brought me past the point of breaking, and it has literally been life-threatening many many times... but I am still here.

And even though I may not know quite why yet... there is a reason. As as I continue to heal, as I continue to find that strength, hope, and peace that I long for - I will come to truly believe that I can let go of the past, I do deserve to be happy, I do deserve to love and be loved. That I do matter, and that I am "enough" just the way I am.

I am not perfect but I am still fighting. I am in the fight of my life, for my life! I am determined to find recovery for myself - and to also use my story, my struggles, my experiences to help others who are struggling to find their own way out of this illness.


"You Haven't Seen The Last of Me"

Feeling broken
Barely holding on
But just there's something so strong
Somewhere inside me.
And I am down, but I'll get up again.
Don't count me out just yet

I've been brought down to my knees
And I've been pushed right past the point of breaking,
But I can take it.
I'll be back -
Back on my feet
This is far from over
You haven't seen the last of me.
You haven't seen the last of me.

They can
Say that I won't stay around
I gonna stand my ground
You're not gonna stop me.
You don't know me, you don't know who I am.
Don't count me out so fast

I've been brought down to my knees
And I've been pushed right past the point of breaking,
But I can take it.
I'll be back -
Back on my feet
This is far from over
You haven't seen the last of me.

There will be no better
This is not the end
I'm better now
And I'll be standing on top again.
Times are hard but I was built tough.
I'm gonna show you all what I'm made of.

I've been brought down to my knees
I've been pushed right past the point of breaking,
But I can take it.
I'll be back -
Back on my feet
This is far from over
I AM FAR FROM OVER
You haven't seen the last of me.

No, no, I'm going nowhere
I'm staying right here
Oh, no you won't see my fear
I'm not kidding around
Can't stop me.
Can't stop me
You haven't seen the last of me
Oh, no -
You haven't seen the last of me.
You haven't seen the last of me.