Thursday, December 29, 2011

cracks in the wall

It seems like the ed knows those "perfect" moments. Those moments when I am feeling vulnerable enough for it to come and sneak into my thoughts and feelings. It knows me so well, and it can sense those moments when it can creep in and make me believe that it's thoughts are my thoughts. And it knows how to stay in my head, once it's managed to trick me into letting it in, and it knows exactly what to make me think and feel to do it's best to stay as long as possible. It wants the control back. And I don't know why I have started to let it back into my thoughts and feelings more lately. I don't know what's causing me to feel more vulnerable lately...

I don't know if I have just been letting my guard down more. If I have been getting lazy at standing guard around the protective wall that I have spent (through all of these years in treatment) trying to build around myself and my recovery... but I feel like it's starting to crack a little. I feel the ed creeping in more and more. I still feel strong in my recovery - for the most part - but the old ed thoughts and feelings are lingering longer inside of me before I can push them out. And it's been happening more often over this past month or two.

This past year, has been such a good year for me in regards to my recovery. The best year I have had in recovery! And as this year has gone by, I have been able to push the ed further and further away from me as I have grown in my recovery and in myself. I thought I had finally broken away from it's deadly grasp and was moving forward and on with my life. So I guess I am feeling a bit concerned... confused... as to what is going on that is causing me to feel more vulnerable lately. I wish I knew what was going on because I feel it starting to affect me more lately than it has in a long time. I am happy without the ed in my life. This past year has shown me how beautiful life is in recovery and I don't want to lose that! I want to stay here in recovery. I just want the ed to leave me alone. The ed has taken more than half of my life away from me, it has taken so many things/people/opportunities that I loved and cared about in my life, it has taken so much of myself away from me, it has left me bruised, battered, and broken, and it has nearly killed me many many times... I don't want it to take anything else away from me. I won't let it! I just wish I knew what was going on. I wish I understood it. I wish I knew so I could fix it. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

my wish... that everyone's holiday season
is full of magic and love.

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

holiday tips for recovery

These are some of the things that people have shared with me and that I've learned throughout my recovery & treatment that have helped me, and I wanted to share them with y'all because I know the holiday season can be really difficult when struggling with an eating disorder. I hope some of these tips can help lessen the ed's control - even if just a little - during the holiday season for everyone.


* Eat like you would on any other normal day. Don't skip meals and starve in an attempt to "make up" for what you recently ate or are about to eat. Keep a regular and moderate pattern with your meals.

* Worry more about the size of your heart than the size of your hips. Remember what the holidays are really about and keep that in your mind throughout the day. Reflect on your life, enjoy relationships with loved ones, and give gratitude and thanks for blessings in your life and try to give back to others through loving service.

* Have a plan (discuss with treatment team if you have one or someone close to you that you trust and is supportive) and keep that plan with you throughout the day as a guide for when you start to feel triggered or overwhelmed.

* If you can, let yourself enjoy a few "special occasion foods."

* Try to have a good support system. Find someone you trust to be your "reality check" with food to either help you plate your food or give you a reality check when the ed tries to distort your thoughts of how much you should or shouldn't be eating.

*Try to be flexible with your thoughts. Learn to be flexible in guidelines for yourself, and in expectations of yourself and others. Try to be flexible in what you can eat during the holidays. Take a break from self-imposed criticism, rigidity, and perfectionism.

* Be mindful with your meals. Try to stay present throughout the day. Take time-outs if you need to throughout the day.

* Have a list prepared of healthy things you can do throughout the day to relax and cope if you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.

* Avoid focusing too much on the food - it only adds fuel to the eating disorder.

* Wear something you feel comfortable in, avoid calorie counting and scales, don't look in every mirror you see to do body checks.

* If you feel yourself starting to panic because you feel too full or if you allowed yourself to eat foods that you consider to be forbidden, remind yourself that it is okay to eat what you did, that food will not make you fat, and it is only normal to eat during the holidays.

* Find fun and relaxing activities to do to take your mind off of the food. Play games, go for a walk, watch a movie, hang out with family and friends, ect.

*If you have a period where you end up binging or purging or engaging in an ed behavior, do not beat yourself up over it. Just put it behind you and move forward. "Do the next right thing."

* Prepare responses to say to people who may say something to you that would make you feel uncomfortable (like commenting on your eating, weight, appearance, behavior, ect.) And if you feel comfortable enough - try to set boundaries for yourself by telling people ahead of time to please not comment on any of these things.

* Do what is right for you. Do not allow anyone to pressure you into eating more than you can handle. You are not eating for them, you are eating for yourself. If being with certain family members or friends is too stressful, you may have to think about not going to certain places or get-togethers. Don't be afraid to disappoint people by not showing up if it will be too hard for you and your recovery, and if you can, be honest about why you will not be attending. Holidays are a very stressful time for people with eating disorders and it really is important that you do whatever you need to do in order to make them easier on yourself and your recovery.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

road trip!

My boyfriend and I are leaving early in the morning to go on a road trip for a few days to Southern California for my birthday! I am so excited =) It will be so nice to get away from "normal, stressful" life for a while and just enjoy some time away. I love the beach and the warmer weather! I know it's December and it won't be super warm there but it will be a lot better than here!! Perfect way to spend my birthday. Peace out for a while ice cold Utah! And I hope everyone has a great week! Keep fighting for recovery and be gentle with yourselves <3

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

patience isn't easy for this girl

I just want to thank everyone for all the comments regarding my previous post. They all really helped me to be able to see the situation from a different point of view than my own. Especially since I haven't had a treatment team since March of this year - it's nice to have people in my life who "know" and truly understand what I am going through. I feel blessed to have all of you in my life =) It's hard sometimes to trust myself and my thoughts in recovery still sometimes, and things can get confusing at times.

I think I have been feeling a bit vulnerable (and stressed) lately, and maybe that is the reason for feeling the urge to exercise more. And even though I think I could handle it... why put myself in a situation that I could be (and am) vulnerable to? I don't need to increase my exercise. What I am doing right now is fine. And I am realizing this. I think for now, I just need to continue making smart choices and hold off on more exercise because it is something I know I am still susceptible to. And that is okay. I'm just not ready. I need to protect my recovery and be patient. It's hard for me to be patient. I want to be completely recovered. Now. But recovery is a process, and even though I am in the best place in recovery and in my life than I have ever been... I still need to be careful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

which thoughts are mine?

I have gotten a lot better at recognizing MY thoughts from the ed's thoughts, but sometimes, I still struggle to know the difference between the two. For the past few weeks, I have been feeling a stronger desire/urge/compulsion to exercise more often than I am now. Right now, I just go to my gym's Zumba class twice a week. But I have been feeling like I want to... (should to, need to?) exercise more. I have tried to brush the feelings off, but they don't seem to be going away. I think they might even be getting stronger. But it concerns me because exercising is something that is very easy for me to lose control of and become compulsive about. I have proved that fact way too many times in the past. But am I overreacting? I am a lot stronger in my recovery right now than I have ever been... so would it be no big deal to exercise a bit more each week?

I have been missing the feelings I'd get from running every day. I don't know if it's the endorphins or the feel good "high" I get from running that I miss - or if it's the "high" I get from knowing that I am burning calories and the ed obsessions that are making these thoughts stronger in my head. Is it because I want to get in better shape and I want to be healthier... or is it about my body image and still feeling a little insecure about that? Could it be because of the holidays and the memories from my past about this time of the year? I don't know. And I hate not knowing what the true motive is behind my thoughts. I try to be very careful in my recovery when it comes to certain behaviors and triggers. Because I can easily become obsessed or become compulsive again when it comes to certain things. A few different times during this past spring/summer, I thought I was in a good enough place in recovery, to start exercising more with the intent of being "healthier and stronger". And it would go well for a little bit - but then I would start to become obsessive about it again and would have to force myself to stop because I was sliding down that slippery slope and becoming unhealthy about it once again. That's why I have held off on upping my exercise since then. But would it really be a bad thing? Maybe I am ready now. 

I have tried to think it through, to figure out what the true intention of these thoughts are, but I'm not sure... *sigh* Stupid Ed. Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, December 2, 2011

the holiday season begins!

I love the holiday season! I love everything about it! I love getting together with my friends and family. I love curling up in warm blankets and drinking hot chocolate on a snowy night. I love the Christmas movies that are on tv. I love shopping!! I love wrapping presents and giving them to people. I love Christmas music. I love parties and the yummy food (hmm... never thought I'd be able to say that! lol). I love the cheery & happy feeling in the air around this time of the year. I love going to church and feeling the peace I get when I am there. I love walking around downtown. I love looking at all the Christmas lights. It also doesn't hurt that my birthday is this month too. I could go on and on about why I love the holidays. But most of all, the thing I love the most about the holidays this year is that my eating disorder won't be there to disrupt, interfere, or ruin things (for me and for my family & friends) - like it has since I was 13 years old.

Tonight I'm going to a church Christmas dinner & program with my boyfriend and his family. Then we are going back to his parents house to exchange small gifts & hang out, maybe watch a movie, play games, or just relax. It's the first of many celebrations to come this month. I am excited = ) This time of the year used to bring me so many emotions, and I have so many painful memories from all the years when I was struggling. I know I can't change the past. I can't forget the horrible things that I went through and felt because of my eating disorder... but what I can do it make new memories that are filled with happiness, love, and health that I can replace the old memories with. I know I can't forget, but I can forgive (myself and others), and I can let go and reach for love instead.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

still vunerable sometimes...

Yesterday at around 5:30pm, I went downstairs to the kitchen, to grab something for dinner before heading out for the evening. I wanted something quick, so I made two tuna fish sandwiches and took them back up to my room to eat while I finished getting ready. One of my roommates was cooking herself some dinner, and another roommate was doing homework on the kitchen table. After I finished eating, I came back downstairs to put my plate in the sink. My roommate, who was still cooking her dinner, said "Wow! You ate that SO fast! Hungry much?"

I know she wasn't trying to be mean. She probably didn't even think twice about what she said, because most people probably wouldn't have been bothered by a comment like that. But it's a completely different story for someone who is recovering from an eating disorder. Someone who is already sensitive about those kinds of comments. And, as I have been getting stronger in recovery and moving further away from the eating disorder - comments (about eating and food, my body, diets, ect) haven't bothered me as much as they used to. One of the things the eating disorder is a master at - is twisting ANY kind of comment (even harmless ones) into distorted, irrational thoughts and feelings, and convincing you that those distortions are actually truths (when they aren't!). And those kinds of comments, back when I was still struggling, would have spiraled me into ed behaviors and negative feelings about myself so quickly! They would have given the eating disorder fuel to distort "harmless" comments into much bigger and badder words.

Throughout my recovery, I have slowly learned (and am still learning) to NOT give those kinds of comments ANY amount of power to twist them into distorted/negative reflections on myself. And for the most part, I am able to do that. Most of the time, I am able to just let them go in one ear and out the other without letting the comments bother me too much. So I was a little caught off guard when those old emotions came rushing in when my roommate said that to me last night. I immediately felt embarrassed and the ed used this vulnerable moment to sneak in and try to take control. I responded to my roommates comment with, "I didn't really eat that fast. You've been down here cooking for a while." And she responded with, "Didn't you have two sandwiches though?" And I said, "Ya, but I haven't eaten since noon." And she said, "Oh, well it just seemed like you ate them so fast."

During this whole conversation. My mind was spinning with SO many thoughts. I thought, "I don't think I ate it too fast? did I eat it too fast? maybe I should have had only one sandwich. Did I eat too much? I couldn't have eaten too much. Two tuna sandwiches isn't really that much considering that's all I ate for dinner. But I am so embarrassed because one of my other roommates (who was doing homework on the table) is overhearing this... does she think that I ate too much too? Did I overeat? Are they going to think that I have no control and eat too much? No, jenn, she said you ate fast - not that you ate too much. Ya, but maybe I should have eaten slower, or just had one sandwich. But still, I don't think I ate it too fast... did I? I thought I ate it at a normal pace. Is it bad to have two tuna sandwiches. Should I have only had one? But why would she have made that comment unless I did eat too much or ate it too fast...?" And on and on the thoughts went in my head as I finished getting ready for the evening. The eating disorder and recovery battling it out in my head.

Looking back on it now, I recognize two important things. The first one is that lately the ed thoughts aren't as vicious and cruel as they used to be (which I am soooooooo thankful for because the ed used to tear me down and make me feel completely worthless). I think, for the most part, when the ed does creep into my thoughts now, they are more often questioning or being unsure about what I do, say, or how I look - and not so much the cruel, hurtful, fear & guilt filled abuse I used to have from my ed. And the second thing is that it wasn't just the ed's LOUD voice in my head... MY voice was in there too. Throughout my recovery, I have learned how to "talk back" to the ed, and recognize when the ed is distorting things... because for the longest time, I listened to (and believed) everything the eating disorder said to me.

I know I have come such a long way in my recovery, but I guess I am still frustrated when I let comments affect me like they did last night. It doesn't happen too often. But there are times when I am more sensitive to them then other days. But that's okay. Right? It happens, and it's normal.... right? The important thing I need to remember is what I do after - is what matters. And after the whole thing happened, it did bother me for a little while, but I was able to brush it off and not let it ruin or affect the rest of my evening. I am thankful for that. I just wish the eating disorder would stay away, and not keep trying to creep into my thoughts, my feelings, and my life. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a new kind of thanksgiving

It's hard for me to remember what Thanksgiving (and the holidays) are like without my eating disorder. But this year will different. This year will be the first year in a really long time that I am NOT letting the ed come along with me. And it is exciting. I feel free. I am excited to actually be able to enjoy the day - instead of being wrapped up in the emotional chaos of the ed. And that is an amazing feeling! I have worked so hard in recovery, and there were so many times that I never ever thought it would be possible to let go of the ed and recover. But I AM letting go. I am recovering. I am healing. I am no longer letting the ed dictate my life, and for that... I am grateful.

This year there not be any:
  • food games or food rules
  • dread
  • fear
  • obsessiveness
  • guilt
  • avoidance
  • panic attacks
  • arguments about what/how much I am eating
  • tears
  • anxiety
  • unhealthy behaviors before, during, or after the meal
  • or ANY of the things that the eating disorder has brought into my life on this day year after year... after year
This year Thanksgiving WILL be about:
  • family and friends
  • good conversation and fun activities
  • love
  • thinking about all of the blessings in my life and the things I am thankful for
  • health
  • laughter
  • good food
  • new memories
  • positive choices and continued steps forward in my recovery and life
  • and so much more!
It will be a different Thanksgiving for me. But a much happier one that my family and I will be celebrating this year. I have so many things to be thankful for. And that is what is going to be on my mind on Thursday. Not the eating disorder and everything that comes with it.

And my wish and my hope for all of you is that no matter where you are in your recovery - that you are able to have a happy & healthy Thanksgiving. All of you deserve a life without ed, and every day you are taking steps to achieving that. Big steps, small steps, and all the steps in between - are ALL victories in their own way. Try not to judge yourself and your progress because any step forward you take matters, and will bring you closer to recovery. You all are beautiful, courageous, and strong. Remember that and be gentle with yourselves.

Monday, November 21, 2011

what it feels like

Close your eyes. Imagine that you're standing in a bakery. Not just any bakery - the best bakery in Paris, it's windows fogged, crowded with people who jostle for space in front of it's long glass cases. The room is fragrant and you can't take your eyes off the rows of cinnamon rolls and croissants, iced petits fours, flaky napoleons and elephant ears. Every counter holds at least one basket of baguettes, still warm from the oven.

And you're hungry. In fact, you're starving. Hunger is a tornado whirling in your chest, a bottomless vortex at your core. Hunger is a tiger sharpening its claws on your tender insides. You stand in front of the glass cases, trying to swallow, but your throat is dry and your stomach clenches and contracts.

You want more than anything to lick the side of an eclair, swirl the custard and chocolate against your tongue. You dream about biting off the end of a cruller, feeling the give of the spongy dough, the brief molecular friction of the glaze against your teeth, flooding your mouth with sweetness. The woman beside you reaches into a white paper bag, pulls out a hunk of sourdough roll. You see the little puff of steam that flares from its soft center, breathe in its warm yeasty smell. She pops it into her mouth and chews and you chew along with her. You can almost taste the bread she's eating. Almost.

But you can't, not really, because how long has it been since you've tasted bread? A month? A year? And though your stomach grinds against your backbone and your cheeks are hollow, though the tiger flays your belly, you can't eat. You want to, you have to, but your fear is greater than your hunger. Because when you do - when you choke down a spoonful of plain yogurt, five pretzel sticks, a grape - that's when the voice in your head starts up, a whisper, a cajoling sigh: "You don't need to eat, you're strong, so strong. That's right. Good girl."

Soon the whisper is a hiss filling the center of your head: "You don't deserve to eat. You're weak, unworthy. You are disgusting. You don't deserve to live." You, you, you. The voice is a drumbeat, a howl, a knife sunk in your gut, twisting. It knows what you're thinking. It knows everything you do. The more you try to block it out, the louder it becomes, until it's screaming in your ear: "You're fat. You're a pig. You make me sick. No one loves you and no one ever will. You don't deserve to be loved. You've sinned and now you must be punished."

So you don't eat, though food is all you think about. Though all day long, wherever you are - doing homework, sitting with friends, trying to sleep - part of you is standing in the bakery, mesmerized with hunger and with fear, the voice growling and rumbling. You have to stand there, your insides in shreds, empty of everything but your own longing. There will be no bread for you, no warm buttery pastries. There's only the pitiless voice inside your head, high-pitched, insistent, insidious. There's only you, more alone than you've ever been. You, growing smaller and frailer. You, with nowhere else to go.

The voice is part of you now, your friend and your tormenter. You can't fight it and you don't want to. You're not so strong, after all. You can't take it and you can't get away. "You don't deserve to live." You want to die. This is what it feels like to have anorexia.

(excerpt from "Brave Girl Eating" by Harriet Brown)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

tell me about yourself

First, I need to thank the lovely Sarah who nominated me for this award. She has an awesome blog so make sure you check it out if you haven't already :-)

The rules of this nomination are:
To tell seven random things about myself as well as pass on the award to seven other great bloggers.
Nominees, in order to accept this award you must:
-Thank and link back to the person who awarded you.
-Write seven random things about yourself.
-Award seven other awesome and inspiring bloggers.

1- I was born just outside of Chicago, and I have also lived in West Virginia, Texas, & Oklahoma before moving here to Utah when I was 9 years old.

2- I love cupcakes!!! They are my most favorite dessert ever!

3- I am left-handed ; )

4- I love learning, challenging myself, & experiencing new things. My latest endeavor is Latin dancing with my boyfriend. The ones we are learning now are the Salsa and the Bachata. And I am really enjoying it. I am also trying to learn Italian with him. (He is half-Italian) And slowly, but surely I am learning (and retaining) it.

5- One of my guilty pleasures is the soap opera General Hospital (...I am addicted, and I have been since high school. lol.)

6- I love to do jigsaw puzzles!

7- I am easily entertained. And, I prefer spontaneity to planning.

There are so many blogs that I love but I can only choose seven so... the bloggers I am passing this on to are:
* one of my bestest friends EVER!
* the lovely Kylie-Rose
* the sweet Emily
* my beautiful baby sister Ashley
* the fabulous Sarah
* the strong Emily
* the inspiring Scott


Friday, November 4, 2011

zumba does a body good!

Last night, while I was in my Zumba class, I started thinking about how much this class has helped me with my body image. Even though I love dancing (ballet the most), I couldn't help but think back to how - in the past - I NEVER would have felt comfortable shaking my booty and just letting go like we do in Zumba (especially in front of other people!) But I do feel comfortable and I love it!!

I love going to my class because it's such a great stress reliever and it's impossible to not feel happy and have a smile on your face while you are there! It's such a great way to not only connect with your body, but also gain more confidence in your body and your self. And it's been such an amazing help for me as I am learning to love and accept (and be comfortable!!) in this new healthy body of mine. Curves and all! At first, I was a little self-conscious, naturally... Because I haven't really put myself (and my body) out there like this since I gained all the weight. But it didn't take as long as I thought for me to be able to let go and just feel the music and my body. And now... I love it! It's so fun and a great form of exercise. It doesn't feel like exercise - it feels like I am in dance class. I crave my Monday and Thursday night classes and it's a positive & healthy part of my week, and my recovery.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

happily never after

Throughout the years, as I have gone through the ups and downs of recovery, my recovery playlist has also grown. Each song holds a special, emotional, & memorable place in my heart because of how it helped me during that time in my recovery. Music is something that has always been a huge part of my life. Those of you who know me personally know this about me, but for those of you who don't - I have had a passion for singing and songwriting ever since I was young. I wanted to be a songwriter "when I grew up." My eating disorder took this dream away from me as it broke me down (inside & out). But a big part of me still has that dream. And I have been writing more again lately, so maybe....

The song that I wanted to share is one of my current recovery songs. This song is so powerful to me because of everything that I have been through because of my eating disorder. And so, when I first heard it, it gave me chills as I listened to the words. This song is filled with so much emotion for me, and what it's like to feel the freedom of letting go of the ed and believing that I do deserve better. That we all deserve better! And when I listen to it - it gives me the strength and courage I need to keep fighting, and to keep striving for recovery. Throughout my recovery, I have run back to the eating disorder so... many... times. I never thought I would be able to let go of it. And now that I am finally experiencing what life is like without my ed - I never want to go back! And that's what this song is about for me. I hope y'all like it too. It's called "Happily Never After" by The Pussycat Dolls.

(side note: - the "him" in this song is referring to the eating disorder)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

the middle one

"I am the middle sister," she reads. "The one in between. Not the oldest, not the youngest, not the boldest, not the nicest. I am the shade of gray, the glass half empty or full, depending on your view. In my life, there has been little that I have done first or better than the one preceding or following me. Of all of us though, I am the only one who has been broken."

"On the day of my youngest sister's ninth birthday party," Whitney continued. "I'd been sulking around the house all day, feeling alternately ignored and entirely too hassled, which was pretty much my default setting, even at eleven. My older sister, the social one, was going to ride her bike down to the neighborhood pool to meet some friends and asked me to come along. I didn't want to. I didn't want to be with anyone. If my older sister was friendly, and my younger sister sweet, I was the darkness. Nobody understood my pain. Not even me."

"My older sister got on her bike and headed for the pool, and I started to follow. I always followed, and once we were riding, I started to get angry about it. I was tired of being second. So I turned back. And suddenly, the road was empty ahead of me, this whole new view, all mine. I started to pedal as fast as I could. It was great. Freedom, even the imagined kind, always is. But as I got farther away, and didn't recognize what was ahead of me, I started to realize the distance I was covering. I was still going full speed, away from home, when my front wheel suddenly sank, and I was flying. It's a funny feeling, being suddenly airborne. Just as you realize it, it's over, and your sinking. When I hit the pavement, I heard the bone in my arm break. In the moments afterwards, I could hear the wheel of my bike, ticking as it spun. All I could think was what I always thought, even then: that this was just not fair. To get a taste of freedom, only to instantly be punished for it.

Everything hurt. I closed my eyes, pressing my cheeks to the street, and waited. What for, I didn't know. To be rescued. Or found. But no one came. All I'd ever thought I wanted was to be left alone. Until I was. I don't know how long I lay there before my sister came back for me. I remember staring up at the sky, the clouds moving past, and then hearing her call my name. When she skidded to a stop beside me, she was the last person I wanted to see. And yet, like so many times before and since, the only one I had. She lifted me up and settled me onto her handlebars. I knew I should be grateful to her. But as we pedaled toward home, I was angry. With myself, for falling, and with her for being there to see it. As we came up the driveway, my younger sister, the birthday girl, burst out of the house. When she saw me, my arm dangling useless, she ran back inside yelling for my mother. That was her role, as the youngest. She was the one who told.

My father took me to the emergency room, where the bone was reset. When we got home, the party was almost over, presents unwrapped, the cake just being served. In the pictures taken that day, I am holding my arm over my cast, as if I don't trust it to keep me together. My older sister is on one side, the hero; my younger sister, the birthday girl, on the other. For years, when I looked at that snapshot, all I could see was my broken arm. It was only later that I began to make out other things. Like how my sisters are both smiling and leaning in towards me, while I am, as always, between them.

It was not the last time I would run away from my sisters. Not the last time I thought being alone was preferable. I am still the center sister. But I see it differently now. There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can ever truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together."

(excerpt from the novel "Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen)

(me in the middle)

Growing up as the middle child in the family was difficult for me. I didn't know where I fit in, and often felt lost and ignored among my siblings. There are 5 of us. Two older and two younger. I think it was also one of the factors (there were many) that led to the development of my eating disorder. It gave me an identity. A way to cope. Something to focus on and control. Something that was mine - no one else's, and no one could take it away from me. It became my best friend, the thing that I could turn to for comfort. Growing up, I felt like the one who was always doing things wrong, getting in trouble, and making mistakes. The one who would never be as smart, pretty, well-mannered, talented (ect.) as my other siblings. I often felt like I could just slip away and no one would miss me. I don't blame my family. My family was (and is) a close and wonderful family. I think it was my personality, my super-sensitiveness, and feeling lost in all the shuffle that caused me to feel this way.

I don't feel this way as much anymore. Through my years of treatment, I have mended a lot of the feelings that I felt growing up. I know my family loves me, and I know they always have. I know it was really tough for my parents to have a child who struggled so terribly with this illness. And I know it was hard for my siblings to have a sister like this as well. I am grateful that I was able to mend these relationships, and I have never felt closer to my family then I do now. I am grateful for that. But often, I still think about that little girl who felt so lost and forgotten in the shuffle of a big family. The little girl, who then turned into a teenager, and then a young adult - never really knowing where she belonged or who she was. Who became trapped in a deadly eating disorder that hurt her (very nearly killed her!!) and hurt the people around her for much too long. I am healing from this past pain - but I won't forget. I know I can't go back and change things. But that's okay because I know that my past has helped shape me into the person I am today.

I am glad that young girl is finally finding her wings, her voice, her identity, & her purpose in a healthy and positive way. I feel grateful that this young girl is healing and not letting the past define her any longer. This young girl will always be a part of me. But she is growing stronger and more confident every day. She no longer feels lost and forgotten in the shuffle. And for that - I am grateful. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

diet soda update

I am happy to report that I have only had diet coke a couple times (in moments of vulnerable, tempting, weakness) since that fateful...(er, I mean mindful...?) day in September that I vowed to try this yet again. I am proud of myself because it has not been easy. At all. I love my diet soda, and it's been really hard to give it up. Which is why it has taken me many many... many tries. But I am determined. I am too addicted to it. And even in recovery, I have found that I did sometimes, still find myself using it to replace eating. Not purposely, I don't think. Just habit still, I suppose. But that is not good. I am aware of this now. And I will admit it.

Also, I am trying to listen to my body ( and my doctors) and do it for my health. My treatment team has told me over and over again, that it is not healthy for me. My body has gone through so much damage because of the eating disorder, and it is still trying to heal and recover. And the choices I make regarding food and exercise DO affect that healing.

I am starting to get used to not drinking it. (wow, did I really say that!?) And it IS getting easier day by day, the longer I go without it. But I do still find myself wanting to reach for it when I see it at the store, or I am at a restaurant. I know I still need to be careful, because as the past has shown me - once I start drinking it again, I fall quickly back into the cycle. I know this was the right decision for me. So I will keep on truckin' down the path and try not to look back... too much.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

never stop fighting for recovery

"You and I,
know what it's like,
to be kicked down - forced to fight.

But tonight, we're all right,
So hold up your lights,
and shine!"

(from the song "Lighters" - Eminem, Royce Da 5'9", & Bruno Mars)

Friday, October 7, 2011

"You look so healthy!"

"You've gained so
much weight! You look so healthy! You look so much better!"

I don't get these comments said to me as much as I used to. I have been able to maintain a healthy weight for nearly a year now (which is something I never thought I'd be able to do!) So most people around me have already gotten those comments out of their system (while I silently cringed uncomfortably & wanted to die the whole time...because the eating disorder had me convinced that they were calling me fat...). But someone I hadn't seen in a while said these things to me the other day. And while it's true that I do feel a lot more comfortable in my body now then when I first reached this weight - it does still trigger some negative feelings for me when people say this. I am not sure why. I thought I had gotten over that part.

I have worked so hard in recovery, and I am learning to love my body more and more every day... so why do these comments still bring up negative feelings? Feelings of embarrassment, guilt, shame, regret, ect. I am proud of myself for reaching this weight. Every day I am learning to love my body more. I am grateful for all of the things I can do now - that I couldn't do when my weight was so unstable. It has taken a lot of hard work in my recovery (a long, tiring, difficult, seemingly endless process full of relapses), a lot of self-acceptance, a lot of time and patience as I was getting used to having all of these new curves, and certain people in my life to help me to truly believe that this body is a better & healthier body for me then the one that I had for so long while I was struggling with my eating disorder. And most days, I believe that. I am happy with the weight I am at. I look like a woman now instead of a little girl. I have curves. Curves are beautiful. And I feel good about that.

But those comments... still do sting a little. They are still hard to hear, and it does make me catch my breath & panic for a minute when I hear them (and then "healthy jenn" quickly intervenes and reminds me that those comments are a good thing!) and I feel more okay about it again. I guess it just surprised me how much those comments affected me the other day. Especially since I've been feeling pretty confident and comfortable at the weight I am at (which I never thought would be possible!!) But it is. And I do. So why do I still feel that way when I hear those comments? Is it just a part of my mind that is still irrational and I just need to give it more time in recovery? Or will those feelings always be there in the back of my mind?

Monday, September 19, 2011

a great day to rock climb

I had such a great day yesterday! We drove out to Big Cottonwood Canyon and had a little picnic (we needed fuel for the climbing, of course) and relaxed for a bit by one of the rivers and then... we were ready to climb! The thing about rock climbing outdoors is - it takes a lot longer to set the climbs up because you have to set the climbs yourself, as opposed to indoor where everything is all hooked up and ready to go. But I trust my boyfriend, and I feel safe with him.. Him and his friend have been rock climbing for a really long time and know what they are doing, so it was fine and I knew things would be set in a safe and careful way. It was a really nice day to climb too! I love being outside in the fresh air, up in the canyons/mountains, away from the noise and chaos of the world. It is quiet, peaceful, and relaxing up there. Very serene and beautiful.

I started off on an easy one to just get used to climbing outside. Then, I watched the guys do their really hard ones for a while. I am always amazed at what the body can do! Then, I tried some harder ones. It was tough and it really pushed me physically and mentally. I almost gave up after a couple tries, and there were many times when I was up on the climb yelling for them to bring me down because I couldn't do it anymore! It was too hard, my muscles were too tired, and at times the fear came rushing in and it was too scary to take that next step or reach - but the guys kept encouraging me and pushing me to keep going. So I kept trying, and I pushed myself past what I thought my physical and mental limitations were. I surprised myself (and them) and actually did a lot better than I thought I would be able to do! I am so proud of myself because the old me would have let the doubt and fear overpower and I would have just given up. But I pushed through. It was so scary, it was hella tough, I was tired and my muscles ached - but I pushed through it and was determined to not give up. And it's such a rush when you succeed and pull yourself up higher and higher... I can't explain the feeling, but it's so cool!

I have come such a long way throughout my recovery, and it's so amazing to see the person I'm becoming now. I am so grateful. Grateful for the things in my life. Grateful that I am still alive(!) to be able to live and experience all the things I do. Grateful to have a body that is healing and able to let me experience things everyday. Grateful for friends and family who never gave up on me and who love and support me every single day. Grateful that the eating disorder is no longer the thing that dictates my every thought and action. I am just feeling so grateful and happy right now. I still have things I struggle with, of course. Life is still hard and recovery is still a process. But I have grown and strengthened myself enough so that when those hard times come, and when the ed is trying to pull me down... I am able fight. To recognize the truth through the haze of the eating disorder. And when I can't... I have my friends and family who help me and pull me through. It was a great day, and I can't wait to go climbing again! ; )

Sunday, September 18, 2011

nervous but excited

I am going rock climbing outside for the first time today! I am really excited(!) ...but nervous. I have been learning, practicing, and trying to build up my endurance and strength at an indoor rock gym for the past few months and now, I am going to finally try it outside! I am nervous because it is a lot different outside, and I still don't think my arms are as strong as they need be- but I'm excited at the same time so... here I go!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

let's try this... again

I know this is going to sound familiar to a lot of you who know me but... I am determined to get it right this time! Seriously. Today is day one of no more diet coke (... and diet pepsi, diet mountain dew, diet dr. pepper... lol).

Throughout my recovery, I have been trying to learn to not have an "all or nothing" thought process (because as we all know, that's a big thing with eating disorders). I have tried, and tried... and tried to only drink diet soda sparingly - only to fail miserably every single time. 

I really should not be drinking it at all due to health issues (caused by my ed...) And the simple fact that it's just not very healthy (for anyone really). But I love it so much! It seems, in regards to diet soda, I need to just stop drinking it. Completely. Because every time I have tried this in the past, I always start off really good and only have it every once in a while. But before I know it. I am drinking a lot of it every day again, and I am back into my addiction to it. (*sigh*) So wish me luck, because this is gonna be really tough. But I am gonna do it! I will be healthier because of it. I need to do this for me. Besides, there are a lot of other yummy things to drink like... water, juice, milk... right???

Monday, August 29, 2011

the way recovery ((and life)) feels at times...

she says: "I don't know what
to believe."

he says: "sometimes... you just need to believe."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

you'll get through this... one day at a time

"Try not to worry. Try to look at what you're going through as a challenge rather than an obstacle, a time to develop patience. To achieve more objectivity, detach yourself from the struggle. Have confidence in yourself, and realize that you can change your attitude even if you can't change the circumstances.

Look closely at your troubles. Don't let them cause you to give up! Befriend them and learn from them. Allow them to teach you what you want to know and move on. Try not to be afraid. You're a survivor. You're going to handle this. You're going to find strength that you didn't know you had, and grace to deal with whatever comes along. Then, when you're on the other side, you will look back on this time in your life and draw strength from the knowledge that even though the road was rocky, you persevered and carried on."

The Language of Recovery
Donna Fargo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

striving to be an intuitive eater

Intuitive eating is still a concept that I am working every day on becoming more comfortable with. I still have my bad days, the days I struggle with it... but I am getting closer every day. When it was first introduced to me from my treatment team... It straight up terrified me! I thought that there was no way I would EVER be able to trust my body and eat intuitively. Because that meant I would have to let go of the control I was desperately trying to hold on to. It sounded impossible! My eating disorder was all I knew...and now people were expecting me to just let go of that and trust them, trust my body, and trust this foreign (fear & anxiety inducing!) concept called intuitive eating? "No way... I can't!!" And for a long time, that was something I never thought I could do. I thought I would be forever trapped, and forever controlled by the eating disorder.

Disordered Eating is: 
• Rigid
• Dictated by rules
• Ignores physical cues for eating
• Very judgmental and associated with feelings of guilt and shame
• Cues to eat or not eat are based on external factors or from the head, not the body

Intuitive Eating is:

 • Flexible
• Dictated by whether or not y
ou are hungry or full
• Allows you to enjoy a wide-variety of foods, without guilt or shame
• Cues to eat are largely based on your physical need and cravings for certain types of food

It took a long time, lots of ups and downs, steps forwards and steps backwards, but I am becoming more of an intuitive eater every day. It's still a process, I still have a ways to go - but I am getting there. And that's the important thing. And one of the biggest changes I have noticed is that I am no longer fearful of it. I welcome it with open arms. Naturally, there still are those times when I struggle, and the ed convinces me to revert back to my old eating habits... but I try to not let that discourage me. I remind myself to "do the next right thing" and try to get back on track the best I can. I am more aware, I know better now, and I am strong enough in my recovery to know that the best way for me to feel happy, healthy, & free is to continue striving for the goal of becoming an intuitive eater. I know I will get there! And all of you who are also fighting every single day to break free from the tight - deadly - hold that your ed has on you... I know you will get there too. I truly believe that. With all my heart.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

injured and feeling restless

A week ago, while I was at the gym, I pulled some muscles in my thigh pretty badly. I have been trying to rest as much as I can (well, trying to at least...) but it's been hard for me. I am an active person. I am not good at being sedentary for too long before I want to get up and do something! I know I need to let my body heal and recover before I try to be too active... but even walking around or sitting in certain positions are painful. I am getting very restless. And it's affecting my mood :(

I have been feeling anxious about not being able to exercise at all for a couple of weeks... maybe longer... Which makes me wonder if I am starting to become addicted to exercising again, or if I just miss the "feel good" endorphins I get from my workouts. I don't know. Maybe my body is using this as a way to warn me that I have been pushing myself too much. Or maybe it's just a stupid, annoying injury and has nothing to do with over-exercising. I don't know. It does make me wonder though.

I am trying to listen to my body, be patient, & do what I need to to take care of it - because my body knows what it needs to heal itself, and I need to trust my body! (which is still really hard for me sometimes). But maybe this is my body testing me and saying "Okay Jenn, let's see how you handle this roadblock. Are you gonna listen to me and trust me this time, or are you gonna let the ed thoughts creep back in and try to take control?"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

my Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to...
Accept the things I cannot change:
(things like...)
* my past
* other people's thoughts, feelings, & behaviors
* the fact that I am not perfect (and that's okay)
* my "set point" - the weight my body naturally wants & needs to be at to be healthy
The courage to change the things I can:
(things like...)
* recovery & ways that I cope
* my future
* standing up for myself & setting healthy boundaries with people
* accepting mistakes I make & accepting myself
* forgiving myself & loving myself
And the wisdom to know the difference:
Understanding that I can't always control what happens in my life - but I can control how I react to them, how I cope with them, and how I learn from them and move forward.
God, grant me the patience for all the changes that take time,
appreciation for all that I have,
tolerance for those with different struggles,
and the strength to get up and live one day at a time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Next Right Thing

I have been reading parts of the book Goodbye Ed, Hello Me recently. I love both of Jenni Schaefer's books. They have been a staple (a must have) throughout my recovery! My copies of both of her books are highlighted, underlined, written in, folded down pages for chapters I especially like... they are worn & broken in!

I love the way she writes and expresses things, I love that the chapters are short and simple, and I love that there is a chapter for so many of the obstacles that we need to face, overcome, and heal from as we are on our journey to recovery. And they are books that you can read over and over, as different parts will speak to you louder than others depending on where you are in your recovery. 

Last night, I was reading the chapter "The Next Right Thing." She actually has a chapter about this subject in both of her books. This is something that was vital for me to learn in my recovery, and it still is something that I am working on being better at. It's one of the ways I try to live my life. I try not to beat myself up when I make a mistake or I slip, and I also try not to use it as an "excuse" to keep going in whatever behavior I am engaging in. Like thinking... "Well, I started such and such behavior so... I might as well finish it." None of us in recovery are perfect, but that's okay. The goal is progress, NOT perfection. And the important thing to learn is that when you do slip - you don't have to keep going! You can do the next right thing. 

In "Life Without Ed" she talks about doing the next right thing in our recovery. And then in "Goodbye Ed, Hello Me" she expands this and talks about learning how to do the next right thing - not just in recovery - but in all aspects of our lives. And one quote that I really like is "If I relapsed, I learned that I needed to get back on track NOW, not later."
"Ed blindsided me. After several months of following my food plan with no binging and purging, yesterday, Ed came on strong with wanting me to binge. The situation was perfect for him. I was extremely hungry. I was at a place where I had frequently binged before. And I was bored. So, Ed took the opportunity to say, "Jenni, I know exactly what to do here. It will be fun - for old times sake." Before I even knew it was happening, Ed had me. I was in the middle of a binge. Then, Ed really jumped in stronger. He said, "Well, I guess you're back with me now. And you actually thought you were 'recovered.' Of course, tomorrow you are going to have to starve all day long in order to make up for this binge. Then, you'll need to restrict all week."

"No," I said to myself. "I will not go back there." The day after the binge, I refused to go back to Ed. Just one night with him reminded me of how miserable I was with him - how trapped I was. Instead I followed the advice that someone gave a girl in group therapy not long ago after she had relapsed. The advice was, "Do the next right thing." For that girl, the next right thing was to go home after group and eat dinner. For me, the next right thing was to eat breakfast.

Eating breakfast would be a huge violation of Ed's rules. He says, "If you eat breakfast, you won't be able to fit into that dress to wear to the baby shower today. If you eat breakfast, forget about ever wearing those jeans that you just bought. If you eat breakfast, you're going to have to work out extra hard this week. If you eat breakfast, you're a failure." I'll admit it. At the time, I almost agreed with Ed. He was very convincing. But even if I agreed with Ed, I could still disobey him, which is what I did.

Food is something I am going to have to face at least three times a day for the rest of my life. And I am not perfect. But one really bad day does not mean that I am hopeless and back at square one with my eating disorder. Olympic ice skaters fall in their quest for the gold. Heisman trophy winner throw interceptions. Professional singers forget the words. And people with eating disorders sometimes slip back into an old pattern. But all of these individuals just pick themselves back up and do the next right thing. The ice skater makes the next jump. The football player throws the next pass. The singer finishes the song. And I am going to eat breakfast."

excerpt from "Life Without Ed" by Jenni Shaefer

Monday, July 18, 2011

a bagel with cream cheese, and a smile

There was a long period in my life when I would have rather died(!) than allowed myself (or even considered to allow myself) to eat a bagel with cream cheese! But that is exactly what I am doing right now (and there is no anxiety, no "should I, shouldn't I" thoughts, no guilt!) I'm just sitting here writing and eating a yummy bagel with a "normal" amount of cream cheese on it, and smiling because it tastes so good. And, I never could have believed that it would actually become one of my favorite foods... but it is!

It's moments like this when I am able to recognize how far I have come in my recovery, and how nice it is to actually be able to eat without feeling the guilt that the ed has consumed me with for so long. And even though, I do still have some foods that I struggle with, and even though I am still susceptible to restriction tendencies when I am having my "low moments" - I enjoy food a lot more now... And for that, I am grateful ; )

Sunday, July 17, 2011

letting go of the ed identity

“Sometimes a part of us must die before another part can come to life.”

I have been thinking a lot lately about this quote. I think it is a very powerful, freeing, yet terrifying thing. I think one reason why I held onto my eating disorder for as long as I did was because I was afraid that if I let it go - I would disappear. I would be nothing. That there was nothing to me except my ed identity. I felt like as the years went by, and I fell deeper and deeper into the ed - all of the other parts of me were slowly falling away. It consumed me, it was how people knew me ("the girl with the eating disorder"), it became me...

But throughout my years of struggling to recover. Through all of the ups and downs, the successes and relapses. Letting go of the ed identity and finding "jenn" again was always one of the main goals in my treatment. I would start to let the ed go but then I would get scared because people would ask me... "what does jenn feel?" "what does jenn like?" "what does jenn think?" And I rarely had an answer for this. I got so used to letting the eating disorder dictate and answer those questions for me. I felt lost without the ed. So naturally, I would run back to the ed and let it continue running my thoughts, my emotions, my life.

I felt like I would never be able to have the courage to truly let the ed go. I thought I would forever be wrapped in it's deadly arms. I felt like I would never be able to find "jenn" again. I thought I had lost her forever. She was too far gone, she was too entangled in the madness. But I had to find a way to let it go. I was running out of "second chances" with this illness, and with my life!

"There had to be a death of that persona before I could emerge from the disease and achieve full recovery. There also had to be a lot of pain and struggle because I was ultimately attached to that persona – it WAS me.

But ultimately, the pain that comes with the letting go of the eating disorder, the confusion and disorientation is absolutely necessary. It is a signal that a major shift is taking place. It may happen to us many times over, during different stages of our lives, as we say goodbye to the identity that we formed in order to survive through that period of our lives."
And then about a year ago, while on vacation with my family up in Park City, Utah. Something happened that I will never forget. I was in a pretty horrible relapse at the time. And my behaviors were pretty out of control. I remember one day, I was outside by myself sitting in a park area. It was quiet. Up in the canyons, away from the world, from everyday life. Just ME and the peaceful mountain air, the trees, the sun, the stillness & quiet. And something inside of me woke up. I felt a surge of calm rush through me. I felt a peace I hadn't felt in so long. A peace I never thought I would be able to find again. I remember feeling love (not sure where at the time where it was coming from, God maybe?) and I heard a voice saying over and over "It's okay. You can let go now. You are safe." I will never forget those words. They just kept repeating over and over in my thoughts. And I believed them. For the first time, I believed those words. The love and comfort I felt at that moment brought tears to my eyes and I just sat there for a while. Allowing it to fill me. Allowing it to give me the strength I so desperately needed.

I honestly feel like that was my turning point. Finally, after nearly 16 years of living a life entangled in the eating disorder, I was starting to believe that I might actually be able to let go and move forward in my life. That was the moment that I starting to really believe that it WAS possible to let go of the ed and find "jenn" again. That she has been out there the whole time, waiting for me to come find her. I did still have my hard times in the year that has followed that day in Park City. Really hard times. But I never let go of that moment and how I felt. And it was a big part of what has helped get me through and up to this point in my recovery.

Letting go of the ed, truly letting it go has been very difficult. The process has brought fear, sadness, anxiety, doubt, so many emotions - but it also has been freeing! And it has also brought strength, love, courage, determination, and so many other things. I am still working on finding out who I am without the ed. I am still on that journey. But I can honestly say that "jenn" is more in the driver's seat now then the ed. And that makes me feel truly grateful.