Sick of this

Why does it feel so good to deny myself nourishment?
I read all of the materials, I nod in agreement.
And yet…
And yet I still question my hunger. 

I still question my cravings.
I still remember quietly flipping the pages of Seventeen and seeing the article on “health”.
I remember the feeling of awe I had when I read that sometimes I may not be hungry, I might just be dehydrated! 
Thank you, Seventeen. (I hope you catch my sarcastic tone).
That little trick still creeps into my head at least once a day. It does, and yet I just now truly realized it.
All of my old habits and thoughts play like background noise, all day everyday. I barely even register it anymore.
Mindfulness, Lydia. Be mindful.
Do you know how hard it is to constantly question hunger cues, and then immediately question why I’m having those doubts in the first place? 
It’s exhausting.
I never realized exactly how I felt about my body.
I still don’t totally know.
I’ve never felt at home. Not here.
Put in the words of a body positivity activist, I suppose I’ve always felt like I live in a larger body.
I know I’m not overweight, I do.


But.
I have always felt ashamed of the spaces I fill. 
Always felt uncomfortable, out of place.
Always wanted to disappear.
And yet I believe all bodies are good bodies.
How messed up is that?
I don’t understand, I really don’t.
This is where ed comes in. I have to let go somewhere.
The guilt is too large otherwise.
It must be ed placing these beliefs inside me. 
Was he with me on the day of my birth?
Because he feels like fate.
I don’t want him, he’s not welcome here.
He’s taken enough of my time.
But he’s still here, sticking around like a stray puppy.
I want to give him attention, pat his little head. 
But I know he’s not supposed to be here, he belongs somewhere else.
I can’t encourage this kind of behavior. 
And yet I don’t do enough to stop it.
I shoo ed away, gently try to suggest he walk the other way.
It’s not enough!
I can think “I should get more Calcium” and pop a vitamin in my mouth.
And yet I hesitate to sip on milk.
“I don’t really like it”.
Translates into “I don’t really need it”.
I can’t even trust myself.
I definitely can’t trust ed.
It’s time to start fighting again.
Because I detest status quo.

Avoiding 

4 a.m. stomach growling 
Restless sleep and haunting dreams 
Sleep to deny, sleep to forget 
Rub your eyes, sunshine 
Tapping fingers with golden rings
Feet twitch impatiently
Pull out the phone 
Curious eyes glance at the clock 
Is it time?
Minutes pass at a snails pace
Stomach crying 
Mouth stale with last nights slumber 
Chewing gum, washing mouth 
More minutes pass 
Peek at labels 
Calculate 
Wonder at everyone around you eating so freely 
Cry in frustration 
Finish reading the book
Wash the dishes
Organize papers, straighten shelves 
Sip on coffee 
Finally, it’s “time” and yet still, you at not satisfied 

This is a post to help illustrate how fraught with tension meals and eating can be. They don’t come naturally to most with an eating disorder. There is always the apprehension, the anxiety.
Food becomes more than fuel, or even a source of enjoyment or energy. 

Over a short period of time, I went from a “normal ” teenage girl who would compete against her brother to see how many pieces of pizza she could eat,(it was 7 by the way, and I won) to agonizing over the thought of eating even one bite of pizza.

In the process of working towards recovery, I have made strides toward calmer meal times. I no longer compulsively ask my husband what we are eating that day, I no longer have to know in advance what restaurant I might visit for dinner. Letting even those “small” things go has been so freeing.
It has been a struggle to know what is best when confronting a meal. In this age of always being busy, it’s so easy to rely on autopilot. Checking email, reading a magazine, listening to a podcast. All so called “distractions” but some days that is what it takes to get through a meal. Is this avoiding feelings? Running from thoughts? 
Personally, I think you need to know what feels best. I love reading, so why should I deprive myself the privilege of consuming words as well as nourishment? I do think there needs to be balance though. Find what works for you, and allow yourself enjoyment (I’m writing this for myself as much as for all of you).

In the dark

A memento of depression 



The pit is ruthless. Once you fall in, it feels like there is no hope. 

Sometimes giving in is easier. Maybe this is the only way to truly feel.

You tripped and fell in, or you got tired and saw the dip in the soil, knowing what it was. Your feet carried you there just as much as your heart.

Your heart feels swollen. With pain, darkness, fear, sadness…the list goes on.

You see, in your minds eye, the bottle of little tan pills on the countertop. You take them, but sometimes the pull of the pit is stronger.

You don’t know if there is a way out, and quite frankly, you don’t know if you care. If someone threw a rope to you, would you catch it and hold on? You are uncertain.

Here, you sit with your pain. Your thoughts are on a repeating loop. You want to hurt, you want to feel.

The pit hasn’t always been here. This ground used to be flat and predictable. Safe. You don’t know where it came from, or what made it. An act of God? Or is it an apparition?

Maybe it’s all in your head. The twisting in your gut tells you this is real though. The hatred, the endless, fierce hatred tells you this is real. The walls are rough and crumbly. Maybe you can find a foothold.

No one told you about this place. You didn’t know a place like this even existed. Sometimes you feel a flicker of hope, but you dash it out. Better to feel dead inside, hollow. 

You hear voices, shouts and hollers. It is the ones you love. Are they upset, that you have ended up here again? Are they tired of this pattern you can’t seem to break?

You know others have fallen in too, at different times. You see where they have chipped away at the rocks and scooped out dirt in an attempt to get out. They’ve survived, and you will too. It’s just a matter of how long this will last. 

A few days go by, and you are so tired of this place. You make an attempt to rally your spirits, your eyes search out the handholds from years past. You think you see a way out, but it is never certain.

Believing is half the battle. The air up here is so fresh. How you’ve missed the blue sky. Everything looks better on solid ground.

Your path isn’t the same as anyone else’s. There’s no “cure” no quick-fix. You can’t even say how you got out of that dark place. 

There’s no saying when you will return to your wallowing and hiding. It creeps up on you like a shadow. It’s not the unknowns that you fear though, it is the actual moments when you are down in the pit that are the worst.

You can warn someone about the dark holes that they might one day find themselves in, but you can’t take their place. 
You can tell someone “I’ve been there too” or  “it gets better” but words don’t always heal. You can go into that pit with them, but you can’t pull them out. 

Being in the pit isn’t a choice, but you can choose to try to get out, over and over.

Here’s to those that do. Here’s to those that don’t. Because this isn’t a contest, it’s an illness. Here’s to you, the hurting and broken down. Gather your strength. See yourself through another day.

You don’t have to live your whole life in the dark.

Maybe it’s just me

I’m trying to pinpoint when clothes caused me so much headache. It does bring me some anxiety to shop for clothes, because I don’t really want to connect the dots. I don’t want to admit, believe, discover, lament, my body size. 

It’s not a cause of a full on panic attack, but I do experience some discomfort when flipping through racks of clothing. It’s frustrating to no longer be able to wear the same old worn out clothes that I’ve had for years, to finally care about how I look. It’s annoying to try on clothes and not be able to just assume they will fit, perhaps loosely or not so loosely.

Shirts make me self-conscious, because despite what my husband says, I do have a bit of a “muffin top”. I never used to pay attention to whether or not my tops stayed where they were supposed to, but now if I’m not careful, my midriff displays itself. I have enough mixed feelings about my butt, I don’t need anyone else chiming in. True, low rise jeans may be the culprit…thank god high waisted slacks are back in style.

I remember times when I didn’t give a second thought to wearing the same clothes for days on end. I was simply too cold to find the will to let my skin feel the air on my exposed skin. Or I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it. Who cared anyway? I wore a belt for years whenever I decided to dress in jeans. I got so accustomed to wearing it that I’d often fall asleep with it clasped around my waist. My little brother once asked me why I wore a belt, because weren’t they for boys? Baby, if only you knew!

In my childhood years, jeans that fit me were difficult to find. I think it was Old Navy where I finally got a pair with some elastic adjusters in the waist (actually, it was probably a second-hand store, but Old Navy brand). Even then, the jeans didn’t fit exactly right, but it was better than a hem that fell well above my ankle. I didn’t really care though. I’d happily wear pants that were easier to find, my lean and lanky frame was just me. I never thought that much about it.
Recently I’ve found that jeans are a joke. I wear them, but they’re not comfortable. Every time I eyeball a pair that look like my size, I no longer think about the length of the legs, but whether or not my waist, butt, and thighs will squeeze inside. I’m new to this, but come on, I can’t be the only one. Jeans seem to be designed to cause shame, guilt, and anxiety about our bodies.

I wear jeans. I like how they look. I hate how they feel though. More than once I’ve felt a waistband on my skin, not cutting in, just snug and fitting, (you know, the style that’s “in”) and thought “I can’t eat, I’m getting fat!”. Ugh. As if fighting off thoughts that ed instigates isn’t hard enough.

It doesn’t help that jeans have weird sizes that (apparently) in certain area are a status symbol. Who decided to start at “00”, and why is it that this size obviously has nothing to do with inseams, waist size, etc? 

I really don’t care. I just don’t. There are so many other, more important things to worry about. But on some level, on eds level, I do. I still have these thoughts and feelings that I’m sure are the dregs of an eating disorder. 

My body is finally catching up with typical jeans dimensions, but my brain hasn’t. I’m working on finding peace with my body, food, and clothes. I guess if all else fails, there’s always leggings, right?

If you desire to read more about my problems with jeans, check out this post!

What it means when I say I’m in recovery from an eating disorder 

First, let me set one thing straight: I did not choose anorexia. Anorexia chose me. I didn’t know what an eating disorder was until I had one. This leads me to believe that in my case, anorexia is a manifestation of screwed up chemicals in my brain, random events that may have happened, and genetics.

Anorexia is a living hell, of a sort. Even after being diagnosed as anorexic, I never felt like I actively chose to have an eating disorder. Of course, years ago I was so wrapped up in my symptoms and depression, that I wasn’t trying to get better. I hid food, making my parents believe I was eating it. I over exercised, to the point where I hated it, but had to move to feel OK. 

Anorexia makes having a social life difficult. Many holidays or events revolve around appetizers, meals or desserts. It’s extremely awkward to be the person who refuses the food that is being offered. Sometimes I would tote along my own food (a pita sandwich at Christmas, it embarrasses me even now, and yet I can see how easy it would be to slip back into this mindset of only eating “safe” foods) or pretend to eat the small portions on my plate, when all I was really doing was moving my corn and mashed potatoes around in circles on the fine china.

Even now, eating in front of company can be very difficult. Don’t take it personally if I can’t muster the courage to eat with you, it’s not you its me.

My memory can be quite selective sometimes, it’s easy for me to block complete months or years out of my recollection. But I can’t let myself forget. Not completely, not if I want to keep progressing.

I am in recovery from anorexia. This is a serious mental illness that takes lives. It looks like dieting taken to the extreme,and exercise addiction often accompanies the strict food “rules” and suicidal behaviors.

But what does recovery look like? It looks different for everyone, though paths often converge. What works for me may, or may not work for the next person. 

For me, recovery has been a weird experience. I now strive for health and wellbeing, whereas before, my goal was to slowly fade away. Changing my thoughts and actions has been, and still is, a daily struggle. I often find myself wondering if I will ever fully recover.

Recovery is feeling really great one moment, and lie a complete mess the next. I like to keep my coping mechanisms hush-hush, but the truth is, it’s very easy to slip back into an undeserving, hateful mindset. It is easy for me to feel horrible, and depressed and turn to momentary and “band-aid” approaches to quell the pain. 

Recovery isn’t always pretty. Countless times, I have become a sobbing mess because things aren’t going right, or I feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I shut down, and my walls go up. In the long run, I know I’m hurting myself and those who love me, but my mind feels like a hamster wheel over a lake of fire, going, going…it feels more dangerous to hop off than it does to just keep going.

Some days recovery feels easy, I feel good in my body, and I don’t obsessively think about calories or how big my thighs might be getting. These days are wonderful and carefree, and they help the hard times feel a little bit easier to cope with. I know I’m always going to have days that aren’t so great, days when I struggle to feed myself and use my mindfulness in a positive way. What matters is getting through these rough patches and not succumbing to them.

Recovery has meant growing out of lots of my clothes, and having frustrating moments of tugging a pair of jeans on, only to find I can’t button them anymore. This can be a triggering and healing experience. On the one hand it reminds me of the way my weight has changed, but in the other it helps me come to terms with the fact that I don’t have to be a certain size to be happy, though the media would have us believe otherwise.

Recovery is knowing your limits. There are times when people did not listen to me because of my mental illness, believing the words can’t out of my mouth were the words of the eating disorder. A doctor tried to force me into the eating disorder unit at a nearby hospital, one that I have not heard positive things about. I fought tooth and nail, and to this day I still feel traumatized by this instance and feel confident in my choice to refuse inpatient treatment. I am in a much better place now mentally, and I’m proud of the hard work me, my family and my treatment team has done. I’ve even give some thought to residential treatment, and I can honestly say that if I don’t feel capable of reaching full recovery working outpatient, I would seriously consider an out of state institution with positive outcomes. I’m not saying outpatient is right for everyone, by any means. It’s not a decision to be made lightly though. And I don’t believe a doctor who doesn’t even know me should feel like she is in a position to commit me.

Recovery is a process. One that takes commitment and support. Once I began to show I was serious about recovery, my family stepped into place beside me and helped me make positive decisions. It was still up to me to put in the hard work, but it made things so much easier to have a support hub.

Recovery is not perfect, and I don’t expect it to be. I often choose foods that aren’t in my best interest, and I have discovered a weak spot for ice cream and other sweets. I accept these things as a part of the learning process, and move on. I’ve also realized that some things must come before others in life, and that I can’t rush things. It is what it is.

Recovery is naps, good food, buffets and vacations. It’s taking time for myself, and making time for others. It’s hugs and kisses and letting others in. It’s facing fears and past wrongs, forgiving and holding on. It’s being lazy and happy, sitting in fierce depression and realizing I’ll be OK. It’s accepting help, and love. I’ve found it’s all about the love. Recovery is loving yourself enough to heal for you. Placing enough value on yourself. Because you are worth the effort. And so am I.

To the brave

Oh brave one, when did you begin to hate? Who planted that seed of an idea deep within your soul, and taught you to nurture it?
When were you witness to such an act that would allow you to believe hurting was better than loving?
Did you carry it with you from a past life, like a scar on the bark of a tree, or did you pick it up like an artifact found in the dust beneath your feet?
Where does your soul find rest besides causing pain and destruction? 

Why, darling, do you insist on loving others and hating your very being?
Your feet are restless and your heart beats as your breath slips in and out. Who fed you the lie that you do not deserve the very air you are breathing?
Darling, look at your life. Where did you get the notion that you are to be alone? 

Your awkward shuffles and motions, feet trip and arms bending. Catch yourself before you fall.
Oh, brave one, you can be love. Love and be loved. You reflect worth. Why do you continue to doubt? 
You have always been surrounded by blessings and care, why do you continue to refuse the gifts you receive? 
You ask why your life was chosen, seemingly at random. Confusion and anxiety are at the forefront of your life, and you begin to realize that maybe it doesn’t have to be this way.
Oh, you have the strength to change and overcome. I know how hard this is. Please keep on this path and be courageous.
Oh, brave one, diminish the hate. The root is too deep, and can’t be removed from the gritty soil. The thorns cut your hands and blood runs in tiny rivers down your palms.
It takes finding yourself and the right tools. You’re frustrated, I know. It seems as if this is a never ending saga, that just when you decide to fight to survive, fate raises a hand to smother you.
You’re exhausted, and fear creeps in. Shadows rising behind you, seen in the corners of your eyes. 
Run, if you know what’s best. Steady feet and a strong will. Your arms and legs stretch like rubber bands, muscles twang and carry you, flying across the mangled ground.

Oh, brave one look at the horizon, you’re going to make it. 

Tough stuff

I knew that I would have to face lots of things when I decided to try this recovery thing. I knew it would be one of the hardest things I might have to ever face.

I knew it would take strength and time. Willingness and passion.

It’s funny to look back now, and see all of the hurdles I had to jump over to follow finally end up here

Here in my imperfection. In my anxiety and shame. The blush is rising in my cheeks as I write this. Because there’s still shame. 

I want people to know. Know that there are reasons behind my motions. And I remember how anyone I know can read my thoughts on here. My heart goes crazy thinking of all of my stories and fears being out there for anyone to read.

And yet I continue. 

But my point isn’t that I am brave or righteous. I just want people to know there’s hope. And on the days when they feel like tomorrow may never come, I want to show them surviving the night is possible.

I can remember sitting in my doctors office making promises that I didn’t know if I could keep. And now I’m here and the only person to make promises to is myself.

I still have my safety net of professionals and family members who are looking out for me, but at the end of the day it’s me who is keeping tabs on why or why not I’m eating.

I’ve heard it’s smart to get rid of your old clothes when you enter recovery. I did go through and donate a lot, but my dresser drawers still held at least fifteen pairs of jeans that still fit. 

What? They really did, I swear. 

I started this thing in September 2015. In a few months I will be returning to September, a year later. 

I keep thinking I’m done, I have nowhere else to go. 

But I do. I have wounds to heal. 

And fears to face.

I finally decided to tackle my drawers full of jeans. I don’t need all of them anyway and I knew most of them didn’t fit now.

No offense, but I felt a little bit like a woman who had just reached a milestone, maybe like a woman who has always wanted to lose those despised last ten pounds…except I didn’t feel accomplished, really.

I didn’t feel joy at stuffing those blue jeans into a box for someone else, smaller than I, to wear.

It hurt to try to wriggle those waistbands up my hips and have them stick.

I’m not going to proudly go shopping, and announce to my friends that I can finally wear size “xx”.

I feel torn. There are moments when I really think about how I feel, and what I’ve been putting this work in for.

And the answer, after “mom, dad, siblings, husband, girls everywhere” is me.

Me. Yep, that’s right. And it sucks because I know I should feel good, and most of the time I do.

But there are days when I know I’m not doing 100% and there are times when my history taunts me.

Ed, the Ed that has been with me for far longer than I care to think about; tells me I’m in control. And that maybe in August of last year I wasn’t so unhappy. 

Ed wants me to be able to put on those jeans and button them up, and still have to reach for my belt, the belt I haven’t used in ages now.

I look in the mirror and ponder whether I am recognizable anymore.

I’m often uncomfortable. 

I take up more space.

I had to return a romper at a store, because I chose size small, and no matter how I pulled and wished and bargained with the universe, the seams wouldn’t give.

Of course there was no size medium.

Letting go is never easy, I suppose.

Especially when it comes to blue jeans.

The “automatic bulimia machine” and starvation as healing tool

I will never be able to diet freely. I have given up that right. A diet will always be lethal to me. It will always be something that will likely spiral into full blown restriction. They say it takes a certain amount of days to create a new habit. For me, one day can make a difference. What happens today will mimic tomorrow. The slightest decrease or increase can spark a change in my eating habits.
I will never be able to exercise again, without first making sure I am in the right mindset. Without checking in and overthinking, wondering if I am pushing myself too hard, or eating enough to sustain activity. My mental health is very closely connected to my physical well being.
Keep these things in mind as you read the rest of this post. I realize some treatments will work well for one person, and for another the response may not be so great. If I had never gone through so many years of restriction and avoiding food, I probably wouldn’t have given a second thought to the troubling articles I read a few weeks ago. 
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, some doctors have decided to test low-calorie diets on patients with certain diseases. A group eating 300-400 calories a day for a week, and then following a strict diet thereafter may have shown some promise. In their physical being, yes. But what about their mental state? Research keeps surfacing, showing how the brain reacts to calorie restriction. Unfortunately, the article I read about this new potential treatment only mentions how calorie restriction can affect certain diseases and conditions, not how it may affect the brain.
I know that this study may seem trivial to some. It stood out to me because it is something that looks all too much like a fad diet gone wrong, like something that could easily lead to severe restriction and strict habits. The all or nothing mentality is something I have either been blessed or cursed with. I’ve had a section of newspaper in my backpack for a week, one that contains an article about this disease fighting method.

I am concerned because we as a society often see the food we eat as poison. So many cultures and holistic doctors swear by eating right, and how it leads to healing. And here we are, looking to starve our sick to banish asthma or MS, when perhaps eating more of the healing, natural foods would be just as beneficial. I am concerned because eating disorders are on the rise, and treatment is still not prevalent for many. I am concerned, because if environment, or genetics, or family history is not taken into consideration, are we setting ourselves up for just one more way to enter into the belief that with food and weight, less is better?

Another article in the Wall Street Journal expounded on a device that is designed to assist the obese with either losing, or managing their weight. This machine, has been referred to as “an automatic bulimia machine” and “medical bulimia” (Slate.com). The idea behind this device is that a person can eat what they like, and then mosey into the restroom where they can then empty a portion of what they just consumed, into a toilet via a tube that is connected to a hole in their stomach.
It is arguable that an eating disorder isn’t that simple. Of course there is more to it. But again, we must think of the mindset. If I know that I can eat all I want, and then run to the toilet and toss some of it, I am getting into the habit of eating anything I want, and knowing some of the calories passing my lips will be negated. My mindset will surely change. It has to. Just as my mindset is likely to change if I am put on a calorie restrictive diet; I am likely to feel deprived at such a low caloric intake…as would most people.
Sometimes it takes an experience that is brutal to make one passionate about something. I hear people talking every day about how food is “good” or “bad”. How they have been “good” or “bad”. Heads are being filled with conflicting information constantly. I see negative and positive. A woman who now requests 1/2 and 1/2 in her latte, when she used to get skim and sugar free syrup. That’s amazing to me. I aspire to be like her; to consume what tastes good to me. To go against the flow. Research. Ask questions. Listen to yourself and your intuition. Perhaps choose foods that have good nutritional content and are going to benefit you.

I have seen the dark side. I know how easy it is to unknowingly self destruct. I gave up my freedom of choice. And I cringe when I hear about the new tricks to maximize your foods taste with as few calories as possible. But the thing is, I still fall for these tricks. It takes constant work and monitoring of my thoughts to make positive change. Make your own decisions. Don’t let your food make decisions for you.