Thursday, December 30, 2010

Overcoming Disordered Eating & Relapse Prevention

I saw a link to this website on twitter that may be useful to people in all stages of recovery. This website, Centre for Clinical Intervention, offers an "Eating Disorder Workbook" with links to a multitude of interactive .pdf files to help you work through symptoms, identify and manage triggers, etc. There are two different workbooks. The second one, Part B, was most helpful to me, especially Module 7 "Relapse Prevention." Here are the links:

Overcoming Disordered Eating - Part A

Overcoming Disordered Eating - Part B

Hope this helps!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to love yourself

Christmas was better than I thought it would be, seeing as though I spent it virtually alone. I had my cat, my miniature Christmas tree, and even a touch of snow. My mother shipped the presents she bought me overnight so that I had something to open on Christmas morning. It was sweet of her. I called home and spoke with my nieces. I miss them so much. They're growing up so quickly. They asked why I didn't come home for Christmas. They don't understand the tension that exists between me and the rest of our family. Then again, it's better that they don't.

This is the first time in 6 years that I treated myself to a special meal on Christmas. And, I did it all for myself. There was no one else to cook for. There was no reason I should eat anything at all. For the past 6 years, I ate nothing on Christmas, or at least very little. This year I made myself some vegan lasagna, some garlic bread, and vegan chocolate chip cookies. I only ate one, but I can't even begin to stress the progress I've made. I've never felt like I was worthy enough to eat. Maybe that sounds strange, maybe it doesn't. I always thought I didn't deserve food. I hated myself so badly. I realize now there is no reason to hate myself. I shouldn't torture my body. It has done nothing wrong. It has never failed me. It has never asked for anything other than to exist as it is, without me torturing it. I decided to treat myself out of respect. I respect my body. I want to feed it, nurture it, and keep it strong.

I've spent too much time and energy being sick. Now, I'm focusing all that time and energy on being healthy.

I know that respect for our bodies is something a lot of people struggle with, even those who have never had an eating disorder. Most women and girls especially hate their bodies. They starve them, nip them, tuck them, tan them, criticize them, torture them, overexert them, abuse them, hate them, loathe them, wish and pray for nothing else but to change them. Why is it so hard for people to see how beautiful they are?

Why was it so hard for me?

I don't have the answer, but I have the solution: love yourself the way you love those dearest to you. Treat yourself. Nurture yourself. Believe in yourself. See the beauty and divinity and strength that exists naturally in yourself, just the way you are.

I've posted this before in another entry, but I've been thinking about it a lot today. At my old church in Las Vegas, one very memorable sermon was about self-respect. The pastor spoke about how critical people are of themselves, especially of their bodies. Then he asked:

How do you think God feels when we criticize his creation?

Because that's what we are: his creations. Beautiful. Holy. Special.

As is.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I am back from my hiatus, and now, a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing graduate! The experience was great, though bittersweet. It's sad (yet somehow liberating) to know I'm on my own. There are no more mentors to guide me. It's my turn to guide myself. During the graduation ceremony, the MFA program chair said when we, the graduates, return home to our desks and work-spaces, we shouldn't arrange the books that are already there; we should sit down and finish writing our own. So, that's what I'm doing. I'm writing my heart out.

Eating during the residency and graduation process was tricky for me, as I knew it might be. There were some days that I didn't eat even a fraction of what I should have. Other days I had three square meals. Part of it was due to stress and anxiety. I had to teach a 50 minute lecture (about anorexia in poetry!) and read one of my pieces to a room full of friends and students and faculty at my senior reading, so there was a lot to worry and stress over. I'm a worrier. I always have been. I tried to take time to just enjoy the Los Angeles sunshine. Sit beneath the palm trees. Watch the ocean waves. Breathe the salty air. It helped me to focus and unwind, until the rain came and wouldn't go away for days and days, but there is beauty in that, too. Luckily, everything turned out okay. There's nowhere left to go but forward.

I'm spending Christmas alone this year. Well, not completely. I'll be here with my cat. My boyfriend is in Minnesota with his family. I'm not exactly sure why I'm not home with mine. That's a wound I don't want to open up at the moment.

Regardless, I'm sending warm Christmas and holiday wishes to whomever is reading this.

God bless.

(Here is me in my graduation robe and hood. I know it's only my back but I like the picture anyway!)


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eat them in joy

Dandelion Greens

They will be bitter but rich in iron--
your spring tonic, your antidote to sleep.
Eat them because they are good for you.
Eat them in joy, for the earth revives.
Eat them in remembrance of your grandmother,
who raised ten children on them. Think
of all the dandelions they picked for her,
the countless downy seeds their laughter spread.

This is the life we believe in--
the saw-toothed blades, the lavish, common flowers.

-Jane Flanders

I'm going to be very busy for the next few weeks. My time as an MFA student (Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing) is coming to an end. I graduate December 19th! Woo hoo! I will spend the time until then going to lectures, reading beautiful things, writing beautiful things in the company of beautiful, beautiful people. I deliver my senior lecture this Saturday morning bright and early. My topic is Anorexia in Poetry. I have a lot to say, a lot of great poems to analyze and dissect. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

With all of this going on, I probably won't be lurking around the blogosphere as often as usual. I'm hoping that my eating disorder does not make an appearance. She is not invited to my senior lecture, my senior reading, the graduation ceremony. I don't want to see her at all during this happy time. I should be proud of myself. I have worked hard and accomplished a lot in spite of her. She will not take that away from me.

The night before I graduate, my boyfriend booked a dinner reservation at my second favorite restaurant in Los Angeles-- Rustic Canyon. Mmm. Did I mention my eating disorder is not invited to that either? This is a time to celebrate, not a time to count calories. I'm having a glass of wine. I'm not worrying about anything. I'm going to breathe and relax.

I just hope I remember that when the time comes.

On a side note, I bought a little tiny miniature Christmas tree yesterday. It's alive! I grew up in a house that only had synthetic trees, so this is my first time ever having a real, live, sap covered Christmas tree. It isn't decorated yet, and it looks a little Charlie Brown, but I like the little guy. My cat likes it too.


Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

(Re) cover ed

The last few days have been a whole bunch of blah. I've been super busy finishing up with grad school. (I graduate in two weeks! Yikes!) In addition, I've been sick with the flu or maybe just a bad cold. Regardless, I've been sniffling and sneezing around my apartment feeling down in the dumpster. I've had difficulties the last few days with eating. I've had no desire to eat. It's not that I'm not hungry, and it's not that I'm consciously trying to restrict. I just don't want food. It doesn't sound appetizing.

But I've been fighting.

Appetite or not, I'm eating anyway. I'm pushing myself. It's the right thing to do. Actually, it's the only thing to do.

Starvation is not an option. It's a horrible feeling. It's a horrible word. And there's simply no place for it in my life.

There shouldn't be any place for it in your life, either.

There is, however, room for health. There is room for happiness. And there's room for hope.

Today I forced myself to eat even though I didn't really want to. I ate chocolate "ice cream". I ate chips. I ate pasta. Holy cow. I know, right? I rarely eat any of those things, let alone all of them in one day. But guess what: It didn't kill me. The world didn't stop turning. I didn't throw up. I didn't work out afterward. And I didn't gain even a pound.

Not to mention, it was yummy.

I'm so tired of being a slave to my eating disorder. The bitch doesn't own me anymore.

I have regressed, restricted, revolted, reacted, rebelled, repented, reflected, rededicated, regrouped, revamped, readjusted, refocused, reconciled, renewed, rediscovered...

and am well on my way to being


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pray for Recovery

I know that it has been a few days now since Thanksgiving, but I'm just now finding time to write about it. My boyfriend and I made the 9 hour drive to Kentucky to see my family. My brother and his wife and kids were out of town, so my mother prepared Thanksgiving dinner for my boyfriend and I, herself, and her new fiancee. It was my first time meeting him. But I'm not writing about that. Since I'm vegan and no one else in my family is, (not to mention a recovering anorexic) any situation where food is involved singles me out. No one knows how to cook for me, except my boyfriend, so we made some vegan lasagna the night before and brought it over so I could at least have something. Before I met him I would have eaten nothing. I've spent 25 out of the 26 Thanksgivings I've lived through with an empty plate and a room full of family staring at me. It isn't only because of my eating disorder, although when I was really sick, I did enjoy Thanksgiving because it was an excuse not to eat. But even before that, I didn't eat on Thanksgiving. I've been a vegetarian since I was a little girl, so even then I would eat nothing but green beans and maybe a dinner roll. When my eating disorder began, I wouldn't even eat that. This year I had the lasagna and green beans and bread, which may not sound like much, but it's the most I've ever eaten on Thanksgiving in my life, so I'm counting it as progress.

Every year I look forward to spending Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house, but this year, given the 9 hour drive and all, we arrived too late to make it. My boyfriend and I visited her the next morning instead. My mother wouldn't come with us. I don't know why. She promised me twice that she would, and then she went back on both promises. It had something to do with her fiancee, but I don't know the full story. 99% of me wants to be a baby about it and get upset because she's putting the needs of this man over my needs. But how can I blame her? I'm a grown woman, not a child. I made my decision to pack up and move away from home, all the way to Las Vegas, literally putting the entire United States between us. Can I blame her for doing the same thing?

Needless to say, family issues abound. Our entire family structure is cracked and shaking. We all love each other but the atmosphere is more than tense. No one really speaks anymore. It's awkward being around my mother, and it's awkward being around my brother. It never used to be that way and I wish that it weren't now. It all happened after my father passed away, my mother couldn't pay for our house, and my brother moved in to take over payments, and we moved out. My mother dating again also has a lot to do with it. But that's not all of it. I know my eating disorder plays a part. Back when it was first developing, I pushed everyone away. I locked myself in my room and spoke to no one. I declined dinner invitations, all invitations really. I pushed everyone away and turned into myself. And now I'm unfolding for the first time, six years later, only now realizing the bridges I burned won't be rebuilt easily. But I want to rebuild them.

On the way back home on Friday my boyfriend and I stopped to see my brother at his wife's family's house. I wanted to see my nieces. I love those little girls so much and I don't get to see them very often. They didn't know I was coming. My brother told them someone special was coming but they didn't know it was me. When I rang the doorbell and they answered it, their little faces lit up and they stared jumping up and down screaming and hugging me. I only spent an hour with them but it was so good to see them. My oldest niece (she's 10) hugged me before I left and said, "Seeing you for only a few minutes was better than not seeing you at all." She's so sweet. A few days later my brother sent me a text that said basically the same thing. Maybe bridges can be rebuilt. Here's to rebuilding them.

Once we left and were on our way back home, my boyfriend drove and I sat in the passenger seat feeling sad and miserable. I was glad to see my family but I was also sad to leave them. And I was still fuming about what happened with my mother. My boyfriend wanted to stop for lunch but I lied and said I wasn't hungry. In reality, I was starving. It was 3:00 in the afternoon and I hadn't eaten anything all day except a banana and some black coffee. I was letting my eating disorder feed off of my unhappiness and anxiety without even realizing it. A few minutes later we passed a church just off the interstate. There was a billboard out front that read in big, bold letters:


It was like a punch to the stomach. Had it been put there just for me?

Pray for recovery.

That's exactly what I did. We stopped for some sandwiches and soy lattes.

I know that I have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm eternally grateful for each and every blessing in my life, big and small. Even when things get crappy and I get depressed, I have to remind myself there is so much to be thankful for. It sounds cliche but it's true.

I have a roof over my head.
Food and water.
People that love me.
Breath in my lungs.
A heart beating in my chest.

That's all I really need, but I have so much more. I've come very far.

God is good. Life is beautiful. We're all beautiful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Open Your Heart

I'm glad to say my boyfriend is finally back from his business trip to Boston. He was gone for two months, leaving me here alone. In other words, the ultimate test of my commitment to recovery. It's huge for me, eating on my own. He (next to my faith in God) has been the most crucial part of my recovery. For the last five years he has taken the time to understand my eating disorder and to help me beat it. Even long before I was ready to get better, he was in my corner, fighting for me to get better. When he's around not eating or restricting is never an option. He simply won't stand for it. But, as I've said before, I can't depend on him to make me eat. I have to do it for myself. I can't be better when he's around and then fall to pieces when I'm on my own. Though I stumbled more than once while he was gone, I'm proud that I didn't spiral into a dark, dark place. There were days when I didn't eat nearly enough, but those days were rare. Most of the time I managed to eat properly and healthily. In other words, I love my boyfriend, I'm happy he's home again, and I want to be healthy for him, but I'm glad to know without a doubt that I have what it takes to be healthy for myself.

We went to the gym tonight after he got home from work. I don't like working out with other people and he doesn't either, so we do our own thing and meet up again when we're ready to leave. I was on the elliptical when I noticed a girl two rows in front of me on a treadmill. Her ponytail is what caught my attention, actually. It kept bobbing up and down as she ran. I wasn't staring at her on purpose, but I found my eyes going back to her over and over again. I felt some kind of connection to her that I couldn't explain. Something told me she had an eating disorder. I don't know why. She was doing nothing to suggest it. She was only running, steady, methodical, determined. Maybe I saw a bit of myself in her actions, the way she ran, the way she looked from side to side. She was thin but not overly thin. She looked normal. Was she? Did I look normal? Was I?

I wondered how many people around me had or have had eating disorders. It's hard to tell by looking at some one. Even people who are very thin are rarely thin because of an eating disorder. On the other hand, people who are a normal weight or even overweight could be suffering from an eating disorder without anyone knowing. Like me. At one point in my life it was obvious that I was sick. But now, no one would ever know. I'm just like any other girl there, the one to the left of me, the one to the right.

We came home and made spaghetti. I ate a lot. My brain kept telling me that I needed to burn some calories off regardless of my workout earlier, but I didn't listen. I wanted to have soy ice cream but my brain reminded me I already ate enough today. And then the ticker tape started up, the calories, ticking. 100, 200, 300, 400. I could see all the day's calories rolling out in front of me. It's tempting to add them all up and know exactly how many calories I've had. In the past, that was my only option; I had to know the number. It was the most important part of the day. It measured my progress and determined my plan for the next day. I could close my eyes at night thinking of nothing except that number 700, or 300. 900, or 0. Regardless, that number was the most important thing, next to the number on the scale, of course. Now I couldn't care less.

I'm not afraid of a stupid number.

I am thankful for how far I've come.

I hope that girl at the gym has never had an eating disorder, and I hope she never does. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

But, for those of us who have to go through this, I just want to offer a reminder:

There is a way out.

There is life on the other side.

There are more important things than calories and fat grams and the size on the tag inside your jeans.

And you're beautiful, no matter what size, shape, weight, age, race, height, gender, nationality, religion, sexual preference.

We're only ugly when we open our hearts to hate.

So open them to love.

I'm opening mine to soy ice cream.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A quick update

It's been a while since I've written. I can pretend it's because I've been busy with school (which I have been) but it's more than that. For the last week or so I've been fighting my eating disorder hard. My head has been flooded with negative thoughts about food and about my body. I thought anything I wrote would turn out negative as well and I didn't want to drag anyone else down with me. In reality, I think it was ED's way of keeping me under. Not writing here means not consciously and actively thinking about recovery. Not thinking about recovery means a higher chance of relapse. The point is,

Recovery is a full-time commitment.

And I'm okay with that because it's worth it.

I don't want to be sort-of recovered. I don't want to be partially recovered. I don't want to be recovered only when I feel like it. I'm tired of 75%, 80%. I want to be 100% better; 100% ED-free.

And, like anything worth having, that takes dedication.

So, this is my re-dedication. This is my chance to regroup, refocus, and NOT relapse. That's the worst possible thing that could happen and I'm not going to allow it. I've said it before but it holds true: there is NO room for an eating disorder in my life.

There's no room for one in your life, either.

There's no room for negativity.

Life is too short as it is. Life should be enjoyed!

I went out this morning and bought myself new shoes: a really cute pair of black boots and a pair of pretty ruby red pumps (which I'm wearing now even as I type this) I am so picky about shoes. I rarely find any that I like, so, for once, I don't feel guilty about buying something for myself.

It's a beautiful day and I'm off to enjoy it.

My eating disorder will not be joining me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fighting the ordinary

All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.
- James Thurber

Each day is becoming progressively colder which has prompted me to do something I dread each and every year: swap out summer clothes for fall/winter clothes. I keep out of season clothes tucked away in the guest room closet, so I've spent the last couple of hours dragging out sweaters and jackets and belts and scarves. I've had some of these clothes for so long. Some are too big. Some are too small. Winter after winter I pull them out and hang them in my closet. Some of them I never wear. Each year I tell myself, "I'll get rid of this one soon." But I never do. Why can't I let go?

Is it because they remind me of the past?

I have this purple sweater I used to wear when my eating disorder was at its worst and my weight was at its lowest. It doesn't fit anymore but I refuse to get rid of it. I suppose I feel like parting with that sweater means letting go of those memories, that time, that struggle that existed when I used to wear it. They aren't the best of memories. That was the lowest point of my life. Shouldn't I want to shred anything up that reminds me of it?

I want to be free from my eating disorder.

But does that mean I want to forget it?

I have no problem letting go of my anorexia. I don't want to be sick anymore. I want to be healthy. I want to be better. I want to stay better. I don't want to be defined as the anorexic girl. But I also don't want to forget that girl ever existed.

I guess I could argue that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? That by remembering how bad things used to be I can appreciate how good things are now? While those things are true, deep down, I'm not sure those are my real motives for hanging on to the past.

Maybe it boils down to identity. For a long time I struggled to define myself as anything other than "anorexic." Now, I don't consider myself anorexic. But I used to be. I'm a former anorexic. A recovering anorexic. An on-the-mend anorexic. Maybe I like that identity too much to part with my past completely. In other words,

Maybe I'm afraid of just being normal.



But I know in my heart that healthy and ordinary are not the same thing. They cannot be conflated into one pathology. Healthy is healthy. Ordinary is ordinary. They should not be made interchangeable.

There are still things about the healthy me that makes me unique. There are things that set me apart from other people. I don't have to count on my eating disorder to make me different.

And I shouldn't worry about labels or parameters or definitions.

And neither should anyone else.

I've been told my entire life it's okay to be me. I am unique. There is not another me. There is not another you.

Let that be enough.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The war still rages

There is something about the cold weather that makes me remember how it felt, the hunger, the rush of starvation. The revelation of doing something secret, something sacred, something all mine.

Maybe that’s why I moved to Las Vegas—to forget it all. The heat is uninspiring. The desert, barren and expansive, roused nothing in me. But the cold, the chill drifting into my lungs, makes me feel.




Today was the first day since I moved to the east coast that the earth felt truly cold. It really feels like November. The trees have changed. The cardinals can be seen again, crimson and proud, sitting on limbs void of leaves. Autumn has broken. Winter stretches its fingers. The sky is open and empty of clouds, bleached white, crystalline. I bury myself under layers of clothes and sweaters and jackets and boots and scarves and can’t help but recall a distinct and painful desire to disappear.

When my eating disorder first started to manifest, six years ago, it was early December. The sky was the same familiar color of smoke. Snow fell and dissolved. Christmas lights twinkled in slow motion. It had been almost two years since my father’s death. I had gained thirty pounds in the time that followed his passing. The heaviest weight of my life, I was miserable. Still grieving. Still broken. I remember sitting on the picnic table outside of our old house alone. It was midnight. The grass was brittle and frozen. The breath spilling out of my lungs materialized and hung in the air.

“Something has to change,” I thought.

The next day I started a diet. I had no intention of starving myself. And I didn’t, at first.

I cut out soda.
I cut out bread.
I exchanged full-fat dairy for fat-free.

Within the course of a few weeks I had seen progress. I was shrinking quickly.

I cut out flour.
I cut out sugar.
I cut out dairy altogether.

I started counting calories. I started skipping meals and setting goals.

1000 calories a day quickly became 800.

Then 600.


People didn’t recognize me. I had lost the extra weight and then some. I was flying through clothing sizes. 9, 7, 5. Pants were too big before I ever had the chance to wear them. I was buying new clothes almost every other weekend.

I realized in February that I had a real problem, but I didn’t want to admit it. I was barely eating at all. I was losing so much weight people were alarmed. I counted calories until there were none left to count.

I felt good. Strong.

I was a skeleton.

I felt happy. In control.

I felt like I was accomplishing things.

By March, I barely had the energy to go to class. I went to a university on the opposite side of the state from where I grew up. I would visit my hometown on Friday evening. When I left to return to campus on Sunday, I wouldn’t eat anything all week long until Friday when I was back home again.

Things started to change.

The happiness didn’t last.

My hair was falling out by the handfuls.

I made the mistake of trying to eat.

Until that point, I was under the impression that I could stop this whenever I wanted. I could turn it off, flip the switch. I could say, “Okay, I’ve had enough” and walk away without paying the price. I was wrong.

One Saturday in May, I was at my mother’s house. Some family friends had stopped by to pick up a clothing donation for the fire department’s clothing drive. I donated all that I had because it was all too big for me. When I went outside with the boxes, no one could believe it was me.

“Oh my God! You are so skinny! What are you eating?”

“Nothing,” my mother said.

It was the first time she had acknowledged it. It was the first time I realized I was hurting more than myself.

Later that evening I decided I would eat something. I battled with myself, a full-on war waged over a bowl of cereal. I poured it into the bowl. I added milk. I got out a spoon, all the while raging internally. Part of me was desperate. Hungry. Starving. It screamed out to be fed. But I couldn’t do it.

I started crying and went to my room. If my mother found the untouched cereal later she didn’t say so. I found it the next morning, soggy, mocking me.

That’s when I first realized I wanted to get help. The trouble was, only half of me wanted it—the weaker half.

The stronger half wanted to keep going, to keep shrinking, to keep starving, to keep losing weight until there was no left weight to lose. She wanted to keep driving 100 miles per hour in the wrong direction.

What else could I do but go along for the ride?

Somehow I managed to overcome her. After years of battling and fighting and gun fire and explosions and mortar and canons and blood and shrapnel. I now have the upper hand, but the war still rages.

I realized that today, the cold inching into my lungs, an overwhelming desire to freefall back into the past rising up in me. The war still rages.

I thought, “What if I just don’t eat?”

“What if?”

“What’s 5 lbs lost?”

“What’s 10?”

“I can stop when I’ve had enough. I promise.”

“It won’t be like last time.”

“I’ll be in control.”

“I won’t let myself go too far.”



Saturday, October 30, 2010

No matter what weight

I've been really frustrated lately because I'm gaining weight. Since I've been so sick for the last few months it has been all but impossible for me to exercise. Sometimes I can manage to do yoga or pilates if I'm really feeling well. Most days, however, I can barely walk the trash out to the dumpster without feeling like I'll faint. Today was one of those days. I tried to do yoga. Coming out of triangle pose, it felt like my head was being sucked straight down through my body and onto the floor. The room got dark. It was like standing up too fast only worse. I closed my eyes and held my head in my hands until it passed.

Later on the phone with my boyfriend, I tried to vent my frustration. I hate not being able to work out. It's not completely because of my eating disorder. I don't want to work out to lose weight; I want to work out because I want to be active. I'm tired of being sick and inactive. I want to do the things I used to do. But now, after these few months of inactivity, I've gained a few pounds. I told my boyfriend how stressed out that made me feel. I kind of snapped. I said something like,

"I REFUSE to gain more weight. It's either work out, or starve."


We both recognized that voice.

After a moment of silence, my boyfriend kind of panicked and went on and on and on about how messed up that was and how I absolutely would not starve. Of course he's right. Of course he is. I know that and I didn't mean to say it. It just spilled out without me even thinking about it.

I don't like feeling this desperate about my body. I hate it. It makes me remember. It makes me uncomfortable. It has to end.

I do know that my health is the most important thing. I want nothing more than to be healthy. Not sick, healthy. Not desperate, healthy. Not skinny, healthy.

Not anorexic.


I'll be honest and admit it. I hate gaining weight. I am at a normal weight now. I'm at a healthy weight. I've been this weight for quite some time without going up or down. Once my weight leveled off, I felt comfortable. After a while my eating disordered thoughts seemed to calm down.

I guess I'm okay being me as long as that me doesn't change.

I guess I want recovery on a conditional basis. Recovery by my rules. Recovery my way.

But guess what? It doesn't work like that.

Loving your body means loving your body no matter what.

Loving yourself means loving yourself no matter what.

Accepting yourself means accepting yourself no matter what.

No matter what size

No matter what shape

No matter what weight.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why I don't trust doctors

I will be the first to admit that I have a very hard time trusting doctors. It's almost impossible for me to believe or to trust anything they say. How do they know? They're only human. Are they misdiagnosing me? Are they sure this medication won't interact with that one? Are they really doing everything in their power to understand me? Do they want me to get better? Do they care at all?

These questions may seem strange to most people. I may seem completely paranoid, but there is a reason why I have a hard time trusting doctors. It's because I haven't always been under the care of the most competent medical professionals. One experience with a "medical professional" has seriously damaged me.

When I was at the lowest point of my eating disorder, I reached a point of desperation. I had lost 80 lbs. I was barely eating at all. When I did eat, I threw up immediately. I was throwing up 8 or 9 times a day. After long, I began throwing up when I hadn't eaten at all. I threw up coffee, diet soda, water. It became a physical act rather than a mental one. My body was so used to purging, I threw up without even thinking about it. I didn't want to get out of bed. I dropped out of school. I moved back in my mother's house. I didn't want to get a job. I didn't want help. I wanted a familiar place to die.

My mother made several appointments for me to see therapists and eating disorder specialists. I didn't show up for any of them. Finally, she persuaded me to come in and speak with a nurse practitioner that she works with. Granted, the nurse practitioner wasn't an eating disorder specialist, but after hearing my mother talk about me, she decided she could help. I don't know why I decided to talk to this woman. It was a big step for me and I don't think she realized just how big that step was. I was vulnerable. Whether she meant to or not, she made things worse.

She told me when she was in college she had "a touch of anorexia." That alone should have been a red flag to me. It's not like a cold or a flu or a sore throat. Anyway, she admitted that she was very thin and she didn't eat at all sometimes except for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before bed. But she reinforced to me that she had never been anorexic and had never had an eating disorder, though she "came close."

Without expecting to, I began to open up to her. I told her my whole story, tears streaming down my face. She didn't seem concerned at all about me not eating, but she was worried about me throwing up all the time.

"I think we'll put you on a liquid diet," she said.

I remember wiping my eyes and feeling horrified when she said that. As sick as I was, as strong as the grip anorexia had on me was, I knew that wasn't right. A liquid diet? Isn't that a step in the wrong direction?

She told me that the most important thing was for me to stop throwing up, so starving myself wasn't really a big deal. She said it didn't really matter if I lost a few more pounds, as long as I stopped purging.

"If you don't eat, you won't want to throw up," she said. "And if you lose a little more weight, well, that will only make you feel better about yourself, so you won't want to throw up anymore."

She wasn't getting it. I wasn't eating to begin with and I was still throwing up. Hadn't she been listening at all?

She told me to get some low-carb, high protein shakes that wouldn't make me gain weight and drink two three of those a day. They only had about a hundred calories each, so I listened. I felt like I was doing something dirty. She had just given me permission not to eat, to starve myself further. To lose more weight.

Had I heard her correctly?

The next time I went to see her I had lost a couple of pounds and she seemed almost happy. It was almost like she was experimenting on me. As sick as I was, I realized that. I stopped seeing her. I didn't want to see anyone else either. Instead, I decided I would beat it on my own.

And I did. Or, I am.

I know now that I can' t let one bad medical experience shape the way I feel about doctors and medical professionals in general. Deep down, I think she wanted to help. I just think that she knew absolutely nothing about the treatment of eating disorders. I should have just seen an eating disorder specialist like my mother asked me to, but I didn't want to back then. Somehow the path I chose seemed safer, but I regret it all the time.

I'm not saying you can't recover on your own. You can do anything you set your mind to. But it's best to find a group of individuals who care about you, who know what they're doing, and who have the knowledge and ability to help and support you. Recovery takes a long time, but it takes even longer when you're too scared, stubborn, or ashamed to ask for help.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Take a breath

I haven't written in quite some time because nothing happened worth writing about. I'm still sick, up and down, though the days are getting better than they were. I did get some great news today, though. I have finally been approved for the hospital's medical assistance program because I'm a student, so I'll hopefully be seeing a doctor very, very soon. I've forgotten what it's like to be normal. I look back at old photographs of myself (taken not that long ago actually) and it's hard to imagine I was ever well enough to do the things I once did. If nothing else, this entire experience has taught me to love and appreciate life. I'm not just saying that. It's really true. I have never been so thankful for each and every breath in my lungs.

My eating disorder has taken a bit of a back-burner lately, which is a good thing. I've been too busy worried about other things to think too much about food. I just learned my uncle has cancer in basically his entire body. Me feeling dizzy and sick and sad about how I look has never felt more insignificant. I know I've gained some weight these last couple of weeks because I've been too sick to exercise. But so what? I'm still alive. That's what really matters.

I have been reading a lot of Tolstoy lately. I'm a sucker for Russian literature. (Okay, all literature, actually), but Tolstoy in particular. I find his life as interesting as his work. He was a vegetarian/vegan! Who knew? He gave up eating meat in the 1890s, and in 1894 admitted his health had improved since giving up meat, eggs, and dairy. He also advocated animal rights, though maybe that term would have seemed strange back then. He believed in showing compassion to animals and treating them humanely. He advocated using machines to take the place of animal labor. He even thought it was better to go on foot than to ride a horse. Very interesting. He says:

"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite."

I was an English Literature major when I was an undergrad and I'm graduating with an MFA in Creative Writing in two months. As an undergrad, Victorian Literature was my least favorite. But now it's all I read. Isn't it strange how those things happen? I've been seriously considering pursuing my PhD after I'm done with my MFA. I know it seems silly because an MFA is a terminal degree and I'll still be able to teach college classes with an MFA. But I want to continue to learn. I also worry that going for a PhD would take away from my creative endeavors. Ultimately I want to write the books that people analyze instead of being the person who analyzes other books. But I also feel like the best way to deepen my own writing is by reading. I'm not sure what I want to do, but it's a definite possibility. Who knows?

My goal is to stop worrying.

I worry about everything. I always have, ever since I was a child. I've finally realized that worrying changes nothing. It's impossible to plan too much. You can't see too far into the future to make out the shapes of things.

I'm going to learn to relax and let everything fall in place. My battle with my eating disorder has taught me that it's impossible to be in control of everything. Some things are larger than I am. No, many things are larger than I am. Many things are out of my hands. And that's okay.

I'm learning to relax.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

To get better

Six years ago I wanted to die. Today I want nothing more than to live.

As many of you know, I have been sick since May of this year and it has greatly impacted my quality of life. In fact, I'd argue it has totally destroyed it. I can't do a fraction of the things I used to do. I can't do the things I want to do. While doctors have been pointing me in the direction of a possible diagnosis, whatever it is that I have is still unconfirmed. That means I sit here all day long, scared and depressed, vulnerable and alone, thinking over my list of symptoms (that seems to be growing and growing) wondering things like, "What if it's not Meniere's Disease after all? My mom's house had all that mold upstairs. Is it mold exposure? What are those symptoms? Oh crap, I have all of those! Is it meningitis? Lead poisoning? Chinese Drywall? Diabetes?"

The list goes on and on and I'm terrified. I want nothing more than to get better. To be healthy again. That's all I want. I will never take my health for granted again. My eating disorder has taken a back burner. Is this the lesson I have to learn to kick my ED for once and for all? Do I have to get really sick and really scared just to discover how much life means to me? How precious it is? How unpredictable?

How beautiful.

How fleeting.

This is all really depressing. I've tried to stay in positive spirits, but I know this is all wearing me down. I am depressed. Who wouldn't be? I can't get off the couch some days. I can't drive or go to the grocery store. It's not a matter of feeling sorry for myself. It's a matter of being scared for myself. I might be lucky and whatever is wrong with me could be an easy fix, but it's been five months and no relief. No answers. I think about my Dad when he first found out he had cancer. I know that whatever I have doesn't even compare to that, but I wish I had been more careful and more understanding when he was sick and scared. I tried to be compassionate, as much as a twelve year old could be. I can't even imagine how terrified he must have been, but he never really let anyone see that.

Suddenly my eating disorder means nothing. It's powerless. I don't care about weight. I don't care about the size written on the tag inside my jeans. I don't care about how thick my thighs are or how many calories are in salad dressing or how many pounds I can lose before Christmas.

I just want to get better.

That's all.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Enjoying the moment

So, my boyfriend is back and Boston and it's just me and the cat again. While he was in town, I still felt as sick and dizzy as ever. I decided that if I'm going to be dizzy no matter what, I may as well be dizzy inside his car or at restaurant instead of being dizzy on my couch. So we went out to dinner at my favorite vegan/vegetarian restaurant like we planned. My boyfriend isn't vegan or vegetarian, but he respects that I always have been and always will be, so he makes an effort to eat veggie meals with me. At the restaurant, we split a salad AND some delicious focaacia with marinara. For my entree I had bowtie pasta with mushrooms, snow-peas, and cauliflower. He had salmon (this restaurant always has one fish dish to cater to non-veggie eaters) with mashed potatoes and beans. We were both really full but I remembered how delicious their homemade soy ice cream is, and he really wanted a some pie, so we split a slice of vegan apple-berry pie with two scoops of soy ice cream. We were both full beyond belief, but it was so good to see him and spend time with him, not to mention getting out of this apartment for a while. Plus, the food was delicious. I didn't worry about calories or fat grams or anything else that would stifle the moment. I just enjoyed it. I'm learning to enjoy every moment.

My eating disorder cannot take that from me. Not anymore.

I've been feeling horribly dizzy again, but I'm making progress towards seeing an ENT. Since I don't have insurance and I'm a full time grad student, I'm eligible for medical assistance but there's lots of paperwork and red-tape to get through. I'm in the process of submitting an application. After that, it has to go into the review stages, and then finally (hopefully) I can get in to see the ENT. Without this medical assistance, it would cost thousands of dollars. I can't pay for that because I don't have a job. I don't have a job because I'm too dizzy to drive or to work or to do anything at all. It's all a horrible cycle. The condition they think I have is Meniere's Disease. It hasn't been confirmed yet (because I would need to have MRIs and lots of expensive tests done to confirm it that aren't possible until this application is accepted), but it's the only disease I've read about that perfectly describes all of my symptoms. I read today that not eating enough can really agitate the disease. For the last few weeks I've been struggling with food intake and I've gotten noticeably dizzier. I'm not sure if there is any correlation, but it seems like this is just one more reason to eat.

Which is what I'm going to do right now. Even though I have zero appetite. It's the right thing to do on so many levels.

On all levels, actually.

It's necessary.

I think I'll have a salad and some black-bean soup.


Friday, October 8, 2010


For the last two days I have been insatiably hungry. Of course everyone gets hungry. Hunger is normal. But I have been unusually hungry. In fact, I haven't had these intense urges since my bulimic days. I've had the desire to just binge, binge, binge. I have been ignoring it for the most part. Counter to that, I also have this extreme desire to restrict. It's like I'm at war with myself. Part of me wants to eat everything in sight. Part of me wants to eat nothing.

What happened to my rational self?

I know that the chances of stress triggering all of these buried eating-disordered habits are high. I've been under more stress than usual. I've been calorie counting again for the first time in three years. I started weighing myself for the first time in three years. What gives? Why now? I am still eating enough.

Today I had:

Breakfast: Coffee, Oatmeal, and a banana

Lunch: "Taco" Salad with black beans, rice, and homemade salsa.

Dinner: Vegan Mushroom Lasagna, Roasted squash, and spinach

Snack: Apples and Grapes

I'm breaking all the rules. I don't like to be specific enough to post exactly what I have eaten. I know sometimes that triggers people. Sometimes it triggers me too. I guess maybe I'm trying to convince myself that everything is okay. But it's not okay. Even if I am eating regularly, thinking this way is not okay. I don't know why I'm so concerned with food lately. It's all I'm able to think about. Normally when that happens, it's because I'm restricting and my body is really missing something. That's not the case here. I'm eating as much as I always do. Maybe I'm giving this too much thought, but I find it alarming. It's like, without realizing it, I am flirting with disaster. I'm walking a paper thin line. My eating disorder wants to push me over the edge. She wants to get through to me again. She wants to own me again. She wants to devour me again.

But there's one thing she is underestimating.


I'm not the same weak kid she destroyed six years ago.

I recognize her voice.

I know all her tricks.

I know the pain she inflicts.

Never again.

My boyfriend is flying in from Boston tomorrow. He'll only be in town a couple of days, but it will be good to see him. He's already promised to take me out to my favorite Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant tomorrow night. Last time we went I even ordered dessert. And I'm ordering it tomorrow too.

And I won't feel guilty.

My eating disorder can whine all she wants.

It's mind over matter.

I don't mind so it doesn't matter.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Little things

My boyfriend's family flew back to Minnesota today and I am alone again. I thought I had gotten used to it, but having them around all week made me think otherwise. I enjoyed their company. Plus, they were distracting (in a good way). I didn't have time to think about being sick. I didn't have time to worry about my eating disorder. I didn't have time to worry about anything really. Now, against all of this silence, I can hear my thoughts swirling about. Not to mention the incessant buzzing in my left ear. The doctor told me, "That's the sound of you losing your hearing." I have to get to see that ENT quickly or this is never going away.

I am so ready to be healthy. I don't just mean as far as my eating disorder/recovery is concerned. I am ready to be healthy on all fronts. I took for granted my health and I've only realized it the last few months since I've had this extreme dizziness and inner ear trouble. I can't even do a fraction of the things I used to to, things I did even when my eating disorder was at its worst. Being dizzy sucks. I'm tired of lying on the couch. I"m tired of not being able to drive. I'm tired of the buzzing in my ears. I'm tired of always feeling like I'm on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair. Most of all, I'm tired of complaining.

My boyfriend's mother bought me some potted mums. I already have some miniature parade roses that my boyfriend gave me at the beginning of summer. I never thought I'd be much of a gardener. In fact, I don't know the first thing about it. But having those flowers and my cat to take care of has really helped me during all of this sickness. It's given me a reason to get up and get out of bed. If I lie in bed all day, it's not fair to the cat. He needs food. He needs fresh water. He needs someone to play with, someone to take him on the balcony and brush him while he looks at the blue jays and cardinals that fly from tree to tree. And those roses, I have to water them. Yes, they are only roses, but I'm responsible for them. Without me, they wither and die. I can't let that happen. So far they've been hanging in there since June, hanging in there as long as I have. I can't do much when I'm dizzy, but I can water the flowers. And I can appreciate them.

I can find joy in the little things-- the outline of Canadian geese shadowed against the sky in the evening, the sound of cardinals chirping from the black fence post, and my cat deciding he'd rather sit on my lap than anywhere else in this apartment.

Little things.

P.S. Thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes in response to my last few posts. I appreciate that, too. <3

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to break free

Autumn is unwinding. The colors of the leaves are changing. There is a certain stillness inside of me that is just now waking, a certain peacefulness. A need to breathe in the air and just be still.

I forgot what it feels like to feel.

I've been buried under the weight of my eating disorder for so many years. I've learned to become numb. I've learned to avoid people, to avoid putting myself into any situation in which I might get hurt. I've learned not to laugh or to smile.

Now I'm learning how to undo it all.

How to unravel it.

How to break free.

What is the point of life if your days are spent in misery?

It can get better. It will get better.

There is more to life than calories and fat grams.

There is more to life than being thin.

I look out at the trees and the birds and the clouds and the flowers and am reminded there are more important things than my own personal struggle.

The world does not revolve around my eating disorder.

Within the context of the world around me, my eating disorder has no power.

Whether I am fat or thin, the birds continue to fly. The flowers continue to bloom. The leaves continue to fade yellow, orange, amber. The clouds continue to sweep in. The sun continues to break through.

My eating disorder rules nothing.

I refuse to let it rule me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Back in the Emergency Room

I have been unable to write for a while because I've been really sick again. All of the dizziness and trouble I've had since May finally proved too much. I was so incredibly dizzy and my head was filled with air. It felt like I was a walking balloon. I managed to drive myself to the doctor on Tuesday morning, though it felt like I was driving under the influence. I told her the dizziness and headaches were getting worse and worse and worse. After asking some questions, she looked really worried. Then she said what I've been secretly fearing for the past five months:

"I'm just going to level with you. I think you have a brain tumor."

I almost fell off the examination table. My father and my father's father both died of brain tumors, though theirs were caused from cancer that had originated in other body parts and metastasized in their brain. She didn't do any CT scans or MRIs because I don't have medical insurance. Instead, she referred me to a different hospital that has financial assistance for those who are uninsured. She told me to go straight to the emergency room. I couldn't because I can't drive. I felt like I was risking my life to get to her office in the first place and it's only three miles from my apartment. The hospital she referred me to is downtown, which is 20 minutes away, plus I'd have to take the interstate. In the middle of rush hour. Cars whizzing by at 80 mph in all directions. I'm too dizzy for that. I'd crash immediately.

Instead, I came back to my apartment completely nervous and scared and stressed. I needed to go to the ER but had no way of getting there. I haven't lived in this city very long, and I've been sick since I moved here, so there's no one in town that I know. So my boyfriend, who is in Boston on business for the next 6 weeks, flew his brother and his mom in from Minneapolis to take care of me. They got here Wednesday night and drove me to the ER. I explained my symptoms to a host of doctors and nurses and interns and medical students. I was so dizzy and there was so much pressure built up in my ears it was unbelievable. They did a CT scan. Luckily, it did not show a brain tumor! It did, however, put me back at square one wondering where all of these symptoms are coming from. The head doctor of the ER came over and talked to me for a long time. He examined my ears and made me do all of these crazy tests. I had to walk up and down the hallway on my tip toes, on my heels. I had to stand still and close my eyes and hold my arms straight out in front of me. After a few seconds I fell over and he caught me. He thinks I have Meniere's Disease (which I'd been told for weeks that I might have) or some other severe, vertigo-related oddity of the inner/middle ear. He referred me to an ENT, which I've been trying to get an appointment with for weeks but can't because of the lack of insurance. Through this program, if I qualify, I'll be able to see the ENT for up to a year if needed. I have to complete all of the paperwork, which is being mailed to me hopefully today or Monday. After that, we wait. They said it could take up to three weeks before the application review is complete. That seems like an awfully long time to wait to see the ENT, but I guess if I've dealt with this dizziness for 5 months I can wait a few more weeks.


So that's where I've been. Though I enjoy their company, it's been particularly challenging having my boyfriend's family staying here with me. His mother has been cooking all the meals and pressuring me to eat. She says I'm not eating enough. She doesn't know anything about my ED. It's nice though that they are here. I just wish it were under better circumstances. I feel bad because I can't show them around town or spend any quality time with them because I'm too dizzy to leave this apartment. They went to see the ocean today. I wish I could have gone. I haven't been in months. It's so relaxing. So soothing. So calm.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. " - Margaret Thatcher

Today the thoughts of restricting were alarmingly loud and persistent. I haven't (really) restricted in a long time, nor have I had this much of a desire to. Normally, I'm past counting calories. I don't usually give too much thought about what I'm "permitted" to eat. That's because I don't have to ask permission to eat anymore. I just eat whatever I want. Today, however, I didn't want to eat anything. More than that, I wanted precisely to eat nothing.

I went as far, God I don't want to admit this, as to write down everything I ate along with how many calories were in each item. I hadn't done that in YEARS! Nothing good can come of this. Nothing.

I'm left wondering what to do now? Of course, I know restricting is NOT an option. It's never an option. In the end, I won. I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But the desire the need to restrict, to exercise, to binge, to purge was constant. I managed to overcome, but it was hard. Aren't I too far into recovery to be dealing with these issues? I've been "recovering" for three years now. Sure, I've had slip ups. I've had relapses and set backs. But I've never had this strong of an urge to restrict and to be held accountable for every calorie consumed in years. Not since I first moved to Las Vegas. Living with my boyfriend forced a lot of my eating disordered behaviors to stop. He wouldn't stand for them. I tried to hide them, but he always found out. Eventually I gave up and gave in to him (thankfully). And we've lived happily together ever since. But he's out of town for 10 weeks (2 down, 8 to go) and I'm all alone in this apartment by myself with no one to watch or to notice. No one to tell me to eat and no one to be upset if I don't.

Plus, there's all this added anxiety with my Mom being engaged. It's a lot of pressure. Restricting, counting calories, manic exercising, binging, purging--those are all coping mechanisms--all twisted ways to handle the pressure. And I know that behavior is not okay!

I want to live!

I want to thrive!


I thought I made this all very clear to myself.

Was my eating disorder not listening?

I have no doubt in my mind that I can overcome this. I know I will. I want to. I have to. Recovery is always the right thing. It is the only option. Being sick is not an option. Relapse is not an option. Fighting this is.

It's just that my eating disorder doesn't fight fair.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Food is not the enemy!

While making dinner I felt very stressed out and fat. My eating disorder kept assaulting me. Why should I eat? What do I need food for? Isn't this going to make me fat? Suddenly, I sliced into a tomato and happened upon a little surprise. A much needed reminder:


Love your body.

Feed it.

Take care of it.

Love your food.

Eat it.

Enjoy it.

Love your life.

Cherish it.

Thrive in it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Growing (up)

Let me just preface this post by saying that I'm 26 years old. 26. That's an adult, for all intensive purposes. I can drive. I can vote. I can drink. I can rent a car. I'm old enough to do anything an adult can do short of running for president and signing up for AARP. So why do I feel like such a child?

An infant, even?

I got some weird news today that I expected but didn't necessarily want to hear:

My mother is getting married.


I want to be happy for her. I love my mom very much. I'm just afraid she'll get hurt. She's been engaged twice since my Dad passed away in 2003. The first time it didn't work out. Who knows what will happen this time? I want the best for her. I want to be happy to her. But she's only known this man a month. One month! And she's getting married? I know that she is an adult fully capable of making sound decisions. I trust her. But she is my mother. I want her to be happy. I want her to be safe. I want to protect her. To what extent is that my place? She is the mother and I am the child.

Who knows, he could be a really nice guy. They could be very in love. They could have a happy marriage. It just doesn't feel right to me. Then again, this isn't about me.

I've tried to convince myself for the last seven years that it doesn't bother me when my mom dates a man. My father is gone. I understand that. He isn't coming back. I know he wouldn't want my mother to be alone. I don't want her to be alone either. But part of me doesn't want to share her. How messed up is that? I guess I feel that by marrying someone else, a part of the perfect life and family unit we used to have (she as mother, father as father, me as child, brother as brother) is dashed all to hell when she marries this guy. All I have left are the memories of that perfect home and childhood. I feel like that's being threatened. Then again, this isn't about me.

Besides, there are so many questions.

Will she change her last name?

Will she have to move?

Will she still be buried beside my father?

What if she loves him more than she loved Daddy?

I can't and won't influence her decision. I made mine. I packed everything I owned and moved out west. To Las Vegas. To California. To places so magical and far away they seemed make believe. I left her behind. And I didn't look back. Who am I to be upset if she does the same thing?

I would never tell her these things. I don't want to rain on her proverbial parade. I think part of the reason this bothers me so much is because I don't have any control.

Hello, eating disorder.

I can't control this situation. This is out of my hands. This is not my decision. It makes me want to restrict. I haven't had an appetite since I found out from her about it all this morning.

Why am I being such a baby?

The hardest thing I've ever had to do is grow up.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coming Clean

Today was the first day in over a month that I simultaneously had no dizziness and no homework. How did I celebrate? By cleaning my apartment, of course. I'm not talking about just tidying up. I gave this entire place a good, thorough scrub down, a real "deep cleaning" as my boyfriend calls it. I swept, vacuumed, and mopped all the floors. I cleaned both bedrooms, both bathrooms, the kitchen, the laundry room, the walls, the floorboards. I washed all the sheets and blankets and laundry. I cleaned every inch of this place. And it feels amazing. It feels like it should. I don't consider myself a neat freak by any means, but I like keeping things clean. Since I've been sick, I've done only surface cleanings in the few, fleeting moments I didn't feel like collapsing. It's so great just to sit down in a nice, clean room, breathe in, and relax. So I started thinking,

Isn't it the same for our bodies?

Our bodies feel better clean, too. No only is it important to eat and eat regularly, but it's important to eat smart. Eat healthy. Know what you're eating. Love what you're eating. Let it nourish your body.

Take care of your body. Keep it clean.

I consciously buy foods that don't have additives or chemicals or ingredients I can't pronounce. I don't want to put anything artificial into my body. Instead of buying food flavored with unnecessary dyes or weird things like cochineal/carmine/carminic acid (it's ground up bugs!) I opt for foods colored with natural ingredients I understand--like beet juice. Or carrots. I cook 99% of my meals at home. I make things from scratch. It isn't difficult, it's therapeutic. It's more satisfying that way. It makes me love food for the first time in my life. Simple food. Clean food.

I care about my body, and I care about the earth. Since I became vegan a few years ago (though I've been a vegetarian since childhood) I vowed to put nothing in or on my body I didn't understand, trust, or support, or value. Veganism is a cultural dedication that goes far beyond food. As a vegan, I don't wear fur or leather. I don't use any cosmetics, chemicals, or products that were tested on animals or contain animal ingredients. This is obviously a personal choice, but it's one I stand firmly by. There is no room for guilt in my life.

I'm coming clean.

I understand that my body needs food to survive. I am also sorry for the years of calorie restriction and starvation I subjected it to. I want to make it up to myself. I want to nurture myself, to protect myself. To give only the best things to myself. The best ingredients.

I wouldn't do it if I didn't love myself.

If you asked me if I loved myself six years ago, I would have laughed in your face.

All that baggage. All that pain. The guilt, the sorrow, the lies, the mistakes. The shortcomings, the insecurities, the disappointments.

Washed away.

I've come clean.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief. - Othello

10 reasons I smiled today:

1. God granted me another day on his beautiful earth.

2. There is breath in my lungs.

3. I made progress on my writing.

4. I wasn't dizzy. I felt like me.

5. The leaves in the forest where I live are turning golden, orange, amber.

6. I talked to my mother on the phone. I heard her laugh.

7. I made dinner and ate it. Better yet, I enjoyed it.

8. I'm stronger than I was yesterday.

9. Somebody loves me.

10. I love myself.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hungry for Life

I've been missing my dad a lot lately, even more so than usual. I've been digging through his medical records in order to write my memoir (a collection of linked personal essays). I'm trying to piece together the time line of each surgery he had, each round of chemotherapy and radiation, so that I can get all of my facts straight and dates accurate. I was so young back then and I can't remember it all. After a while, it just jumbles together into one long strand of memories where the good can't be separated from the bad, like necklaces knotting and interlacing. It's difficult to read his records. There are hundreds and hundreds of pages of doctors' office notes, surgical procedures, lab tests, and hospital evaluations. It's like reading an epic novel where he is the hero in this monumental battle against cancer that spans more than a decade, and eventually takes the life he fought so hard and long to keep. He had such a passion for life, a hunger for it. I miss that.

My eating disorder didn't surface until a year and a half after he passed away. I was twenty. I was at the heaviest weight of my life. I was seeing a grief counselor and taking antidepressants. My first real love had just broken up with me. I didn't eat much even then, but everything I ate was garbage. Candy. Chips. Pizza. Pasta. I didn't care about my body. I didn't care about my health. I stopped taking the antidepressants even though the therapist warned me not to stop without tapering off. I became reckless. I didn't do well in school. I had never received any grade less than an A in my life. Now I was failing one class and suffering in all the rest, except Literature, the only one I cared about. I remember one evening in particular walking back from one of my classes to my dorm room. It was cold and drizzling snow. I felt so alone and depressed I wanted to step off the sidewalk and into oncoming traffic. I saw a car approaching. A girl behind the wheel, no older than I was. Our eyes met. Could she see what I was thinking? I felt my feet veering toward her. I closed my eyes and I visualized the impact, my body collapsing under her tire. Would it kill me? What if it didn't? What would my mother think? I opened my eyes and crossed home through the grass, shaking. That was in November of 2004. By Christmas, I had started a diet. It seemed innocent enough. It didn't begin with the intention to starve myself. I learned to exchange regular soda for diet. I stopped eating bread. I stopped eating cheese. I stopped eating sugar. By the time the spring semester started in January, I'd lost thirty lbs. I stopped eating pasta. I stopped eating flour. I stopped drinking milk. Without even realizing it, I stopped eating everything. I started working out. I counted calories religiously. Each day I ate less calories than the day before, until I was eating no calories at all. No one recognized me. My body didn't look like my body. My face didn't look like my face. By May, I had lost 80 lbs. I was a skeleton. My hair had fallen out. My skin was horrible. I was nothing but cheekbones and dark circles. Everyone told me I looked as though I was dying. Isn't that what I had wanted?

I've said this before about remembering my eating disorder, but looking back now, it really does feel like remembering a dream. It's foggy. It's disorienting. It makes me feel cold. It makes me feel sad. But it makes me remember I don't want to go back there. I know that my Dad wouldn't want me to feel that way. I don't know how he would have responded to my eating disorder if he were still alive, but I don't think he would stand back and watch without interfering like everyone else in my life did. He would have spoken up. We would have fought. He would want me to recover.

He would be proud to know I'm recovering. That I'm a healthy weight. That I eat meals that will nourish my body. That I care about my body. That I want to live. That I'm hungry, for food and for life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Learning to breathe

I woke up today with a migraine. Thankfully, my cat let me sleep in. He usually wakes me up at 8:18 a.m. (weird, right?) by meowing and pawing and scratching at the bedroom door. Today I woke up at 10. I don't remember the last time I slept in so late. When I went out into the living room, the cat was just sitting there quietly waiting for breakfast.

As the day went on, my headache faded. I was only mildly dizzy today, so I was able to get a few things accomplished. I went on a long walk alone to clear my head and focus. Where I come from, September is rarely this warm. It felt good to be in the sunshine. I get so tired of being trapped inside my apartment.

I found a spider living on my balcony. I've known she was there for quite sometime. Everyday there are huge, crazy elaborate webs hanging all around. I saw the culprit today. Actually, there were two of them. Both were big and brown and fuzzy with white marks on their abdomens. Naturally, I began to panic. Brown recluse? Wolf spider? I don't know much about spiders except that their venom can cause serious abscesses and damage. When I worked at the hospital, tons of patients came in with spider bites. Some were very serious. One gentleman lost his entire arm because of one. I don't believe in killing any creatures, so I'm going to have to figure out a way to live with these guys. Hopefully they will stay outside and I will stay inside and we'll keep it very civil that way.

I also managed to accomplish quite a bit of writing and revision today for my final manuscript. It has to be 100 pages and I'm holding strong at 75. I had a productive day as far as eating goes, too. I had three square meals. First time I've done that in a few weeks. I am, however, trying to avoid salt. It's so hard because I crave salt all the time. It's bad for the ear condition I have, though that's causing all of this dizziness. Apparently, if you cut out salt, it allows the fluid to subside and the dizziness reduces. We'll see about that. I'd kill for a diet soda right now, but they have quite a bit of sodium. I've been drinking lots of ice tea.

I'm trying to keep a positive attitude. I've found it really does make a difference, in recovery as well as every other aspect of life. It's hard for me to be bubbly and sunny. That's never really been my personality. I've always had a tendency to panic, over-analyze, worry, think the worst, panic, and harbor anxiety. I am learning to breathe. To pause. To relax. To smile. To laugh. To breathe again.

I still have more work to do on the manuscript before I go to sleep. I'm not sure how I'll feel tomorrow. It's up and down at this point. All I can do is hope for the best, and be prepared for the worst just in case.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dedication to Hunger

One of my final requirements before completing my MFA in Creative Writing degree this December is to teach a lecture to fellow students at the grad school I attend in Los Angeles. I am teaching about anorexia, of course. Specifically, anorexia in poetry. The lecture is still a few months away, but I've been looking through my research today and trying to focus my thoughts. One of the poems I am going to ask the group to consider is "Dedication to Hunger" by Louise Gluck. Gluck had her own personal bouts with anorexia when she was a young woman and this poem certainly reflects that, as many of her poems do. She says

It begins quietly
in certain female children:
the fear of death, taking as its form
dedication to hunger
because a woman’s body
is a grave; it will accept

She later identifies the propelling force behind her eating disorder as "the same need to be perfect/ of which death is the mere byproduct."

One of the major goals of this class will be, I hope, to educate and raise awareness for eating disorders, specifically for how serious they are. How deadly they are. How devastating. I want to choose poems that represent anorexic logic accurately, but also drive home a message that will allow people to understand how horrible and unnecessary eating disorders are.

I am also considering the poem by Alice Jones called "Anorexia." I think it enforces the dangerousness and seriousness of anorexia. The poem begins by making anorexia seem artful, an "ancient skill" that requires grace and discipline and control. This is a popular myth (often among anorexics themselves) that couldn't be further from truth. There is nothing beautiful or skillful or artistic about starving yourself. The poet, of course, knows this too. As the poem progresses, the myth unravels. The anorexic in the poem is no longer presented as artful or skillful. The illusion shatters. She becomes animalistic, "a cannibal of self." She loses her power, which was never there in the first place, “her scapulae prepared like/ thin birds to fly away from/ the spine." She is “barely held together/ by silk and liquid and air”. The grace has shifted to sadness, to powerlessness. The realization is that anorexia, in this and in many cases, equals death.

She tries not to be sucked
down by the black cold,
its deadliness pulling
at the nape of her long neck,
biting at her unfeathered heels

Anorexia is that "black cold"; that "deadliness pulling" and "biting." There is nothing beautiful about it. There is nothing glorious about it. Being anorexic doesn't make you elite. It doesn't make you strong. It doesn't make you disciplined. It makes you sick. And dependent. And weak. And broken.

Recovery, on the other hand, offers all of those things anorexia promised and couldn't deliver. Being anorexic doesn't make you strong. Being anorexic and recovering from it does.

Fighting it does.

Overcoming it does.

Dedicating your life to health and happiness does.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Food and Guilt

I am very proud of myself. Why? Because I made dinner. For me. For only me. And I ate it by myself.

I'm sure that doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment for most people, but for me it's major. Since my boyfriend is out of town, I've been living off of soup, and cereal-- things that I get full from without any effort on my part. I love to cook for other people, but my eating disorder has convinced me for years that if I went out of my way to cook a meal just for myself that I was some sort of greedy fat ass. I really had it ingrained in me that eating when no one else is around makes me weak. Oddly enough, eating in front of other people also made me weak. So what did I do? Not eat, of course. When I first started recovery, I ate only because it was forced on me. I ate only when others were looking. I did it all for them. I did it all so they would shut up and leave me alone. I had an understanding with myself that yes, eating was stupid and only weak people did it on their own with no one looking. My God, how wrong and delusional I was! We have to eat in order to live. Pure and simple. Eating is natural. It is as natural as breathing or sleeping or drinking water. Our lives cannot be sustained without food. So there's really only two options-- eat or starve. Live or die. I know some people become life-long anorexics. They eat just enough to get by, but I would by no means call that living. A life with anorexia is not a happy life. It is not the life we were meant to have. It is not the life we deserve to have.

I have to realize that I am just as hungry and eating is just as important whether there are 20 people here or whether it's just me. There is no crime in cooking myself a meal. Period. I refuse to let my eating disorder make me feel guilty!

In the past when my boyfriend has been out of town, I've been known to wrestle with myself, torn over whether to cook or not to cook. More than once I've taken out a cutting board, a knife, thrown a pot on the stove and dropped vegetables into it only to have talked myself out of eating by the time the meal is ready.

Not tonight.

I made a vegan burrito. It sounds simple but I did it all from scratch-- sauteed some peppers and onions, made some rice and black beans with cilantro and lime, a homemade pico de gallo, and guacamole. I also added some nice crunchy lettuce and fresh corn. Oh. My. Goodness. And I ate the entire thing.

And I'm not crying or feeling anxious or beating myself up over it. I don't feel ashamed. I don't feel angry. I don't feel like a failure, or a fat ass, or anything else my eating disorder would have me believe that I am. I'm not sorry I ate. I am a little bummed out, however, about all of these dirty dishes.

If you're reading this, I hope you've eaten something. Or that you're eating something now. Or that you'll eat something after. Something good. Something nutritious. Something satisfying.

Food should not equal guilt.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The woman at the gym

There is a woman who works out at my gym. I see her there everyday though I try not to look. She is obviously anorexic and has been for some time. She eats just enough to keep from dying. She is probably in her late thirties though she looks closer to sixty. She is all bone and hair and teeth and knees. She wears a t-shirt three times too large for her body. She thinks she's fat. She wants to hide beneath her clothes. I want to hug her. I want to tell her that I'm sorry, that she could get better, that she deserves to. But I don't say anything. I just consider how, without recovery, she could have easily been me. She is on the elliptical machine every night, oblivious to everything and everyone around her, burning and burning more calories than she consumed all day. Just like that song by Jill Sobule:

Her little legs are working, she's going somewhere
She's climbing up the stairs
And when she reaches the top her dreams will be there

But they won't.

Maybe it's wrong for me to assume how she feels. Maybe it's wrong for me to cast my own experiences with anorexia onto hers. All I know is that I'm saying a special prayer for her tonight. She has never found the way out. There is a way out. She just never found it. Or if she did, she chose not to take it. She is so skinny she looks as though her legs will break. She keeps panting but she won't stop. There is nothing beautiful or tragic about it. She is nothing but bone. She is starving. She is sick. She is me if I don't get my life back on track.

I don't want to be her.

I'm sorry for her. I hurt for her. I wish and hope and dream for her.

But I don't want to be her.

I don't want her to be her.

I don't want anyone to be her.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Losing it

The only thing I could think about today was that I need to lose weight. I've been flirting with disaster, filling my head with calorie contents and guessing what my BMI might be now. I haven't acted this way in years. I keep telling myself that I am overweight. That I'm not good enough. That I'm never going to be good enough unless I get off my ass and go to the gym.

Ugh. Sound familiar?

Deep in my heart I know that none of these things are true, and I'm not sure why I'm being assaulted with all of these negative thoughts right now after all of this valuable time spent advocating, living, breathing, and rejoicing in recovery. I know that recovery is the right choice. I know that recovery is the only choice. So why am I letting my eating disorder get through to me? For so long, there was a brick wall that I had built between the two of us. Sometimes she'd try to climb over. Sometimes I'd hear her clawing at the other side. But I always ignored her. Now the wall is gone. I'm staring at a pile of fallen bricks and a ghost from my past dying to convince me she knows best. How did this happen?

I didn't even want to write about this because I didn't know if anyone would understand. I don't want to sound phony. I know that there is life after anorexia. And I know that there is life only after anorexia. I know that. I believe that! Anorexia, however, is trying to tell me otherwise.

I think the reason I've been so vulnerable lately is because I've been sick with this dizziness and all of these ear and upper respiratory issues. That illness has lasted for four months and has severely impaired my quality of life. I can't do the things I used to do. I can't be the person I have come to be. So naturally, I've fallen into a bit of a depression. And naturally, my eating disorder sees this as an opportunity to pounce.

I guess this proves that recovery is a long and continuous process. It's not easy. That's why getting rid of an eating disorder is so difficult--because even years after the onset of recovery, symptoms and behaviors indicative of anorexia often resurface. The important thing is that I know that-- that I am ready to handle that. I learned to ignore my eating disorder once and I can do it again.

Recovery is hard but being sick is harder.

Think about it. It's true. I don't want to be the person I was when I was anorexic. I like the person I have become in the years after, and I intend to stay that person.

I won't be discouraged. There is no room in my life for relapse.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Listen up

I have really struggled with feeding myself since my boyfriend has been out of town. My ED planted all of these twisted thoughts in my head in order to convince me that it would be okay to just starve myself while he is gone.

He won't be home for 65 days. What's the point of cooking when I'm the only person here? What's the point of eating at all? I could lose so much weight in 65 days. I could be thin again. I could do whatever I wanted. I could get back on track.

Back on track? I don't remember being on track during the days anorexia controlled my life. I was way off track, the train busted up and derailed. Still, I'm alarmed at how loud that negative voice has become lately. For so long I was able to keep her quiet. I controlled her the way that she used to control me. I had her so scared she'd barely raise her voice. Now she's screaming at me. Trying to worm her way back into my life.

But guess what?

It's not happening.

I made dinner despite my eating disorder. I made a homemade vegan pizza and ate more than enough of it. I have no guilt or remorse. Why should I feel guilty? For feeding myself? For nurturing myself? For loving my body and taking care of it? For respecting it? For protecting it? For rewarding it?


If my eating disorder thinks I'm the same weak nineteen year old I used to be, she is badly mistaken. I'm not a sad, scared little girl anymore. I am a strong, capable woman who will not be bossed around by some number on a scale.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hard times

I haven't been able to post lately. Unfortunately, I've been sick again. Rather, I'm still sick. I guess it's never gone away. Since May, I've seen four doctors and been in the hospital once. I've taken four rounds of antibiotics, two rounds of steroids, two rounds of ear drops, pills for dizziness, antihistamines, decongestants, and God knows what else. The doctors still can't figure out exactly what is wrong with me. Nothing helps. The symptoms go (almost) away for a few days or for a week or so, and then they are back again. The doctors thought it was a sinus infection at first, but what kind of sinus infection lasts for three and a half months? And is accompanied by utter, life-impairing, incapacitating dizziness? I can't tell which symptoms are from the initial illness and which are coming from the medicine I've been on. Most recently, my hair has started to fall out. This also happened when my anorexia was at its worst a few years ago. It freaked me out then and it freaks me out now.

Worst of all, my boyfriend is in Boston now for the next two months. I knew I'd miss him, but I didn't know I'd miss him like this. It reaffirmed for me within the first day he was gone how much I want to be with him. It's going to be a long, long couple of months, especially if I can't get over this sickness.

I don't mean to whine. I hope it's not coming off that way. I'm just frustrated because I want so badly to be better and as soon as I think I'm better, I'm sick all over again.

I have to stay faithful and positive and strong.

I'm just tired of lying on the couch watching television.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

How to break a promise

As far as my eating disorder goes, tonight was the worst night I've had in a long time. I have been feeling vulnerable for days. I have been feeling fat and disgusting (see yesterday's post). Tonight before dinner, the anxiety I've been dragging around finally exploded. It's silly how it started. My boyfriend and I were making dinner. I had fresh corn on the cob that I was cleaning up. I pulled the husks back from one ear and it was oddly shaped. I said, "Look--it's skinny on top and fat on the bottom." And my boyfriend said, "Yep. Just like you."

W h a t ?

Obviously he didn't mean it like that. He wasn't considering how my eating disorder would twist things around. He doesn't think I'm fat and I know that. My body is smaller on top and larger on the bottom. That's a fact. That's just how God designed me. Even when I was at the lowest and the highest weight of my life, I always had a slim waist and larger hips and thighs. And it's something I have always been self-conscious about. I know that my boyfriend loves the shape of my body. I know he thinks I'm beautiful. But he forget sometimes that it's hard for me to see beauty in myself, especially in the parts of myself I'm uncomfortable with.

After he said it he started backtracking, which made things much worse. My eyes welled up with tears immediately and he looked so scared and sorry. I ran into the bedroom and lay down and cried it all out. I hadn't cried like that in a long time. Of course, he followed me with tissues and kept apologizing, saying over and over again that he didn't mean it like that. I was never mad at him. I was mad at myself, at my eating disorder, at my body, at my heart for being sensitive, at my mind for twisting things around. The last thing I wanted to do was to eat dinner, but I reminded myself that he is leaving Monday for Boston and that I didn't want to ruin the last couple of days we have together before then. But then I did something very bad and disappointing. My eating disorder kept screaming for me not to eat. I told her I had to. I told her that I was fat and I knew it and this confirmed it. I promised I would eat like normal until he went out of town and then I'd stop eating altogether.

And she shut up.

And I ate dinner. All of it.

Of course I am going to break my promise. What about all of those promises my eating disorder made to me only to break them? Of course I am going to keep eating while he is gone. Of course I'm going to fight like hell to stay healthy. But tonight proved to me that it's not going to be easy. It proved to me that even after all of these years in recovery, the bitch isn't dead yet.

But guess what--

Neither am I.

It's frustrating, but I'm not going to let it set me back.

I can be rational.

I can be calm.

I can count on myself to take care of myself.

and I will.

Friday, September 10, 2010

F a t

I hate feeling fat.

I don't want to. I don't mean to. I think happy thoughts. I try to keep a positive attitude. I love my body. I want to do what's right for my body. I feed her. I nourish her. I tell her she's beautiful. But each time I begin to feel happy, content, unafraid-- that familiar little voice creeps in to remind me:

You're fat.

Throughout my recovery, I have learned to ignore this voice for the most part. But when it says that word, so cold and cruel and piercing, it's hard not to listen. More than that, it's hard not to believe.

F a t.

When I was getting ready to go out with my boyfriend tonight for dinner, everything I put on my body made me look and feel fat. It was so discouraging. My eating disorder kept reminding me how skinny I used to be. My rational self would argue that I wasn't skinny then, I was sick then. But my rational self surfaced a little too late.

I let my eating disorder make me feel bad about all of the hard work I've done to restore myself back to health. It was a reasonably warm day and I felt the need to wear a tank top, a long sleeved shirt, and a long sleeved cardigan over that. Somehow, in my head, it looked better. I tried to make myself look skinny but it didn't work. Instead, I tried to cover up to hide the fat. The guilt. The shame. The gluttony. All of those lies my eating disorder tries to pass for truth.

I am disappointed in myself for feeling this way, and I know my eating disorder is wrong. I didn't let it ruin dinner. I ate an appetizer and a salad. I felt full and properly nourished. I still won. But it's so frustrating when those negative thoughts pop into my head. I'm learning how to (mostly) ignore them. I'm learning how to react to them. Now I want to know how to stop them.

I will not let my eating disorder come back into my life.
There is no room for relapse.
I've come too far.
I've made too much progress.
I'm not that weak anymore.
I will not be controlled.
I will not be made to feel worthless.
I will fight and I will win.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yoga Therapy for Eating Disorders

Though I first began practicing yoga a few years ago (when my eating disorder was first beginning), I never considered it a form of therapy. I stopped practicing yoga once I became so obsessed with weight loss. I spent my time running and jogging and doing other more strenuous forms of cardio that would yield the quickest results. I was most interested in pilates (which I still adore). Though it is grounded in yogic principles, pilates satisfied the burn yoga didn't. By the time I was very ill, I barely did yoga at all. When I did, it was when I was too weak or tired or dizzy or sick to do anything else, and even then, I didn't put all of my heart, mind, or ability into it. Consequently, I stopped practicing yoga as my eating disorder progressed.

Since I have been in recovery, I have fallen in love with yoga in a way I never thought I would. It's calming yet strangely energizing. It's positive. It allows you connect, listen to, and understand your body. It reinforces the importance of having a strong, sound body as well as a strong, sound mind that work in connection to one another. These are all staples of recovery, though I never thought to make the connection between yoga and recovery from an eating disorder. I know there has been tons of research conducted and articles written about yoga's positive effects on the recovery from anorexia in particular and I've read many of them. At first, I didn't buy into it. Like anything else, I didn't think yoga would help me recover because I didn't think I could recover. I didn't want to recover. I know now that nothing will work unless you make it. You can't *fully* recover until you want it, until you put just as much energy into being well as you used to put into being sick.

Now I integrate yoga into my daily life. When I practice yoga now, not only do I try to understand my body, I try to heal my body. One article on states that anorexia and other eating disorders are viewed as "a dysfunction of the first chakra in the yogic energetic system." A different article appearing on the same website says:

"Yoga practitioners reported less self-objectification, greater satisfaction with physical appearance, and fewer disordered eating attitudes compared to non-yoga practitioners. Through yoga, this study suggests that women may have intuitively discovered a way to buffer themselves against messages that tell them that only a thin and 'beautiful' body will lead to happiness and success."

And later:

"Yoga, highly therapeutic and relatively non-threatening, is the ideal therapy: a gentle reawakening of the mind and a soft embrace of the body, all helping to get patients back into the land of healthy living."

This is the kind of therapy I prefer. I don't like doctors. I don't like nurses or hospitals or weigh-ins or therapists or nutritionists. I'm not saying those methods don't work because they certainly do. They are vital and necessary, at least at first. Of course all of those things played a part in my initial short-term recovery. As far as long-term recovery goes, I'm finding things like yoga, meditation, and just plain soul searching have been the most helpful and therapeutic. I don't think yoga alone can rid me of my eating disorder. I also don't think it was as effective in the earliest stages of my recovery when I was still unable to separate disordered thinking from normal thinking. But, combined with other means of recovery, it has been very effective, rewarding, and worthwhile.

Here are the links to two interesting articles with some images and descriptions of the yoga poses that are thought to aid in the recovery of eating disorders.

Yoga Therapy

Ten Yogasanas for Anorexia

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"To be free, one must give up a part of oneself." Hedwig and the Angry Inch

I want to be free.

My eating disorder keeps me a PRISONER.

What do I have to give up to be free?

I have to give up the lies.

I have to give up the panic.

I have to give up the fear.

I want to be healthy.

My eating disorder keeps me SICK.

What do I have to give up to be healthy?

I have to give up the obsession.

I have to give up the pain.

I have to give up the bones.

I want to be strong.

My eating disorder keeps me WEAK.

What do I have to give up to be strong?

I have to give up the dependence.

I have to give up the doubt.

I have to give up the excuses.

To be free, I have to give up part of myself, but only the bad part.

What I have to lose is not worth keeping.

What I have to gain is everything.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weight and Wellness

Though weight is a subject constantly on my mind, I've been thinking about it more and more as I've been sick the last few weeks. I've been on such a mix of antibiotics, steroids, pills for dizziness, decongestants, ear drops, and supplements. I hate taking medicine to begin with, and I certainly hate taking this much of it. I believe in being as natural as possible so this entire course of treatment has been difficult for me, especially when I stop to consider the effect all of this medicine could have on my weight. I've read the ins and outs of all the side effects and one pill in particular says that weight gain is very common. How am I supposed to handle that? Most people reporting weight gain have taken the pill as part of long-term therapy while I'm on it only for seven days. Regardless, the last thing I want to do is gain weight. I've been too sick to work out. Starving myself is no longer (and never should be!) an option. So where does that leave me? Do I stop taking the pills in an attempt to maintain my weight or do I concentrate on clearing up the dizziness, the infections, the fluid in my ears? Do I choose weight or wellness?

Of course I know that the answer should be to choose wellness, but it's not so easy. I'd be lying if I said the thought of weight gain didn't terrify me, even to this day. I have gained weight since I began recovering from my eating disorder, but I am finally at a size I've been learning to feel good about. Suddenly I have to consider what I would do if that size changed? I am all about love and acceptance of the way that I am now, but if I were suddenly much larger, would that change? What if I actually became obese? Could I still love myself, or is that love conditional?

The point is that it shouldn't be conditional. It should be unconditional. Whether or not I gain weight from this medicine or for any other reason should have no bearing on my ability to love myself. It should have no bearing on my self-worth. I always talk about how much the outward appearance doesn't matter. But does it? I want to say no. But if the answer is really no, then why am I still so afraid of gaining weight?

I guess even after all of this time spent in recovery, I still have a lot of ground to break. Discovering my weaknesses is the first step toward correcting them. Better yet, it's the first step toward letting go of them.

Maybe I still have a lot more self-discovery to do before I can fully move on to self-acceptance.