Tag Archives: Eating Disorders

RecoverED.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here, so buckle down: it’s gonna be a long one. It’s funny how the things you need SO MUCH at certain times in your life suddenly aren’t as central anymore. At one time, this blog was an important recovery tool for me. It gave me a safe place to learn to use my voice, to admit to people the things I thought were to shameful to share, and a chance to figure out and define my beliefs about the world, apart from the influence of the eating disorder.

I don’t need it anymore.

For more than a year and a half, I have been “in recovery”. I’ve had a few lapses (or more than a few, but who’s counting?), and have sometimes been dragged kicking and screaming away from my eating disorder, but the general trajectory has been towards recovery. And, after a year and a half “in recovery”, I can now tell you honestly that I am RECOVERED.

I often wondered how I would know that I was recovered, or if it would really happen. Most of the time, I believed I would live in a half-recovered world, holding onto a few restrictions and a few rules, but be mostly okay. You know what? That’s BULLSHIT. ANY eating disorder is too much eating disorder. Full recovery is possible, and you have to fight your ass off until you get there.

This January, I realized it was the 17 year anniversary of my eating disorder. I decided I wasn’t going to let it get to 18. 18 year olds are considered adults. I was NOT going to have an adult eating disorder.

I started challenging. I ate foods I never thought I’d eat again if I couldn’t throw them up or exercise compulsively til every last calorie was used up. I cried and choked and gagged at first, but I kept doing it until the scary foods no longer triggered an emotional response. I thought I’d end up overdoing it on the forbidden foods, once I let myself have them, but once they’re not forbidden anymore, I can have a normal relationship with them. Sometimes I want one thing for snack, sometimes I want another. For those of you wondering, eating those foods did NOTHING to change my body, either. All of my pants still fit comfortably, and my bicep is looking more ripped than ever 😉

I started challenging the emotional stuff, too. I had given away some of my stories, but I was still holding back on a few. They were all variations on a theme . . . if I told one, I’d told them all, right? Wrong. Once they stopped festering inside me, and I learned that people wouldn’t think any differently of me if they knew them, they stopped invading my thoughts. Now, they sort of float in and float out again. Sometimes they make me upset for a moment, but it isn’t all-consuming anymore. I’ve learned to sit with whatever comes up, and still be okay. It didn’t happen right away, but the more I let go, the more the thoughts and memories and flashbacks let go of me.

And, because we know recovery isn’t all about food, or the body, or even our backstories, I’ve started challenging life. Now that I’ve separated enough from the ED voice, I know when something challenging is good scary, or bad scary. If it good scares me, I do it. If I don’t want to do it, I do it.  If it makes me uncomfortable, I do it. If it makes me look foolish, I do it. I spent far too many years not living life, so now I’m going to travel, and play, and do headstands (safely – still getting the bones back), and jump in puddles, and eat things I’ve never eaten before, and postpone studying to hang out with a friend, and wear a bathing suit, and do yoga on a mountain top and . . . well, I’m going to do it all.

So how do I know I’m recovered? It’s not like all of my past suddenly went away. It’s still a part of who I am. I can just live with it now, and not have to fight it all the time. Good things happen, bad things happen, days get rough, but I’m still okay. I can walk down the street and think to myself, “I’m happy” – without any backlash, or thoughts of undeservedness, and without needing a reason why I’m happy. There are still things I don’t like about my body, but I can live with it, and I’m not going to make it do something it doesn’t want to do. It has earned a rest. I think this quote sums it up the best:

Peace

 

Being “in recovery” doesn’t always feel good. It really kind of sucks. “In recovery” is all about hard work, and learning new ways of life, and challenging everything. “Recovered” is still hard work, but it feels SO much better, because you’re stronger now. Nobody recovers because they’re strong. The act of recovering makes a person strong. Someday, you’ll be strong enough to know you’re okay, and that the fight was worth it. It is. It’s so much better on the other side, my friends. I can’t wait to see you all there.

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Moving On Up

I’d like to start out by apologizing for my lack of posting. I know I promised a series on “How x Saved Me From My Eating Disorder”, but it somehow fell by the wayside. I spent my holiday trying to maximize my free time, and see friends who were only home for limited stays. Then, I ended up falling into a place of uncertainty about using my voice. I tend to be an “all-or-nothing” kind of girl, and when I found out that my voice had been used for harm instead of good, I chose to shut it down completely. I slowly came to my senses, and found a balance.

Since then, I’ve been working on creating a blog/website for my new holistic nutrition business. (If you’d like the link, please contact me. I don’t necessarily want to link all the personal stuff I’ve posted here to a business I’m trying to keep somewhat professional). That, plus school, plus managing a store full time, plus board-of-directoring, plus therapy, plus trying to maintain some semblance of a yoga practice and social life has left me somewhat burned out.

Today, however, I made a big decision, and I thought it should be shared:

I’m selling my Wii.

If you haven’t been reading, or don’t remember, my Wii is the only scale in my house. I figured it was safer than a “real” scale, since it takes so long to boot up (is that the phrase you tech-savvy kids are using today?) and I couldn’t bother booting up more than once a day (usually). Turns out, there is NO SUCH THING as a safe scale. I was still obsessed, and now I had an on-screen chart showing me a graph of my weight loss, and then weight gain. OH! And did I mention that a little voice tells you, after the number flashes on the screen, “That’s Underweight!” The day when it announced “That’s Normal!” nearly did me in. Standing naked on a Wii balance board, sobbing, while being stared at by a computer animated version of yourself is an experience that I don’t recommend.

So this sale marks the end of another piece of my imprisonment. Just maybe, by unchaining my leg from the scale, my heart will feel a little lighter, and my mind a little freer. Oh! And my wallet a little fatter. And you know what? I think I’m okay with not knowing. I’ll never know til I try.

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How x Saved Me From My Eating Disorder

A few years ago, during my second last relapse, I used to imagine writing a book about my recovery. It would be titled “How Saved Me From My Eating Disorder”. That’s a pretty boring title. Maybe that would be the subtitle, with some catchy one word title like “Starved” or “Bones” or “Batshitcrazy”.

Anyhow, the stood for any number of things. At one time, the title even made some vague reference to how one eating disorder saved me from another. I was constantly searching for that one thing or another that would SAVE ME. I read Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me and Unbearable Lightness (Trigger Warning) and Hungry (Trigger Warning) and Wasted (Trigger Warning) and any other recovery book I could get my hands on (all the while pedalling maniacally on the stationary bike) looking for that one thing. That one thing would never come. I had to save myself.

There were many things that helped me save myself, however. Some of them were pretty standard: therapy, yoga, friends, family, the usual, but some of them were a little out there. Over the holidays, I’m going to make an effort to write about those various random things. I don’t know whether any of these things will help you, but it might get you looking at things in your life differently, learning how to find help in the strangest of places.

In the meantime, here’s an article I found on Huff Post Women. It’s a very brave, and very smart how to: Holiday Eating: 17 Things To Consider When You’re Obsessing About Food And Weight. It got so much positive feedback on my Facebook wall, that I decided to share here. Happy Holidays, all. Be safe.

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Dammit (Janet) – Exercise Addiction

I’m sick. It’s just a cold, but it’s my first one in a year, and it’s taking it out of me.

The bigger problem: I’m supposed to be going to yoga class right now.

Now, as WGT well knows, while I admit to having overexercised in the past as a part of my eating disorder, I will SWEAR UP AND DOWN that I do not now, nor have I ever had an exercise addiction. As far as I am concerned, the mechanism of my eating disorder was based on a series of obsessive calories in/calories out (and then some) calculations, and exercise was obviously a big part of those calculations. But when I decided to recover, I considered my exercise obsession a thing of the past.

Today, however, I’m beginning to have doubts.

Dammit.

I had a midterm and a presentation today at school, and was fully planning on leaving at lunch (long presentations prevented that), but was still planning on going to yoga class. I have a studio introductory pass: I have to get the most out of that 30 days for $30, don’t I?

So I’m sitting on my couch, binge-drinking water, Emergen-C, and tea, and trying to psych myself up to get out the door for class. It’s cold and rainy in Toronto today, though . . . surely that will make my cold worse? And if I get sicker, and I have to miss work, it’s going to really mess me up financially, especially since it’s the holidays.

But . . . in all honesty, my body has been freaking me out lately. My thighs seem to be touching  differently,  and my waist is looking more solid these days. I haven’t weighed myself in about 6 weeks, which is the longest I’ve gone in, well, ages, by about 4 weeks.  It’s a combination of trying to overcome my obsession with the number on the scale, and the fear of what that number will be . . . as well as the fact that the only scale in my house lives in the form of my Wii Fit Plus, which I only use as a scale. If I stop weighing myself, I can sell it and put the money towards more yoga classes!

Long story short, I didn’t go to yoga class. And I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out about my body, and I’m freaking out about being a lazy person, and I’m freaking out about being faced with the fact that I have to admit to an exercise addiction.

It’s so frustrating. Everyone else seems to get to exercise as much as they want, without anyone telling them it’s a problem, and without having to exercise as much as they can. (insert pity party here)

So I’m sitting with it. I hate it. I keep debating whether to run myself through a yoga sequence at home, or just take a sick day. (Sick days? What are those? As it stands, I’ve only had 3 days off in the past month . . . most of which have been spent studying.)

The moral of the story is: I’ll survive. But it sucks.

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Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Strange title for a post, I know. Always calls to mind Zoolander: Orange Mocha Frappuccinos, anyone?  More importantly, it was the #1 song this week in 1984: the week I was born.

Tomorrow I’m turning 28. (Shocking, I know. In all the pictures of the back of my head I’ve posted I look 25, 26 tops.)

The past year has been quite the ride. I’m not sure what I expected from it. I think 27 was sort of my leap into the unknown. Repeatedly.

I think I expected that once I’d started eating (and had been for a few months by the time my birthday rolled around) that things would just get better and easier all the time. Where food was concerned, that was mostly true. Once I’d conquered a food mountain, it was an easier climb the next time I encountered it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how hard the rest of it would be. 27 has arguably been one of the hardest years of my life. Actually doing the work behind the eating disorder made me realize why I battled the eating disorder for so long. It’s been a lot of white-knuckling and, when that fails, unhealthy coping skills until such time as I learn some healthy ones.

Some things are better, though. I’m learning to actually stay present in life. It’s exhausting and overwhelming, but it’s better to be a part of things than apart from things. I’m learning to actually let people in: to trust people with my spirit and trust that they won’t break it. I’m learning to be selective at who I let in my life. I have met (and kept around) some incredible people this year who inspire me, astonish me, and teach me what it is to be a real person.

I realized recently that there aren’t really “things” anymore that define me. My life doesn’t revolve around dancing, singing, and acting anymore, nor an eating disorder. While I’m in school for holistic nutrition, I’m not a “foodie”. I enjoy yoga, but it’s not my whole life. It’s really the people in my life who make me what I am.

Therefore, I am declaring the year of 28 to be “the year of the people”. May it be the best one yet.

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Today

Hello lovely friends. Today was a great day. Yoga Unite‘s fundraiser for Sheena’s Place went off beautifully. There was so much love and support from our community. The event was at Artscape Wychwood Barns, just after their weekly Farmer’s Market. Nearly every farmer/vendor we approached donated fruit, vegetables, baked goods, etc. for us to sell at the event. It was a true expression of community (and I have some local, unpasteurized honey in my cupboard now, as a result). We had massage therapists, a reiki practitioner, and a healing therapist all donate their time post-event. It was really lovely.

On my end, I ended up raising $720 in donations, and had many friends at the event supporting, as well. I had friends from groups, yoga, school, theatre school, acting life, etc. I felt very blessed. Oh, and did I mention it started to snow (very briefly) during the class? It was a scene straight out of White Christmas.

I came close, but didn’t cry. Apparently when you throw a microphone in my hand, my performer instincts still kick in to enough of a degree to keep me under control. I had many people approach me after the event to talk with me about my speech. I heard from people who had struggled with eating disorders, or just struggled with life, who could relate to things I had to say. It’s amazing how much good can come from sharing your story. We spend so much time trying to hide and pretend like everything’s fine, but we don’t realize how much the truth can help other people, let alone ourselves.

So here it is, almost as it appeared at the event today, my speech:

Wow. If you’d told me 18 months ago that I’d be standing in front of a roomful of yogis wearing head to toe spandex, well, I probably would have either laughed at you or had a mild panic attack. Or both.

18 months ago, I was told if I didn’t get help, I probably wouldn’t live out the year. After a 15 year battle with anorexia, I was at my own personal rock bottom, and I had to make the choice: was I going to fight back, or let my eating disorder win? Well, for those of you who don’t share my über-pasty Celtic heritage, the name Kelly means Warrior in Gaelic. That’s right. I’ve got a yoga pose named after me. I decided it was time for this warrior to fight.

For my whole life I’ve struggled with self-worth. Abuse and trauma from a very young age taught me that there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed. I needed to be as perfect as possible to keep myself safe. It wasn’t about being thin. I mean, it was, to an extent. If you had asked me in my teenage years why I was starving myself, I would have told you it was because I JUST WANTED TO BE THIN! Now I think I have a better understanding of it.

For me, my eating disorder was about discipline and control. Having experienced so much chaos, I needed rules and restrictions to keep myself in line. It was about depriving myself, believing the eating disordered voice in my head saying “You think you deserve food? Let me remind you of all the reasons why you’re not worth it.” It was also about trying to disappear. To be invisible. To destroy what was inside by attacking my outsides, and at the same time to survive things I didn’t know how to get through any other way. I had a hell of a battle to fight.

If you’ve never tried to get help for an eating disorder in Canada, consider yourself lucky. The waiting lists here are 6 months to 2 years long. Otherwise, you’re stuck paying thousands of dollars a day for treatment. And the sad thing is, the lower your weight drops, the fewer the options available to you. By the time I was seeking help, I was down to one choice. They put me on a waiting list, and I told them I was going to try to recover on my own. They wished me luck, but told me it couldn’t be done. I set out to prove them wrong.

I had gone the hospital route twice before. The philosophy seemed to be “fatten you up and ship you out”. I always relapsed within 6 months. This time I was going to have to get creative and really do the hard work.

I found my way to Sheena’s Place. I had been stalking their website for about 6 years, but had never worked up the courage to go there. Going to my first group, I was afraid I’d be judged, as the barista had marked my Starbucks cup with the word “Skim”. Imagine being so gluttonous as to have milk in your coffee! But I got there, and found a roomful of people who were warm and accepting. These people were so intelligent, and fighting so hard against their own demons. I heard group members say things out loud that I had always figured were too shameful to voice. An eating disorder makes you feel like a freak, like nobody could possibly handle hearing the things going on inside your head. At Sheena’s Place, I wasn’t alone. For that hour and a half, I was surrounded by strong, courageous warriors who were just like me. Some of them are my friends to this day.

I also found a therapist. I had never met anyone before who had both recovered from an eating disorder herself, and seemed to be really recovered and thriving. She absolutely radiates light, and that light symbolizes hope for me. Every week I have sitting across from me an example of what I want my life to be, and proof that it is possible. I decided I wanted to be like that. I want to turn all the pain and suffering into a life that can help make recovery a little easier for someone else.

Recovery isn’t easy, though. This past year has been one of the hardest years of my life. I’ve had to face demons that I had buried deep down. I’ve had to go head to head with some of my biggest fears day after day. I’ve cried, I’ve shut down completely, I’ve run the other way, and I’ve just wanted to make the pain stop. But the only way out is through. I may not be all the way through yet, but I’m walking forward, one step at a time.

18 months ago, I couldn’t imagine a life outside of my eating disordered prison, outside the cage of bones I had built. I couldn’t function in normal life. I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without wondering if I’d pass out at the top. I couldn’t touch food with my bare hands. Now, my bones are on the inside, where they belong. I have a job, I go to school, and I hang out with friends. I can not only climb many flights of stairs, but I can survive a sweaty 6 am ashtanga class, and my chaturanga gets stronger every day. I cook now, and am studying to be a holistic nutritionist specializing in eating disorder recovery.

I want to thank you all for coming today to support a cause that means so much to me. Whether you know it or not, every one of you knows someone with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are the leading killer among mental illnesses, and most people are suffering in silence. We need more treatment options like Sheena’s Place that offer safety, help, and hope for those who are struggling. So thank you. You’re giving hope and a second chance at life to someone who desperately needs it.

I am honoured to spend this day of my second, or maybe my thirty second chance with all of you. Namaste.

So there you have it. Thank you to everyone in the blogisphere for your love and support. Much love to you all.

 

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A Little More on Saturday . . .

Hello BlogFriends,

Thank you all for your support and kindness leading up to Saturday’s big event. My speech is written, and I’m not freaking out TOO much. Not sure I can get through it without crying, but I don’t know if that’s so overwhelmingly important. The important thing is getting the word out about Sheena’s Place, and representing those who are fighting against eating disorders the way I’d want to be represented.

Today at work I had a woman “come out” to me about her history with an eating disorder after reading the poster for the event. I think by making noise about it, we’re making it okay for people to make noise about their own stories. Be anything but quiet, yes?

So that’s my little rant for today. I’ll appreciate any good vibes you want to send my way on Saturday. If you can make it out, please do. Here are the links to register, to donate to my cause – at $448, just $52 away from my goal (let me know if you’ve donated, and I’ll get you a tax receipt), and to check out our newest feature, the SILENT AUCTION! You don’t have to be at the event to bid; it’s all happening online.

Thank you again for being my support system. There are some of you who I’ve never even met in real life, yet who mean so much to me. It’s all about building a community. We’re stronger together than alone.

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