Candid Recovery

Tips to survive the holidays. December 11, 2014

Sorry, folks. It’s been a while.

Last month, I celebrated what I consider to be my first year in solid recovery. Having been in and out of treatment for years, my recovery journey has been in the making for quite some time, but this past year is the first year I can say I was in solid, sustained recovery. I’m so proud that within the past year I was able to restore weight to where my doctors suggested and that I have since maintained that weight consistently. Has the past year been perfect? Nope. Far from it. However, when I look back at my life this time last year, I cannot believe how far I have come. BEST.FEELING.EVER.

That said, we’ve entered a time of the year that has always proven to be problematic for me: fall/winter. I don’t know what it is exactly about this time of the year, but my battle with the ED voice is always a bit more fervent when this season rolls around. I have ideas about what causes the rekindling of the hellish, ED fire in my brain. Perhaps it’s food-centered festivities and the focus our society has on combatting the holiday weight gain. Perchance it’s the New Year’s resolutions promising a new year filled with exercise and weight loss. Perhaps it’s the freezing temperatures and the normal tendency to gravitate toward warm, comforting foods, many of which used to be off limits in my former ED-obsessed life. Maybe being able to wear fluffy sweaters, long scarves, heavy jackets and lots of layers reminds me of how easy it’d be to hide weight loss… at least for a while. Despite the reason, or combination thereof, I know I have to be more self-aware at this time of the year, and I have to be careful to make conscious decisions that reinforce my recovery. Since the holiday season is often tough for many people battling eating disorders (past or present), I figured I’d share a short, simple list of random things I do to keep my ED out of my holiday season.

  1. Think of your inner child. I have a picture of myself as a young child that I keep with me in my wallet at all times. In the photo I’m probably about 5 years old, and I’m with my grandmother (the most important woman in my life, hands down). Each summer her hometown (Eatonton, GA) hosts a festival to celebrate the town native Joel Chandler Harris, a writer known for the Uncle Remus stories, a compilation of African-American folktales that he published in 1881. In any case, I am wearing that year’s festival t-shirt and enjoying a red snow cone. My artificially red lips are forming the biggest smile possible for a small child’s face, and l can clearly see how much joy I felt that day. I wasn’t thinking about calories. I wasn’t bothered about how loose or tight the waist band felt on my Umbro shorts (gotta love the early 90’s). I wasn’t worried about the photo being flattering or not. I was happy. Carefree. When I look at that little girl, I see her innocence. I see her value and worth. I see her potential. When I’m tempted to act out in my disorder, I pull out that picture and remind myself that by engaging in my ED behaviors, I’m hurting that little girl. To this day, this trick has always helped me stay on track.
  2. When you’re having overwhelming ED thoughts, keep your mind busy with something totally unrelated. My current activities of choice have been crocheting, playing Bananagrams, and cleaning. Crocheting has a lovely way of calming my mind. I find that when I crochet, I’m almost meditating in a sense. I’m calm. I’m not thinking about anything in particular. And as an added bonus (especially in the winter), I have lots of warm, fluffy scarves to show for it! It’s pretty easy to learn, so don’t be intimidated to try if you’ve never done it before. More than likely you know several people who crochet or knit and who would be happy to teach you. Otherwise, there are some great YouTube instructional videos. Bananagrams is another go-to activity of mine. Ideally there’d be someone else around so that you could actually play a real round, but I’ve certainly pulled out the tiles on my own and tried to use them all myself on a huge, mega grid of words. It’s actually kind of nice to play alone; there is no time crunch and no competition (which is awesome for the perfectionist I have within!). I don’t know about you, but I can’t focus on ED thoughts and create a puzzle of words. I’m sure other games or perhaps a jigsaw puzzle could have the same effect. Work with what you have! Finally, and perhaps least glamorously, there is always cleaning to be done. Put on some music, wear comfy clothes and clean away! After a few minutes, you’ll be thinking about the task at hand and not the silly ED thoughts. And your home will look great, thus alleviating the stress caused by clutter. Win-win.
  3. Spend time with an animal! I cannot begin to tell you how much my dog Sheldon has helped me through this past year. He’s such a goofball and can always manage to put a smile on my face. Even when I’m crying or having a freak out moment, he just gently comes to me and curls up on the sofa next to my lap. It’s like he’s saying, “Go ahead and let it all out. I’m here for you when you need me or when you want to cuddle/play/give me a treat.” I love him! If you don’t have a pet, visit your local animal shelter. There are always cats and dogs (and at times other animals) at the shelters who would adore some TLC. No need to adopt an animal if it’s not good timing to you (pet are a huge responsibility); you can certainly just stop by to show love to the animals. Also, shelters are often looking for volunteers to help play with, feed and clean up after the animals. Maybe you can think about scheduling puppy/cat-love time into your life! Plus, it has been shown in clinical studies that when humans pet animals, both the person and the animal release oxytocin, a hormone that evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security. Who wouldn’t want that?! Sounds pretty awesome to me.
  4. Last but not least, when you’re in a good mood write a letter to your eating disorder and list all the negatives you have experienced. Think of all the social activities you either missed entirely or that were at least extremely uncomfortable because your mind was consumed by your disorder. Maybe you’ve been dishonest to people who are genuinely important to you in an effort to hide your disorder. Have you wasted money on food that was either not eaten or that was purged? In what ways has your physical and/or mental health suffered? How much money have you had to spend with doctors/therapists/dietitians/etc. because of your disorder? What activities did you once enjoy that are no longer in your life because of your ED? How has your personality changed since the onset of your disorder? Spend a while jotting down ideas. This letter isn’t necessarily something you’re going to finish in one sitting. And even after you do “finish” it, you can always add to it. When you’re struggling with a particular behavior or thought, read the letter to yourself. I find it particularly helpful to read it out loud to myself in front of a mirror. Better yet, pull out the picture of your younger self and look at it while you read the letter.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you get through the holiday season a best more peacefully. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope that it can at least get you started on the right track. If you have another trick that seems to work for you, please feel free to share! As always, I’m here for you. Let me know if I can be of any help or support you in any way.

Cheers.

Marie Mtz

 

Keep moving FORWARD. March 13, 2014

Filed under: Recovery — Marie M. @ 14:15
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Keep moving FORWARD.

If something in your past is keeping you down, don’t let it in your present. That way, it won’t stand a chance in your future.

 

I’m breaking free. February 8, 2014

Filed under: Recovery — Marie M. @ 15:57
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I'm breaking free.

I’ve always actively avoided art therapy because I’ve long been  too shy to show my lack of artistic talent. That said, I have recently found that arts and crafts do help me calm my mind and uncover my motivation when it seems to be M.I.A., so why would I deny myself that tool? To me, this sketch symbolizes my effort to break free of my eating disordered past, stripping away the old habits and thoughts, and discovering the soul underneath the chaos that has taken over my body (and, thus, my life) for so long.

 

The Power of Language January 18, 2014

ImageMy friends and family who know me well know that a huge area of interest of mine is language. I find learning and studying the intricacies of different languages to be incredibly thrilling. Yep…linguistics nerd here.

Language is the tool we use to interact with the world. We think, speak, listen, read, sing, learn, etc. thanks to our language. Though we use language practically all day every day, I think we sometimes forget just how powerful it is at its core. Think about it: each word has a certain connotation or implication and can often change the meaning or tone of a statement dramatically. My primary interest in linguistics is HOW language is used, and more specifically how the function of certain words/expressions changes from one language to another. Super cool field…look into it if you have a chance. 🙂

In any case, I have not always been cautious with my diction when talking about my eating disorder. For so long I have told people when asked, “Yes, I have had an eating disorder since I was 11.” Even more disturbingly, I would sometimes respond, “Yes, I’ve been anorectic/anorexic since I was 11.” Looking back on those conversations (I have MANY more examples), I cannot help but feel a little frustrated with myself. Not in a blaming manner. I simply grow frustrated that I, unknowingly at the time, made it so much harder for myself to separate my identity from my disorder and to pursue recovery. When I say that I have anorexia or that I am anorexic, it suggests that my eating disorder is something I own and something that is part of me. Part of who I am. And it’s not! I much prefer to say that I have struggled with an eating disorder or that I have dealt with an eating disorder. Using this verb choice allows me to introduce a sense of space between my disorder and myself. It suggests that my eating disorder is simply something that has served as an obstacle for me, not as my identity.

Language is huge! What I feel, what I am, what I face, what I have, what I think can all be remarkably different things. And the words we choose to express ourselves inevitably affect our thought patterns as well. After all, thoughts are composed of words!

Owning language…owning the words we use to interact with the world…can be empowering and liberating. It give us the power to define ourselves rather than be defined by our expressions and word choices. As such, I truly believe that being aware of the words we use (particularly when speaking about eating disorders, body image, self-esteem, etc.) and changing those words accordingly is often the first step in changing our minds and the way we think.

Today, I encourage you to consider the language you use. Is it defining you? What changes could you make to define yourself instead of being defined by your use of language. If you journal, perhaps you could take a look back at old entries and examine the language you used. Remember, our words can become our thoughts…choose them wisely!

Take care, and keep fighting.

-Marie Mtz

 

IT’S ALL WORTH IT. October 19, 2012

Filed under: Recovery — Marie M. @ 06:38
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Last weekend, my fiance and I were going through our closets, replacing colorful summer clothes with chunky, cozy winter sweaters. After all, none of my sun dresses and breezy tops are going to be of much service during the cold, Iowa winter. About 30 minutes or so into the project, our bedroom looked like a textile war zone. Clothes to be hung were scattered all over the bed, and those to be stored were completely covering the floor. I seriously started questioning whether we were going to be able to sleep in our room that night! I should have taken a picture to show you all, but alas, such a picture fails to exist.

Anyway, over our “lunch break,” Jesús (my fiance) said, “Marie…I don’t think we are ever going to finish this mess!! It looks awful in that room right now.” In response I told him, “Don’t worry. Things like these always look much worse before they begin to look better.” I have found this truth to hold in practically all cleaning projects, but the more I thought about it, I realized it applied to my recovery, too. Like my closet before the rearranging, my eating disorder didn’t seem too terribly problematic before I attempted recovery. I mean, sure… it wasn’t going to sustain me over time, but the “harsh winter” hadn’t yet arrived entirely, and I always felt I had time to keep doing the same thing until that time came. No need to change anything up.

Well, the winter did arrive, and when it did, it was a harsh one! When I finally convinced myself that I did, indeed, have a serious problem and should probably do something about it, the task of recovery was completely overwhelming. Once I started (little by little) replacing negative behaviors and thoughts with positive ones, it was hard to see the progress I was actually making. The anxiety these changes provoked, combined with the physical changes that quickly followed, freaked me the hell out. I felt like I was losing my mind. Though my life was actually getting better as I progressed in my recovery, it genuinely looked much worse in my mind than it did before I attempted to make any changes.

Eating disorders, as I’m sure you know,  aren’t simply about the food. Sure, I obsessed about food… Constantly planning what I was going to eat, how much I would eat, when I would do it, and how I would be able to “undo” it if I felt the need. Hours spent browsing decadent recipes that I knew I’d never attempt. Keeping meticulous lists of every ounce that touched my lips (hell, on bad days I wrote down items I looked out if I was scared I “breathed” the calories… yeah, not possible, I know…). My daily life revolved around what I was [not] eating. Sounds like a fun existence, huh?! …Not.

Behind the facade of my food obsession lay the true roots of my disorder. Growing up, my household was not an emotional one. There were not daily hugs before leaving for school, conversations about how my day went over dinner, or bedtime tucking-in ceremonies to be enjoyed before resting each night. It was very much a schedule-oriented, stoic existence (at least the version that I vividly recall), and emotions were seen as weaknesses… feelings that accomplished nothing of importance and essentially just got in the way of success. Combine that with the fact that I was constantly passed around from parent to parent, as my parents divorced when I was incredibly young, and you have yourself a scrumptious recipe for Disaster a la famille.

As I grew older, the depression with which I struggled since elementary school was a constant source of anguish for my family. None of the doctors to whom my parents sent me were able to fix me overnight, and any time I showed a sign of depression or insecurity, those feelings were promptly met with fervent, negative reactions from the home front. As a result, my eating disorder eventually developed into a coping mechanism. It was an outlet. I was able to focus astoundingly intently on something basic: food. In return, I was able to ignore the feelings and emotions that I was constantly forced to supress. I didn’t feel. From the age or 11 or 12 years old, up until my early twenties, I did not feel. It was insane, yet seemingly effective. And if an emotion somehow managed to squeeze itself into my mind, my eating disorder retaliated with a vengeance and silenced it.

The point of this narrative is the following: when I replaced the negative behaviors with positive ones and began to silence the negative self-talk that was perpetually filling my mind, those suppressed emotions and feelings had nowhere else to hide. So, even though I was making a lot of progress in my fight against my disorder, it didn’t feel that way to me. To everyone on the outside, things were looking promising. I just wanted to die, to be quite frank. Of course when I finally stuck with recovery (it took many many many attempts before I was able to stick with it for a decent amount of time), I was able to deal with my emotions productively and in healthy ways (i.e., without using my disorder). Things really did get better, and I did eventually enjoy the recovery journey. Just like in anyone’s life, recovery brings good days as well as bad ones. Thankfully, if you stick with the process, the good days begin to greatly outweight the not-so-great ones. And though it won’t seem possible at first, please trust me… it get’s better!

Just like cleaning my closet last week, my recovery journey was not always pretty. When I first undertook the task of recovery, it looked so much worse (in my mind particularly) before it began to look better. If Jesús and I would have freaked out in the ohmygodthisisadisaster phase of our cleaning project and would have abandoned it without giving it some time to work itself out, I’d be freezing my ass of this week in my summer clothes, and we’d be sleeping on the couch. Clearly, not cool. Recovery deserves the same fair shot. Yes, at the beginning you will likely feel completely overwhelmed. It will look like your life is far worse off without your disorder than it is with it. BUT, if you stick it out and trust the process, you will see positive change. Just as I look at my closet today and subtly smile at the organization scheme and its cozy contents, you, too, will look back at your journey through recovery and appreciate (and be proud of!) all the progress you will have made.

Trust the process, and trust yourself. You are more than enough! And as the photo above says: IT WILL BE WORTH IT. (I promise!)

Happy Friday!

-Marie

 

 

Recovery Warriors Part 8: Emma October 17, 2012

Happy Wednesday morning, everyone! We’re practically half way done with the work/school week! Woohoo!

(Even at 5 in the morning, the prospect of the approaching weekend energizes me!)

This morning, we’re going to start off with an awesome story from an equally as awesome woman named Emma. Reading Emma’s story, I was particularly drawn to the fact that whether it’s a high or low moment in her recovery, she’s keenly aware of what is going on and what changes need to take place to help improve the situation. What incredibly insight! I hope you enjoy!

When did you first begin struggling with an eating disorder?

I started looking very critically at my physical appearance the winter of freshmen year (December 2010). I tried to eat healthily and exercise, but it spiraled out of control that summer. I brought myself in to start treatment the fall of 2011.

Which disorder (anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, compulsive overeating, etc.) affected you initially? Did that change over time in any way?

Anorexia.

What are some of the factors that you feel may have contributed to the disorder?

I dated a guy in high school for 3 years, and it was my first serious relationship. We both loved each other and grew together. Freshmen year, he broke up with me out of the blue, and I suddenly found myself alone and extremely self-conscious. I blamed the breakup on myself and took it very personally. I didn’t know who I was as an independent woman. Then, I went home for winter break and overheard many people talking about my weight (I had gained weight since high school). I was also bombarded by the media and society. Girls at college were stick skinny and constantly obsessed about their appearance. Without a strong anchor, I was quickly swept up.

Did/do you battle other emotional struggles (anxiety, depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, extreme perfectionism, etc.)?

I definitely have a high-anxiety personality. I tend to stress out over very small things. I wouldn’t consider myself as a perfectionist, but I definitely have perfectionist tendencies. Low self-esteem is my biggest emotional struggle. I’ve been working on building up my self-esteem by being very forgiving and loving with myself as well as surrounding myself with positive people, but it has always been my biggest issue that I struggle with.
How long after the onset of your disorder did you pursue recovery?

I spiraled out of control the summer of 2011. However, I distracted myself with work so much that I didn’t realize how sick I had become until I left for school. I noticed my clothes didn’t fit anymore and I had these terribly negative thoughts in my head that I knew didn’t belong but I couldn’t make go away. I went into my school’s mental health clinic in the early fall of 2011 and started recovery about 1 month after my initial consultation.

What is your motivation to recover? What has Ed (your eating disorder) taken from you? What does recovery give back to you?

I want to live my life. I’m sick of not enjoying events because the whole time my mind is preoccupied with what I just ate, what I should have eaten, what I’m about to eat, what I ate last night, what I’m going to eat when I get home….it’s exhausting. Not only is it tiresome, I get home from events and realize that I didn’t even enjoy myself as much as I could have.

During your recovery journey, have you encountered setbacks (relapse, change of disorder, addiction, etc.)?

Relapse after relapse. They usually don’t last much longer than a few weeks at most, but even 1 week of relapse takes away what I have worked for a whole month on. My biggest problem is when something sets me backwards, I don’t take the time to stop, assess, and get back on track. I just keep going full-steam ahead. Then I get stressed out because I’m not doing well in recovery, I take more steps backwards, and the cycle continues.

What are some coping skills that have helped your recovery?

I journal ALL the time. I write about what I ate and how I felt about it, some of my fears, thoughts, really just whatever I’m feeling that day. Sometimes I write about things that on the surface don’t have anything to do with my eating disorder. That’s okay with me. I’m learning to recognize my feelings and articulate them.
I also love doing yoga. I love it because it is one of the few things that can help focus my mind. I also ALWAYS walk away with a huge appreciation for my body.
Talking with people is also a tool that really helps me, which is difficult for me because I don’t open up to anyone. I am always pleasantly surprised, however, how much better it feels when I share with someone how I’m feeling. Even if they have no idea how to help me, the fact that someone knows I’m struggling helps me.

What does recovery mean to you?

Recovery to me means a path to a fulfilling life. It’s not a weekend retreat. It’s not a book. It’s a way of living day-in day-out where you are 100% aware of everything you do and why you do it. You learn more about your self, soul, and body than most people ever do. It’s a never ending process, because we are all human, and can never be perfect. We make mistakes, but we can pick ourselves up, learn from our past, and use it to move forward.

What does healthy mean to you? Has that changed throughout your recovery?

Healthy used to mean eating lean and exercising. Now, healthy means a well-rounded lifestyle, which includes diet, exercise, social, and personal time. I need to give myself the fuel my body needs, which can include pizza and beer or fast food. Exercise is important, but not to maintain weight or to look toned, but to relieve stress and feel good. Healthy also means going out with friends and enjoying other’s company. On the other hand, it also means striking a balance with that and personal time, where you can focus on yourself. I also think that there is a huge personal component of being healthy that includes self-esteem and happiness. Coincidentally, “healthy” has nothing to do with clothing sizes or scales.

In your recovery, what issues are currently affecting you the most? In other words, what are you currently working on?

My biggest issue is body image, how I think others perceive me, and creating the time to focus on myself. I am also starting a relationship with someone, so I’m finding it incredibly difficult to open up with him, which is especially taxing since body image and finding me-time affects our relationship.

If you could offer a bit of advice to others going through the same struggle, what would you say to them?

Please don’t give up. You are not destined to live under the tortuous rules of ED.

Have any resources (books, songs, activities, etc.) been particularly helpful for you?

Yoga and journaling, like I mentioned. I like activities that aren’t super physically active, because then it adds to my obsession of “did I eat enough? did I eat too much?” I also like to pick things that are very difficult for me, tell a friend about how and what it is that is difficult, and do it with him/her. For example, I would pick a food that was hard to eat, tell my sister how hard it was, and then we would eat it. Having someone there with me was super helpful because it helped keep the environment positive.

What have you done, or what do you currently do, in terms of treatment (therapy, nutritional counseling, support groups, etc.)?

I do one-on-one cognitive therapy. I rarely see my nutritionist because I never established a good relationship with her. I see my nurse once or twice a month to get weighed in (I have blind weigh-ins). I am currently interning in another state as my team, however, so I only see them once a month. It is very difficult, so I’m trying to actively take steps on my own. I found an Eating Disorder support group on facebook that I also have found very helpful. I can post about good days or bad days, and I can help other girls and guys when they need it.

THANK YOU, Emma, for sharing your story! You are an incredible woman!

Ok, so this story was like a good cup of coffee: Once you begin it, you don’t want finish… it’s too good! But once you do, you really appreciate the quality of what you just enjoyed and you’re left with a little high to remember it by for a while. 🙂

First, I want to point out that I adore Emma’s using other people for support in her recovery. So often we begin recovery and, for some crazy reason, convince ourselves that we must do it alone. NO! By all means, reach out and make connections. Sure, there are many people in my life in whom I would never confide something so personal. However, there are people in my life who I trust. And in my experience, sharing a recovery process with someone takes an already-fabulous-relationship and makes it rock-solid-fantabulous. Of course, use discretion when choosing someone in whom you can confide… I’m sure you can think of some obvious poor choices off the top of your head (<– that’s a really weird expression when you think about it… just saying…). But having a personal, loving support system has worked wonders in my own recovery journey, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

I also loved the importance that she attributes to journaling, which is a coping skill that I adore. And like Emma said, you don’t have to restrict (no pun intended) your journal entries to nothing but food and ED issues. Write about anything and everything that comes to your mind! All of your thoughts are worthy of being recorded, and trust me: you’ll be surprised by how many seemingly benign topics that end up really tugging at the heart strings.

Alrighty, I really hope you enjoyed the recovery story today. Emma is an incredible woman, and I am thrilled that she shared her story with us. If you want to share your story, email me or contact me via facebook (or comment this — or any — post) to let me know. I’ll send the questions your way. 🙂

In the meantime, take care of yourself and reach out if/when you need support! More posts to come this afternoon. 🙂

-Marie

 

Recovery Warriors Part 7: Nicole October 16, 2012

 This Tuesday morning, we get to hear the story of one of my favorite people in the   universe: Nicole. Nicole and I were brought together at our college by our mutual hatred of eating disorders and our desire to do something about it! What I like about Nicole’s story, as you will soon see, is that it is not the typical “path” to an eating disorder. She did not spend her teen years in and out of treatment, forced into therapy by her parents or school. Her disorder began after her third pregnancy. I hope that Nicole’s story will help shed light on an already growing trend in the world of eating disorders: adult-onset eating disorders.

 

When did you first begin struggling with an eating disorder?

Sometime after my third child turned one year old (2002?) I experienced an upsetting moment and for some reason decided to go on a diet. I know it sounds like I must have lived under a rock, but I had never heard of eating disorders before. I also can’t say that I grew up with a chronically dieting friend or parent.

Which disorder (anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, compulsive overeating, etc.) affected you initially? Did that change over time in any way?

I went on my first diet ever, and very quickly developed anorexia nervosa. After a few months I began purging regularly. My diagnosis was Anorexia Nervosa, Type 2 (with purging). After a while I was also binge-eating and purging.
What are some of the factors that you feel may have contributed to the disorder?

Aside from being an overly sensitive child, I was in a difficult marriage to someone I had been with since I was 14. He wasn’t supportive of me having friends, and I have never been emotionally close to my parents, so I guess I felt alone. Having three very young children so close in age-two of whom had special needs-was probably more than I was ready to deal with at that time.
Did/do you battle other emotional struggles (anxiety, depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, extreme perfectionism, etc.)?

I’ve always struggled with all of the above, in addition to not really feeling like I have a firm place in the world.  I think that the self-harm began because after a while, the eating disorder wasn’t effective enough as a coping mechanism.
How long after the onset of your disorder did you pursue recovery?

I think it took me about two years to reach out for help. My dad staged some ridiculous one-on-one “intervention,” which amounted to a pep talk about pulling myself up by my boot straps because I’m “strong” and being sinful :/ I had to find someone who had experience working with people who have eating disorders and a good track record.
What is your motivation to recover? What has Ed (your eating disorder) taken from you? What does recovery give back to you?

I wish I could say that I initially did it just for myself, but I honestly felt that my kids deserved better.  The eating disorder took away my will to live. There are some things that will never be fixable, like digestive, heart, kidney, and bone problems. I think some of the neurological consequences are improving, though, so I’m grateful for that. I never felt like I was really present when I was with people, even with my kids. I was constantly in the gym or at the track when my husband was home to watch the kids. I couldn’t enjoy a meal with my family or with friends, so I pushed away my best friend and my extended family. During the past few years, I have made a lot of changes that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t made a rigorous effort to change. My moods are usually pretty stable, I don’t feel like a victim to some mysterious force that took away any pleasure. I can think better, sleep, eat, feel peaceful when I choose to, do things with my kids, be fully present when I’m with another person, stay conscious (heh)… so many simple things that I couldn’t do before!
During your recovery journey, have you encountered setbacks (relapse, change of disorder, addiction, etc.)?

After a year and a half of therapy and very little progress, my therapist fired himself. Yep! But somehow that put the responsibility for myself squarely on my shoulders, and I had to Choose. All of those tools I was given were tucked away in my mind, waiting for me to be willing to use them.  I guess the pain of going on as I was became worse than the difficulty of changing. There have been setbacks and near-setbacks, like when re-starting college, moving away from familiar faces, a couple of traumatic car accidents, a couple of big bouts of depression/anxiety, and going through a divorce.


What are some coping skills that have helped your recovery?

The most difficult thing for me to do is paradoxically the most beneficial: talking about what chaos is going on between my ears J. Dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have been invaluable.  Remembering to have fun, even silly things like getting down on the floor with my dog, relieves stress and makes me smile.
What does recovery mean to you?

The best way I can summarize recovery from the eating disorder specifically is this:  stopping unhealthy crash/obsessive dieting, not exercising without proper intake (and not pushing through injuries) , and not engaging in self-harm behaviors. I like to include other peripheral things, like developing interests, resolving the causes that started the behaviors, resting the mind and body, and finding purpose.
What does healthy mean to you? Has that changed throughout your recovery?

For me, healthy means fueling my body according to what I need for the day and also taking care of my emotional health with frequent, brief meditative moments throughout the day.
In your recovery, what issues are currently affecting you the most? In other words, what are you currently working on?

Family stuff really gets to me. It seems there is no shortage of stress in mine (teenagers!!), but it is what it is. Right now I am facing my last full semester of school, uncertainties about finding work and/or graduate school. Every day I struggle with taking care of myself in addition to everyone else.
If you could offer a bit of advice to others going through the same struggle, what would you say to them?

I would say that you don’t have to make some huge decision to change everything right now.  Just start small by talking to a local counselor or searching the internet for resources ( like NEDA). You have everything within you to change. Sometimes it just takes a little outside help to find the strength.
Have any resources (books, songs, activities, etc.) been particularly helpful for you?

Gurze Books has some great resources. This Mean Disease. Growing Up in the Shadow of My Mother’s Anorexia by Daniel Becker was a wake-up call. I enjoy playing Scrabble, exploring new cities, checking off little things on my “bucket list”-things that I wouldn’t be able to do if I was still sick, things that force me to face my fears.
What have you done, or what do you currently do, in terms of treatment (therapy, nutritional counseling, support groups, etc.)?

I have a couple of trusted people in my life who are great sources of support. As far as professional help, I spent so much time in therapy that I have the tools-I just have to remember to use them on a daily basis. 🙂 I have periodically gone for short term therapy to get an independent perspective and trouble-shooting help.

I absolutely adore this story! Nicole’s strength and self-awareness are so strong and evident as she speaks (..uhh…types?!) about her story. I particularly enjoyed her definition of recovery: it encompasses, of course, refraining from ED behaviors, but it also includes cultivating other habits and hobbies that bring you pleasure, big and small. This story also illustrates, as have previous RW (Recovery Warrior) stories as well, that even if you are initially unable to recover for yourself, it’s ok! Whether you decide to recover for yourself or for your pet rabbit, the important thing is that you decide to recover. Over time, once your body and mind have had time to heal, your though process will change and you will be able to make healthy decisions for yourself. But until you reach that point, look around you for inspiration and motivation if you need to do so. No worries!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the RW story. Try not to simply read the stories and move on with your life; try to make connections with your own story and see if there is anything you can take from the stories shared that could perhaps help you along your journey as well!

Have an awesome Tuesday, everyone. And don’t hesitate to reach out for support if/when you need it!

-Marie

 

 
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