When I was at my lowest weight I was working as a hostess at a restaurant in my college town. First of all being around food constantly was not easy but worse was the comments and looks I would get from both customers and co-workers.
I got everything from, "Are you high right now?" (because I had absolutely no life in my eyes), to "We were talking about you, and we want to know what size pants you wear". That had to be the worst one.
I didn't understand or even know the amount of ridicule that comes with being underweight. It is often associated with overweight individuals but believe me it is just as present when you are on the other side of the spectrum. Unfortunately people will always judge what is in front of them.
We are more than our weight. We are more than a simple number on the tag of our clothing. We are humans. We are people that matter regardless of what our outsides look like. Society values a certain ideal appearance so much and what we need to do is start seeing that there is so much more beauty outside of this ideal.
Once we begin to look outside the box, the number we see on the scale or on the tag of our jeans will no longer hold so much power. We as individual beings will hold the power and see that beautiful doesn't mean fitting into a box or a certain size.
It means being your authentic self. It means wearing the clothing you like and feel comfortable in, regardless of what's on trend. It means accepting that we are a group of diverse beings who all have important things to give to this world. If we can do this, we can let go of the judgement we place on ourselves and others. Just imagine how amazing of a world that would be.
The change has to begin inside ourselves if it is to ever travel outward. Appreciate your body, the way you think, and practice self care as much as possible. When I see someone who is confident in themselves there is this positive energy that flows from them; I strive for this on a daily basis and wish it for everyone reading this.
Remember you are your most beautiful you when you are true to your mind and to your spirit. Try being authentically you today and see where it leads. For all you know it may take you to amazing places.
My story with alcohol starts back in the college years, of course then I had no idea I was beginning to exhibit problem behaviors because "everyone drinks in college". However not everyone drinks for the reasons I was.
I was drinking to relieve pain, to numb emotions, and to get away from all my anxiety. I drank to forget anything and everything I was feeling. Since by this time I had been dealing with my depression and eating disorder for years, finding alcohol was like finding a new friend.
I loved this friend; it made me more outgoing, more fun, and able to relax for once in my life. I wish I had know at the time that this friendship would soon tear my life into pieces, leaving me alone to clean up its mess.
The real problems began soon after my graduation from college. I can remember my first night after returning to my home town. I bought a bottle of wine and sat alone only to drink the entire thing by myself. This turned into a nightly ritual, which turned into a day and night ritual, and soon I was intoxicated for the most part of my days. With no job and few friends back home I felt like my life was empty, this is what I thought would fill the void.
Soon I was going out every night, staying out til morning, and drinking more than I thought I ever would in my lifetime. I used to think these were the greatest times of my life but now looking back I see that there was a veil over my eyes keeping me from the truth. The truth being I was a miserable individual and a drunken fool 99% of the time.
When I ran out of money from going out so much I resorted to drinking the contents of the liquor cabinet in my family's home. I would sit outside all day drinking my drinks and smoking my cigarettes (that is if I wasn't passed out in my bed or puking my guts out).
Even at this point in time I did not entertain the idea that I could actually have a problem. Denial has been a huge part of my recovery journey and probably the most difficult wall I had to break through.
Time passed, I drunkenly interviewed and got a job, now my mornings were blessed with hungover drives to work. This did not stop me, didn't even make me question my behavior, these mornings became the norm for me.
More time went by and I began to realize I could not stop drinking; I had tried. I never cried more then when I confessed to my mother what was going on, shockingly she had no idea. I met with my doctor, who gave me medication to help with my withdrawal symptoms as I attempted to get sober. I think this plan lasted maybe two days.
And then came the day when I finally knew I needed some real help, this was not a demon I could fight on my own. I was taking my medication as prescribed but began drinking while on it; this was an awful combination. I had finished whatever booze I was drinking that day and decided I needed to go out and get more.
I am not going to lie about the fact that I have regretfully driven drunk many times, but this time was something completely different. After driving for a few minutes my vision became doubled and I could not for my life see straight. Do you think that stopped me? Of course not. I continued on, a little shaken, but got what I needed and returned back home still seeing blurred and doubled.
Later when my mom got home to find me completely trashed I had a full emotional breakdown. I was on the kitchen floor balling my eyes out, embarrassed but unable to stop, and that is about all I can remember. Days after I was in detox and finally felt safe from my crazy self.
I followed detox with an outpatient program and soon was doing pretty well. Unfortunately like I said before, recovery is in no way linear and may not stick the first time. After more denial and many more relapses I was finally able to say no more.
I have been sober since November 17, 2014 and could not be more proud. Yes, there are struggles, being sober is not easy and I give props to anyone who is living a alcohol free life. There is so much temptation and being my age doesn't help much because most of the time being social means being at a bar.
However things are getting easier and every time I want to drink I remind myself how far I have come and how much better off I am these days. I am at every moment grateful for my sobriety.
If you think you may have a problem with alcohol, talk to someone. Don't dig yourself further into that destructive hole. Remember you don't have to of had this problem for 50 years to "deserve" help. If it's an issue, it's an issue no matter the length of time its been going on. Don't let denial get in your way.
An eating disorder can have devastating effects on the body. These effects include :
⦁ dry skin
⦁ hair loss
⦁ yellowing of skin
⦁ growth of thin white hair all over the body (lanugo)
⦁ intolerance to cold
⦁ poor circulation
⦁ heart failure
⦁ abdominal pain
⦁ loss of period/infertility
⦁ muscle loss/weakness
This is only a short list of things that can happen to an individual who suffers from an eating disorder, there are many more side effects that can occur.
I have experienced many of these symptoms throughout the years. The one most people know me for is the intolerance to cold. I wore my winter coat well into spring this year because my body just could not take the temperature. I was constantly covered in goosebumps and miserable.
I've also have the pleasure of hair loss. In the past few years my hair has probably decreased to half of its original thickness. Most of the time I have to clean out my hair brush after every use because it is so full of my lost hair. And people think that being thin will make you more beautiful......... in my experience that is definitely NOT the case.
This past weekend I had some intense symptoms that I haven't ever had to quite this extent. I woke up in the morning with abdominal pain and thought initially it was nothing to worry about. However as the day progressed the pain began to amplify and was accompanied with nausea and eventually my entire body began to shake.
Once the shaking began my mother took me to the emergency room. After blood work and a few other tests the doctor told me I was dehydrated and was having the abdominal pain because my body is still not used to eating a normal amount of food and therefore was having a difficult time digesting it all.
Fortunately, all I needed was a shot and some fluids to get me feeling better. I am so lucky that was all I needed. I recognize that my body is quite resilient and this is the first time I have been so out of whack that I needed medical attention. I am grateful to have such a strong system.
I always try and take something out of each experience I have and attempt to see the lesson in it all. This showed me that my body is still sick no matter how good it may feel some days. It is again telling me to slow down and not to rush it while it goes through its healing process.
It has also taught me that I am not immune to the side effects that can be caused by an eating disorder. I have thought for so long that I was invincible. My blood work has always come back completely normal along with various other tests that have been done on me. This only aided in the invincible feeling.
I write this to let you know that eating disorders are in no way glamorous and in know way will help you achieve your "perfect, happy life". Besides the mental pain they also cause physical pain.
If you are thinking "once I'm thin I'll feel confident to put myself out there and go do this", think again. Sure maybe you'll feel a little more confident but even if you do, you will not want to do anything. You will feel weak, tired, and too preoccupied with food/your body to even fathom going out into the world. That's how my story has gone at least.
Again, I am filled with gratitude for the fact that my body has survived in the way it has even after all I have put it through; I am one of the lucky ones. Hope this spreads some awareness into the fact that eating disorders aren't "cool", they won't make you happy, and most importantly they are not worth potentially losing your life over.
For a more detailed list of the physical effects of an eating disorder, check out this website : www.eatingdisorders.org.au/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa
Awareness is everything.
I guess I'm learning that the more I decide to open myself up, whether it be to people or to experiences, there is more of a chance for me to get hurt. After sharing this blog with people over the past week, which basically ripped any protective cover I had off, I have been lucky that most of the feedback I've gotten is extremely loving and positive. I could not be more grateful for this.
I have also been taking a serious look at my life for the first time in I don't know how long and as a result have been taking responsibility and apologizing to people when necessary. This also has for the most part given me responses that have made me nothing but happy.
There have however been a few times when the reaction I got from people hasn't been something I, I guess "wanted". These instances have left me full of regret, sorrow, and sometimes confusion. They have made me question whether this whole opening up business was worth it.
After pondering that question I decided the answer is yes. Yes, it's worth it. It's worth it to show my truth. It's worth it to say what I need to. And it is worth it to feel the pain that may come up in the process. Because I know now that I can handle this pain. I have the skills within me to not engage in destructive behaviors, I am today able to feel it and just let it out.
Last night I felt these feelings intensely. After a long night out where the temptation to drink was high and after having dealt with challenging emotions throughout the day, I am proud to say, I was able to grab a coping skill from inside me, feel my feelings, and release the day that was now behind me.
Sometimes all you need to do is blast Blink-182 on your ride home and have a good cry.
"Openness reflects one's inner beauty of kindness and respect for all."
Eating disorders often cause the person suffering to have an inability to see their body the way the rest of the world does; this is called body dysmorphic disorder. I personally have this issue and knowing that I have it makes me feel crazy because most of the time I have no idea what my body actually looks like. I have only my perception which I have come to realize is something that is very out of touch with reality.
An exercise that expressive therapists may use to help their patients see the reality of their image is body tracing. I have known about this method for years but have never had the opportunity to experience it.
I finally decided to ask my mom if she would help me. She willingly said yes so I grabbed some sidewalk chalk and we went out to the driveway. After she finished my tracing the whole family decided to join in the experience with me; talk about support. It was so beautiful to have that support and the tracing ended up being therapeutic for all of us in very different ways. I am so grateful to be surrounded by a family that encourages these moments and stands with me every step of the way. I am one lucky girl.
After taking in the end result of my tracing I was in shock. I honestly thought my body looked like an adolescent boy. I never see that when I look in the mirror which is what made this reality check so necessary.
Again I could not be more grateful for my family participating in this with me. The willingness they have to partake in my treatment always amazes me. I'll say it once more because I can never say it enough, I am one lucky lady.
"Perception does not equal reality."
Depression is defined as "a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living. More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don't get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both." (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977)
I have been dealing with depression for the bulk of my last 12 years and though my symptoms may vary from time to time, I can think of one word that basically describes it all; weighted.
It takes the largest effort to move your body in the slightest way because your body isn't your body, it is this foreign thing that seems to be filled with pounds upon pounds of sand which you are forced to drag around.
Your mind is also not your mind. For me, depression completely consumed all of my thoughts, leaving only hopelessness and worthlessness. My mind played tricks on me, it told me lies all the time. "you don't need people", "you're not good enough", "your life doesn't matter", were just a few of those falsehoods.
I am able to recognize these statements as untruthful now, but when in the wrath of depression I was fully encompassed in those beliefs. I truly thought that my life held no purpose, no meaning, and that if I was gone no one would even notice.
Back in college I choreographed this piece as a project for one of my classes. I was dealing with depressive thoughts and since it was the only thing on my mind I decided to draw inspiration from those feelings and create this dance. This is the best way I know how to show you what the illness of depression is like. Movement is the ultimate way to express what you are unable to say with words.
I've tried my best to keep this short and sweet and now I will just let the movement speak for itself.
If you feel like you are experiencing depression the best thing you can do is reach out and get yourself some support. Below is a great website to check out if you want to learn more and find resources for help.
That awkward question for everyone who chooses to be sober. Whether you've had problems in the past or whether it's simply a lifestyle choice, the idea of not drinking seems to baffle most people. In my almost two years sober I haven't had to deal with this question too many times, but this past weekend I had to deal with it full force.
I was out at a bar with a friend, doing my thing, and a guy I was talking to brought up drinking (not too random as we were in a bar). I said it wasn't something I did and his reaction was, "What do you mean you don't drink? Are you Mormon or something?", no I am not Mormon random guy at the bar. I followed that with saying it was just something I didn't do. He of course kept pushing. "lifestyle choice?", he asked, "Yes, lifestyle choice", I replied. He kept right on pushing when he said "You mean like AA lifestyle choice?". At this point I decided I was going to give him exactly what he was digging at so I told him "YEAH, like AA lifestyle choice". At this point in the conversation his face changed and I thought he would finally be satisfied with my answer but no, he kept going. He said he didn't believe in AA and asked if I could just have a glass of wine with dinner, he asked if I believed that in 20 years I would still be an alcoholic. Without getting worked up I answered all of his inquiries with no shame around who or I guess what I was. After all of this, he finally left it alone and I was able to finish my cigarette in peace, (thank goodness).
I have no problem about owning the fact that I have a problem with alcohol. I have no problem answering people's questions around the subject, but in this situation I felt like the information shouldn't have been pulled out of me in the way it was.
It absolutely amazes me how some people react to the fact that I live a sober life.
Many think it is amazing and congratulate me while others are completely confused by it. Most of the time people will back off when I tell them I don't want a drink and some will keep pushing, telling me I can handle one drink (yeah, because these strangers I meet when I'm out know me so well).
I could have taken anger from the other night, but I am choosing to see the lesson in it all. People will question what they do not understand and what we can do is answer their questions, creating a learning situation. I realized there is no point in getting worked up, I will undoubtedly deal with these situations for the rest of my life so why get upset? Why ruin my night?
Take what people say with a grain of salt. Sobriety is a foreign concept to a lot of individuals. Answering what may feel to you are ridiculous questions only helps to spread awareness around the disease of alcoholism. As I always say, awareness is everything. With increased awareness the stigma can be decreased and maybe one day choosing to be sober won't completely blow somebody's mind. One conversation and one question at a time is all it takes.
Fear food ; Eating disorder patients often have a conviction and morbid fear that types or amounts of food will lead to instant and discernable weight gain. These may include any high-calorie items or groups of food such as fats, "junk food", or meat. Treatment aims to reintegrate these foods into the diet of the sufferer either gradually or, in the case of Maudsley/FBT, almost immediately. An integral part of the recovery process is developing a healthy relationship with food, eating and one's body; and this includes viewing food as neutral and fuel, not good or bad, safe or unsafe. (http://glossary.feast-ed.org/5-psychology-and-therapies/fear--foods)
Over the years I have to come to have multitudes of "fear foods". My fears around them are irrational and many times I have no clue where the intense fear around these foods came from.
Any type of sweet is probably my biggest fear food. When I was binging, it was rarely on anything but super sweet foods. Now that I have been binge free for over a year, I am scared to eat any food in this category for fear that it will lead to a full on binge.
Since conquering these fear foods is essential in the recovery process, I decided it was time to face one of them; so the other day I went for it and have no regrets about doing so.
A friend asked if I wanted to go for ice cream and I instantly said no and that there was no way I would be able to eat that. She suggested I simply come along and maybe I would change my mind. I did as suggested and went along with her.
Yes, I wanted to eat ice cream, I love ice cream, but I was nervous (terrified to be exact). Something inside me however shouted "eat the damn ice cream, you'll be able to handle it". When arriving at the shop I gathered all the self energy I had and began to browse all the flavors. I saw one that looked delicious and began to reason with myself.
Why would I deny myself of a treat? I wouldn't deny anyone else of ice cream, so why shouldn't I let myself have it? As these thoughts lingered the fear began to break and I ordered a small scoop of the "damn ice cream".
The fear completely disappeared when I had the courage to eat the first spoonful. I ate consciously, really letting myself enjoy this treat. I knew if I was mindful while eating there wouldn't be an urge to binge because I would be satisfied with my small scoop. And there wasn't. When I finished what was in my cup I told myself that this was done and I wasn't going to let thoughts of what this ice cream would "do to my body" haunt me.
I am filled with pride knowing that I took a giant step in my recovery that night. Allowing food to be neutral makes it lose the overwhelming power it has over us. I am grateful to have had a friend by my side who unknowingly gave me the little push I needed to take on this challenge.
In time I will take on each of my fear foods one at a time. I think the ice cream challenge was a great start and it gives me motivation to keep moving along. Champion!
I figured it was about time I let you all know a little about how I got to be where I am today, so here it is.
For as long as I can remember I have felt as if I don't belong, like I just don't fit in this world. I think that these feelings haunting me everyday are something that seriously contributed to the development of my depression. I have a hard time even pin pointing when this started but I'm gonna say it was around 13 years old. At the time I didn't realize I had depression, I just knew something was off in my system.
Around this time my parents divorced. My mother worked long hours and my brother and I barely spoke so I was left alone basically all the time, which was way to long to be with only my thoughts. At 14 I began binge eating; I was lonely, depressed, and had no one to talk about my feelings with, so food seemed like a good fix for the sadness. I can vividly remember walking in the door after school, dropping my bag, and going straight for the food, full of intense anxiety waiting to get that first bite in my mouth. Then of course came the guilt, especially on the days I had dance class and was forced to put on a leotard after eating until I was so stuffed I thought I was going to die. However dance was my only outlet at the time and I strongly believe it is why I am still alive today. It allowed me to unconsciously express everything in my system that I was unaware was happening. I had numbed myself with food and dance was the only way I was able to connect with my feelings.
The binge eating and depression continued throughout the rest of high school and into college (where I majored in dance of course). There were bouts of restriction but most of the time I was focused on stuffing my feelings down with food. When I was 19 things changed drastically, I began to restrict. I was so proud of myself for not binging that restriction became something I was instantly obsessed with. Counting calories, dancing until exhaustion, and weighing myself became my religion. My weight dropped quickly and before I knew it I was severely underweight. I can remember going to the doctor and being told if I continued to dance that I would probably have a heart attack. I didn't believe him, and frankly I didn't care. I was thin now so nothing else mattered.
Once summer came and the school year was over I became a complete slave to my eating disorder. My life consisted of only a few things; sleeping, locking my self in my room, going to my part time hostess job, and obsessing about my body. I was constantly crying and couldn't think straight. Even with all of these things I was in denial that I had any sort of problem. There however was one fateful day when I became so hopeless that I finally called my Mom and declared that I needed help, I couldn't live this way anymore.
Within days I was going to my first therapy appointment with the therapist who would literally save my life. After beginning therapy I was set up with a dietitian and began my attempt at weight restoration. As much as I tried, doing this outpatient was not working so I was admitted into a residential treatment facility for what I was told would be a week. Little did I know that was just a lie to get me in there for what ended up being 66 long and memorable days. I had some of the best times in my life when I was there and met some of the most amazing people. I ended up having to take a year off of school but that was okay because I now saw that I needed time to allow myself to get better, this wasn't something that was going to happen overnight.
Unfortunately as we all know, recovery is by no means a linear process and may not stick the first time. Through the years I have gone through multiple relapses and for a while alcohol replaced my eating disorder (which is a whole other story in itself). However getting through each relapse has made me stronger and each one has started to be for shorter periods of time. That is growth, which is something I am always reminding myself of.
Now at 26, six years after I first began treatment and 12 years after my eating disorder began, I am fighting once again. Today I am working harder on my recovery than I ever have in the past. I feel that this could be the time that things stick. I have an amazing treatment team and a support system that I will forever be grateful for. I have been sober for almost 2 years and with all of my being want to get to that same place with my eating disorder. Yes, I fear the unknown but I now feel that the future can hold great things. Everyday I am choosing to nourish my body, mind, and spirit properly. I am allowing my feelings to be expressed, and I am slowly but surely gaining freedom from my illness.
This is where I am at today and that is how I got here (written in the shortest way possible, I could honestly going on for pages upon pages). If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment; I am always willing to talk about my story because I believe awareness and understanding are essential.
Today I am choosing recovery, I hope you all will stand with me and do the same.
- gracie jean.
This video was recently shared with me and I am so inspired by it. This women is amazing, it is awesome to see how she empowers herself by wearing a bikini for the first time.
The beach is a challenge for many us, no matter what our size may be. It angers me that this is the case. Why does a relaxing and fun trip to the beach have to turn into a trip full of anxiety and self consciousness around our bodies???
Every body is beautiful. Put on whatever bathing suit makes you feel special and enjoy the water, enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin, and let go of any judgements you may have about yourself. Fill the void of judgement with confidence in knowing that you are a perfectly imperfect being, just the way you are. Get out there, you can do this!