Having dealt with both alcoholism and an eating disorder, I can say in my personal experience that staying abstinent from alcohol was much more simple than being sober in my eating behaviors.
I think a lot of times people look at eating disorders like they aren't too serious because they revolve around a substance that everyone consumes on a daily basis; food. Alcoholism, however, involves a demon-like substance which most can understand the negative effects of.
Here's what people do not realize about recovery from an eating disorder vs. recovery from alcohol; Alcohol is not a necessity for living and can be completely cut out, food however is not. Food is a something we absolutely need to survive.
Someone with an eating disorder has to face their demon multiple times a day. We have to get up and have a "proper" breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. We have to do this without restricting or overindulging. Food is not something we can simply abstain from (abstaining is what got a lot of us in trouble in the first place).
Imagine telling an alcoholic they could only have a certain amount at certain times a day, no more no less. Sounds crazy difficult right? Well that is the reality for someone recovering from an eating disorder.
I don't mean to sound like "woe is me", I am just speaking to the reality of the situation. So next time you tell someone with an eating disorder to "just eat" and things will be better, really think about what you are saying.
We with eating disorders face our drug many times throughout the day. We face it and have to ingest the proper dose each time. This is a difficult challenge to face. It takes tons of practice, work, and strength but is possible.
I am speaking only from my own personal experience with these two demons but I think others who have been there can relate. I have been sober from alcohol longer than from my eating disorder behaviors and though tempted from time to time, seem to have an easier time staying away.
Hope this brings to light that eating disorder recovery is a challenging process. If someone around you is struggling try your best to be there for support. This illness is just as serious as any other addiction. If you are uncertain of how to support someone with an eating disorder, just ask them. There is no one fits all support guide for every sufferer.
Stay strong all, recovery is possible.
Have you ever thought to yourself that you are just kind of, for lack of a better word, wrong for this world? I feel this on a daily basis. I don't mean to sound depressing or whiny I just often wonder if I'm right? There is this thing about eating disorders, they make you believe you don't belong, you don't fit in, and basically you aren't right. Is the emotion I'm experiencing lingering from old eating disorder thoughts or is this really who I am?
I usually ponder this many times throughout the day. I wonder why I don't feel fit for a life full of close friends, marriage and children, and why I don't seem to be interested in the same things that excite others.
Have I been damaged by my disease? Maybe I just haven't reached past this place yet? There is always the conclusion, however, that I may simply be plain old different; different interests, different values, destined for a different future.
Though this may all sound great and like I am some unique individual, the reality is that these thoughts can leave one quite lonely. Lonely and constantly questioning why I do not seem to want the same things as my peers.
There are some days I put every ounce of energy I have into being thrilled about something which everyone around me seems to have that thrill for. What do I get? Nothing. No reaction. I then ask myself, what the hell is wrong with me?
Maybe nothing, maybe I'm not as far into recovery as I thought I was, or maybe it's a mystery (that's how it feels at this point at least).
I find comfort in knowing there are many others who feel the same. Sometimes I wish we could all just find each other. I sometimes think that would make things easier. But as we all know, life is no fairytale and things like that do not just happen unfortunately.
If you ever feel like you are alone with this sense of not fitting, of not belonging, you in no way are. You may not be in direct contact with others like you but believe me, they exist. I'm the proof of that one.
I cannot say for certain that this feeling will pass but I can assure you (and myself) that it is absolutely okay to not fit into this mold we define as "normal". Keep rocking your authentic self. Living honestly is the only true way to be free.
So adolescence is supposed to be that time when you mature from a child into an adult; those awkward teen years when you attempt to figure out who you are and your place in the world. We wandered around the halls of our high school looking for answers, trying to belong, and hoping that one day we would wake up feeling confident and assured in who we are. We knew that our deadline was graduation, by then we would definitely know what we were destined to do with our lives. This myth of certainty, many of us believed, only set us up for years of wondering what the hell was wrong with us and why couldn't we get this life thing figured out???
It has only been recently that I came to the conclusion that life isn't something that we can ever really "figure out". We especially aren't going to crack the code by the time we graduate high school. With constant growth, what we want our life to look like will inevitably change. It is a sad reality that we literally may never unravel the answers to this thing called life.
I, like many others, assumed that by now (at the ripe age of 26) I would have discovered myself and of course had the perfect job; In simple terms, life would be completely set. Man was I wrong about that one. I am only now beginning to be revealed to the person I authentically am. Now that I have wellness my real passions are starting to surface. I am now aware of the fact that I am still a developing human and probably always will be.
It is okay not to have everything figured out. It is okay to feel like your life is a mess. It's alright to be a stuck working at what may not be your dream job. All of this is okay because it takes tons of time and inner reflection to discover what you truly want your life to hold.
I'm learning now to be aware of what sparks my inspiration, to try new things, and to go for my passions. Getting through this "second adolescence" and creating a life you love requires tireless work. Just because we have reached a certain age does not mean we are stuck in the current situation we are in. Like they say, age is only a number, you are capable of molding your present no matter what your stage of life.
I guess the point of my rant is to remind you (as well as myself) that you by no means need to have everything figured out. You will discover new things about yourself everyday. Your interests may change, your desires may shift, and you may feel like this puzzle of life will never come together.
Do not panic. Take what you can from each moment; find peace in it. There is no specific timeline in which you need to have certain pieces of your puzzle put together. I'm beginning to look at this all as a journey, an adventure which will lead me to places I would have never thought. Keep breathing. Enjoy what you discover. You will be alright, I promise.
What does it mean to heal? How do we ever know for certain that we are whole? What does unconditional acceptance really feel like? I ponder these ideas and wonder if there is a benchmark moment for the occurrence of these things. Does it happen over time or does something inside simply click one day?
I know without a doubt that healing, becoming whole, and finding acceptance are things that entail a journey. What I want to know is whether that journey is ever complete. Do we ever reach a point where the process is over? A place where we are the most whole we can possibly be?
I want badly to say this place, this moment exists but I suspect the answer is no. Just like a tree, growth will never stop until life inevitably ends. That is the most sense I can make out of these things.
As things inescapably change in life we are forced to morph with where ever change brings us. Any event that occurs in life could potentially open up what we thought was a healed wound we had left behind.
I know for me, my thoughts/views of myself are constantly shifting. I may experience acceptance one day but not the next. This is why I am realizing that continued growth is essential.
Acceptance, wholeness, and healing are elements that need consistent attention, there may never be a finish line. I need to learn to be okay with that. Keeping what you strive these things to look like in your mind can help ensure that the progress you've made will not be destroyed.
I have worked tirelessly on developing positive feelings and growth around these things and in the past after arriving at the place I am today I would have thought my work was done. I know now this isn't the case.
This time around I need to be sure I take the time I need to give everything I've worked so hard for attention. I need to spend moments exploring the feelings that challenge me and how I feel about myself. I need to dig into how different moments affect my system.
I've found that as new experiences take place they will sure as hell challenge the work you've done. That leaves you with two choices; You can let them take you away from the place you have gotten to OR you can spend time on them, figuring out their purpose and work through them.
Caring about yourself is not selfish. Giving yourself what you need should not cause guilt. Thinking about how far I've come and hoping I am able to make the choices that keep me here.
It was my 20th birthday, my roommates decided to make me a cake in order to celebrate. What was intended to be a fun, celebratory notion was in reality my worst nightmare. On my 20th birthday I was in deep with anorexia. This being the case, I did not have one morsel of my birthday cake.
To this day I have guilt about not having a piece of that damn cake. I wanted so badly to show my appreciation for the time my friends had spent trying to make my birthday special. I hated the way I refused it, constantly saying maybe I would have some later. Did I have some later? No. That cake sat on the counter until it became stale. This was a tangible reminder of how much my eating disorder had control over me.
The fact that this cake still haunts me, six years later, is proof of how much influence an eating disorder can have on your being. Your thoughts and actions are no longer your own, you are owned by ED. For a long time I convinced myself that I was the one who was making all these choices. One day I finally realized these weren't choices at all. I literally felt as if I had to do the things I was doing, there was no other option. Not following the orders of my eating disorder would only lead to more anxiety, obsession, and a feeling of failure.
I have had birthdays since with no cake involved and that makes me sad. I'm upset that cake is still a scary food and that my demons won't let me enjoy even a single slice on a day that is supposed to be filled with joy and celebration. I would never deny anyone else of birthday cake. Why do I do this to myself? This is constantly a question that frustrates and digs at me. I fully, rationally understand that it is okay to 'treat yo self' on your birthday or any other special day yet the irrational eating disorder tends to win the argument.
I fully intent to not let another year pass with no birthday cake. Eating disorder, it's my turn to chose. This year I chose to celebrate with some delicious cake. Happy Birthday to me.
There are many different definitons of what being "healthy" is. This word is often used in conjunction with selling whatever the latest fad is. Everyone thinks they know what "healthy" is and most aren't shy about telling you whether what you're doing is right or not. This is the thing, healthy is not a one size fits all kind of deal. Health is different for everyone, there are no rigid guidlines that serve as the end all be all in what defines being healthy.
I have many times followed the paths that others have set forth in order to feel like I was a healthy being. Regarless of whether that meant eating a certain way, having a certain exercise routine, or living a particular lifestyle. I tried so many things in hopes of finding guidelines that felt right to me.
It took me years and years to understand that I had to define what healthy meant for me as an individual. Healthy to me is doing what allows you to feel your best. It means nourishing yourself with foods that make you feel good. For me, healthy doesn't involve spending countless hours at the gym because for me that it dangerous and will only lead to obsession. I've had to find a way to stay active without overdoing it. Let's also remember that healthy doesn't only involve your body but your mental state as well. Mental health is equally if not more important than physical health. In my definition this includes practicing lots of self care as well as filling my mind with all things positive.
Like I said, being "healthy" is something very different for each of us. It's essential to explore what things enable you to feel your absolute best, (both mentally and physically). Try not to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. We are all unique so expecting something that someone else does to feel right is a longshot. Practice patience when exploring and try new things, eventually you will find the right combination of components that work for you.
I stress again that "healthy" doesn't have to mean being at the gym seven days a week and eating only chicken and vegetables. If that works for you, great, but that is not what makes me feel good personally.
Have fun exploring health for yourself. Find peace for your body and mind. Don't be pressured by fads, find what makes YOU feel great regardless of what the rest of the world is doing :)
I have for so long greatly underestimated my capabality. I never thought I would be able to achieve even half of the things I have under my belt. Not once did I even fathom I could have years of sobriety, be able to practice independence, or even hold a job, to name a few. But guess what, I am doing all of those things and more. I imagined a life where these things existed but assumed I couldn't conquer any of them in my lifetime.
I think as humans we underestimate the power we have. I think we are afraid of going after what we want because we are afraid that the outcome won't be what we wanted. I believe that most of us try something once and if it doesn't work out we stop there.
Here's what I've learned, if you want to achieve something or want your life to look a certain way you need to put your whole being into making that happen. Hard work and openness are absolutle necessities. When we allow ourselves to be open with the universe about what we desire, we are letting it know that we are ready and willing to do what we need to in order to make things happen.
Having put out there what you want won't make some kind of instant miracle occur, unfortunately. Now comes the hard work, the perserance, and the patience. I have discovered that when you are truly ready to recieve the things you desire, the universe will send you opportunity. Sometimes it may be quiet and sometimes it will be thrown right in your lap.
Now, this opportunity may not be exactly what you hoped for but it may be a stepping stone taking you further to your final destination. We cannot let what may seem like a small, insignificant step pass us by. Small things can lead to big things. I believe that with hard work all of these minor stepping stones will pay off in great ways.
I realize a lot of this may sound corny and probably stupid to many of you. I am only sharing the path in which things have presented themselves to me and what has lead me to achieve the things I have always craved.
My main point here is that you are much more capable then you believe. Always try for the things you want because you never know where giving your all to something could potentially take you.
I have for years wanted to start a blog and finally with some encouragement I did. Now I love to write and am exstatic at the number of people who can relate and find comfort in my words. I am so happy I took a chance on this blog and so happy about the places that writing is beginning to take me.
Think of one thing. One thing that's been in the back of your mind. That one thing you have been wanting to try. I know everyone has something. I urge you to go for it whether it is something small or something grand. You hold endless power and even if what you're imagining doesn't happen exactly how you want it to, I can almost guarentee that it will bring you unexpected and wonderful joy.
Hard work, persevence, and passion are all you need. I believe in you!
Caring for or enabling? Good question. I have been dealing with my daughter's eating disorder (ED) now for about seven years. There have been many different roles I have played during this time.
Most recently I provided "rehab" in my home. We came to a juncture in her out patient treatment that her treatment team said this isn't cutting it--she needs to go into inpatient treatment. Problem, insurance won't cover it. To do it right, we are talking minimum 60 days in a facility, followed by partial and eventually back to out patient. Last time the cost was somewhere around 80,000$ (roughly, I never had the nerve to add it up!) Not a possibility at this point in time.
Plan B. Total bed rest in my home. She would go on FMLA. I would cook her meals. She was not able to do much of anything, except sit in the house, or out on the patio if a nice day, eat, rest. This was all done with the support of her team. I followed their directive, meal plans, etc. She was still going to her appointments with psychologist, psychiatrist, nutritionist (=team).
She packed up clothes, her cat and "guest room" her she comes. I was working long hours at this point. I had scheduled a week off to go on a little vacation right about this same time. After I got the call from her psychologist saying this is what I need to do, I returned back to my day at work. One of my coworkers asked what was wrong? What had happened with the phone call? I explained that my daughter would be coming to stay...... She asked what about your vacation?? I responded, postpone it for now. Will take the time off to try and take care of her. What happened next has stuck with me for months and I assume I will store away most likely forever. My coworker suddenly got an attitude with me. Informed me I was enabling my daughter. She needs to figure it out on her own or have someone else help her. I need to walk away and do my "own thing".
I stopped. Timing was bad as I had just received the news from the psychologist. My emotions were raw from all of this. First off all, this person giving me advice does not have children. She has no idea what it would be like to have a sick child that needs help. Secondly, I had not asked for an opinion, advice, or sympathy. I had simply answered a question that I had been asked. I questioned what I was doing. Was I enabling? After a brief recap of my role in all of this I thought to myself absolutely not. Enabling would be to allow my daughter to stay with me but continue her ED habits. Allowing her to stay and stick with a meal plan that her nutritionist had provided for her is caring for . I was doing what I could as a mother with a sick daughter. Ignorance and lack of education on the subject of ED is prominent. That is fine. But don't give me some shitty advise, making me second guess my actions because you are uninformed on the subject.
Over the years I have had all kinds of advise ranging from "I'll take her out for a cheese burger, then she'll be fine" to "You need to let her grow up and figure this out on her own". I think to myself with every ridiculous remark, if my daughter had cancer or diabetes or something that medically made sense to people, there would be no questions asked. I go back to lack of knowledge on this particular subject.
In the end, I know I am doing what I can when I can to help my daughter. When I have the time and energy to try and educate those giving me horrible advice regarding an ED, I do.
Side note, the rehab time in my home worked. She is back out in the world, trying to make her way. I am thankful for each and every day she is on this Earth. The struggle is real. So far, she is winning.
I found out the other day that a friend I made in treatment years ago passed away. This was shocking to find out. I honestly hadn't spoken to her in a long time but that doesn't make it any less of a surprise. Having an eating disorder or addiction is not a joke, a fad, or a lifestyle. These are serious illnesses that can literally take your life.
I don't want any sympathy, what I want is awareness. I want everyone to know how much mental illness can affect the individual suffering as well as everyone around them. The family and friends surrounding an person with these issues can hurt almost as badly as the one diagnosed with the actual illness.
Since finding out about my treatment sister, I have found an immense sense of gratitude for the fact that I am still alive. I could have lost my life many times throughout the years. I am lucky my body is so resilient and my mind never got to a dark place I could not find my way out of.
There were nights when I was at my worst that I would pray that when I closed my eyes I would not wake up to open them in the morning. It is shameful to admit this, but I do because it shows the reality of what having an eating disorder and depression did to me. This thought crosses the minds of more people than I think we all like to imagine. The lucky ones come out of it, while the others are taken over and can no longer fight. Its a truth that is hard to swallow but it is still the truth.
It is not my aim to bring anyone down from reading this. I, again, write this for awareness. If you or someone you know needs help, get it sooner rather than later. If you think you are not sick enough to receive treatment, think again. Early intervention can save your life. Too many have passed due to mental illness. Take the steps to prevent this as much as possible.
Remember brighter days are ahead. The things you are feeling will not last forever. You are strong, you are worthy, and you have people that care about you. Take each day one minute at a time, knowing you can make it through. I believe in you.
To my old friend, I hope you are at peace. I hope you have received the serenity you were looking for. You will be missed.