About a year ago I decided to take a break from social media. I had a lightbulb moment and realized every time I scrolled through my facebook feed I would feel bad about myself and where my life was at. I think this actually quite a common occurrence. Many people I talk to say they second guess the state of their life when they see what others their age are doing.
After deleting all of my accounts I felt a relief. I wasn't comparing myself to the lives that others show off on their social media. I was now able to focus on what I felt needed to be worked on in my own lifestyle instead of using how other people lived as my standard. This allowed freedom when shaping how I chose to spend my days, who I wanted to be, and what I valued.
Just a reminder to everyone out there, be aware of what you say to others. You never know the possible button it may push or the influence your words may have on an individual.
This seems like a simple concept but I never fully absorbed it until recently. We really have to remember that we have no idea what others are going through. We cannot fathom the problems people may be suffering from or the demons they may be battling.
Our words, as you probably know, can be vicious weapons when used in a negative way. Do not call people a "drunk" because they may actually have a drinking problem and your label only fuels the fire. Whenever I hear this term being used I become personally offended because of my history. This is conclusive that something you say to a person may not only effect that person but the people who are around when these things are being verbalized.
This is only one example but I trust that you catch my drift. I do not write this to offend or shame people for what they may have said. I write this for awareness and as a reminder of the damage words can cause.
Remember always that everyone is fighting their own battle, whether they chose to talk about it or not. We need to be sensitive about this. Until we have walked in someone's shoes we have no right to label or judge them. We have to be careful about the language we use in general as well. There is always the possibility of someone overhearing the way you speak around certain subjects that others may be sensitive too.
I believe there is probably a word that everyone finds offense when they hear it used. Whether it has to do with your weight, ethnicity, religion, I'm sure there is something. Calling someone a "drunk" is my personal example. We all have our things.
I fully understand that I am ultra sensitive when it comes to this topic. Although I imagine there are others, like me, who feel the same. Basically what I'm wishing you take from this is that know your words matter. The tone, language, and labels that you use can seriously impact how a person feels about themselves. Chose words wisely, they may also effect how a person feels about you. I'm not telling everyone to filter themselves but be prepared for the consequences things you say may have.
"Never ever, ever underestimate the power your words can have........"
- John Goins
I have for so long been ashamed of the person I am and my "problems". Living like this is like walking on eggshells, trying not to offend anyone for simply being who you are. This is no way to live, that is unless you like living as a prisoner or if you love the feeling of hiding. For me however, I have learned I am not made to be contained in a jail cell built completely by myself.
When I was secretive about my issues and wouldn't let anyone in I was only making a bad situation worse. I did not realize the amount of support I was missing out on. Once I opened up through this blog and other ways I was flooded with so much positivity I barely knew what to do with myself. Everyone who reached out to me or said a kind word has largely impacted my recovery as well as kept me motivated to stay well.
I feel like pretending to be a certain way is so harmful to your core self. Whether it be dressing to "fit in" or sculpting your personality to a way you think will please others, it is all damaging to your authentic self.
As corny and cliche as it sounds we were all wired differently for a reason. Normal does not exist. Normal is a myth we put out there in order to alienate individuals that we may not fully understand. When we classify people as "weird" it puts our minds at ease knowing that these individuals we can't exactly comprehend are put into a proper category. These boxes are bullshit and only separate us from each other but that is an entirely different rant.
Freeing myself from hiding has been one of the best things I could have done. I have found, not surprisingly, that I am far happier than before. It has taken time but I can honestly say I am who I am 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no shame included (even if that person is someone who lives in sweatpants and hates washing her hair.) I am embracing this girl and am beginning to love her for who she is. I recommend everyone come out of hiding and do the same :) I'll be waiting!
I fear a lot of things, but what I fear most is falling back into past habits and behaviors. This fear is a constant reminder of my past self. It is a reminder of the misery that came from engaging in old, negative behaviors. I understand/appreciate the fear, I believe it is there to keep me from slipping. It allows me to remember that, that past misery is a place I never wish to return to.
The misery I speak of was a hole I never imagined I would dig my way out of. I still have a difficult time realizing the progress I have made over the past year. It honestly felt like that was going to be the rest of my life, like I didn't have a choice in the matter, and like I was destined to live with loneliness and pain forever. It had been so long since I experienced what a full life felt like, how was I supposed to remember that great feeling of living and believe I would get there again?
When in so deep with my eating disorder and alcoholism it really felt like slowly destroying myself was the only option I was dealt. I was trapped, a prisoner in my own mind. I was holding the key to freedom but did not have the strength to use it. Most of the time I was unaware I was the one possessing the key. I guess I believed the universe would someday make things better, like there would be some magical morning where I awoke to see all my problems were solved.
I now know this magic does not exist. The thought of this magical power kept me sick and made me believe that I could never make things better on my own, using my own strength. I can tell you now that I am the one who holds that mystic ability and I was able to use my own magic power to make the shift into wellness. I was not alone while doing this, I had an amazingly supportive mother, a treatment team, and the friends I had left encouraging me through the process.
I was able to get well this time without being admitted into any kind of treatment facility which makes me so proud. I have been down that route many times but this time I took a different path. This path put all the responsibility on me and those around me. We are not trained professionals but we knew what needed to be done and this time we were all able to make a big commitment to keeping me outpatient. I am extremely grateful I had the resources around me to do this since I did not have the financial resources for any sort of inpatient treatment.
A rough road it was, there were fights, tears, and nights were I swore I could not continue, but in the end the constant pushing through these rough patches paid off.
It was never easy and nothing in this process came naturally to me. Most things I was required to do were actually the exact opposite of what was organic to me. But like I said, today I sit here and know that it was worth every tear I shed.
I think I will forever be afraid that the past will come back to repeat itself. This may just be something I am unable to change. I have faith in knowing that if this demon ever decides to return I can conquer it again and again until it finally leaves me, giving me the life of peace and serenity I have always imagined.
I'm working, I'm socializing, I'm living on my own, and truth be told I am exhausted by it all.
I have for so long been out of touch with the real world and it's like all the sudden I have been thrown back in with full force. I was not thrown by someone else, I was thrown by myself this time. I recognize that if I am to live even close to a full life I have to reacquaint myself with reality. I can not expect to be happy if I shut myself out from everything this world has to offer.
I feel like it happened so fast. Not that fast is a bad thing, it is sometimes just overwhelming. I went from doing absolutely nothing for months to having things I need to do each and everyday. I guess I'm getting back to being my adult self. This is great and I'm proud of it, but like I said I went from zero to everything in what seemed like an instant.
Having responsibility/ growing up has always been something that I am subconsciously frightened of. Taking ownership of my life is scary for me. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Knowing that I am responsible for myself and how my life goes is a lot for me to accept. I do not know what my fear around it is, I only know the fear is there.
There have been a lot of tough moments these past weeks since returning to this place called "the real world". I am getting through them. I am gaining confidence in the possibility that I can take care of myself. I hope in time this confidence will grow, allowing me to truly own my life and my choices.
I am remembering now that I am responsible for my life and I am the one that dictates what it will look like. This concept can be filled with fear or it can be seen as an exciting opportunity. An opportunity to have the life that I imagine, the one that I have been striving for, for years. I know now that since I am in a healthy place physically, mentally, and spiritually, that this life can actually be attained.
I am pushing through the exhaustion of it all and wishing for good things to come from all the hard work. We all deserve a great life, I'm realizing now more than ever that it takes tons of work to achieve this life, but in time we can all get there.
I have had multiple periods of recovery in the past but I'm going to be honest, they were anything but real. They were half hearted and my eating disorder was always still lingering in the back of my mind.
In the past, every time I went to treatment I had the thought of "I'm just going to do this for now until I can return to my eating disorder." I wanted to please people, get them off my back, and appear like I was doing well when in reality I was not truly recovering. I wasn't fully present in the process and more importantly I was getting better for others instead of doing it for myself.
My motive was to appear "well", getting there as soon as possible by simply going through the motions of recovery. Yes this helped to get people off my back but in the long run all it did was hurt me. It made me more secretive and caused me to lie to others as well as myself. I would brainwash myself into thinking I was doing great when really I was feeding the eating disorder voice more, making it stronger than it already was.
This time is different. I can feel the difference from head to toe. I can feel it fully in my mind, body and spirit. I am so grateful for this difference. How do I know? I know because the eating disorder voice is slowly weakening. It is not there shouting things about calories and weight at me. It is not there attempting to manipulate me and those around me. It is beginning to subside, some days I barely even hear it.
I don't feel a motive other than getting well. I am not lying to others or using the tricks I once did in the past. I am present. I am feeling. I am challenging myself in ways I never have before. I am finding myself less preoccupied with my body and the things I put into it. These are things I have never truly felt free from. I have to say that the beginning of this new freedom feels better than just about anything I can think of.
I am beginning to feel proud of myself and what I have accomplished. I am amazed at the challenges I have taken on. I am delighted in the fact that I was the one who placed those challenges before me and thrilled that I was able to get through them, one at a time.
sI wish everyone could experience these feelings. They have filled me with more joy than I ever imagined this process would bring. It is so difficult to picture happiness and recovery when in the depths of an eating disorder. But I am proof that these things are possible. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that the struggle is over, because it's not. Recovery isn't all sunshine and rainbows, it comes with hard times as well. Knowing this helps me to appreciate all the good. It also helps me to realize the tough times will pass and the good times are possible.
I want to thank everyone who has been there on this journey with me. From the ones who have been extremely involved to the ones who may have said one nice thing to me. It all matters and it all makes a difference. Without all the support I have received I don't think I would be in the state I am today. This real state, the one that gives me hope for long term recovery. Like I said before, this time feels real, I can only hope for more amazing days to come.
I hate jeans. I don't hate many things, but I hate jeans. I don't know what it is about them, they just make me so uncomfortable and never seem to fit right. Needless to say this discomfort gets worse the more time I spend obsessing about my body. I haven't worn jeans in 9 months. Almost an entire year jean free.
Well I was jean free, until last night. Laying in bed almost ready to fall asleep I got a late night invitation to go out with a friend. I considered not going then decided, what the hell, why not go have a night out with my adventure buddy.
I didn't have much time to get myself ready so I dug through my closet quickly and grabbed a pair of jeans that I hadn't worn in, you guessed it, 9 months. Last time I wore these they were baggy on me and I had been told before that they didn't look the best because they seemed to be big. Expecting them to still fit the same way, I pulled them on. NOT THE CASE.
These jeans fit, they were maybe even a little tight. I immediately began with deep breaths. I am not used to things fitting. I have for so long avoided any kind of clothing that clings to or even touches my body. These jeans did both of those things. They hugged the curves I've gained over the past few months and showed off my body instead of hiding it behind baggy layers of fabric.
Still panicking but with no time to change, I left my apartment in those jeans. And guess what....... the world didn't end. None of my worst fears were realized. I was simply a normal girl wearing a normal pair of jeans.
This may seem like a trivial thing to most but to me this was a huge deal. I had avoided this article of clothing for nearly a year; last night I was able to face and conquer it. Seems crazy that a pair of pants can hold that much power but unfortunately they did have a lot of power over me.
I vow to keep wearing my jeans until they begin to lose that power. My life will not be run by a silly pair of pants. ;)
The other night I was having a "quiet" moment watering my garden. The neighbor lady came over to say hello. We exchanged neighborly dialogue and then she asked, "What's wrong with your daughter....... (no immediate response from me), she is so thin. I see she is staying with you".
Initially I panicked, what do I say? Do I try and educate this person, explaining to her that she suffers from an eating disorder?? Do I explain that health insurance does not cover the inpatient rehabilitation she requires? Do I say because we do not have an extra $100,000 sitting around that we are "treating" her at home?
I quickly try to decide what to do. If I tell her about the eating disorder, will I get the usual response (take her out for a burger and fries, she'll gain some weight.......). Ugh.
Lack of knowledge maddens me, what do I say?
This time I decided to keep it simple. I responded, saying "she is ill and unable to work right now. She is recuperating with us". I left it at that. The look on my neighbor's face was that of wanting to know what the illness was.
"Not tonight.", I tell myself. My brain needs a moment of peace.
At some point in college, I'm not even sure when, I was gifted with the nickname, "spacey gracie". It never really bothered me. For the most part I thought it was pretty cute so I never said anything about it or thought about what it could possibly mean.
Now, thinking about it more, I know exactly why I was "spacey gracie". I was depressed, malnourished, and would have given anything to get out of my mind. I was so disconnected that I literally was in space most of the time, keeping myself away from the immense amount of emotional pain I was experiencing.
Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity.
(http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders) To describe dissociation in the simplest way possible, it is like sitting and watching your life as if it were a movie; you are entirely disconnected from everything that is yourself.
I've dealt with bouts of dissociation over the years. Sometimes it is as mild as feeling "zoned out", other times it can be a scary experience. There is one particular time I can remember when I was driving and felt completely outside of my body. I was so nervous to continue my drive, I felt like I had no control over the car. I happened to be on the highway, so it wasn't the easiest place to stop and take a breather, but luckily I made it home safe.
I believe that dissociation can be a coping skill to use when you are dealing with challenging emotions; however it is not a very positive coping skill (though sometimes it feels like the only thing we can do). So in college when I became "spacey gracie", it was because I knew no other way to handle my eating disorder and depression. All I knew was that I did not want to deal with it at all.
I honestly believe that most people thought I was dumb because I could never focus on anything and was never present to what was going on in front of me. Though this thought hurt, I was able to laugh off any comments I would get.
Today, even though I sometimes refer to myself as "spacey gracie", I am no longer her. I have learned to be grounded, how to be present in my mind, body, and spirit, and how to cope in other ways. It can be extremely tough sometimes but I realize it is the healthy thing to do; as you probably know, it is better to release emotions rather than stuffing them down, paying them no attention, and waiting for them to explode.
I think I will forever be "spacey gracie" in some people's minds but I know now that I can change the definition of who that girl is. These days I chose to be here on earth and awake in every moment that surrounds me.
"Wherever you are, be all there." - Jim Elliot
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.