Tag Archives: Eating Disorder Recovery

Refuse to shrink (and other recovery thoughts)

Hello world! How ya doin’?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this blog to be. It’s shapeshifted multiple times over the past year and a half- from just a general personal blog to eating disorder recovery to body positivity and now is at a place that is kind of a combination of the three. But after last week’s election, I am more inspired than ever to talk about feminism and oppression and social justice. It’s clear by the election results that there is still so much work to do and I want to help do it. It’s possible that those topics might leak more into my blog every week- this is your warning. You don’t have to read it. But like I said last week, I have to say it.

Today though, I want to talk about my recovery and my eating disorder response to the election.

My recovery has been going really, really well. I hardly count calories ever, except to make sure that I get enough. I order what I really want when I go into a coffee shop. I eat chocolate at 9am like it ain’t no thang. I am coming to a place where I really do love and appreciate and honor my body. It feels really, really good.

As I’ve forged my way into recovery, I have learned to stand up and speak out. I have never been one for confrontation (in fact, I am still not if I can avoid it). I also lived solely to please others. I lived in a world where isolation was easier, so that there would be no one else to please- but that self-isolation mostly just brought depression and anxiety. I felt trapped and like I wasn’t smart enough/important enough to speak out and say what I believed in. I felt like it was never my place. Now I can see that I have to make my place in this world. I can see that I am valuable and that I do have important things to say.

The election results were really, really hard for marginalized people of all sorts, including people who suffer from mental illness. The mental illness support pages I follow on social media were posting links to suicide prevention hotlines and other similar resources. Their messages were all the same. You matter. This is not the end. Do not give up here. We will make it through this. 

That is really scary. Scary that the election made marginalized people feel so hopeless, so worthless, so unimportant that advocates and sufferers alike were worried about taking their own lives. Scary that death seemed easier than dealing with the hardships that are, undoubtedly, ahead. I heard from friends and acquaintances who suffer from the whole spectrum of mental illness- no one took this news easily.

As a person who has suffered anorexia, my response was the urge to restrict (surprise, surprise). This election made me absolutely sick to my stomach (no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, this election was pretty sickening). I felt nauseas and sad and not even the teensiest, tinsiest bit hungry. It made me want to push away from the world, back into that little hole of isolation where I only had to worry about myself. It made food seem unimportant. In the days after the election, I wasn’t necessarily restricting but I certainly wasn’t taking good care of myself. And I was doing that for reasons that are obvious to me- I wanted control of something, at a time when everything seemed so wildly out of my control. I wanted to shrink my world back down to that little safe, sad hole where heartbreak like that didn’t exist because I didn’t let myself feel that hard.

Thank God that didn’t last long, amIright?

I let myself wallow for a few days and be sad. I am still sad. I don’t think this particular brand of sadness will go away for awhile. I did not, however, let myself skip meals or go for a 7-mile run to numb myself. I wasn’t my best recovery self, but I certainly wasn’t my worst eating disorder self either. Not even close. Not even a little bit.

After a few days of processing, I can see clearly that this is not the time to shrink. This is not the time to back away. This is not the time to hide.

Now is the time to stand up. To engage. To fight. To refuse to back down, regardless of what challenges lie ahead. And this goes for anyone who feels anything about this election. We need to stand up for what we believe in. Our beliefs are valid and worthy of being shared. The only way we will move forward is by sharing and seeing that we are all part of each other. We belong to each other. And we have to love each other really hard.

When I restrict, my brain gets foggy and I can’t think clearly. Anxiety and depression come more naturally. I don’t have energy and I start to lose that piece of myself that has forged her way into this world and found her place. I start to get a little lost.

We cannot let ourselves get lost.

To anyone suffering from mental illness or any other marginalized person: this is not the end. There is light and love and goodness in this world- we have to engage and be part of it. Let yourself be sad but then invite courage and strength into your world so that we can stand up and unite. I believe in you. I believe in all of us.

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The (un)happy days: eating disorders in college

Happy November! How is it this late in the year? How is it already 4 weeks from Thanksgiving? This is madness!

Anyways, I hope this post finds you well, wherever you may be as you read it. As much as I love October, I am excited about November and the opportunity to have a more peaceful and less hectic month- I don’t know about you but my October was a little busier than I would have preferred. I had a lot going on at work, in my after-work hours, in my personal life in general. I love this time of year- I love fall, I love Thanksgiving, I love chilly weather that requires cozy sweaters and LL Bean slippers. I love cuddling into my bed under all my blankets at night. I love the crispness in the air. I love it.

I’m going to be honest with you, friends. I have started and stopped approximately eight blog posts over the last few weeks and every time, they come to a crashing halt. It’s not that I’m uninspired. It’s that I’m so inspired I can’t pull down all my thoughts into one coherent sentence, let alone one post.

I’m going to tell a story because I like storytelling and this one popped into my head this afternoon. It made me pause and be grateful for this place that I’m in. And I wanted to share it.

During my 4 years of college, I went to a lot of doctor/therapist/psychiatrist appointments, especially during my last two years when things were really bad. My senior year, I was going to all three in three separate appointments every week. I was always running off to “meetings” or mysterious “appointments” when I was with my classmates (my good friends knew, but most probably didn’t know I was even suffering until this blog) and I was always finding excuses to leave work for an hour so I could go have a near nervous breakdown in my therapist’s office.

These were terrible times.

I went to my therapist every week, although all we did at the time was talk in circles because I wasn’t willing to make any changes to help myself. More accurately, my eating disorder wouldn’t let me make any changes that would possibly hinder his ability to function and control my body. I think about all the suggestions she made during those years and how unwilling I was to listen. I would leave her office and walk straight to the gym, where I would spend 75 minutes in sheer agony. I just wasn’t ready yet. I forgive myself for that.

I went to my psychiatrist every week because after years of refusing, I finally started on an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant. And I went to a doctor to monitor my weight, my heart and so he could beg me to stop exercising so much. He would tell me I was at risk of a stress fracture, of permanent damage of my joints. I would just ignore it and pretend it wasn’t as bad as it was.

The first time I saw him and he did a full intake and evaluation, he told me that I needed to cut back my running and fast. I so distinctly remember him saying “I’m not going to take running away from you but…” and my usual calm, peaceful, non-confrontational self snapped and told him he wasn’t because he couldn’t because it was mine. I went to my therapist the next day in a rage because she was the one who had referred me to him. (Break in the story here to say that I was so lucky to be on a campus where I had these services available to me free of charge. I may not have liked all this appointments or wanted to go. I may have cried all the way through and hated what they had to say but things would have been a HELLA lot worse without them. Shoutout to the Counseling Center and Health Services at University of Rhode Island. If you are in college and are having similar or different issues, please please look into the resources available to you. It’s pretty rad, man.)

Eventually, things got so bad that I was referred to an eating disorder clinic. Well technically, I was referred months and months before but towards the end of my senior year, I finally agreed to go to an intake appointment. In preparation for that, my doctor had to gather all sorts of information about me. He was blind weighing me every week (even though I was consistently weighing myself at home so it didn’t matter) but he had to get another weight for the clinic paperwork. Per usual, he weighed me without me knowing and I sat back down in my hard plastic seat. And then, being the curious and self-sabotaging person that I am, I leaned over and tried to read my weight off his computer.

I saw my weight.

And I freaked the fuck out.

Because it was more than I had weighed in months, probably years. Like I said before, I was still weighing myself every day at this point (when I creeped upstairs before my roommates woke up so I could use their scale, then ran back down to my room). The weight I saw was at least 10 pounds over what I expected, maybe more. I started spinning out of control.

It couldn’t possibly be true.

It couldn’t be right.

…it wasn’t. I read the computer wrong.

You know how I know? Because after 24 hours of sheer panic, shame and anxiety, I emailed the doctor in a frenzy. I said that I saw my weight, it can’t possibly be true, I’ve weighed myself on multiple scales, that can’t be right, it can’t be right! And he responded gently and told me that I had seen it wrong, that my weight was actually X pounds and that he would make sure it was accurate in the paperwork.

It was humiliating- to care that much, to send that email, to admit how much my weight actually mattered to me, how terrified I was at the idea of weight gain. Against my better judgement, I went back and read those emails tonight and I cried a little bit for that girl and I shed a few tears of gratitude that I am not her anymore.

That girl who panicked when she read her weight wrong? She is now at least twenty five pounds over that weight she mistakenly saw. She is now at least a few sizes bigger. She has rolls, she hasn’t run in 10 months, every single part of her body has gotten bigger including her feet. Her old jeans from college wouldn’t fit over her knees  and her old bras are so small they would be deemed societally inappropriate had I not finally sprung for new ones. She has cellulite. She gets bloated sometimes. She is wonderfully squishy.

And you know what?

She is really fucking happy.

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Link Love: September Favorites

Happy September! I can’t believe it’s already September. Where does the time go? I feel like it’s been awhile (at least a couple weeks) since I had a regular post on here and I assure you, I will be back to regular programming soon. Between my job, adjusting to the move and the physical therapy I’ve been doing for my knees, I haven’t had much time to write lately. I have about three posts in the works- here’s hoping I finish one soon! (PS as always, I’ve managed to keep up with Instagram- if you’re not already following me, check it out HERE)

 

It’s been awhile since I did Link Love- I got into the pattern of doing it on the first of the month but August 1 was the day I moved into my new apartment and blogging just wasn’t happening  that day or the days leading up to it (I kind of waited until the last 48 hours to pack my life’s belongings up neatly into boxes…oops). So instead, I have two month’s worth of links to share with all of y’all! Hope you enjoy them and if you have any thoughts or comments or questions or general merriment to share, please leave them in the comments below! Happy reading 🙂

Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism
This is a great article about racism in the US. There are so many people I’ve met in my life who try to deny the presence of systemic racism in our country and it makes me frustrated that people can’t talk about it in a reasonable, adult way. I also just need to share the tweet below that so profoundly describes white privilege (don’t even get me started on this Colin Kaepernick situation).

 

There is no social justice without bodies
Linda Bacon, the pioneer of the Health at Every Size movement and author of the book, wrote a great piece about weightism on the HAES blog this month. Linda Bacon is knowledgable, progressive and all-around amazing. 

When will food issues be on politician’s plates?
Food issues- sustainable agriculture, food insecurity and anti-hunger initiatives- are all things I am very passionate about (hence the reason I have the job that I do) but they are issues that politicians rarely address. I met a woman running for State Representative here in New Hampshire who advocates for sustainable agriculture as one of her main issues and it was so refreshing and exciting to see a political who is passionate about the work that is so important to our future.

Body acceptance rises among women
!!!!!! Finally some good news. This makes me so happy. Let’s take our bodies BACK.

We’re so confused: The problem with health and exercise studies
As a dietitian, the amount of nutrition information on the internet is truly terrifying. If I had a nickel for every time someone read that “you should eat XYZ everyday” or that “ABC is the new superfood/magic potion/answer to all of life’s questions”, I would be a freaking millionaire.

What to do with those leftover meal plan swipes
Back to school seemed like a good time to talk about food insecurity on college campuses. Most people don’t think about hunger on college campuses but it is very real. And in many cases, dining halls give you more swipes than you can use in a semester. What a wonderful solution to a big problem!

The problem with thin privilege
THIS IS SO GOOD. Thin privilege, body shaming, feminism, social justice all in one place. PLUS Kelsey Miller is amazing and you should all read her book Big Girl if you’re looking to see why you should give up dieting for good!

That’s all for now! Like I said, please feel free to leave any comments below and have a beautiful first day of September!

Climbing.

I hiked a mountain yesterday.

I love hiking and no matter how many times I do it, I will never stop loving the quietness of nature, the sound of leaves crunching under my hiking boots, the scrambling to get to the top of the mountain, the way the whole world kind of melts away. And this hike was especially wonderful because it was with two of my best college friends and conveniently, two of the best roommates I’ve ever had.

Now, I know, really and truly, that hiking a 4000 foot mountain isn’t exactly within my recovery “rules”. My recovery body has not experienced exercise in over 7 weeks. Not even a short run around the block. Not even a brief stint on the elliptical. I do some yoga stretches sometimes, particularly when the sunshine (or moonshine) is coming in my window in the morning or night but that’s about it. But this was one of my best friend’s first time ever in New Hampshire and what is New Hampshire without mountains? So I admit, I broke a recovery “rule”. But I actively made the decision when they told me they were coming up that this hike would not be about calories or about how I was “burning off” my meals or how I was “earning” food. This hike would be about friends and trees and nature and Earth. And also, I’ve lived with many-a-rule for much too long and even though my no-exercise rule is in place for a good reason, it was worth breaking to appreciate this time with my friends.

The world slips away when you’re hiking. You aren’t surrounded by people and noise and useless chatter. You’re not comparing yourself to other people you say either in real life or on social media. You’re not scrolling through your Instagram feed looking at people who have “perfect bodies” and you’re not watching Snapchat stories of people having “more fun” than you. Your idea isn’t filled with other people’s ideas and images; it’s filled with your own thoughts, your own imagination with nothing but the dirt and the sky and the trees around you. When I’m hiking, I’m not comparing myself to the perfect-looking girl in the advertisement, I’m not pinching the parts of me that are not “perfect”, I’m not counting calories in my head. I’m just appreciating the fact that I’m made up of the same stuff as the dirt and the sky and the trees and that I deserve to be here too.

Hiking a mountain parallels recovery in a lot of ways and there’s a lot of metaphors (or similes if we want to get really technical about things)  that I could come up with. Like how it’s easier in the beginning and then after awhile, it starts to get really hard and suddenly you’re finding it much more of a challenge than you did in the beginning. Or how there’s always going to be parts where you trip or possibly fall. Or how there’s unexpected parts where it’s slippery (because it’s March and there’s still ice- and because there’s always going to be places in recovery where it’s easier to slip up). Or how good it feels to get to the top after so much hard work.

I haven’t gotten to the “summit” of recovery yet, I’m not even close. Full recovery doesn’t happen in 7 weeks. It happens in a year or two years or eight years or twenty years. But I can say with certainty that I’m getting closer everyday, even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I feel like I want to sit on the ground halfway up the mountain and just enjoy where I am without pushing on farther. But I don’t. I don’t give up because I know there is so much more at the top. I know that I’m cutting myself short if I stop. That even though I might be comfortable where I am right now, it’s not where I’m supposed to end up. That if I keep going, there will be so much more and I will be able to breathe so much deeper and see farther and have an even better perspective. Because that’s how it feels to be at the top of a mountain- you can take a deep breath and enjoy. Look around, spread out your arms and embrace all of the beautiful Earth around you.

 

I haven’t gotten to that point in my recovery yet, but it’s coming slowly but surely. And until then, I’ll refuse to give up, I’ll refuse to stop climbing, I’ll refuse to sit down and I’ll keep looking ahead to the day where I can spread my arms out and breath a little deeper.

 

Welcome to Sundaes for the Soul!

Welcome old! Welcome new! Welcome yellow! Welcome blue!

…I got carried away. But truly, welcome welcome welcome!

I am so excited to announce that my new blog is finally up and running! For those of you who followed me when I was posting at Coffee and Conundrums and have found your way here, thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to follow me on this new platform and I hope you enjoy the changes I’ve made. For those of you who are just finding this site for the first time, hello and thanks for being here!

Like I mentioned, I was formerly blogging on a personal blog I had started, Coffee and Conundrums. However, after a few life altering events, I felt the need to change the direction of my blog to a place where I could share my eating disorder recovery journey as well as have a place to share some of the things in my life and in the world that I think are important. All my posts from Coffee and Conundrums have been added here so if you’re new, feel free to check them out and get to know me a little bit more.

Going forward, I have some new and very exciting ideas for this blog that I can’t wait to share for you all. For now, I encourage you to pop over to my “About Me” to get to know me a little bit better. I also encourage you to read “My Recovery Story”- an unfiltered and very raw depiction of my eating disorder battle that I’ve rarely shared with anyone. Sharing it makes me nervous and very vulnerable but I also feel that as someone who is sharing her recovery journey, it is important to share my own experience.

That’s all for now! If you were previously following me on Coffee and Conundrums through WordPress or by email, you will have to re-follow me since this is a new site. Sorry to make more work, but this is the only time I’ll make you do this, I promise! I invite you all to follow on my on my social media platforms:

Instagram: @sundaesforthesoul
Twitter: @sundaesforsoul
Facebook: Sundaes for the Soul

I invite and encourage you to email me with any questions, comments or even just a hello! You can reach me at [email protected]

Again, I welcome you to my page and thank you for following along with me on my journey!

The Terrifying and Amazing

Dear friends,

Have you ever been so inspired, so energized, so determined that you find it hard to put it into words? That is how I have felt the last couple weeks. I cannot quite describe it. I have so much I want to say, so many thoughts bouncing around in my head that I simply cannot organize them into coherent sentences. It’s a funny juxtaposition between immense creativity and tremendous writer’s block.

What I will say is this: I thought I was recovered from an eating disorder. I really, truly did. I thought I was there! I thought it had happened for real! And during a few heart-wrenching days of extreme clarity, I realized that I was fooling myself (and most everyone around me). The signs were all around me (and if you have a history of an eating disorder, please don’t read this as it is likely triggering). Signs like how I couldn’t take a day off from exercise without having a panic attack or crying. How I obsessed over calories and if a food is “healthy” or not. How I still had insane food rules like needing a certain plate to eat on or a certain utensil to eat with. When it took me a solid 2 minutes to decide which mug I wanted to drink my coffee out of in the morning (that’s in combination with my obsessive tendencies). When I found myself pinching my stomach 18 times a day to see how it feels. How I couldn’t walk past a mirror without looking at how my stomach looks. How I couldn’t eat certain foods unless it was at a specific time during the day. How my whole diet consisted of a very limited number of foods that I felt were “safe”.

It only took me 6 years to realize that these things are not normal. 

It only took me 6 years to realize that I was missing out on life. 

It only took me 6 years to realize that I am worthy of much more than I had ever given myself.

It only took me a year of “quasi-recovery” to realize that I was faking it. 

These are hard things for me to admit. They are things that I haven’t admitted to nearly anyone. These things are raw, they’re a wound that’s far from healing.

BUT.

Two weeks and three days ago, after discovering a method of recovery that actually made sense to me (more on this later), I committed to a full recovery. I have made a LOT of changes. Changes that terrify me. Changes that excite me (oh how I missed you, ice cream!) Changes I have to recommit myself to every day.

Piece by piece, I’m gaining back little parts of my life that I’ve lost. Day by day, I’m learning who I am without my eating disorder. Moment by moment, I’m reminding myself that I am worth real recovery. 

That being said, there are some changes in the works for both my blog and my Instagram page so there may be a bit of a pause in the next couple weeks as I work out the kinks. I can’t wait to hopefully share this journey with you all.

For now, I will share with you this little bit of wisdom that speaks to me so. Sending you all positive vibes and happy Tuesdays!