Fat is NOT a feeling: part 2

“I feel so fat right now.” 

What is that even supposed to mean? The last time I checked, fat is NOT a feeling. I wrote a similar post to this a year ago, so let’s make this post “fat is NOT a feeling: part 2” 

When I think I feel fat, here are some things as to what I really mean:

  • I feel sad and upset with myself right now
  • I feel ashamed for eating and loving my body
  • My eating disorder has me convinced that I can never be beautiful if I eat that food

Or I find myself being happy if I feel skinny. 

  • I am so happy with how I look right now despite the feeling that I will black out.
  • I have no energy to talk to other people but at least I ‘look’ great
  • I can only be happy if I’m skinny 

I have it convinced in my head that being fat is bad but being skinny is good. It makes me believe that if someone is fat they obviously cannot be happy with life. By associating these feelings with the feeling of be fat, it makes me kind of a brat. How can I be advocating for self-love if I still associate fat with those feelings? When I was at my lowest weight I was FAR from happy. When I was at my skinniest I wanted to be dead. Last time I checked, that’s not happiness

Fat does not equal disgust nor does skinny equal happiness. The way our bodies look have no connection to how we should feel.  When I say things like “I feel so fat right now” I need to stop and think how I’m affecting other people. And when I think I feel so “skinny right now” I need to remind myself of those cold hospital rooms. By negatively labeling fat I am just adding to this negative stigma about body image–I am convincing people they need to reflect on their body shape to decide if they’re worthy of happiness. 

Until we are able to come to this conclusion and understanding that our body shape has nothing to do with our outlook on life, we will never be happy. Until we learn to love the person living inside our skin, we will never be happy. 

Fat is not feeling nor is Skinny.  

A letter I wish I recieved

The hardest time of the year is quickly approaching—holiday season.

Between thanksgiving feasts to Christmas dinners – not to forget the temptations everywhere of homemade cookies and hot cocoa, I have to fight really hard to stay ahead of Ana.

I think back to the stranger I once was. That scared, little girl who thought she was only beautiful when her body was completely empty. The girl who always had a plan of manipulation in mind to get what she wanted.

I compare her to who I am now and I struggle to fathom that this ghost was once me. This past month alone was filled with so much success and love. So many happy memories and genuine smiles. I realized MY purpose.

I wish I could talk to my younger self and tell her what I know now… but, I cant. So, instead, I hope that someone who is currently in a place like my past self will stumble upon this letter.

Dear friend,

Hey. It’s been a wild year hasn’t it? I know you’re scared. Holiday season is coming up and that normally means there will be a lot more food to eat with big groups of people. Not to mention in these big groups of people, there are those select few who will be nonchalantly watching you and they will notice any of your unhealthy tricks. Your little mind right now must be scattered with backup plans trying to figure out what tricks will work. I know you think that not eating is going to be the best thing for you, but lets stop and think for a second. Write down what you value. Now add in a goal you have for your future self. The goal can be big or small, just something that can be worked towards. You don’t have to tell me what you wrote, but just picture in your mind what your life would be like if that was the focus. I know Ana is living in your head. Telling you that all of this is a lie and that you should never trust anyone. I bet right now she just told you I am trying to make you fat. Tell Ana I say hello, and that I don’t miss her one bit. I can’t wait until we are both free from Ana.

What is more important to you? Sharing time and memories with friends or passing out after walking up a flight of stairs? Would you rather eat a cookie even if your mind is telling you how wrong that is or would you rather be in the hospital hooked up to a tube force-feeding you the nutrients you keep depriving yourself?

I have a feeling your goal for yourself was not something about having years filled with therapy and self-hate. Or spending more time in a hospital than with the people you care about. But, if you keep letting Ana in, that’s the direction you are going.

Harsh? Yeah, it is. But it is also the reality. This holiday season is about love and joy and being with people who make us feel good. Yeah I get how tempting that sounds to sleep through Thanksgiving dinner, but then, let me know how much fun you have spending your days alone in the hospital. I will always remember my 17th Thanksgiving as the day before I went to treatment.

That is Ana’s goal. Ana, the one you TRUST, is really just your escort to death. Don’t let her win. Listen to me when I say the hospital is not a fun place to be. I am pretty sure they purposely keep the EDP unit on the coldest temperature. Maybe it is so that Ana will freeze to death so that YOU can live again.

I do not expect you to take my advice and make these changes right away. You will not disappoint me as long as you keep trying. I know you’re scared. I was and still am sometimes. But now the reason I am scared is because of the consequences for how long I danced with Ana. The longer the dance, the longer it takes for organs to heal.

This holiday season, lets find a new dance partner. I will not let you feel alone or that nobody cares for you. Because I do. Even if I have never met you, I care. If you start to slip and lose hope and you do not know what to do, I am going to tell you right now what to do. You are going to reach out to myself or someone you trust. You are not going to let Ana win. You are so much stronger. You have no idea how much greatness and unconditional love there is for you. So, until you can see this on your own, I am your anchor. I will not let you forget how worthy you are.

xx Liv

Stigma

Tonight’s post is going to be a stigma buster. I am going to list the top 5 judgments/assumptions uneducated people have with eating disorders and combat them. These are the 5 that personally bother me the most.

“Anorexia is not actually a disease, it’s a diet.”

  • For some reason, people like to assume that we choose to suffer with anorexia. They think that we enjoy stomach pains, twisted thoughts, and wacked out body image. They ask questions on how to BE anorexic. They seek tips, check out pro-anorexia websites, and ask for the secrets- But anorexia is NOT a diet. It is a disease that affects roughly 8 million Americans. Anorexia is not a choice. Anorexia is not a diet, I would not wish these thoughts and images on anyone in the world. Anorexia has far more to do than just losing weight. Anorexia is a fear of food and weight gain. It’s the feeling of being inadequate all the time and the desperation to do anything to feel worth it. Weight loss is a side effect.

“Anorexics are weak”

  • One of the hardest things to do is admit when you are sick. To come to terms that what you are doing to your body is not okay. The brave men and women who sought treatment for their EDs are warriors. Recovery is one of the hardest things I have experienced thus far. Waking up every morning and fighting the voice telling me how much I suck and how worthless I am takes pure strength. Putting food in my mouth when the voice screams at me to put it down and calls me awful names. That takes strength. I am inspired daily by all the men and women in the eating disorder recovery community. Especially by the girls I was inpatient with. True warriors.

“It’s just a phase”

  • Right now I am at a really good point in recovery. I see my dietician, follow my meal plan, and have maintained weight 3 weeks in a row. But, just because I am doing so well right now does not mean that it is not still a problem in my life. An analogy I saw once was talking about how its like being in remission from cancer. We are just stronger, but its still possible that we will relapse. And you know what? If you relapse its okay. I have relapsed many times. As long as you DON’T GIVE UP and KEEP FIGHTING, you have not failed.

“Its all for attention”

  • Personally this is the one that frustrates me the most. Literally no. Like I do not even know where to start with this. Anorexia is a mental illness. In fact, when I was at my lowest points, I was the most secretive. I do not think anyone still can fully pin point when I was struggling the most (other than by my physical health/appearance.) I have done so many things that no one will ever know about. Anorexia is not for attention. It just is not. Stop believing this and saying this.

“If you don’t look sick, you’re fine.”

  • I never got deathly skinny looking, but that does not mean that I was okay. I may have looked okayish on the outside but my insides were dying. During low points my body was so malnourished. I would go to the hospital constantly for severe dehydration, black out like 3 times a day, not have the strength to leave my bed, have seizures, and I struggled with walking up the stairs. Anorexia is not a disease that is diagnosed by the way someone looks.

So friends, please help me to STOP the STIGMA

You Are Never Alone

Everyone has had that feeling when you walk into a room and instantly feel as if everyone just looks up and stares at you. Like you know when you open your mouth to say something, but immediately stop yourself from the fear of being judged?

When no matter what the circumstance you just feel piercing stares and a strong feeling of being unwanted? As if you do not belong anywhere?

3AM is a dangerous a time.

Sometimes even being in a crowded room is a dangerous time.

There is always that strong, overpowering feeling of being alone.

The feeling that nobody likes you.

I am very happy with how my life is today. I have great friends, but yet sometimes I still often feel alone.

I see pictures of people and wonder why I can’t be apart of that happiness. I sometimes wonder if I even actually belong where I am.

Loneliness is a dangerous feeling, but I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.

Our brains play tricks on us. Our demons try to destroy us. But the truth is, no matter what, you are loved. No matter what you do you are loved.

Acknowledging that not everyone will love and appreciate you the way you want is a hard thing to do, but keep in mind that you are the light of someone else’s world. You are the reason why the sun shines so bright for someone else. How amazing is that to think about? People talk. Its what we do. People say hurtful things and don’t always include others. However, don’t let that break you. Brush yourself off. Stand up tall. Smile, persevere.

These feelings are strong; trust me I know. I have had many nights where I just run away and disappear for a while. Ill sit in my car and just drive. I try to escape the feelings. But I want to tell you that it is not constant. I want you to know that no matter how unwanted you feel that it is all a façade.

You are important.

You are worth life and so much more.

You have your humans, your teammates. You have your biggest fans and supporters. You have an army by your side.

It does not matter how big your army is, what matters is the support you receive.

Do not give into the thoughts. I know it is so tempting to drown them out with a bottle or a pill. Put down the blade. You are wanted.

Many of my readers do not know me, but the thing is, I care greatly for all of you. You do not realize the impact you all have on me. You allow me to be open with my biggest feelings.

I won’t lie, I get nervous often about my blog. I think people will find it annoying or think I do it for attention. I think that a lot actually. I almost stopped completely during my long absence earlier this month. But then I started to realize, what about the strangers and friends who have messaged me. What about the people who read my words and find strength, hope, and courage. Too many people have reached out too me for guidance and that inspires me. I see myself making a difference and that’s all I could ever ask for. I cannot give up on them because of my own irrational fears. Not everyone will approve of me, but what matters is that I approve of myself. So, next time you start to think no one likes you—stop yourself from that kind of thinking. Look at pictures of a younger you, because that younger you loves you. That younger you is inspired by you and if you cannot do something for yourself now, do it for that young girl staring back at you in the picture. She loves you. You wouldn’t hurt your younger self, so love yourself now.

You are so worthy of love.

You are wanted.

You are appreciated.

You deserve to be happy.

You are not alone

Acknowledgment

Today in one of my classes, my professor asked us to reflect on our past teachers. She had us think about which teachers had the biggest impact on us and why they did. As we started to reflect on our previous teachers, I began to realize just how much this one past teacher impacted me. Not only did she mentor me and teach me, but also she went way above and beyond that. This teacher inspired me to want to be studying education today. This is sappy, but I honestly could not picture how my college career would be like thus far without her. For privacy reasons, I am going to leave her unnamed, but if she reads this, hopefully she knows it is about her.

It is kind of sad to think about how little we sometimes acknowledge the people in our lives that have had such a lasting impact. Think about a little boy watching the trash man drive by. That is one of the highlights of his week! It is wild to think how something so small can have such a huge impact on someone.

Yet, where is the acknowledgment that these silent rock stars deserve?

My past teacher motivated me to learn, even when I was not the most well behaved kid in class, she encouraged me to keep trying even when I really did not care at all, but most importantly, she was there for me through such a difficult part in my life.

For me, my desire to be a teacher goes much further than just wanting to teach content to younger students. My desire to be a teacher is shaped by the immense impacts my previous teachers have had upon me. My previous teachers have been friends and companions. They have been people I can confide in. This one teacher specifically was always there to drop everything for me and even let me each lunch with her when she had a break (at this point in life I had to have EVERY meal monitored. My choices were to eat with the nurse or to find a teacher.) When I asked this teacher she was so welcoming and understanding. She confided in me and I began to establish such a strong bond with her. I only hope that one day I can be half the teacher she was to me.

She is strong, bold, and creative. She is a fighter, caring, compassionate. She dealt with a lot of shit and still made it about me when she could see I was having a hard day.

This teacher is the reason I managed to finish my senior year of high school.

She has had such a lasting impact on me and this is why I want to be a teacher. I want to help all students who need a mentor like that in their life.

So I guess my point of this post is just a thank you. I am going to try to do more posts like this where I take the time to acknowledge an individual who has helped me get to where I am today.

My challenge for my readers is to also stop and think about those who have impacted you. Remember to tell the people you love how much you love them. Every little gesture can mean so much to someone. Find a little way everyday to let someone know just how much he or she means to you.

Update

Wow, hello. It has been 2 weeks since I have last written, but I have just been so insanely busy with school.

So this post is just going to be an update for those who care.

This year so far has been off to a great start. I am going to be real, eating has been a major struggle, BUT I am so proud of myself for still taking care of my body as best as I can.

Getting back into a routine was a challenge and a blessing. I only have classes 3x a week, but Wednesdays are so busy for me which makes planning for meals to be a bit tricky. I finally met with my dietician this past week and she has been helping me to figure out how to go about finding times to eat with this busier schedule.

The hardest thing for me right now is holding myself accountable for buying food and actually making meals. For the most part I have been doing alright. I lost a few pounds in the little under a month that I have been here, but I have finally started to maintain my weight.

Ensures are becoming my best friend at the moment, but I do not want to have to be dependent on them again. However, until I get back to meeting exchanges, if drinking 2 ensures a day is what my body needs, that is exactly what I will do.

I am working so hard on clearly indicating when to eat, when to do homework, and when to take time for myself. I find myself wanting to use the excuse, “I just do not have time to eat.” but that is no excuse. There is always time to eat, and I need to make sure I am making time for myself. My body comes first. My health comes first. This is an important year for me and I NEED to be healthy for it.

I student teach in the spring. I have worked TOO hard to get to where I am only to relapse and not be able to complete my schooling in the spring.

I had a lot of nerves coming back to school because I was worried I would not have as much support as I needed. But boy, I was so foolish to think that. I have found so much support within my friends, professors, and sorority. I have friends checking in on me and surprising me with my favorite snacks. I am so lucky to be at such a supportive university.

So yeah, this past month I have had my highs and lows. My mood has been all over the place and sometimes I have wanted to just stay in bed all day. I am starting to acknowledge that its okay to have days like that. I cannot expect everyday to be perfect. Sometimes my body will just need a break and thats fine.

So, thank you to everyone for helping me stay strong this first month back. I was really nervous that I would relapse right away. I have found that I am much stronger than I thought. I would not be where I am without the support I have from all of you.

This is my year. Liv is finally living.

Other Side of ME

There is no easy way to explain how during the day I act one way and then night comes I can act totally different. SO, I am going to try to describe how it feels to be bipolar through song- so here we go

*cue song, the other side of me by Hannah Montana*

“By day, I play the part in everyway of simple sweet calm and collected.”

I wake up, have some pep in me, do my makeup, make sure I look my best before I leave, hold the door open for people, use my manners, talk to everyone, be a social butterfly. I have a go-getter mentality all day long and hardly stop until I am confident that everyone around me is doing okay.

Now it is a little bit different between Miley Cyrus and me because well, the other side of her is she is an international pop star sensation named Hannah Montana. The other side of me is just a bit darker, sadder, and less energized. The other side of Olivia is reckless, acts out for her benefits, does things to make her feel good even if she has to take someone down to get there.

I have gotten a lot better now at controlling my episodes, but that does not mean that everyday is still peachy. This past week was a bad week for me. I had two episodes and engaged in a really bad behavior. One of my episodes was in front of some people and I felt ashamed for it…but now I am thinking to myself, “why should I be ashamed for WHO I AM?”

cue lyrics again

“Don’t wanna hide just wanna fit in; sometimes its harder than it seems”

I hate when people see me having a low. I dislike myself when I am having a low because I am not the real Olivia. I am a B*TCH and I am well aware. I will manipulate you, use you, and destroy you. I will do whatever I want for my own pleasure. For those of you who really know me, you know that this is so opposite of how my normal behavior really is.

Being bipolar sucks. But my illness will not stop me from living my life. I am not going to hide my bipolar side anymore. If I am having a low, I will be genuine about it. It is exhausting to play fake happy when the thoughts in my head are dark. So yeah, it’s pretty hard…and frustrating. A lot of people just still do not understand mental illness, which is a big shame. I want to make my voice louder. I want…heck I NEED to do something more to get this movement going. Mental illness deserves to be handled appropriately. Students should get better educated on mental illness because it affects SO many people.

This got off topic, but now I’m inspired to do something BIG.

“Real women have curves”

You know what saying I hate so much?

“Boys like girls with curves.” Or “real women have curves.”

I have accepted that I will never be pencil thin again and I am okay with that, but I will not justify gaining weight with the concept of pleasing some guy. My body is my body. If a guy only wants to talk to me for the way my body looks, then that is someone I do not want in my life. I am working on my body for MYSELF. I am eating for myself. Working out for myself. I am NOT recovering to get attention or validation from anyone else but me.

A lot of times, when I get upset about getting curves, people will tell me things like, “guys like a little extra to hold at night.”

It upsets me that this is the way some women think. Why do people think that their body should be a trophy for others?

This is why there are so many women struggling with loving their body. We are constantly surrounded by signs with curvy women saying this is how we should look. Or we see the victoria secret models and then we believe we need to look like that.

So, here is what I am going to do.

I am going to continue to eat and work out in a healthy manner.

I am going to continue to focus on my recovery and accept the changes my body makes.

If I get curvy, so be it- that is how my body should be then. But I will not be changing my body because that is what some guy will like. I will not work to have my body be a certain way to please anyone but myself.

This is my body.

I plan on being with someone who likes me for me- not only for the way my body looks.

The right guy will like you curvy or not. Do not change to please society. Live your life to better yourself.

So, while some say “real women have curves” I say all women are real and all bodies are beautiful.

Pretty Girls Don’t Eat

The computer flashes and the screen displays my trigger words:

Pretty girls don’t eat.

I was 14 when I first became introduced to this sentence. I was making a collage when I first saw this quote picture on Google.

Pretty girls don’t eat.

Being a teenager about to enter high school, looks were (and still are) important to me. I was used to people calling me the “pretty” one and I enjoyed having pretty as my identity. So when 14 year old me saw this sentence I began to question everything I was doing. I did not just want to be pretty. I needed to be pretty.

“Pretty girls don’t eat. You eat everyday.

No one will love you if you are not pretty.” -Ana

It really is ridiculous that those four words have this strong of an impact on me, but boy, those 4 words will follow me to my grave. Ana loves that sentence. And Ana knows what that sentence does to me. Even right now, as I sit here in my room typing, I feel a golf ball in my throat. I am taken back to past me sitting in the closet of my old bedroom. I see myself staring at myself in the mirror for hours and crying as I pick out any flaw I can find. I see myself drawing and writing this saying all over my body with sharpie. Engraving the words “worthless” and “fat” into my skin. This sentence instantly controls me.

I am trying to provide insight of the thoughts inside my mind associated with my ED. I attached one of the saddest things I ever found in one of my old journals. I write down my thoughts. And this page…this is a screenshot of some of the things I hear everyday. This is what my ED is like. So while some people do not always treat me kindly, no one will ever be meaner than the voice in my head.

This is the mind of someone with an eating disorder.

This is why I seek constant validation.

This is why I act the way I do.

I grew up with this idea that I would be worthless for eating. I let myself give up my own happiness because of the control a sentence had over me. I let myself believe that pretty girls don’t eat. Ive done things I am not proud of because of that sentence. I lost control because of that sentence.

This is my past. I am creating my future. My future where pretty girls EAT.

Weight Restoration

Being weight restored is a good thing. It is a sign of progress and healing. It is a sign that my body is being fed and I am getting healthy again. Weight restoration is a great thing…but to me, it still feels like one of the worst things ever.

A couple days ago I finally hit the number that I am supposed to be at. I have not seen this number range in about 6 months; so seeing myself back in this range definitely hit me a little too hard.

My first instinct was that everything I did was wrong. That eating what I have been eating is bad for me. I kept telling myself I need to eat less now. I need to work out more. I CANNOT let myself gain more weight.

But then I started to realize that if I keep eating normally I will not continuously gain weight. I am getting to the point where I can maintain a healthy weight, which is good. Heck, its great.

However, dealing with the new number range and being weight restored is still a tough mental battle. I need to let myself know that just because my weight is healthy that it does not make me a failure. It makes me a fighter. It makes me a survivor. I am destroying Ana bite by bite.

When these bad thoughts and ED behaviors come to mind, its when I really need to practice what I learned during inpatient, therapy, treatments, groups, ect. I notice myself getting mean sometimes to people around me. I do not mean to say or act the way I do. It feels like it is Ana inside me trying to pull out any string to fight.

Yesterday Ana tried to convince me to not eat when I got upset over something. However, I realized the only person who is affected by this is ME!!! Hurting myself more does not fix anything! Nor does hurting other people. So while I am going through this rough stage of being weight restored I am going to focus on the things I love.

I am going to spend more time free writing, running, and being with kids. I will enjoy  walking my dog, listening to music, working on my mindfulness wall. I have these healthy ways to combat the negativity and this is what I need to be doing. Feel free to ask me to spend time with you to do any of this stuff. I may not want to talk much, but I will always enjoy the company.

I have gained weight, but that is not what I need to focus on. I need to focus on the other things I have gained. I have gained life back, friendships, and happiness. I have gained hope and energy.I have gained the strength to liv[e].