Music

Yesterday I was lucky enough to see twentyonepilots. I am so thankful my father got us these tickets because I cannot express how important their music is to me.

Music has been a huge part of my recovery. Whether it came from playing music (yes I used to play the oboe…and flute and piccolo) or just laying down listening to some tunes I instantly am taken to a different place.

I feel calm and well. I feel happy and safe. I feel alive.

It seems silly that a song can have so much power over me, but boy it does- Especially the songs preformed by twentyonepilots. I discovered this band during one of the toughest times of my life; senior year of high school. If it wasn’t for my after school job and their songs, I do not know how I would have made it through the day. See, I do not only suffer from an eating disorder, but I also have Bipolar II, which is a form of manic depression.

I felt very only and fake since I was keeping these secrets about my illnesses from so many people. But listening to TOP made me feel like I belonged somewhere. I really cannot explain how passionate I am about this band. We all have that band we love unconditionally or that one song that takes us to a certain memory. For me, twentyonepilots takes me to times of despair, but also to some of the happiest moments of my life.

So last night, being in the same place as them was outstanding. I do not know what words to say to describe the euphoria I felt.

One of my favorite songs by them is Car Radio in this song there is a lyric that says “you need to try to think” I always interpreted this sentence as a way to stay alive and fight. So when I listen to the song, I replace “think” with “eat” because that’s what I need to do to stay alive. I need to try to eat. It is foolish really, but it helped me get through.

Music is powerful. I encourage you all to find that song that speaks to you. I know it is out there. Music makes me feel whole. And twentyonepilots make me feel alive.

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Fear Food Friday- Reese’s

I decided I needed to challenge myself even more, so from this point on, every Friday I will eat something that scares me.

The first time I did a fear food challenge for my blog was with gluten free bread. And guess what? I eventually ate all the bread and the coolest part?? IM STILL ALIVE! Amazing! I can eat food and not gain 9859034853pounds. I can eat food and it won’t kill me!

I had not challenged myself since then. I had an occasional cup of ice cream, but other than that I stuck to what made me feel safe.

SO flashback to me at CVS Wednesday.

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I turned to my bff and said “hey take my picture I need to blog this.” I was really not nervous here. It was kind of a rash decision to buy the chocolate. The dude was waiting for me to give him my debit card, but something inside me said that this is what I need to do. I need the chocolate. Anxiety level at this moment: 1.5/10.

The candy had been sitting in my fridge for a few days and I honestly hoped my mom would accidentally eat it so I wouldn’t have to. She did not eat it. So my anxiety level is at a 4.

Thursday night I drank with some friends so on Friday I was not wanting to eat this candy. I drank my calories yesterday. I needed to cleanse.

I really wasn’t too excited for this. I spent more time taking pictures of myself with the candy bar than eating it, but hey oh well. I had to make sure that post 6 mile walk/run sweaty Liv looked decent enough.

Reese’s used to be my FAVORITE. I want to enjoy them again. Anxiety level 6/10

So once I finally decided the lighting in my pictures was right I went back to the main point of my mission. I tried to think of excuses to avoid eating it. I looked at the packaging to see if I was allergic to it all of a sudden, but there was no way out. I committed to this.

I will just eat one I reassured myself with my anxiety level reaching a 7. I looked at my dog sitting next to me for support and he looked so excited to eat this piece of peanut butter and chocolate. It helped me realize that food is not my enemy. So I took a bite. And guess what? I ate BOTH of them and IT WAS SO DELICIOUS.

Wow! I am still alive, my clothes still fit, and I REALLY enjoyed eating the candy. Overall happiness experience? 10/10.

Any ideas for next Fridays fear food? Leave a comment and let me know!

We Do Act

Today, June 2, 2016 is world eating disorder action day. While we should bring attention to eating disorders more often than just on this one day, it is still an amazing step towards ending the stigmas associated with eating disorders.

The big thing being shared to educate others are the 9 truths about eating disorders:

Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.

Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.

Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.

Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.

Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.

Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.

Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.

Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.

Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.

If you have even just a spare 5 minutes today, please check out, http://worldeatingdisordersday.org/

This link provides materials, organizations, and you can take the pledge to break down the stigma.

So check it out! Sign the pledge. Help end the stigma.  Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.16.16 AM.png

I Think (insert relation) Has An Eating Disorder

I cannot speak for everyone on this because this is strictly just my opinion. I am NOT an expert so please do not assume what I am saying will work for everyone. Also if you enjoy this post please share this with others. You never know who it could help. 

We never know for certain what someone else is going through. This is a challenging part of life. When someone we care about is hurting we want to do anything to take the pain away. We say things like, “I know how you feel.” But do we really? How can we feel the pain for someone else when we have no idea what their inner demons are like.

It is no different when it comes to eating disorders. People need to understand that EDs are not a phase. It is not a diet or a lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are a serious disease.

Eating disorders affects more people than most of us are aware. Your neighbor, friend, child, the person you sit next to every morning on the train could all be suffering and not even be aware of it. Those fighting with an ED do not know how disordered their relationship with food truly is- and that is what makes this so dangerous.

Only a trained professional should diagnose someone with an ED, but that does not mean you cannot intervene and help this person get the attention he or she needs.

Before you intervene, it is important to ask yourself why. Why do you think this person may have an eating disorder? If your response is “because they just LOOK anorexic” maybe reevaluate and think about more behaviors/symptoms. SKINNY DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL EATING DISORDER.

Maybe you notice at meals they push their food around the plate or always try to avoid eating in public. Maybe they go to the bathroom immediately after meals or you see them working out constantly. Overeating or eating in secret. Obsession with numbers, wearing baggy clothes, becoming less social. Always cold and tired and losing motivation to do things that used to bring so much joy. These are the things to look for- not just the size of the body.

If you notice these behaviors it is important to take action. I try to think back to when I first got help. I had teachers in high school invite me to eat lunch with them. My friends would try to get me to go out with them. No one forced me to eat- it was just encouraged. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to get them to realize on their own that a problem exists. Granted it is much easier said than done, but I was the one who eventually realized that I needed to seek treatment the first time I really began to struggle. Having coaches limit my playing time in games and close friends casually asking me if everything was alright began to help me realize something was wrong.

Sometimes it is okay to be assertive. Sometimes the person suffering may need this more intense wake up call. During relapses I certainly received some lectures that at the time made me so angry. But now I look back and I am so thankful it happened. They may be “mad” at you during that time, but it doesn’t last; soon they will be immensely thankful. I put mad in quotations because it is not your friend that is mad- it is the eating disorder. You acknowledge she exists and she is not ready to lose control.

Eating disorders are a touchy subject, but there is not nearly enough awareness on them. Early intervention can save so many lives. So if you think someone may be struggling try and get them to talk to a professional. Do whatever it takes to get them to be aware that they are sick. It is so important. It is life altering.

He or she may be upset with you at the time, but I would rather have a friend be angry with me for acknowledging they had a problem than dead because the eating disorder won.

Body Shaming Goes Both Ways

This is controversial so I will probably get some hate for this one, but this is something we do not talk about enough.

The other day I went to a party with my best friend. A comment I heard someone say about me, really stuck with me and I cannot seem to move on from it. It was something that I heard adults saying about my body.

We were going to a twenty-first birthday party and when we got there, they were grilling out. I ate dinner before I got there so when I was asked if I wanted anything I politely declined.

They told me to let them know if I got hungry later and if I wanted a burger. I let them know that I am a vegetarian and allergic to gluten. They just looked back at me and said “wow that must be a horrible diet to live on.”

I hear that a lot so that part did not bother me. What bothered me was what I heard when they thought I could not hear them. I heard them talking about my body.

The wife turned to her husband and said something along the lines that he should try being a gluten free vegetarian as well so he could lose a couple of pounds. The husband chuckled and responded with the remark, “well, I certainly do not want to whither away and be as skinny her. I could break her in half”

Normally when I hear comments about me looking skinny I feel good. It fuels Ana. But this time it made me feel sick. I am genuinely trying my hardest to gain and maintain my weight. The past couple of days I have been feeling pretty comfortable with the way I look, but when people point out that I look too skinny it really bothers me.

This is normally when a lot of people roll their eyes at me and say something like. “Oh boohoo, someone called you skinny. Such a horrible thing for someone to say.” But they do not get it. I do not go up to people and say, “Wow! I should eat like you so I can be fat!”

Society is so aware to NEVER call people fat, but we throw around the term skinny all the time.

I need to give my mom a quick shout out here: so Hey mom I know you are reading this and you’re probably so confused because I always try to get you to validate whether or not I look over or under weight. By feeling this way toward the remark I overheard, I know it is a way that I am recovering.

I do not want this validation. I do not want people telling me that I am a “skinny mini” anymore. Because I am more that. In reference to my post “I am more than just a body” being defined by looks is not how I want to be remembered.

I know I am not alone in this. I have friends that share with me how frustrated they get when they hear from people “wow teach me your ways so I can look like you!” or the common “what’s your diet? How can you eat that and NOT gain weight” Some people are just born with faster metabolisms.

Body shaming goes both ways. Body shaming affects all body types. So while some may think it is a compliment to point out how skinny someone is, sometimes its better to say nothing at all.

Why I Will Never Buy a Fitbit

Fitbits are the latest trend. EVERYONE seems to have a fitbit or at least something that tracks his or her steps.

I think fitbits are an awesome idea, but I will never buy or use one.

For my 19th birthday I got a Nike fuel band. It is essentially the same thing as a fitbit. I loved my fuel band. I had goals to accomplish everyday. It is a really good idea to motivate people to be healthy.

However, in my case, my fuel band was counter-productive for me. I began to compete against myself.

“How many calories did I burn yesterday?” “I burned more calories yesterday I must do more today.” “I already went on a run today but I still need 500 more steps to reach my goal, better go workout again.”

I am obsessed with numbers. To me it did not matter that I met my goal, what mattered was that I did more than I did yesterday. Yet again, I began abusing my right to workout in a whole new manner. The worst part is that to me I did not recognize it as unhealthy or abuse; it was just a game between myself.

I got my fuelband in May and wore it everyday over the summer. I have memories leaving my dads apartment in California at 10pm to walk up and down the stairs until I achieved my goal. I remember doing sprints back and forth in the apartment when he was not home to hit that number.

I would run to summer camp, work for like 7 hours, and force myself to walk/run back even when my body was begging to stop. These are NOT healthy behaviors.

Before I transferred to Drake University, I made the decision to not rely on my fuel band anymore. I gave it to my mom to wear because I knew that my obsession was not healthy.

When people now talk about fitbits, I find myself wanting one BADLY. But I know, that no matter where I am at in recovery, I do not need this. I need to focus on being in the present and not focused on how many steps I had yesterday or how many I will get tomorrow if I run this far.

People talk about their fitbits all the time and how many steps they have. I feel happy for my friends when they achieve their goals- and I also feel jealous. I wish I could be able to wear a fitbit and not become so obsessed. It is silly to think that I can let a small piece of technology control me so much (similar to my number obsession with the scale…)

Fitbits are great, just not the right thing for me. I can’t speak for all survivors, but for me they are a trigger.

Exercise

The other day I went on my first run since before I went inpatient in February. This was a big deal for me because I LOVE running, but I was not allowed to run for a while. I had to miss out on participating in intramurals at school and for awhile I could not even go to the studio that I practice ballet at. It was so embarrassing for me to explain that I could not do these activities because I simply could not take care of my own body.

There are many reasons why I could not exercise. It is very common for people suffering with an eating disorder to suffer problems with their heart as a result of malnutrition. Along with that my body was also extremely dehydrated/still is from refusing to put anything inside. And yet with all the nasty side effects, people still glamorize this disease…

One of the biggest reasons I could not exercise was because I would have blacking out spells fairly frequently (as I fuel my body they start to decrease). In April I was hooked up to a 24-hour heart motor to see what was causing these constant blackouts. Turns out my resting heart rate averaged at about 35 beats per minute. I have bradycardia (abnormally low heart beat) but this was about 10 beats lower for me than normal.

This sucked. I spent the majority of the month of April having to take breaks walking up stairs because my body physically could not handle it. I went from running 5 miles to hardly being able to walk up a flight of stairs.

I kept telling myself I need to do this for the boys I watch. I love to run around with them, but my body was starting to not be able to handle it. It was not fair to them if I couldn’t race around the block anymore because I could not get myself to eat lunch.

This was and still is my motivation. I know I should aim to recover for myself, but the boys I nanny and the kids I work with really is what gets me out of bed on rough days. They are my happiness when I cannot find happiness within myself.

So going on this run the other day was monumental. The best part about recovering is when I am allowed to do the things I used to enjoy so much again.

There is only one thing that scares me about being able to exercise again. I am afraid I will lose control again. I am afraid that I will start to abuse my running. I over exercised to the point of exhaustion far too frequently. I used to not let myself get off a bike or elliptical until I hit my “perfect” number. Even when my body was begging me to stop I would not do it. I am hoping that by being aware of this problem that I will not take advantage of it again. Running makes me happy- it should not be making me sick.

With the summer camp I work at starting up soon it is so important that I am taking care of my body. My work hours are going to be long and I NEED to be healthy to do a good job. I owe it to my coworkers, the kids, but most importantly I owe it to MYSELF.

Small Step Upward

Something wonderful is starting to happen. After weeks of feeling in a slump without progress, I am starting to notice some positive changes in the way I view myself.

I love taking pictures, being in pictures, having my picture taken… I just love to be on camera. I have a lot of pictures because of this. I like to look back on pictures just to see how much I have experienced in the past years. For a while I was looking back at these pictures and comparing my body weights. I would look at a picture and remember my exact weight at the time. I would look at a picture and I would know if I was in a relapse or recovery stage. I was looking at the pictures to compare and contrast my body. I would make side-by-side collages of how I looked before and how I looked now to check for differences. These are not healthy behaviors.

However, the other day, I noticed that as I was scrolling through my copious amounts of pictures, I was not paying attention to my size. I was looking at these pictures of me with my friends and remembering the memories. I remembered the laughter, the inside jokes, and just all the great times I have had with friends old and new. It was a great feeling to look back on my past with pride and not disgust.

I then started to look at these pictures and started to realize how distorted my vision is. I analyze myself and other things way too much. I have trained my eyes to pick up the slightest change in something. I was finally looking at these pictures to make myself happy; not sick or sad.

I want to be happy and healthy. Critiquing everything about my appearance is not a way to be happy and healthy. Comparing myself to others and “skinnier” pictures of me is not going to get me there. Pictures lie. Pictures can be touched up, slimmed down. The angle someone stands in a picture and the brightness can alter everything. These pictures are JUST pictures. They are just frozen memories for me to look back and reminisce- they are not meant to destroy me.

Media really does not help much with recovery. Everyday we see hundreds of ads with a set idealization of perfection. But let me just ask you, would you rather push yourself too hard trying to obtain this unattainable idealization of perfection? Or would you rather live in the moment and enjoy all the pure, natural, goodness around you?

The Return

One of the hardest things for me to get used to about the weight restoration process is the return of Mother Nature’s monthly gift. Well, I guess it is more like mother natures sporadic gift for me because she still does not visit me too often. Regardless, each time she comes it sucks.

I know it is a sign that I am getting better. I know it is normal to get my period but for some reason every time it comes I am filled with stress.

To me, getting the period means that I have enough fat on my body again. I do not look on it as a good thing. I do not think about how normal it is.

If there is one thing that I can count on to bring me immense amounts of joy it is working with kids. I LOVE to work with kids and when I am older and ready I hope to start a family of my own. I cannot be a mother if I am malnourished. I need to be healthy for the sake of my future family. No, I do not want to have kids right now- that is the farthest thing from my mind, but eventually that is all I want. I need to start taking care of my body now so that I can have kids one day.

So yeah, getting my period is a good thing. It means I am getting better. It means my body is getting more nutrients. It means one day I might actually be able to have a family of my own.

Ana likes to look at it as failure. She tells me it’s bad; that I am a failure. But who I am failing? I certainly am not failing myself, which is what the most important thing is. It is a sign that what I am doing is working. I cannot stop now just because my ED is upset that she is getting weaker. I need to embrace how much stronger I am getting. Hopefully soon I will not have to drink ensure plus. Hopefully soon my lanugo will stop growing. The side effects of ED are not pretty. And it certainly is not worth not being able to accomplish my dreams.

So to all my friends recovering from an ED (except if you’re male because well the return of a period does not really happen to you, but still you guys can relate to other things returning!) embrace the signs of getting healthy again. Do not let your eating disorder convince you that it is bad. The sign of normal body functions returning are a good thing. Yeah, it is hella scary after not experiencing it for so long, but it is truly for the best.

Eating at Home vs. College

I recently started blogging for NEDAs youth outreach website, http://proud2bme.org/. The first post I wrote for them was about how to cope with moving back home. I gave some pretty good coping skills that I use; yet here I am not following them.

Being home is so much harder. Being home feels like everyone is secretly monitoring your food. Constantly being asked, “what did you eat for lunch today?” Not to mention being back with friends who want to go out to eat to catch up. I haven’t even been home for a week and I already am feeling STRESSED OUT.

When I am on my own at college, I am able to control my meals, I see my friends all the time so I do not feel bad not going out to eat with them. I have nobody asking me what I ate for every meal or secretly monitoring every bite. Just because I have anorexia does not mean I need to be force fed like a baby. This is my internal battle. I need to know people trust me.

Now I keep my food diary for my therapist, but that’s the only food monitoring required. I no longer have to have someone sit with me for every meal or be banned to use the bathroom for a set period of time after meals/snacks. I need people to just trust me at home. I am eating. Please do not pressure me- it s t r e s s e s me OUT.

I knew being back home would be challenging especially because I have some over protective people here. My house is filled with delicious foods that I normally do not keep with me at school. We have ice cream in the house…the temptations are too high.

I know it is good to be challenged like this, but sometimes I just do not feel like I am ready. I have the skills to cope and I have great support, but inside I am petrified. Food is still something I think about daily. My last article I wrote about the scale living upstairs. I have not been good at avoiding the scale. I have weighed myself EVERY DAY. I need to find my strength. I cannot succumb to the scale. I cannot let my ED ruin my summer. I do not want to go residential. I want to LIV{e}.

This is what I need. I need to feel supported but not on a tight leash. I need to challenge myself and go out and enjoy life. I need to wean away from the scale. I will admit, I am scared. I do not feel strong anymore. However, I do not want to miss out on more events because I am too malnourished to participate. This is a hard transition for me and I am petrified.

I am lucky to have great support. I need to utilize what I have learned in treatment. I need to fight- but it is so much easier to say than do.