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.  

Marlena’s Story

My name is Marlena and I’m a recovering bulimic.

I never looked sick. As a matter of fact, I’ve always been heavier which allowed my eating disorder to fly under the radar. No one expects the “fat girl” to be knocking on death’s door. However, I’m one of the lucky ones. I still struggle daily, but I’m alive.

The thing about bulimia is that it’s deceptive. It’s painful, secretive, and hard to catch which is a huge factor in why I struggled for 4 years without anyone catching on. It’s not a pretty blonde girl leaning her head over the toilet with her hair pulled back and her finger down her throat. It’s not politely refusing a cupcake. Bulimia is hair falling out and holes in your esophagus. It’s scarred knuckles from where your teeth break the skin and smelling like vomit no matter how often you brush your teeth.

There are so many days that I just want to give up because relapsing is what is comfortable. It’s safe and what I know. But with the help of my treatment team and support system, I’ve been striving to stay on track and build a bright future for myself because I’m one of the lucky ones because I’m still alive.

Bridget’s Story

“Anorexia is one disease I was certain I’d never suffer from. Growing up, I ate whatever I wanted, worked out and had a healthy relationship with food. I even remember making immature remarks with my best friend in high school about a girl who clearly suffered from bulimia, not understanding how serious the disease was. “How the hell could you not eat, and how could you do that to your body?” I wondered. I was sure that girl with the eating disorder would NEVER be me.

In the fall of 2012, I began college. Constant school stress, high levels of anxiety (which I’ve since been diagnosed with) and no longer having my support group from home took its toll on me. At first I lost my appetite because I was simply too stressed to eat. Slowly, it became intentional. Anorexia creeped its way into my life until it controlled me completely. I worked out 2-3 times per day. I obsessively counted calories, challenging myself to consume as little as possible on any given day. I weighed myself twice, sometimes 3 times a day, getting a secret high every time the number on the scale dropped lower.
I was extremely sick, but on the outside I appeared fine. Friends and family commented on how skinny I looked, but I told them I simply was working out and eating well. I had a 4.0, had joined a sorority and made plenty of friends. But nobody knew how sick I truly was. I convinced myself I was fine and that I didn’t need help. It wasn’t until my older sister reached out to my best friend from home in November that I was confronted about having a problem.
I lied. I got angry, and I pretended like she was crazy for thinking anything was wrong. But slowly, the walls that I had built up to convince myself I was OK came tumbling down. I had no energy, my immune system was a wreck, and I became so depressed I was sleeping at least 10 hours a night. It wasn’t any way I wanted to continue living.
So, I started the long process of recovery. I tried multiple therapists (none helped me personally, but that isn’t to say therapy can’t help others). But as my college years continued and I battled ED tendencies on and off, I started to find connections to why I couldn’t eat. It all came back to anxiety and having control to attempt to limit my anxiety. I craved control of my life so badly that I chose the one thing I knew I could always control: my food intake.
When I had a relapse my senior year of college, I finally saw a doctor. I was so ashamed, but I told him the truth. And he helped me. He didn’t judge me or think I was exaggerating. He listened and decided anxiety medication was the best step forward. A year later, I’m on a daily anxiety/depression medicine that has worked wonders. I have no urges to go back to my old ED habits, and I am the happiest I have ever been. I still have progress to make, though. I have yet to return to running and working out, but that is my next step (and one that I fully know I am capable of doing).
Recovery is a long process, but one that is worth the pain it takes to get there. I’m no longer bitter or angry at my disease because it showed me I am strong enough to overcome any obstacle life throws my way. To anyone suffering, do not hesitate to seek help. And to anyone who knows someone suffering, I encourage you to speak up. It saved my life, and it could save someone else.”
-Bridget Brady, 23, Chicago

You Can Help Make a Change

Hello my fellow EDwarriors and all the lovely humans who are still following my blog even with my major neglect towards posting. It means a lot to still have this support so I thank you!

This is a super important post and I need your help so please read it all!

We only have a little over a month until NEDA week! AKA a very important week dedicated to spreading as much awareness on eating disorders and helping people gain a stronger understanding of this serious illness!

That being said, I am being pretty ambitious this year and I am working on 2 major projects/campaigns to increase awareness.

My goal with these projects is to put a face to the disease; to get people to understand that their son/daughter/wife/husband/neighbor/etc could be silently struggling from this disease. Anorexia is the deadliest mental illness and if we increase awareness/understanding we can work to decrease the rate of mortality and support those suffering from getting to that point.

I am making a generalization, but our society is a little naive when it comes to eating disorders.

Our words and actions have a lot of power and we throw around negativity like its confetti- and just like confetti, the negativity spreads everywhere and never really gets completely picked up. Many of the things we say/do today are unhealthy behaviors or triggers associated with EDs. Gaining knowledge on eating disorders will help to prevent us from spreading this idea that we are inadequate.

I work with kids and I see too many little girls and boys already hating the soul that live inside their skin. Between the pressures of schoolwork, to activities, to needing to build a perfect resume to get acknowledged by colleges; the expectations put in place are obscene. Childhood is not supposed to be a job.

We can so easily alter our body now through surgeries that we are becoming strangers. We are forgetting that everybody and EVERY BODY is beautiful because we are being told that there is something wrong with the way we look.

That is why NEDA week is so important. That is why I am working so hard to make sure our voices are heard- so we can learn to love ourselves again and support those in need.

If you want to be apart of one of my projects I would absolutely love it. The more people involved, the more people it will reach.

I am compiling a video using footage of those impacted by EDs. Whether you suffer with one or you know someone who suffers, I would love to hear your voice. Tell me how this impacted your life, or why you chose recovery. Tell me something you want everyone to know about EDs.

If this is something that interests you, please contact me at liveliv_EDrecovery@aol.com for more information on this project and for the guidelines for the clips.

I have set up a gofundme as well and all the money raised is going to National Eating Disorder Assoications so we can provide resources to those who need it. In the link you can read more about the campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/eating-disorder-awareness

Thank you for the continuous support and PLEASE SHARE this post so we can get as many people as possible involved.

The Secret Illness

You know that saying that goes something like “treat everyone with kindness for they all fight their own secret battle.” We say it all the time, but do we ever actually think about it? Do you ever think about how your best friend could be depressed or anxious and hiding it all from you?

One of the most mind-blowing things for me to think about is how there are so many others who suffer with mental illness and we do not even know about it. SO many people have a struggle, yet almost every day we see perseverance in this struggling friend. We would never think he or she could be mentally ill.

I was talking to one of my professors the other day. See, I had a major panic attack in her class. It was really embarrassing for me because it made me feel like I was failing at recovery. I went to my professor’s office to talk to her about it and I went into more detail about my history with mental illness. This conversation was so meaningful because my professor said she would have had no clue that I fight myself everyday. People know me for my outgoing personality. I always have a smile on my face. It is hard for others to fathom that I suffer so much.

It’s kind of scary in a way to think about how good I was at hiding my mental illness. I got through high school with very little people knowing I was sick. (Even with missing a month of school for IOP!) And I will NEVER forget that one day senior year in English class, when my teacher made a comment about my cut wrist in front of the whole class. It took him a moment to realize the major mistake he made.

Think about the stranger you sit next to everyday on the train. Or one of your co-workers that you kind of know. He could be suffering and maybe that smile you give him is the highlight of his day.

Think about the ones you loved. We never really know how much someone is struggling until they crack. But what if we took more focus on how our loved ones actually are. Then it would not escalate to the point of danger.

It’s scary to think that people can hide their demons so well.

Everyday, my alarm goes off and I dread getting out of bed. I know that for the next 12 hours I am going to have to be a ray of sunshine, running all over the place, and pleasing others. It’s a lot of work, but it makes me feel good most of the time, so I keep doing it. Sometimes I’ll admit I do need a break. That’s when I hit snooze a little bit longer and stay a little quieter.

Every time a meal comes along I feel full just from the anxiety. I do not think I will ever understand how people get excited about meals. I still do certain behaviors, but no one knows that my weird eating habits are unhealthy.

When it’s finally time to sleep at night I am wide-awake with voices of all the things I  think I did wrong running through my mind.

Mental illness is unpredictable. It’s not a fun thing to live with. Which is why we need to show more compassion to those we love.

We need to be more inviting to companions we do not yet know well. Exchange a smile; genuinely show care about how someone’s day is. Make an effort because you never know what someone is going through. Mental illness can be silent, but deadly.

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

POV: ANA

Hey, let me introduce myself. My name is Ana. And honey, you’re lucky I found you. Lets pause for a second and take a moment to check you out in the mirror. What do you see? Because all I see is fat.

You are fat, worthless, and honestly unlovable if you’re going to look like that. That is why I am here to help you change.

Have you ever heard of a thigh gap? And do you think its okay to be able to peel fat off your hips because honestly, that’s disgusting. Man, you are so lucky you have me now. I am going to be your best friend and I am going to change your life. I cannot believe you go out in public looking like THIS!

Thank god i am here to help. Lets start with food. Are you actually going to eat THAT?

I mean it’s your body, so do what you want, but if you want to be perfect I would have something else.

Good girl, put it down, pick something new. You don’t need that food… or you know what? I actually do not even think you are hungry at all.

Come on; follow me out of the kitchen. Lets find something to do to distract from the hunger.

Still hungry you say? Wow I should have known you were even more pathetic than I thought. This is why you have no friends. You have no strength or self-discipline. But fine, do what you want. Go eat that food. You’ll come crying back to me sooner or later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hm, you seem a upset laying on the ground like that. You FATASS. Was the food really worth it because look at you now. You’re even more DISGUSTING. I am embarrassed to know you. Maybe I should just leave now. I mean, everyone else leaves, right? Maybe now you know why.

Oh wait…what’s that? You need me? Yeah hun, you’re right so lets start listening to me from now on.

Luckily I know how to get rid of what you ate. I have three choices: throw up, swallow laxatives, or work out until you pass out. Although… looking at you, maybe you should work out until you pass out anyway and throw up/take laxatives. Everything helps.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Days, weeks, months have gone by and wow you’re looking great.

I’m so proud of what I have created.

Your mom called, she invited you over to dinner, but I of course turned her down. I used that excuse about already having plans with someone else. This is the 5th dinner in a row we have missed! I am so impressed with what your strength.

It’s okay that you want to sleep all the time. I would rather have you working out, but at least when you’re asleep you cant eat.

You know what? I am almost proud of you. But don’t get too happy yet, because there is still a long way to go.

Your ribs stick out nice, but they can stick out further. I can wrap my fingers around your arm, but it needs to be looser. And don’t get me started on the collarbones. Just because you lost weight doesn’t mean its over yet. You don’t know this yet, but you won’t be done with me until you’re just a pile of bones. I am your escort to death.

So come on, lets bundle up the layers; don’t let them see your secret. You’re doing so great. But, if you don’t listen to me, I will leave. I will leave you and no one will love you. Remember, without me you’re nothing. Without me you’re worthless. We are best friends. You mustn’t disappoint me. I am so excited to see how perfect I can make you.

XOXO,

ana

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.

Drunkorexia

Alright I am going to tell you guys all about a type of eating disorder many people probably have never even heard of. It is scary, because while you many have never heard of this condition before, I guarantee either yourself or some of your closest friends have engaged in some of the behaviors of drunkorexia.

Drunkorexia is when someone plans to not eat much when they know they will be drinking so that they can get drunk faster and not have to worry about alcohol related weight gain. Someone will deprive there body so that one drink is all they need to feel drunk. The goal is always to consume less and less because calories are the monster.

Too much alcohol is already not good for you at all, but pair that with malnutrition and we have an even bigger issue on our hands. Drunkorexia is SO common on every college campus YET WE DO NOT EVER HEAR ABOUT THIS!

Sufferers think it’s the calories that will kill them when instead it is themselves and their own behaviors that kill.

I suffer hardcore with this condition. And let me tell you about one of my worst nights ever because of it…

So it was my freshman year at Xavier University. I never drank much before  because I couldn’t fathom putting in these excess calories if my body did not actually need them.

It was a few weeks into school and my friends and I were feeling pretty bored so we decided to drink. There were three of us total and a lot of vodka was consumed that night. I know for a fact that that exact day I walked/ran about 6 miles and hardly ate a thing or drank any water.

We were drinking, having fun, and being stupid. The night was going great until I blacked out and woke up in the mental ward of a hospital. All the patients had cots we slept on and the only privacy was a little curtain. The person next to me suffered with schizophrenia. Every now and then he would scream or call out to people who weren’t there. I was scared; I was 7 hours away from home and had no idea what was going to happen.

I got so lucky that night that nothing worse happened to me. I got so lucky. I danced with death that night. I wish I learned my lesson after that first time.

I have a weird relationship with alcohol to this day. I like to go out and drink, but I hate not being in control. However, I still will purposely deprive my body to compensate for the alcohol. I never know what a night of drinking will look like for me. Some people call me lame for not always wanting to go out with them, but I have a bigger issue I need to take care of first.

This is important…to my friends just now starting college, or my friends who may see these behaviors in their friends. Help inform them. Help them. Help them realize something is not okay. I am lucky that my foolish behaviors didn’t get me in any worse trouble in the past.

I cannot stress enough how much more this topic needs to be addressed.

Here are some of the biggest symptoms:

  • Cutting back on food and increasing exercise to either speed or enhance the high from drinking
  • Engaging in bulimic-type behaviors: vomiting after eating, taking laxatives or using diuretics
  • Boosting exercise or eating less to offset calories from drinking: this could include drinking low-calorie beers or cocktails, skipping a meal or avoiding food all day, or exercising intensely

(http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/college-game-plan/drunkorexia-prevalent-among-college-students-study-finds-n614871)

With the school year starting it is so so so important that we get a step ahead of the game.

If you have more questions or want to know more about my personal struggles let me know and I will do whatever I can to help.