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.  

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

Facade

Façade-my favorite word

Everyone lives a façade. We create a perfect outside image to hide our actual reality.

“When did creating a flawless façade become a more vital goal than learning to love the person who lives inside your skin?”

Sometimes, recovery is one big façade. Being threatened with treatment and having opportunities snatched away makes some of us who are struggling not want to admit it.

I do not want to tell my parents that I am struggling right now.

I do not want them to know that I have hardly been eating any food.

I do not want my friends to see me feeling glum and sad.

I do not want to ruin my façade.

I’ve been doing exceptionally well since I was last hospitalized in February. I have been going to appointments, following my meal plan, taking my medications. I was able to stop acting because I started to naturally feel like my normal, go-lucky self.

One of the reasons I created this blog is so people can understand that anyone can look happy and healthy on the outside but really have something dark going on in their actual reality. Some people do the best acting in their daily life so know one will ever know the truth.

So, yeah right now I do think I need a kick in the butt. I need to eat. I need to get re-motivated. I get scared for my parents to find out because they have spent so much money to finally get me “cured.” I do not want to waste their money by not listening to my dietician because I am skipping meals. My dietician is a crucial part of my recovery team and I need her.

I think its important for parents of children struggling with an eating disorder to understand that we do not intentionally act like brats and ignore the things we are told to do. Eating is scary. Recovery is scary. Changing to a new (healthy) lifestyle is scary. I have been living in a way fueled by Ana for so long that I get scared sometimes what will happen without her.

I want to be able to be open with people. Well okay, I am extremely open with everyone since I publicize my entire recovery, but I leave out important facts. I do not mention the part where I only ate on meal on this one day or when I stood in the aisle at the store fighting the urge to buy laxatives.

I am sick of being sick but I am also scared to say when I am feeling weaker.

I will have bad days or weeks but that does not make it appropriate to threaten to send me home from college. It does not make it okay to say to someone they need to go into intensive treatment over a slip up. Doing this makes it worse. Doing this makes me (and probably a lot of other fighters) want to fake our recovery, which benefits NO ONE.

So, when you see your child struggling, try to just show support. Do not freak out and jump to conclusions so quickly. Obviously do so if it keeps getting worse, but we need to feel supported and cared for. We are not giving up and we need to know that our support system won’t give up either.

 

Apples are not Bananas

Lets be real here, we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. Whether we compare the size of our legs or our height. Maybe we compare personality and academics. We ALL do it. But why do we do this? Does this benefit us in anyway? Because honestly for me it just makes me feel much worse.

I met with my dietician this morning and I was talking to her about how I found out my weight during vitals yesterday and that I was kind of freaking out about the increase. I guess I was going into a spiraling episode of comparing my current self to my much bonier/unhealthy self just a few months ago because she interrupted me with an interesting question.

She stopped me and asked me, “Are apples the same as bananas?”

Obviously I looked at her and thought she was whack because the two fruits are not even close to being similar.

I told her no and she began to explain why she brought up this comparison. She began to tell me that we don’t compare fruits and get upset when a banana does not look like an apple because that’s simply not possible. She told me that we couldn’t think of ourselves as fruits because it is impossible to get your body to look one way based on ones bone alignment. It began to make sense to me as she described it in this way.

I love apples and bananas and their appearance means nothing to me. I do not care that they do not look the same because they are both delicious.

So I guess (for an odd way of wording this) we are all delicious despite the way our bodies look.

I am tall. I will never be short and petite like some of my friends AND THAT’S OKAY.

Obviously I am not going to be able to just flip a switch and stop comparing myself to strangers on the street, but at least now I am more aware of how unrealistic and pointless it is to make these comparisons.

I am unique and when my passing comes, the important thing will be how people speak of my character. It is highly unlikely that at my funeral friends and family will discuss my weight and how my body looked.

So as of today I am going to become more cognizant of comparing myself to others.

I am going to use strategies and coping skills to redirect my thinking. When I get these thoughts I am going to write it down and rip it up because it is NOT important.

What is important is accepting my body and loving it.

Apples are not bananas.

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.

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.

Senior

So today I had my first day back to classes for my SENIOR year of college.

It is crazy to think that I will be done with school this time next year.

I only had two classes today and I am already filled with emotions. I am excited, curious, and thrilled. However, I am also struggling and anxious.

I knew coming back to class and getting in a routine again would be a challenge for me. However, I did not expect it to be this challenging. I made a meal plan for myself, I am trying to stick to a set sleeping schedule, and I am making sure to give myself at least 30 minutes of “liv time” a day.

The only problem is I am petrified to eat again and I am so tempted to buy a scale for my apartment.

Here at Drake I have weekly weigh ins/vitals, I meet with a therapist, dietician, and I call my psychiatrist back home as needed. I do not do blind weigh ins, which is probably something I should work towards.

So not only am I here juggling 18 credits plus about 40 hours of field experience, I am also in some kind of doctor’s appointment on my time off.

Luckily my schedule is pretty laid back this semester even though I have so many credits. I really only have to worry about Wednesdays since I am in class from about 9:30am-8: 20pm.

I had my first weigh in today and I maintained my weight so that’s a good sign. However, if I keep not eating I wont maintain much longer and then I will get sick again. And if I get sick again that means I wont be able to graduate on time and I might have to go residential or something, so there’s a lot on the line.

I want to say that I trust myself, but it’s hard to trust myself when sometimes I become a different person.

I just have to stay focused and be with the things that keep me grounded. I need to remind myself WHY recovery everyday.

I love the families I nanny for and I want to continue doing that for as long as I can.

I love teaching and I want to be healthy enough to be bending up and down without blacking out each time.

I just need to stay aware and remind myself that it is okay to take a break when things get too overwhelming. I am lucky to have no class on Thursdays and Fridays so if I need to go home I pretty much have a nice long 4-day weekend to enjoy.

This year is a big year for me.

All I can say is I am so thankful for the amazing support that I have going into this semester and the unconditional love I receive even when I feel I do not deserve it. Your support means everything to me.