My Mind on Thanksgiving

I hate Thanksgiving.

The large plates of food.

The ‘holiday diet’ trends being advertised everywhere.

Family members telling me they didn’t eat all day just for this meal even though I had to follow my meal plan and still eat breakfast plus my morning snack.

Hearing people justify why they are allowed to eat a second slice of pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for someone with anorexia.

I know the holiday is supposed to be about being thankful, but that doesn’t stop anyone from still making the main deal be about food.

Let me give you an example about what this holiday feels like for me.

Let’s say you’re terrified of spiders. Well imagine waking up completely covered by every type of spider. The spiders are everywhere. Crawling all over you and theres nothing you can do to get them off.

That sense of fear is what I get every time I am faced with a large meal. Sometimes I can shake the thought away fairly quickly, but the fear is still there. I want to escape, but there is no excuse to not participate in Thanksgiving. I want to use avoidance or hide my food, but I am now at a point in my recovery where I know hiding my food will only send me spiraling.

Food terrifies me.

I try to focus on the relationships and the memories I can create rather than the panic attack building up inside me as my plate of food is set in front of me.

I try to take deep breaths and remind myself that everything will be ok- I know I can’t just eat my safe foods every day of the year.

Sometimes I do enjoy my food. Some years I enter Thanksgiving super confident because I feel I have a strong grip on my eating disorder. But no matter how good I feel I can’t shut out the guilt after eating each time.

Recovering from an eating disorder is by far the biggest challenge I have faced.

The thoughts lurk everywhere and while most of the time they are muted; they still can come blaring without an invitation.

However, this year I will try to shake away my fear and enjoy the holiday.

This year I will enjoy a glass of wine AND have a real dessert.

This year I will not let my anorexia take control.

I just ask that whoever reads this, to be careful with your jokes around food.

You may think its harmless to mention things about restricting to enjoy the big meal, but to others like me, it can really hit hard.

I hope that everyone tries to enjoy their food without having to mention ways to compensate for it. I hope that everyone has a great holiday with the people they love.

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“If You Give It An Inch, It’ll Take A Mile”

One thing a lot of people know about me is my addiction to Starbucks. Over the holiday season, I accumulated a lot of gift cards to this delicious franchise, which I have been utilizing just about every weekend. I normally go and order my normal safe drink- a grande iced skinny vanilla latte (light ice). However, because today is the kick off for NEDA week, I asked my recovery friends to give me a challenge.

Right now I am currently sitting here fighting back the urge to cry/hide/throw up as I stare at my tall caramel Frappuccino in front of me. When I ordered it, I did not think that there would be a mountain of whipped cream and caramel drizzle on top.

IMG_4190.JPGNone of the people around me probably are aware that I am currently freaking out of a four-dollar drink. All the people chatting and working around me have no idea that I feel like the walls are closing in on me and that the thoughts in my head are telling me that with each sip I take I am gaining pound after pound.

This is a snippet of what it is like to live with an eating disorder. Most people do not think twice about what they order (other than the fact that they spent a ridiculous amount of money on a tasty drink LOL). However, for me, this drink is one of the most challenging things I will do all day.

A simple blend of coffee, milk, and caramel is causing me far too much anxiety. I wish I could sit here and just drink and enjoy like all the other people around me. I noticed that as I sit here typing and slowly drinking I am slipping into comparing myself to other people. I saw a very slender woman walk in and I was instantly filled with self-hatred because I was thinking how I lost all self-control by drinking my calories. Ana demands that I must always be the skinniest person in the room. I cannot do that by drinking these calories she yells!
However, THAT IS NOT NORMAL/HEALTHY THINKING! But, the thing is, I am not the only one who thinks like this. So many people suffer with an eating disorder and are filled with these thoughts. I am being controlled right now by whipped cream. I am letting the idea of consuming whipped cream cause me to spiral out of control.

My good friend Hailey was the one who told me to challenge myself with this drink. When I first saw my order, the panic set in so I texted her. I was texting her how I couldn’t drink this and that I needed to get rid of the whipped cream. I wanted to just scrape all of the caramel whipped cream goodness out of my cup and into the trash. I was in a full out panic. Hailey responds to me with this simple sentence: “If you give it an inch, it’ll take a mile.” 

I wanted to challenge myself today because it is the kick off to NEDA week 2017. I wanted to challenge myself because I deserve to be able to enjoy a drink without freaking out. I wanted to challenge myself today because I want to gain my life back. I am so sick of living in fear over food and calories.

This frappuccino will not end me. It will not make me gain ten pounds nor will it make me a failure. The only thing that will fail me will be if I give my eating disorder that inch of control. If I give ED that bit of power, I am inviting the behaviors back in. I am welcoming ED to come waltz in and torment me. So, all I have to say to ED is, not today b*tch. Not today, not ever again. I am in charge of my life now. I am the master of my fate.

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

fear food friday

I am probably the worst newly 21 year old ever. I always turn down going out with friends, ordering drinks, and I already have searched for my “safe” drink. On top of all of that, my ED has a really bad way to compensate drinking. 

The rule used to be, if I was going to drink that day then I could NOT eat dinner. If I ate dinner, it would be more calories, PLUS my body would need more drinks to feel the effects of drinking. That’s just too many calories.

I pretty much stopped going out entirely this past year at school because well, I was really not taking care of my body. I can’t starve all day and then drink with friends. That’s not smart! So I’ve been working on this. 

If there is one thing people seem to LOVE to do, it is going out to get margaritas–One of my biggest no nos. there is just so much sugar in a margarita. Plus Mexican food is so good and high in calories…I could never let myself enjoy. After turning down my moms offers many times to get margaritas with her, I finally realized this is something I am afraid to do. So when my sister and cousin asked if I wanted to get margaritas I said YES. I am done missing out on fun. 

So that’s exactly what I did. I had so much fun. I did not look at the skinny margaritas and order one of those, I ordered the one I wanted. I even ordered dinner since I had not eaten much that day and well, I need to eat dinner! Sure they all ordered another one and I just took about over an hour to drink my one, but I did it. I challenged myself and stepped out of my comfort zone. 

I still really just do not like drinking. I only really drink when I am with friends. But either way I did something I was uncomfortable with. Maybe I’ll even do it again.