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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Full Recovery?

There are a lot of different opinions about eating disorder recovery and if full recovery is actually possible.

Some people think that yes, an eating disorder surviver will be able to live a completely ED free life. I hate to be a cynic, but I have to disagree with those people.

Some people view this mindset I have as not being ready to let go of the disorder. I won’t deny it, thats definitely a true statement to be made. Letting go of an eating disorder is scary.

When people ask me how I am doing now with my eating disorder, I am not sure how to respond. You see, I am no longer in relapse, but if I told everyone I was fully recovered, that would be a lie.

To be fully recovered from an eating disorder, in my opinion, is to no longer have ANY issues with food. To be fully recovered from an eating disorder is to be able to eat something without guilt or without the thoughts of how to compensate. To be fully recovered is to not compare my body or what I eat to others. To be fully recovered is to be able to look at food or go grocery shopping without feeling like the world is caving in as the anxiety begins to take over.

I have many days without experiencing any of these thoughts, but my eyes are still broken. I still sometimes see a different reflection looking back at me completely skewed from the beast in my head. 

I eat my meals and no longer engage in behaviors because I am focused now on the wonderful life I have created. It is a life without Ana, but Ana still finds her way in. Ana still whispers to me at night with the review of everything I ate that day.

The difference between relapse and recovery is choosing to NOT listen to the disorder. The voice won’t go away, its just a matter of making the choice to not engage in what she says. I have the strength to not listen to Ana. I have the courage to fight her back and question her motives.  I like to think that my anorexia is in remission. The symptoms are not nearly as severe and its possible that I may never relapse again. 

 

Im baaack

Hey. It’s been awhile and I am sorry for my absence. Things got a little crazy for me. So this post is just an update I guess of the past weeks from my last post. I have some really good ideas to write about later.

Eating wise I am doing great, yet I have been struggling to gain weight and I am currently approaching my lowest weight from back when I was 15. Its frustrating because even with two ensure plus a day; I cannot seem to gain weight. My pulse and blood pressure are out of whack and I just wish I had some answers.

This is the ugly side of an eating disorder. The side that does not get mentioned much because we strive to be strong- weakness is unacceptable; we must have zero flaws in the eyes of Ana.

I hurt my body for so long and she needs time to heal. Time that I do not necessarily have. My mood is great- I have never been so happy and content with how my life is looking. I can taste that I have a very bright and exciting future approaching in the next few months. Between having amazing placements for student teaching and just the love and support of my friends, I do not want to do anything to jeopardize my happiness.

I have so much control over Ana right now. My body just needs to replenish.

I sometimes hear people say that they are going to not eat for a couple days or talk about an extreme diet they want to try to lose weight.

When people say they wish they had control over food like I do, it makes me shudder.

I do not have control over food. Food has control over me. Not eating is not self-restraint. It is my mind screaming at me that if I eat even one chip from the bowl in front of me that I am a failure.

Anorexia is not glamorous.

Anorexia is my nightmare and I just want to WAKE UP ALREADY–HELP ME WAKEUP.

Even when I have control over her, she still finds ways to barge into my life.

I am sick of waking up shaking because I do not have enough body fat to keep me warm. I hate when my ears ring and I start to see dots. I am sick of needing to take breaks while walking up stairs. I am sick of being constantly dehydrated even after drinking what feels like an ocean. I am sick of the exhaustion followed by the hyperactivity. I am embarrassed by my body right now. I am covered in bruises because of deficiencies. I may not look sick and I do not want validation if you think I do.I just need to keep doing everything I am doing and hope that I will start to gain weight. Leggings are not supposed to be baggy. My bones are not supposed to stick out as much as they do.

I am still capable of being the successful person I am. Someone once asked me if I was concerned about this blog with the fact that future employers may find it. I put thought into it, but at the same time, spreading awareness on eating disorder is SO important to me. I will continue to advocate and bring as much light as I can.

Just because I have anorexia it does not make me any lesser of a person.

It does not make me incapable of doing the things I love.

Please just take time to understand before jumping to conclusions.

This post is a weird one for me, but it’s the only way I can reach people to understand that I am not engaging in behaviors. I am stronger than ever mentally, it is just physically where I need to find the missing piece leading to these symptoms.

Until next time..

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

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.

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.