5 Things I Want You To Know

Now that I am at a strong point in recovery, I want to share some things that I still want others to know:

  • I am not always as strong as I act
      • It is really hard for me to allow others to see me vulnerable, so sometimes putting up a strong front in public makes me believe that I am in control. I am much stronger than I ever was before, but inside I still have my anxiety monster wanting to come out and play. I still really appreciate random check ins every now and then because it reminds me that I am not in this fight alone.
  • Recovery is not linear
      • I still hear Ana everyday; the thoughts really don’t go away, they just get muted. She is still in my head, but I have more strength and control to ignore her. Somedays I may listen to her more than others. That doesn’t mean I relapsed though. It just means that I hit a bump and that’s okay.
  • Sometimes I miss being sick
      • This is very disordered, but sometimes I really miss the comfort of my eating disorder. I do not know how to explain it, but there is a sense of safety that I feel with my anorexia. I have lived with this disease for so long that it has become the norm for me. Being healthy and recovered is new for me and I am not fully comfortable yet with the unexpected.
  • My coping skills are imperative to my health
      • I have my coping skills and they have become like rituals for me. For example, I need to be able to have 30 minutes of just me time everyday. If that ‘Liv Time’ gets interrupted, it really throws me off and causes me to spiral. Even if the interruption is the smallest thing like someone losing my pen cap (sorry, mom). I need to have these moments because recovery is hard and it is so important for me to take a little bit of time to do things that make me happy.
  • I have never been happier
      • I am so in love with my life and I cannot thank my treatment team/support system enough for helping me get here. I went from having to stop halfway up a flight of stairs to being able to play tennis again. My eating disorder took away so many things that made me happy and I can finally enjoy it all again. RECOVERY IS WORTH IT AND LIFE IS A PRECIOUS, BEAUTIFUL THING.

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.  

The Nontraditional Journey

A little over a week ago, something wild happened- I graduated from college.

Yeah, you read that correctly, I Olivia, am officially a college graduate with a full time teaching job. Starting in August, I will be living on my own and teaching fourth grade. I could not be happier because I am finally living the life I dreamed of.

To say my college experience was nontraditional would be an understatement. From transferring universities, taking a semester off, going inpatient for 5 days during my JR year, experiencing wild side effects from years of destroying my body, and the other random shenanigans in this lovely life on mine, it wasn’t always the easiest. To be honest, sometimes I am even I am a little surprised that I was able to graduate on time.

This isn’t going to be some post about how hard I had it. Rather this is about how lucky I am to be supported by people who encouraged me to take these untraditional risks. You see, not many people are given as many chances as I was. Not many people are lucky to have such supportive family and friends. I was a lucky one because I never had to do any of this alone.

My mental illnesses had quite an impact on my past 4 years and to be honest, it sucked. For awhile, I used to be scared that a girl like me could ever actually recover and live a normal life. But I did it and if anyone reading this is in a similar position, just know that you can do it too.

Transitions are scary and college can be a weird time. Trust me, I know. We grow up believing that things need to be a certain way. Ever since a young age we are told that if we want to be happy, we need to graduate college and get a job. I don’t know who started that rumor, but your life doesn’t have to be that way. Its okay to take a semester off. Its okay to transfer universities. Heck its okay to not even go to a university.

When I was 18 years old I had NO IDEA what I was doing and I am glad I had enough courage to go against the norm and take that semester off. Had I not taken that semester off, I would have missed out on those 5 months of self-discovery to figure out what I really wanted to do. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Sure it wasn’t what I was ‘supposed’ to do and some people thought it was ‘crazy’, but that didn’t hurt me. If anything it helped me.

The only mistake we can make is to live a life that isn’t what we want it to be. If you are unhappy think about what you can do to change that. Its so simple really, but yet we love to complicate things because of this pre-determined idea of how things are supposed to be.

I support the nontraditional journey. I support the traditional journey. I support whatever journey you take as long as it truly makes you happy. You will end up where you need to be, but the path to get there is up to you. Make it a good one.

The Best Detox

Summer is just around the corner ladies and gentleman and you know what that means! It is time for some good ol’ Spring-cleaning AND spring cleansing! Ah yes, the time where many people start going on detox diets to help shed that winter weight gain to get ready for their ~bikini~ body.  In the past I used to engage in a really great spring detox that really only helped me get ready for my own deathbed.  This spring, however, I have the BEST detoxifying cleanse to help prepare EVERYONE for summer and the rest of their life!

This year I am participating in a negativity detox that will help me to flush out all the toxins in my life. Let me just put my disclaimer in right now. I am not a certified detoxer. I am just a twenty-something writing my own foolproof way to live a healthier and happier life.

Stop and just think for a moment about the things in your life that bring you the most happiness and jot them down somewhere. Try to jot down 3 things. 

For me the things that bring me the most happiness are working with kids, spending quality time with the meaningful relationships in my life, and writing. 

Now think about the things in your life that stop you from being able to engage in the activities that bring you the most happiness.  Maybe it is that ‘great’ friend of yours who is always putting you down. Maybe it is your job or your area of study. Whatever it is that prevents you from living a fulfilling life, jot them down elsewhere.  (Side note, think about how ‘great’ the friendship really is if every time you are together he/she only tries to put you down.)  

There are a lot of things in my life that are filled with toxins. I have too many relationships in my life that are extremely manipulative; relationships where I constantly question my worth and relationships that make me feel like I need to change who I am in order to be valued. I have people like this creeping in every domain of my life. I work with people like this, I spend time with people like this, and I consider myself ‘friends’ with people like this. Sometimes, I even am like this. When I let my eating disorder in, I am the most manipulative and nastiest person. Not everyone sees this side. When I become like this, I only tear down myself. 

My eating disorder is by far the biggest parasite in my life. She is a parasite that feeds on destroying my happiness. She is a parasite that gets off by watching me spiral out of control.  

Addressing the toxins in your life is the first place to start with this detox. This detox takes time. Like all detoxes, one needs to fully commit. If you want to see the results, you must stick with it. You are working to flush out the poisons. There may be times where you think you’re making a mistake or that this is too hard. That is when you need to dig deep and really find your strength. Do you want to live a venomous life that inhibits you from reaching your full potential? 

This is the only cleanse we all need. Our bodies are not designed to thrive on raw vegetables and juice cleanses. We need to work to cleanse our mind and our life of the toxins in order to be able to fully appreciate what we have.

So this year, and every year, I am going to be detoxing the negativity away. I am going to pay close attention to the things that are in my control.  We can all be in control of our life and we can all decide if we want to make it a life that emphasizes on love, or hate. I know what kind of life I prefer. Do you?  

“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.

“The Anorexic Body”

I have been biting my tongue now for a while on the topic that I am referring to as ‘the anorexic body.’

The anorexic body, is how people who do not understand EDs, wrongly determine if someone is struggling with an eating disorder

So, let me ask you, being that I have been recovering from my anorexia for years now, how am I supposed to look?

Am I supposed to be rail thin and bony? Do you want me to have curves?

I have anorexia, so I should look like I have anorexia, right? Otherwise, am I really sick?

I am asking these questions for a reason. I am asking them because I am trying to figure out where this myth started that in order to have an eating disorder, you must look a certain way.

Granted, I know an obvious answer is media. Most often, when we see a skinny GIRL, the first thing that comes to mind is, “I wonder if she eats.” But, when we see a skinny BOY, its just assumed that he must have an insanely fast metabolism. The girl in the picture will go on to receive copious comments discussing her body shape. People will either comment things like- “BODY GOALS!” or “Gross, she does not look good at all she is a skeleton.” No one would ever dare to assume that the boy might be the one with the eating disorder. Nope, isn’t anorexia something only girls get?

I am not sure who or how these assumptions began about ‘the anorexic body,’ but it needs to stop ASAP.

People suffering with an ED are continuing to suffer because they do not meet the physical requirements of an eating disorder and therefore do not get proper treatment. It is as if there is a rule that if you don’t look the part, you’re not really sick.

I am curious about how we rooted the idea of the ‘normal/perfect’ body.

What is normal?

What is perfect?

How should my body look?

How should YOUR body look?

….does it really even matter?

A NYE Letter

Dear,

Tomorrow marks the New Year. The one time of the year that many people believe is the only appropriate time to make a resolution to change. People tend to make a big deal out of this night because it marks the night of new beginnings.

We make a big fuss over the New Year because we see it as a chance to make the change we have wanted to do. But, do we need one set night to allow us to feel the need to make a life change? Sure tomorrow when we wake up it will be a new calendar year, but has anything else really changed?

The thing is, we let ourselves use our New Year resolutions as a way to move on from the things we want to forget.

“2016 was a shitty year for America” I see this headline everywhere, but 2016 ended up being my best year yet. Yeah, I am very upset over a lot of the changes that happened in the world, but that is no reason to make me resent a year where I had the most growth. Things will happen that we cannot control and we cannot blame the way life is now because of the last year we had. Everyday we are able to make a new resolution. Everyday we are able to make a new change. Things will only be bad if you all yourself to manifest these feelings.

We can be cowards and live with negativity OR we can choose to be a hero.

Dear Past Liv,

If I told you this time last year that in the February of 2016 you would be hospitalized for your eating disorder who you have believed me?

Liv, you started 2016 off terribly, lets be honest here. She was not in a good place, and she would not have believed that she would have accomplished as much as she has today.

When I entered the year 2016 my goal was to just live, but I did not know what I was living for. I did not know my purpose. We are not just born to die.

So for my readers who believe that the New Year is the only chance you have to reinvent yourself, I ask you to open your mind more. We do not need a holiday in order to start something new.

So, tonight, just live. Because we cannot control where we will end up- but we can control how we choose to let it impact the way we live.

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

A Breakthrough

Yesterday I had a breakthrough with recovery after seeing my dietician and therapist. My dietician showed me proof of my body cells clearly leading to heart failure and irreversible neurological damage; along with a high increase of not being able to have a baby or instead, having constant miscarriages. I always hated my therapist because she is a bitch to me, but I finally understand what she is doing.

I have spent so much time obsessing over what’s wrong with me and trying to get people to understand how serious my demons are, when in reality, I need to channel this energy into positive thinking. By making my main focus my ED and my Bipolarness I am not letting myself enjoy life.

If you’re reading this you might be thinking, “well duh, Liv, obviously positive thinking leads to a positive life. And that by being so focused on the negativity was hindering me from LIVING.” From now on, only positive things will be my focus. My journaling and painting is where I express the negativity. Of course I might still ask for help in regards to eating and grocery shopping, but I will get to that point where it gets easier. I AM NOT MY ILLNESS.

I looked at myself in the mirror today while changing and started crying at how unhealthy my body looks. I do not want this to be my life. It is not normal for my rib cage to show every bone so clearly and to have such protruding hipbones. This IS NOT how my body should look and I need to start loving my body AND myself.

I thank you all for the support, it really mean a lot. BUT, the only one that can save me is MYSELF and by finally realizing that I seek attention through my actions is not the way to go about recovering. I am scared to admit when I am struggling, but I need to express this in healthy ways. Hurting myself is not the answer. I am not saying that my mental health is made up or attention seeking, but I am saying that when I get so desperate and so consumed by my thoughts, I do not properly handle myself well. It is okay to just say, “Hey today is a rough day for me, but it will pass.” It’s SO much better than trying to give off clues that I desperately need help by making it physically obvious. I have a voice that can express what is troubling me. My journaling is for my demons. Not my friends. My friends are my support; not my therapist. And my perspective on my mental health is finally starting to change.

My new life begins now; A life of positive growth and positive thinking.

The relationship continues…

In one of my earlier blogs I talked about my relationship with my scale. My abusive and emotionally unstable relationship with an inanimate object.

Here’s a quick background for new readers: I have been flirting with the scale for years. I remember around age 13 was when I started racing home off the bus to beat my mom so I could weigh in without her knowing. I took baths all the time because the scale was in her bathroom along with the good tub. I would go to the gym just to weigh in and sit in the sauna. It was (and still is unhealthy.) I bought my own scale when I was 17. I kept it secret and drove to the woods to put the box she came in, in the big dumpster. She was a beautiful glass Taylor scale. I weighed myself at least 6 times a day. So like 42 times each week I would know my weight. I began to get good at guessing how much the number would read back. It became routine to weigh myself.

Throughout treatments, therapists and doctors have worked to break me up with the scale, but I have always had access to one. The scale in the bathroom with the good tub was always there- and she still is.

My glass scale ran out of batteries from my frequent weighing in, and I never replaced them….which is probably a good thing. But I still keep her even if she can’t tell me my weight. I don’t won’t to get rid of her. She’s traveled to Ohio, California, and Illinois with me. She’s been with me during my most dangerous and successful times. So, I keep her in my room at home under my dresser.

So let’s move on to current state: we are separated at the moment. I’m supposed to be doing blind weigh ins but I’ve found out my weight each week by doing some distraction. Last week I had a different doctor and she just casually told me my number. It was higher. Closer to the safe zone. I freaked. 

Recovery Liv knows this is good. I need to be at a healthy weight, but Ana still wants me to walk the tightrope with danger. 

I guess this past week, eating has sucked for me. I knew I would be going home and being home = going out to eat. I skipped out on some things I shouldn’t have which makes me feel like I failed myself. 

Today I found out my weight. I’m down again.

I’m happy

I’m scared

I don’t want to lose control

I want to smash all the scales and I want to buy them all

I do not know if I’ll ever be able to simmer this addiction with the number.

So here’s what I’m going to do..

I’m going to listen to my dietcian and EAT everything I’m supposed to and DRINK ensure plus and water. I am going to TELL the doctor they need to hide my weigh better because I will figure it out.

But most importantly I need to listen to my loved ones. I have so much encouragement and support. I am apart of one of the most supportive ED recovery communities and I need to not be scared to reach out. 

Right now, the scale controls me. However, this can’t last and I know it can’t. I have come SO FREAKING FAR in recovery. I will never trigger others by sharing my behaviors, but younger Liv was a dead girl walking. That stage didn’t last. I stopped those behaviors (and some of them I have no desire to start ever again.) so I know this will get easier. The first month will be hard. It’s like an alcoholic not taking a drink. A smoker not taking a smoking break. That’s what my addiction with weighing myself is like. 

So my readers,

My name is Liv and as of right now, I am 8 hours scale free. 

It’s not much but everyone has to start somewhere