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.  

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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.

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

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.

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.

summer ’16

Tis the season for change. The season for things to come to an end so new things can bloom.

This summer may have been my best one yet. Not because it was perfect, I definitely struggled and relapsed. BUT it was my best one because I learned so much about life and recovery and myself.

This summer I broke my phone 3 times, I made new friends, trusted the wrong people… I worked with awesome summer campers, had days I didn’t want to leave bed, and spent too much money. This summer I did a lot of stupid shit but I also grew immensely {{{cue the cheesiness}}}

This summer I put MYSELF first. This summer I focused on making me happy and healthy.

I began free writing and drawing again, I was able to run for a little bit of summer, I got a new car, I painted, and traveled. I took chances again and put myself out there.

I felt like a real girl again this summer. I wasn’t consumed with thoughts of food. I still was not reaching every target, but Ana’s voice was turned off. I was back in charge.

My biggest takeaway from the summer is probably to just let karma take control. Shitty things will happen to good people. However, what makes the person good is how they respond to the bad. Do not seek revenge. Do not crave to see others suffer.

When someone wrongs you, its best to just turn the other way, be the mature adult, and walk away. Karma will take care of everything in the end.

My summer is now almost over and I am all moved into my apartment.

Am I scared for this year?—Yes.

Am I ready for this year?—Yes.

I am always scared I will relapse. Living on my own scares me because it is only myself accountable for actually eating my meals.

However, as I enter my senior year I reflected on my past semesters of school. I have yet to have one completely healthy/no need for a hospital semester of school. I do not want to jinx myself, but I have a feeling this will be the year.

I am stronger every day.

I am surrounded by great, genuine people.

I have skills to control my urges.

I am sick of being sick.

So here is to the start of my senior year.

Here is to living, learning, loving and making mistakes along the way.

Here is to good health and happiness. May you also accept health and happiness as well because YOU DESERVE IT TOO!

Acceptance

Dear body,

It’s been about 2 months since my last letter to you and I have some things I want to tell you.

It’s long overdue, but I finally accept you.

I love you, body.

I love your scars.

I love everything.

I was ashamed of you for so long, but not anymore.

I started realizing this the other day at work. I see my campers running around without a care in the world. They are all different sizes. Some are super tiny and others have a belly that sticks out. I look at them and all I see is beauty and potential. I do not look at them and see fat or failure.

These little kids do not worry about how they look. They just want to run around and eat Popsicles. They are excited and hopeful. They do not miss out on activities because they do not like the way they look. 

I wish I could go back to having the innocence of a 5 year old. I may not be able to change that, but I can change how I react to the changes my body makes. I am 21 years old. I need to accept that it is not normal to still wear jeans from my sophomore year of high school. I am a woman now, not a little girl. My body is growing the way it is supposed to be.

Right now, my stomach is so bloated. And I honestly am not triggered by it. I think of one of my campers who is so lovely in everyway. She has a belly and is so confident in herself and she is only six. I feel crazy for being inspired by a six year old, but my campers really are what helps me get through tougher times. 

So body, I’m glad we are friends again. I’m glad that you are getting the nutrients you need to grow how you are supposed to. Maybe it’s time we throw away those clothes from high school. It’s time we move on from this. 

Take my hand, body- we are in this together

I love you body,

Your friend always,

Liv

“Real women have curves”

You know what saying I hate so much?

“Boys like girls with curves.” Or “real women have curves.”

I have accepted that I will never be pencil thin again and I am okay with that, but I will not justify gaining weight with the concept of pleasing some guy. My body is my body. If a guy only wants to talk to me for the way my body looks, then that is someone I do not want in my life. I am working on my body for MYSELF. I am eating for myself. Working out for myself. I am NOT recovering to get attention or validation from anyone else but me.

A lot of times, when I get upset about getting curves, people will tell me things like, “guys like a little extra to hold at night.”

It upsets me that this is the way some women think. Why do people think that their body should be a trophy for others?

This is why there are so many women struggling with loving their body. We are constantly surrounded by signs with curvy women saying this is how we should look. Or we see the victoria secret models and then we believe we need to look like that.

So, here is what I am going to do.

I am going to continue to eat and work out in a healthy manner.

I am going to continue to focus on my recovery and accept the changes my body makes.

If I get curvy, so be it- that is how my body should be then. But I will not be changing my body because that is what some guy will like. I will not work to have my body be a certain way to please anyone but myself.

This is my body.

I plan on being with someone who likes me for me- not only for the way my body looks.

The right guy will like you curvy or not. Do not change to please society. Live your life to better yourself.

So, while some say “real women have curves” I say all women are real and all bodies are beautiful.