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. 

 

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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

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.

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.

Fear Food Friday

Wow. It has not been long, but my summer is off to a crazy start. Between juggling close to 40 hours of work a week, 3 online summer classes, focusing on recovery, and keeping up with blogging I am finding myself completely exhausted. Don’t get me wrong, I love the busy lifestyle, but man…I could use a day of sleep.

I did not get to post yesterday about my fear food Friday, but I still did it. One of my ED fighter friends suggested that I make my fear food for the week to be Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. So that is exactly what I did. But that is not all. Today I challenged myself AGAIN by ordering something different at a restaurant I go to often. I always get my “safe” order, but today I got a sandwich (and if you read one of my first articles you might remember how I feel about bread…)

So first on Friday came the ice cream. I was getting mad at myself during the day because I was feeling the symptoms of restricting. I kept feeling like I would pass out which is NOT OKAY. My anorexia cannot affect my job performance so I need to be feeding my body for both the kids and myself.

I went to a pool party later that night and I brought my ice cream with me. So not only was I eating a fear food, I was doing it with friends and wearing a bathing suit. Sure I totally felt like my stomach was blowing up as I scooped in the bites, but after awhile, I was having too much fun to care that I ate some peanut butter cup ice cream (although, I did read the nutritional values) Sure it is not something I will buy often, but it is nice to treat myself. Besides, ice cream tastes pretty good on a 90 degree day.

Overall I would say the ice cream was pretty easy.

Next came my egg salad sandwich (on gluten free bread of course.) challenging to order, but by the time it came I wolfed it down. I took off some of the bread though so I only really had one slice (baby steps.) I was super hungry, but that was also my first meal of the day and I worked two hours before I went. Again something I need to work on—acknowledging the fact that if I am going out to eat later than I do not restrict to compensate. I need to eat normally consistently!

I have an urge to workout right now, but I am trying to fight it. Only because I know that it is Ana that wants to workout right now to make up for the calories.

Overall the challenge foods went really well. I am feeling pretty good today as I write this. I have had some ups and downs this past week, but I can honestly say that I am starting to feel more powerful over Ana (as long as the stupid scale is not around.) Although, I think I came up with a prettttttty good idea for me to break up with the scale. Stay tuned.

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Music

Yesterday I was lucky enough to see twentyonepilots. I am so thankful my father got us these tickets because I cannot express how important their music is to me.

Music has been a huge part of my recovery. Whether it came from playing music (yes I used to play the oboe…and flute and piccolo) or just laying down listening to some tunes I instantly am taken to a different place.

I feel calm and well. I feel happy and safe. I feel alive.

It seems silly that a song can have so much power over me, but boy it does- Especially the songs preformed by twentyonepilots. I discovered this band during one of the toughest times of my life; senior year of high school. If it wasn’t for my after school job and their songs, I do not know how I would have made it through the day. See, I do not only suffer from an eating disorder, but I also have Bipolar II, which is a form of manic depression.

I felt very only and fake since I was keeping these secrets about my illnesses from so many people. But listening to TOP made me feel like I belonged somewhere. I really cannot explain how passionate I am about this band. We all have that band we love unconditionally or that one song that takes us to a certain memory. For me, twentyonepilots takes me to times of despair, but also to some of the happiest moments of my life.

So last night, being in the same place as them was outstanding. I do not know what words to say to describe the euphoria I felt.

One of my favorite songs by them is Car Radio in this song there is a lyric that says “you need to try to think” I always interpreted this sentence as a way to stay alive and fight. So when I listen to the song, I replace “think” with “eat” because that’s what I need to do to stay alive. I need to try to eat. It is foolish really, but it helped me get through.

Music is powerful. I encourage you all to find that song that speaks to you. I know it is out there. Music makes me feel whole. And twentyonepilots make me feel alive.

Fear Food Friday- Reese’s

I decided I needed to challenge myself even more, so from this point on, every Friday I will eat something that scares me.

The first time I did a fear food challenge for my blog was with gluten free bread. And guess what? I eventually ate all the bread and the coolest part?? IM STILL ALIVE! Amazing! I can eat food and not gain 9859034853pounds. I can eat food and it won’t kill me!

I had not challenged myself since then. I had an occasional cup of ice cream, but other than that I stuck to what made me feel safe.

SO flashback to me at CVS Wednesday.

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I turned to my bff and said “hey take my picture I need to blog this.” I was really not nervous here. It was kind of a rash decision to buy the chocolate. The dude was waiting for me to give him my debit card, but something inside me said that this is what I need to do. I need the chocolate. Anxiety level at this moment: 1.5/10.

The candy had been sitting in my fridge for a few days and I honestly hoped my mom would accidentally eat it so I wouldn’t have to. She did not eat it. So my anxiety level is at a 4.

Thursday night I drank with some friends so on Friday I was not wanting to eat this candy. I drank my calories yesterday. I needed to cleanse.

I really wasn’t too excited for this. I spent more time taking pictures of myself with the candy bar than eating it, but hey oh well. I had to make sure that post 6 mile walk/run sweaty Liv looked decent enough.

Reese’s used to be my FAVORITE. I want to enjoy them again. Anxiety level 6/10

So once I finally decided the lighting in my pictures was right I went back to the main point of my mission. I tried to think of excuses to avoid eating it. I looked at the packaging to see if I was allergic to it all of a sudden, but there was no way out. I committed to this.

I will just eat one I reassured myself with my anxiety level reaching a 7. I looked at my dog sitting next to me for support and he looked so excited to eat this piece of peanut butter and chocolate. It helped me realize that food is not my enemy. So I took a bite. And guess what? I ate BOTH of them and IT WAS SO DELICIOUS.

Wow! I am still alive, my clothes still fit, and I REALLY enjoyed eating the candy. Overall happiness experience? 10/10.

Any ideas for next Fridays fear food? Leave a comment and let me know!