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Posted in Recovery

When Ed Hijacks your “New Normal”

I’m pissed. I’m mad and frustrated and sad and exasperated and so many other synonyms for fed up. Mad at myself for not admitting that it was disordered before it got to this point. Mad at Jan that she told me the truth and what I need to do about it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t know if it’s out of rebellion, or as a way to say “fuck you” to Jan, or because I don’t really believe it’s necessary, actually I knows it’s pretty much because of all three which makes it worse. I have so many reasons not to do it and so few reasons to, it seems. I felt like I was making so much progress with eating. I felt so good about it even thought I know part of the reason I felt good about it was because I was kind of restricting but still. Things felt normal and effortless. I was being flexible and normal! That was the best. I had so much free time that wasn’t spent with meal planning and figuring out food shit. I walked into the kitchen and decided then and it made things less of an ordeal. And I know that I wasn’t completing and I know that it was disordered but also where’s the line? Am I going to be on some sort of a meal plan for the rest of my life? Never able to not be concerned with whether I’m eating enough and if it’s intentional or not? It’s just so annoying. I just want to not have an eating disorder anymore. I want to not have to deal with this shit like the rest of my friends. I’m pretty fine with ed now. I’ve accepted him and know that he’s on his way out but it’s so hard for me to not just give up right now. I know that I won’t because I really like where I’m at and I don’t want to go back. I think about restricting again, and my first thought is that I don’t want to feel like crap all the time again. Which in ED’s terms means I’m weak, but whatever ED.

Recovery is weird. I’m typing this reflecting back on what has been the hardest week I’ve had in at least 6-months. ED has control over my brain that he hasn’t had in a long time, but he doesn’t have control over my behaviors. Today in therapy we discussed how cooking was too overwhelming for me right now, so maybe it be best if I eat out at some safe restaurants the next couple of nights, and I agreed. I love that that is my new compromise. Before it would have been, how about you eat safe foods and have a Boost with dinner just in case, or just try your best and have a Boost as a back-up. We then talked about how I’m having trouble accepting support from my treatment friends because, “I’m the one who supports them, it’s not the other way around.” I, aka ED, spent so much energy before competing to be the sickest and now I’m competing to be the most recovered. ED, what are you doing? I can’t handle you anymore. If you could kindly see yourself out that would be great.

I’m doing better this week. My therapist said something in our last session that stuck with me. “You don’t have to give this so much power. You don’t have to let it control your week.”

What do you mean? Of course it has to control my week. It’s the end of the world as I know it. The end of my recovery world that is. It’s been tough not to just let this turn into a complete relapse. A lot of my friends are doing well, so I can struggle. It would be okay. The world would stay in balance, ED tells me. Because apparently, in my head we all can’t be doing well at the same time even though I know that’s what we’re all kicking ass to fight towards.

But I tried to take that to heart. She was right, I didn’t have to let it define my week and it doesn’t have to define my recovery.

So I’m taking it slow. Not letting these increased thoughts and behaviors define my days and remembering what it’s like to celebrate small steps, like not skipping a snack or completing my meal plan for that day. I feel like I’m completely overreacting to two weeks’ worth of struggle, but I’ve been told that’s ED convincing me to minimize everything, so I’m just not gonna think about that and keep focusing on getting back on track and making sure ED keeps working on finding his way out of here.

Sending out so much love & strength to all of you

Melissa

 

 

 

Posted in Recovery

Thank you…(Pt. 1)

I’ve really been trying to express gratitude more, especially within recovery so I think I’m going to start doing a series of thank yous. Here’s part one:

1 year ago today I discharged from inpatient treatment and started outpatient recovery full-time. Ho-ly crap. What a year it has been.

When I left EDCD a year ago I had no idea what the future had instore, but boy was I excited. I was in a place I had never been and for the first time in a long time I was so happy. I mean, I was equally as terrified and guilty and nervous and angry about coming home but I also knew that things were gonna be good. I kept thinking, “You feel the same way about going home as you did about coming to treatment and look how good that turned out. Everything it going to work out.” Besides, I had to face real life eventually. As much as I would have loved it stay in the comfort and safety of treatment, I had to get back to my life.

As I think about this last year, I can’t help but get emotional. I celebrated the anniversary of the day I entered treatment but man, this is a day worth celebrating too. Guys, recovery has given me so. much. Yeah, it’s taken a lot too, but when I let myself look back I can’t help but smile on the past year.

One thing I’ve tried to become more intentional with as I recover is being grateful. Realizing the opportunities that have been given to me, whatever they are, and being thankful for whatever I can get out of them. So I just wanted to write a quick thanks to a place and a group of people that absolutely changed my life for the better. One that I don’t think I could ever thank enough, and one that I’m sure will never actually see this post, but I wanted to put it out there anyway.

To the wonderful, caring, hardworking therapists, doctors, dieticians, chefs, and staff of EDCD,

I thought I had an eloquent letter in my head, but I was wrong. Where do I begin? What do I even begin to thank you for?

Thanks for giving me my life back? Heck, thanks for giving me my life. I’m not sure I ever had it to begin with. Thanks for introducing me to Melissa, the real authentic Melissa. I wish I could say that I love myself and never struggle with self-acceptance or body-image, but I can say that the more I get to know authentic Melissa, the more I like her.

I’m writing this to say thanks for showing me that I’m not the person ED told me I was. I got 3 Cs this past semester. Yep, 3. Cue the audible gasp. The girl who couldn’t stand the thought of getting a B a year ago and who finally agreed to go to treatment only because it was affecting her academics got 3 Cs. This. Semester. Sucked. I wanna say it sucked more than treatment. The thing that pisses me off is I worked my ass off for those 3 Cs and still only got Cs. I want to say I’m totally fine with it and I’ve moved on with my life and whatever but the truth is it’s wrecked me. ED has managed to take full advantage of this opportunity to prove what a failure I am and what a failure recovery has made me. But you know what hasn’t happened because I got Cs? My world hasn’t crumbled around me. I wasn’t kicked out of my program. My family didn’t disown me and I didn’t ruin my chance of getting into a good grad school or getting a good job, in fact I got a good job. I got into Teach for America, C’s and all, and am going to teach elementary school in Mississippi after I graduate. You know what has happened, however? I saw my roommates a heck of a lot more than I used to. I spent time with my friends and let myself have some fun. I decided to sleep instead of torture myself with all-nighters. I focused on me and what I needed.

And yeah, right now I’m trying not to convince myself that I need straight A’s for the rest of my college career to make up for this “abysmal” semester, because I don’t, but I can let myself smile at the fact that yeah, last semester may have been my worst semester academically, but outside of school I’ve never been better and that makes up for it ten times over. And I have you guys to thank for that.

I could go on and on. Thanks for not giving up on me. Thanks for not letting me give up on myself. Thanks for challenging me in ways I’m challenged in my everyday life, even if I hated it in program. Thanks for doing what you do. You guys hear it all the time I’m sure, but you are changing and saving lives and it takes special people to do that.

Lastly, and you guys don’t have much control over this one, but I want to say thanks for being in Denver. I have a great team here in Bloomington, but that’s it. There’s not a lot of extra support besides that. I remember so many weeks wanting to give up and quit. I saw all of my treatment friends going to ANAD or EDF groups or going back to IOP and still having a life. I didn’t have that option. My options are do outpatient or pause my life entirely to go to treatment, in Denver, Indy, St. Louis or wherever. And while I still struggle with wanting to just give up and go back, I’m so thankful that, while I was there, you guys never let me stop thinking about my goals. You never let me forget that treatment was just a stop, it was never the end goal. And while there was no shame in being in treatment or going to treatment, I was always going to have to leave my treatment bubble no matter how many times I came back, so I decided that I’m not quite ready to go back into my treatment bubble. I’ve had one unnecessarily secretive but luckily pretty short relapse but besides that I’ve decided ED’s taken enough of my college years.

I only get one undergrad, and I’m a senior, so it’s time to have some real fun, there’s no room for you ED.

So thanks again, EDCD. Thanks for giving me the ability to look towards my future with genuine excitement.  You guys really are changing lives.

Peace y’all,

Melissa

Posted in Recovery

A-okay & staying that way

So I’ve been doing pretty well lately. I always feel like I’m bragging when I say this, especially when I know people that are struggling but I’ve always told myself this was my space to be completely authentic and honest and also, it’s not something I should be ashamed of, so yeah: I’ve been doing pretty well lately. And I kind of hate to admit it.

I realized the other day that my disordered thoughts have decreased a ton within the last few weeks (well, excluding spring break.)  Over break, I went on a missions trip with Chi Alpha, the ministry I’m a part of here at school. We went to the Baltic countries: Lithuania, Latvia, & Estonia, and it was absolutely amazing. We visited campuses in all three countries looking for potential ministry/partnership opportunities and God did some amazing work in my heart, and the heart of our team while we were over there.

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Not great quality, but a picture of me in Tartu, Estonia
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A main street in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania

More on that to come except that the food part was pretty tough. It was a whole ordeal and way out of my comfort zone and when I came back all I wanted to do was weigh myself and compensate for whatever damage I was sure to have done to my body *eye roll*. But surprisingly once I went to the grocery store and restocked my apartment, it took literally no thought for me to get back on track.

And that’s what I hate to admit. I hate admitting that I’m having good weeks. I hate admitting to myself that I’m doing well. Why? Because then I’m actually getting better. I tell my therapist all the time that in my head, I can envision myself in the future without an eating disorder and believe it. I can see myself with kids and a husband and a career and not have an ED, I just can’t envision that process. I just can’t imagine the process of actually letting it go.

I was joking that this is the point in what’s been my typical recovery cycle since coming home that I would start restricting and regress because the thought of actual recovery freaks me out too much, but I haven’t done that. I haven’t done this well for this long for a while, definitely not since school started. This is where I should say it’s worth it and whatever, but honestly it’s weird and slightly angering. I’m sitting in a coffee shop killing time before an interview and I really only chose this place so that I would just get coffee and skip lunch. “I’ve been spending a ton of money on food lately, I’ll just get some coffee and eat when I get home,” was my reasoning. Sounds like a very valid, college student reason to me, even though I won’t be home for another 6 hours. Obviously I knew this was a terrible idea, so when I got here I got a sandwich too, which honestly wasn’t that hard. It’s all starting to come more naturally, and while I’m definitely appreciative, I’m still a little resentful.

I don’t know how to end this so I’ll just say that recovery is starting to feel like less of a process and more like my everyday life, and I just need to keep reminding myself that these feels and thoughts just come along with the experience.

Life is pretty good right now and I want to try to savor and remember this time in my recovery, it’s been a long-time coming.

Stay real, y’all,

Melissa

I’ll leave you with this picture:

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Celebratory cheese face after my first psych appointment that I’ve never had some sort of med change because things are working.
Posted in Recovery, Uncategorized

Let’s Talk About It

The theme for Eating Disorder Awareness Week this year is “Let’s talk about it.” So, y’all, let’s talk about it. I try to be open with my process of recovery but the things I share have typically been through several ED-free filters, for several reasons: mainly my well-being and staying true to what I’m comfortable sharing and not making social media my diary where everyone knows every aspect of my eating disorder because heck, I don’t even think I know every aspect of my eating disorder. So, if this is your first time here, this is probably going to be the most honest thing you’ve read about my recovery so far.

When I say recovery sucks, I mean it is literally the hardest, most miserable thing I have ever decided to do. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t question my decision of starting this whole process in the first place. It is me fighting back to thoughts that have manifested in my brain for as long as I can remember. It’s breaking rules that have been engrained into my head over the last 11 years. It’s fighting with myself basically every meal and snack. It’s having my mirror covered up because sometimes the thought of looking at myself is too much to handle. It’s making myself sit with feelings that I haven’t allowed myself to feel for years and trying to accept this body I fought so hard to separate myself from.

Recovery is taking 25 minutes at the grocery store staring at the nutrition labels on boxes of oatmeal, debating if the 20 extra calories in the flavor I like more are really worth it, before eventually reminding myself that calories don’t matter.

It’s putting my meal plan on the fridge so my roommates can know if I’ve been completing it or not. It’s asking Marie to make me dinner because I panic at the thought of having to both make it and then eat it. It’s eating mac & cheese several times a week for practically a month because that’s what it took for it to not be a fear food (my roommates are saints for living through that)

It’s wondering if I’m really worth all this effort everyone is putting into me.

Recovery is deciding to hang out with my friends on a Friday night instead of studying my life away. It’s remembering that getting a C on a test (or even in a class) does not define my self-worth and neither does getting an A.

It’s going to get Chocolate Moose with my friends and not worrying about how I’m going to compensate. Heck, it’s going to Chocolate Moose by myself because Chocolate Moose is freaking delicious (Plz come back).

Recovery is being vulnerable and open and forming deeper connections with people. It’s realizing that asking for help doesn’t mean your weak and makes your life so much easier when you don’t try and do everything alone.

Recovery has shown me the love of God and a whole new side of my faith that I never could have imagined. (Post on that later.)

Recovery continues to demand everything of me and then when I reach my end, it demands a little more. It’s something I continually choose. Every day. Every meal. Every bite. And I continue to ask myself is it really worth it?

The answer is my friendships. The answer is my functioning body. The answer is my life. Eventually this disease will kill me. There are two options: recovery or death.

It doesn’t get easier but instead simpler, and my answers get clearer. So, I’m going to continue to choose it. Until it is no longer and choice and until there is no longer an answer.

So there it is, my attempt to start a conversation. A conversation that is hard but needs to be had and I’m gonna try with everything in me in the most healthy way possible to keep it going. It’s time to end this shit.

 

Peace y’all,

Melissa

Posted in Recovery

C’s Get Degrees

I’m sitting here writing this instead of studying for a test tomorrow, so naturally my eating disorder is telling me I’m going to fail despite the fact that I’m going to be up all night studying in the library.  Doesn’t matter. I’m going to fail.34d006f321f50dfe304a464ef11cce09

We talked about that word for most my therapy session today. It’s a pretty common word in my internal vocabulary. It’s my biggest fear, by far. I’m not afraid of much, unless there’s a chance I could fail and then the game changes. It’s the root of many of my insecurities and honestly a big part of my eating disorder.

I cannot be seen as a failure.

This is my goal in life, not to be happy or make a difference, but to not be seen as a failure, and while I definitely want those other things, I think at least a tiny bit of my motivation in both of them is because it means I won’t have “failed”. Don’t ask me to define failure though, because I can’t explain it, I just know I don’t want to be one.

My life is driven by avoiding this idea I can’t define and meeting this standard that doesn’t even exist.

Every time I mention “being a failure” in therapy my therapist responds with something to the extent of “Wow, that’s really harsh,” and every time, I don’t understand.

Are you telling me other people don’t feel that way? Other people aren’t constantly filled with the underlying anxiety of maybe messing up? I don’t get it. I was telling my therapist that I literally can’t fathom the fact that people who get C’s in classes graduate and get a job. It’s not an insult to them, in fact I want to be like them, I just seem to forget that employers don’t think like I do at all.

I’m applying to an organization called Teach for America and depending on how things go, I’ll know if I’m accepted by mid-April. The likelihood that I’ll get accepted is pretty good, according to several TFA recruiters. However, I can’t help but be nervous that, if I get in, they’ll renege their offer and kick me out if I end up graduating with one or two C’s on my transcript. I know it’s irrational, but it’s what made me realize just how ridiculous I’m being.

Here’s the new standard I’m trying to hold myself to:

C’s get degrees y’all. It’s true. In fact, I’m gonna change it to C’s get degrees, and jobs, and allow you to live a successful life. Wanna know why? Because grades don’t matter. No one gives two shits about them, so it’s time for me to start feeling the same. College is so much more than grades. I only have 3 semesters left, and it’s time for me to really start enjoying them. Bs should be celebrated, not result in humiliation. Sometimes, self-care involves going to bed early or binge-watching The Office with your roommates, even if it means you don’t turn in one homework assignment.

It’s time to kick failure out of my vocabulary and start living for the things that make me happy and not just make me look good.

I need to start thinking about what’s best for authentic Melissa. The Melissa who knows that she is enough and that her future is going to be as incredible as she lets herself believe.

Now it’s time for me to go

 

Posted in Recovery

Recovery+Internet=Vulnerability. Ugh.

I remember when the talk of me actually dropping my classes and going to treatment was getting serious, I sat outside one of my classes writing the thing I had wanted to write for what felt like forever. I tried to craft the most poignant and elegant post to reveal to everyone what I had been struggling with and what was happening. I had wanted to admit this for so long. I was sick of keeping this secret and honestly, I thought that the more people that knew, the more likely it would be that someone would make me get the help I wanted but could never admit for myself.

So the decision was made, my bags were packed, and the day before I flew out I posted my announcement on Facebook, torn between feeling incredibly relieved and also terrified because I knew there was no going back after that. From now on, whether I liked it or not, everyone would know about ED. There was no getting rid of it.

At first I didn’t mind. I didn’t want to have to deal with trying to come up with excuses as to where I was and what was going on. All of my friends down at school obviously knew, my mom had told my extended family, and I told every other important person in my life I thought should know, but mostly, I was done hiding. If I was serious about getting rid of ED, I knew it couldn’t just be between me and him.

I got so much support with everything that I posted about treatment. I truly am blessed with fabulous friends and family. I got so many well-wishes and knew that so many people were back here in Indiana praying for me and cheering me on, and it was great. I loved the freedom I felt to be able to post stuff. I loved that I could be honest and real and just let recovery integrate with the rest of my life. I was hoping that if I didn’t make it a taboo topic, others wouldn’t either.

In treatment, all of that was fine. I was able to post but didn’t feel any pressure to keep people updated and didn’t have to say what was going on because my team was always there and I wasn’t home so people didn’t expect anything, well actually they did expect things. They expected it to be tough and for me to be struggling and for it just to be a weird time in my life. All of that seemed normal and the whole idea of treatment was just such a private thing that no one expects you to say anything about it at all because, well they just don’t.

Now that I’m home it’s not the same.

People want updates. They genuinely want to know how I’m doing with school and recovery and all of it, which is fine. I don’t mind people checking up on me, it just reminds me how great the people in my life are, but the issue is I never know how to respond. I’ve gotten better at not immediately responding with, “Great! Thanks!”, but I still never know what to say. I know that they want me to be honest, which im okay with, I guess. It’s not nearly as hard for me to say, “Honestly, not too great” when talking to someone but it’s always the follow-up, “Oh, what’s going on?” that gets me because the truth is, I don’t know if they’ll be able to understand what’s going on.

Sure, they’ll get that I’m struggling with food or something but it’s a lot more difficult to say, “Well, my body image has been terrible recently and I made the stupid decision to weigh myself so now I’m trying to convince myself to go and at least try and eat something for lunch because I ate 20% of what I was supposed to for breakfast and I know that I need to go eat even though the thought of it makes me sick and all I can hear and see is fat while I’m eating and honestly, I’m just really tired of recovery and I really want to give up because all of this is a lot more than I thought it would be and im tired of fighting and being exhausted and all I can think about right now is getting the number I saw on the scale lower and I have to go to school and work and still try to function and be a normal college kid and…”

Yeah, it’s just a lot easier to say, “Honestly, not too great”.

I know that I’m making this a lot worse in my head than it is in real-life and the majority of the people asking genuinely want to know so that they can help me but I’m not too sure that I’m ready to put all of my secrets out there yet. The internet already knows what was my deepest, darkest secret…I’m not sure that I want them to hear everything that goes along with that.

 

Ugh. Vulnerability sucks…I know it’s worth it in the end but right now it’s just…ugh.

If anyone has had any experiences, good or bad, with being more open and vulnerable with people and how you’re really doing, I would love to hear what has worked, or hasn’t for all of you.

 

Keep killin’ it y’all

Melissa

 

Posted in Recovery

It’s Not Your Fault

I wrote this over a month ago, mostly as a post-therapy journal entry after our session got me thinking, but after re-reading it I decided to post it. I used a behavior last week that I hadn’t used in almost 6 months. I’m grateful that it hasn’t completely thrown me off, but it has caused my anxiety to increase. That on top of a crazy school and work schedule, which always increase my stress levels, has led to me being incredibly self-critical so this was a refreshing reminder to stumble upon today.

“It’s not you, Melissa. You don’t have to blame yourself. “

I, well ED, rolled his eyes as my therapist said this to me in our session today. We pretty much spent the whole hour trying to figure out why the heck my body image has been so terrible lately because it’s been bad. Like, real real bad. This is the worst it’s been in…probably ever.

We figured out 5 pretty big contributors: classes, the weather, the possibility of needing my meds changed, not following my meal plan completely and the underlying theme in all of this: anxiety. Like an absolute shit ton of anxiety. Everything is making me anxious and then I don’t use behaviors to give myself “relief” and then I just get more anxious. Basically, my life is a hot mess right now.

The problem is that all of the things causing me increased anxiety are things I can’t get rid of. Well that’s a lie, not following my meal plan is something that I could change instantly, and I am going to work on getting back on track because I know that it’s not making me feel any better. But besides that I’m kind of in a catch-22.

These are big things. They’re huge and they cause a lot of people anxiety, people that aren’t also trying to recover. People who aren’t trying to relearn how to live their life. People who aren’t having to battle it out with every single thought in their head and trying to unlearn deeply ingrained, and deadly, habits. This shit sucks. It sucks to have to be fighting this. It sucks to be an anxious wreck all of the time. It sucks to second guess myself in pretty much everything I do. It sucks to say such terrible things to myself, know that they’re wrong, and yet still say them and believe them. It’s exhausting, especially because I’m doing all of it on top of trying to live my life and be a college student. So why can’t I accept these and stop blaming myself? Yes, those reasons are valid and exhausting and I can accept that but I still ultimately think that it’s all my fault. That these things shouldn’t affect me because I spent 3 months in intensive treatment learning how to deal with them so I should be able to handle it all. The funny thing is, I hadn’t even considered the idea of blaming other things. Like, yeah I knew that my classes were giving me anxiety and that all of this would be hard and exhausting but shouldn’t I be able to handle them? External factors play a role but doesn’t it ultimately come down to my choices and what I decide to do?

Logically, yes. Of course it does. I’m a human being with free-will and l know that my actions are going to have consequences of some type. But there’s also the fact that this whole situation sucks nonetheless. It is an inherently shitty situation and no amount of “perfection” or effort is going to change the fact that it was a shitty situation to start with. I didn’t make it shitty. It’s not my fault that its shitty, it’s just shitty and that is okay to accept.

Now only if I could actually convince myself of this. I want to believe it.

Posted in Recovery

EDCD Take 2

I made a rather unplanned, but absolutely amazing, trip to Denver last weekend, which I’m going to write about another time but I’ve been thinking a lot about my visit back to EDCD and wanted to share it.

I was so excited to go back. One of the first things I did after I decided I was going was email people to make sure I was going to be able to see them. I was so excited to see some of the staff members and get to visit with my old primary, but I had no idea how much it would bring back. On the elevator ride up and as I was waiting for Dr. Neumann to come grab me, I was freaking out. Like, panic attack levels of anxiety. ED was pissed to be there, especially because I wasn’t “sick”. I had set this stupid weight goal for myself that I wanted to be at for my “Denver trip”, whenever that was going to be. It’s a number I knew I couldn’t reach without using ED in some way, but I wouldn’t have used the behaviors I used before so it wasn’t technically unhealthy. I don’t know why I was terrified of going back “well”. Well, I do know why. I always know why. It’s because ED had me convinced that they would be disappointed in me if I was doing well. There’s no way someone can recover after only one time in treatment, if they did then they must not have had that serious of a problem in the first place. Duh.

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I love that I’m still seeking external validation that I have a problem. I always thought that going to treatment would be all of the validation that I would need but that was a joke. For some reason I can’t hold both of these ideas at once. The idea that I am in recovery and doing well in recovery but that I am still sick and still have a problem. They can exist together and they do exist together but I just haven’t been able to grasp that yet.

Anyways, so I didn’t reach my weight goal so I was slightly ashamed to be going but I did and it was one of the highlights of my recovery so far. Everyone was genuinely excited for me. No one was disappointed that I was coming back to visit instead of to come back to treatment. In fact, so many people made some kind of comment to the sound of, “Yeah, we love seeing you but we only want it to happen on visits, okay?”

It was there that I could see how happy I am right now. Sitting on the same couch on which I spent so many hours trying to figure out who the hell I was and how I could possibly live without my eating disorder and actually having an idea of who I am and knowing that I don’t need ED to survive was one of the best motivators I’ve gotten in recovery so far.

One of the hardest things I found when I first got back is that no one could tell a difference in my demeanor. I mean, they could. I was obviously more lively and had energy and things like that but I had done such a good job of fooling everyone that they couldn’t really tell a difference between ED Melissa and authentic Melissa. I felt a little gypped to be honest. I felt so different and I was really excited for everyone to see this new version of myself that when they didn’t I definitely started to question the whole recovery thing.

It was so nice to be in a place where people could tell a difference and where people noticed it. It felt like I was getting recognized for all of my hard work. Don’t get me wrong, people have definitely commented on how proud of me they were or noticed how hard all of this has been but maybe it was because it was coming from people who had seen me go through it all. Whatever it was, it was nice.

Visiting program helped me re-recognize some parts of my true authentic self. Being back in the place where she first emerged brought a smile to my face and reminded me of some of the parts that I haven’t brought out back here at home out of fear for being “too much” or whatever excuse ED has given me. I realized out there that the more I discover my authentic self, the more I like her. Which is ridiculously hard to admit but also makes me so excited for the future.

I can’t wait to what else is in store for this awkward, sass-filled person I learn more about each and every day.

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Keep killin’ it, y’all.

Melissa

Posted in Recovery

Back to School

This morning I got up, ate breakfast, and headed off to campus for the first day of classes. It’s my junior year and I’m only freaking out slightly that I’m over half way done with my undergrad. That wasn’t the most terrifying thing though. This morning, for the first time since coming to IU, I ate an actual breakfast. One that consisted of more than a granola bar or a banana and I packed my lunch.

An actual lunch.

In an actual lunch box.

And I brought it with me to school.

And guess what? No one has made any comments or any strange faces about me carrying it.

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In fact, I don’t think anyone has even looked twice at it. Why would they? People eat lunch. And I am one of those people. Weight or body size or intelligence or self-image whatever don’t exclude me from that group. Now I just need to work on getting myself to really, truly believe it.

So I wrote this last week in between my first and second class. My first few days were great. I like my professors (well, most of them), I ended up having classes with friends without planning it, and I was so excited to see how much better classes were going to be now that my brain was actually getting adequate nutrition. For probably the first time ever, I wasn’t an anxious mess wondering how I was going to impress my classmates or my professor or how much I would have to do to ensure I got an A. I wasn’t worried about whether or not people could tell I was a fraud who wasn’t smart enough to be there. In fact, I cared so little I didn’t even plan my outfit the night before. I didn’t choose the perfect combination of clothing that made me look completely put together but didn’t make it obvious that I put effort into it, because let’s be honest, upperclassmen never put effort into their looks, that’s totally a freshman thing, so no way could I show people that I actually cared or had to try to look so put together.

I went to class and I learned. I introduced myself to my classmates and professors without hesitating or worrying about how I looked to them. I took notes, I ate my lunch in the lobby of the business school, with a ton of other people around and then I went home. It was great. I was incredibly impressed with how unmotivated I was towards homework considering it was the first day of the semester, but I felt good about my classes. I knew that I would be able to well in all of them if I did what I was supposed to, which I always do because: perfectionist. 34d006f321f50dfe304a464ef11cce09

It’s now week two and I wish I could say I was still that positive. I knew coming back to school would be rough. My perfectionism and fear of failure are two huge motivators of my eating disorder and academics is where both of those can consume me. I’ve always been a good student. I’m really lucky in the fact that school comes easy to me, so as a kid when I was told to do my best and I realized that my “best” was an A, well then obviously anything less was failure. Don’t ask me how my 6-year-old brain was able to make this connection, all I know is that I cried when I got my first B on a worksheet in first grade, and the rest is history. Looking back, I can’t help but laugh at myself and yet still feel sorry for myself. I’m a little sad for that little girl who already held herself to such high standards that she shouldn’t even really know exist, let alone understand them enough to apply them to her life. But then I laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Getting a B on a math worksheet was not the end of the world. It did not make me a failure or dumb or incompetent or whatever. So why can’t I still believe that about myself?

As I was writing this I was trying to figure out how to eloquently wrap this up with some kind of positive message at the end, but I couldn’t think of one so I decided to stop forcing it. This is something that logically I know will get better, I just need to continue to process it, so that’s what I’m going to continue to stumble through.rashida-jones-the-office-shrug-gif

 

Peace,y’all. Keep killin’ it. e16d92698b895b4e35f0654bfd743529

Melissa

(Someday I’ll actually create some kind of signature or something, but who knows when that will be. Hopefully before I graduate college…maybe. Bear with me, y’all.) f399252b5bf7c2203817b095db4b32bf

Posted in Recovery

Trusting My Body

**I wrote this a few weeks ago when all of this went down but have been nervous about posting it for some reason. I was afraid no one would care or that it come across as bragging because a lot of people I know are struggling right now but then I realized that who cares if  no one cares? This was pretty big for me and I guess I should be proud of it because other people would be. I need to start remembering that my recovery is my recovery, no matter what.**

 

Thoughts: 5

Intention: be mindful

Feelings: excited…? Can I say that about recovery? Is that allowed?

At treatment, we had meal processing after every meal. The same 5 questions again and again.  I hated them. I thought they were redundant and useless, but since coming home, they’ve become a pretty useful tool. At first, I used them all of the time. It was my attempt to try and bring some normalcy into this huge transition but now that I’ve been able to get into a routine they aren’t as necessary. However, I do try and use them to check in after some meals, especially ones that I know are going to be hard and I knew that breakfast on Monday was going to be hard.

I was a leader at a church camp last week, and while I absolutely loved it, it completely threw my schedule off and required me to basically give up all control when it came to food. My first day was a mess. I was able to eat everything but my ED thoughts were screaming, to the point that I couldn’t focus on anything and wasn’t present at all. I was afraid that if every day was like that I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make it through the week. This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year and I said going into it that I didn’t want to let ED ruin it, so I had to figure out how to get ED out of there, and I did.

I cut myself off from the outside world, pretty much. Well, except for Snapchat, I couldn’t get quite abstain from that one. 😉 I completely invested myself into being present during the week, pouring myself into my girls, and just having fun with people that I really only get to see once a year. I learned that if I didn’t talk about ED and make him the center of my thoughts, it wasn’t so bad. I mean, he was still there but still. The week was filled with a ton of fear foods and challenges, and ED definitely reminded me of them, but I wasn’t going to let them ruin this week.

So I fought back. A lot more than I probably would have in a typical week. I ate whatever was served, no matter how much ED hated it. If there was some kind of dessert with the meal, I ate it. If it was something I’ve been too scared to try since leaving treatment, I ate it.

So back to my breakfast. Once camp was over, the reality of what I had done all week began to set in. While I was driving back to my apartment, ED wasted no time and I started obsessing over everything.

“Holy shit, what did you do?” “For real? You can actually justify eating like that?” “Good job, you didn’t restrict even though you could have buuut…you also definitely ate over your meal plan a few days so you suck.”

All sorts of things. I suddenly got really anxious about my weight. I was suddenly 100% convinced that I had gained a significant amount of  weight that week. I was going to get home and none of my clothes would fit and ED would be able to say, “See, told ya so,” and it would be devastating.

I didn’t weigh myself for a couple of day mostly because I was in a pretty low place and I knew that seeing the number and it being a lot higher than I thought it was “supposed” to be would just make it worse.

Tuesday morning, I just did it. I (well ED) decided that not knowing was making me more anxious and that I just needed to suck it up and deal with the consequences of my actions. So I took a deep breathe, stepped on to the scale, and waited for ED to say, “I told ya so,” …but it didn’t come.

The number was the same. (Actually it was a tiny bit lower than before I had left.) I couldn’t believe it. I continued to step on and off the scale, convinced that the scale was broken, but the same number popped up every time.

I just stood there for a few seconds staring at it.

All I could think was, “Holy. Crap.”, and then a mountain of other thoughts of disbelief. At first, I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was. And then it hit me.

I could trust my body.

My body actually knows what it’s doing and it knows how to take care of me. It didn’t completely shut down because I ate more than usual or because I wasn’t following my meal plan exactly. I had a cheeseburger, cookies, and candy in the same day and nothing catastrophic happened to my insides. My intestines didn’t explode from having too many “unhealthy” foods at once or something that I’m sure I thought would happen.

Nothing changed. At all.

Actually, that’s a lie. Things did change. I had lots of things reaffirmed for me and I learned some new stuff too, but what matters is that all of them were positive. All of them were counterproductive to ED’s agenda. All of them were steps forward on the path of recovery.

I’m realizing that ideas that I thought were impossible in my recovery (e.g. actually being happy with my body or being thankful for all that it does, or whatever) are possible. All of these ideas that therapists and friends and whoever told would come actually happened. And they were actually really good things. I have a new sense of motivation that I had lost. I’m starting to accept the idea that in order to completely recover, I can’t keep any part of ED, even the parts I see as inconsequential. I realized that I can’t “want to recover” but eat as little as possible, or “want to recover” and not ever eat fear foods. It’s just not possible.

So yeah, I had a revelation. And it makes me, dare I say, excited for the future and for recovery. It’s like I’m finally starting to see the end, even though it’s really far away and there are lots of mountains and such between us. Before, I just had to trust other people telling me it was there but now I know for sure that they definitely weren’t lying to me this entire time.

So yeah. I am feeling excited for recovery, like actually really really excited.  I’m allowed to feel excited about recovery, and I gotta tell ya it feels pretty damn good.

ynrwg

 

Go kick some ass this week.

Melissa