Friday, December 18, 2009

Appreciating What You DO Have Instead of Trying to Change What You've Got!

Here's my weekly video for the FreEDomFighters collaboration on YouTube. This week's topic is: Appreciating what you DO have instead of trying to change what you've got!

As always, just click to view on YouTube, as embedding is disabled.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Show & Tell: "222"

Here's the next piece of art in my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway. This piece is by Rache and she calls it her "222 Collage."

I'm posting several photos of this collage, because it's large and cannot be shown in its entirety unless posted in increments.

[click for larger images]

Rachel writes:

"Ok, 222 - what I have to say about this collage is that it's about things being as they should be, basically. It's like a recipe to proceed, with that as the first ingredient. 222 has become a number symbolic with synchronicity in my life, and collages themselves, the way they seem to assemble before my eyes and reflect back at me what I didn't even know I was feeling or dealing with, have come to have that similar significance of...everything in its right place, making sense. This collage is not light, it has longing in it and pain and terror and ambivalence. But it has radical acceptance. I was in treatment when I made it, mostly out of photographs I have taken. So it's about accepting myself as much as it's about accepting life. It is a call to arms to act, knowing what I do about myself and the world I live in and the one I believed myself to be trapped in. This is my chance."

Well done, Rache! What I like about this collage is that it's REAL with a capital R. It shows so much of Rachel's soul and it shows promise of a great future. I especially like the words "We need a revolution." Simple statement, yet HUGE. I think it's so cool that she used her own photographs to create this piece of art, but what she did is compile pieces of herself, of her journey, and of her acceptance. She says it's about accepting herself, and I can definitely see that. Thanks for sharing your art with us, Rachel. Look for your piece on the sidebar of my blog for the next month and consider yourself entered in the Giveaway.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Last Call

I will be posting more art, as well as getting back to all your questions. I have a few more in the lineup that readers have sent in and I will get to them all at some point. BUT before I go back to the art and the questions and my usual videos, I wanted to shamelessly remind you all that there are only TWO more days left to vote for my blog in the Wellsphere Blogger Awards. If you'd like to vote, please do it soon! You can click here to do so (it takes you to an earlier post of mine where there's a badge to click on to place your vote). Or you can simply click on the badge on the left sidebar of my page to vote for me. It takes just a couple of seconds to make your vote count, and I would so appreciate it. ;)

I hope you are all starting the week off right and taking care of yourselves. Keep the questions coming. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dealing with Your Eating Disorder & Parents as an ADULT

This week's video is in two parts, because what I had to say took a bit longer than 10 minutes. :) The topic of the video is: Dealing with your eating disorder & your parents as an ADULT --'cause let's face it, they affect us even when we're grown or we carry issues with us.

As usual, the embedding feature is not enabled, so just click to view on YouTube. :)


Be sure to watch the second part or it won't make much sense. :) The next video is very short - only about 3 minutes.


Only 5 more days to vote for my blog. Please take a second to vote. :) I really appreciate it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Show & Tell: "The Healing Room"

Here is the fifth piece of art in my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway. This piece is by Shawna Atkins aka. Ghost Girl and is called "The Healing Room."

[click for larger image]

Shawna writes:

"The Healing Room is watercolor, watercolor pencil, ink, marker and charcoal on paper.
It is about letting go of the behavior that keeps you trapped and tied to your disorder...
The fingertips are outlined in red to represent the individual (no too fingerprints are alike) because although there are similarities, everyones recovery is personal and unique.
The mismatched butterflies are to show that imperfections can be okay. The Perfect Specimen ideal that we have in our heads and that we observe in the media is usually unreal. The truth is that each person is a patchwork of various experiences, hopes, and struggles that come together to make a one in a million beautiful imperfect individual.

Opening the window and letting go is the theme of this, even though it can be interpreted in different ways. I hope that anyone who may see it can make it have a positive meaning for them."

Can I just tell you how much I love this? Yes, actually, I can, because it's my blog. Well-freakin'-done, Shawna. This piece has SO much going on--in a very good way. It's bright, it's beautiful, and it's achingly artistic, yet it's so much more. It's full of feeling. I can sense the "letting go" and I totally get the message of this. I'm happy to see that the pain of this piece gets transformed into something positive, something freeing. The butterflies are beautiful symbolism and the words scrawled all over are the icing on the cake. Thanks again, Shawna (Atkins)/Ghost Girl - it's fantastic. You rose to the challenge. Look for your piece on the sidebar of my blog for the next month and consider yourself entered in the Giveaway. Here's the link to Shawna's blog:

There's still more art to come, so stay tuned. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Alternative Therapies

Here's my Wednesday video. This week's topic: Alternative Therapies - art, writing, dance, etc.

As always, click to view on YouTube, as embedding is not available.:)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Time's Running Out...

Thank you, everyone, for all the kind words and for all your votes for my blog. I'm still in the Top 20 and...

There are only 2 weeks left to vote for my blog!

You can vote only until Dec. 15th, so please cast your vote for me now, if you haven't already. I truly appreciate all the support. If you watch my videos, read my posts, and like the art/writing/ideas/suggestions/recovery-oriented advice you find here, help me make it to the top of the Wellsphere Blogger Awards.

You can click on the badge below to place your vote. (Or use the badge located on my sidebar.) To make your vote count, it will ask you to create a username, but Wellsphere only sends one initial email and no more. You will not be bombarded with emails you don't want to receive, so don't worry. Please help! Take a second to vote! Thank you!!!

Love to all.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting Your Priorities Straight

Hi everyone,

I have officially stopped accepting art for my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway (unless you get something to me within the next 3 hours, that is). I still have some more artwork to put up on the site in the next couple of weeks, but I will no longer be collecting more for the Giveaway. Stay tuned, because there are some DAZZLING pieces still to come.

On a different note, I received a question from one of my YouTube viewers last week and made a video in response. Hope you can find it helpful. It's about getting your priorities straight, or in other words, "how can I give up other aspects of my life to get help?"

Check it out - click to view on YouTube as usual. :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Show & Tell: "Love Blossoms"

This is the fourth piece of artwork in my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway. This piece is by Soul Voyager and is called "Love Blossoms."

[click for a larger view]

Soul Voyager writes:

"The circle represents reconnection with the spirit of the feminine, the creative life force of the earth. Recovery also entails rediscovery - rediscovering all that lies beneath that were previously suppressed. The heart in the middle is slowly emerging, symbolizing a frightened soul that is gradually finding the courage to step out and savor all that life has to offer. Finally, the flower is blossoming towards the sunshine, towards freedom!"

Well done, Soul Voyager! "Love Blossoms" is so simple...and it's beautiful in its simplicity. I am always amazed by art that looks so lovely yet tells a story too. The colors of this piece are what really make it stand out. It's not done in one color or even a few colors that are all complimentary shades. It is done with splashes of bright hues that really drive the message home. This is about happiness. About blossoming. About freedom. When I look at this, the first word that comes to mind is "radiant." Thank you, SV, for sharing your artwork with us. Look for it on the sidebar of my blog for the next month and consider yourself entered in the Giveaway! :)
Soul Voyager also has a nice little blog at so check it out if you're in the mood.

If you'd like to enter the Giveaway and have your artwork displayed here, just click here for the instructions. I'm only accepting artwork until the end of November, and November is almost over, my friends! I can't wait to see all of your art!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!...Don't Stress!

For me and all of my American readers, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. As I said in a post from two years ago, it's a holiday that strikes fear in the hearts of many eating disordered individuals. Still, I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. I know it's a holiday that revolves around food and family, and for some, that can mean some serious triggering/anxiety/sadness, but maybe this post from 2007 can be helpful.

Along those lines, here is my Wednesday video for the week...two videos actually. Part 1 and Part 2. The topic was: Pressures & Triggers

As usual, just "click to view on YouTube."



Monday, November 23, 2009

Question # 14: Eating with Others

Question # 14 comes from an Anonymous Commenter. Anonymous writes:

"How can I stay with people when I've eaten? I feel so... dirty! It makes me anxious. It makes me cry..."

I can't tell you how many people I know or know OF who feel the exact same way. If nothing else, this question should serve to make you feel less alone.

Here's something to try. Examine the situation. Why does it make you feel so dirty? Is it because you are ashamed? Because you're being watched? Because you're uncomfortable? Because you want to get rid of what you've eaten? Because you wish you hadn't eaten it? Because you feel smothered when you're not alone? Because you dislike the way the food in your body makes you feel? WHAT IS IT?

Try to tap into the feeling. What is it that makes you feel so dirty? Once you can pinpoint why you feel the way you do, you can start to do something about. You can start to train yourself to think differently or feel differently.

I suggest keeping a food journal--but not of how much you've eaten. Try keeping a journal of what you eat, when you eat, and who you eat with--and the emotions you feel in relation to each scenario. If you notice patterns, you can start to work with them. You can start to change the reality of your situations. If you notice that you feel "dirtier" or more "anxious" with a certain person or with a certain crowd, you can delve deeper and examine why that is. What is it about that person or those people that makes you feel uncomfortable eating with them?

If you notice you feel "dirtier" or more "anxious" at certain times of the day, say at dinner with people opposed to at breakfast with people, you can start to delve deeper and figure out what this means, what this signifies, and how to work through it.

If you notice you feel "dirtier" or more "anxious" when eating certain foods, you can experiment and see what alleviates the situation.

In short, it's about way more than just eating. There is something mentally going on here that makes you feel "dirty" and "anxious," that makes you cry.

The second you think it's all because of food or all because of the act of eating, you are relinquishing some power over to your eating disorder. You are being fooled. Go within. Go deeper. If you need to ask yourself the sort of questions I asked above, then do it. And start now.

That's the first part. You can watch one of my older videos about this here. It's actually a response to a question opposite this (those who find it easier to eat with others), but I touch on a lot of the same things and explain my points in detail. It relates a lot.)

The second part is to come up with reasons to stay. List the reasons to stay with people once you've eaten. This is something you want to beat and to do so, you have to have a plan. You have to have valid reasons.

Reasons to stay:
-the people you're eating with care about you
-you are one step ahead of your eating disorder if you stay with them after eating
-you give yourself a chance to act "normal" and put other issues aside
-you miss out on conversation if you leave
-you isolate yourself the more you leave after a meal or in the middle of a meal
-the more you STAY, the more you will be able to fight that "dirty," "anxious" feeling

Try, try, try, and then try again. I know it sounds difficult, and I know it's much easier said than done, but don't discount it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Show & Tell: "Hope"

Here is the third piece of artwork in my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway. This piece is by Jonny and is called "Hope."

[click for a larger view]

This graphic arts piece speaks for itself.

Well done, Jonny! I love the color of this piece, because it really does give a feeling of hope. The words are well chosen, the background is peaceful, and the face of the girl in the piece isn't really sad... it's expectant. Something better is coming. It's on the way. That's what this artwork says. I especially love that the largest words in the piece are "Love Yourself." Great message. This is very different, very serene, very HOPEful. Thank you, Jonny, for sharing your artwork with us. Look for it on the sidebar of my blog for the next month and consider yourself entered in the Giveaway! :)

If you'd like to enter the Giveaway and have your artwork displayed here, just click here for the instructions. I will accept artwork until the end of November. I can't wait to see all of your art!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Question # 13: How to Fill the Void

Well, your questions are still coming! I’ll keep going until the questions run dry, so if there’s anything at all you want to ask, just leave a comment on any post and I’ll collect them and go from there. No need to backtrack to the original Q & A post.

Question # 13 comes from Stella:

“How can you fill the void you feel when you stop restricting so you can't count on anorexia ‘support’?”

Excellent question! I did a post about this a long time ago, back in 2007. I called it “Filling the Gap.” This is something a lot of people struggle with as they try to recover, and it’s a concern for a reason. Letting go of something so all-consuming is difficult. It stands to reason that you wouldn’t want to be left with a void after you “let go.” That wouldn’t feel very good.

Check out the link to my old "Filling the Gap" post for some elaboration. It all centers around the question: What do you want to do?

The more open-ended the question, the better. Your life is like a blank canvas and you get to paint it.

Sometimes it's hard to remember what it is we actually like to do. Sometimes we never even learned what those somethings are. We never had time. We were all-consumed with our eating disorders. But there is beauty in discovering what we're good at, what we enjoy, what makes us smile or feel accomplished (besides eating disordered behavior), what makes us laugh or tap into our creative sides.

I challenge you to find out. I challenge you to rediscover (or to discover for the first time) what you enjoy about this world, this life. There is a plethora of wonderfulness out there waiting. All you have to do is start with the question What do I want to do? and then go DO it. It's often as simple as that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Show & Tell: Lily Mosaic

Here is the second piece of artwork in my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway. This piece is by Serra and is a mosaic.

[click for a larger view]

Serra writes:

"My lily is my symbol of new beginnings and second chances. The white
lily symbolises innocence and purity which is what i have finally
found within myself in my recovery... I lost my innocence early in
life and searched for too long to make myself feel clean again, and
guess what? Once I began to accept myself and even like myself I
realised that I really was ok after all. I got married in February of
this year, and the lilies were my wedding flowers because of their
symbolism and because I was beginning a new healthy love filled life
with my amazing husband. Before my wedding I had these lilies tattooed
across my back and shoulders so I can always have them with me and
show the world that I'm back!"

Well done, Serra! What could be more beautiful than symbolism like that? The lily mosaic is not only truly lovely, it is also a symbol of what Serra has regained for herself: innocence and purity. This art shows that despite the pain of an eating disorder and the hardship of recovery, the outcome can still be a beautiful one. So often we hear about people who have made headway with their eating disorders, only to show the world a darker version of themselves. This art is proof that beauty can still be found, that all the hard work does not have to make you a harder person. I love the detail and the color of this piece, but I love the message even more. Who knew a lily could signify such strength and resilience? Thank you, Serra, for sharing your artwork with us. Look for it on the sidebar of my blog for the next month and consider yourself entered in the Giveaway! :)

If you'd like to enter the Giveaway and have your artwork displayed here, just click here for the instructions. I will accept artwork until the end of November. I can't wait to see all of your art!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Your Votes are Helping!

Just a quick reminder to vote! :)

You may remember that about a month ago, I asked for a little help regarding my blog. I'm a Top HealthBlogger with Wellsphere and that badge on my sidebar is there because of the Blogger Awards. Well, you guys have been voting for me, and it's really made an amazing impact! Last I checked, I was #9 in the Top 20!

You guys are fantastic.

The voting continues until December 15th, so if you'd still like to place a vote, there's plenty of time. If you like this blog and it's been helpful for you, I'd appreciate it so much.

My response to the last reader question is coming, as well as more art from... you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eating Disorders & Drugs/Alcohol

Here's my Wednesday Video for the ED Recovery collaboration. The topic was:
"Eating Disorders & Drugs/Alcohol--experiences, advice, beyond self-harm, links with EDs, why maybe do it, co-morbidity, etc."

This is the first topic for Wednesday in our new 4 week program. This is about addictions in general. Just click to "watch on YouTube" and you'll be taken there. :)

Next week's topic is: "Recovery Road Blocks obstacles in the road, moving past safe, letting go," so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Show & Tell: "Recovery Way"

Here it is, the first work of art in my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway. This piece is by Veggie and is called "Recovery Way."

[click for a larger view]

Veggie writes:

"Some parts of this drawing/collage are in English, others are in Ita
lian (as I am Italian), so I’m translating the Italian ones...Italic

C’è il senso sbagliato… = There’s the wrong way… (the words above 'anorexia')

… e c’è il senso vincente! = …and there’s the winning way! (the words below recovery)

Vita = Life

Problema = Problem

I am going to 'Recovery'… the road is long and hard, but it seems a wonderful place when you get it… Who’s going to join me in this way?"

Well done, Veggie! This collage drawing, "Recovery Way" is so thought provoking. It's strong and it has a clear message. It symbolizes the crossroads we all seem to reach at some point. Will we go the old way, the wrong way? Or will we choose to go the "winning" way, or the recovery way? It is the ultimate question. This piece of intelligent and challenging art asks the question we all ask ourselves at the start of recovery. Artwork that asks a question, that causes the audience to think, is so important. Thank you, Veggie for sharing your art with us. Look for it on the sidebar of my blog for the rest of the next month, and consider yourself entered in the Giveaway. :)

If you'd like to enter the Giveaway and have your art displayed here, just click here for the instructions. I will accept artwork until the end of November. I can't wait to see all of your art!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Question # 12: Turning Away from Self-Hate AND Behaviors

Question # 12 comes from Stella. It’s one of two questions she posed, but the second one will come later, as this post is quite lengthy. She asks,

“How do you react when you feel hate for yourself and your body? What do you do when you feel overwhelmed, instead of hurting yourself or restricting?”

As a woman who loves her body now (or at least likes it most of the time!), trust me when I say that you can in fact learn to stop hating yourself AND your body. This is one of the main things people struggling with eating disorders (especially those who are women) think is impossible. What I hear a lot is, “It may be possible...but not for me.” Let me tell you, ladies (and men), cut that way of thinking right out of your brain. Carve it out of there and throw it away. It IS possible for you...if you LET it be possible. And if you realize that you may have to garner an extreme amount of patience in order to wait for this sort of self-hate to dissipate.

Are you with me?

The first thing you need to ask yourself is: What are the circumstances surrounding my feelings of hate for myself and/or my body?

-Did you just discover you’d been rejected in some way by a person, a program, etc?

-Were you unsuccessful in an endeavor you had hoped to master/finish/etc?

-Did you just eat (whether it was too much or too little)?

-Did you just weigh yourself and not like the number?

-Did you just attempt for a long time to choose clothing to wear and were still unsatisfied with the choice you made?

-Did you just endure a hurtful/stressful/uncomfortable time with your family or friends?

These are just a few of the circumstances that can play a part in how you are feeling about your body. They affect why you react the way you do (to yourself) and the way you look. You have to pose questions to yourself in order to analyze what you are feeling.

You know how people chart anything and everything these days? Their menstrual cycle, their meals, their ovulation, their money spent, etc? Well, chart your self-hate. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you feel self-hate all the time, so how can you chart it? Well, look at this question above from Stella. It’s obvious that even if you generally don’t like yourself, you feel particular instances of self-hate or body hatred that make you want to restrict/binge/purge/cut/etc. It’s THESE times to which I’m referring.

You’re also probably thinking: Wow, Arielle just told me to chart my self-hate. What the hell? But think about it. If you keep a journal page or a chart specifically to record each time you feel the urge to restrict, purge, or self-harm in some way, you will begin to see the patterns. You will begin to realize what it’s all about. You learned about cause & effect in school and this is it, guys. You already KNOW the effect (your body hatred and behavior of choice)—it’s time to figure out the cause.

So mark it down. Mark down the date, the time, what you’re feeling, and what just happened in your day. You’ll begin to see a clearer picture of what’s going on. You may also begin to see that you tend to feel worse on a particular day of the week because of something, or during a particular time in your cycle, or on days you see a certain person. These are good things to discover because you will learn to be more aware, more prepared, and more ready to combat them.

You will know from the moment you wake up on a given day that it’s probably going to be a hard day for you (for whatever reason, based on your “chart”) and you can give yourself extra boosts of encouragement, have a plan already in place for what to do if you feel the urge to act on a behavior, and above all, not be caught off guard when that self-hate starts to rage inside you.

Another question you want to ask yourself is: Is jealousy/envy/comparison part of my feelings of this self-hate/body hatred?

For example,

-Did you just watch a TV show/movie/commercial that made you feel badly about yourself? That triggered you? That caused you to compare yourself to the person or people?

-Did you spend the day with a friend you envy? Does being with this friend make you feel badly about yourself?

-Do you feel “not sick enough” or “not thin enough” or “not pretty enough” based on something you saw or something someone said?

The last question you might want to ask yourself is: Does this time of year affect me more than others?

-Many people have seasonal depression or even just feel less comfortable during particular months of the year.

-Summer can be a trigger for people who constantly worry about being seen in less clothing, like tank tops or bathing suits, or because they continue to see other people in tank tops or bathing suits, which causes them to get down on themselves or wish they looked different.

-Certain months can be a trigger for people because of holidays, like an impending Thanksgiving with food and family...or the month of December because of Christmas, Hanukkah, etc...or even the New Year, because it often causes people to reflect, berate themselves, or make unhealthy resolutions.

Awareness is KEY.

So, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed instead of hurting yourself?

-You make a Plan B. You list a whole bunch of things you can do instead of the behavior when you have an urge (or make a Coping Bank, which is essentially the same idea). That way, when the urge happens, you have options at your fingertips and don’t have to rely on your overwhelmed mind.

-You find a support person. Tell somebody as soon as the urge hits you. Example: Eat your meal and then when you’re dying to go throw it up, text someone, call them, whatever. You can text to say, “I just ate and I’m having a really hard time not throwing it up.” Sometimes the act of just telling someone how hard you’re struggling in that moment helps a lot. You know someone else is rooting for you. You know someone else wants you to stay strong. When you know someone is on the other end, they’re holding you accountable. Maybe it’s something you need for now.

-You take your pain and anger out on something else, other than YOU. Punch a pillow relentlessly. Have a couple of notebooks on hand in which you can tear up whole handfuls of pages when you’re frustrated and have the urge to take it out on yourself in some way. Cry, if it helps. Scream. (Trust me, it’s a lot less silly than harming yourself.)

-Try to do something to distract you WHILE you are eating. For example, watch TV while eating dinner so you’re not looking down at a plate and only focusing on what you’re eating. If you do something really engrossing, you may find that you’ve eaten your dinner and haven’t had the urge to purge. You could also talk with someone on the phone while eating (if that doesn’t make you too uncomfortable) to take your mind off what you’re doing and allow you to eat a healthy amount without stopping and denying yourself...and keep the conversation going after you’re done so that you can’t go throw up, if that’s a behavior you’re trying to avoid. Hopefully the feeling will pass before the conversation is over. Read a book while eating. Or do some kind of hobby while you’re eating. Might take you a little longer, but it’s helpful. One bite at a time is still a meal if you do it long it enough. :)

-I’ve also found that eating very small amounts multiple times (opposed to eating one regular sized meal) can help you feel like you are not eating a lot and therefore feel less likely to want to throw up or stop before you’ve actually had enough (i.e. restrict). You could eat a very small something, then half an hour later, eat the next bit, then a half hour later eat the next bit. It’s a little bit of a pain in the ass, but if it helps curb the feeling of wanting to throw up or helps you to get more nutrients because you're not restricting, it’s worth doing for a little while. It’s less scary than eating a whole dinner-sized portion at one time if that’s something that bothers you.

-For those who purge: You can put a picture of your child or your best friend or even YOURSELF as a child (very effective) on the underside of the toilet seat, so that when you go to purge, you see it. It’ll make you stop and think a second before going through with it. Even if it doesn’t stop you entirely, it will make you pause and hopefully the longer it is there, the more likely you will be to second guess what you’re doing and stop before it happens. The key is to put up a picture of something really meaningful, something that is reason not to purge. But just putting it up on a mirror won’t do. And just looking at that person or that photo throughout the day won’t do either. You have to strategically put it where it’s going to hit you the most. Where it’s going to make you feel sad about what you’re doing to yourself. It can be motivation in the right direction.

Really good question, Stella.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Respecting Our Bodies In Reference to Clothing Sizes

This is last Wednesday's video for the ED recovery collaboration. The topic was: respecting our bodies and dealing with clothing sizes.

Click to view on YouTube as embedding is still not an option. :) And please, guys, send in your art to my Giveaway! I have already received by email 3 beautiful pieces and can't wait to see more!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Calling All Art! I’m Having a Giveaway!

Are you an artist? Do you doodle to get your feelings onto paper? Maybe you draw in the margins of your notebook in class. Maybe you paint murals. Maybe you’re just trying to find an outlet for your emotions. Whatever the case, if you’d like your artwork displayed on my blog, here’s what you can do:

If you’ve created some form of art, whether it be a sketch, a painting, a sculpture, etc. and you’d like to share it with the eating disorder recovery community via my blog, I’d love to help you show it. Send me a picture of your artwork via email ( with a few sentences about what your art represents or what you are trying to portray with it.

I’ll post one piece of artwork per week, including your name and your words about the piece, along with my own thoughts. (I don’t consider myself an art critic by any means, but I am an artist and I am in the ED recovery world!) I’ll also add a photo of your piece (along with your name of course) to my sidebar so that throughout the month it can be easily viewed even as my posts continue.

So, if you participate, you get a post about your art AND your art displayed on my sidebar for a month. Everyone wins. :) BUT, by the end of November, I’m going to choose one person who will get 4 Love Your Body postcards, from the Love Your Body campaign AND this awesome water bottle from NEDA. (It says "Be kind to your body.")

The awesome thing about the postcards is that they have original artwork on each of them, so if you like art that symbolizes eating disorder recovery and/or loving your body, this is pretty cool. Have a look:

You can save 'em, send 'em, or tack them up as art.

(Sorry I'm not giving away much, guys, but I promise this won't be my last Giveaway.)

The stipulations:

* Make sure in your email to me you list your name as you wish it to be displayed. That means if you’d like to be credited with your full name, give me your full name. If you’d like to be credited with a username only, please specify that and list the username. If you’d like to be credited with just your first name, again, specify that and tell me what it is. If you’d like to be recognized as anonymous, just let me know.

* Make sure your art represents RECOVERY, not just an eating disorder. I don’t want to post ANYTHING on this site that could be mistaken for pro-ana or be seen as a representation of someone wallowing in the disease. That means NO art depicting ultra-thin bodies, skeletons, bones, or anything that shows self-injury, blood, etc. I fully understand that art often shows the pain the artist is experiencing, and I’m all for art therapy, but that’s for you personally, to be for your eyes and not the eyes of all readers. My readers are extremely important to me, and so is their safety and well-being. I don’t want anyone coming to this site and feeling triggered or unsafe in any way.

* So that means the goal is to show RECOVERY... a transformation, a change, growing self-love. Show HOPE. That doesn’t mean you it has to be all rainbows and daisies, people...and that doesn't mean it can’t depict a struggle, because we all know recovery can be a struggle, but please make sure that struggle is headed in the right direction. :)

See, guys, it’s a challenge. :) And that (along with me wanting to see your great art and share it with everyone!) is really the purpose here.

So, hit me with your art, past or present, and get ready for Show and Tell!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thank You!

I just want to take a minute to thank you all for voting for my blog. My blog is currently #10 in the Top 20 HealthBloggers on Wellsphere, so it's definitely making a difference. You are all wonderful and I really appreciate it. Voting goes through Dec. 15th, so I'm hoping I stay near the top or even move on up!

I have amazing readers.

You can only vote once, but if you'd still like to vote and haven't, you can do so here or just click the "Vote Now" button on the left sidebar of my blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Question # 11: Recovery Tools

Question # 11 is from "Julia"--she writes:

“I'm unable (with good reason) to tell my parents about what I am now willing to admit is my eating disorder.
Because of this, I'm having to recover not only outside the inpatient facility I truthfully need, but also under the radar.
What tools did you use in your recovery that you think could help in my situation?”

I won’t argue with you about what you say is a good reason not to tell your parents about your eating disorder, but I will say this: Don’t underestimate parents. With an eating disorder, you need all the help you can get, especially if you’re not yet an adult (hell, even when you ARE an adult!) and if there’s any chance they would be supportive, it could be a good chance to take. That said, I won’t push you and I clearly don’t know all the details about your family situation. I wouldn’t want someone giving me advice without knowing all the details, so I’ll leave my preaching at that, but please remember this: it will be very hard for you to use the tools and resources available to you if you have to keep your eating disorder a secret. The biggest hindrance to recovery is secrecy. I can’t stress that enough.

So, what tools did I use that could help you in your situation?

- I have to be honest here—support is the number one tool. If you absolutely can’t trust your parents with your problems, please trust someone else:

A counselor (school, university, etc.—depending on your walk of life), a close and responsible family friend, a kind person in your life that can support you and help you. Someone. Seek them out, tell your tale, and get that support. It’s never easy doing something alone, so recovery will be that much easier if you can create a support system.

A side note: For those of you who are college students, campus counseling centers are a great resource. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. I tried it, 6 or 7 years ago, and it helped. The best part is, the counseling services are part of your tuition, so you can take advantage of it without worrying about added cost. It’s also completely 100% confidential. They don’t tell your professors, your family, etc. There’s nothing stopping you from using this resource.

- I’m an ANAD eating disorder support group leader, but there are also people affiliated with ANAD who are “resource people.” This means that they give their contact info and location to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) and you, as a sufferer, can call and tell them you need someone to talk to, someone to go over resources with, and ANAD will give you the name and number/email address of a resource person in your area. ANAD also has lots of other great resources listed on their website. Check it out.

- Find an outlet. Write. Draw. Paint. Craft. Create a website. Take photos. Do something that makes you feel good. It will help you not to take things out on yourself. It will allow you to learn how you can help yourself.

- Create a Coping Bank.

- Find a support group. I’ll direct you back to ANAD. They have Support Group listings on their website. You can search by your location. It’s not an in-patient program, it’s not therapy, but it is a place you can talk and get some help. The bonus: it’s free and you wouldn’t have to confess where you’re going, because it wouldn’t show up on a bill.

- Join a recovery forum. I’m a moderator on two forums and have been for a couple of years. I’ve seen the way they can help people, especially young people, firsthand. WeBiteBack is one (I’m a mod there), but there are others. The Joy Project, for example. You can get support, gain encouragement to fight this, and make progress in the comfort of your own home.

- Get a daily source of advice and motivation in the right direction by watching YouTube videos like the ones on WeRfreEDomfighters. It’s the collaboration I’m a part of (my day is Wednesday – Wednesday Warriors! Yeah!) and we make daily videos to help those recovering from eating disorders. We have over 500 subscribers and counting and the women I do this with are amazing. You have to surround yourself with positive reinforcement wherever you can find it. We also have a brilliant website here where you can find other resources, a forum, and other goodies.

You can find some other good ideas here in an old post of mine, as well as here and here.

Best of luck to you. Recovery is difficult, but completely possible! I promise.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eating Disorders in People with Disabilities

Okay, my weekly video is up on the WeRfreEDomfighters collaboration on YouTube, and I have to admit that it's not too amazing. My topic was Eating Disorders in People with Disabilities, which isn't really my forte, but I gave it my best shot. It's not terribly long and I shared a few links to direct people to some better info.

Click to view on YouTube. You'll be directed there.

And please, if you'd like to support me and my blog, vote for me on the left sidebar and I could win an award with Wellsphere. (((Thank you!)))

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Question # 10: Are the Thoughts Really Gone?

Question # 10 from when LESS is MORE requires me to be very honest, but I always am with all of you and I don't mind being so.
She asks: "This is similar to other questions, but also a little different. I know you are now in recovery, but do you ever have days or even moments when you want to slip back into the behavior? It is hard for me to imagine not having the thoughts, even if I'm not acting them out."
I'll be perfectly honest with you: I can think of only one time in the last few years of being healthy mentally and physically that I've actually had moments of wanting to slip back into behavior. It wasn't due to body image or hating myself or perfectionism or any of the things my eating disorder was about in the past. It was because of huge amounts of stress and sadness, though I quickly turned things around.
To make a long story short, my husband and I were having financial issues that forced us to re-mortgage our home and pray, pray, pray. It was, essentially, the same sort of situation so many families dealt with when this economy began to turn sour. My husband and I both work for the same non-profit agency, so if there were lay-offs or pay cuts (which were a possibility for a while) it would have affected both of us, and greatly. Couple that with both of us making very little money to begin with, simply because of where we work. Then add huge amounts of fear. Fear of losing our house. Fear of not being able to make ends meet. Fear of not knowing what to even do. At this same time, I was also very upset because I had what I call "baby fever." I wanted to have a child and badly. There were many details surrounding why this couldn't happen at that point, one of them being finances. And I was really sad. It seemed like woman after woman that I knew was getting pregnant. And while I loved it, it drove home even harder the fact that I was still waiting for it to be able to happen for me.
It wasn't that I wanted to go back to my eating disorder. Far from it, in fact. It was that I became rather listless about a lot of things, eating included. So I just had a "shrugging" kind of attitude for a bit. Not hungry, because I was too worried. Not hungry, because I was too stressed. Not hungry, because I was so desirous of a baby. Not caring enough. Don't get me wrong, I was all about recovery and never had thoughts as in years past like, "I'm fat" or "I'm stupid" or "I need to eat x amount of calories" or "I need to be a certain weight." It had NOTHING to do with that, but because I had no control over some big things in my life (job, money, pregnancy, etc.) I was dangerously close to wanting to control something else. Really, I lost some of my usual hope and happiness.
It passed. I realized I couldn't very well have a child if I wasn't taking care of myself. I told my husband all my pain. I even went back to a therapist for a short period of time, not for eating disorder issues, but for help dealing with the baby stuff and my money worries. Part of being recovered is recognizing when you need a little extra help and understanding that going back to therapy (or some other similar thing) isn't a step back, but a step forward. The therapist didn't think I was in danger of losing ground, she just wanted to help me feel better, get rid of stress, CARE about stuff again, instead of remembering what I would have done in the "old days." Half the time, she'd tell me to go to grad school and become a therapist myself, because what I was feeling wasn't about the eating disorder and I already gave myself better therapy than she did.
But, to answer your question truthfully, that was the only time in my "recovered" status that I had thoughts of an eating disordered nature.
I think if you read my response, you'll see that being "recovered" isn't about always being happy 100% of the time—it's about knowing what to do when you're not. When I went briefly to the therapist (not the same one from my eating disorder days), she told me that anyone with the number of things I was dealing with all at once would be stressed and upset, even if they didn't have an eating disorder history. Clearly there are things I'm not relaying here, details of a personal nature and such, that were heavy on my mind (non-eating disorder things) that I'm not posting here.
Things are good now, people. :) And to complete my response to this delicate question, 99% of the time, I'm good to go. Except for that one short period of time, I don't have the thoughts. I don't struggle to get eating disorder things out of my head. They're just not a part of me anymore.
I live my every day, a woman who is transformed from the girl she used to be. I wake up, eat whatever I want, never count calories (even in my head), never obsess over food or weight. I don't dislike me. I don't go back to eating disordered thoughts if I have a rough day, hear someone tell me something about my appearance I'd rather not hear, flip through a magazine and see stick thin models or actresses. I don't go back to the thoughts if I hear co-workers talking about weight and food intake. I don't go back to the thoughts if I have a fight with my husband and start to cry. I don't go back to the thoughts if I gain a few pounds. The thoughts aren't a part of me.
I think things start to disappear one by one as we recover. I think the more obvious pieces go first. We get to a healthy weight (whatever that is for us and our respective disorders). We let go of behaviors. We stop berating ourselves. We stop looking for perfection. We stop seeing perfection where it doesn't exist. We let go of pain. We let go of the past. We slowly let go of the thoughts, a day at a time, until we realize one day (like I did) that they're not there. They don't accompany me. They don't hide out in my mind waiting to come out if the opportunity presents itself. Call me "fat," call me "ugly," tell me I "shouldn't be eating all the food" that's on my plate... and I'll still be serene and confident in myself, in my recovery, in my body and my way of life. The change has taken place. I'm okay now. It's a beautiful reality.
I can't promise you that if something TERRIBLE happens, like my husband or my mother or my best friend dies, that I won't tell you I don't feel like eating. And I can't promise you I won't for a second remember how I used to cope. But I can promise you this: I'm done with my eating disorder and I'm done with the thoughts, and if one ever re-appears in my head, it'll be gone and I'll be on my feet no matter what life throws at me, because I've found the secret. I've learned to stand.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to You...

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear blog of mine! Happy birthday to you!

Well, friends, today marks the 2nd birthday of Actively Arielle: A Voice with a Commitment. Year #2 has come to a close, but here's to a new year of great stuff to come!

Thank you to my followers, my commenters, and my YouTube subscribers. Thanks to everyone who reads, asks questions, and keeps the hope alive.

If you're a blogger who quietly reads my blog, but doesn't comment, Follow me! (on the left sidebar) and I'll follow you back!

I have a new blog design, in honor of the occasion. With the help of a talented blog reader, I've created a header that will hopefully speak for itself.

I wanted the new header to be simple and symbolize recovery. A seed to a beautiful blooming tree seemed a beautiful analogy to me, and I like that it's drawn and not photographs. It gives the whole recovery process even more meaning in my eyes. The talented Jonny used her creativity to turn my idea and drawing into a delightful new header.

Thank you, Jonny! That's her to the right. I love my new blog look and appreciate all your help.

I hope all of you like it too. And you know, looking at the new header gives me an idea... regarding artwork...

I'll let it marinate for a bit before posting about it.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week. Thanks for all your support!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Support In Recovery Is Crucial

Here's my weekly video for the ED recovery collaboration. The topic is: Why Support In Recovery Is Crucial. It's a short one, but there's a link to a separate video of mine in this one. Click to view on YouTube (it'll take you right there) as embedding is not currently an option do to other issues. Hope you're all having a great week!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


As of today, I officially have 200 YouTube subscribers! Having only been on YouTube since March of this year, I consider this quite lovely. This excites me, because the main topic for my channel is eating disorder recovery and I love knowing the there are people out there listening and getting some kind of benefit from my words. I tend to randomly upload a video or two of my crazy and entertaining mother...and there are two videos up unrelated to eating disorders (a slideshow of me and my husband, though it's semi-relevant because people often want to know more about my life, and a video compilation of my artwork over the last almost 15 years).

My YouTube Channel can be found here. Thanks to everyone for watching my recovery videos and for sending such wonderful comments. I truly appreciate it and promise to keep churning out the videos. :)

Love & hope to all of you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Question # 9: Eating Disorders & Dating

Question # 9 is the last one from Licketysplit.

"When you were dating at what point did you feel it was appropriate to bring up your ED? I don't want a guy to think I'm being deceptive or closed off (because realistically my ED is a pretty big part of my past and NOT talking about it at all can get difficult) But I don't really want to scare him off before he even gets to know me."

You've heard of intuitive eating.... try intuitive speaking.


I'm all about letting yourself feel when the time is right. You don't want to stress over how to tell and when to tell. When you are talking to the guy and the something comes up that makes you feel like opening up, you will know. You might not even be talking. One day, when you're with him, you can just sense that the time was right.

Maybe you're afraid that the time will never be right. If your mind isn't telling you to speak, then just hold off--go with your intuition--and wait as long as you feel is necessary. If you've entered into a serious relationship with him months down the road and still haven't felt the time was right, then you'll need to analyze your feelings and fears, but chances are that this won't happen.

There are the inevitable worries, like that someone may think you have too much baggage. And there’s the plain and simple fact that telling someone about your eating disorder is a weird thing to just bring up. But if you are feeling receptive towards the person, you will know when to tell...and what to tell...and if the person doesn't accept it as a part of you, or thinks it is too much baggage, then s/he isn't the person for you. I know that kind of sucks, but it's true. You'll want to be with someone who can understand and support you.

With my husband, when he wasn't my husband, I told him almost randomly. Not nonchalantly...but just as part of conversation. I didn't sit him down and tell him I needed to tell him something serious. I just felt that the time was right and the words rolled out of me.

I remember it well. It was very early on in our relationship. We were lying in his bed, not ready to sleep or do anything--just talking and holding each other, really enjoying the moment, sharing little pieces of ourselves. And I said, "I'll tell you something you don't know about me yet." (We were still learning things about each other.) "I suffered from anorexia and I'm doing okay now, but it was really difficult in the past." And then he looked at me—as a man will when you say something like that and he cares even remotely about you—and he looked like he wanted more of the story (obviously). So I just kind of told him a little about how I was recovering and dealing with things and that I considered myself to be doing really well, but that I still had a few weird habits (not behaviors), etc. (This was about 3 years ago.)

The best advice I can give you is not to think of it as something shameful. It's part of your past and its remains are still part of your present. It's like someone you're dating telling you about his/her childhood and how his/her father died, and what happened to the person from there. Just a different situation. You know?

My husband, back then, after I told him that...he was great and it wasn't a big deal at all...and what’s most interesting to note is that he told me about how his dad had left them (my husband, his younger brother, and their mom) back when my husband was 15, and about how he stopped being a straight A student and had next to no relationship with his dad until he was much older. That was a big thing to him, you know? Same as my past. Everyone has something they are worried about sharing. Everyone has a story that is something that don’t share with just anyone.

I’m going to go in another direction here for a moment even though Licketysplit didn’t mention this in her question. I think a lot of people can relate to what I’m about to discuss, though, and it’s completely relevant to the question at hand.

The other thing about dating someone who knows your history (or present issues) is that as the relationship deepens it’s important that your eating disorder not be a secret, because then you can always fall back on it when times are tough and no one is the wiser. It helps to have someone in your court, especially if that someone is becoming important in your life.

Telling everyone everything isn’t going to magically help you recover. But you have to be honest with yourself or you will never get anywhere. And sometimes, being honest with yourself means that you are more honest and open with others in your life. When it comes right down to it, the only one really INVOLVED in your recovery is YOU. Everyone else is just a support...or an instigator. A therapist is somehow “involved,” but not really in the process itself, as it takes place inside you; a therapist is only involved in helping and supporting you and offering knowledge. A significant other is somehow “involved,” but not really in the process itself, as it takes place inside you; a significant other is only involved in helping you and supporting you.

So much of eating disorders are tied up in secrecy—whether it’s about secrets you hold inside of you, or keeping the eating disorder secret and thereby hanging on to it and maintaining “control.” You don’t have to come clean about every little thing in order to recover, in order to date someone or maintain a stable long-term relationship.

There is secrecy that stems from saying that the past and there is moving on. They are very different. If you feel like you are keeping something hidden and can't get past it...and if keeping it from certain people hinders your recovery or makes it easier for you to fall back on the eating disorder, then it's secrecy. If you have done things in the past but don't go into detail about them with people in your life and you are trying to get past them AND are NOT keeping them a secret for the sole purpose of falling back on them, then perhaps it's not important that you spill the beans about it all. Does that make sense?

I'm fairly open when it comes to my past eating disorder behaviors and such, but I didn't make it a point to tell everyone in my life everything I ever did or struggled with. As long as I am being honest with MYSELF, and I could be honest with myself and determine if I was strong enough to plod ahead without going into detail about things, then it was good. If I was honest with myself and thought that I was holding things in for a particular reason, then I needed to assess that and go from there.

Back to the main concerns...

People worry about “how” to tell romantic interest. Does it need to be verbal? Person-to-person? Written down? A letter? An email? By bringing the new person to therapy with you?

I think it needs to be done in whatever way is going to make YOU feel better and more comfortable. You need to be comfortable with it. But you also need to take the plunge sometime and put your REAL self out there. People want to date a real person, not a fake one. And remember: the anticipation of telling someone is so much scarier than the actual conversation itself. How many times do we worry about something that is impending that we become stressed and upset and nervous and scared... but then when the actual situation is over, realize that it wasn’t nearly as bad as the build-up? Our emotions are what make us afraid. Relief will follow.

I'm recovered and in my opinion, recovery is a personal journey...and no two journeys are alike. So in order to fully recover, you need to work within yourself to do what feels right to you. We've all had different pasts and different behaviors and backgrounds...and recovery means different things for all of us. It's your call what you decide to tell, and when, and how.

There is no appropriate time. Or rather, the appropriate time will be different for all of us. For me, it happened very early on when I was dating Rick. But that was because the time felt right, I felt good with him, I wasn’t ashamed. I listened for the little bell of the “right moment of comfortability” and let it all out there. Be secure with yourself. Say what you need to say. And if s/he doesn’t react properly, you’ll do it again with the next person. We can only bank on ourselves. We cannot predict what others will say and do and think. We must “go with the flow,” take a deep breath, and have the hope that things will work out the way they’re meant to work out.

You'll know what to do. Go with your instincts and your intuition.