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.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Call for Creativity...


Question # 9 is on its way, but...


Next week, my blog will officially be two years old, and I'd love to give it an updated look...something new and fresh, and perhaps a little more eye-catching. I recently changed some colors and cleaned things up a bit, but I'd like to do more for it's 2 year anniversary. I've had the simple look going for the last two years and I'd really like to keep all the wording the same, because my message is a simple yet important one... but I'm ready for a change.


I'd LOVE to change the main header (same wording, but something cooler). Put up something that really draws people in when they get here.

Any ideas for an image for my header? I'm basically image-less here (except for my little personal photo on the left-hand side). What would YOU like to see? What could embody the spirit of this site?


Leave a comment and I'll take it to heart. Ideas, suggestions, thoughts, and detailed descriptions welcome! Please assist!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stop Pretending and Start Being Real

Here's my weekly Wednesday video for the ED recovery collaboration. Today I talk about learning how to stop pretending and start being real. It's a bit off the cuff, but hopefully you'll see its glimmer of merit. :)

You'll have to click to watch on YouTube...been having troubles with trolls stealing videos from people on the collab and using them on their own site claiming to BE the actual persons in the videos.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Question #8: Parents

Question # 8 comes from Licketysplit once again, and man, does she have some good ones. My little fingers were a'typing and a'typing. She asks:
Has your family always been supportive and understanding in regards to your eating disorder and recovery?


The short answer is no. Here's the long answer:


My family has always been pretty supportive of what I did and do in my life, but my mom is a lot more supportive than my father. Her take on me and my life is basically –I trust you, I trust your judgment, so if you're doing something, I support it. My dad would like to say he took the same approach, but he didn't.


In regards to my eating disorder, my family tried very hard to be understanding. It's a very difficult thing, having a child (especially one who's actually a teen or young adult) with an eating disorder. It's not easy for parents to "get it" and be able to magically understand. I still don't think my parents really understand, in the real sense of the word. But they did a lot to help me. They wanted me to get better. They were worried. They were concerned.


There were definitely moments I feel they should have done more. There were also definitely moments when they yelled and made me feel terrible. And there were also moments when they seemed to stop paying attention. You have to understand that all of this is from my perspective, the point of view of the eating disordered child. So can I really say they should have done more, felt more, acted differently? I don't know if I have that right. I am willing to accept that my perception at the time was skewed, not only about my body's appearance, but about many other things. I also know very well that there were times they were at their wits' end... times when their worries and panic overshadowed all else.


As far as moments I feel they should have done more— my two worst years were my freshman and sophomore years of college. I was far too thin—many, many pounds lighter than I am now at a healthy weight—and I was far too sad. I was so sick my hair was falling out and my friends were deeply worried. I was trying everything to help myself, because even at my sickest, I didn't want the life I was living. I saw a therapist at home, one at my university, had phone sessions when I was away, did group therapy, saw a nutritionist, etc. I sought out at least half of these resources myself. In fact, I'd made an appointment at the university counseling center before I even told my parents I had a problem. I personally think I needed IP and could have benefited from it. I think my state of mind was one that wanted to get better. Perhaps not totally, as I hung back and clung to behaviors and a "thin" identity, but I think the stronger part of me was bigger. Had they told me they wanted to send me somewhere, I would have fought them. I would have said I didn't want to go. I know I wanted to finish out college with no interruptions. But I wish they'd have tried harder to impress upon me that something more intensive was a possibility, was an option, was something that could help me.


Instead of using in-patient hospitalization or residency as a threat, they could have made it seem appealing, helpful. Instead of flinging around the phrase "We'll take you out of school and send you somewhere!" while screaming at me, they could have tried to explain that college would be there when I got back, that I could do IP while at home for the summer, over winter break, anything that was comforting and helpful, instead of making it seem like if I was sent to a treatment place it somehow meant I was a failure, had come to the last resort. Instead of likening IP to a mental institution, they could have took a breath and realized, hey she just needs more help than we can give her.


Lucky for them (and for me too I suppose), I finished college in 4 years with 2 degrees, my double major propelling me forward instead of holding me back. I figured it out on my own. I ate up the support I got from my best friend and leaned on her when I was weary of my journey. I utilized my resources and turned myself around. It just took longer.


As for moments when my parents yelled and made me feel terrible, I think it's par for the course. I don't blame them. I remember a specific night when I was 19 and they'd come to have dinner at my university (in a different state). My room mates and I had made dinner for our parents and my mom and dad noticed that I did not eat much of what was served. They abruptly left as soon as the meal was over and everyone else was still sitting around the table. I had to walk them downstairs and out of the building, while knowing that everyone was exchanging looks and talking about me back inside, other parents included. My parents chose to scream at me outside my building, in front of several people that were walking or sitting nearby. I still find it hard to understand what screaming at a frail, scrawny, scared 19 year old girl (in front of other people) is going to do. I know their frustration at my situation got the better of them. But I was thoroughly embarrassed, ashamed, depressed, and hurt.


They told me I "wasn't even trying" on more than one occasion, which made no sense to me considering I was doing everything in my power to get a handle on the situation and use my resources. Once, my father even threatened to stop paying for my therapist, as if that was somehow a solution. His reason: it obviously wasn't helping me, because I wasn't as far along as I should be.


I'll tell ya, though, I was a girl with "daddy issues." It's plan and simple, though as far as that phrase goes, it was really anything but simple. My dad and I didn't have a good relationship and while it's gotten better over the years, there is still room for improvement. The eating disorder thrived off of my problems with my father, his words to me, his manner towards me, and his lack of support.


My mom picked up the slack, though she still had her faults.


But you know what, everyone does. I can't blame her and I don't. She did what she could and she was wonderful to me, providing me with help that I needed, financially and emotionally. My dad was a different story, but since they're married, he was along for the ride whether he liked it or not.


And as for moments when they seemed to stop paying attention, well, it happens I guess. When I was doing better, doing well, they seemed to forget that there was ever a problem. Seemed to ignore that I was still in pain, still dealing, still healing. They didn't seem to understand that even though I would eat 3 meals a day, I was still not mentally recovered. They didn't "get" that even though I gained weight, I was still freaking out inside, still not in a place that was good. I got the distinct feeling, and often, that they thought Well, her weight is up, she's eating and doing pretty well—she's out of the woods. Finally.


Not that simple, but of course, you and I both know that.


You have to understand, though, that I answered your question from my own memories and thoughts, and that I now look at it all with a few more years under my belt, some extra wisdom, and a healthy recovered mind I was lacking before. At 25, I look at my past with my parents with the ripe desire to be a parent myself as soon as it happens for me, and the knowledge that nothing is EVER as easy as it looks...and that what seems so obvious to me may never have been obvious to the people around me. I love my parents and they did more for me during my illness and recovery than many parents do or can. They have always loved me and my mom supports me so much now with all my endeavors to reach out to others, to help and support, to spread the message that recovery is possible. She sees how far I've come and she's come pretty far herself. My dad's transformation is yet to be seen, but that has very little to do with my eating disordered past and very much to do with his own life.


It's not always about us. Parents are people. Parents are people. Parents are people. I think every child should be required to say that three times every day as s/he grows up. :) It can take us a while to realize that. And while I still would have done some things differently if I was them, I'm sure their job was no piece of cake. It's the now that matters. And I'm happy with the now.


What a question! :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back to the Questions...#7:

Here's another one (and a good one) by Licketysplit. She asks:
"Is there anything you can remember helping you specifically with being able to accept your body? Although I'm in a much better place than I have been in past years, it seems like every time I get momentum to finally kick this thing to the curb, my body image gets in the way and takes me back to ED."

I know this is going to sound strange, but I think Women’s Studies helped me be able to accept my body in a big way. I was an English major in college, but I also ended up leaving with a degree in Women’s Studies as well as English. I dabbled at first, taking a Women’s Studies class here and there, ended up making it my minor, and then took the plunge and added a second major to my workload. I liked it that much... and what's more, it made me feel good about myself.

Let me explain: While I sat in a lot of my Women’s Studies classes, I began to GROW a deep appreciation for my female body. I was super proud to be a woman, and I realized that a body came with that. I also was able to delve into a lot of eating disorder issues via books, films, discussions, and courses, so I could explore my own feelings, experiences, and better help myself and others. Being a Women’s Studies major helped me to like myself.

I don’t by any means think that the answer to accepting your body is Women’s Studies. (Haha.) It just happened to be a big part of the equation for me. I found my voice in those classes. I found some of the spirit I felt I had lost. I became less shy, less self-hating, and I discovered things about myself I didn’t even know. Plus, the feeling of...sisterhood, for lack of a better word... made me feel comforted and at ease. I liked feeling like a part of something and that something happened to be womanhood... a piece of the human race... which allowed me to express myself, accept myself and my body, and understand that all women are incredibly different and beautiful.

A lot of accepting my body was the “fake it ‘til you make it” rule of thumb. I just pretended really hard to be okay with myself and like myself, and the rest began to follow.

I took a lot of photos of myself. A lot. Not for bones and thinness and other things. But for beauty. I took pictures of myself and looked for beauty in them. I ended up liking a lot of photos I took of myself. I learned to smile at myself. Used my artistic eye to see loveliness. Told myself it was okay to have thoughts like, “Wow, I look really pretty here.” It didn’t mean I was conceited. It meant I was learning to like my own appearance, even as the weight went on. I used to just sit with myself, inside or outside, hair up or hair down, and snap photos of my own face and body with my digital camera. I saved them on my computer in a folder and instead of picking them apart, I admired them. It gave me a really good feeling to know that I was ADMIRING myself. Finally finding beauty in my appearance. (I don’t mind sharing these nutty things, as they obviously did a world of good. Haha.)

I also tried to make things a celebration instead of a meltdown, even if I had to force myself. It usually ended up transforming anyway. Prime example: When I was doing really well in recovery and I had to buy new clothes because my old ones were too small, I didn’t let it freak me out. As you know, it’s not a very good feeling to pull on pants and have them not fit. Especially if it’s not just one pair, but many pairs. It had the potential to make me panic. I had to buy a bunch of new clothes. Bigger sizes. And when I came home, I could feel the panic I called my best friend and turned what could have been a meltdown into a celebration. “I had to buy new clothes!” I yelled into the phone, happily. “A lot of my stuff was too small. I bought BIGGER sizes! I can’t believe it! It’s so amazing that I’m not wearing a size X anymore!” I was proud of myself, but I was antsy and uneasy. So I simply tried to portray the happiness I knew I should wholly be feeling. I knew I should be congratulating myself.

She was so happy to hear what I told her, and so proud of me. And obviously glad that I was at a healthier weight that I wasn’t fitting into my old clothes. So she celebrated with me. She congratulated me. We made it a good and a happy thing. I got off the phone feeling good, feeling proud of what I had done: stuck with recovery long enough to gain weight and keep it on... then not fit in my clothes, then buy NEW, BIGGER ones, then NOT freak out. It was huge.

Body image may get in the way for a while, but you don’t have to let it cause you to restrict or (insert other behavior) and head back down an unhealthy road. Work with it! If you don’t give in to it, it will pass. It will come in spurts for a while, here and there, but eventually, it will pass. You have the power to turn things around. Don’t let fear stop you.