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!