Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Outcomes of an Eating Disorder, A Simple Chart

This is just something I wanted to share. Project "STOP Eating Disorders" put this up and I immediately liked it. It's on my Facebook Wall currently, for those of you who follow me there. It's SO, SO, SO simple, but it lays it all out clearly. You DO have options. But one is a lot better than the others. Take it to heart, today and every day. Let it sit in the back of your mind, the front of your mind, wherever you can keep it for right now.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sonnet for the Self

Inside the mind, there is a little room.
It has a tiny lock and just one key.
Around it, doubt and shadows tend to loom,
But when the door is opened, truth goes free.
This little room—it houses all self-love.
Tear down the curtains; let the sunlight in.
No need to worry what you’re worthy of—
To love yourself can never be a sin.
Just bask beneath the rays of love and pride,
And never keep this bright room locked away.
Do not be meek or feel you have to hide—
Without self-love, true joy will never stay.
So give this room all that you have to give,
And you will always have a place to live.

(c) Arielle Lee Bair 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Every Week is EDAW to Arielle

If you live in the UK, my Eating Disorder Awareness Week posts (a post a day this past week) probably seemed normal. If you live in the United States, you may have been confused. EDAW in the UK began February 20th, 2012. EDAW in the USA begins February 26th, 2012. If you live in Canada, I missed the boat. Apparently Canada’s EDAW is always the first week in February, though I know some of the time Canada adjusts for certain US events. If you live somewhere else besides the US or UK, you’re in luck – pick a week. :) My site is dedicated to eating disorder recovery/awareness for everyone.

At first I was puzzled by the fact that this year for some reason EDAW is different weeks depending on location, when usually it is one uniform week for all. But then I decided, this is actually a GOOD thing. Considering that I live in the US, I’m fairly well-integrated into several groups/orgs that originate in the UK. I am also a member of EDAN (Eating Disorder Activist Network), which is international. And I have several good friends in the UK. Furthermore, many of my readers/viewers are not US-based. So, as an American, I hopped on UK’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Now that America’s EDAW is about to kick off, I’m just continuing my post-a-day theme and you’ll get 2 full weeks of concentrated eating disorder recovery/awareness posts.

In short, 2 weeks of EDAW is better than one!

But in discussing EDAW as a theme, I’d like to talk about something important: EDAW to me, is no different than any other week. Sure, I always jump on the bandwagon of extra recovery/awareness collaborations and sharing of special events in honor of the week. But if you visit my site, you know (and have probably known for a long, long time) that eating disorder recovery and awareness is what I talk about EVERY DAY. I don’t devote a week to it. Even while trying to be international, I don’t devote just 2 weeks to it. I devote my year to it... my LIFE to it.

In my world, EDAW goes on all year long. I do the same things during EDAW that I do every week – I speak about eating disorders, I write about them, I give advice, I lead groups, I answer emails and phone calls, I make self-help videos, I try to give hope.

I said in a video from earlier this week that EDAW is your time to shout out eating disorder awareness stuff from the rooftops. Well, that’s what I do each day. It’s my essence. I can’t take time off from something so incredibly important to me, because it’s not only important to me, it’s important for the WORLD.

This isn’t a post to show you how dedicated I am – this is me pledging to you that I will never stop speaking out about issues that are vital. I’m in this for the long haul and I want you to know that if you need to take a day, a week, a month, a year off from the cause, it’s okay – because I will always be here fighting for you and using my voice.

...Because one day I want EDAW to stand for Eating Disorder Awareness WORLD, not Week.

With love and (com)passion,

Friday, February 24, 2012

Invest in You

7 years ago, in 2005, at age 20, I wrote a letter to myself as a child.


Don't be afraid. I'll carry you quietly, because you need complete and unconditional love--and my arms will be full of enough understanding that I won't have to use words.

I'll show you what it is to live for you and not for others and what they say and do. I'll let you cry when you need to without feeling ashamed and I'll comfort you like a blanket that soothes all your troubles, worries, and aching limbs. I'll let you stretch into a woman and prove to you how great it can be when you accept yourself and all the changes that go along with being you.

I'll travel great distances to listen to what you have to say. I'll never make you feel alone, unwanted, slighted, or misunderstood. I'll let you be mature when you want to be and I'll let you be a child when it helps you to heal. I'll make promises and I won't break them.

I'll brush your hair. I'll rub your back. I'll sing you songs. I'll nourish you. I won't suppress you--or second-guess you--or leave you. I am invested in you.

You are important to me...because you are me.

Love, Arielle 

I share this so that you can see how genuine and real and comforting it can be. I share this so that when I invite you to write a similar letter to yourself as a child, you'll know I walk the talk. Will writing a letter to yourself as a child heal all your pain? No. Will it be that magic recipe that sends that eating disorder packing for good? Probably not. But will it help? I hope so. It certainly can't hurt.

So, your mission - if you choose to accept it - is to find a photo of yourself as a child. Happy, sad, lonely, sweet, funny, silly, whatever it is! And look into that little face. And with it next to you, grab a piece of paper and write to YOU. Or prop it in front of your computer and start typing... and write to YOU. The little you.

Why? Because it can be hard to write loving things to the adult you, the current you. (It shouldn't be! But it often is!) But it's very VERY hard to write mean, self-hating, disappointed things to a child - even when that child is you.

Give that child what it needs. Say what you need to say. Say what you need to hear. Be real. Be genuine. Be loving.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Preparing for a Rocky Road & Facing Fear of Failure

What's the mentality of a person who wants recovery?

 The mentality (of a person who wants recovery) is one that will do whatever it takes to be rid of the eating disorder. The mentality is one of determination, desire, and hope.

We may not all be pillars of strength—especially in our own minds—but that doesn't mean we don't have the drive and determination to get better. If you have the real desire to truly recover, it's within your reach. And if you have the hope that it can and will happen, it's waiting for you. Understand that first and foremost, and you have taken the first step. It's a mental step, sure, but it's a significant step.

If you try to walk up the steps and the first step at the bottom is missing, you're going to trip…or worse—you're going to slip right on through and fall harder.

Mold your mentality first. Understand that you can do it. Don't try, yet still in your heart of hearts think it's impossible. You won't get anywhere that way. You'll keep hitting road blocks.

That's not to say that a path of recovery is without obstacles just because you have the right mentality. The path of recovery is going to be a difficult one no matter what, but that doesn't mean you can't travel it—it just means you have to be prepared.

And you know what happens when you manage to get to the end of a long and rocky road: the reward is that much sweeter.

For those IN recovery, I think it's only natural to be afraid your eating disorder will come back...but the important thing is that if it ever DOES come back, you have the tools to fight it

Fear is only going to bring you down. It can take quite a while to be rid of an eating disorder, especially if it has been with you for a while, and no amount of relapses makes your recovery any less valid. It is a difficult fight, but you can do it. You’ll have good days and bad days. Just remember what you truly want. If recovery is your goal, you are already far along on your journey to a better life.

Bad days are inevitable, but you can pull through. Being afraid to slip back into your eating disorder can make you run closer to recovery, but if the fear becomes so great that one setback makes you doubt yourself, you need to recognize it and fight it.

Fear like this means you’re just waiting for your eating disorder to take hold of you again. It means you don’t think you can really get away from it. And in that case, you won’t.

We are all human and one setback does not negate all the hard work you put in up until that point. You aren't starting again at square one just because you had a setback. You are working towards something that is hard to achieve and it's only natural you will have slip-ups. If you recognize that you did something you didn't like, and feel bad over it, just get back on the road to recovery. That road is always waiting. That's all there is to it: putting a slip-up behind you. Many people with eating disorders have relapses (sometimes multiple relapses) before they feel they are recovered. Just keep hopping back on the track to your goal.

Think of it this way: If you want to get from California to New York and you drive 1,000 miles, then stop your car and therefore stop making progress, you don't have to start back at California to get on your way to New York again! You are still 1,000 miles of the way there. You may have stopped and therefore your trip will take more time, but you don't have to start over. Just get back in the car and keep going. You'll get there eventually. And you can stop as many times as you want.

Put more faith in yourself than in your eating disorder. Drive that car!
 I believe in you!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You're Invited to a Celebration

Dear YOU (yes, YOU!),

You're amazing. Don't argue with me. Don't dispute it. It's a fact. You may be mentally rattling off all the reasons why you're NOT amazing right now, but for every one you can come up with, I have something to say about it. So you might as well just sit and listen for a minute. You might as well let your mind rest, especially if it's been in self-hate mode for a while.

If you're on your way to self-love, fantastic! I'm proud of you. If you've already found self-love, wonderful! It's great, isn't it? If you're still fighting your way to self-love, skeptical of whether or not that concept can ever exist for you, keep fighting. It's worth it. I promise.

But back to the ways in which you are amazing... You are here. That may seem like a silly, simplistic answer you don't think makes you amazing at all. But it does. Think about all the things you've faced in your life so far. Think about all the journeys, the hardships, the struggles, the pain. Then give yourself some credit for surviving it all. I bet it wasn't easy. Yet here you are. So that's pretty amazing.

Celebrate that this week. It's Eating Disorder Awareness Week. And I'm aware of you. Yes, you! You've made it this far. You're fighting. That's amazing. Or you've fought your way through and are doing well. That's amazing. Are you condemning yourself right now? Are you disappointed? Are you saying it's no big deal? Stop that way of thinking. Stop arguing with these words. In a nutshell, all I'm saying is that YOU ARE HERE. And that's cool. So why put energy into discrediting that?

Your energy can be better served elsewhere. Trust me. And you are so worth it. If anything is worth that energy, you are. So don't break yourself down. Don't sell yourself short. Don't give up on yourself.

Celebrate you. Yes, you!

I'm going to celebrate you. You can join me or not. It's your choice. But I'm going to celebrate you and you're invited. If I'm going to celebrate you, then YOU really should be there too, don't you think?

So come on, celebrate you. Yes, you!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kicking Off the Week in an Important Way!

The online survey for my Graduate Research on Eating Disorders is up! What a great way to kick off Eating Disorder Awareness Week! I was awarded a graduate research grant for this and my study was officially approved by the IRB (Institutional Review Board). Survey is completely voluntary AND anonymous. Please see below:

You are invited to participate in a study about eating disorders. If you are female, 18 years of age or older, reside in the USA, Canada, or the UK, and have a current OR past eating disorder, the following link will direct you to a consent form, instructions, further details about the study, and a brief online survey. If you are a mental health professional and feel that your clients would be interested in participating in this study, please share with them the link to the consent form and survey. Thank you for your interest and participation!
Click here to take survey

 Your input is greatly valued and appreciated. Results should be available by summer of 2012.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pro-Recovery Project: Arielle's Words

Anyone who knows me, who has read my blog for the last 4+ years, and has watched my motivational speaking videos knows that I am PRO-RECOVERY. Being pro-recovery is part of my very essence. I'm happy and excited to be part of Anne-Sophie's Pro-Recovery Project, which is showcasing one recovery blogger for each day in the month of February.

Well, readers, today is my day. And it's your day too. The day is waiting for you. Don't make it wait too long.

Anyone can tell you to recover. You have to choose recovery for yourself. But what's more - you GET to chose it for yourself. It's YOUR gift. It's YOUR reward. I always like to share a little something I call Arielle's Mantra:

Recovery is possible.
It's not a guarantee. It's a possibility.
It's not simple. It is difficult and sometimes seems impossible.
It's not a one-step process. It's a multi-step process complete with twists and turns and bending roads...and roads you didn't even know were there.
It's not the same for everyone.
It's not always a happy process. It's not always a sad process.
It IS empowering.
It's not about pleasing other people. It is not about them.
It's about YOU.
It's not about perfection. It IS about emotion. It IS about honesty. It IS about self-discovery and self-affirmation.
It's not about what you don't have. It's about using what you've got.
It's not about hiding. It's about finding and displaying.
It's not a quick-fix. It's a lifelong plan set into motion by truth and nurturing and self-love.
It's not about external factors or environment. It IS about what's within.
It is not crazy. It IS real.
Recovery is possible.
This mantra has its own tab on the top of my site. It deserves its own tab, because this right here is a mantra to repeat - over and over again. It's not only my mantra for you, it's my message to you.
When it comes to eating disorder recovery, there are many different kinds of people. There are those who believe in full recovery, those who believe in full recovery – but not for themselves, and those who do not believe in it at all. I think full recovery is possible for everyone. Will it happen for everyone? No. But is it possible? Yes. You get to choose to take the steps to do it. To put your plans and goals and hopes and dreams into action. The dream of New Life FREE of an eating disorder is an excellent, worthy dream that can become a reality.

There are a lot of factors that influence a person’s ability to recover, but real recovery from an eating disorder happens, and it happens every day. It’s not a matter of beating the odds, but of beating the eating disorder.

When influential folks say that full recovery from an eating disorder is unlikely, I get angry. When they imply that full recovery will happen to one in a million (or some equally incomprehensible number), I get upset. When they focus on all the people who have NOT recovered instead of those who have, I get emotional.

It’s difficult to promote recovery to those struggling with eating disorders when they are constantly being told that the odds are against them. Why bother trying at all? If you are already deemed to be (and doomed to be) a statistic from the start, what’s the point in paying money for treatment/care/counseling or getting support from friends/family/services? Isn’t it all a waste?

The short answer is: NO. Not only is recovery completely possible, it’s also worth every effort. Whether you’re involved with a whole treatment team, simply seeing one therapist, using an alternative support system, or going it alone – recovery is possible, real, and wonderful.

I know this, because I’m a recovered individual myself. It wasn’t always an easy path. I worked hard, used support, created support I didn’t already have, and kept climbing.

Today, I’m happy and healthy in body and mind. I've been fully recovered for some years now. I live my every day, a woman who is transformed from the girl she used to be. 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,” call me “stupid,” 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 during some terrible, sad, or scary time in my life I won’t for a split 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 does re-appear 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.
There have been a few times I've been asked, what are your top reasons in favor of recovery? Or is it worth it? Or more often, how do you know you're recovered? 

And this is the answer I always give:

- Because my life doesn't revolve around food, exercise, feelings of hunger, my own image in the mirror, the way my clothes fit, what people say to me regarding appearance or success/failure.

-Because I actually have a life.

-Because when I wake up in the morning I am content, not filled with despair.

-Because I don't have to work at it. It is now natural.

-Because I can help others without being triggered by them.

-Because I live by what I’m writing here.

-Because I like my body.

-Because I even, most of the time, LOVE my body.

-Because I am at peace with issues of my adolescence.

-Because I can eat without over-thinking.

-Because I don't binge or purge or starve myself.

-Because I don't even WANT to binge, purge, or starve myself.

-Because I don't care what the number on a scale says and it used to incredibly define me.

-Because I am a healthy weight.

-Because I appreciate myself instead of hate myself.

-Because I feel free.

I am here in the moment and not afraid to eat, look, live, love. And you can do it too.

The length of time isn't what's important. It can take 3 years or 30 years. The goal is to get to the point where you can say, “I'm free” and mean it. Don't give yourself a deadline. Don't beat yourself up for slip-ups. Just. keep. trying.

Understand my main point: being "recovered" isn't about always being happy 100% of the time—it's about knowing what to do when you're not.

No matter how many cons there are to your dilemma, one big pro outweighs them all: you getting better, you feeling better, you learning to live life again.

Put more faith in yourself than in your eating disorder. Don’t underestimate your power to move forward and stay there. It all starts with you.
(For more inspiring words and encouragement in the recovery department, visit Fighting Anorexia - and remember, once February comes to a close, Fighting Anorexia will be publishing links to every blogger who participated in the Pro-Recovery Project!)

Oh, and one more thing - just a friendly reminder:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Do You Purposely Trigger Yourself?

This week's video, still exploring the topic of triggers. Last week I talked at length about triggers in general. This week I talk about self-sabotage and some questions you may want to ponder if you worry that you purposely trigger yourself.