Recovery Q+A

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Hey friends! I know that eating disorder recovery can be confusing to people that have never experienced it. BUT luckily someone suggested I do a recovery Q+A, so here we are!!! I’m answering most of the questions that I received, but if you don’t see yours on here or you think of me, feel free to leave a comment or message me through my contact page. Love y’all wowowow!!


Q. When you were in your disorder, was your view of your body distorted? Like, did you see yourself as fat when in reality you were actually skinny? And is that part of an eating disorder or a separate thing that a non-eating disordered individual can experience?

A. YES, my view of my body was extremely distorted. Looking back at pictures now, I can see how sickly I looked, but in the moment, all I saw was fat. I saw fat on parts of my body that didn’t even exist. Body dysmorphia is a common part of eating disorders that most (but not all) individuals suffer from. However, there is a disorder called Body Dysmorphia Disorder. While many eating disorder individuals claim to have BDD, it is not possible (according to the DSM-5!) for the two disorders to co-occur. BDD is essentially the same thing that many eating disorder sufferers experience, but just a separate diagnosis specifically for those without eating disorders. So yes, it is possible for non-eating disordered individuals to experience distorted body image. While I can’t say that every person who has bad body image has BDD, it is definitely a possibility.

 

Q. What are some tips for dealing with a changing body in recovery? Specifically when you are “weight restored” but your body is still changing.

A. Girl, I still struggle with this! Weight restoring is hard, and then it’s still hard when you body continues to change and fluctuate. However, that is SO NORMAL. Weight fluctuates all the time. It happens to everyone, not just eating disorder individuals. So for me, I’m just learning to trust my body. Our bodies are SO smart, and they know what they’re doing. So when my body changes or fluctuates, I just remind myself that it is normal and I choose to trust my body, even when my eating disorder is screaming no. I also fact check with my dietitian a lot! I tell her what I’m experiencing and she always tells me that it’s normal and we discuss how I feel about it. I suggest reaching out to your treatment team because they can validate how you feel but also give you the facts!!

 

Q. How do you balance the demands of college while maintaining stable recovery?

A. At this point in my recovery, it feels normal to me to balance the two, but when I started my freshman year, it was so overwhelming. BUT FLEXIBILITY IS KEY. College is demanding and your schedule gets crazy hectic, but you have to make room for snacks and meals. For me, sometimes this means eating in class or at work. You can’t use your busy schedule as an excuse to not eat. You have to be proactive and make a plan for the times that you’re busy! When signing up for classes, I always make sure to have a break in between classes to have lunch. Figure out what works for you, and stick with that! Reach out to your friends and let them know what’s going on so that they can keep you accountable. If you’re struggling, make sure to always go to the dining hall with friends. Work with your school to get some accommodations if needed. It’s challenging, but as long as you stick to what you know you need to do, it’ll become second nature!

 

Q. What are some things that are helpful and supportive to say to a person recovering from an eating disorder as opposed to the well-meaning yet destructive comments?

A. Thank you so much for asking this question. I know it’s really easy to say, “Wow, you look so healthy!” or something of that nature, but to someone in recovery, their eating disorder can twist that to mean “Wow, you look so FAT!” It’s best to stray away from commenting on the person’s appearance. Tell them that you’re proud of them. Acknowledge that recovery is so so hard, and validate how they feel. Offer to help them in any way that you can, whether that be meal support or accountability or distraction. Acknowledge that you don’t understand what recovering from an eating disorder is like, but always be willing to listen to them. Remind them that they’re worthy and capable and that you believe in them. Most of all, just be there for them!!

 

Q. How do you start a relationship with God, and how does that affect/play into your recovery?

A. You start a relationship with God like you do any other relationship. You spend time with him. I started doing this by starting a prayer journal, which is just a normal journal, but you address your journal entries to God as a prayer. For me, that was an easy way to begin my prayer life because I was doing something that I’d normally do, but I was making it a spiritual practice. And reading your Bible is so important! I recommend starting with the Gospels so you can learn about who Jesus is and what he did for you. Feel free to comment or message me for more book suggestions! Get plugged in with a good Christian community, whether that be a youth group or Bible study or whatever. Most importantly, just push through and put in the effort to get to know God, even if you can’t feel him! The more you learn about him, the more you’ll be able to feel his presence.

My faith plays a big part of my recovery. I feel like the two go hand and hand. For me personally, I don’t think I’d be in recovery if it weren’t for Jesus. Knowing Jesus gives me a purpose and a reason to not live a miserable life of self-destructive behaviors. The more I know Jesus, the more I want to live for him and in line with what his Word says. Jesus is the most important thing to me, and if I want to live for him, I can’t live for my eating disorder.

 

Q. For you, what is the most rewarding part of recovery?

A. The freedom that I experience. Recovery is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am the happiest that I have been in years. Being able to eat and laugh and live life without ruining friendships or isolating or feeling guilty or as if I’m drowning all the time is the best feeling. I’d never give up on this journey because recovery offers me so much more freedom than my eating disorder ever did.

 

Q. Do you believe in full recovery? And if so, how do you know when you’re fully recovered?

A. I do. I don’t/won’t believe that we’re made to live in our eating disorders for the rest of our lives. We’re made to live in full freedom, and I believe that that is possible after a lot of hard work. I think full recovery comes when you don’t hear your eating disorder’s voice all the time anymore. I think when the voices do come (which they will from time to time because #dietculture), recovered is being able to immediately combat the eating disorder voice as lies without thinking and without urges to act on behaviors. It takes a while to get to fully recovered. It’s a gradual process, but one day you’ll realize that you haven’t had thoughts or urges in so long and that you eat whatever you want without a second thought. I don’t know how long it takes. But I do know that I’m over a year into this journey, and I’m still not recovered. But I’m getting there. And I fully believe that it will happen one day, and I don’t think that that day is too far off.

 

Q. As a Christian, do you believe that you can be fully 100% healed from a mental illness through the Holy Spirit?

A. I think so. I had a pretty instantaneous moment of healing from self-harm, so I do know that the Holy Spirit can heal mental illness or self-destructive behaviors. As I mentioned in the above question, I believe that full recovery is possible. God doesn’t always heal through prayer and the laying of hands; sometimes God heals through doctors and therapists and other treatment providers. I wouldn’t be in recovery if it weren’t for going to Carolina House, but I believe that God worked through that treatment and is still working through my continual outpatient treatment. It’s a hard question to answer, and I’d love to talk one-on-one if you’re interested! But short answer, I believe that 100% healing//full recovery is possible. Healing can obviously come to those who are not Christians (SO many people from other religions are fully recovered), but I do believe that the Holy Spirit can bring that same healing, whether instantaneous or by working through worldly treatment. In this blog post, I talk about my instantaneous healing from self-harm and how I feel like God is still a big part of my eating disorder recovery, even though I did not experience the same instant healing through prayer.

 

Q. What is your favorite DBT skill?

A. Opposite action. As much as I hate it sometimes, it’s the most useful skill in my opinion! When my eating disorder says no to pizza or ice cream or whatever, I force myself to say yes and eat it anyway BECAUSE SCREW MY EATING DISORDER. I think recovery is basically summed up as opposite action because you never feel 100% ready, but you choose to recover anyway.

 

Q. What is your favorite self-care activity?

A. I’m a huge introvert, so I love having alone time. Whether that’s reading or painting my nails or watching Netflix (or all three!), I love having a night to myself to decompress and let my emotions level out without overflowing.


This was so fun, y’all! Thanks for sending in such great questions. 🙂 Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or opinions to any of my answers! And feel free to contact me if you have anymore questions. Thanks for being so awesome!!!

A Conversation With My “Little Sister”

Unknown.jpgLast week, I went into my dietitian appointment telling her all the lies that I was believing and speaking over myself. Lies from the enemy and lies from Ed, but lies that were growing in my mind and sprouting through my thoughts. She looked at me and said, “If you had a little sister and she came to you and said these things about herself, what would you say to her? I know you and I know that you would not let her speak such harsh things about herself.” She then challenged me to make one of my goals for the week (we set weekly goals; super helpful!) to notice who is talking and who is listening. That meaning, to notice my thoughts, and pretend as if my internal self is a younger sister who is telling these things to me. And if they are lies, to combat them with the truths that I would tell to a real little sister if I had one. Combatting lies for myself is hard, but I’d do anything for another little girl. So we’re going to practice this for a bit. Writing out my lies as if my little sister (or a younger me) were telling me them, and combatting them with truths. Here. Goes. Nothing.


I’m sitting cross-legged on the edge of my bed, scrolling through Instagram. My little sister had posted a selfie just a few minutes before, and when I see it, all I can think about is how beautiful she is. Her long, dirty blonde hair; her light blueish-gray eyes; her gorgeous smile. I go to comment on her photo, but when I do, I get a notification that the picture has been deleted.

Huh, I think to myself. I post pictures and then delete them a lot because I’m self-conscious a lot, but I’ve never seen sister do that. 

I keep scrolling through my feed, and then eventually put my phone aside when the comparison becomes too much. I get up and go to stand in front of the mirror.

Fat. Fat, fat, fat. So. Much. Fat. I pull at my stomach, poke at my thighs, and stare at my stretch marks. This recovery thing is great and all, but this recovery body is just a little too much over the top. 

“LUNCH TIIIIIIIIIIIIIME,” I hear my sister scream as she comes running down the hall. “Sarah Beth! I’m hungry! And Mom said that you had to come eat lunch with me, so come on!”

“Okay, okay, give me a second,” I say as I pull my shirt back down and put an oversized sweatshirt on.

“What were you doing in front of your mirror anyway? It look weird.”

“Oh nothing, just teenage girl stuff. I’ll race you to the kitchen!” I exclaim, trying to change the subject. She’s too young to understand. She’s nine, and she loves her body, just like she should. I don’t want to put any thoughts into her head.

Once we get to the kitchen, I begin to prepare my lunch. I check the nutrition labels on everything, trying to decide what I want to eat. Or I guess, what Ed wants to eat. Sarah Beth doesn’t check nutrition labels, but Ed sure as heck does.

I look over, and I see sister checking the nutrition label on the microwave pizza that she’s making.

“Sister, do you know what all that means?” I ask, surprised and confused.

She nods. “Yup! I’ve seen you do it before, so I asked my teacher in health class at school what all of it meant. She said that you’re probably reading the calories, and she said that too many calories make you fat. So she said the lower number of calories in a meal, the better!”

Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t believe her teacher told her that. Why would a teacher tell a nine year old that she’s going to get fat?! I had no idea that she was even watching me. I don’t normally check nutrition labels anymore, but I guess on my hard days she’s seen me do it.

I finally find words to say. “Sister, are you scared of getting fat? You know that calories don’t matter.”

“Well,” she says as she looks at her feet, “I wish I was skinnier. I have friends who are skinnier than me, and they seem to be more popular than I am. Like, I had posted a picture on Instagram earlier, but I deleted it because my cheeks looked too chubby.”

My cheeks flash red and I can feel myself beginning to get hot. How did this happen? How is this happening to my little sister?

She continues, “And my teacher said that watching your calories is important and a good way to lose weight. So I don’t know, it’s not a big deal. She told me everyone does it. You do it too, I’ve seen you.”

I look at her, my eyes big, trying to search her face. I set down the bag of chips I’m holding and go stand next to my sister. “Sister, I love you. Calories don’t matter. Remember how I went to nutrition camp last summer? When I was there I learned that a calorie is a unit of energy. That’s pretty cool, right? That means that the more calories you eat, the more fun stuff you can do! If you don’t eat enough calories, you’ll be tired. But when you eat enough, you have the energy to ride your bike and go to the pool and play in the backyard. And that’s what you want to do, right? Spending your summer outdoors is a lot more fun than spending it inside asleep on the couch because you don’t have enough energy in your body.”

“Wait, really?” She asked in disbelief. “Then why did my teacher act as if they’re little monsters who grow fat in our bodies?”

“Some people think calories are like that, but it’s not true. Those people have it wrong, unfortunately. But you know what you can do? If you hear someone say that calories are bad, you can tell them what I just told you. You can be their teacher! It’s really sad to live a life being afraid of calories, so it’s our jobs to help people live the same happy lives that we are.”

“That’s a good idea! I want to do that. I can’t wait to tell my friends when we go to the pool this afternoon!” She skips off with her pizza, going to eat it in the living room while she watches TV.

Crap, I forgot that I had to take sister and her friends to the pool. I haven’t gone swimming in a long time. I don’t want people to look at me. Okay, okay, no big deal. I can just wear a t-shirt over my bathing suit. And I won’t get in. I’ll bring a book with me and sit in a chair under the shade.

After I finish eating, I go upstairs to get ready. We have to meet sister’s friends at the pool in thirty minutes, and she is already getting ready in her own room. As I’m going through my bathing suits deciding which one to wear, I hear my sister crying in her room.

I walk down the hall and knock on the door. I find her in the same position that I was in just a few hours earlier – standing in front of the mirror and staring at her body.

“What’s wrong, sister?” I ask, trying to cover my concern.

“I can’t go to the pool. I just can’t,” she says through her sobs. “I know what you said about calories downstairs, but look at my belly. It is so big and round. And then my thighs become huge when I sit down. See, look, ” she directs as she sits down on her bed and points at her thighs. “They’re as big as Africa! I can’t go to the pool like this. I’m embarrassed.”

Tears well up in my eyes. Jesus, please not this. Not her. She’s beautiful! How do I make her see herself the way I see her?

I look at my sister. She’s sitting on her bed, her long hair pulled up into a messy bun. She put waterproof mascara on to go to the pool. She’s staring at her thighs with tears rolling down her face.

I walk over and sit down on her bed. “Look at me. You are beautiful. I know you don’t see it, but please try to listen to me. Your eyes sparkle when you talk. Your smile could light up any room. In fact, your smile is brighter than the sun. Seeing you smile makes me smile. You are kind, you are genuine, you are funny. You love others so well. You look for the outcasts and you befriend them. You don’t want to leave anyone out. Those things make you internally beautiful, sister. You have so much beauty inside of you that it leaks right out of you into the world.”

“But,” she looks up at me, “what about the rest of me? You said my insides were pretty, but I don’t care about that. My insides won’t make me popular. And yeah, you talked about my eyes and smile, but what about the rest? I want to be pretty.”

“Oh, sister. You are so beautiful and strong and powerful. Your thighs? They give you the ability to run and jump. You know how you can jump rope really well? That’s because your thighs are so strong! Your thighs are beautiful, but they are so much more than that. They allow you to do all the things that you love to do. And your belly! Sister, I love your belly. It is not too big; it is the perfect size. See?” I say as I pull up my shirt, “Your belly looks just like mine! I love having a belly that looks like yours. Because I love you!”

She giggles a little bit as she pokes my stomach and then pokes hers. “Are you sure? I just don’t feel pretty. My friends are prettier than me. Their bellies are flat and they have curly hair and they’re taller than me.”

“Their beauty is their own, but you have a beauty that is completely unique to you. You don’t have to be pretty like them because you’re already pretty like you. Comparing yourself to your friends isn’t worth it. You’re never going to be the same as them because you’re not the same. And that’s okay! Being unique is pretty cool if you ask me. Because guess what. Out of the seven billion people in the world, there is not another person that is just like you! That means that God thought you were so special and so cool that he only made on of you. Just be you, sister. You are worthy, you are loved, you are perfect just the way you are.”

“I don’t know…” she whispers as she looks back down at her hands. “Do you believe that about yourself?”

I look down quickly, but then look at her in the eyes. “I’m trying to. I’m not there yet, but I believe it more than I did a year ago. How about we make a deal?”

She nods.

“How about we change into our bathing suits, go to the pool, and then get ice cream after? We’ll do it together. We’re not in this thing alone. Sometimes it’s scary and sometimes we’ll be self-conscious, but we can remind each other of some truths.”

“I like that idea!” She exclaims. “But how will I know what truths to say?”

I stand up and walk over to sister’s desk. I open the drawer and pull out a piece of construction paper and a box of markers.

“Here,” I say as I hand her the materials. “Let’s make a list of all the nice things we want to be reminded of when we feel bad.”

We made a list:

  • You are beautiful just the way you are.
  • You are smart and capable of everything you put your mind to.
  • You are funny, and I will always laugh at your jokes.
  • You are unique. 
  • God made you just the way you are because he wanted someone just like you.
  • You are so strong and brave.
  • Your thighs give you the ability to run and your stomach allows you to have deep belly laughs.
  • You are kind and compassionate.
  • You are the perfect size. 
  • You are you and I think that is pretty great.
  • The size of your body does not define you, and just because someone’s body is different than yours does not make it any better or worse.
  • I love you, I love you, I love you.

We smiled at each other.

“I love you, sister,” I say.

“I love you too,” she says as she leans over to give me a hug.

I stand up to walk back to my room to get ready for the pool. This is going to be hard, but I need to teach her how to love herself. I need to be a good example and speak truth into her, so that means I have to speak truth into myself. If I won’t let her say these things about herself, I shouldn’t say them about myself. It’s going to be hard and uncomfortable, but if I’m not going to do it for me, I have to do it for her. 

I Never Meant to Tell This Kind of Story.

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I never meant to tell this kind of story.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that is secretly

(yet visible for everyone to see)

etched on to porcelain wrists.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that curls around collarbones

and hides behind ribs

that try to fill up the emptiness inside,

but yet only stick out like swords

waiting to hurt anyone who

comes too close.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that is confessed to an empty toilet bowl,

applauded with the cool

(disgusting)

backsplash of water.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that flinches,

winces,

trembles

at a mere hand on the shoulder,

because at one point

there were hands that were

not so kind.

 

But this is the story that I’m telling,

and I don’t know how I got here.

I don’t want to tell this story.

 

But I must tell this story.

 

I must tell this story

because I cannot stay prisoner,

I cannot stay captive

to the darkness that has held me under

for so long.

 

The story is screaming to be told,

and I don’t want to tell the story,

but I must tell the story.

 

I tell the story so that I have a voice.

So that I have freedom.

So that I can find peace.

So that I can close my eyes

and forget his face.

So that I can eat lunch

without the guilt gnawing inside,

or without the urge to discard of my food

after I have already consumed it.

And so that my scars

will just be scars,

not lines of embarrassment

and reminders.

 

I tell the story the story so that

I

can

live.

 

I need to live.

I need to breathe.

I need to be set free from this story

that I have been writing on my body

for over half a decade.

 

This story will no longer be told

through my body,

but through my words.

I will speak them,

I will type them,

I will write them,

I will scream them,

I will get them out.

 

I will

get

these

words

out.

 

I will live.

I will breathe.

I will be set free.

 

I will tell this story.

 

I never meant to tell this kind of story.

But this kind of story is meant to be told.

Dear Ed,

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Today, May 5, 2017, is my one year in recovery. One year ago I walked through the doors of Carolina House and was admitted to their residential program. You can read a blog post about that here (and you can find all my blog posts tagged treatment here too if you’re interested). Reaching the one year mark is weird and hard, but oh so joyful. So today, to celebrate my one year of starting to kick Ed (my eating disorder) to the curb, I’m writing him a letter. If you have never experienced an eating disorder, it may seem weird to you that I personify my eating disorder and call him Ed.  Just roll with it, friends. When there’s something in your head screaming at you, you want to be able to somehow separate it from who you are. So my eating disorder is Ed. And here’s what I have to say to him.


Dear Ed,

I remember when we met. I was 13, and my friend introduced me to the wonderful “comfort” that you bring. First I let you into my life because I wanted to lose weight. Not that I needed to, but I thought it would prove me worthy enough to be friends with the girls at school. Simple enough, right? No. You already had your foot in the door, so you soon began to demand your way. You quickly became my best coping skill, because even though you were slowly beginning to suck the life out of me, you numbed the pain of depression and took the place of self-harm when I had to cope in a “socially acceptable” way, aka not eating. Because dieting is normal and okay for a 13 year old, right? Wrong.

It’s been a long haul with you, Ed. Five years. You saw me throughout half of middle school and all of high school. When I think of my high school years, I don’t remember hanging out with friends during class or on the weekends. Instead, I remember skipping every off campus lunch so that I could sit in the hallway alone – I mean, sit in the hallway with you – and not eat. I remember not going to a single school dance (well, I went to my senior prom for 15 minutes – that counts, right?) because I had isolated myself so much that I had no friends to hang out with. I remember sitting in class, not paying attention to the lesson at all, but instead tallying up calories in my planner and planning my “meals” for the week.

To you, those things might sounds fun. Those are the things that you thrive off of. But to me, those are horrible memories. You took everything from me. Everything. Every good memory that I have since the age of 13 is tainted by you. My first cruise? Tainted. My first prom? Tainted. Every birthday? Tainted. Every event in my life that should have been completely happy and free? Tainted. You took everything from me, and even still, you wanted to take my life. And I’m over it.

I’m over it because I still have the 13 year old girl inside of me who still thinks she’s fat. Who cries when she looks in the mirror. Who wants to crawl out of her body when she feels food settle in her stomach. I’m over it because 13 year old me should have been a happy seventh grader, but instead she was taught to hate herself. That 13 year old girl grew up to be the same 19 year old girl that I am today. And this 19 year old still feels the 13 year old inside of me. And the 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 year olds. I feel all the brokenness. All the jagged pieces that don’t know where to fit. Some days I handle it really well. Some days I can kick you in the balls and go on with my day in freedom. But some days I’m crippled. Because 13 year old me is crippled. Or maybe it’s 17 year old me that’s crippled. But regardless, you broke me for so many years and I’m still trying to fix that.

I want to be able to love myself. Shocking, I know. You told for some long that it’s not possible. But I’m learning that it is possible. It’s more possible to live a successful life of loving myself than it is to live a successful life with you, because guess what. No one can live a successful life but also be tangled up in their eating disorder. But living a life of freedom and happiness while pursuing self-love is so completely possible, so that is what I’m after! I’ve made a lot of progress in the past year. I’ve eaten fear foods and made them my b**** (curse word sorry BUT SO TRUE). I’ve exercised because it makes my body feel good, but I’ve also stopped myself from exercising when I realized I was obsessing over the calories being burned. I’ve bought clothes to fit my new, beautiful recovery body. I’ve let myself cry and be mad at you/my body/my treatment team/food/the world. I’ve screamed. But that’s all part of this thing called living. It’s a new phenomenon to me, because you didn’t let me experience real life. But let me tell you, this life thing is pretty cool.

I know, I know, it hurts to die a slow and painful death. I know because that’s what you were doing to me. While I was malnourished and dying, you were thriving. The closer I got to death the more alive you became. But guess what. My recovery kills you. And it’s a long process. Some days I’m suffocating you, but other days I seem to have you on life support. The life support days are becoming few and far between, thank goodness. Each day I’m able to suffocate you a little more, and this is the control that I need – the control that you claimed to give me, but never did. Even though I claimed to love you for five years of my life, I know that I don’t love you. You love you. I hate you. I want you dead and gone. I want to live, so that means you have to die.

I don’t like you. I know that sometimes I say I’m going to rekindle our relationship, but we never get past the first date. Because it. ain’t. worth. it. You have this thing about making me seem like I’m the bad person, but let me just tell you, YOU are the bad one. You’re the murderer, the thief, the stalker, the crazy ex boyfriend who just won’t let go. And I am done.

I wrote you a letter very similar to this while I was still in treatment. In it I told you, “I’m fighting you now. I won’t stay victim anymore. I won’t give in to your every demand. I’m fighting for life and health, not thinness. So you have to move out of my mind, my values, my meals, my life. I’m changing my life to a life without you.” And WOW past SB was killing it. A life without you is the best life that I’ve ever lived.

I’m glad that I started kicking you out of my life a year ago. I’m glad that the only thing left of you is the occasional overnight bag. I’m excited for when you’re completely gone, but I know that recovery is a process and that healing is not linear. But just let me tell you, just because you have an overnight bag packed and ready to go does not mean that you still have power and ownership over me. YOU ARE GONE, SIR. You are powerless over me because now I have power over you.

So, just to remind you, you suck. It’s not me, it’s 1000% you. Five years with you was not fun, but this past year without you has been amazing. So don’t bother coming back. You’re still not welcome here and never will be again. I still hate you, and you’re still a scum-bag. You’re a bully, you’re controlling, and you deserve to die. I don’t need your fake love anymore.

Goodbye, Ed.

Sincerely,

Sarah Beth

PS. Did I mention that I hate you?

To the Girl Who Feels Stuck

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To the girl who feels stuck,

You’re me right now. But I also know that a lot of other people feel stuck. So as much as this letter is to myself, it’s to all the other girls (and guys) out there who feel just as what the heck as I do.

You feel really stuck right now.

Like really stuck.

You thought you were doing great, you thought you were going 100 mph at everything, and you thought everything was under the control.

But then maybe you realized that things aren’t as hunky dory as you originally thought.

And that’s okay!!

But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt to realize that you’re still human. That you’re still a human in recovery.

(PS, stop cringing at the “in recovery” part. It’s fact. That’s not going away anytime soon. Yes, “recovered” will come, but you’re not there. It’s okay that you’re not recovered yet. That takes time. Years, even. You’ve only been out of treatment for nine months. You’re not supposed to have it all together yet.)

Anyway.

I know that it hurts. It actually hurts a lot to be smacked in the face with reality.

You thought you were going 100 mph, and maybe you were, but you just missed a few turns along the way. Or maybe you were going 75 mph, so just a little slower than you thought. Or maybe even you were going 120 mph, so fast that you were being reckless and missed a few stop signs. Regardless, you’re not where you thought.

And just because you’re not at your destination yet doesn’t mean that where you’re at isn’t beautiful and good too.

Appreciate where you’re at right now. It’s not the end point, and it may not even be the middle point, but it’s still a good point. It’s still worthy of being at.

You might not be as far as you thought you are, but that doesn’t change how far you’ve already come.

Girlfriend, you’ve come so dang far. You’ve conquered so many hard things that you never thought were possible.

So guess what?

You can keep conquering things.

You’re going to keep kicking things in the booty because that’s just who you are as a warrior.

I know that you feel stuck.

You thought you were at point D, but maybe you’re only at point C.

But hey, you’ve already passed points A and B.

And being at point C is pretty dang awesome.

Being at point C does not make you stuck.

It just means you’re at a different place than you originally thought.

And let me let you in on a little secret.

You’re not as stuck as you think you are.

You have some things to work through and some lingering thoughts to tackle.

But you’ve grown a lot of strength and endurance this past year, so you’re going to tackle and defeat these thoughts a lot quicker than you would have a year ago.

You’ve grown so much, girl.

You’re moving mountains.

You’re not stuck.

Hear me again.

You are not stuck.

You’re moving and you’re beating things and you’re conquering and winning.

And you’re still doing that, even at point C.

Don’t be discouraged.

You’re doing so good.

Keep it up. Don’t give in.

Don’t give in to the voice in your head that’s telling you that it’s not worth it anymore.

If something is telling you to quit just because you’re not as far as you thought, that is a voice that is not worth listening to.

You are worthy of continuing.

You are worthy of continuing because you are worthy of winning in the end.

You are worthy of the victory.

You might feel stuck, but you are not stuck.

Where you’re at is still worthy of being at, and your final destination is still worthy of fighting for.

You’re rocking it, girlfriend.

You’re inspiring as heck.

You’re me and you inspire me.

Present me is being inspired by past me because past me was a total kick butt rockstar and I know that present me is still that same girl.

Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s totally working.

Keep on keeping on.

You’re doing it, girlfriend.

You are doing it.

Approaching One Year

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Ahhhhhhhhhh.

That’s how I feel.

I can’t believe it’s already almost a year since I started recovery (330 days to be exact, but who’s counting?).

All year I’ve dreamed about getting close to the one year mark. I imagined it as a celebration – eating ice cream, living free, being so joyful. And I think it will be like that. Reaching the one year mark is really exciting and I’m so glad that I’ve made it this far.

But I’m also getting really anxious.

I’m an anxious person, so it’s nothing new to me that I’ve been experiencing anxiety, but I was surprised when I started having full blown panic attacks when I realized how close we were to all the important events that happened in my life last spring.

This time last year was when my treatment team decided that I had to either go to residential right then or go inpatient after my graduation. It was when everything went downhill as I was put on medical leave from my senior year and awaited my admittance date to Carolina House. It was when I was living in the worst days of my eating disorder.

It took me a while to name where my anxiety was coming from. At first I thought it was just because I was getting “close” to the hell of last year, and while I think that is still true, I don’t think that is the complete story.

My therapist explained to me that my anxiety and panic is coming from grief. Not only am I grieving all the life that I lost during my eating disorder, but I am grieving the loss of my eating disorder itself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love recovery. I would never go back to my eating disorder. But sometimes it’s hard to accept this as my new normal.

Grief is weird. It kinda hits you like a train and leaves you a little dazed. Grief makes you feel like you’re reliving the events that you’re grieving, but it also feels like you’re watching them happen from the outside. Grief. Is. Confusing. Especially when you’re grieving something that you shouldn’t (like your eating disorder).

In my wise mind, I don’t miss my eating disorder. I know the hell that it put me through and how it almost took my life. I know that it wasn’t glamorous or pretty or fun. I know that I know that I know that. But my eating disorder was my life for five years. It was my most used coping skill. It was how I lived. It became who I was. So recovering from my eating disorder was like losing myself.

But recovery is finding myself, my new self, my best self. And sometimes it hurts a lot.

There are days I miss my eating disorder so much. When I’m having a hard day, sometimes I miss being able to cope by keeping my stomach as empty and hollow as possible. When people post bikini pictures with their flat stomachs and thigh gaps, I miss the body that my eating disorder gave me. But I know that that was not my best life and that I don’t need (or want) to live like that anymore.

So getting close to my one year feels like getting close to freedom, but it also feels like getting close to my eating disorder. And I don’t want to be close to it. I want to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s real. Like, that was my life? I starved myself until I was nothing? I spent my summer in a treatment center? Someone had to check the toilet every time I used the bathroom? It’s weird. Sometimes I feel like I watched that happen; that it didn’t happen to me. But it did. So getting close to my one year mark makes it seem so real and so in my face.

I don’t want to relive my past. I sure as heck don’t want to relive my eating disorder, but I also don’t want to relive treatment. I am so so thankful for Carolina House and everything that happened there because I know I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for treatment, but I also never want to go back to that time of my life.

So I’m stuck in this weird place. I’m grieving as my one year of recovery approaches. But I’m also celebrating like crazy.

Like, I made it this far. I’m living a life without an eating disorder. So crazy and surreal.

But I’m also having to face and reflect on what life was like this time last year.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay and natural to grieve during recovery. The one year anniversary of entering treatment is like the one year anniversary of a loved one passing away. It’s hard and there’s a lot of emotions. But I’m not letting the emotions overtake me.

I can feel sad and angry. I can be mad for the five years of life that I lost to my eating disorder. I can feel upset that I had to enter treatment and that I missed my graduation. I can hurt because being forced to live in a new body that although it’s great and healthy, it’s foreign and confusing and not what I asked for.

I can feel these emotions and still celebrate one year of new life.

I can exist in both places at once.

So I’m going to grieve. But I’m also going to celebrate. I’m going to eat ice cream and thank Jesus and live my best life because recovery brings me so much joy that I never thought was possible.

I’m grieving and I’m celebrating as my one year of recovery approaches. The different emotions will eb and flow. And that’s okay.

I’m celebrating where I am because even though it may still be confusing and hard at times, I am so much further than I was a year ago.

And that (no matter the grief) is worth celebrating.

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Months of Recovery

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1. Recovery is worth more.

This was a mantra that someone came up with during my first weeks at Carolina House. We all held onto this quote like it was our lifeline. I wrote it in my journals, on my coping logs, on all the whiteboards in the house. This. Quote. Saved. Me. No matter all the emotions I was feeling or all the lies that Ed was telling me, I knew that the freedom found in recovery was worth more.

2. We were made to do hard things.

I realized this the first time that I completed my first major fear food meal and actually enjoyed it. Just a month prior, I didn’t think that it would ever be possible. But it was. I could do hard things and I could even enjoy them. Things weren’t as black and white as my eating disorder led me to believe.

3. Looking healthy does not mean you look fat. Looking healthy is a good thing.

I had to learn this one really quickly once I came home from treatment. Everyone told me that I looked healthy (PSA don’t say that to someone recovering from an eating disorder!) and I had no idea how to handle it. In my mind, healthy = fat. In reality, healthy = strong, life, happiness, freedom. I was becoming my best self because I was healthy.

4. Flexibility is key.

Starting college made me realize how flexible the real world requires you to be. I couldn’t always have designated snack times, so sometimes (a lot of times) I had to eat my snack in class or at work. Sometimes I had to go to the caf alone. I had to learn that I had to be flexible in order to thrive in recovery at college. My rigid, all-or-nothing thinking when it came to meal/snack times was not going to cut it.

5. BREAK THE RULES THAT ALMOST BROKE YOU.

Love Me More by Maggie Rose. Opposite action is literally your best friend in recovery. When Ed says no to ice cream, you get ice cream. When Ed says that pizza is too unhealthy for lunch, you get pizza. You have to do the opposite of what your eating disorder is telling you (even when it hurts!) because that’s how you find freedom.

6. Don’t let other people hold you back. You’re growing like a wildflower and you don’t have time for weeds.

Sometimes you have to make decisions for yourself that other people don’t agree with. That’s okay. Make the decision anyway. You are only responsible for yourself, not the opinion of others. If something is hindering your recovery, let it go. And if that makes people upset, that isn’t your problem. You have to put yourself and your recovery first. You have to grow.

7. Recovery isn’t comfortable. You gotta do it anyway.

You can’t only recover when you want it 100%. You have to choose it everyday, even when you don’t want to. Recovery cannot be based off of your emotions! You’re never going to be fully ready, but you have to choose it anyway. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable and it hurts a heck of a lot, but you have to keep choosing it.

8. Self-care self-care self-care.

Self-care is so dang necessary. Take bubble baths, journal, go on a walk, clean your room, watch Netflix, buy yourself a new shirt just because, make art, pet a dog. Whatever makes you feel whole and rested, make time for it. Sometimes you need more self-care than others. That’s okay. Whenever you need it, make time for it, even if it’s only for five minutes. Your mind and body will thank you.

9. You are not a reflection of those who cannot love you.

Your worth does not change. Your worth is not determined by those who love (or don’t love) you, but by Christ. Your worth is unwavering and unchanging because it is rooted in something much deeper than human emotions.

10. Sometimes surviving is all you can do, and that’s okay.

Sometimes you feel heck of a lot more like a work-in-progress than a masterpiece, and that is okay and so normal. Believe it or not, recovery is not linear. Sometimes you’re going to simply survive instead of thrive. That doesn’t mean that everything is downhill from here on out. Things will go back up eventually. You are not failing at recovery just because you’re having a hard time mentally.