Tuesday, June 21, 2011

(my)Recovery 101

"What was most helpful to you when you first started in recovery?"  
"What tips can you give someone who is just starting to recover from an ED?" 
These are two questions I am asked often once someone learns of my history with anorexia, especially when they know someone who is also struggling. 
While I could easily create a long list to answer these questions I want to share my top 5 most helpful recovery tips. I can thank my therapist for most of these...

(my) Recovery 101... Top 5
  1. Name your ED: When my therapist told me this one I wanted to laugh in her face. Give my anorexia a name. Hmmmm can you say weirdo??? Well I decided I had nothing to loose and so I went for it. Instead of giving the disease a traditional name like Norma or Gene I just named it ED (which is why I always refer to it as this on the blog). So anytime that I struggled mentally I could stop and say quite firmly "This is ED talking to me right now and she is not my friend," or "ED I am not listening to you any longer!!" or "ED you totally suck." I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. I will say I got a few really strange looks standing in the aisle of the grocery store when having a conversation with myself over purchasing the skim milk vs. the 2%... but hey... the point is I walked away that day with the 2%. Take that ED. 
  2. Fake it Till You Make it: Ok I know what you are thinking, this sure sounds a little cliche. Well it is but honestly this was HUGE for me at the beginning. When I first started in recovery I did not want to be in recovery. I knew I needed to make serious changes but I did not want to make these changes. At. All. Even though I was the one initiating recovery I had a BAD attitude. Weird right? Well maybe not so much. Think about it...If I were to wait until I felt ready to act, ready to make a change, ready to gain weight, etc it would have NEVER happened. I had to just bite the bullet, take that first step, and force myself to ACT. What I found is that eventually, over time, my actions were followed by genuine feelings. After a few weeks of making a particular change I found that this change became my new normal. This change felt right, good, and essential for my improved well being. And once one change became my new normal, it was that much easier to just ACT on another change that needed to happen. And so continued a very healthy cycle. 
  3. Give yourself time to pursue God: During the darkest time of my ED I basically shut God out of my life. Closed the door on Him & locked the key. So when it came time for recovery, naturally, I was MAD at Him, mad that He allowed me to get so deep in the disease and mad that I now had to face my fears and take action. I did not want to talk to Him about my recovery. I did not want to pray for guidance, read scripture for comfort, or try to listen to His voice. Sounds awful but this is just where I was at the beginning. And you know what. . .  I really think God understood. He knew I was not ready to embrace Him. He was right there, waiting, just as he was for the two years where I chose to befriend ED over Him. What I found is that once those changes (that I spoke about in #2) became easier and my new normal changed, I found myself slowly longing to renew my relationship with the Lord. Give yourself time & don't expect that once you decide to recover you will feel all warm and fuzzy with the Lord. This might happen for some people and if so more power to ya, but it was not the case for me. 
  4. Beautify yourself: Sounds ironic that I would add a tip like this to those trying to recover from a disease that focuses on outward appearance. But hear me out. When I started gaining my weight back I had to do little things that made me feel beautiful on a daily basis (non weight related). I got a fresh haircut, got a manicure and/or pedicure on a (more) regular basis, bought a new great smelling body lotion, and spent time each day getting dressed, putting make up on, etc. If I felt "put together" on a daily basis I was more likely to continue making the recovery changes needed. I noticed a direct correlation on the days that I allowed myself to sit around in my frumpy Pj's vs. the days I got up and got ready. I was a lot more likely to eat that scary high calorie meal on the days that I felt "beautiful" than on the days that I did not. 
  5. List physical and psychological benefits of life without ED: During one of my early therapy sessions my therapist challenged me create a list of both physical & psychological benefits of my life without ED and bring these to her at our next session. I taped both lists on my bathroom mirror where I knew I would see them everyday and could repeat these things to myself over and over and over. This tip was HUGE for me. It made me realize just how much ED had stole from my life & gave me a daily focus of all I could gain back if I continued to pursue recovery. (I hope to create a post soon where I share both of these lists). 
These tips are specific to my ED recovery, although I do believe they can overlap to most any struggle in life. What do you think? Can these Top 5 be applied to your life?  
What are your Top 5? Make it a great day! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Three hours later and . .

the Fertility Journey page (link on right side of blog) is officially updated! You might need an intermission to rest your eyes, get some popcorn & a soda, and/or take a restroom break before you are able to finish reading the page in its entirety. 
Happy reading! 

Have you (or someone who you know) struggled to conceive? If so, did you/they pursue fertility treatments? I would love to hear about your journey. And let's not forget . . . 

Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Daily dose of encouragement

When I first started down the road of recovery my good friend, Kelly, printed the following scriptures on note cards for me to carry around and meditate on when I needed some quick encouragement. I still keep these notecards on hand today. The scriptures provide me with hope regardless of where I am in life or what I am facing on any particular day. I have listed these same scriptures on the Encouragement page tab on the right hand side of the blog as a quick reference point. I hope these bring some joy to your life as well.

Who You Are In Christ:
  • Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. "
  • John 1:12 "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
  • John 15:15 "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." 
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price."
The Battle Belongs to the Lord:
  • Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
  • Isaiah 58:8 "Then your light will break forth like dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. "
  • Philippians 1:6 ". . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." 
  • Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." 
What scriptures do you lean on when you need a daily dose of hope, joy, and/or encouragement? Please share! Make it a great day!  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What my ED didn't tell me . . .

Things that my Eating Disorder forgot to tell me... you know... before I agreed to a two year friendship: 
  • I will steal your joy
  • I will never be enough for you
  • I am selfish
  • I don't really care about you
  • I will pull you away from your family & friends
  • I will discourage you from participating in social activities 
  • I will create a defensive nature within you
  • I will harden your heart
  • I will steal your peace
  • I will consume your thoughts 
  • I will lie to you
  • I will inhibit your ability to love 
  • I will make you feel that God has abandoned you
  • I will never tell you how beautiful you are
  • I will become your obsession 
  • I will never fill your soul the way Jesus can 
  • I will instill an immense sense of guilt within you & this guilt will keep you from asking your family, friends, your God, and/or professionals for help. 
  • I will make your hair loose its shine, bounce and luster (oh and it will fall out)
  • I will make your nails paper thin 
  • I will make you cold, despite the actual temp
  • I will completely zap your energy
  • I will make you grumpy (all the time)
  • I will disrupt your sleep
  • I will slow down your metabolism
  • I will shut down your body's natural processes 
  • I will mess with your fertility  
If you have have ever experienced an eating disorder, or any other type of addiction/consuming behavior, do you find the above statements to be true? Anything you would add to this list?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sneaky ED

No one ever sees an Eating Disorder (ED) coming. Really. I mean no wakes up and says "OK, today I will try out an ED, let's get started." Well maybe this happens for some but most likely not. It starts s-l-o-w-l-y and really at the beginning you are not even aware of its existence. ED starts out small and I mean very small. And then, over time, it begins to grow, and fester and linger around, all the while growing some more. Ironically, the more ED grows the more control it makes you think that you have. You think you can dig out its nasty roots at any time. Not so much. ED likes to be sneaky. The kind sneaky like Satan in the Garden of Eden. You know, back in Genesis when Satan disguised himself as a serpent to slowly & sweetly manipulate Eve into eating that forbidden apple (most likely a honey crisp b/c we all know those are the best apples e.v.e.r.). Let's take a look at Genesis 3:1-7. The beginning stages of ED and that serpent have a lot in common, at least in my opinion. And no, I have no idea what type of apple Satan used to get at Eve but whatever your favorite is, just assume it was that.) Let's take a closer look...

(This is based on my experience only and obviously can vary from person to person as we are all unique. Although I do believe that the following is a common experience when thinking of the beginning stages of ED behavior). 
  • Manipulates/Lies- Perpetrators use manipulation & lies to gain trust with their prey. In the garden Satan uses manipulation to convince Eve that if she would just take ONE bite of the apple, she would be like God & her eyes would be opened to greatness. In the same way, ED lies by telling you that after one restriction or binge/purge episode (depending on the type of ED) you can & will walk away, like it never happened.  For anyone who has struggled with an ED a common thought pattern is "Once won't be bad. Loosing 5 more pounds isn't a big deal. I won't do this for long." Yet walking away is never as easy as we think. It sure wasn't easy for Eve & it sure wasn't easy for me at the beginning stages of ED.   
  • Rationalizes poor decisions - I wonder what Eve was thinking the split second before she took a bite of the forbidden fruit. I have no idea what was running through her mind but I am sure there had to be some type of rationalization going on. Don't you think? She rationalized enough to take a bite and then pass the apple on to Adam. Satan helped Eve justify her decision. At the beginning of my ED I participated in a lot of rationalizations. And with each small rationalization and poor decision I gained nothing but...
  • A false sense of confidence - Or aka the "rush factor." ED has a way of giving off a rush of feel good endorphins. The first time you restrict, the first time you see the scale drop, the first time you turn down that dessert when everyone else is eating it, etc your endorphin levels skyrocket and you feel that rush of excitement, confidence and power. I remember feeling the "rush factor" when people started to notice that I had lost some weight. This was very early on before my ED was in full swing. As people would comment on my new figure it made me feel powerful and as though I had control thus boosting a false sense of confidence. I am no scholar but my guess is that Eve felt that same rush as she bit into that delicious apple. 
Are you familiar with this story in Genesis 3? Have you ever struggled with an ED? If so, were the early stages filled with manipulation/lies, rationalizations and/or a false sense of confidence? Was Satan feeding this to you? Thoughts? 

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