Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Disconnect & Feel the Connection


Before my class last night, I had a few spare moments to sit and take in the moment. Students and professors around me were rushing from one destination to another with Starbucks in one hand and cell phones in another; totally disconnected from what was happening around them. Which made me wonder how often I am that person busily distracted and disengaged from my everyday life? The answer is probably more often than I like to admit.

A few weeks ago before one of my classes started, all of us students were glued to our phones, not speaking a word to each other, and sitting in silence. Once class got started, our professor made a comment about how when he was in school the teacher had a difficult time calming the class down because they were all chit-chatting and catching up on their weekly happenings. They were socializing. Not consumed in a handheld "social device."

Last weekend a friend of mine got engaged and rather than calling his friends and family during this oh-so-joyous moment, they all found out through facebook. But if I think about it, I can't remember the last time I found out about an engagement or a pregnancy or a job promotion or even a death that wasn't first seen on my newsfeed.

But why? I can't help but wonder why this de-socialization has become the norm.

In truth, this method of "communication" and "connectivity," only leads to miscommunication and disconnectedness. It's easier to get caught up in what is on our phone than actually dealing with our everyday lives. 

Don't get me wrong, I am guilty of over-posting the blissful moments in my life as a way to somehow prove my happiness to the world. But does it actually make me feel better or more worthy? The answer is no. If I'm being completely honest, I typically get so caught up in the number of likes I receive (or don't receive) compared to everyone else I follow on social media that it creates more stress and discontentment than I started with. So I post again hoping for better results and the cycle continues. 

Recently I have considered challenging myself to a social media detox, but I doubt I'm alone when I say I would be lost without my phone for even one hour. So for now, I am challenging myself to stop at least once during my day and have a mindful moment like I did last night before class. By taking a moment to stop and disconnect from the social media world, I might begin to feel more connected to the actual world around me. 

It's a small step, but it's better than nothing. Who knows, maybe after a little practice I'll be able to disconnect for that dreaded hour... Or longer.

Progress.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Seeing Life in Color


This past weekend I spent two days exploring the Lake Michigan shoreline in the northwest part of the state and was blown away by the beautiful scenery. I wish I would have counted the number of times I said, "We are still in Michigan, right?!" 


Let's flashback five short years ago to when I also spent time in the same exact region of the state, but hardly remember any of it. I don't remember the views being as spectacular, the water being the same vibrant shade of blue, or the adorable shops downtown. All I remember about those trips is how anxious I was because I couldn't control my food intake like I normally could at home. The people around me were constantly watching me eat. I was so caught up in counting the calories I ate and then finding ways to burn them off, that I was barely able to enjoy the moment. 


 These two pictures were taken on the same trail, five years apart. Yet somehow I completely forgot how special this part of the state is. 

People in recovery from eating disorders often talk about "seeing life in color" as they continue to get healthy and maybe this is what is meant by that. Five years ago my vision was blurry because I was unable to see things beyond my disease. I lived in a world of black and white; either I was restricting my intake or I wasn't. Either I was being good or I was being bad. Everything else seemed insignificant. 

But now, two years after leaving treatment, I think I am realizing how spectacular life in color actually is. Don't get me wrong, my life is far from perfect and I still have many things to improve on, but I am no longer living with an eating disorder, nor do I ever want to again. Wow, I need to soak those words up.

I know it's been awhile since I have written here, but I felt like this was a moment worth sharing. I think when we are sick, our worlds become so narrow; all we see is the disorder and nothing else, no matter how incredible our surroundings might be. It is also possible that I have had many of these "seeing life in color" moments recently, but haven't had something this concrete to compare them to.

Empire Bluffs 2009 and 2014
Pyramid Point 2012 (just before entering treatment) and 2014

I needed this. I have been really hard on myself about not being further along in life recently, which seems to be a reoccurring issue for me in recovery. By looking at these photos and thinking back, I am finally able to see just how far I have come in five years. It's weird to admit that I am actually quite proud of myself. 

A brief update - I am currently in the social work program at the school I am attending and absolutely loving my classes. I am looking at a graduation date of April/May 2016 and then will continue on to get my Masters degree. I feel like I am at home in this program... Finally. We are discussing topics that I am passionate about and researching treatment methods and interventions. Who knows if I will actually end up working with eating disorder patients; at this point it doesn't matter because I have found my niche and can easily relate to others in vulnerable positions.

I may have seen the world in black and white five years ago, but I am thrilled to say I am finally seeing in color again thanks to this weekend trip up north and my continued efforts in recovery.

Progress.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Weight?



Let's talk about weight loss after recovery...

Because it happened to me today.

After three months of not being weighed, I tried on a bridesmaid dress that was a little snug on me when I first tried it on 10 weeks ago and it was alarmingly loose a few days ago. As a silly girl I got on the scale at a wedding shower today and was several pounds below my goal weight.

Was I trying to lose weight? 
No. 
Not at all. 

However, I have been busier than I have been in years. Just this past week I worked 26 hours and was in class 18 hours, which equals a 44 hour week. Sounds like a typical college student, right? Of course it does, but I would like to make the argument that being that busy is overwhelming.

There are so many things involved in being a college student that don't have anything to do with being in class.

Work.  
Most kids have to work just to have spending money.
Studying.  
On top of class and work time we are required to find time to focus and study.
Social. 
So that leaves very little time to be social, especially if you work on weekends in your spare time.

This is an overwhelming time. 


Work or go to class?
Be social and go out with friends or study?
Be socially exhausted after a day of class or work (like me) and 
go home and crash or push yourself to be social?

I'm twenty-six years old and I still struggle with this balance. How are eighteen-year-old college students supposed to find that balance? Let alone figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives? Heck, it took me years and a life-altering experience to figure it out. How is my younger brother with no real life expedience, like most college students, supposed to figure it out? 

In my humble opinion, I think this is one of the many places our society struggles. Knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life at eighteen years old is an impossible expectation. So why send kids to college at that age knowing where they stand in life?! It's bizarre. I didn't know what I wanted to to do at 18 when I started school and failed out as a result. 

It's stupid. 
I'm not stupid. 
Our society is.

So as I continue to find myself post-recovery and watch some close friends of mine enter the big, scary work force, please know it is okay to be lost. No one knows what they want in the beginning. That first job isn't supposed to be your dream job. Take it one day at a time and enjoy your current circumstances.


I can honestly say regardless of my current situation and still being in school,  
I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life. 
I am independent.
I have a loving boyfriend.
I have friends who care deeply for me.
I am a bridesmaid in an upcoming wedding.
I feel accepted.

Progress.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"You Saved My Life"


 
I received an email today that literally made me stop in my tracks and realize how amazingly wonderful my life has become over the past six months. Yes, I did shed a tear (or two or three) as I read this, but I also looked at my past and felt (brace yourselves) grateful as a result.  
 I felt grateful for my past self and my struggles with an eating disorder.

Why?

Because without it I would not be where I am today.

Here's the email:

 
"Hi Kelsi
I have not written to you in a long time you might not remember me 
my name is ****** from Ireland.
I just want to write to you to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your blog 
and also for your emails.
I really can put my hand on my heart and say you saved my life.
Yes, I worked hard on myself but your blog
 acted as a guideline a method to follow.
You enabled me to bump my calories to 2500 straight away,
embrace fat and fear foods, and also accept my changing body.
I am now 27 and have suffered with anorexia since I was 14.
I literally think the last year I have changed my life so much.
I really never thought I could be this happy.
And a lot of it is thanks to you.
I have gained 35 pounds and more to go.
I still do walk 45 minutes a day would really like to stop that.
I do Pilates for bones 2 a week and I am not sure if that is too much.
But I stick religiously to my 2500 meal plan and I continue to gain.
It’s all thanks to you.
Thank you.
I know you are not blogging as much 
and you are busy living I just wanted to say thanks."


It is hard for me to believe my humble, little blog has been so influential.  I started this blog as a way to express and cope with my own feelings in recovery; however, it clearly became much more than that. I will be forever in debt to all of the 100,282 of you who viewed my simple Progression Obsession today.

I have so much more to say, but it is approaching 11:30pm here... My bedtime is about 9:45 for those of you who know me! ;)

I have another blog post in mind and can't wait to post tomorrow.

Words can't express all the love I have recieved and how grateful I am.

PROGRESS.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Update


I logged onto my blog today for the first time in 92 days to find five times more views today (and seven times more this month) than it ever did while I was writing. How is that possible? Who are you readers? 

Before I fill you in on how my life has drastically changed in the last 92 days since I published a blog post, I should probably explain why I stopped writing. Life was presenting me with new and exciting opportunities; my recovery was taking a different path. For the first year of my recovery, it was all about writing and relating to others through this blog, but I finally found myself so engulfed in the world around me that I felt I needed more than the eating disorder world. Which was weird at first, but quickly became incredibly liberating and that explains my sudden departure from the blogging world. At the same time, I was grateful for this new found sense of life and adventure. I was torn between my eating disorder self and my recovery self; but quickly learned my recovery self was kinda cool. I wanted to find her. I wanted to pursue her. It was foreign, but enticing at the same time.

So first of all, I should probably share (while blushing) that I met a boy. A really cute boy who cares about me regardless of my past. It might not be surprising that a girl from my treatment center set us up and she knew what kind of guy would be right for me. We began talking a month or two before I stopped writing. He knows all about my past and still likes me just as much as I like him. Crazy, right??!! I never thought this would happen. I never thought someone could find out about my past (and I mean all of my past) and still care about me. Never in my life will I be more happy about being proven wrong. He's a keeper! And a cutie! :)


In addition to the new boyfriend, I also transferred all of my credits, started at a new school, and moved into my own studio apartment on campus. I LOVE IT! I'm sure being out of my parents basement is a huge part of this new found independence, but I also feel like I am finally pursuing my dreams. Sure, I often feel out of place being 26 years old in an undergrad program, but it's always comforting to hear my classmates would never guess I'm that old. 

If I am being completely honest here, this semester has been incredibly challenging. I am taking eighteen credits (a full time student takes twelve) and am finally finishing up my general education credits, which means I am taking statistics, econ, politics, a basic skills English class (a university requirement) I am BEYOND qualified for, and (my one saving grace) a global cultures class. At this point in the semester I am struggling to find the motivation to finish my stats, econ, politics, and pointless English class on a strong note. Never again in my life will I use the skills and concepts being taught in these classes. EVER. 

I already have a gosh darn associates degree for goodness sakes. Why am I taking these ridiculous courses?

At the same time, however, I am learning these unfortunate circumstances are a part of life. Give me six more weeks and I will be free of those silly general required classes. It might have taken me eight years to reach this point (finishing up my gen eds), but I'm so close to the finish line! The other day my best friend reminded me that "C's equal degrees," and even though the perfectionist in me wants to scream and pull my hair out over a C, my best friend is right. My final goal is my degree and sometimes C's (especially in stats and econ) are good enough.


Let's talk about my eating habits since moving out on my own. Buying my own groceries has never been a problem, but buying them on a budget (especially with the culinary degree under my belt) has been difficult. Luckily, during my first week of classes I began craving Ramen Noodles; and that's no joke. Sure, I have days where I crave salads, but I have found a way to shop the sale prices and feed my needs. Cooking for one is difficult, don't get me wrong. Just tonight I had bacon (that was left over from the weekend and needed to be cooked) and popcorn for dinner. Do I recommend meals like that that? No way. But sometimes when you are a poor young adult, meals like that are necessary. I might even have a bowl of ice cream (my boyfriend and I bought over the weekend) before bed to assure I get my calories in. I'm learning to be flexible and that is HUGE. 

One thing that is a constant struggle for me is body image. A few weeks ago I had a bridesmaids dress fitting for my favorite cousin's (and the only sister I've ever had) wedding. Not only did I cry all the way home after the fitting but my eating disordered mind also compared my body to everyone in the wedding party's body type. Sure, I've been shopping since I left treatment, but not with a bunch of girls who have never had eating disorders. Not with girls who's boobs fit perfectly into a certain style while I still look flat-chested in comparision. Not with six other bridesmaids staring at how I fit into the dress. 

Luckily, however, we were given a choice of two different dresses and I found one that is most flattering to my figure. Even with this luxury, I still struggled with the whole experience. The alterations are coming up in a month or two and I can only imagine how difficult that will be. But, luckily, a good friend reminded me that this day is not about me. It's about the bride and her big day. If I am uncomfortable than it is not the end of the world; it is actually the goal.  
The bride is the center of attention.

So in a nutshell that's where I am today.
My best friend is still my soul mate.
I am still recovering from an eating disorder.
My weight remains constant but I still struggle with body image and anxiety.
School is crazy and will be until I graduate.
I found someone who cares for me regardless of my weight.
And I am happier than ever.

Sure, I still have plenty of life (and body image) related things to write about from time to time and I will do my best to share here on this blog, but please know I am thriving. Life is hard sometimes, but I'm happy.

PROGRESS. PROGRESS. PROGRESS.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Life > Eating Disorder


Recovery continues to be a strange place for me these days. I find myself avoiding this blog and running from talking or thinking about anything eating disorder related, which is completely opposite from how I was a few short weeks ago. It almost feels like life is becoming more important than the eating disorder, and while that's a wonderful thing, it also makes me a little uneasy.

Life is actually pretty great right now.  Last week I finished up my first (and only) semester back at the university I failed out of a few years ago. I found a way to face my daily triggers and push through the courses - which isn't something I was sure I could ever do, but I did it. Wait, not only did I do it, I also ended up getting all As.

In three weeks I'll be starting at a new university and am finally moving back out on my own. My housing arrangements were just finalized yesterday and I could not be more excited. For the past year or so I have felt trapped living in my parents basement, but there is finally an end in sight. The past couple of months have been spent worrying about the future and driving myself crazy for no reason. Things really do seem to fall into place with time, patience, and a little hard work.

There are also a few new relationships developing in my life right now. New friends have come into my life and I have been lucky enough to reconnect with a few old friends. It's a really nice change to see my social circle slowly developing again. As I begin this new chapter at the new school, hopefully the number of new friends will continue to increase. I don't think many people realize how isolating eating disorders can be or how scary it can be to put yourself out there after years of being sick. Thankfully, my fears of never being accepted due to my past have been proven wrong.

Eating, as unbelievable as this may sound, has almost become second nature. Don't get me wrong, I still have days where I try on every single sweater in my closet only to leave the house with a heavy bad body image cloud hanging over my head - but what girl doesn't experience that from time to time? 

Recovery is no longer about food for me. In fact, I don't think it has been about food for awhile now. Recovery has become a constant battle against my inner, incredibly harsh self-critic. I'm starting to think this battle and constant quest for self-improvement is what recovery is all about. It is possible I will spend the rest of my life searching for this so-called "happy place," but I have learned over the past few weeks just how important it is to focus on how far I have come rather than how far I still have to go.

This place in recovery is also strange because I feel like I will somehow begin to relapse if I continue to allow my life grow larger than the disorder. A good friend of mine gave me the most perfect advice last night, "Your life revolved around EDs for years! And now separation from that is an option. It is reasonable to want to take that!"

Progress.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas List


How is it possible we are only fifteen days away from Christmas? How is it possible this is finals week already? I swear, just yesterday I was still wearing flip flops and working on my summer tan; today there are four or five inches of snow on the ground and temperatures aren't even supposed to peak in the twenties. Can someone please tell me where the time goes?!

Yesterday my mom asked me if I would put together a list of gifts I want for Christmas this year. I'll be honest, in years past this has been one my favorite tasks. My Christmas lists have always been a good page or two (or three or four) in length just in case my parents magically discovered extra spending money that year.

This year, however, I am finding it incredibly difficult to come up with much of a list at all. The two things I do have on my list are a haircut and a pair of jeans; both of which I could probably do without (well, except maybe the hair cut. I might end up taking a pair of kitchen scissors to my locks if I don't do something about this hair in the next fifteen days). 

Maybe this is a sign of my old age officially kicking in. This year Christmas isn't necessarily about Christmas morning. While I was a kid, and while I was sick, the more gifts I unwrapped Christmas morning the better I felt about myself. I wanted to tell all of my friends I now owned the latest piece of technology - whether it was a computer or a phone or whatever. I wanted to show up at school after break in my new clothes because I knew everyone else would be doing the same. Christmas gifts gave me a false and very temporary boost in self-esteem and distracted me from actually enjoying the Christmas season.

Also, for several years Christmas was an anxiety-filled time for me. All of the family parties, cookies, and heavy winter comfort foods sent my eating disorder into panic mode. Rather than spending my days running around campus alone, not only was I forced to sit with uncomfortable emotions while on break, I was also surrounded by people who I thought had a close eye on my eating habits. Maybe recovery has taught me a thing or two about the joys of Christmas, too.

Again, this year is somehow different than Christmas's past. Maybe I have finally learned the road to inner peace forces us to dig much deeper than material things. Don't get me wrong, if I really wanted to come up with a longer Christmas list, I could absolutely do so. Instead, for a change, I think I will see what happens if I ask for less.

I just might be surprised and receive "more" as a result.

Progress.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's About Self-Care


Over the past few weeks I have had several people ask me if I am okay. Compared to the constant writing and publishing of posts the first year of my recovery brought, I have been slacking a little. My best friend recently asked if something had changed to cause this lack of blogging, but I was unable to pinpoint one specific reason.

Maybe I am avoiding certain uncomfortable emotions by not writing as much. Maybe this is a sign I am stepping forward into the next phase of recovery. Maybe I just can't think of things to write about everyday anymore. Maybe life is starting to become more relevant than the eating disorder.

I found this quote last night and thought it was perfect. A week or two ago I had a chat with my therapist about how I sometimes feel guilty for not blogging, which is silly. It has become such an important part of my recovery, so it makes sense why it might seem like I am struggling. I assure you, however, by taking a step back I am learning to practice a little self-care.
 


"Your needs don’t make you too much.
They don’t make you selfish or weak or greedy.
They make you human. We all have needs. 

And those hungers aren’t something we should feel ashamed of.
They’re normal, we didn’t get enough of them as children hungers.
Affections we’ve been deprived of by the people who are supposed to care for us.
Connections we needed to feel whole and spaces we needed to feel safe.
Cravings we’ve been taught we didn’t deserve.
Appetites we’ve learned to suppress and fill with guilt.
Again and again we’ve neglected our needs 
because we’ve been taught that they were too much— 
that we were too much.

But we don’t have to any longer.
You don’t have to.
Whether you need support, alone time, affection, connection,
validation, or reassurance that you are loved — 
it is more than okay to ask for what you need.

Making your needs known isn’t about being demanding or selfish.
It’s about self-care.
It’s about creating a safer space for yourself.
It’s about using your voice and speaking your truth.
It’s about giving yourself permission to take up space.
It’s about listening to your hungers and honoring them.
It’s about honoring yourself."
 -Daniell Koepke



I think this idea of practicing self-care during recovery (and life in general) is often overlooked. There have been countless occasions over the past year and a half where I have felt guilty for needing more time to heal. Time and patience can be incredibly irritating at times, but they also happen to be a huge part of self-care.

Right now I am doing what is best for my health and recovery by trying to find balance between my eating disorder/blogging world and the new person I am becoming without the eating disorder. I have a feeling writing will always be a part of my life in some form or another; this certainly is not the end of my blogging days. However, I needed to take a step back for a week or two and that's perfectly okay.

Progress.