Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thief of Joy


[kuhm-pair]  verb, com·pared, com·par·ing, noun
 to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences

Sometimes it feels like everyone I know, that is within five years of my age is getting married, having kids, graduating school, finding full time jobs, supporting themselves, the list goes on and on. Here I am, however, currently living with my parents again, back in school and totally single. It feels like my pace is slower than everyone else and it doesn't seem fair.

I have struggled with this for years. Instead of taking care of my health, I continually ignored my inner voice as a way to fit in with what everyone else was doing; heaven forbid I stray from the norm.  Why does it often times feel like if we do something that is different in any way from how everyone else does it, there is automatically something wrong with us?

Monday night, for example, it probably was a bit shocking to some of you that I shared my full story with alcohol. I will admit, I'm still shocked that I put it all out there. When I compare my life and the things that have happened to most of the people around me, it is blatantly obvious that I have strayed from the norm. Thankfully not many people in my everyday life can relate to some of the experiences I have had. 

However, after 48 hours of processing the fact that I no longer have anything to hide, I have realized something that has changed my outlook. Think about this: If I had never shared my story with any of you, would that have made me a different person? Would you look at me any differently than you do now? Regardless of my past, I'm still me. 

Give me a minute to let that sink in- I'm still me. 

For about nine months now I have chosen to keep my drinking problems a secret because I was petrified of what people would think of me. At first, I thought of myself as this horrible person because of this horrible thing that I had done and it was almost unbearable to even live with myself. I couldn't stop comparing myself to others. My path was different and I didn't have the strength to accept that. My life wasn't perfectly put together the way our society believed it should be. I was so caught up in measuring up to others that I forgot to live my own life. 

Even though most people wouldn't choose to share their secrets and insecurities as a way to heal, it works for me. I highly doubt I would ever have been able to forgive myself if I had kept it all bottled up. 

Compared to most of  you, I am very different; but that's no reason to beat myself up. What's the point in living a joy-less life just because my life has taken me down an unbeaten path? Just because I'm not getting married, working a full time job or have life struggles doesn't make me any less of a person.

Comparison is a thief of joy and the more I repeat that, the more it seems to be sinking in.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Sick As Your Secrets

Once again, instead of studying for biology, I have decided writing sounded much more appealing; hopefully this doesn't become a problem as the semester continues...

My mind is racing today. The are some very important things happening in my life right now. As I continue to progress in my recovery, things seem to get more and more difficult. Why is that? Personally, I think the opposite should be true. Right? The better my coping skills get, the easier my life should be. Apparently that isn't quite how it works.

There is something that I've been wanting to talk about for quite sometime, but haven't had the guts to do it yet. Honesty, I have learned, is the number one most important thing for me in my recovery. So if that is true, I guess it's time to share the rest of my story. 

As most of you know, I recently began writing for Libero Network. After communicating with them on Twitter and volunteering to share my stories (eating disorder and alcoholism), they asked me to be a part of their team. My story about the struggles I faced with alcohol is probably the main reason I was asked to be a part of the team. Today that story was published, which probably explains why my mind is racing (Read my full story here).
For obvious reasons, I am a nervous wreck as a result. This might be too much information, but I don't think I have stopped sweating since this afternoon when I saw that picture of me and a link to my story on my Facebook newfeed; Libero Network had shared a link with the world revealing my deepest, darkest secret. This isn't something that many people in my life know about. It has been kept a secret to protect my precious pride.

Well, I can't take it anymore. For almost a year, I have kept the fact that I got a DUI a secret and it's starting to haunt me. Sharing all of my struggles with the eating disorder has allowed a tremendous weight to be lifted off my shoulders, but the shame from the alcohol abuse is still suffocating me. 

Not many people realize that eating disorders and substance abuse of some kind go together quite frequently. For me, personally, once I found out drinking did a much better job of numbing my anxieties than starving myself did, it became my new addiction of choice. But for whatever reason, talking about eating disorders is much more socially acceptable than alcoholism and I think it's time to put an end to that. Yes, it's shameful and scary to talk about, but it sure beats keeping this big, black secretive cloud over my head for the rest of my life.

The reason I have chosen to share this with all of you is, I feel like I have finally reached a point where I can see my struggles with alcohol as a blessing in disguise. Without getting in trouble for my actions, it's hard to say where I would be today; that's actually a really scary thought. Today I am so thankful.

Like I have said before, my favorite recovery saying is, "You are as sick as your secrets." My secrets are officially gone.

(Serious) Progress (!!!!!)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Reintroducing (Healthy) Fitness

Almost two weeks ago my first article for Libero Network was published about why it's important to take a break from exercise during recovery. (Read it here!) So of course, ironically, the very same day my therapist told me I'm to a point where I should start incorporating a little more exercise into my regimen.

A few months ago if I was given permission to exercise I would have jumped at the opportunity. My mindset was still highly eating disordered and exercise was all about burning calories. I couldn't walk around the grocery store or out to get the mail without thinking about how many steps I was taking and the number of calories I was leaving behind. It's time, however, to slowly begin the process of learning to exercise in a healthy manner.

So here I am, two weeks after exercise has been prescribed and I have yet to take action. Why is it that exercise always seems so much more appealing tomorrow? 

As a kid I was constantly on the go. At one point I was playing three sports and playing travel softball in the summer; I've never considered myself to be a sedentary person. Even after high school, I seemed to pick jobs where I was constantly running around a kitchen for hours on end. Sitting still didn't happen very often.

Eight months and fifty pounds later, it's safe to say I am in the worst shape of my life. Last week after taking the stairs to the third floor at school, I caught myself out of breath and seeking out the nearest drinking fountain. When did this happen? This afternoon I took a twenty-five minute walk and there's a good chance I will be sore by morning.

So why is it I seem to be having such a difficult time starting up an exercise routine? This seems to be a problem for many of us, not just eating disorder patients. 

With yoga being my exercise of choice, I'm terrified of making a fool of myself. Not only will I be the least in shape, but my flexibility has always been terrible. Just like eating, exercise is something I will have to re-teach myself how to do. There's a major difference between exercising for enjoyment and exercising to burn calories. In moderation, like everything else in this world, fitness can be a huge part of a healthy lifestyle; I just need to make sure I have the right mindset when I finally do get started.

After doing a little research, I have found that eating disorder recovery and yoga are a match made in heaven. Rather than competing with the person next to me running five miles on a treadmill, focusing on the self and being centered is taught in yoga. Mind body awareness is a great way for those who struggle with body image to become more in tune with their bodies. Yoga is about letting go of negative thoughts and judgments. There have also been studies done that suggest yoga can help relieve anxiety, improve posture, boost energy and strengthen the mind. 

I'm running out of reasons to keep avoiding a yoga class. 

Oh and I forgot to mention, my parents paid for my first few classes as a Christmas gift; so there's truly no excuse.

Just like every time we are pushed to face something new in life, it can leave a nervous jitter behind. There have been way too many times I have ran away from something new because it left me with an unsettled feeling- but I'm done with that. I made a choice to trust my treatment team a long time ago and this situation isn't any different.

Sadly, my days of being a lazy bum are over. In no way does this mean I will be spending everyday this week on the treadmill; my therapist and I would be content with one measly yoga class. But, like many things I have chosen to leave in my past, after a little time, it all starts to make sense why things happen the way they do. For this week, my goal will be to go outside of my comfort zone and add a little fitness back into my life.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Laughter in Recovery

I think I am going to start an Emotions Series. Eating disorders and emotions are so closely intertwined and the more I can begin to understand my own feelings, the more manageable my eating disorder becomes. I will do my best to sum up each week with an emotion and relate it to my recovery.

This past week, I have felt obnoxiously happy. Instead of being thrilled about this, I've actually been a little freaked out by it. When was the last time I felt this way? This isn't normal; this is new and different. Am I allowed to feel true joy? Am I allowed to simply be content with the things that are happen around me?

Last night I was lucky enough to spend the evening with my Grandma Markham, my mom's mom and my mom's two sisters. After dinner we were sitting around my mom's computer looking at a map of Mackinaw Island and reliving their annual girls weekend from last fall. Never in my life have I laughed so hard at a couple of old ladies. They are all such genuinely happy people and the feeling must have been contagious because I can't seem to stop smiling.
At one point my mom and Aunt Kathy were rolling on the ground laughing hysterically and before I knew it I had joined them. My cheeks and stomach quickly became sore and I lost my breath from laughing so hard. I felt like a little kid again. Laughter is contagious; just like a bad mood is contagious. I have learned how important it is to surround myself with people who make me smile and bring out the best of me in any given situation.

Here's a few of my favorite reasons why everyone should have a good laugh today:

  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.
  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
  • Humor shifts perspective. Allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

 There have been many days during my recovery process that have seemed impossible, until I found a reason to laugh. Life is overwhelming sometimes but I'm finally starting to see and feel the benefits of surrounding myself with genuinely happy people. For most of my life I have taken these small, blissful moments for granted; but today I feel like my struggles have given me the opportunity to enjoy them that much more.

Happiness. Bliss. Uncontrollable laughter. Joy.

These are the things I am feeling today- it's nice to stop and take the time to notice it for a change.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Unconditionally Me

Instead of studying for a biology quiz tomorrow, I found this (poem?) and decided it was much more interesting than memorizing the correct order of the taxonomic scheme.

As I was reading it, I imaged this as a letter I wrote to my anxious brain, perfectionism tendencies and self criticisms. Sometimes a little self compassion is not only nice, it's absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, I tend to forget that more than I like to admit.

Unconditionally Me
By: Jim Messina

I am who I am
You cannot change me so please do not try
So let up with the criticisms, put downs and attempts to make me fit your "box" for me
Face it; it is easier for you just to accept me as I am than to work at making me who you want me to be
Of course you do not have to agree with what I say or do
Just accept me as the human I am
I am weak, have sinned, failed, and have made many mistakes in my life
Hey, that's what makes me the "unique me" that I am
I will never be perfect, ideal or the "image" you want for me
Accept me for who I am as I accept you for who you are
Let's have fun together and allow our "real selves" the freedom to be us
We can be a team of unconditional mutual love and acceptance if you relax and let it happen.

Right now the best part of recovery is discovering who I am without my eating disorder. It's taken me almost a year to reach this point and actually begin the process of allowing myself to be Unconditionally Me. Finally, my faults have been admitted. Finally, I can forgive and start to rebuild.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Eating disordered or not, control is something we all strive for in one aspect of life or another. Whether that control is over major things, like money or jobs, or minor things like folding laundry before putting it away, everyday we make decisions that ultimately direct our lives. Some people are lucky enough to have a good sense of the things they can and cannot control; while some of us, unfortunately, aren't so lucky.

In most cases, eating disorders are all about gaining control. As a child, I often felt like I was unable to live up to certain expectations; I wasn't athletic enough, smart enough, outgoing enough, funny enough, pretty enough. My younger days were spent with a never ending sense of inadequacy. Who set such ridiculous standards for my life? My parents? Teachers? Coaches? Nope, none of the above- it was all in my head. No matter how hard I tried, the person I saw in the mirror was never enough. I felt powerless and out of control of my own thoughts.

Whether we realize it or not, most situations in life we are absolutely powerless over. In my perfect world, everyone would react to all situations in a kind, friendly manner, long lines wouldn't exist and slow drivers wound never set a tire in the passing lane. Too bad my perfect world will never exist. The likelihood of any of those things happening is probably a negative three on a scale of one to ten.

Weight loss on the other hand, is simple science; burn more calories than you consume and boom the number on the scale goes down. While everything else in life seemed to be chaotic, my weight remained my go-to safe haven because I knew if I worked hard enough that number would remain constant. Finally, I had discovered something that I was "good enough" at and by taking it to extremes, not only could I be good enough, I could be best. I was in control.

Now that my brain has returned to a healthy state and functions properly, I am starting to see how OUT of control my life had become.

After mastering the art of throwing temper tantrums as my treatment team began taking away any means of control my eating disorder had over my life, I began to feel exposed. Without my eating disorder, I felt like that powerless little girl with no sense of self worth. I was and still am at times, incredibly vulnerable. What will people think when I take off the eating disorder mask and become my authentic self? How will I cope with anything if I am not in control of at least one aspect of my life? 

Today, however, I have finally come to realize that I am more in control of my life than ever before. Somehow by letting go of the need for control, I've found a way to gain it in return. I cannot live my life worrying about what others might think or not being true to my beliefs; trust me, I've tried. 

 “How would your life be different if…You stopped worrying about things you can’t control and started focusing on the things you can? Let today be the day…You free yourself from fruitless worry, seize the day and take effective action on things you can change.” -Steve Maraboli

I love this quote. Think about it for a second- how different would life be if we really could let go of the things we can't control? The only thing in this crazy life that we have the power to control is ourselves. It has taken me months to accept the fact that my treatment team is completely in control of my weight; but in the process I have been given the opportunity to let go and begin to find myself in return. 


Sunday, January 20, 2013


Before you read any further, I want to make it clear that I have absolutely no intentions of supporting anything pro eating disorder. The purpose of this post is actually the exact opposite. Yes, I would like to bring awareness to the issue, but not in a positive way. At all. 

No matter what social media network I join, as of late, it seems like running into "thinspo," "fitspo" and "pro-ana/mia" websites is inevitable. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this means, thinspo is short for thinspiration, fitspo for fitsporation and pro-ana/mia for pro-anorexia/bulimia. Yes, there are actually websites out there that promote eating disorders and even go as far as giving tips on how to become better at the disease. Pictures of emaciated women (and sometimes men) are everywhere; used as motivation. 

This is clearly an unhealthy practice. 

"Fitspo" on the other hand, might seem like a healthier option, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. It is extremely common for those in recovery to make the switch from thinspo to fitspo; with the belief that once they have a body like a fitness model, they will be happy. Fitspo is also popular among non-eating disordered people.  But, again, I have to wonder what the motive behind their obsession is. 

Is it really healthy to post pictures of unattainably muscular bodies all over your social media site of choice? To me, this is also unhealthy.

When I type "inspiration" in a search box, an overwhelming majority of the results are thinspo or fitspo. Since when did being sick become inspirational? I can't take it any longer.

Believe it or not, I have had not one, but multiple thinspo blogs follow this blog and other blogs I am a part of. Don't get me wrong, social media has been one of the biggest components to my recovery (welcome to the 21st century), but there is a downside to everything. In the beginning, seeing those pictures was a bit triggering, but now it just breaks my heart. When did this become such a normal thing to come across on the internet?

Something very important to think about is, no matter what the number on the scale says, will it ever make life better? No matter what the drug of choice might be- thinspo, fitspo or pro-ana/mia, will altering your body actually bring happiness or will it only create a deeper need for perfectionism?

So, being the dork that I am, I thought it would be fun to start a trend in the opposite direction.

Happy-spo? Lovemylife-spo? Mybodyisperfect-spo? Optimism-spo? Freedom-spo? What should I name my "spo" or inspiration? I think I like "freespo." I'm free from unattainable, eating disordered sources of inspiration. Freedom. My body is right where it supposed to be and for the first time in my life I'm not striving to be anything different.

Why can't we just be content with the way we look today, in this very moment? Somewhere along the way priorities have shifted and the number on the scale began to dictate not only eating disordered people, but our society in general.

If I have learned anything during my recovery journey, it is that there is so much more to life than my weight. Thinspo might always be out there, but it is not something I have to take part in. Today I am living a "freespo" lifestyle.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good To Know

Because I'm a nerd and tend to save things like this on my computer, I thought I should take the time to share some of this information with all of you (might need to zoom in on a few of them). Some of these numbers are astounding, but they are the truth behind eating disorders.


 Anytime I have the opportunity to spread awareness and bring out the facts it makes me feel accomplished. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

Unexpected Triggers

Up to this point, I feel like I have managed my reaction and approach to triggering situations pretty well. 

For example, I avoid the gym, buffets, diet talk, certain websites, and even a few different foods that don't sit well with me. Shopping is always a sticky situation, but I have developed a few strategies that help me survive the process. Pushing back meal times, allowing myself to get too hungry, even eating too fast can send my trigger red flags up in the air. But, like I said, over the past few months I have learned to think about triggers in a healthier manner and was feeling confident for a change.

Until yesterday. 

In my biology class we just started a chapter that breaks down carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and proteins and talks about how they are used in the body. A discussion about calories and metabolism was started. I began squirming in my seat a little, but kept my cool. There was something about being in a room full of people talking about calories that made me want to take a bathroom break or something.

The high fructose corn syrup and childhood obesity debate was somehow brought up next. A girl in the front row was giving her two cents and made a statement saying, "The obesity epidemic is just as bad as eating disorders in this country. If people could learn to listen to their bodies and feed them appropriately, we wouldn't be having this discussion."

For those of you who know me well, you can picture me sitting there biting my tongue and scratching my head furiously. 

After that statement was made, a boy, also sitting in the front row said, "I agree. Eating disorders of any form are confusing. Nutrition is basic stuff." Followed by our teacher, "I could never be anorexic, I love my food too much (laughing). I don't get it either. The obesity problem makes more sense, but I am a chocoholic. That's my eating disorder (still laughing)." At this point the class is roaring with laughter.

Really? Did that just happen? Wake me up. 

At this point my hair was a complete mess from feverishly scratching my head and I was ready to start pulling it out if this conversation continued. I wonder if anyone could tell how that I was crawling out of my skin. Surely the girl sitting next to me could hear my heart pounding. After I felt my eyes begin to well up with tears I had to leave the room and collect myself in the ladies room.

Unexpected triggers. Surely I'm not the only one who has dealt with type of thing. Honestly, I can see where my reaction was a little extreme, but I have never been in a room full of people laughing at eating disorders before. How does one deal with triggers that seem to come out of the blue like this? If you think about it, this type of conversation happens all the time; the general public really doesn't understand.

Being the optimist that I am, finding the progress in this situation has been a challenge. I spent the afternoon beating myself up for not being able to handle it. Triggering things happen every single day and I have been able to  move on with my day, so what made this any worse?

But, after a good night's rest, I have found a little more self compassion. Granted, the normal person wouldn't react the way I did, my normality is not the same right now. Just like I know I can't go to the gym like normal people, certain situations will arise that I have to handle differently. 

Unexpected triggers will always be there, but that's life. There's no avoiding it. How I choose to deal with those triggers is the only thing I can control.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Media & Body Image

This semester in my English class, we are writing a semester long paper about our field of study. Mine happens to be social work; specializing in eating disorders. After only a week of researching for this paper, I have already dug up some pretty fascinating stuff. Body image, eating disorders and the media has particularly stood out to me.

“Every society has a way of torturing its women, whether by binding their feet or by sticking them into whalebone corsets. What contemporary American culture has come up with is designer jeans.”
—Joel Yager, M.D.

Something I didn't realize until now is, societies throughout history have all had varying expectations on what a woman's body should look like. Those with money seem to be able to keep up with the current trends, leaving the rest of us feeling inadequate and worthless.

A few the most fascinating examples throughout history include:

-Women were expected to be fertile and physically strong in colonial times due to harsh living environments. In order to survive women could not be weak or thin; it was considered unattractive at the time.
-During 19th century times women were expected to have a tiny waste and a large bust line. If a man could put his hands around a woman's waste, she was considered desirable. Also during this time, there was a large emphasis place on fragility and daintiness.  Women went as far as having ribs removed to reduce the size of their wastes and corsets were popular among women with money.
-In the 20th century, women began the feminist movement; pants and short hair became trendy. During this period, boyish and curveless figures became the new big thing. 
-During the second world war, things change drastically once again. Women went back to work and started playing sports, which led to a stronger, fuller body type. 
-Once again, during the 1960s and 1970s, ideals shifted to focus on stick thin supermodels like Twiggy.

In today's world, messages about body image are just as confusing as ever when. Twenty five years ago, for example, supermodels were 8% thinner than the average women, but in today's world supermodels are 23% thinner. While stick thin models are valued in the fashion industry, celebrities have slowly begun to fight against that ideal. I find it difficult to keep up. Also, those with endless amounts of cash can invest in plastic surgery, personal trainers, and airbrushing to help their appearance seem "perfect." More often than not, the bodies we see in magazines are not real.

The obesity epidemic in our country is also at an all time high. How can today's world have such drastic weight problems? I think the ideal to look a certain way has unintentionally caused binge eating disorders and emotional eating problems, leading to obesity. Again, it goes back to the money issue; those who are better off can afford the healthier lifestyles and it seems unfair.

The first toy I remember playing with was a Barbie doll. Talk about unrealistic proportions.

 So, although it might be confusing and at times frustrating to constantly be given different weight standards to abide by, I think it's really important to realize that they are unrealistic. Everyday I have a choice to be happy and healthy at a weight that is appropriate for my body, or I can make myself sick and try to fit a forever changing mold. 

I think my choice is pretty clear these days.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Give It Time

 I have found myself frustrated with time recently.  
"Just give it time. Everything will work out."
"I know it seems impossible today, but with time it gets easier."
"Time heals everything."

I've heard it all before. Recovery from anything seems to revolve around our precious time. Although I haven't even been in recovery for a long period of time, it often feels like I've been working at this for years.

We are given twenty four hours of time every single day; some days we use those hours wisely and some days we are forced to do things we would rather run from. This morning I would have given just about anything for more time in my warm, cozy bed; while this afternoon in my biology class, I was ready to pull my hair out if the time didn't start passing faster. Why is it that more often than not, we spend just as much time wishing our time away as we do enjoying it?

Time is free,
But it's priceless.
You can't own it,
But you can use it.
You can't keep it,
But you can spend it.
Once you've lost it,
You can never get it back.

Time is free, but it's priceless. Can you think of anything else in today's society that is free? I don't think I can; but maybe that's why we take advantage of it. Most days I live my life like time will always be there, but is that really true? Typically, things that are priceless are given a high value, so why do I spend time wishing it away? 

You can't own it, but you can use it. I think we all wish we could hold onto and only own the happy times in our life, but how would we ever recognize them without experiencing the bad? I actually like the thought of having the opportunity to use our bad times, but not own them. During recovery I'm often reminded of difficult times from my past, but those memories don't own me. Over time, I have learned to use my darkest days as motivation.

You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Every single day, I spend my time meal planning, journaling, thinking, living, breathing, and eating (haha) recovery. As much as I fight it, I can't spend the rest of my life in my comfort zone. Recovery means pushing forward and accepting change- over time. Letting go and not keeping the safe things that have gotten me to this point is something I hate, but it's necessary.

Once you've lost it, you can never get it back. Reminiscing on old, more innocent times in my life, I often find myself wishing I could turn back time and get those days back; but I can't. That's the crazy thing about time, it never stops; not for anyone.

I realize my thoughts seem all over the place tonight, but spending too much time thinking about time does that to people. Spending even more time dedicating myself to recovery than I already do seems daunting and unrealistic. Maybe putting a little more trust into to the process instead of rushing it should be prescribed.

Recovery might seem time consuming and never ending, but it's time well spent. One day I will look back on this time in my life and be thankful for what it has taught me.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oh Happy Day

Alright, I feel a little cheesy, maybe even over-the-top using this video, but it perfectly describes how I feel at this very moment. And I can't help but smile as their singing picks up.

The first full week of the New Year really could not have gone any much better. Besides going to the wrong building and being late for my very first class of the semester, (and feeling like a freshman again) school went smoothly. 

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would be able to come down to help out with an EDSN (Eating Disorder Support Network... I think?) meeting at the treatment center I went to last year. Of course, I said I was one hundred and fifty percent in and couldn't be more thrilled. These meetings are held once a month after program hours and I would be part of a panel of former patients doing well in recovery. Each meeting has a different topic. This month, parents, friends, and loved ones of those struggling with an eating disorder were told to come with questions for all of us on the panel. It was a really smart way for parents to get inside of our heads a little and start understanding the eating disorder thought process. 

Last week, I was also asked to come in and talk to the patients during their afternoon group therapy. It was the same kind of set up; I told a little bit of my story and then had more of a question and answer session. Again, I accepted with a huge smile on my face.

Unfortunately, as the days went by and January 10th got closer, I began to feel my dreaded anticipatory anxiety build up. This is something I excel in. As something eventful approaches in my life, I start to get worked up days, sometimes weeks in advance. If you read my "What If..." post, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Instead of living in the moment, I jump ahead and drive myself insane thinking of all the possible outcomes.

Waiting for anything kills me; in my perfect world, we wouldn't ever have to wait.

The day before my little trip, I found myself in a cycle of perfectionism thoughts. I was worried I wouldn't appear perfect to my old treatment team and I wouldn't be doing well enough in my recovery. As much as I don't want to admit this, I also found myself shopping and buying a new outfit for the big day. It's not like I was going on a first date or something; I really had no one to impress. 

After spilling my guts to a good friend and telling her how much I was freaking out, she reminded me that recovery isn't perfect, so why should I expect the same out of myself? She told me to simply be real, be genuine, be ME. She said they are looking for real people in recovery with real struggles and insight.

At first I thought, "Yeah, whatever. Easy for you to say."

However, thankfully, on my drive down there I started to understand what my friend was trying to say. This entire recovery process I have been trying to figure out who Kelsi Cronkright really is deep down inside and whether I like it or not, this eating disorder will always be a part of me. That is real, that is genuine, and that is ME. If I could simply relax and share the truth of my story, then it would be beyond perfect or good enough. 

Both meetings, with the patients and the parents, went well in my opinion. My nerves were higher with the patients, but I think that's normal. After all of the needless anxiety, I realized now more than ever, that this is what I am meant to do with my life- spread awareness and do my best to help others with similar struggles to my own. 

That might have been the best day I've had in years. I have a much greater sense of motivation and self confidence than ever before. If I could sing or dance like the Sister Act 2 choir, I would be doing just that all day long, but I can't, so smiling will have to do for now.

Be real, be genuine, be YOU.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What If... ?

I've been wanting to write a post during a time when I'm feeling a bit anxious or upset about something. Well, that time is now and I would give anything to crawl back into bed for the rest of the day.

This week has been jam packed with a wide variety of emotions and it's only Wednesday. I feel like I'm stuck on a roller coaster ride that never ends and I'm quickly feeling my breakfast creep up to the back of my throat. My mood is irritable, distracted, unfriendly, and tired. There are so many reasons to be overjoyed right now, so why don't I always feel that way? My mom greeted me with, "What's wrong with you, Wrinkle?" last night when I got home; meaning I had such an awful look on my face it was causing a wrinkle between my eyes. 

For me, this is anxiety.

My brain is in overdrive; thinking of the things I need to get done for tomorrow, the next day, next month even. That stupid to-do list has multiplied by ten million this week and I don't feel like I can handle it sometimes. Rather than focusing on the things I grateful for today, I am constantly worried about the future. What if I fail? What if I don't finish something on time or do something to the best of my ability? What if I can't handle this?

What if?
What if?
What if?

Now this might seem like a crazy idea, but what if I somehow thought of these relentless voices in my head a little differently? What if I could tell myself that it's normal to feel this way? There are so many changes taking place in my life right now, what would happen if I cut myself a little slack for a change? What if I saw this as an opportunity to grow? Unfortunately, change is inevitable; I need to find a way to stop running from it. 

Most importantly, what if I could see this as another sign of progress? For the first time in years I am not attempting to numb out and avoid all of my emotions with an eating disorder. Right now, in this moment, I am sitting with an uncomfortable feeling and that too my friends, is...


Monday, January 7, 2013

First Day of School

Today is my first day of school.

Honestly, I have never felt more like a little kid in my entire life. Yesterday I spent way too much time organizing my books and folders, getting an outfit ready and even packing a sack lunch, all in preparation for my big first day of school. Last night my mom found this picture of me on my official first day of school about 20 years ago. So, obviously, I felt the need to pose with my backpack on this big day, too.

Me- "I'm so sick of this. I don't want to try anymore. I'm done."
My therapist- "Kelsi, this is one of the best opportunities you will ever have. This is a brand new start and you can do whatever you want with you life. How exciting!"
Me- "Okay, whatever. I'm still sick of this. I am losing my patients with recovery."

Like many of the conversations I've had with my poor therapist, this one seems to be repeated almost every single week. Yes, I understand that recovery is an opportunity for me to start over, but up until today it hasn't felt like it. What I often times forget to remind myself of is, that it has taken almost a year of preparation and hard work to get me ready for this day.

Last year at this time, I was beginning the downward spiral which ultimately led to my rock bottom. Eventually, I would like to share the details of my rock bottom, but I'm not quite ready for that today. What I can share at this time is, that I had lost everything and honestly didn't think I would ever be able to dig myself out of the mess I had created. I had completely given up on myself. I was a lost cause. My life seemed to have lost all sense of purpose and I did not believe I was capable of doing anything about it.

Today, however, everything changes. Finally, I can see that my rock bottom led me to discover my purpose in life and I couldn't be more grateful for that. With the start of school, also starts my journey towards rebuilding my life. That new start my therapist has been talking about for months is finally here and for the first time I finally understand what she was talking about.

There are many, many changes taking place in my life right now and while it's super exciting, I know it will also be another test in my recovery. This is just the beginning.

The little girl in the first picture has given me a little extra inspiration today. Her smile is genuine and innocent. She, too, is about to embark on a new journey and as frieghtening as it might be, she is ready. For the first time, probably ever, the girl in the second picture has the same genuine smile. If the little girl from 20 years ago can tackle a new beginning, then I finally feel like I am capable of that, too.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Keep Your Head Up, Love

I've had this song on repeat for about five days straight now. Not exaggerating. I suggest listening to it as you read this post.

Over the past week or so, I've been struggling with all of the emphasis around weight loss this time of year. Everywhere I turn, there's a new ad trying to convince me that now is the time to lose weight and be happy. Most of the people I know are changing their habits and getting in shape. Gym memberships and diet foods are on sale. There's no escaping it.

At first, this really got under my skin and I was down in the dumps for a few days. This is the first time in probably ten years that weight loss has not been one of my New Year's resolutions. I think I might have been feeling a little jealously even.

One of the most important things I have learned over the past few months is, sometimes it's important for me to be selfish. Not selfish in the sense of harming others, but simply doing what is right for myself and my recovery. This is one of those times. While weight loss might be the right thing for some people right now, it is not the right thing for me at this time.

Being selfish and doing what is right for my recovery has been a hard lesson to learn at times, but I feel like it's getting a little better everyday. Surrounding myself with supportive people and postive reinforcements has been such a blessing, making a huge impact on my wellbeing. Sometimes a little selfishness is not only acceptable, but it is necessary in life.

As difficult as this time of year might be at times, all I can do, is crank up my new pump-up-song a little louder, dance around my room and "keep my head up."


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who Am I?

Thinking back to the complete blur that was my first week of treatment, one thing that sticks out in my mind was the unbearable pain I felt as I started to let go of my eating disorder. For nearly a decade, I put on a mask and covered up who I really am deep down inside. 

Without an eating disorder, who am I? Seems like an easy enough question, but after spending my late teens and early twenties with my head buried in the ground, formulating an answer has been gruesome at times.

This list actually took me a few days to make. The exercise wasn't as straight forward as I was expecting, but here goes nothing. Without my eating disorder I am..

a sister
a daughter
a best friend
a cousin
a sock monkey lover
a morning person
a coffee drinker
a kind soul
a writer
a good listener
a wannabe traveler
a southern belle
a crier
a Detroit tigers fan
a child of the sun
a neat freak
a gum chewer
Muzzy's best friend
a giggler
a Carrie Bradshaw fan
far from perfect
a horrible driver
a culinary school graduate
an over thinker
a professional shower singer

For me, when I think about what recovery means to me, finding out who I am without an eating disorder is at the top of the list. Over the years, I'm sure this list will change and grow, and I'm sure I missed a few things that should be on the list today. However, a year ago this list didn't even exist. Deep down, I didn't think I was anything, except an eating disorder.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Time for Change


Today is the first day of the new year. I can't seem to escape the "it's time for a fresh start" and "today my entire life changes" posts all over the Internet. Let's leave 2012 behind and begin a brand new life today! Blah blah blah... I've heard it all before.

Don't get me wrong, I have a few simple things I would like to change in my life, too. However, I seem to be left questioning why it takes a brand new year to bring out this determination in people. What is it about change that makes it seem like it's only possible once a year? Every treadmill in town is currently being used and cigarette sales will be at an all time low today. It's time to tackle those pesky bad habits.

Back when my brother and I were in grade school, my dad would annoyingly wake us up with his world famous quote, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Make the most of it!" As I get older, and of course, wiser, I start to realize how much truth is in that simple quote. Every morning we start a new day; a clean slate. So what makes January 1 different than any other day of the year? As I sip my coffee this morning, like I do every morning, I have the same opportunities today as I did yesterday and the day before and the day before that.

According to the word change can be defined in a few different ways-
1. to become different, altered, or modified
2. a variation or deviation
3. the substitution of one thing or another

Change seems simple enough when described in these terms, but it's an illusion. The truth is, change can be the scariest thing in the world for some people. Change is unfamiliar and anxiety provoking, which in turn, typically sends people bolting in the opposite directions. By making a decision to change your life, you are also making a decision to try something brand new. There's no way to know if your efforts will be successful or if you will fail miserably. Change is a gamble.


Unfortunately, for most of us, myself included, change is a necessity in life. My life, and yours too, I'm sure, is drastically different than it was five years ago. Whether we realize it or not, change is happening all around us, every single day. Change is one of the greatest gifts we have in life, if we choose to see it that way. 

So, as the first few weeks of the New Year pass and willpower seems to vanish, maybe it is a good idea to ask yourself what is holding you back. Fear? Uncertainty? Anxiety? All three of these things get in my way every single day, but if I can learn to let go of them a little at a time, change might not seem so daunting. 

As resolutions are being put into action today, I think I will take my dad's advice this year. "Today is the first day of the rest of my life..." just like every other day; including January 1. If taking 2013 day by day makes change seem a little less terrifying, then that will be my resolution.

Day by day...