Monday, August 25, 2008

We Are All Special

I know that sounds like something out of a children's book, but it's true. So hear me out.

So often, there is a feeling of "specialness" associated with having an eating disorder. It's a big part of the reason people are afraid to really recover. They fear losing that specialness, that part of them that makes them someone, that feeling of power, that deep seated persona.

The thing is, we are all special. Specialness does not die with your eating disorder--it just gets re-applied, reassigned to something WORTH that feeling.

Why are bones special? Or feelings of hunger? Or conquering those feelings of hunger? Or being in control of depriving ourselves day after day? Why is self-sabotage special? Will holding onto unhealthy ways really keep us special? It's a fallacy. Believe me. It is.

Depression. Dying. Misery. Pain. Confusion. Since when are those things special? I mean, really special?

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: FIND OUT what REALLY makes you special.

Because I promise you--it's NOT your eating disorder.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Out of the Woods

Sometimes, remembering the hell of anorexia is frightening in the same way a nightmare is still frightening after you wake up. You know it's not real anymore, but you can't help feeling uneasy about it.

When I think of the girl I used to be, the pain I used to feel, the hole in which I used to live, I seem to stop breathing for a mere millisecond. Because I am consumed with the old feeling of desperation and fear and loathing. Then the instant passes--and quickly--because I am enveloped with the wonderful relief that I'm all right now. I've gotten out. I've made it through. And life is good. Actually good. I love life.

And I breathe that heavy sigh, letting air back into me, letting the memories flood back in a fashion I can handle now that my brain is completely aware that it's all in the past.

I can use my old pain to create new things--important things--and help other people. It wasn't all for nothing. It wasn't a struggle that I erased from my mind like it never happened. I can do something beneficial with the whole experience. Now.

I like to use this analogy when talking about my eating disorder, my recovery from it, and my recovered state: I'm out of the woods now. But I live in a house a mile down the road.

I think it symbolizes what being recovered is like. You're successfully out of danger. You're away from it. And you're happily living somewhere else. But you'll never forget it. And it's always there, at a distance, because it used to be a part of you even though it isn't any longer.

And something can come knocking on your door because you're not too far away. But you don't have to let it in.

People often ask me if writing about eating disorders and moderating a recovery site are difficult tasks for a recovered individual. I don't think so. They help me keep things in perspective. And since I'm not "in recovery" any longer, but consider myself "recovered" I'm in a good place where things can't touch me the way they could have in the past. I'm not triggered. I'm not apt to sink into a setback. I'm just living and wanting to help because I know what it feels like and because I was there once too. Helping other people always has the potential to be a bit draining, but it doesn't haunt me or make me think things I'd rather not think. I like have the purpose in my life--to share and help and advise and comfort and understand.

I'll never go back. I'm only going forward. And I want to take a lot of people with me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


What I'm about to say is pretty much the whole point of my blog...but at the same time, I don't flat-out say it enough:

Recovery is possible.

On a daily basis, I think my heart breaks a little for all the girls and women out there (and boys and men too) who are struggling with eating disorders. I think I'd be in pieces if I wasn't able to turn my breaking heart into a force of positivity and support. I know so many wonderful people suffering from a disease they wish to control. I know so many beautiful people who don't see their own beauty. I know so many people who have so much to offer the world, but are at a loss when it comes to helping themselves.

I've been there. I stared anorexia in the face and it took me over for a while...until I decided to bite back and take my life into my own hands instead of passing it off to an illness that would have been only too happy to kill me. I know that's putting it simply. It's not an easy process and sometimes it gets more difficult instead of the other way around.

I get countless emails from people who have been touched (and by touched, I mean slammed) by an eating disorder. I ache to heal them, but know that it's not up to me. All I can offer is my support and my encouragement that it can be done. Recovery is possible.

At times, I feel like a little fairy who just spouts happy words of positivity and shows people the good in life like nothing bad ever happens--at least that's what I feel people must think of me at times.

In reality, I'm not a fairy and I'm not preachy. What I say and do is all about one word: HOPE.

I want to give hope.

That sentence above could have been something entirely different a few years ago. Change the last word and it would have been my state of mind: I want to give up.

That's no longer the case, obviously, but that journey from wanting to give up to wanting to give hope had a lot of stops in between. I wanted to get better. I wanted to get real. I wanted to get heard. I wanted to get a life. I wanted to get OUT. And when I did...when I did all of those things...I wanted to give hope.

Because it's not a fun journey, even though from time to time it has its little benefits and its little joys. A good trick is to make a celebration out of everything that could be uncomfortable or unsettling. You don't fit into your clothes anymore? Donate 'em! Call your nearest and dearest and have fun cutting a few choice pieces up and throwing the shreds like confetti! Take your mother or your sister or your best friend and head to your favorite and buy some new things that make you feel good! A little moral support can go a long way.

When things are too much, there is always hope. Hope is there and it will wait if you want to put it away until tomorrow when you have more energy. Hope is everlasting. Hope is the balm that can get you from one day to the next. And because hope is possible, recovery also is possible.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Locks and Keys

When did it all begin?


I struggle to find the answer. And does it really matter in the scheme of things? I'm not sure. I am bombarded with memories that swim in front of me and present themselves with pressing urgency. I recall brief moments in time where the word "anorexia" was not a thought in my mind, but the basis of that terrible disease had already begun to take hold in the subtlest of ways.


If I allow myself to go back in time, I recall always being a skinny child. This was brought to my attention, not so much by mirrors, but by the people that were part of my early life. "Skinny" was always a good thing—something to be proud of. "Skinny" was an accomplishment. "Skinny" was something that others wished they could be. "Skinny" was what made me similar to my mother. "Skinny" was what made me special.


I went to a pool party when I was about 7. Standing on the deck of the pool in my bathing suit, six or seven of my little girl friends around me, I became a participant in a contest. We made a line in a specific order: from fattest to thinnest. I was not the leader of this little event, but I remember feeling relieved that I'd be spared any unnecessary embarrassment—because I was skinny. That word again. Skinny.


One by one, we had to jump in the pool in order, the thinnest of us left standing on the deck. Everyone had to keep agreeing on who would jump next, examining each body in a way no 7 year old should be prone to do.



Two of us left standing on the deck.

We were looked at, discussed, and decided upon.

Arielle is the skinniest.

She's the last one in.


I was special.


How do things like this happen?


How do a group of 7 year olds even begin to have these thoughts? To think it's completely acceptable and "fun" to create a contest where the thinnest participant is best? To have no qualms about such a designation? To have no arguments regarding who is fatter or thinner than someone else, but to simply understand that "fat" might be an unfortunate "fact"? To find comparison necessary?


It boggles the mind.


Why do memories like this embed themselves in our brains to be picked apart later in life?


Is the brain molded from an early age in a way that could possibly fuel anorexia? Or is the brain already predestined by its very makeup to struggle with anorexia?


Questions, questions, questions. I don't think the answer is the important thing.


I think learning yourself, figuring out what to do with what your mind IS—no matter how it got that way—is the key.


The key.


The real question is: If you have the key, where is that lock? Or more specifically, where are all the locks?


We have so many locks within us. Some pertain to past behaviors. Some pertain to guarded memories. To abuse. To family. To bullying. To trauma. To friends. To pain. To sadness. To depression. There are many locks.


What takes so long is finding them all—each and every one—and inserting that key. And turning it. And watching that flicker of light that happens when you have an epiphany…or a revelation…or a moment of peace.




Some of the locks are hidden. But once you find them all, the light will be warm and all-encompassing. It won't be a glimmer at the end of the tunnel any longer. It will the peace that fills your mind.


It's tough to get there. It's tough to find all those locks and make the (courageous) decision to turn that key. But it's something to look forward to. And something to work toward.


And it WILL happen.

And one day you'll be free.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Directing Your Anger


Anger isn't necessarily a bad thing. When you're feeling bad, when your day has gotten the best of you, when you're drained and sad and frustrated, when you're feeling alone or you're up against a wall, or you're just annoyed that you've had another setback—get angry. Just get furious.


But don't get angry at your yourself.


Get angry at your eating disorder.


Don't make yourself the target of such negativity and frustration. Get angry at IT.


Why berate yourself for messing up, for screwing up, for not being able to do something as you wished to?


Your eating disorder is the problem. Not you.


So fight back. At IT. Not at yourself.


You are the pillar. You are the good. Don't pick at yourself and slowly destroy.


You don't even have to change your attitude, your outlook, or your emotions. You just have to channel them in a different direction. Face them at your eating disorder and fire away.


Anger isn't necessarily a bad thing. Use it to your advantage.