Monday, January 25, 2010

A Letter to E

This is a real letter - to a real friend of mine. But it could very easily be a letter to any of you, if some details were changed. She's struggling. And I'm struggling to find the right words to push her in the right direction.

Dearest E,

You are hurting. You are numb. I can feel it in your words. But your spark is not gone, because I can feel that too. Am I worried? Yes. I've said it to you countless times already. Am I hopeful? Yes. Always. Why? Because I know you can do this. I know you can beat this thing that for some reason has seen fit to grab hold of you again.

I know you're stronger than your eating disorder. I know you are a fighter. Hell, everyone who knows you knows that. Are you forgetting?

I can't let you forget. I can't let you throw away all the progress you've made. You deserve better and recovery is the only "better" there is. Trust me. Please trust me. I know a huge part of you wants to just throw in the towel and let the glamorous version of your eating disorder take over. But you are not a quitter. And that glamorous version may scream "You'll be thin!" and spout pleasing numbers at your numbed mind, but it's all fluff. Fallacy.

I've seen what you can accomplish - on your own, with help, with support. The fact is, you can accomplish a lot and amaze people around you - not by your dwindling physique, but by your determination, your true beauty (curls, freckles, a really great smile, and yes - a body that's lovely whether you see it or not), your intelligence, your passion, your creativity, and your sense of fun.

You have a real sense of fun.

And guess what? It's going to go away. A part of you thinks you'll be happier if you continue down this path of letting the illness and obsession take over... but you're wrong. And I don't want you to find out the hard way. Not again.

It all seems like too much. I know. I know recovery seems too hard, too annoying, too overwhelming, too invasive. And I know that you're screaming inside, "That's not what I want! I want to be thinner! I want that number to keep going down!' But every time you give in to that screaming voice, you're losing a piece of yourself. And I don't just mean in pounds.

I don't want to see you go.

I'm willing to play hardball and tell you to cut the crap. I'm also willing to love you fiercely (and ferociously). And I'm also willing to listen to you vent and rage and cry and freak out. Any time. As long as you won't give in to that voice.

And one last thing: This whole thing totally sucks.

I know it sucks. And I know it's hell. But I'm here for you. And the time to move forward is now. You can do it.

No, you can do it.

NO, you CAN do it.


I love you.

Love, Arielle

What do you think, guys? Can you give E some encouragement?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Question # 15: Perfectionism

I've finally resumed! The next question is from Veggie. She asks:

"What do you think about the role of the perfectionism in EDs? (Moreover, in anorexia?)
Have you got some tricks to be not overwhelmed from perfectionism? I've asked this because I'm a 'perfectionist' and I've got some problems to split the 'healthy perfectionism' - which is part of my character - from the 'anorexia perfectionism' - which plays a great part in the maintenance of my anorexia..."

GOOD question. I actually did a YouTube video called "Perfection & Imperfection" seven months ago. I'm going to put that video here, so if you don't want to read through the post, you can just watch me talk sternly at you in my smiley, perfectionism-is-crap, Arielle-ish way. But for Veggie's sake I've taken the liberty of writing out the majority of what I say in the video, since I know English isn't her first language and I understand how hard it can be to understand someone in a video when you'd prefer to just read their words at your own pace. I'm also aware that I have a fair number of other viewers who don't speak English as a first language, so I figured this way the words are below the video as well.

So many people, eating disordered or not, are just so engrossed with this topic of perfection and imperfection. And it can really become an obsession, whether it's body image related, beauty related, achievement related. You can even go as far as "grade" (referring to school) related. There are so many things to be obsessed about where flaws are concerned. And it's a really unfortunate thing that people are obsessed with this, because it takes away from living your life.

I was extremely obsessed with being perfect in a wide variety of categories. I had your typical perfectionist, anorexic mindset. That's a little stereotypical, but it is very true that eating disordered people tend to be perfectionists or at least have somewhat of an obsessive mindset.

Not only does everyone have imperfections, but everyone has problems, issues... If you feel that you're the only one, that's where you're going to run into that fear of being imperfect. You can learn to embrace your imperfections if you don't think of them as imperfections. "Imperfections" sounds like such an ugly word and sometimes just stereotypes or stigma around a word can really change our perception about it.

So how do you come to terms with not being perfect? Honestly, it can take a while. There are definitely still days when I don't like something about myself, the way I did something, or when I wonder what other people think... but I've come a long way from where I used to be and I'm so much happier because of it. Letting go of this "having to be perfect" attitude is going to really, really benefit you. But you have to stick with it, because this question--at the heart--is "how do I come to terms with not being perfect?" That's where any of my "tricks" would come in. The only way to "not be overwhelmed by perfectionism," as Veggie puts it, is to accept our imperfections and realize FULLY that no one is perfect. No one. And our imperfections don't have to be something NEGATIVE.

You have to remember that nobody's perfect, and I know that's such a typical, cliched statement, but it's so true. Nobody is perfect. Perfect does not exact. (Yep, you heard me.) And imperfections are so much more beautiful than perfection is. (Okay, now you're thinking I'm crazy... but it's true! I really believe this!) In order to come to terms with not being perfect, you have to really embrace the good qualities you have. You have to really learn to love all the good things about yourself. And once you've done that (which even THAT can take a while), then you have to start to embrace your flaws. (Sounds thrilling, doesn't it? But hear me out...)

That's not to say that you shouldn't continually be trying to make yourself a better person; I think that's something that everyone sort of strives for in their lives. I mean, they know that they're not so great at something...or they know that they could change their attitudes about something... and they want to make themselves better... and that's very good and very commendable...AS LONG AS THE GOAL, ultimately, IS NOT PERFECTION.

Perfection is not achievable, so essentially, you're setting yourself up for failure from the get-go.

You need to let go of that whole perfection thing.

Perfection is a fallacy. Next, you must learn to accept your own imperfections as normal...because they are normal. And I'll tell you why. No matter how alone you might feel about a certain flaw or imperfection that you have, you're not alone. Just think how lonely having an eating disorder is. And think how alone you felt at certain points throughout your struggle...or even how alone you still do feel. But are you alone?

I mean, I made this video for a recovery collaboration that has over 600 subscribers and even more viewers. If you're reading this, you are among hundreds of visitors to my blog. And that's just a tiny microcosm of the world. There are A LOT of people with eating disorders out there. And even though at one time or another we might feel alone because we have one, we know we're not. You have to remind yourself: YOU'RE NOT ALONE.

Put the same strategy towards perfectionism. Use logic. Whatever your imperfection might be (today, tomorrow, 5 minutes from now), whether it's about a body part--being too big, too small, too this, too that--somebody else out there (and most likely, MANY, MANY other people) have that same imperfection.

And to be quite honest with you, who's to say it's an imperfection? I mean, especially if lots of people have it. And maybe, if by some major miracle, you are in fact the ONLY person who has that particular imperfection...isn't that more special? More unique? Think about it.

And I know all imperfections people worry over have nothing to do with the body. Maybe you wish you were smarter, prettier, tanner, taller, shorter...the list can go on and on. And chances are if you really sat there and thought about all the things you wanted to change about yourself, you might have a pretty long list. But again, remember: Everybody out there has SOMETHING they don't like about themselves. Everybody out there has an imperfection, or many.

You have to tell yourself to cut the crap sometimes. And just stand there in front of the mirror and say to yourself (sternly): "I'm not perfect...but I'm fine just the way I am."

From one (recovered) perfectionist--haha--to another, the role of perfectionism in eating disorders can be huge, but you can accept and grow, and soon your imperfections won't seem like a bad thing anymore.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thank You & Stay Tuned!

I need to take a minute to say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, my readers for all your wonderful and appreciative comments. I have received a plethora of them in the last month (via comments and emails) and I haven't really responded. You are all so great and so, so kind.

I also want to tell you that I owe you a BUNCH of answers to questions. I just compiled the list of the rest of them (I believe I left off at # 14 a while back...). So Kia...Suzanna White...Veggie... Krystal... I didn't forget about you, dears! I am working on the responses this minute and will have them up on the blog in respective posts as soon as possible. You left me some really great questions in comments a little while back and they have been stashed away, waiting for me to get my butt in gear. :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I know I am looking forward to it! For now, I will leave you with this:

What can I do this weekend to put a smile on my face?

Well, what are you waiting for? :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Do I Know Exactly What Emotion I'm Feeling?

I'm going to share a video with you again, simply because I haven't had the time to write a good, solid post. :) Here's this week's Wednesday video - presented to you a few hours early! (It's only Tuesday night.) Hope you can get something from it; it's a very simple and rather short video this week.

Topic: "How do I know exactly what emotion I'm feeling?"

As usual, click to view on YouTube, as embedding has been disabled.

I promise I'll get back to all the reader questions this week. I have a bunch waiting for answers in post form, and trust me, those answers are coming!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Inspiration for Recovery...

Well, MY inspiration for recovery, that is. :)

Here's this week's video for the recovery collaboration on YouTube. The topic was: My Inspiration for Recovery. Hope you like learning a little more about me and my past recovery.

As always, click to view on YouTube as embedding is disabled.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And the Giveaway Prize goes to Artist...


As you know, I've been doing what I called my Calling All Art! Show & Tell and Giveaway for the last couple of months. I want to thank you all for the beautiful and courageous art I received and shared. I know everyone benefited from seeing all the wonderful artwork. In fact, I loved everyone's work so much I couldn't pick a "winner." I was so moved by so many of the pieces it just didn't seem fair to declare someone's the best. And I stand by the statement that no one's is better than another's - they were all different and special and they each told a unique story. They simply couldn't be compared.

So, since I didn't feel right choosing someone to get the prize (which again, isn't much considering the beauty of everyone's work), I decided to let the "comments" section be the judge...or rather, the artwork that received the most reader comments is the one I chose to be awarded the prize.

Therefore, Veggie, thank you for your art, which many of you will remember. It's called "Recovery Way" and clearly demonstrates a thought-provoking (though clear and strong) message.
Send me an email to with your mailing address, Veggie, and I'll ship your prize right away. :)

I hope you all enjoyed seeing the art - if you did, leave me a comment, because it's something I'd like to do again next year. And thank you all for your votes for me in Wellsphere Blogger Awards. I was # 16 in the Top 100 Bloggers! and had the 2nd highest amount of votes for an Eating Disorder recovery blog (with the wonderful Carrie Arnold obtaining first).