Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Envisioning the New Year

This week's video is a really important one. New Year's Day fills so many with disappointment, dread, and all the wrong feelings. Typically, people focus on resolutions. In this video, I show you a little something different.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Arielle's YouTube Videos By Topic!

I fixed the tab "Arielle's YouTube Videos by Topic!" so that you can easily be directed to the YouTube page with all my videos. I think it makes it easier to search for them all by topic and by sight. It also helps with keeping things updated because I make videos on a regular basis and this means the logs of videos will always be fresh and I won't have to update them manually. Simply put, as I make videos, they will be in the log when you visit that tab (above, under my site header).

There are two lists: Arielle's Bonus videos (of which there are currently 84) and Arielle's Wednesday Warrior videos (of which there are currently 141). The weekly Wednesday videos have been going strong since April of 2009 so that means there are 2.5 years of Wednesday videos for your viewing pleasure. :) I take them very seriously and have only missed doing my Wednesday video for you twice - once in Aug. of 2009 when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and had to be out of the country for a few days, and once in 2010 when my computer accounts were hacked and I had no access to Facebook, blogs, YouTube, or email for several days.

Thanks for all your fantastic comments on the videos. I appreciate them so much. I'm just shy of 1,000 subscribers on YouTube right now and really feeling the love. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Body Checking & Mirrors

This week's video deals with something I think is fairly common, even among people without eating disorders. Check it out. Maybe you do it. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This week's video is all about goals. I give examples, explain what's manageable, achievable, and the issues with time limits. Check it out - it's the perfect time of year.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving: Motivational Mash-Up #7

Fellow Americans, enjoy the day. Encouraging words for this holiday can be found on my blog from earlier years here Thanksgiving Message from Arielle, here Happy Thanksgiving...Don't Stress, and here Happy Thanksgiving 2007.

Hopefully this new Motivational Mash-Up will help give you a boost.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Progression of Positive (Affirmations)

Today, I'd like to tell you a story.

It's about why I believe wholeheartedly in the power of positive affirmations.

About 8 years ago, University of Delaware, my undergraduate alma mater, held a Love Your Body week. I know many of you are familiar with this. One of the items that was being handed out was a door-hanger that read: BEAUTY IS NOT A STATE OF BODY. IT'S A STATE OF MIND.

I loved it from the second I saw it, but in a hopeful way. I wanted to soak up the wisdom of that statement. I wanted to wake up with a smile every morning knowing it was really true. In short, I had an eating disorder coupled with intense self-perception problems, and that door-hanger made me feel good.

So I took it back to the dorm with me. And I hung it on my door. And I looked at it every day. And I wrote "BEAUTY IS NOT A STATE OF BODY. IT'S A STATE OF MIND" in my notebooks in class. And I wrote it in my journal. And I tried to remember it when I looked in the mirror and hated the image of the girl looking back at me.

Sometime shortly after that, I happened upon this quote by Janis Joplin:

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."

I really, really liked it. I read it and knew instinctively that it was true. At the end of the day, it's only you. If you give up everything, there's still you. If something or someone takes everything away from you, you're still left. You are all you've got.

So I decided that compromising myself, as Janis put it, was going to have to end. I wasn't stupid - I knew I couldn't make a decision like that and automatically stick to it. I also knew that as much as I might want to love myself and believe in myself and think I was great/smart/pretty/special, it wasn't going to happen overnight. I wished I had a Janis Joplin magic wand that I could aim at myself and suddenly embody that quote of hers.

I did the best thing I could think of that would instill her words in my brain and her message in my heart. I printed out that quote and I stuck it on my mirror. Every time I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw that quote. Every time I thought self-hating things about my body, that quote was there in the image too, reminding me that I shouldn't compromise myself because I am all I have.

That quote stayed on my mirror for years. I moved it around with me from place to place, even from mirror to mirror. Sometimes another quote of merit joined it for a time, but always that Janis Joplin message was there. I began to think of it like an item on a To-Do List. Like, "Don't forget the milk." Instead, it was, "Don't forget - don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got." 

You can't read something multiple times a day (especially at your most vulnerable and self-hating moments in front of the mirror) and not start to believe it and take it to heart. 

It started to work its magic, slowly but surely. Years later, when I moved into my first house with Rick, I framed my little Janis Joplin quote and hung it in my bathroom - next to the mirror. It's still there. It's no longer a reminder not to compromise myself. Now, it's a reminder of my journey and path to self-love.

I look in the mirror and smile. I see that Arielle woman in the glass and I like her. I like her face, I like her body, I like her stance on life. I've come a long way from that girl who criticized every inch of herself...that girl who thought she needed a tan, shinier hair, more muscle, more height... that girl who thought she was too fat, too big...that girl who told herself she had dry skin, dull hair, small breasts, not-white-enough teeth, and even went as far as to make the declaration that her eyelashes were too short.

I'm confident. I'm brave. I'm great. I'm beautiful. I'm me. And I don't and won't compromise myself. I'm all I've got. So I don't need that quote on my mirror to remind me anymore. But I keep it...because sometimes... I like to see it there next to my reflection in the mirror and say, "Thanks, Janis."


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Miss Representation: My Take

I was lucky enough to go to a film screening of Miss Representation on Thursday night. I had seen the trailer and the extended trailer, and had also read lots of great posts and reviews of the film, so I was excited to finally see it in its entirety. I went with some of the women from the eating disorder support group I lead and the consensus was that it is an important film.

It touches on a variety of topics, from body image and eating disorders to violence against women to sexualization of women. The negative media onslaught is something of which I have long been aware, but to see the plethora of examples Miss Representation shows, it really got me fired up anew.

I don’t think I was alone in my thoughts and feelings of the film. One of the women with whom I saw the film said poignantly, “There was a point at which the film was discussing eating disorders and I started to feel isolated and almost ashamed like I would have if I were alone in the past...and then I realized I was sitting amongst three extremely intelligent, successful, and beautiful women who had either gone through or are still struggling with what I do and it made me feel really proud.” I find her statement to be extremely self-aware. I also love that the film - coupled with the experience of watching it with other, similar women – transformed her shame into pride in a matter of moments.

That's what solidarity can do, and solidarity was certainly a theme of the film.

I was somewhat annoyed when I heard male snickering from the audience at points during Miss Representation that were NOT meant to generate laughter, such as sexual images of women clearly being exploited or clips of men sickeningly taking advantage of women. I think it showed how true it is that “we live in a society of teenage boys,” as Carol Jenkins says in the film. To really understand what is meant by that quote, you have to see the film itself, as there is clearly nothing wrong with being a teenage boy, nor am I inferring that good mean don’t exist.

Another important quote from the film: “The more power a woman gains, the more backlash she receives.”

It’s true. Think about it for a few seconds. Think Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, etc etc etc etc. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation – the misrepresentation of women in the media is a big deal. I also thought, for the most part, that the film did a great job with keeping the film bipartisan. Both Nancy Pelosi and Condoleezza Rice, for example, are interviewed in the course of the film, highlighting that this is a women’s issue, not a political issue. There is enough woman-hating out there without women doing it to each other, and the film did a good job of focusing on women as a sisterhood instead of pitting women against each other.

To find out where you can see the film, go here:

The site also has a variety of ways to get involved, spread the word, and find out more. You can even take The Pledge.

Follow the movement and film celebrations on Twitter here: @RepresentPledge

If you’ve seen it, share your thoughts with me. I’d love to hear them. And keep using your voices!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Barbaric Yawp (...Or What I'm Trying to Tell You)

My heart leaps, and reaps…it gently seeps the lessons I’ve been taught. No longer caught, I live my life without the strife of pain, strain, or fear of gain—I’m free. The world has opened up to me. I see. Struggles past have hurt their last and I have cast a new light—and in my sight is everything. I sing. I bring with me the story. There is no glory—only fact. Exact truth. No age or youth. Just life and understanding, the helping-handing, the demanding…of solution. Revolution. Retribution. I’m here, I’m here—for restitution! I’ve found at length I have the strength to now survive…really thrive…to jump and laugh and come alive. I’ve stood my ground, I’ve looked and found, I’ve died and tried to live again. I can. I can! There is no wall, no battle call, no way to know when you might fall. You must stand tall. You must recall the way you do not want to live—then give, and give and give some more, ‘til you are spent and on the floor. And then, yes then, and only then—it’s time for your ascent. You’ll start out bent…but slowly you’ll stand tall again. You can.

(c) Arielle Lee Bair 2008
And if you don't know what a barbaric yawp is, I suggest you do 2 things immediately: read Song of Myself by Walt Whitman and rent Dead Poets Society. You'll get it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Family & Eating Disorders

YouTube's allowed me limitless videos now, which is awesome. This means I can make and post videos that are longer than 15 minutes. I don't normally need/want to talk longer than that, but there are some topics on which I seem to keep going and going. :)

In any case, in response to a message I received regarding family,(difficulty) understanding, control, and challenges, I made a bonus video entitled "Family & Eating Disorders." There are so many things out there for parents of kids with eating disorders, but not much for the other way around (kids who have parents with eating disorders) or spouse support, etc. There are so many different "significant others" in people's lives so I tried to make this video as applicable as possible.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What To Expect...

I stumbled upon this short but good post by a fellow blogger, counselor, and tweeter. It's a good basic rundown of what to expect when deciding to go to therapy. I liked it so I wanted to share. What to Expect...

I welcome your comments and perspectives on this here, as I'm sure the original blogger does on her own page.

Take Care of YOU First & Foremost

I have a few things to share with you. And I thought I'd start with this: 55 Gentle Ways to Take Care of Yourself

There are a lot of people out there who could use a friendly reminder of what's important, what's not, and how to make life just a little easier... By being good to YOU. It's a great post by a fellow blogger.

More great links (I discovered this week) to come. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Want to Follow Actively Arielle on Facebook?

You can still "friend" me on Facebook personally via the icon to your left in my sidebar, where you will most certainly get random updates and eating disorder info in addition to all the notifications of my thrilling personal life. :)

BUT you can also follow MY BLOG via Facebook. It has its own page and you will get all the updates through Facebook there if you so choose. Link just below. Click and you'll be taken there to follow through your Facebook account. :)

Follow Actively Arielle: A Voice with a Commitment on Facebook now.

Eating Disorders & Autism

Here's this week's video: Eating Disorders & Autism. There is a lot to fit into a not quite 15 minute video, so I took an interesting spin on the topic.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


If you have a few minutes, please watch this film trailer for MissRepresentation. I'm sure by now several of you have heard of this amazing film or have been lucky enough to catch its premiere. This is a brief 2+ minute trailer showcasing what the film is about. I encourage you to view it, share it, and remember it. There is a lot of body image/eating disorder/appearance discussion, but many other women's issues as well, for example: sexualization, domestic violence, and specific messages young girls are taught.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Motivational Mash-Up #6!

Finally, a new Motivational Mash-Up for everyone who enjoys them so much. Something to shoot a little encouragement into your weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eating Disorders, OCD, and Anxiety

This week I discuss these 3 and how they are linked. I also discuss ways of dealing with anxiety, and disclose a bit of personal information, which is not very typical for me. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

4 years & counting :)

Actively Arielle is 4 years old today! To celebrate, I gave the blog a new look. I asked for suggestions from readers and the majority wanted brighter colors - something a little more cheerful and upbeat than the black background with the black and white picture. And that seemed like a wonderful idea to me, since we all know that Actively Arielle (and Arielle in general!) is all about positivity and finding the light that's there. I chose purple to represent Actively Arielle this year, because it's the color of eating disorder awareness and the color of the fabulous ANAD bracelet I often wear that reads: ACCEPT YOURSELF...ACCEPT OTHERS. I'm an ANAD eating disorder support group leader and I find those wise words very valuable.

I didn't want the site to lose any of its professional quality by choosing more youthful and amateur colors. But I thought to myself - everyone who comes here knows this isn't another personal story blog, they know it's about real news, facts, and mostly - motivational speaking, encouraging videos, and recovery oriented help. And purple doesn't scream unprofessional the way it may have years ago. Purple is beauty and meaning (in this case) and bright. In fact, to me it even means Strong Woman.

So here's to another year of positive thinking! A little positivity (and a little purple) goes a long way! Thank you, everyone, for reading, for watching on YouTube, and for following on Twitter. I so appreciate all your emails and Facebook messages. I will never stop being a voice for you, or a friendly ear. One thing I WON'T be is a voice for your eating disorder!

Still working on some style elements to make this site seamless and enjoyable as can be. Bear with me and my hectic schedule!

Recovery is possible. :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Eating Disorders & Psychosis

And the one from this past Wednesday:

I discuss E/Ds along with psychosis and specifically, schizophrenia.

Stay tuned for next Wednesday's video. The topic will be: Eating Disorders, OCD, & Anxiety

Eating Disorders, Depression, and Self-Harm

I'm a bit behind on posting the latest weekly videos here on the blog. I remember to tweet them and FB 'em, but somehow forget to embed them here after they go up on YouTube.

We've started a rotation about eating disorders and comorbity - there are so many conditions we'll be discussing. Here's from 2 Wednesdays ago:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Insurance Wars

Yesterday's article from the NY Times - it's regarding eating disorders and insurance coverage for residential treatment in the USA. Just keeping you aprised:Eating Disorders a New Front in Insurance Fight

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hearty Thanks

Trying to get back into the swing of things on Twitter. Look for more up-beat Arielle-isms and of course, recovery warrior type info! Many thanks to my 681 Twitter Followers! So excited to have so many even though I'm just getting started with regular tweeting. I am loving the re-tweets and personal shout-outs. (You can find me @arielleleebair or click the massive Twitter icon on the left sidebar!)

Also, big thanks to my 907 YouTube Subscribers! You guys are awesome. So glad you are finding the videos so helpful. I'll never stop making them.  The feedback I get from you is valuable and appreciated. (Subscribe on YouTube here: ArielleLeeBair's Channel.)

And as usual, my inbox is always open. :) Keep fighting and look for my Wednesday Warrior video tomorrow. :)

Dealing with Abusive or Unhelpful People In Your Recovery

Last Wednesday's video I talked a lot about the people in our lives who can be unhelpful or even abusive. I have done videos in the past in regards to teens living with parents who hinder recovery due to abuse or unhelpful behavior. This new videos is more broad - I discuss significant others in general, i.e. parents, spouses, room mates, friends, siblings, etc.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The "Perfect" Recovery

And last week's video: THE "PERFECT" RECOVERY.

This is a really important one. This notion of the "perfect" recovery can be so detrimental to recovery itself. Don't compare yourself to others and don't compare your recovery to anyone else's recovery!

Reflecting on Psychological Factors

Reflecting back on Psychological Factors from the last month's worth of video is my Wednesday video from 9/14/11.

Resisting Internalization of Societal Ideals

And one from 3 weeks ago...

on Resisting Internalization of Societal Ideals. :)

Pieces of Self-Esteem

I dropped the ball and haven't posted my last few Wednesday Warrior videos. Here's from 4 weeks ago - Piece of Self Esteem:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Motivational Mash-Up #5!

As of today, I have 815 subscribers on YouTube, not including Facebook viewers and other blog followers. I appreciate all of you. Thanks so much for watching. If you haven't subscribed yet, take a second to do so - I don't post every video here on the blog, so by subscribing you do get more "bonus" videos and easier access to my regular Wednesday Warriors videos.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Recovery Messages

This week's video is about Recovery Messages. I discuss some negative ones, personal experience, and as always, spout the positive ones! :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dealing with a Mom Who Doesn't Understand

A bonus video this week - my response to a viewer question. It was a spur of the moment video, so I apologize for the "ums." I do link to some other helpful videos that relate to the viewer question, so please view the video in YouTube if you'd like to see the info box where I have the other links.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Triggers & Pro-Ana

Here is this week's video. It's not up to my usual standards as I was incredibly pressed for time and had to patch in clips from much older videos (from when  my camera gave me a fake "lisp" and did not always have a "professional" backdrop behind me), but it does cover some important things.

Monday, June 27, 2011

'Full Mouse, Empty Mouse' Earns My Respect

When it came to my attention that there is a fairly recent children's book out there in the world entitled "Full Mouse, Empty Mouse: A Tale of Food and Feelings," I was very interested and couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

At long last, I found the time to order the book and read it. I got choked up at parts.

Now, I don't consider the book overly sentimental. What touched me was the fact that a book actually exists which can so beautifully speak to children on the subject of eating disorders and their own feelings in regards to eating disordered behavior.

The book is by Dina Zeckhausen, who I understand is the founder and exec director of the Eating Disorders Information Network. I applaud her 1) for creating this book 2) for doing so with such sensitivity and care and 3) for including a Note to Parents, Discussion Questions (for parents/caregivers with children), and Resources in the back of the book.

Is "Full Mouse, Empty Mouse" the best book I've ever read? No. Is it meaningful and helpful? Yes.

It's written in rhyming verse, which can seem forced at times (to me anyway, since I have a degree in English and consider myself in tune with this sort of thing), but in general that sort of verse speaks well to kids, so I think its purpose is served. The illustrations (by Brian Boyd) are great. The advice for children is even better.

What I really appreciate is that the book is not gender-biased and does not focus solely on the under-eating/anorexia-like eating disorders. It depicts a boy mouse and a girl mouse who overeat (to deal with negative feelings/situations) and restrict (also to deal with negative feelings/situations) respectively.

There is no mention of purging - but I find that wise. Where it would seek to help some young ones feel less ashamed/less alone, it would seek to make others aware of the possibility of throwing up food, if the idea had not yet occurred to them. It's also not "necessary" in that the book delves into emotions and coping mechanisms in a way that does not discriminate between eating disorders.

"Listen to your body.
It's not too hard to read.
Go inside and you will find
The answers that you need.

To find out what you're feeling,
Here's the place to start:
Understand the language
Of your Tummy and your Heart.

Speak up if you're angry,
Get a hug if you feel scared,
And if you're sad, just cry those tears,
'Cause feelings should be shared!"

I'm impressed. I like the book and I highly recommend it - for kids with eating disorders, for kids without eating disorders, for kids who have displayed some poor coping mechanisms/eating disordered behaviors, and for adults too. As I said, it touched me. I'm so happy someone decided to publish a children's book that rewards the bravery of coming forward with scary feelings, that encourages talking to parents even when it feels hard, that upholds listening to one's body and heart, and that shows that no one who struggles with these things is alone.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Call For Women Over 70

I am asking for your help.

I am doing a small research project for my MSW (Masters in Social Work) on body image/food issues in women ages 70 – 100. This is a topic not often discussed, but I know struggling women in this age group exist. The harsh reality persists that many women do not reach age 70 and older due to eating disorders or complications from behaviors related to eating disorders, but there ARE still women out there who have these issues and I would like to a) give them a voice b) contribute to (lack of) research in this area and 3) learn.

If you are a female aged 70 or older who has body image issues (whether diagnosed with an eating disorder or not), who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, or who struggles with food (whether diagnosed with an eating disorder or not), or all of the above, please contact me by clicking "EMAIL ARIELLE" on the left sidebar if you would be willing to participate in a brief interview (via a 10 question survey) through email. You can also leave your email address in a comment to this post and I will contact you. You may participate anonymously if you prefer, or may give your full or first name. I am only interested in your responses and your age, and will not judge or label in anyway; I am conducting this research from a personal place of deep understanding.

It does not matter if you dealt with these issues as young adult and still deal with them today or if you developed these issues later in your life – your story is important to me.

I know you are out there, because I’ve received emails from women meeting these criteria in the past!

If you know a woman who meets these criteria and would be willing to talk about body image and/or eating issues, I will gladly email a survey you can print so that you may ask the questions yourself and reply to me via email.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Patience & Plateaus

In this video, I direct you to a slew of other videos that relate to this topic. Check them out if you have time. 10 minutes isn't really enough time to say all I want/need to say!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Challenges

The summer presents challenges to those in recovery from self-harm and eating disorders. Even for individuals with body image issues, summer can be filled with fear and anxiety. This week I discuss "Summer Challenges."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Coping with STRESS

This week's video is an important topic for anyone, eating disordered or not. I discuss how to cope with stress, remember what's really important, and discover how to eliminate elements of stress from life.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When You Can't Get or Afford Help

Here's my weekly video and since I've gotten a lot of positive feedback regarding this topic, I wanted to be sure to share it. The video includes national resources, info regarding medical assistance, etc.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thought You Might Like to Know...

that other people feel as I do! :)

These Letters to the Editor were published in the NY Times, in response to the article I discussed in my previous post. Rock on, recovery warriors. Click to read the published responses.

And thank you for all the wonderful and positive feedback I received regarding my own response to the detrimental article. I appreciate it so much!

Monday, May 2, 2011

HOPE for Recovery! Take THAT, NY Times!

Kat over at Recovering Inspirings asked me to do a guest post in response to last week's NY Times article, which had a distinctly negative slant on eating disorder recovery. Some amazing people were interviewed for the NY Times article, and yet after reading I was emotional and angry, and so were MANY others. Recovery is real! Here's what I have to say in a nutshell and you can find it over at the collaborative blog - Hope, Truth, and Possibility {{Guest Post}}

Please check it out, take heart, and have hope!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Friendship, Eating Disorders, and Everyone's Right to Lead a Life

I received a message about something I think can be very helpful to many who are in recovery from eating disorders. I'd like to share with you the question (asking for advice) and my response, in the hope that it will give some clarity to others who are dealing with the same dilemma. I know it's a rather long post, but if you read it through to the end, I think you'll find it worth the time.

---"My best friend of 15 years (after ignoring me for a few months) decided to call me up last week and basically list out everything I've done wrong in the relationship over the past 15 years and how I've pretty much been a terrible friend this whole time. Furthermore, she seems to be putting some kind of condition on our friendship in terms of my eating disorder. She claims that I fail to take personal responsibility for it and that she can't handle all of the 'back and forth' (meaning relapses), that she doesn't like to see or hear from me when I'm not doing well, and that we basically can't be friends unless I can guarantee that I'll never be symptomatic or sick again. To an extent I can kind of see where she is coming from because I am sure it's not easy to watch a friend self destruct especially when it seems like they are doing it on purpose. I tried to explain it to her, but she didn't want to hear it. She's had 'enough.' I also tried to explain that I'm doing fairly well at the moment and the kind of progress I've made over the past few months (when she was ignoring my calls), to which she responded, 'yea, well, I don't know how long that's going to last.'

It seems like no matter what I do I can't win! Perhaps I'm too close to the situation and I'm not seeing it clearly (which is why I'm interested to know what you think) but to me this seems like an awfully conditional type of friendship, not to mention an impossible, unrealistic promise for me to make. She sent me this 'holier than thou' sounding e-mail about how she took personal responsibility for her life and how I never take any personal responsibility for mine. She and I were like peanut butter and jelly growing up and it would be devastating for this friendship to end, but I almost don't want to be friends with her anymore. I feel like friends are supposed to accept the good and the bad parts of each other, not just the parts they like. As you know, EDs are complex, especially if you've been dealing with one since childhood like I have. It takes a lot of work to fully conquer an ED and even to find a knowledgeable therapist who is a good 'fit.' I realize that when I engage in unhealthy behaviors I am making a choice to do so, but it's not as though I'm not also attempting to do other things to try and help myself.

Sorry this is so long, but what I am asking you is, do you agree with me when I say I think she's being unfair and unreasonable or is there something I'm missing? All of her e-mails (because she doesn't want to see or talk to me) have this condescending edge to them that make me feel like crap. I'd hate to let this friendship go, but at the same time hearing from her just makes me feel bad about myself and I don't think I should have to 'explain' my eating disorder to her or submit to this condition she is putting on the relationship. It's not like I anticipate or look forward to a relapse or anything, but I'm doubly stressed out now because I feel like I can't ever mess up again or else I'll ruin the relationship. I feel like friendship is supposed to make you feel good, not afraid of the other person's judgment. What are your thoughts? Should I go with my gut and just let go of this friendship?"---

Based on what you wrote, it does sound like your friend is being unreasonable. There is definitely a difference between watching someone purposely self-destruct and supporting someone who struggles in recovery. It is very hard for a lot of people to understand eating disorders and recovery (from anything) in general. For those who have not been through something similar, there is often a very black and white attitude. It may be easier for her to see things as all or nothing (meaning you get better and stay that way and she stays your friend or she’s done with you) because of her own feelings in regards to your circumstances.

We can’t make people understand what eating disorders are like – all we can do is explain them to the best of our ability and hope we get the support we need from those in our lives. You might want to ask yourself if she has been put through a lot in regards to your eating disorder. If she feels like the friendship has been a roller-coaster ride, she might feel emotionally unable to continue with it if there is still possibility for you to slip-up in the future. Put yourself in her shoes for a minute and see it from a different angle: it’s really hard to go through ups and downs over and over again, if it seems like the same things continue to happen. It’s emotionally draining and she may just not have it in her to deal with it any longer. That is her right. If she is saying what she is saying, it might be a form of self-care on her own part.

That said, it sounds like she expects unrealistic outcomes from you and your recovery. Even if she is unable to be a support to you any longer and must put herself first because she can’t keep going through it, it doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong and it doesn’t mean you aren’t trying hard enough.

If you were struggling and refused care, purposely sabotaged your recovery on a daily basis, or refused to listen to words of support and encouragement, it would be different. But if you are trying in recovery, putting forth effort, but having the normal slips and falls that anyone encounters along the way, it’s not as though you are putting your fingers in your ears and shutting every positive thing out.

You can and should ask yourself if you are doing all you can in recovery right now. If the answer is no, perhaps some of your defensive feelings lie in that. But regardless, a friend should not ask you to promise you will never have another bad time ever again in regards to your eating disorder. Your recovery in many ways is completely within your own control, but all things in your LIFE are not. No one can promise anything of such magnitude and friendship should not be based on ultimatums.

If the situation were different and you were plummeting day after day, farther and farther into your disorder and she told you to go get treatment or she could no longer be your friend, that is more of an interventionist tactic and is an ultimatum I could understand. But to expect you never to need support again through rough patches is unfair.

Again, if she feels as she feels, it’s her right. Not everyone can handle life with someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder. She cannot be faulted for that. BUT her feeling the way she does is not YOUR fault either.

Think of this example – if there is a husband and wife who have been together for years, enjoying good times and loving each other, and the man becomes an alcoholic, this will be difficult for the woman to handle. She may love him and support him as he struggles with the day-to-day issues. He may get help. She may continue to love him and be there for him. Perhaps he does well in recovery for a time. Then he relapses. This is even harder for the woman to handle. It affects her life too. He doesn’t want to be an alcoholic though, and is always trying to pull himself back up. He tries recovery again, does well, but has bad days. Sometimes he slips up. Every time, it’s harder and harder on his wife. Finally, after years of this – even though she knows he is trying to leave his alcoholism behind, she can’t endure it anymore. She wants him to promise he will never falter again or she must leave. He can’t make that promise because he is afraid of breaking it. All he can do is try his very best day by day and ask for her support. She does not have it in her to continue the marriage, because she has her own life to live and her own emotions with which to contend. She leaves him.

Neither of the people in this situation are at fault. One has a serious problem, but is ever working at recovery. One has love and support, but only to a certain point, and eventually must put herself first because it has gotten too hard. The husband has every right to say that all he can do is try his best and work at recovery every day, because he does not want to be an alcoholic. The wife has every right to say she cannot deal with his alcoholism anymore. It’s a crossroads.

Think of this story as your situation. The roles are essentially the same. Maybe the friendship has come to a close. Maybe in time, she will see your changes and understand that all you can do is take one day at a time, and will come back into your life. Maybe she will take a breathing period away from the friendship and come back with renewed hope, more reasonable expectations, and recharged stamina.

I’m sorry this is happening, especially because recovery is hard enough without losing a friend in the process, but you can only take each day as it comes and work with it. Self reflect, and whatever happens, understand that as long as you choose recovery every day, you are doing the most important thing. Whatever your friend does and thinks and feels is essentially out of your control. You can hope and talk and explain, but in the end, she can make a decision based on her own needs, and she should.

You may even feel relief if the friendship tapers off as it doesn’t sound like she is able to support you like a best friend would and should.

Good luck!

Friday, April 22, 2011

CHANGE with a Capital C

I talk about changing what you can and realizing that you have the ability to change your reality. I then talk about accepting what you cannot change. These things are key to both recovery and life!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Having Friends Who Are At All Points In Recovery

Interesting topic this week. Here are some things from my perspective, including a few links (linked in the video itself) to related videos of mine from the past.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Being Kind to Yourself

Bonus video for the week: Being Kind to Yourself. A bit less professional than my typical recovery videos. Special appearance by one of my cats, Juice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sisterhood and Recovery

Yesterday was International Women's Day. I'd like to say how much I appreciate all the wonderful women in my life and I'd like to applaud all the amazing women out there who are fighting hard in recovery. And thank you to all the men who support the women in their lives. This week's video is in honor of International Women's Day. Check it out:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recovery Advice for the Bride-to-Be

Inspired by a viewer question and a response to what I believe is popular demand - here's a bonus video: Recovery Advice for the Bride-to-Be.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Tabs to Make Your Life Easier

You may have noticed that there are now new tabs directly under the header that will take you "special" separate pages on Actively Arielle. There is the home page, of course, where the main blog is updated.

Next there is "About Arielle," where you can read about the author instead of having a bunch of info shoved onto the left sidebar.

Then there is a tab called "Arielle's Mantra." This will take you to a page that holds - you guessed it - my mantra for recovery.

Then there is my new pride and joy - a tab called "Arielle's YouTube Videos By Topic." This separate page will always show you a video log. Here I have painstakingly compiled a LONG list of all my YouTube videos, organized by topic. One great thing about this is you won't have to hunt for specific ones. The other great thing is that everything is cross-listed in the categories, so "How to Get Past Hating Your Body" may  be in the HOW TO section, but it will also be in the BODY ISSUES/BODY IMAGE section. This new tabbed page will be updated frequently, as I make new videos each week and they will be categorized and added. I think this will help readers/viewers find the things they are really looking for and also be able to get back to them (and others) easily. Please let me know what you think!

Next, there is a new tab called "Personal Posts" where you will find links to all the posts I have done that are about me/my experience specifically. There aren't many, as this blog isn't about me, but about helping YOU - but there definitely are some out there for the curious folks. I am still working on adding to the "Personal Posts" tab, so bear with me - I have to go back through more than 3 years of posts.

The last tab, which has yet to be added, will be "Arielle's Letters to YOU" and there you will find all the letters/declarations/and thank yous I have written to specific readers and all of you at large.

So grateful, as always, for your kind and thoughtful comments, emails, and messages. Keep fighting the good fight and enjoy the new top tabs. Hope they make life easier!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Lauren Bersaglio over at expos(ED) was kind enough to ask me to be a guest blogger. You can find the post, entitled "Fake It 'Til You Make It" on her blog. I hope you'll explore the concept and keep fighting. :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dear Readers, You're Not Alone

Now that National Eating Disorder Awareness Week has come to a close, there is a letter I'd like to share. It's a Thank You letter written by me... to all of you.

Dear readers,

Whether you are in the depths of despair, chugging along in recovery, maintaining new health and wellness, are a fellow activist, a worried parent, or a concerned friend or significant other, THANK YOU for coming here. Thank you for reading and listening. Thank you for recognizing that an eating disorder is not something of which to be ashamed, but something that requires help and support, like many other things in life. Thank you for trying, day to day.

You are not alone.

I'm on the other side of this screen, sending out positive energy and thoughts to everyone who needs them most. And out there are hundreds of other girls, boys, men, and women who are taking this journey with you. Eating Disorders feel lonely. They isolate you. They push others away. They make you feel like there's no one but you and the disease. It's simply not true. For every pair of eyes reading these words, there are dozens of others out there trying to win the same fight.

Keep your chin up, even when it feels like your head is being pushed under water.
Take one day at a time - there is no other way to do recovery.
The eating disorder might be your reality - but you can change your reality.
Some people don't know that. Some people realize it too late. Some people don't understand the concept.

It's true. You can change your reality. It doesn't have to be this way.
And you can start today.

With love, encouragement, and understanding,

Friday, February 25, 2011

Possible Today and Every Day

I posted this for the first time in October of 2007. It was one of the first things I wrote on this now popular blog. I called it "Possible."

Consider it a mantra, a proclamation, or just...hope.

Recovery is possible.
It's not a guarantee. It's a possibility. It's not simple. It is difficult and sometimes seems impossible. It's not a one-step process. It's a multi-step process complete with twists and turns and bending roads...and roads you didn't even know were there. It's not the same for everyone. It's not always a happy process. It's not always a sad process. It IS empowering. It's not about pleasing other people. It is not about them. It's about YOU. It's not about perfection. It IS about emotion. It IS about honesty. It IS about self-discovery and self-affirmation. It's not about what you don't have. It's about using what you've got. It's not about hiding. It's about finding and displaying. It's not a quick-fix. It's a lifelong plan set into motion by truth and nurturing and self-love. It's not about external factors or environment. It IS about what's within. It is not crazy. It IS real.
Recovery is possible.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Voices Unite!

Eating Disorder Awareness Week is almost over! What have you done for the cause?

It doesn't have to be something BIG.

If you wear an awareness ribbon, bracelet, or shirt, you are supporting the cause. By facilitating discussion over these items, you are spreading the word.

By telling your story, sharing your desire to help, or providing resources to those in need you are doing a great service.

If you are simply reading and re-posting important recovery related info, you are doing a great job of keeping the heart of ED Awareness Week beating strong!

Don't stop now. There are still 3 days left.

The sweet author of Butterflyshapes just did a post on me and I'm ever grateful and very honored. You can check out her blog and the piece here: Wednesday Warrior.

Keep using your voices, everyone!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Accept Yourself, Accept Others

It's an important message - to accept yourself and others. It MEANS something.

And we should all strive to do it. This simple mantra is ANAD's (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) message during Eating Disorder Awareness Week and every other day of the year.

Yesterday, I posted about their website and their Awareness Week page.
 I would love to see more bracelets like this worn by the masses. It can represent whatever you want it to represent for your personal recovery, but the meaning is clear.

I mentioned these awareness bracelets that can be purchased by way of a donation to the important cause. I have one.

  I've had one for some time now. I wear it often.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week is still young! And my voice will still be heard when the week comes to a close. How about you?

Monday, February 21, 2011

You Can Now Follow

You can still "friend" me on Facebook personally via the icon to your left in my sidebar, where you will most certainly get random updates and eating disorder info in addition to all the notifications of my thrilling personal life. :)

BUT you can now follow MY BLOG via Facebook. It has its own page and you will get all the updates through Facebook there if you so choose. Link just below. Click and you'll be taken there to follow through your Facebook account. :)

Follow Actively Arielle: A Voice with a Commitment on Facebook now.

Get Involved, or Just Get Ready for Recovery!

ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), the organization with which I am affiliated for the support group I lead, etc. has a great page devoted to Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

-You can get involved in a number of ways.
-You can get ready for recovery by printing their Awareness Week calendar of music to listen to and activities to do.
-You can donate to the cause.
-You can order some really awesome awareness bracelets, one of which I wear almost every day.

There are a plethora of other pages on ANAD's website as well that do not directly relate to Awareness Week. Check it out. You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

To Kick Off Eating Disorder Awareness Week...

I'd like to share the newest Motivational Mash-Up I've created so far. From time to time, I compile bits and pieces of what I call "key thoughts, concepts, and Arielle-isms," turn them into a short (only 3 or 4 minutes each) video, and send them out into the world to encourage.

I just made a brand new Motivational Mash-Up (#3) and thought that putting it out there might be a nice way to kick off National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

I plan to do my very best to create a post every single day of this important week. For now, I will start you all off this.

Links to the original Mash-Up and #2 are at the end of the video.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Denial & That Push Forward

This week's topic is: Denial & That Push Forward. Finally YouTube has granted me the ability to post videos longer than 15 minutes, so you get a bit more without me having to edit myself after I'm done talking to fit it all into a 10 minute window! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weight Gain in Recovery

Here is my latest video, from this past Wednesday. The topic was Weight Gain in Recovery. More non-video posts to come - I'm currently sick and trying to get well. Hope everyone is doing their best to fight off those winter (it's winter in the USA at least) cold germs.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I was asked recently to do a video on the topic of dessert. I think it's a really worthwhile and often overlooked topic, so I was happy to oblige. I will get to all other questions and suggestions as soon as I can. I have a list. :)

Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to 2011. Take a minute to consider "Dessert!"