Why I Haven’t, Won’t, and Don’t Plan on Keeping my Eating Disorder from my Little Sister.

Involving family in your recovery is probably a good idea if it is beneficial, but what if that family is your little sister who is 12 years younger than you? Is that too young to involve your sister in your eating disorder and your recovery?

I didn’t keep the fact that I have an eating disorder secret while in recovery.

My sister came with me the day I was admitted, she came to two of my family weekends, and after meals she would sometimes accompany me to the bathroom, where we would sing songs and laugh.

Why would I involve my 12 year old sister in something that could be so raw and vulnerable you might ask.

Her life currently consists of pointe, competitions, and teaching ballet to little kids.

She could very well be in my shoes in a few short years and is susceptible to also struggling with an eating disorder.

If there is the possibility that she could struggle, I want to be honest and open with her about my struggles so she can acknowledge it before it consumes her. That doesn’t mean she won’t hide it, or is sheltered from it, but knowing that it is okay to talk about it and seek help if her eating or thought process becomes disordered.

I reassure her that eating when you are hungry is great. That it is necessary to eat before and/or after practice. That there isn’t “good” or “bad” foods, that regardless if our mom eats, or what she eats, we need to eat and be okay with it. When your sister makes comments like, “Mom can eat whatever she wants, and always stays so tiny.” You know it is crucial to reinforce the thoughts that it doesn’t matter and you need to fuel your body.

Rather than silently suffering for years like I did, and denying I ever had a problem, I want her to be able to speak up, allow me to help, and attempt to nip it in the bud before it overgrows inside of her.

That is why I choose to involve my little sister in something that could be considered taboo or shameful. I want my sister to realize there is not guilt or shame in suffering, and being open with your struggles, and an eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of or silent about.

Advertisements

Trusting The Process With a Trust Problem

If not now, then when?

The question was enough to fuel my morning drive to work.

Recovery has been filling my mind and thoughts, probably more than it should.

Life is going great, I have no more stress than the next person,

A good job                                          an awesome dog

A warm apartment                          a running car                      supportive friends

Coffee                                                  benefits                               paid time off

The ability to run

Why does my recovery want to take a sudden stop?

I don’t think it was sudden, it never is, but the restricting became more and more, until my list of foods was as depleted as my ability to fight ED off.

I’ve begun seeing a nutritionist, after months and months of putting it off, not wanting to go, etc. I like her, she is a believer and advocate of HAES, believes in intuitive eating. Overall, I have enjoyed the experience.

Yet the battle in my head is still raging.

It isn’t as easy as the “talking back” that I hear others talk about so frequently. No, for me, it has to be factual.

Which kinda fueled the internal dialogue this morning.

On more than one occasion I have been in a room of people struggling with their Eating Disorders, whether it be in treatment, support groups, wherever.

I look around, (and no, this is not going where you think it is going), and sometimes I am almost the oldest in the room, sometimes I am practically the youngest. When I am at the upper range of age I remember being their age, being so filled of denial, and so full of my eating disorder.

When there are people much older than me, I think of that is how I want my life to be at their age?

Should my life be focused on my body and eating disorder when:

I have kids

Get married

Start another job

My kids are grown up

My siblings get married

So, if not now, then when?

I also have “Trust the Process” tattooed on my wrist, to remind me of recovery.

I’m struggling with following my meal plan given to me, and it is so difficult to listen to my body when I am hungry and not feel the need to run first in order to “earn” the food that my body needs.

I am telling myself that I wouldn’t want someone to tell/question me on how to do my job, so then why am I questioning and fighting her so much?

She knows what she is talking about and is on my side, so why am I fighting her?

I need to focus on Trusting the Process.

I may not always enjoy it or find it easy, but I’ve been here before.

Hungry *Warning: calorie/carb counting*

Why, why don’t I want to eat? I’m hungry, I know I need to, but I just don’t want to. Nothing sounds appealing. My stomach is growling though.

I take out my phone and go to My Fitness Pal; I type in the Larabar I ate, considering it “breakfast”, but who really knows what it is, and does it even matter?

I’m hungry, but I feel like I just ate. Maybe I’ll drink a little water. No, a lot of water.

I eye the speckled banana on my desk and type it in, considering that “lunch”. It immediately calculates the calories, the 19 g of sugar and the 30 g of carbs.

I’m hungry, but not that hungry. Not 30g of carbs hungry. Not 19g of sugar hungry.

Is it fear? Am I worried about foster care? Am I afraid I’m gonna gain weight?

Why am I afraid of carbs? What has happened lately to set me into this cycle?

It doesn’t make sense. It never makes sense.

I’m hungry, and now I’m out of water.

Millennials and Adulthood

I think one of the most infuriating things about being a “Millennial” is the fact that the generation before us doesn’t seem to take us seriously.

Hearing comments from the Baby Boomers and Generation X like, “Welcome to Adulthood” “Adulthood isn’t all it has cracked up to be, has it?”, or the ever sarcastic, unwanted invitation of, “Welcome to the real world”. As if our struggles through finals week, in college was all just a bad hallucinogen trip.

We are put into a category of “entitled”, “lazy”, “selfish”, the list goes on and on, and yet, seldom do we fit this tight narrow minded view of ourselves. With these confounded credit cards, and the debt we had dug our way into trying to afford an education.

Not to mention the technology we are so attached to, neglecting the fact that we may, in fact, be checking work email, or comforting a friend whose parents don’t understand their mental illness.

It isn’t that we are failing expectations of past generations, or that we are somehow unsuited to grow into adulthood without past generations’ supervision, it is that we are different.

Our goal is no longer to be married with kids by the time we are 20. It isn’t that we don’t want a good house, car or job, but it has become exponentially more difficult. Healthcare prices, cars, education, housing, everything has increased in price. As Millennials, it is our decision to choose what necessities we actually “need”, and what gets cut off the list. Some continue to live with their parents, some decide to rely on other modes of transportation, we try and stay on our parents’ insurance for as long as possible.

We sit and do the math, living paycheck to paycheck, wondering what should be paid first and what can wait a little while longer. The decisions from past generations impacted where Millennials are today, but they don’t want to admit that. The fact that prices didn’t change overnight, and the adults that were supposed to be looking out for future generations didn’t screw us over….well guess what, you did.

I feel to be one of the few, one of the blessed. I graduated college on a scholarship. Got a full time job, with benefits, right out of college in the field I studied for. My apartment is small, drafty and expensive, but it has hot water, carpet, and everything else I could want. I am able to see my therapist every week, and it not costing me an arm and a leg.

This too, did not happen overnight. Baby Boomers and Gen X, you don’t get to take credit for my accomplishments, when you are the reason I had to work so hard to overcome it. I live paycheck to paycheck, I also work ~100 hours every two weeks, so it is not for a lack of trying. It is that no matter how hard I try, I can’t get ahead.

So next time you call us lazy, selfish, and entitled, I want you to look around. If you are at work, I bet there is a Millennial close by trying to get ahead. If you are at the coffee shop, I bet the barista behind the counter is a Millennial, trying to pay her rent, or car, while going to school.

 

Hoe, Hoe, Hoe

What do you say when your grandmother brings her married boyfriend over for Christmas?

Trick question.

              Nothing.

                       You say nothing.

                                          But you do get very, very drunk.

 

So, let me paint the scenario for you. My grandmother had invited herself over, and had decided as well that she was going to bring her boyfriend.

My sister and I ran to the store, she wanted needed hummus and I needed wanted wine. We come home, and my dog decided to get in the trash. I carry up the much needed items, which magically also included Ben and Jerry’s Almond milk ice cream too. Then went to clean up the trash.

Then I hear the car.

I gathered myself, regretting that I hadn’t downed the entire bottle of wine the moment I stepped foot in the house. I took a deep breath for composure, and walked into the line of sight.

Grandma tried to get me to hug the strange man, I nicely declined, claiming, “Looks like he has his arms full.”

The moment we were back in the house I dug through the drawers searching for the corkscrew, which seems to only make its appearance when I come home. I poured red wine into a very large coffee mug, trying to be slightly discreet, hoping grandma wouldn’t notice I needed to be intoxicated to deal with her. Walking down the hallway I run into my mom. I offer her the mug of wine. She quickly inhales half of it. My brother walks around the corner and inhales the rest. Here I stand, still sober as a judge.

I quickly inhaled red wine, and could feel it in no time at all, being on an empty stomach.

Grandma doing the fake laugh, I could hear her mumbling and talking shit from the kitchen. I was pouring myself another mug of wine.

Her boyfriend, whom I didn’t care enough for to even learn his name was not only still married, but was 12 years younger than her, and was a condescending prick.

Granted, I don’t even know how to describe what I do for a living without sounding pretentious, but he was just being a smug prick.

In no time at all mom and grandma were picking a fight about all of grandma’s boyfriends. Grandma was talking trash about our family. What’s-His-Fuck has to butt in with his two sense that nobody wanted or asked for.

With that my brother and I snuck off to get some air, as the wine was still flowing through my system.

I hadn’t been that drunk in a long time. I remember sitting on my brother’s floor eating a Larabar. Talking about our trashy grandmother, and her weird creep boyfriend, and having a midlife crisis about what to do with my life.

My brother went to the living room briefly, and came back to his room, informing me they had left.

With mumbled words, I asked if I should go hurry and say goodbye. He said not to worry about it.

The feeling of disbelief and confusion came over me.

In almost the same way as telling someone, “I went home for Christmas and it was chaotic. My grandmother brought her married boyfriend over.” He responded, “I understand.”  

 

Life is Funny Like That

Life is funny like that.

Not funny like when you and your best friend share an inside joke that leaves you both hysterically crying and red in the face. More like a funny that leaves you painfully grinning, forcing fake laughter, while you silently mouth the words, “fuck me” to the nearest person.

Yeah, life is funny that way.

First, I found myself at lunch with coworkers the Friday before Christmas. Looking around, I noticed I stood out like a sore thumb; being, I was the only female there. (Yay a job in the STEM field, AmIRightThough?….)

Today, I had a scheduled phone interview set for 9 am. Arriving to work at my usual time of 5 am, leaving me ample time to check my emails, reread methods, protocols, gather my reagents and prepare for my validation I was testing. Only to find out, half of my stuff was still frozen in the -80˚C ultrafreezer, and half of the method didn’t agree with the protocol. So, at 8:50, I found myself sitting in my manager’s office, checking my math, asking questions about the protocol, while he typed up an email.

My phone on vibrate in my lab coat. Waiting.

I made it out into the hallway quick enough to answer my phone. “Here it is” I thought to myself, and took a deep breath.

Overall, the interview wasn’t bad. Midway through a separate manager comes out in the hallway and whispers, “Do you have a minute?” He understood, and gave me a “don’t worry about it” wave of the hand and walked away.

So, you may ask, What is worse than being interrupted during a phone interview by one of your current managers?

Being told when you return to your desk that the boss of our entire department is able to hear everything people say out in that area because of how the walls were built.

Excellent.

Exploded Recovery

Lately, my recovery has seemed to just have exploded.

I am not saying this is a happy go lucky, I’m cured, kinda scenario.

On the contrary, I do not eat breakfast every day. I don’t eat 6x a day and track my meal plan. I haven’t measured out my food in a long time. And hell, sometimes I have a bowl of cereal for dinner.

What I am saying though, is that I no longer turn down food based on their calories or power and fear they have over me.

I have eaten cookies for breakfast, but had a salad for lunch, but those two are no longer connected in my mind. I eat what I want, when I want. If I just ate a half hour ago, and my stomach is growling, I drink some water, and pull out a larabar.

I still exercise, and the voice is still there, but it is no longer the loud screaming, jagged tooth beast demanding my every action. It is now like a snide child who hasn’t gotten it’s way and makes jabs when it can, “I mean, you did just exercise, you probably shouldn’t have breakfast.” “Or,” I’d retort back, “I have some awesome avocado toast waiting with my name on it.” It doesn’t always make the voice go away, and I don’t always make the correct choice, but I do the next right thing.

That also doesn’t mean that my body image is all rainbows and sunshine every day, but I am learning to accept my body and realize that restricting won’t do me any good, and eating one cookie won’t hurt me.

I may still turn food down, but it is because I genuinely don’t want it. Not because my Eating Disorder doesn’t want me to have it.

Do what you can, even if it means a snack! Feel free to reach out!

A 20 Something 60 Year Old

Hey all, it has been a while. So much has and hasn’t happened simultaneously.

Work may be the death of me, it is challenging and discouraging the majority of the time, with no break in sight.

Some slight guy issues, but oh well.

I think I am finally coming to terms with who I am, and am working to not only accept that, but embrace it.

I am almost 24 years old. Tonight my New Years plan is to get dinner out of the oven in ~20 minutes, curl up with my heated blanket and continue to read. I am also not ashamed of that. I joke and laugh that I am an old woman in a 20-something year old body, but it is the truth. Since I moved to Pennsylvania I have gone to only a handful of parties, they have included coworkers, who I am friends with.

I shouldn’t have to make excuses to not go out. “I have a headache”, “I’m just super exhausted.”, “Sorry, Ella has been throwing up.” I shouldn’t have to apologize or make excuses to back my decisions. I am an introvert, I am ok with that. I am not ashamed of the fact that I do not want to stay up until after midnight, with people I don’t know to have to drive home through, who knows how many traffic stops. That isn’t my cup of tea.

I am ok with the fact that I don’t want to go out and socialize. I enjoy my me time to work out, read, do what I want.

Eating Disorder and Getting Personal

This may just be the most personal post yet.

I despise pictures, but somehow seem strangely drawn to looking at old ones. Lately it has become nothing more than a morbid game of comparisons. While I am happy for my friends in recovery and all they are doing, it somehow makes me seem inadequate and I begin to question my own recovery.

I tell myself that my story doesn’t matter, that I really have nothing to say. I want to be an advocate and help others, but how when I am so drawn into denial. I am one of you, one of the people who struggles with an eating disorder, but was never hospitalized, never had a feeding tube, who believed she was never “thin enough” to have an “actual” eating disorder.

While many of these thoughts have become easier to grasp over the years, there are still certain ones that are more triggering than others.

Becoming better with understanding that “yeah, I was ‘thin enough’ to have an eating disorder”, because they don’t discriminate based on looks. I was still struggling, I look back on pictures from mission work, or a cruise, and the first thing that comes to mind is how I purged on the cruise ship many times, and spent most mornings in the gym on the ship.

My body has changed tremendously over the course of my life. When I look back I see a heavier girl with boobs, she didn’t eat at school, but would purge when she got home. She hid it from her family and would take the dog on a walk after dinner, or get in the shower.

14925621_10206924889267121_5212638902543562762_n

I believed, like many other children, that I was solely responsible for my parent’s rocky marriage, drinking problems, their fighting, etc. I was convinced that since my own father didn’t want me that somehow the problem was me, I was the common factor.

I was cursed/blessed/given boobs. It was many of the physical attributes I hated about myself, known as the girl with the “big boobs”. I hid behind big hoodies, hoping to go unnoticed.

When the weight began to really come off, and people became more aware that I wasn’t eating, it became concerning to some. Some people tried to talk to me about what I was doing, others tried to talk to my mom. It all fell on deaf ears, and I played dumb, using the typical, “I already ate” excuse.

I began running, told myself it wasn’t “that much”. 3 miles became 5, which quickly became 7, and so on. I was always rationalizing it by saying, “It’s not like I’m running ___ miles”, but it would inevitably become that number.

Some were concerned, others didn’t know me well enough to be concerned, they told me how great I looked, others wanted to know what my secret was. Still, I rationalized it by telling myself that “Sick people couldn’t run this much.”

If I was to sit down and be honest, I would say I went from a heavier girl who hated her body and was always self-conscious, to a smaller version of that girl. She still hated her body, but she was also poisoning it, giving it laxatives, not feeding it, and so consumed with the thought of running and restricting that she chose running over Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Virology classes. She hadn’t had her period for as long as she could remember, she was put on crutches from tearing her entire IT band from hip to knee, she had to have her gallbladder taken out since it was storing so much bile from not eating. She still believed she was completely fine, refusing any food she hadn’t made herself, fearing liquid calories, living on egg whites and veggies.

Sitting down I still struggle with believing that I wasn’t worthy of recovery. There are others who needed it more than me, who were worse off than me. I compare my journey, my recovery, my body, to those around me and while I know it isn’t healthy, I can’t help but believe that they are more worthy, more important than me.

 

Radical Acceptance of my Past

I genuinely believe it has taken me this long to finally comprehend radical acceptance.

Being a young, white woman in her early twenties, with a college education automatically puts me in the category of cliché/privileged; and I would be an idiot to disagree. Then throw in the facts that I’m from a family with divorced parents, middle class, and struggled with an eating disorder, and it sounds like any Lifetime movie you have seen that screams cliché.

I’ve also accepted the fact that my past is not something I should hide, but looking back I am grateful and have come to terms that my mom did the best she could.

That does not make what she has said or done in the past acceptable, but I do not feel a lump of resentment in my chest anymore.

My goals, hopes and aspirations as a child was never to have my parents divorce, move 9 hours away to a different state, have my mother become an alcoholic, live with my pastor and his wife, have an eating disorder, turn to cutting, go to every school in the county, but you play with the hand you were dealt.

I am not saying all of this for pity or sympathy.

On the contrary, growing up, I wouldn’t have thought I would be in solid recovery from my eating disorder, become a biochemist, have a German Shepherd, travel to Germany, or have a full ride scholarship to college.

Spending almost a week with my cousin almost makes me thankful for how I was raised, almost. My cousin is still in college, her parents are not divorced, she has three dogs in the suburbs, and has traveled to various places thanks to her parents. During this week, I heard thank you maybe three times, and two of those times was when I was dropping her off at the airport.

She decided to inform me of how she recently broke up with her boyfriend, but had already been spending nights at another guy’s house. The story of wearing leather pants to the bar, but not sleeping in them when she went to his house. Now, I know I am no better than anyone else, I have messed up, I have many many faults, but these are stories I didn’t care to hear.

Instead of visiting the market, or letting me take her to the park, she wanted to go to the mall. When we went out for coffee, she proceeded to whine about the syrup at the bottom of her ice coffee and how she “knew it was going to be an issue the moment I saw her making it.”. When we went out for dinner, she answers the phone in the restaurant. Whistling at me like a dog across the length of a store to get my attention. While we are supposed to be hanging out, she decides to make phone calls, then tells me about how her ex cornered her side guy at the bar.

While in Baltimore for a day, I bought two coffees purposely. My cousin scoffed, complained about something else, and judged me for the two coffees in my hands. As we were walking back to the car there was a man at an intersection with a handwritten cardboard sign (pretty common in that area). I walked up to him, wished him a Happy Monday, handed him the coffee and two packs of sugar, and was given a, “Thank you miss, God Bless.” In return.

I am thankful for individuality, and pray ceaselessly for patience, humility and happiness, but this week was very difficult for me. I’m thankful that I am practically 23 going on 60, and am thankful for gratitude and manners that my mom instilled in me. I fully believe in showing others the same respect that I would want, and be treated in the same manner. I believe in forgiving others for mistakes, because what if that was you one day. Regardless of title, CEO, Janitor, or Security Guard, everyone is a person and has a story.

My mother may not have been perfect, but I also do not correct others if it isn’t important, I consider myself a pretty optimistic person at times, and try to not nit-pick at others, even though I may fall short many times. So, I will focus on the good, be thankful for what I have, finish my glass of wine, and curl up with a book.