01 December 2012

You can be free

To all who are reading this:

You can be free.
I am.
And I am amazed and grateful.

I never thought I could be free of anorexia.
But my psychiatrist, my family, and my friends believed in me. God believed in me. And it happened.
I am free.
Anorexia is dead.

Please, all of you out there.
Please fight.
You can be free.
You can live again.
And thrive.

I know.
I am thriving.
I love life now.

Thank you.

07 October 2012

In which she chooses life

I know I haven't written in a while. It's just...some days I'm full on-board with recovery, and some days it gets tiresome.

So many things still stand in the way of full recovery. A picture in a magazine, a spoken word misinterpreted, a half-remembered longing triggered...

What is it about this illness, anorexia, that makes it so hard to let go? Why have so many people, including me, start strongly on recovery, only to succumb to its siren call yet again? What does it even mean?

What did — does? — anorexia mean to me? As time passes and memory fades, it is easier to see the positive aspects of self-starvation. And yes, there were positives, or its allure would have faded long ago.

It becomes easier to remember only the positives, and frankly, harder to remember the pain of it all. So I have to dredge up the pain in order to save myself, and dampen any incipient enthusiasm for that which could still kill me if I am not careful.

What is it about this illness — one that destroys all life and love and ambition, boiling down existence to mere fear and self-hatred — that makes one cling to it, screaming inside that it is the only thing that could possibly understand, the only thing that can save one from nothingness?

Now I have life and friendships and a bright future. Why would I even consider giving those up for the abyss? Why would I let days of loneliness and anxiety take me down that path? Why would I even invite it at all?

It would have been so easy. Sick, unable to eat. The perfect excuse. The perfect reason to go back.

But no. I still choose life, even if it is hard and frightening. Because I would rather be frightened than dead.

25 September 2012

Book review: Animals (A Novel)


This odd little book explores the horrors of factory farming through the eyes of Sam, a deaf boy who is declared a mongrel and sent to a chattel processing facility to be processed as food. The horrors of how we process meat comes through through the sheer banality of this tale. This book is NOT for the faint of heart, and will change the way you think about food. It also raises questions about what makes us human. Thought-provoking and a must-read.

19 August 2012

Lost hope

This is hard...but, I've been struggling with depression for several months now. It started slowly, insidiously; sneaking up on me. Little forays into my happiness, striking at my self-confidence and laughing at my hopes.

I am happy.
Happy.
But...you don't deserve to be happy.
Why not?
Because.

The sun is shining and I am embracing it, twirling around.
My heart soars
Life has never been better.
I can do anything.
Anything.

I have finally become free...

That is what you think.
Icy streams surrounding me
Slowly choking out the happiness
Blackness filling my days

But....I was happy.

For weeks, I've struggled with everything.
First, eating. I'll either not eat, or not eat healthily.
It is if I don't deserve full nutrition, full recovery.
I don't want to always think about food.
Guilt.
Shame.
Aggravation.
FAT.
It is weird. Sometimes I can eat without free.
But then FEAR comes roaring back.
Each.and.every.time

Then there is this thing called life.
Cleaning. Laundry. Bills. Answering e-mails. Grocery shopping. Talking to people. Calling family. Visiting. Attending church. Volunteer work.....
AHHHH!!!
I can't do this.

So I stay up until 2, 3, 4 a.m.
Too afraid to got to bed.
Mindlessly wandering the Internet.
No thoughts.
It feels like a binge.
A binge of the online world.
Designed to cross-circute my emotions.

Emotions?
Do I even have any?
Why can't I cry?

Oh, I will sometimes squeeze out a few hypocritical tears.
Look, I am crying. I feel sad. I feel...
Numbness.

So I isolate.
This passive-agressive approach to life at full-tilt.
My cell phone voicemail full.
A week's worth of mail stuffed inside the mailbox.
Does the mailman think I'm dead?
Does he even notice?

Days sat huddling in my house,
I am embarrassed to be in my nightgown at 2, 3 in the afternoon.
I wish I had a drink.
Or two.
Or three...
Then I could oh-so-fashionbly sip my glass(es) of wine while twirling said nightgown.
I wouldn't be a loser, then.
Instead, I could say that something important kept me up and by God I deserved to sleep until noon, 1, 2 p.m.!
And the wine would seductively slide down my throat.

I sometimes miss starving.
The feelings of emptiness.
Dizziness.
Heart racing.
Sick, isn't it.

Sometimes I think if one more person tells me I look good, I'm going to fucking scream.
Look good=you're fat
I mean, does anyone ever ask someone if she has gained weight?

I sit, hopeless, in front of my computer.
Too scared to move.
Frozen.
I want to throw myself on my knees and beg God to take this feeling away, take it all away and open me to new life.

A life that is tantalizingly out of reach.
My fingers hovering, trying to grasp it before it falls apart.

Love
Worthwhile work
Friends
Family
Laughter

I feel unworthy. Lonely. Full of hopelessness.
I admitted that to my psychiatrist the other day (of course after he already called me out on it.)

I feel as if my dreams have fallen apart.
Damn it, I'll just admit it — I am envious of women whose spouses have stood by them, whose husbands cherish and love them...till death do they part.
Husbands who have KEPT their vows, who believe that the words meant something, not just to be thrown away like so much trash, like scrapping gum off of the bottom of a shoe.

What is wrong with me???
Why can't I inspire that kind of devotion?

Will love ever be a part of my life again?
Romantic love, I mean.

And...will laughter and happiness and fulfillment and all the hopes and dreams that threaten to bubble up and overwhelm me ever become part of my life?

In the meantime, my world continues to crash around me. Dishes are again piled in the sink. Laundry is half-done. The upstairs needs to be vacuumed. Three weeks worth of garbage sit in the garage. There are piles everywhere.
I mean, where does this crap come from, anyway??? Is there a clutter fairy who drops off junk at my house at an alarming rate?
Books. Books everywhere.
I mean, I love books. But I don't love tripping over them every five seconds.
Bottles of nail polish on my desk, clothes piled on the dryer, threatening to topple. The spare bedroom crammed with an overturned Christmas tree, complete with bulbs still attached.
My bicycle remains untouched, my bow and arrow no longer getting any practice time.
Months worth of vestry minutes untyped.
You get the picture.

Then, I sleep until 10:30 a.m. on Friday. The day I need to drive more than two hours to my psychiatrist's office.
Who needs nine, ten hours of sleep?
I do.
Because sleep has become my escape.
Really, I would stay in bed all day if I felt like I could.
Nothing can touch me when I'm in bed.
Sort of like nothing could touch me when I had anorexia.

I miss...
I miss me.
Me.
I feel as if I want too much.
Please God, are my wishes and dreams unattainable?

I know that only I can move forward and reclaim my life.
Then why is it so hard?

I want more...

15 August 2012

Thank you



I am stunned, honored, and somewhat amazed to have my blog named as one of the 18 Best Eating Disorder Blogs of 2012.

This is what Healthline had to say about The Spirit Within:


Angela Gambrel knows from experience the difficulty of fighting an eating disorder. Her blog details her slow but steady recovery from anorexia and her endeavor to find happiness, acceptance, and beauty in herself and the world. Thoughtful, relatable, and moving, Angela’s bravery and dedication offers hope and encouragement for others in recovery.
This inspiring woman refuses to let her eating disorder define her, and she is working hard to use it to build a future of helping others in her situation. Kudos to Angela for her efforts and her writing!
Wow! I can't believe I've actually helped others with what started out as simply a way to reach out and connect with the eating disorder community.

Thank you to all of you read this blog, and continue to inspire me along the path of recovery!

Please click the box to check out the other named blogs, and be inspired!

20 July 2012

Sorrow

I feel so much sorrow about what has happened in Colorado. I'm not really sure how to process it. I wish I could take back everything that has happened, or at least breathe life back into the victims and hold close those who are injured.

I ask, "Why?"
There is no answer.

All I know is that we need to hold each other close, tell those around us that we love and value them. Tell them what they really mean to us. Because it really, truly could be too late someday.

I keep thinking that there is truly evil in our world. Evil beyond our comprehension. I ask God, but there really is no answer. I picture Jesus crying, heartbroken over what his children do to each other. The Inquisition. Slavery. Armenia. The Holocaust. Stalinism. My Lai. Columbine. 9/11. And so on...

Why is that these and other events like them stand out in our collective memory? Because as painful as it is, we can never forget. We can never forget that evil walks in our world.

I offer up prayers for understanding and healing. That is all I can do.

Self-Hatred and Eating Disorders | Surviving ED

Self-Hatred and Eating Disorders | Surviving ED

11 July 2012

I choose....Life

And what did being thin bring me?
Not a damn thing.
Except depression.
Anxiety.
A racing heart.
Shattered relationships.
Lost dreams.
And almost...death.

I choose Life.
Screw being a size zero.

After starving myself for days, I went to pick up a prescription.
I was terrified of going out because there is food everywhere.
And all I have thought of for days is FOOD.
Even the soap at Meijer — plum-scented.  — seemed luscious.
I could taste the plum, juice trailing down my chin.
I was afraid I would drink the soap out of desperation.
My mind has been screaming FOOD.

I've been reading Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness, and she wrote about food.
I wanted to jump through the book and eat.
Even the egg whites sounded good.
I don't even like egg whites!
She described portioning out a small amount of sugar-free yogurt.

I shook my head.

Then I ate a cereal bar — crumb by crumb.
A crumb fell on the floor, and before my cat could get it, I pounced on it.
It was mine, damn it!


It was 8:30 p.m. and the pharmacy closed at 9.
Did I dare go?
The pharmacy at Meijer is on the opposite side of the food section, so I thought I would be safe.
Then came the plum-flavored scented soap.
And black cherry...and pomegranate.
Why does everything come back to food???

Then I cried in the parking lot, remember life before.
How engaged I was.
How unafraid I felt.
What had happened?

I drove to a restaurant.
Talked to myself for ten minutes.
Yes. No. Life. Anorexia. Thinness. Food...Turkey burger...a crisp Coke...
AHHHHHHHH!!!!


I went in, full of fear.
I ordered a virgin pina colada (I can't have alcohol, because I'm a recovering alcoholic.)
Cold, creamy.
Coconut with a hint of pineapple.
Luscious.
OMG....
I haven't even had WATER for days.
No wonder I feel so depressed!!!

The turkey burger came.
I was very afraid.
I sucked down the first half.

And imagine...I didn't gain 3456908955442 pounds.
My thighs didn't expand.
I could think again.

Recovery is still hard.
But I have to choose life.
Every day.

09 July 2012

You know...

You know, anorexia is not really about being thin. Thin is incidental. It is about control. And self-hatred.

It's about hating oneself so badly you want to hurt.
The pain of hunger.
The pain of emptiness.
The pain of knowing you are lost.

And where am I? Where did I go? So quickly...

07 July 2012

Confused

***TRIGGER WARNING***
I'm so confused right now. I'm hearing about size zero or two on the ED blogsphere, and now I'm thinking I'm fat. Before I was happy with my new figure — about 125 pounds and a size seven/small. But now...is that way too fat??? 

I remember when I became sick with hypoparathyroidism in 2008. I was about 130 pounds. Then I dropped to about 105, and a lot of people told me how good I looked, how "slim." Then came anorexia. And hell. And I quickly dropped into the low nineties.

Five years later, I feel like I am finally embracing recovery. It has been hard — I have struggled with anorexia, alcoholism, and drug abuse; I almost died this past fall. Mixing tranquilizers with alcohol. Not eating. Not caring if I lived or died.

And now? I want to be more than just my damn size!!! Recovery has opened a new life for me. A life of books and friends and family. A real life. I am more engaging, more connected to people. I think less  about starving. About drinking. About my size. I am able to think better, and write better.

Or at least I did until this week.

It is funny. The less I eat, the more I think I don't deserve to eat. I spent yesterday with my family, and I was able to relax and finally eat a meal after almost a week. Then I come home, and I fight with myself internally.

I am so frightened right now. I am forty-seven, and I feel this is my last chance at recovery. My body can't handle much more.

If I fail this time, I believe it will kill me.

27 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 27 — Bliss

Bliss

Bliss...
A warm breezy summer's day
Happiness within
A good book
A smile from a friend
Belonging to myself
Cuddles from my kitty
A cold creamy taste of chocolate ice cream
The sky, light blue and fluffy clouds; the feeling I could become one
The first taste of sweetness; cool upon the tongue

Freedom from the voices within
Peace; sweet, unfathomable peace

When will I truly feel that I deserve bliss?

25 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 25 — Forgiveness

Forgiveness

It has been so hard to forgive myself.
I feel as I have done so much wrong in my life.
When I think...it hurts.

I have abused my body. Starved it. Cut it. Hated it.
It was never good enough.
I was never good enough.

I did many other things wrong; things that hurt others and things that hurt me.
How could I ask for forgiveness when I couldn't forgive myself?

However...
Forgiving oneself is a vital step to healing.
I couldn't move forward without forgiving myself first.

And only then could I forgive those who have hurt me.

So...
I prayed to God and asked His forgiveness.
Sincerely apologized, but only to those who would not be hurt by my apologies.

That's what AA calls making amends.

I need to believe God forgives me.
Sometimes it is very hard, and I find myself slipping into self-hatred again.

Why is it so hard to forgive myself?
Sometimes I feel that I can forgive others so much more easily.
I would never berate them the way I do myself.

I am still learning to be open to others — and God's — amazing gift of forgiveness.
I can no longer afford the luxury of self-hatred and flagellation.

God's forgiveness is there.
All I have to do is believe.

23 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 23 — Soul

I am . . . a soul
My body,
A House

Why all this focus on the body?
Its weight
Its shape
Its imperfections

Made in the image of
God

He made me
Perfect
And I turn that around
To mean

Nothing

My soul
buried
Under layers of

Self Hatred
Self Denial
Self Abuse

Cutting
Revealing
Skin
Blood

My Soul
Aches

Why should I
Punish
Myself

For imperfections?

That God
Does not
See

Instead,
He sees
My Soul

The Spirit Within

And Beauty Takes
Flight

My Soul
Free

Rejoicing
Weightless

And I
Become
One

With
My
Creator

19 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 19 — Tears

I've cried so many tears in the past year. Tears of despair. Hurt. Pain.

Waking up each morning, wishing I would die so the pain would stop. I was tired. Tired of the eating disorder voice hammering at me all the time, telling me that I didn't deserve to eat, that I was fat, that I deserved to starve . . . I just wanted it all to stop, but anorexia is a slow killer.

Too slow.

Then tears when my husband left me. Not once. Not twice. Three times. I was frightened to be alone, afraid of . . .

That I would always be alone.
That no one could ever love me.
That I would die alone.

So many tears . . .

So many tears that I couldn't stop, so I continuously filled a wine goblet — I used one with snow-covered pine trees, so Christmasy and reminiscent of happier times — with wine, as much wine as I could drink, anything to stave off the pain.

To stop the tears.

Often I would stumble to the couch, passing out, only to awake and start it all over again

The tears stopped after my last hospitalization in December.

I didn't know what happened. Why couldn't I cry, damn it!?! Everything had fallen spectacularly apart, blowing up in my face, so why no more tears?

A calmness settled over me.

Then, about a week ago, I struggled not to cry. What was the cause?

I don't know.
But I'm glad to know that the tears are still there, just in check.

And I'm glad I'm no longer crying constantly.

18 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 18 — Laughter

For years, laughter was buried deep within me. I went through the motions, giving an appropriate smile here and there. But I didn't feel it.

You see, the icy shell of anorexia was virtually impenetrable. Love and laughter and hope could not reach me. Anxiety and depression and fear choked out laughter, and I felt as if I was losing my soul.

Because laughter is the soul of humanity. Through laughter, we connect with others. Through laughter, we become whole. Through laughter, we are freed.

But laughter requires nurturing, or else it will wilt and slowly die.

As it almost did within me.

Now I laugh easily with friends and family. We gather together, share jokes and stories, engaged and alive. Silly things, really. It is beautiful to look at others and see them laugh, truly laugh, and feel the joy that permeates throughout.

God, I have missed laughing!!!

Now I feel joy, and I laugh. I laugh, and I can breathe again.

15 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 15 — Now

Now (a poem?)

Now. . .
I am beginning to feel pain
And loss
I am alone

Now . . .
The warm sun
And the cool breeze
I am here

Now. . .
I can dream
Hope
And be

Now. . .
I look at myself
And marvel
At my skin

Now. . .
I look
To the future
And wonder

Now. . .
I wonder
Wide-eyed
Looking

Now. . .
I am alive
and becoming
Free

Now

14 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 14 — Love

Love

Given the current state of my love life, I'm not sure what to write.

I used to love the idea of love. You know, the white knight in shining armor who would rescue me from all harm. We would marry and live happily ever after.

The fairy tale. Not very original, I admit. But I played out some version of this scenario with my Barbie dolls growing up.

When do we discover the true meaning of love? From our parents? Our friends? Our spouse or significant other?

I now know I was loved by my parents, although I didn't always feel it at the time.

But I had no real sense of love between a husband and wife, or partners meant, simply because my parents never loved each other.

And it hurt when I finally realized that. I mean, imagine being the product of an utilitarian arrangement solely designed so your mother could retain custody of your older sister?

I desperately wanted to believe that true love existed, even if it didn't for my parents.

Then I learned love could hurt. It could betray you. It could be dishonest.

Oh, wait. That isn't love. It is . . . something else.

I thought I found true love when I got married.
Then my marriage fell apart.

Now I'm wondering — what is love? And do I believe in it?

I feel the love of God. I am trying to practice self-love.

And if this all feels disjointed . . . that is how love feels for me right now.

Lessons From My Eating Disorder | Surviving ED

Lessons From My Eating Disorder | Surviving ED

13 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 13 — Perfect

When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target. ~ George Fisher


If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be. ~ Yogi Berra


To escape criticism - do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard


It is a cliche borne out of truth — as an anorexic, I have long struggled with the idea of perfection.
I wanted to be perfectly thin. Perfectly intelligent. Perfectly . . .

Of course, I never could succeed. All that aiming for perfection caused me was anxiety. I was never thin enough. I was never smart enough.

I was never enough.

Starving, hating myself; that did not bring about perfection. Instead, it brought about pain. And fear. And anxiety. And most of all, self-hatred.

I believe I had anorexic tendencies long before I developed anorexia. Since I was very young, I have strived to be . . . perfect.

And it caused me to hate myself.

This quest to be perfect did not allow me to see what was good about myself. That I was intelligent. That I was beautiful in my own way. My sense of humor, the grace in which I treat people, my kindness . . . all of this was lost as I sought perfection.

Perfection does not exist. Not even in nature. Look at a flower. Or a tree. Or an animal. Each one has flaws.
This does not make it bad or worthless, but instead these flaw or imperfections make each living creature, flora and fauna, unique and special and wonderful.

The only perfection that exists is God and His perfect love for us. To try and imitate that is only going to cause us pain.

And it is a relief to no longer strive for perfection, and to just be.

12 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 12 — Crowd

Concerts
Plays
Movies
Family gatherings
Picnics
Parks
Political rallies
Sporting events
. . .

Crowds frighten me.
You see, you have a group of people gathered together for a common purpose.
That's good, right?
Maybe not.

Think about the crowds that gathered to hear Hitler speak. All of them united in hate. Evil must of permeated that crowd.
Crowds can do anything . . . bad/good/indifferent.

Think about lynch mobs. People often don't stop and think when in a crowd. They just react. Emotionally. They feed into what the leader says to them, developing a herd mentality that often can not be stopped.

Crowds have always terrified me because these images come to mind.
What will the crowd do? Am I safe?


I often feel panicked when I'm in a crowd. The press of bodies, the stale air, the like-mindedness. The feeling that I can't escape.

I'm always looking for an exit.


However, crowds can gather together for good purposes, too.
One time I remember being in a crowd to hear Elton John perform. I love Elton John's music, and was thrilled to be able to go see him.
But I wasn't thrilled that I had to be surrounded by a mass of people. I wanted a small, personal concert...but that wasn't going to happen.
So, I went. And the one memory that remains with me is of a woman throwing her bra on stage, Elton John picking it up with a quizzical look on his face, and saying in that English accent: What do you expect me to do with this? Then he tossed it to a band member, the audience laughing.

But I still think, That laughter can turn...to???


I am working on overcoming my fear of crowds; realizing that a mass of people doesn't always equal evil or wrong-doing.

However, there is the phrase: crowd-mentality


Think about it.

11 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 11 — Force

Force

It seems to be such an ugly word.

At first.

He used force.
He forced her to . . .
I was forced to . . .


But why?
Words are just letters that are strung together; our minds and intelligence are what give each word meaning.

F . . . O . . . R . . . C . . . E

Hmm...

On the other hand...

Someone can be a force for good.

Someone who fights for what is right.
Someone who stands up for what she believes in.
Someone who refuses to be cowed by life/circumstances/illness.

She is a forceful person.
She forced herself to face the past, and triumph over it.
May the Force be with you! :)


(Sorry, Star Wars fan here.)

It is interesting how a series of letters can hold so much power. How our minds look at a word, such as force, and something from the past springs forward, propelling us into the past when force was used against us.

But as adults, we have more power over our own bodies and minds. We can use force to protect ourselves, and to do good.

Force no longer has to convey something negative. It can be good.

A force for good.

10 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 10 — Emotional

Emotional

I am a very emotional person. For a long time, it felt as if my emotions would kill me. Literally.

A fear-filled drive during a raging snowstorm sometime during the winter of 2009. I remember waking up, anxiety so great that I thought I would die. Or I wanted to die. That is all I remember. What triggered it? Trying to gain weight? My fragile marriage? My stressful job? Everything....


I have spent decades trying to mask my emotions. Alcohol. Sex. Tranquilizers. Sex. More Alcohol. Alcohol with tranquilizers.

Yes, it could have killed me. But the emotions felt as if they were killing me...

How does one describe all-pervasive anxiety? The kind that fills every pore, suffocates each breath, and threatens to consume...

Words are banal. Trite. Cliche.

Therefore I struggle, remembering, but unable to convey the feelings fully.

I remember once, twice, perhaps three times...slamming a coffee cup against the stainless steel sink; throwing a plate, one with delicate, twining green leaves and slender branches, the promise and hint of spring; angrily destroying my flesh, carving "Hate me" and watching the blood seeping into minute trails, mimicking rivers...

And I felt a fleeting sense of relief.

I have worked through it. Confessed all to my psychiatrist. That I did misuse the Valium and Ativan given to make things easier for me, to give me a chance. I blew it. Mixed these pills with wine each day, crashing on my couch in a stupor, blunting out all emotion...for a while, at least.

The thought that I could have died did not occur to me then. I just wanted the pain to stop. My husband had left me — for the third and final time — and I felt that all life was over, that I was worthless, ugly, too emotional.

Now, an eerie calm, coupled with brief bouts of minor anxiety, fill my days. Still panicked, I reach for the PRN Seroquel, marveling that not too many months ago, I was sure I would fall apart without alcohol and tranquilizers.

I feel clearer than I have in years, decades, perhaps my whole life.

The emotions are still there. But they no longer can kill me.

09 June 2012

Update

Hi Blogger peeps!!!

I've been out of town for a few days visiting my beautiful sister and her lovely family of two dogs, two puppies, and two kitties!!! I will resume the June Blogger Challenge tomorrow with the word Emotional. (I can really get into that word!)

Love you all!
Angela

07 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 7 — Honesty


Be yourself; everyone else is taken. ~ Oscar Wilde


The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.  ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder


To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest. ~ Mahatma Gandhi


Honesty has always been a cornerstone of my life. I remember when I was little, me and some of my friends stole something from a store.


The guilt was too much. I told my mother. Sure, my friends were angry with me. But I had my self-respect back.


However, my true self often was buried under self-hatred and recriminations. I felt that I was not good enough, and I often wanted to re-invent myself.


But that is not possible.


Then my true self became buried under anorexia. I thought of myself as an honest person, but anorexia is inherently dishonest. You lie to yourself: I am not thin/sick/dying. You lie to others: I already ate/I'm too full/I am a vegetarian...vegan...gluten-sensitive...fruitarian...sugar-free...flour-free...Oh, forget it, I just CAN'T eat that. Or in the hospital: I can't eat red meat; it bothers my stomach. I can't eat bacon because of the sodium nitrite. I can't have salad dressing because...


Anorexia forces you to lie simply because the illness thrives in secrecy.


To live my life with honesty means to live it authenticallyIt is only now, in my forth decade, that I feel I am truly living my life with full honesty. I know what I believe, and I live it. I know who I am, and that is okay.


I recently confessed to my psychiatrist that I was NOT sensitive to beef, but just said that because I was afraid of the calories. And I can eat bacon, too.

Vulnerability and Anorexia | Surviving ED

Vulnerability and Anorexia | Surviving ED

Note: I am one day behind with the June Blogger Challenge. I will be returning later today with a post for the seventh day of the Blogger Challenge — Honesty.

05 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 5 — Sincere

Sincere

I value sincerity in both others and myself. To me, sincerity is synonymous with honesty. Sincere people shine, whereas false people do not.

Sometimes it is hard to know if someone is sincere or not. Did that person really like my dress...or is she being nice? Do I really look good...or am I fat?

That was the problem when I was very ill with anorexia. I doubted people's sincerity. I didn't believe anyone really cared about me, because I didn't care about myself. And I was ready to jump on anything that fed into my disordered mind. I turned words against me, using them as weapons of self-destruction.

And I lost my sincerity. I wasn't true to myself, because I was a slave to the disorder. But worst, I wasn't sincere to others. Instead, I hid and lied and isolated. I didn't wake up one day and say, Well, I think I will be an insincere bitch. But that is what happened.

I now trust what others and myself say. I have regained myself, and that includes regaining my sincerity.

04 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 4 — Crazy

Crazy

Today I feel crazy.
My mood has crashed, and I feel hopeless.
I'm not sure why.
I'm struggling not to cry.
I don't know how to reach out to anyone.
I feel as if I've failed — again.
That is crazy.
That is all.

03 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 3 — Power


Power

Today I took back my power and reclaimed my soul. Yes. That.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

For a long time, I gave away my power. I allowed what others felt to define me, to control me, and often, to break me. It was through patient and long work with my eating disorders psychiatrist that I have been able to regain my power.

Then, for the past few weeks, I allowed it to slip away. Again I defined myself not by my values and morals, but by what other people have thought of me. And I started to slip into depression. I struggled to eat. Things were starting to look hopeless again.

I am better than that.

I have been thinking a lot of about power and what it does to people. Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, illustrates two sides of power: the power of the state and the power of individuals. The white-minority South African government held power for a long time. Or did they? The African National Congress was founded in 1912. In spite of the South African government's brutal attempts to crush AFC, the organization flourished. ANC during the apartheid era was a multiracial organization dedicated to a democratic society. The ANC started out by using non-violent protest to bring about change in South Africa, but soon felt forced to become more militant. Do I agree with this? Not necessarily, but I certainly can understand that when non-violent protest is continuously met by brutality, it might change things somewhat.

South Africa of the apartheid era is a prime example of corrupt power. The government brutally crushed out all forms of dissident opinion. One of the most effective means was through the use of banning. I was horrified to read about this form of punishment. Imagine not being able to meet with more than one person; not being able to even attend your own child's birthday party? Those who were banned were often not told of the reason, and the ban could be reinstated indefinitely.

Mandela could have become bitter. He certainly had reason to. But instead, he reached out and worked to effect change in his country.

That is grace. And there is power in such grace.

I have learned much from reading Mandela's words. It is hard not to be angry about the lost years and opportunities caused by having anorexia. But I refuse to be angry. Instead, I have taken back my power by learning from what happened.

That is growth. There is power in growth.

There are different types of power. The power outside oneself, and the power within.

Today I took back my power. I am free.

02 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 2 — Invisible



Invisible

Unseen
Unheard
Voiceless

This is how I was through years of anorexia.
I could not speak.
I did not want to be seen.
I was silenced.

I spoke without words.
Anorexia the outward manifestation of my inner pain.

Once I wrote...
Poems
Journal entries
Letters

That faded
As I faded

Falling into the wormhole
Of illness.

But a small flame
Flickered inside

Nourished by
the beliefs
of others
When I did not
Believe in myself.

I wrote
And I screamed out loud
On paper.
Knowing that part of healing
Came from
Releasing
The Spirit Within

Slowly,
I felt myself
Heard again.
I began to speak out.
Trying to help myself
By helping others

As the weight of anorexia
Lifted
I again found my voice.

And now I refused to be
Silenced.

And I no longer feel
Invisible.

01 June 2012

June Blogger Challenge: Day 1 — Change

Change.

What does change mean to me?
I thought about this all day, and I keep coming back to the fact that my life has been filled with incredible changes during the past four years.

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I didn't care if I lived or died. My life revolved around weight and calories and unrelenting self-hatred.

Today I learned that I no longer have the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. And I've been thinking about all the changes I have made for recovery to become a reality.

Two years ago, I entered a PHP in the Midwest. I was not a proponent of recovery. I went solely as an attempt to save my crumbling marriage. I did not really want to recover, but I was good at trying to pretend that I was.

Going back further, sixteen years ago I was preparing for my wedding. I did not know then that I would be caught in the horror of anorexia nervosa. I was a normal weight, and honestly, I didn't even try to lose weight for my wedding.

Soon that would change.

Change.
We moved to a thriving college town, where I pursued my dream of being a writer. I enrolled to complete my second bachelor's degree (my first was in psychology, ironically) in English/Imaginative Writing. We perused practically every restaurant, and I felt free to enjoy food and drink.

Change.
I went on to build a career as a respected journalist and writer, covering everything from government to the military. I was overweight, having gain some pounds both because of a medication and the inevitable marriage-induced apathy, but I was happy. I was in love and I was writing, and that was all that matter.
Then some people insinuated that I was fat.
Then I became ill with an unknown illness that would not be diagnosed for years.
Then the war in Iraq started and I had to write about young men who had hopes and dreams, but came home in pieces.
I listened to their families' sorrow and I fell to pieces.
Quietly, inside. I was unable to express my horror at the ravages of war, and therefore began to wage war on my body and psyche.

Change.
I was sick and I was afraid and I no longer could eat without fear. There was the fear of fat, but that wasn't really my real fear.
My real fear was of life.
I could no longer engage in life, because to do so would be so painful.
I would have to feel/see/know about the young dead men and their grieving families.

Change.
All of this began to take a toll on my marriage. I sensed that we were becoming unraveled. The loss of intimacy. No longer sharing jokes. Indifference.
The indifference hurt. I struggled to hold onto what was in the only way I knew how—by starving.
Starving became my voice, the voice that spoke words that felt unspeakable.
I could not speak of the horrors, of my fears; I could only starve.
You see, it really wasn't about being thin.
It was about survival.
Survival through starvation.

Change.
How can I describe how things fell spectacularly apart??? How can I convey any of this, when I was lost/buried/drowning?
For a long time, I feared change. I was no longer the woman I used to be. The woman who packed her bags and moved away to complete her degree, determined to make something, anything, of her life. The woman who married and moved away, and then worked hard to achieve her dream of writing.
The woman who was unafraid of change, who didn't feel threatened by change.

However, anorexia nervosa did change me...but for a long time, it was change for the worse.

I became selfish. Uncaring. Self-absorbed. Mean.
Depressed.
Anxious.

I was caught/stuck/drowning.
And oblivious to it all.

I did not want to change. I did not think I needed to change.
What, me sick? I DO NOT have anorexia. I am just thin. Thin....Thin...Thin.


And the words echoed in my soul, mocking me.

Change.
One day in August 2008, I walked into the office of an eating disorders psychiatrist. I didn't want to be there. The first thing I thought when I looked at him was, How the hell is this man even going to understand? How is he going to understand that I am afraid? That I want to die?
He gently asked me some questions, and then looked at me and said, "You are dying."

That changed me.
That penetrated the ice of anorexia.

It took a long time to change from that person who was dying, body and soul, to the woman I am today.
Many changes came my way.
I left my job and started graduate school.
I was hospitalized for anorexia eight times in four years.
My marriage fell apart; my husband and I separating.
I then fell into alcoholism and drug addiction, necessitating intervention from my psychiatrist.

Change.
There have been many positive changes.
I have been working hard at recovery.
I have decided that I am a strong, intelligent, awesome woman.
I have changed how I view myself and others.
I have moved forward onto an unknown and scary path, alone and yet not alone.

Change.
I embrace it with all the strength I used to embrace my illness.


Today I learned I no longer have the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.
My identity will change.
From one of an eating disordered person.

To one who is fully, joyfully....alive.

31 May 2012

Hungry For Change and Arielle Lee Bair June Blogger Challenge

I am pleased to announce that I will be joining in the June Blogger Challenge created by Hungry for Change in partnership with ED blogger extraordinaire Arielle Lee Bair.

For more information, go to Arielle Lee Bair's blog post.

The word for 1 June is "Change."

I'm really looking forward to this monthlong challenge to hone my writing skills. :)

30 May 2012

Slipping

I'm slipping. Why does this always happen???

I have to fight. And I will.

26 May 2012

Project Health

Since it's oh-so-very trendy to name one's diet/plan for health, I though I would. :)

Here is my plan:
• To drink 8 eight-ounces of fluids a day. This does NOT include caffeinated beverages such as diet soda, coffee, tea, frappucinos, etc.
• To reduce/eliminate my intake of Diet Coke and other diet beverages (the exception being zero-calorie Vitamin Water, and of course, coffee.) Since discovering I could drink diet soda without developing a raging migraine, I have been sucking down Diet Coke like it's water. I'm wondering if this increase consumption has been the cause of ongoing joint aches and stomach problems. And that brings me to...
• Eat foods that cause me less pain. What are those? I don't know, except I do know bland foods help. I have had a long-term battle with IBS which seemed to be correcting itself, and yet now I struggle with stomach pain—sometimes even after eating bland foods.
• Start doing yoga. I became much calmer after I began eating regularly and gaining weight. However, I am still subject to stress like everyone else and now need non-drug ways to deal with it (now that my ED psychiatrist has cut me off from tranquilizers.)
• Read more. I'm learning recovery from anorexia is not just about eating better and weight restoration. It also is about taking care of the whole body. Reading helps relax me and broadens my mind. And that leads to...
• Read the Bible daily. I am a Christian, and yet there is still so much I would like to learn about the Bible and the basis for my faith.
• Continue to dress nicely. This may seem shallow, but when I look pretty, I feel pretty. Too often when I was emaciated, I would wear short, inappropriate mini-skirts and skimpy tops under the delusion that I looked good. I didn't. I looked like I was dying. Which I was.
• Eat more whole foods. Like fruits and vegetables. When I was anorexic, I ate nothing. I wasn't an anorexic who sat nibbling on lettuce and baby carrots. I simply ate very little. Now that I am weight-restored, I would like to introduce into my life the fruits of the earth, if you will.
• Volunteer. Because I need to be out in the world. It keeps me sane, and it makes me whole.
• Take a walk once in awhile.

There you have it. Let Project Health commence. I will keep all of you updated on my progress. Oh, don't worry! I won't be posting any pictures of what I eat on this blog. My food intake is so boring it could be considered a cure for insomnia (I mean, how many pictures of peanut butter on Ritz crackers can anyone look at, anyway???)

{{{Hugs}}}

ETA Removing influences that either irritate or stress me out. I don't need it.

23 May 2012

Gratitude

I am grateful...
To be alive.
To feel free.
To enjoy food once again.
To no longer be afraid. Or anxious. Or worthless.
I am grateful that I no longer wish to die.
That I no longer pray for death.

I am grateful...
For the love of friends and family.
For the spring's caressing warmth and the bright sunshine.

I am grateful...
To God and for His everlasting mercy.

I am grateful...
For this second chance at life.

07 May 2012

Obsessed

I want to be thin again...it's all I can think about. I'm obsessed again.

Fat...fat....fat....fat....fat....fat........

Why doesn't my brain just shut-up and let me enjoy recovery??? By no stretch of the imagination am I overweight and I know that logically. But I just can't see it right now. I can't see that I'm a healthy woman with a healthy body, like people tell me. All I see is FAT. (And why am I so afraid of fat, anyway? I truly think it is a symptom of something else, a symptom caused by fear.)

Is anorexia going to haunt me forever???

All I think is after I defend my thesis, I can start restricting again.

I think of size zero and being tiny and how I've let myself go.

No...no...no....no....NO!!!!

I hate being this vulnerable. When will it stop???

Damaging Words: Why Not All Eating Disorder Blogs Are Equal | Surviving ED

Damaging Words: Why Not All Eating Disorder Blogs Are Equal | Surviving ED

New post at HealthyPlace.com

05 May 2012

Thinking about leaving...

I'm thinking about deleting this blog. I mean, does anybody even read it anymore?

There has been so much drama on the Internet lately, and it frankly has me really depressed.

I love writing and sharing with others, but I just don't know.......

20 April 2012

Angry (Again), Or Insert An Original Title HERE

You know, I really like Victoria's Secret bras, particularly the Wear Everywhere demis and push-ups ... so comfortable and affordable, now that I know the right size (turns out I am a C cup; bigger than I thought. Given the family I come from, all I can think is, Where did these breasts come from???)


But I digress...

What I don't like are the ads for these and other bras. I mean, come on, is it really necessary to sell bras using pouty, over-sexualized prepubescent females? Am I really going to run to my nearest VS store to buy the bras that I now need because it looks sexy on a woman? I mean, maybe if I was into women...and a pedophile, given the looks of some of these models. And VS isn't even the worse from what I've seen.

There was a time that my self-worth was tied up into how sexy men found me. If they didn't find me sexy and attractive, then ergo, I was not worthy; I was washed-up, I let myself go, I was ugly.

The ultimate sin in our society—to be ugly. Not to be stupid. Or unkind. Or stingy. Or....

And of course, who defines ugly? One person's ugly could be another person's beautiful. Why did society settle on a tall, prepubescent, blonde, white-with-blue-eyes-big-tits (but not too big) and totally flat stomach as the idea? I'm betting 99.9 percent of us do not fit this idea. Short.older.brunette.brown eyes.small boobs.a round stomach...(Although I do have blue eyes. But that doesn't negate my point.)

I could go on, but why bother?

I could say what started me on this rant was the fact I had to go out and buy bras, and by God, I don't look like the pouty model(s) staring blank-eye at me while trying to convince me to buy a bra that will make-me-two-cups-bigger! Or maybe it was the totally ridiculous perfume ads from the seventies, like the one for Love's Baby Soft that shows a Jon-Benet look-alike puckered up for the camera while clutching a teddy bear. Or perhaps it was the fact that I've finally started cleaning out my closet and was suddenly disgusted by my size-three anorexic clothes, because at one time it almost cost me my life to be that size and smaller, and what was the point of it all, anyway?

But the real truth is that I'm angry at being violated in December; angry that I can't say anything else, angry because one event has caused me to almost fall apart, to stay hidden in my house like I should be ashamed, dreading the moment when I must reveal to all the world (my world, at least) everything AND angry that I've allowed this to fester inside, while everything falls apart and my house hasn't been clean for months and ...

And the other day, my first thought was after I finish my thesis, I can go back to starving myself.

So this is for YOU—I will never go back to anorexia. Never. The.end.

(Are you happy, Dr. S? You asked me to do some personal writing, and this is what you get—a feminist rant. And I am done...for now.)

25 March 2012

Body Issues, or Puberty (Again)

Okay, I'll just come out and say it...I now have a figure.
Curves
A curvy stomach
Curvy thighs
Curvy hips
And...
Breasts!!!
I look down and think, "Where did those come from???"
The other day I had to shop for something I haven't needed for a long time.
Bras.
Ugh!
Or, maybe not.
It was like going through puberty all over again. First I had to figure out my bra size. When I figured out I had a D cup, I knew my calculations were wrong. I mean, I have breasts, but I don't have *breasts*. If you know what I mean.
So I recalculated and realized I had a B cup...I was right back into the size I was at sixteen, when I first develop these breasts.
Then I had to find a "comfortable bra" — two words that constitute an oxymoron, in my opinion. First I went with Victoria's Secret yoga bra, figure it was close to my beloved - and oh so comfortable - camisoles.
But I couldn't wear these bras with a lot of things because of the way the shape curves up. I knew I needed a "real bra." One with underwire and hooks and shaped cups.
First I dug out some old ones that were in the size I *finally* figured out I wear, but these were padded and for some odd reason, the padded ones were too big in the cup. My cup didn't runneth over, but instead ran too small.
Then I headed for the local Kohl's, where I almost went into sticker-shock. Can anyone tell me why a piece of clothing that goes *under* my regular clothes can cost more than my regular clothes? This wouldn't be because we live in a male-dominanted society that still seeks to disenfranchise women, would it? I mean, men have it all wrapped up — they don't have to be expensive undergarments and they don't have to buy tampons or napkins every single month until they hit fifty or so.
I tried on some of the less-expensive makes, refusing to even consider spending fifty dollars for what basically amounts to a glorified bikini top...and while I'm on the subject, who decided to start selling swimwear in two or more separate pieces? What's next — selling a coat and its hood separate? A shirt and its buttons separate? (Don't get any ideas, retail!)
I was gratified to actually find a bra that I can wear all day and not feel like I'm going to die of suffocation. So here's my bra recommendation, for what it's worth: Barely There by Hanes. Most.comfortable.bra.I've.ever.worn.
Pluses: bras are prettier than camisoles (who knew that there were so many different colors for bras?) and my figure is pretty darn good (I actually feel sexier than I have for years! Now if I could find someone to appreciate all this sexiness...)

On a totally random and unrelated note: I've finished reading Unorthodox:The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots and started reading The Hunger Games.


Unorthodox was a good read about a woman who fought against a repressive and misogynistic religious sect — and before anyone calls me an anti-Semite, I would have written the same thing about books that depict fundamentalism and misogyny in any form; i.e. FLDS or strict Southern Baptist. I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church, and they preached that it was a sin for a. girls to wear slacks and b. anybody to do anything that remotely made them happy. We used to watch films about hellfire and damnation, and it was the principle reason why I still struggle to not be afraid of God. Read Unorthodox before you judge me or Deborah Feldman.

The Hunger Games is interesting, yet depressing. I didn't really need another thing to depress me, but I'm too far into the book now to stop. I also bought The Covenant by James Michener the other day, and plan to re-read it soon. I love that book! Anyone interested in historical fiction and the history of South Africa and apartheid should read it.

Finally, I finished reading - yet again! - Black Like Me. I highly recommend it. (Read my review of it on Amazon or at Goodreads. Or just scroll down and read my review on the right of this blog.)

06 March 2012

NEDA Week 2012: Everybody Knows Somebody (Part 2) | Surviving ED

"I struggled not to cry as each picture, depicting life and love and happiness, flashed on the screen during Thursday night’s National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week presentation. I thought about all the people I know who are struggling with an eating disorder; the friends who have made it through recovery and the two people who recently lost their lives to their eating disorders...."

Read more @:

NEDA Week 2012: Everybody Knows Somebody (Part 2) | Surviving ED

02 March 2012

I'm angry...

I'm angry...
Angry about all the years I have wasted being a slave to my eating disorder, to the scale
Counting calories obsessively and watching the scale, the number never right.
I'm angry because I know several people who have died from their eating disorders, and I continue to read and hear about how these illnesses ravage lives, people, sucking away joy until all that is left is a shell that is empty/void/hollow.
I am angry because little girls in this world go on diets at the age of eight or six or ten, when they should be playing with their baby dolls, feeding and nurturing and dreaming of being a mother/nurse/doctor/president/CEO.
I'm angry because I live in a world were the size of one's body measures the size of one's soul, and women (and increasingly, men) feel the need to diminish themselves, refusing to take up more than an inch or two of space, apologetic that we dare breathe and move and hunger when we are told that we must rein in these human traits and become a race of aliens.
I'm angry because so many good, intelligent, kind people feel the need to either starve themselves or purge themselves of all of life's goodness.
I'm angry because much of society still believes that eating disorders are caused by vanity and the desire to get thin, and I wonder about this because if it were about looks, I would have stopped before I became enmeshed in anorexia, becoming a skeletal shell of my former self, dying and wishing to die each day as I slowly faded into the carpet in my home.
I'm angry because many people still feel it is okay to tease/bully/make fun of people who are overweight, judging their characters by the size of their bodies, feeding on prejudice until it is overflowing.
I'm angry because insurance companies believe that a life is only worth one/three/seven days, and send people home once someone with anorexia is near his or her ideal body weight or someone with bulimia has stopped purging on a regular basis, not realizing that weight and food and size are only the symptoms of a larger problem and until that problem(s) is addressed, the relapse rate will continue, and why do these businessmen/women hold the power to decide who lives and who dies...and it is the rich who typically live on the backs of the poor, those who can't afford treatment for their eating disorders and therefore must live in the hell created by...what???
I'm angry that research has failed to uncover the causes of anorexia/bulimia/binge eating/EDNOS.
I'm angry that so many clinicians fail to see the symptoms of eating disorders, and instead label sufferers as having borderline personality/bipolar illness/some off-the-wall, unheard of exotic illness, not bothering to uncover the truth behind the suffering.
I'm angry that a well-know eating disorders center (you know who you are!) spent God knows how much money studying the effects of women's attitudes about makeup and how those attitudes influence and contribute to the development of eating disorders....really, this is too much.
And I'm angry that as I write this, someone else has died of an eating disorder and no one seems to care...

Read more about the Renfrew Center's survey on women and their thoughts about makeup and body image at Carrie Arnold's blog, ED Bites.

14 February 2012

Not sure what to write...

***Warning-Could Be Triggering***
I'm not sure what to write. First, because I am struggling internally. Second, I am afraid of triggering someone.

But the truth is that I am yet again at the point in recovery from anorexia that makes me want to give up. I have poor body image, and all I see when I look in the mirror is FAT. Now, please don't get me wrong. I really despise the word fat because I think it is used to hurt people, particularly people who may be struggling with their weight. I also don't judge other people based upon their weight; I reserve that for beating myself up. I wouldn't treat my worst enemy the way I treat myself at times...

Anyway, I haven't written because I am eating and watching my stomach grow and my thighs spread and fighting the uncomfortable feelings of being inside my body with all this flesh and roundness. I miss my thin body; the flat stomach and slim thighs that did not touch; wearing a size zero and having that hang loosely on my diminished butt; the incredible feeling of being empty...

Except I wasn't happy. I was dying. I stood to lose everything. I hated myself and the world around me. I am much more lively and attuned to the world around me. My curiosity has returned, and I am reading such things as Barack Obama's book, Dreams From My Father, and Jodi Picoult's novel, Sing You Home. I am finally beginning to enjoy some foods; the melting butter on a warm waffle, the creaminess of soy milk, the garlic taste of hummus, and more.

Quite simply, anorexia frankly bores me. I lived in such a narrow world when I was anorexic. I wasn't aware of anything around me, and I didn't care for much of anything except the all-pervasive counting of calories and stepping on the scale each morning, praying that the number is right so I could have a good day. Now my scale is in the trash, buried in the local dump under a ton or more of trash where it belongs. I can breathe again.

But if so, why do I still question recovery? Why do I still think of ways to starve myself? Why am I so very afraid much of the time???

I do not know...

29 January 2012

Underneath

Underneath (A Poem of Anorexia and Loss)

Peel back
the layers
and
Underneath

My smile
I am
Crying
Thinking

About a
Life
Without you
Here

I try
To imagine
You
Gone

Forever

And my
Heart
Breaks
In a

Million
Tiny Pieces
Shards
Cutting

Me
Deeply
Inside
My

Skin

And I
try to
Salvage
The

Spirt
Within
I try
to

Feel
Underneath
My
Bones

But I am
Unable

25 January 2012

Saying goodbye (again)


            I will be filing for divorce this spring, and frankly it still hurts.
            But in my heart, I know that this is the right thing. We simply aren't able to give each other what we need. David needs his freedom to create his art. I need someone to love and cherish me, to stay by my side no matter what and to share both the joys and troubles of life with me. Simply put, there was nothing left for us to give each other as husband and wife.
            I still love David, but more and more I realize it is not David I miss—because I was very anxious around him this summer, and often felt within me that reconciliation was not going to happen—but companionship; the fun of having someone to do things with and be with.
            I'm not sure how any of this happened, for once I believed that we would be together forever. I never expected to change my name again; not for the reasons I did. But there are a few days, I look at my new name and think, I can become who I once was—courageous, curious, strong, independent, often fearless, and someone who loved people and being part of their lives. That a whole new life awaits me, if only I have the courage to live the life that I have instead of mourn forever the life I once lived.
            I simply know that it is over, and even though my heart is broken, it will mend one day. And I will look back at the pain of the last few years and it won't hurt as much.
            And then I will be healed, and able to move forward...


24 January 2012

Thesis Diary - 24 January 2012

Excerpt from "We Shall Be Heard: Releasing the Silence of Anorexia Nervosa and Achieving Healing Through Creative Nonfiction and Memoir Writing"


Fear Anxiety Depression Self-Hatred . . .
Each rock was a strange mixture of velvety softness combined with rough bumps and indentations. I wrote each word — feelings and actions that have weighed me down for years — on several rocks in stark black ink.
One rock was reserved for the terrifying and addictive disease which has been trying to take over me body and soul for years.
Anorexia
I started to feel both fear and relief as I traced that word in blood-red ink on each side of the rock. I fear letting go of anorexia because it has become so intermingled with my identity. But I know I need to let go of this disease in order to live.
The word looked so powerful. My mind flew back to when anorexia first crept into my life, chipping away bits and pieces of me until I sometimes felt there was nothing left.
Each one of us wrote down the things that have weighed us down throughout the years. We then could choose to hold onto these rocks that symbolically represented the traits that have held us down for years.
Or we could chose to toss these rocks into the river running past the River Centre Clinic. The choice was ours . . .
I went first. I was determined to throw everything that had weighed me down for years. I have struggled through almost six weeks at the clinic. The road to recovery has been rocky and I often have been my own worst enemy as I have fought to get better.
But through all the struggle and pain, through the tears I cried and the loneliness I often felt as I longed to be with my husband and friends back home, through the ambivalence I sometimes felt about letting go of anorexia, there remained a mustard seed of hope that I could be free, I would be free.
I stepped down the grassy, sloping path to the river, dodging overgrown bushes and hanging tree branches, balancing my rocks in my hand. I stepped close to the edge, the river's dark waters churning just a few feet away from me. I threw the first rock, angry as I remembered life before my eating disorder developed. I threw more rocks as far as I could, willing each one to sink deep into the water.
The rock with one word — anorexia – remained in my hand. It felt soft and cold in my hand. The word seemed to mock me, saying that I would never get better, I would never be free. I hurled it as hard as could, feeling a strong sense of release as it landed into the water. I felt as if I had been buried under a ton of rocks and I had finally climbed my way out. At that moment it finally hit me — I want to recover. I want anorexia out of my life forever. I want to be free.
Each one of us took our turn. Some women were able to release all of their rocks, while others chose to hold onto one or more until they felt ready to release their burdens.
I started to cry as I walked back up to the clinic. I'm still not sure why. I was feeling a mixture of release and relief, mingled with fear about the work I still need to do in order to get better.
Later that night, I thought about all those rocks we threw into the dark waters. I could still see the words we had written on the rocks. I imagined the water rushing over the rocks until the words disappeared through the ages, the ink worn off and everything which had weighed us down mingled together into nothingness, becoming meaningless as we move forward into recovery and life.

22 January 2012

Thesis Diary - 22 January 2012

Hi everyone! Things have been hectic. I thought I would share part of my thesis - which has consumed much of my time - with all of you. Thanks for reading, and watch for a post explaining everything soon...

Thesis Diary

An excerpt from my thesis, "We Shall Be Heard: Releasing the Silence of Anorexia Nervosa and Achieving Healing Through Creative Nonfiction and Memoir Writing":

Several people took pictures of Grandpa before the funeral started. I wanted to scream, "He's not here, damn it! Can't you see Elbert Mounce has left us?" I knew he was gone when I kissed his icy forehead and touched his stiff hand as I placed a small pocket rosary in the pocket of his jeans. I wanted to say his soul is gone, as the soul of each one of us will fly upward when the cord is cut, when God decides that is it for us, when the Grim Reaper comes to carry us home.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound ..." As soon as the first words floated through the funeral home, the wall I had built around myself with Ativan and Xanax broke down and my heart twisted and I again was a child, playing on the green, green lawns of Kentucky, dancing with the fireflies as my Grandpa, Dean and my mother softly spoke to each other on the long, wide porch. I was again a child; a confused little girl who felt both loved and lonely, a child who dreamed of a life far in the future where I would spend each night with someone who loved me and have a life filled with books and learning.
Afterward I was surrounded by food. So much food it frightened me. I know the family here has noticed my weight...