Archive of ‘Eating Disorders’ category

What Recovery Looks Like

In my first ever post on this blog I shared that God told me that 2013 would be the year I recovered from my long-term eating disorder. And it was. This is an update on my recovery journey, ask two years after I received that promise. 2014 ushered in a year of solid, glorious recovery. I’m living a life I never thought was possible and it just keeps getting better year by year!

I’ve learned that recovery truly is a process. In 2013, I had a lot of bad days, days where I felt like my eating disorder was controlling my life. But I was able to stop all my eating disorder behaviors and then slowly my depression started fading away and my self esteem improved and I entered 2014 with so much more confidence and actually loving my body for the first time!

In 2014 I found a continual increase of good days. Days filled with glorious freedom, days where my mind was able to fully focus on the present, on my day to day life and my relationship with my friends, family, and God. I would find myself during rare, quiet moments realizing that I hadn’t even struggled remotely with my eating disorder in a long time. My eating disorder is becoming more and more removed from me, fading into my past, becoming more like the memory of a nightmare that almost doesn’t feel real to me anymore.

If you had told me that this sort of recovery were possible for me while I was in treatment or even during my first semester of college, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet here I am.

I’ve learned a lot about recovery and have been so surprised by the faithfulness of God. And when I say the faithfulness of God, I really mean it. I think back on the life I was living, completely miserable and distanced from my friends and family, hating myself and convinced that God didn’t love me, and I’m left feeling astounded and thankful because I know none of it would have been possible without God’s never-ending pursuit of me.

My recovery means that I’m living a joyful life. It’s not all happy rainbows, it’s not perfect, but it is marked by joy, a hope and excitement for each new day.

My recovery means that I understand that food is necessary for my health and survival, but also that it can be eaten simply to be enjoyed.

My recovery means that I can go clothes shopping and not be bothered that I can’t fit into the sizes I used to wear. It means I can wear a bathing suit and feel pretty darn good about myself.

I love my tattoo for so many reasons – it reminds me of God’s promise and faithfulness to me and it also embodies all the things I’ve learned about recovery – it’s continuous, it doesn’t move on a straight line. He is making everything new. He’s doing a new thing. And if it’s possible for my life, it’s possible for yours.

What Recovery Looks Like | He is Making Everything New

Recovery is a process and I’m learning what its twists and turns looks like. I am looking forward to the day that I realize that I haven’t thought of my eating disorder for years. I know that day is ahead of me and I am ready for it!

Milk at Home Depot

Milk at Home Depot-- www.heismakingeverythingnew.com

I learned a lot during my short time in an eating disorder treatment program, about it but one of the most important (and hardest) thing I learned about was Milk at Home Depot.

(From googling it seems like the Milk at Home Depot analogy comes from The Anorexia Diaries, which I have not read).

One day I was having individual therapy and my therapist asked if she had told me about Milk at Home Depot. I said no and she told me that I should ask one of the other girls in the program about it. A little while later I saw that girl before group therapy started and told her I was supposed to ask about it. So she told me what Milk at Home Depot means.

“Imagine you’re in Home Depot and walking up and down the aisles looking for milk but you can’t find any. You keep pacing the same aisles but you still don’t see it so you ask someone who works at the store and they tell you that they don’t have milk. So you get really upset and demand to speak to a manager and you get angry and won’t leave the store until you get your milk.

Milk represents what you need to live, it feeds you and provides sustenance and support. Home Depot might represent your home or wherever else it is that you’re trying to get milk. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you will not get milk at Home Depot because they just can’t provide it. Once you realize that, it frees you to leave the store and go to, say, Kroger to buy milk. And once you have milk from Kroger you can go back to Home Depot and enjoy what it does have to offer. I mean Home Depot is great, they have paint and shutters and construction supplies–they just don’t have milk.”

When I heard this, something inside me broke and I just started crying and crying. With this analogy came the realization that I had been trying to get Milk at Home Depot for a very long time and that no matter how long I stayed in those aisles, no matter how much I asked and persisted, it wasn’t going to happen. And that reality was heart-breaking.

The first thing you have to do if you realize you, too, have been trying to get milk at Home Depot is to mourn. The fact is that Home Depot very well should be providing you with the milk you need–there are competent people who work there, who probably love you very much, and the realization that you’re not going to get milk is something that deserves to be mourned.

The next step is to muster up the courage to walk out of the Home Depot doors and go find a Kroger. It’s a scary thing to do, and it can feel like giving up, but it’s really your best chance to finally get the milk you’ve so been needing.

After you get your milk from Kroger, it’s time to go back to Home Depot and fall in love with all the amazing things that Home Depot has to offer–there’s a lot of wonderful things there and you’ll be able to see them and appreciate them in a way that you couldn’t before when you kept searching for milk.

I think a lot of our relationships are often strained because we keep looking for milk in places that don’t offer it. A specific relationship might be able to give you what you need for one season or in one area of your life and then it can’t for the next season.

I believe that God is ultimately the only one who can provide sustaining and overflowing milk that never runs dry. He is the one we need, the one who will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37:4). But he also places the lonely into families (Ps 68:6) and desires us to live life in communities, in churches, with friends, who all help give us the love and support we need.

If you are in a relationship right now where you’re not getting the milk you need, I encourage you to find refuge in your heavenly Father. He loves you and so desires to provide for you. He will also help you find a place where you can get what you need. I promise you, finding a Kroger really isn’t as scary as it seems and falling in love with Home Depot again is such a beautiful experience.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. -Isaiah 55:1

When relapse happens

When Relapse Happens

Trigger warning: drugs, website addiction, decease relapse, herbal eating disorder, depression, anxiety

I was sitting in a cafe today, reading various theology essays for one of my classes while also listening to some music. I ended up turning on Macklemore, just needing to listen to something different. What I wasn’t expecting was to start tearing up right there in the coffee shop. I was listening to Starting Over off The Heist album and its honesty and vulnerability really struck me, as well as its connections to my own journey and story. Starting Over is, in a way, a follow up to his song Otherside, which Macklemore wrote about his journey to getting sober.

*Both of these songs have swear words*

Here is Otherside (this is the remix):

I’ve seen my people’s dreams die
I’ve seen what they can be denied
And “weeds not a drug” – that’s denial
Groundhog Day like repeat each time
I’ve seen Oxycontin take three lives
I grew up with them, we used to chief dimes
I’ve seen cocaine bring out the demons inside
Cheatin’ and lyin’
Friendship cease, no peace in the mind
Stealin’ and takin’ anything to fix the pieces inside
Broken, hopeless, headed nowhere
Only motivation for what the dealer’s supplying
That rush, that drug, that dope
Those pills, that crumb, that roach
Thinkin’ I would never do that, not that drug
And growing up nobody ever does
Until your stuck, lookin’ in the mirror like I can’t believe what I’ve become
Swore I was goin’ to be someone
And growing up everyone always does
We sell our dreams and our potential
To escape through that buzz
Just keep me up, keep me up
Hollywood here we come

And here is Starting Over:

Somebody stops me and says, “Are you Macklemore?
Maybe this isn’t the place or time
I just wanted to say that if it wasn’t for Otherside I wouldn’t have made it.”
I just look down at the ground and say thank you
She tells me she has 9 months and that she’s so grateful
Tears in her eyes, looking like she’s gonna cry. Fuck!
I barely got 48 hours, treated like I’m some wise monk
I wanna tell her I relapsed but I can’t
I just shake her hand and tell her congrats
Get back to my car and I think I’m tripping yea
Cuz God wrote Otherside, that pen was in my hand
Im just a flawed man, man I fucked up up
Like so many others I just never thought I would
I never thought I would, didn’t pick up the book
Doin it by myself, didn’t turn out that good

If I can be an example of getting sober
Then I can be an example of starting over
If I can be an example of getting sober
Then I can be an example of starting over

Whew that last line gets me every time. Otherside continues to help people get sober, and yet Starting Over is just as important because we all need reminders that our relapses are not the end of our stories.

My own personal journey is different from Macklemore’s. I’ve never struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, but I have struggled with an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. I am very open with people about my journey and about the freedom I have now in the Lord. But, at least for me, it’s really easy to get into the mindset that because I have freedom from these things, I will never relapse. And if I do relapse, then that must mean that I have failed in my freedom, I’ve failed God, and I’ve messed up my testimony. And that thinking makes it so difficult to be open with and share struggles that I still have.

There are days that I look at my body and I don’t feel like a new creation. My mind starts going and I fall back into eating disorder thoughts. 

After months of being depression free I experience another depressive episode and then another and I don’t want to admit that it’s actually depression.

Then out of nowhere I find myself triggered and my anxiety rushes back and I don’t know how to respond except to shut down.

God has been teaching me a lot about what it means to live in freedom.

–I’m starting to understand that to live in freedom means to live free of the shame that accompanies struggling.

–He’s teaching me that the sooner I can lean in to community and let people know that I’m hurting, the faster I experience freedom again because Satan operates in secrecy and darkness.

–And I’m learning that relapsing doesn’t change the fact that I am a new creation and that I live in Christ’s freedom. I belong to Jesus and Satan has no authority over me. My identity is freedom and that cannot be shaken or taken away from me. My relapses do not define me or change the fact that my story is about God’s continual faithfulness to me.

We need more stories of freedom from addiction and eating disorders and depression and trauma. But we also need more stories of people bravely starting over again.

Let’s keep writing our stories together, armed with grace and love for ourselves and the power of Christ.

Recovery

Eating Disorder Awareness- Recovery

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and am not trained in eating disorder treatment or prevention. I struggled with disordered eating/eating disorders for 12 years and I am now in recovery. My purpose behind writing these posts is to start the conversation about eating disorders, cialis which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, treat  share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, treat and to hopefully give some clarity and understanding about these complicated and dangerous diseases. I also want to give hope that recovery is possible!
Trigger warnings: In all of my posts about eating disorders, I try to be very sensitive and avoid triggering language. However, the reality is that I am talking about eating disorder thoughts and behaviors and recognize that these posts could trigger people struggling with EDs. If you think that these posts could be the least bit triggering for you, please do not read them. The last thing I want to do is to set anyone back in their recovery process.

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Who you are and what you struggle with are not the same thing.

This statement it true, but when you are struggling with an eating disorder, it doesn’t feel true.

When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I lost who I was. I couldn’t separate myself from it—we were the same.

The scariest part of recovery for me was not the idea of gaining weight or losing my long-time coping mechanisms…don’t get me wrong, those things were absolutely terrifying. But there was something that was even harder for me to face and that was the reality that I didn’t know who I was without my eating disorder. I was scared of losing my identity.

And the idea that your eating disorder gives you your identity is such a lie from the Enemy—no one but the Lord gives you your identity. And while I knew that with my mind, I didn’t feel it in my heart. Twelve years of hearing the lies of the Enemy had given them such a hold over me.

As I entered into recovery, the eating disorder and I started to separate. Instead of it being a part of me, it stood right behind me, breathing down my neck. But it was a start. As I walked further into recovery the eating disorder was pushed further back behind me. It could still talk to me, but the voice grew quieter as it was pushed further away. Sometimes it was so far behind me that I couldn’t hear its shouts anymore. And sometimes something would happen that pushed it right behind me again.

There’s an argument between psychologists whether or not people can ever be recovered from their eating disorder, or if they will always be “in recovery.” I absolutely one hundred percent believe that full and final recovery is possible not only because I have met people who consider themselves recovered, but most of all because I love a God with whom all impossible things become possible.

In this post I talked about how God promised me that the year 2013 would be the year of my recovery and praise God it was! I saw such amazing freedom in the year 2013 and as it got closer to the New Year, I got more and more excited about full freedom. But the Lord also warned me—He warned me that just because I knew recovery was coming didn’t mean that the Enemy would respect it one bit. And let me tell you, Satan has not respected my recovery.

On the morning of January 1st, 2014, I got up and was so excited! Yeah freedom! I went downstairs, made breakfast, and when I put the first bit of food in my mouth I had the strongest urge to use an old ED behavior. And you know what I did? I said, “Well, that’s not who I am anymore!” finished that bite of food and the rest of my breakfast, and then I praised God for His faithfulness!

I currently consider myself in recovery, not quite to the point of recovered, only because I have to continue to be on high alert for any ED thoughts or behaviors that enter my life. But I know that the status of recovered is in my future. I am confident of it because in the past year God has taught me who I am in Him. Any anytime Satan tries to tell me otherwise, I can look him in the face and say I am a new creation in Christ! He has made me new and I will never forget my identity in Him. The parts of me that fell away along with my eating disorder were not core parts of my identity. I did lose things with the loss of my eating disorder–I lost depression, anxiety, and bitterness. And it turns out, I was just fine letting go of those things.

Eating disorder recovery statistics are discouraging. But Praise the Lord that He is not a respecter of statistics. After 12 years of battling an eating disorder I didn’t think that I would ever recover. And yet I have :) If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, don’t give up on recovery! No matter how long you’ve been battling this disease, you can win.

If you want to learn more about eating disorders, click here to read more posts I’ve written about the issue :)

How to Love Your Body–Some Practicals

Eating Disorder Awareness- How to love your body- Some Practicals

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and am not trained in eating disorder treatment or prevention. I struggled with disordered eating/eating disorders for 12 years and I am now in recovery. My purpose behind writing these posts is to start the conversation about eating disorders, advice which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, buy  share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, and to hopefully give some clarity and understanding about these complicated and dangerous diseases. I also want to give hope that recovery is possible!
Trigger warnings: In all of my posts about eating disorders, I try to be very sensitive and avoid triggering language. However, the reality is that I am talking about eating disorder thoughts and behaviors and recognize that these posts could trigger people struggling with EDs. If you think that these posts could be the least bit triggering for you, please do not read them. The last thing I want to do is to set anyone back in their recovery process.

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This blog post is continuing along the theme of the post I wrote several weeks ago–A Resolution that Could Actually Change Your Life, which was a post encouraging people to not weight themselves. This blog post will offer some concrete, practical changes you can make in your life. Who do I think may benefit from making these life changes?

  • People in recovery from eating disorders
  • People who want to be in recovery from eating disorders
  • People who struggle with disordered behaviors and thoughts
  • People who have low self esteem and want to learn to love themselves more
  • People who want to support those in their lives who have eating disorders
  • People who want to support those in their lives who are in recovery
  • People who want to fight eating disorder culture

Ok! So what are these practicals?

  • Write a Thank You note to your body--Writing a thank you note to your body, thanking it for all that it does for you, is one great way to start loving and appreciating your body. You can also write an apology note for all the ways you have mistreated or failed to appreciate your body. Another thing you can do is keep a list of everything you like about your body, adding one thing to the list every day. You can also take 10 minutes every morning to thank God for each of your body parts–no skipping parts allowed :)
How to Love Your Body--Some Practicals From http://eatingdisorderrecovery.tumblr.com/%5B/caption%5D
  • Stop Weighing Yourself–If you haven’t read A Resolution that Could Actually Change Your Life, I recommend it! I think we would all be much healthier and start on the journey of loving our bodies more if we all stopped weighing ourselves. I explain more why in that post.
  • Stop Counting Calories–Americans seem to have an obsession with counting calories. I personally don’t think anything good comes out of it. It gets all of us obsessed and focused on a number, which really doesn’t tell us much about how healthy we are. For people with eating disorders, they generally have a number of calories in their mind that feels acceptable to eat, and it’s generally a number that is way to low for their bodies to actually function at any sort of baseline level. Our society tells us that the fewer calories we eat, the better. But any good nutritionist would tell you that that’s just not true. Instead of focusing on the calorie content (or fat content, or whatever else) in food, focus on eating a wide variety of foods from all categories (starches, meat proteins, dairy proteins, fruits, veggies, and fats) plus some treats now and then (or everyday if you have a sweet tooth like mine). :) If you are in recovery or supporting someone in recovery, I would recommend blocking out all the nutrition facts on the food labels on the food you buy. I am very frustrated by the new proposed Nutrition Label design (click here to see it). I have no issue with the changes they’re proposing as to what is shown, but the MASSIVE calorie number at the top makes it seem as though the most important thing on the label is the calorie content and it also makes it incredibly difficult for people, like me, who try not to look at the label, to avoid the huge bold number at the top.
  • Evaluate Your Workout Habits–Society tells us that you can never work out too much. This is absolutely not true. Working out excessively can actually work to break down your body, especially if you aren’t eating enough food to balance your workout, and excessively working out can harm you psychologically. If the thought of missing a workout gives you anxiety, your workout habit is probably not healthy. If you associate working out with being a “good” person and not working out with being a “bad” person, your workout habit is most likely not healthy. If your eating habits are such that you are not be able to eat enough to support the amount of exercise you are getting, your workout habits are probably not healthy. My suggestion for healthy workout habits is to not focus on calories burned while working out (I have a rule that I don’t workout on a machine that shows me calories burned because I know it would be unhealthy for me). Also, don’t do workouts that aren’t fun for you. Find a way of staying active that gives you joy–that might be hiking, going on walks around the neighborhood, yoga, zumba, dancing around your room, roller blading, biking, soccer, softball, ice skating, swimming, running, etc. I would say that being honest with your workout habits and how it may be negatively affecting your mind and body is probably one of the hardest things to do, but I really recommend taking the time to really think about it and consider some of the things I talked about here.
  • Don’t Look at Clothing Size Tags– I realize that this is a hard one to do because you choose the clothing you’re going to try on by the marked size. Here are some ideas of things you can do to help avoid clothing size: Shop with a friend or family member and have them bring you a wide variety of clothing sizes and don’t look at the tags when you try them on. A healthy thing for everyone to do is cut the tags out of your clothing once you buy them–eventually you’ll forget what exact size you’re wearing, or at least won’t be reminded every time you put them on. Another thing you could do is choose clothing that is stretchy and so it will fit you at a range of weights. This helps you take your mind off of any changes happening in your body–this is one of the reasons I wear leggings pretty much 24/7. It helped me take my mind off of my body as I was trying to recover and it still makes me feel more comfortable now.
  • Do Things that Make You Happy–I cannot stress enough how important it is to take time for yourself. I don’t have class until 3pm on Tuesdays so I get up early, go to yoga, and then go to a cafe and get something yummy for breakfast, have time with Jesus, and then do homework. Tuesdays are so fun because I get some time to myself and treat myself :)
  • Avoid mirrors–I would suggest not having a mirror in your room. I live in a dorm so I can’t remove the mirror that is in there, but last year as I was trying to recover, I was able to strategically move one of our dressers in front of the mirror. The less time you spend in front of the mirror, the less self-conscious you’ll feel about yourself. Also writing encouraging notes to yourself or whoever else shares your mirror is always nice :)
  • Surround yourself with healthy people–If you mostly hang out with a group of people who constantly talk about their eating and workout habits, discussing their bodies, dieting, etc., it’s going to be very difficult for you to keep healthy and positive thoughts going in your mind. Really think about who you spend your time with and what effect they’re having on you and your self esteem. Also, don’t be afraid to tell the people you’re hanging out with that you would prefer for them to change the subject if they’re talking about something that is triggering or just unhealthy. I have to do this sometimes with my friends and they’re always super respectful and move on to a new topic.
  • Mediate on Psalm 139–Psalm 139 is quoted so much to the point where it seems kind of trite and cheesy. I went for a long time without reading Psalm 139 because of this reason, but lately I’ve been reading it a lot and have been struck by how powerful it is. It’s quoted all the time because it’s amazing. I’ve been so moved by the idea of God being with me even before I was born–that He saw my unformed body and that His presence kept me company even in the womb. God is so awesome!
From http://hellobrielle.wordpress.com[/caption%5D
  • Be careful of the language you use with yourself–This is a really hard one–it is really challenging to change your thought processes. One thing I would have you think about is this: Would you ever speak to someone the way you speak to yourself? Would you ever critique someone’s body and actions the way you do yours? I would guess that for most of you, the answer is no. When you catch yourself saying something really mean to yourself, make the effort to stop that thought and speak a truth against it. Just try your best to remember that there is so much grace, always.
  • Keep a list of how you want to impact your world and the people around you–I’m guessing when you think about how you want to be remembered in this world, how you want to better the lives of your friends, family members, and strangers, the number one thing that comes to mind is not that you want to be remembered for the shape of your body. You have the ability to change lives, to bring hope, to give love to those who do not feel loved, to be the hands and feet of Christ. What is your life’s work? What is the call of your soul?

Be gentle with yourself. Learning to love yourself is a long process, but it’s so worth it <3

Interested in learning more about eating disorders? Click here to read more posts I’ve written on the topic.

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