A boy and a life

I should really apologize for my absence but there are two reasons why I won’t be doing that. 

1) I’m not sorry that I’ve been out living my life and haven’t had time to sit down in front of my phone or computer to write an update.

2) I’ve found myself dwelling on recovery and making that all my life is about. As important as recovery is, it’s equally as important to remember we are all more than just recovering from an eating disorder.

With all that being said, I met a boy. An amazing boy. A boy who has a passion for dogs that rivals mine. A boy who killed time before a movie at half price books. A boy that will read a cheesy Nicholas Sparks book for me. I really like this boy y’all and he really likes me. So I’ve stepped outside of my recovery bubble and into the world of budding relationships. It’s new and scary but I think I’m starting to find hope instead of fear in the unknown.

I don’t know how serious this is or how long it will last but I’m just taking it day by day. And I’m smiling more. Meaning it more. Enjoying everyday a little bit more than the last.

I’m living this crazy beautiful life in a way that I haven’t in 11+ years. In a way I never thought I would and I’m so grateful, grounded, and centered. 

I may not love every single day but I do find something to love in every day. And that’s enough. I’m enough.

And that’s why I haven’t had time for blogging and updates. I hope you all understand ūüôā

Opening Up at work?

Today was just one of those days that I felt a little off my game. I hadn’t followed my meal plan to the best of my ability and was overwhelmed by nagging eating disorder thoughts. Despite all of that, I went into work. And boy am I regretting that decision now. 

So I have this supervisor at work… For the sake of anonymity let’s call her “Karen.” So Karen has this habit of sharing a lot of very personal information  with me. Her struggle with depression and anxiety. Her abusive father. And today she informed me that she had an eating disorder as well. Which is all well and good (obviously not good that she had one but good that she can be open about it) if it’s true. Normally, I’m not one to doubt anyone’s struggle or question them for being open about it. But some of the things that she said didn’t add up for me. Like when she casually said she had an eating disorder, she also mentioned that it was a choice and she just never ate. Which is such a cliche and untrue depiction of what it’s really like to struggle. Eating disorders are not choices and they are so much more than “just not eating.” All this was just nagging at me the whole six hours (yes that’s right SIX FUCKING HOURS) that she was talking about her eating disorder/depression/anxiety/abuse struggles. I didn’t know why it was bothering me so much but reflecting on it now made me realize something.

I’m not upset at her for sharing too much information. I’m jealous of her for being able to be so open with me even though we’ve only known each other for a short time. Whether her struggles are real or imagined doesn’t matter. The fact that she was able to speak her truth and own her story really irks me! I’ve been in therapy. I went to treatment for months. I made great friends there that I absolutely love and that love me for exactly who I am. So why can’t I own my story? Why isn’t okay for me to be open about my eating disorder struggles? 

The answer is it is okay. It’s okay for me to talk about it with my co workers from time to time. I think I’m realizing that the reason I didn’t want them to know was because I was embarrassed more than it was for privacy. I am embarrassed of my weight restored body and the comments that could stem from being honest. The dreaded, “You aren’t skinny enough to have an eating disorder.” or the, “Oh but you look so healthy!” Oh and don’t forget the infamous, “Why don’t you just eat?” These comments come from ignorance more than anything but I know any of those words could send me into a spiral real quick.

Maybe it’s time to start seriously considering opening up to some of my co workers. Especially right now while I’m struggling so I don’t use work as an excuse to avoid my meal plan. Maybe telling them will help me hold myself accountable better.

Wish me luck!

xoxo Tay 

Unrealistic notions

“Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.” -Bren√© Brown

Sitting on my break at work today, I found myself feeling abnormally tired. Tired like I used to be when my health first started to decline and I was kind of caught off guard. Have I been feeling like this all along and am just now acknowledging it? Or is this a new sensation that I am validating early?

While I would love to say it is the latter, I am almost positive it is not. I have been struggling¬†in my recovery for a while now. But I’ve been too [ashamed, afraid, disappointed, insert negative emotion here] to say anything to anyone. Even my outpatient therapist.¬†I¬†have all the support I need to pull myself out of tis rut, so why am I still here?

Because I have this unrealistic idea of what I want my recovery to look like to other people and to myself. Setting the bar too high has been my Achilles heel for as long as I can¬†remember.¬†Now that I¬†have been to treatment once I feel like I can never go back or else it will be a failure especially because I opened up about treatment via social media. So I have this irrational¬†(or maybe not¬†so irrational)¬†belief that everyone expects me to be better already since I am no longer in a facility receiving treatment daily. I mean it’s not totally irrational to think that people that don’t know how difficult eating disorder recovery is¬†might just assume it’s a quick fix and think I’m “recovered” now, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. But that still begs the question, why do I think I should be “better” (I utterly despise that word!)¬†when I know precisely how difficult and painful eating disorder recovery is?¬†Perfectionism. A quality that can be both a blessing and a curse. A quality that makes me particularly susceptible to eating disorder tendencies along with a plethora of other factors of course but perfectionism has ultimately been my downfall. In my eating disorder. Even now in my recovery.

If I’m not recovering “perfectly” I can’t let anyone know and if I do mention anything to friends I was in treatment with, its always made to seem casual, like it’s not a big deal. Did I mention I am also the Queen of minimization? I don’t¬†know how to stop myself from thinking or feeling this way. While I may have (mostly) physically recovered from my sickest point my mind is still there. Calling me back into the darkness where I am utterly alone, yet feel so safe. And I can feel myself slowly crawling back. Slowly at first of course, until the nosedive, tailspin downward spiral from hell that lands me back in treatment which is exactly where my perfectionism doesn’t want me. Because it feels like failure. But is it really failure? I’m not sure right now but I will soon find out.

 

Strength in numbers

“Today, and every day, I hope you choose to surround yourself with people who call you to your greatness. Those that want to see you succeed. Those that want you to be bold, strong, and successful. Those that call you out on your shit and lovingly nudge you to the edge of your comfort zone. They want you to make your mark on this world and they believe wholeheartedly in your work. Why? Because when you succeed, we all succeed. When you choose to share your light, the whole world becomes infinitely brighter.” -Danielle Doby @iamhertribe on Instagram 

Reflecting on 2015 made me realize how fortunate I was in terms of my friendships. Most of the year was dedicated to either struggling with or fighting my eating disorder. 

A few of my closest friends encouraged me to seek treatment this year and stood by me while I rediscovered myself. 

My best friend handled being completely shut out of my life for two months because I was afraid that without my eating disorder our friendship didn’t exist. 

I feared that with all of my friendships actually.

Now, I know that I actually have more room in my life for friendships because of my recovery. I have the time and space to heal the wounds I’ve inflicted on my friends because they had to watch me slowly kill myself through the years. But they never left my side, well the real ones didn’t at least. 

Sometimes these amazing people I choose to surround myself with believe in my recovery more than I do. That’s something I need though. When the days are hard I need someone to hold my hand and tell me I can do it. They really do call me to my greatness and that greatness is full recovery from my eating disorder. 

I am so much stronger because of them. They hold me up when I am too weak to stand on my own. I draw strength from them daily and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t be alive to share my experiences with you if it wasn’t for them. My strength comes from numbers, not the number on the scale or the number on a nutrition label, but the number of people that love and support me unconditionally.

With the wonderful support system I have created over the last 6 months, how is fully recovery not possible? 

Fearlessly Authentic

Authenticity is a tricky bastard. Because there is a fine line between lying/being inauthentic and exercising your right to privacy. Sometimes I can’t tell which I’m doing. I’d like to believe more often then not I’m doing the latter. Especially at work.

When signing all the paperwork on my first day there was a sheet where I was supposed to write any medical conditions I have along with an emergency contact. I was taken aback. Never in my years of working have I been asked to disclose anything like that and in the past I wouldn’t have had to write anything since I wasn’t diagnosed until this summer.

Obviously things are different now. I have a diagnosis, a medical condition that I could have written down but I didn’t. Was this an act of lying or exercising my right to privacy? Was it really necessary to write ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ on a piece of paper for everyone with access to my paperwork to see?

After going back and forth in my head about my possible motivation for not disclosing I came to the conclusion that it was with good intent. It didn’t stem from a place of shame. I’m not embarrassed to tell them.

The fact of the matter is there are a select few people that need to know about my eating disorder and at this time with where I am in my recovery my co workers don’t need to know. If at some point I relapse or I begin to spiral out of control and need to enter a higher level of care then I will reevaluate how much I need to disclose.

But for now I feel good and confident that not sharing this part of medical history at work was a recovery focused decision. A decision that I am proud of. I skated the fine line and ended up on the right side of recovery. The side that aligns with my values and the person I want to be. Me and authenticity are becoming the best of friends and I kinda like it!

Messy Beautiful

Today I got to see one of my favorite people from treatment and it made me realize how much I genuinely miss it, as crazy as it sounds. The people, the safety, the understanding, and the freedom to be authentic. You might say, “But you have the freedom to be authentic in your day to day life outside of treatment too!” Which is true in theory but sometimes day to day life lacks the safety and understanding that one grows accustom to in treatment. Life is so uncertain and it’s scary at times to put yourself out there. Uncertainty is the bane of my existence I swear but at the same time life wouldn’t be worth living if you knew exactly what was going to happen in the end. 

It would be like reading the last chapter of a book to start then going back to the beginning. You already know how it ends so what happens in the middle is totally useless. 
What happens in the middle is your life though and that’s not useless. It’s important. It’s everything.

So don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from letting your story unfold. It’s might be messy but it’s your life and it’s beautiful just the way it is. 

And so are you.


Tay xoxo

Day to Day

That’s how my recovery has been thus far. Day to day. Minute to minute. Second to second at times. Things can go from amazing to awful in the blink of an eye and if you don’t have a lot of accountability, recovery can turn into a full blown relapse without anyone realizing what’s happening.
So today was an okay day. I ate. I felt guilty but I pushed through it and did what I could do. I by no means met all my meal plan requirements but I ate. For where I am right now I’m calling that a win. Tomorrow could be a totally different story considering I will be at work most of the day.
Light bulb moment: There has never been a time in my working life that I wasn’t struggling with my eating disorder. Every job I’ve ever had has been a tool to mask my weakness as I grew sicker. I would work more hours to avoid meals at home and push myself to perform my best so if my physical health came in to question, my co workers and managers could look at my stellar performance and look passsed my health.
I don’t think that I can do that this time with my mom watching me like a hawk and my job being pretty physically demanding. The more I restrict the weaker I become and the less likely I will be able to continue doing the job I love so much already. Yet another reason to choose recovery!
It just feels harder and harder to choose it these days. Almost like I am in a constant “triggered” state, like I feel “triggered” all the time. More often than not I have no idea what has triggered me and how to shake the feeling of needing to engage in eating disorder behaviors. I keep reminding myself of the health complications that come with having an eating disorder but then I get stuck on the whole “well none of those things ever actually happened to me when I was sick sooooo…” and I convince myself that people just put that stuff on the internet to scare me. Completely irrational I know. Obviously I’m not thinking very clearly these days.

Like I said day to day…

Tay xoxo

Freedom

“We must not mourn for the bodies we once had. They were weak, empty, broken; incompatible with the size of our souls, the volume of our dreams, and the abundance of our beauty. Deprived of the love we felt we, ourselves, did not deserve, they reflected the pain we felt inside. But we are healing now and learning to love not only our bodies but also the incredible person that lives within. So when you look in the mirror don’t cry for the girl you no longer see. Celebrate the woman you are today, because my God, she is so beautiful. Thank God she is finally free.”

This really spoke to me. I found it on the Instagram of a girl going through the recovery process. We’ve never met but I feel like I know her because I can relate to what she is going through, like I said brothers and sisters in battle! But anyways, I’m not quite sure where this passage originated from, all I know is that I really needed it today. Honestly I need it every day but today it was exceptionally necessary.

Sometimes even when I seem to be doing well with my meal plan and not engaging in behaviors, I am overwhelmed by my eating disorder voice trying to convince me I’m not doing the right thing. Reading this today was a little reassurance that I truly am and hopefully one day soon I won’t need to be reassured. I will just know.

I cannot wait for the day to come where I am really free from my eating disorder. Not just in recovery but fully recovered. Like the freedom I had once as a small child, before I knew how unfair life can be and before anyone ever hurt me. I want to forgive and let go of all the things that keep me stuck in this place where I feel like I deserve punishment. I don’t want to punish myself for the things I had no control over anymore. I want to rediscover that care free piece of my soul and embrace it with all that I am.

I want that for all of us.

 

Brothers and sisters in battle

If you’ve ever been in treatment for your eating disorder you will understand exactly what I am talking about when I say that the group of people you meet become like a second family to you. They learn more about you on any given day then most people who have known you your whole life have learned. Fighting an eating disorder is an internal war you engage in every day and your group members are warriors fighting a similar war, even though we are all individuals our common goal (RECOVERY) keeps us united. A very good friend of mine calls us brothers and sisters in battle, hence the title of this post.

If you haven’t been in treatment you might ask, well how is that possible? How could you bare your soul to a bunch people you barely know? The truth is, it’s so much easier to start off a relationship with 100% honesty then it is to start being honest with someone you’ve known for years. This is because when you try to start fresh with someone you know, you must first come clean about all your past deceptions and then trust has to be reestablished which can be a long, grueling process.

In treatment though, you meet people that you can relate to. People that empathize with your shame filled accounts of past deceptions. They have the ability to jump in and say, “I’m sorry you went through that. I’ve been there too and I’m with you now. You aren’t alone anymore.” Sometimes that’s all anyone with an eating disorder needs to hear for them to be able to finally breathe a sigh of relief. To realize they no longer have to suffer alone in silence. So of course you become close!

But the thing is treatment professionals discourage people with eating disorders from fraternizing outside of treatment. Which I don’t understand personally because the opposite is encouraged in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions. People suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction are strongly encouraged to spend time together, whether it is at meetings or sober living. They spend as much time together as possible to hold each other accountability and to keep each other on a recovery focused track. I think the same can be said about people in recovery from an eating disorder.

I understand the nature of eating disorders are competitive. There is a lot of comparison, not just to others with eating disorder but to everyone. In my personal experience though some of the most important and influential people in my support network are people I was in treatment with because when you are struggling, you don’t really care to hear that “everything is going to be okay” from someone who has never experienced the living (barely) hell of having an eating disorder. You would rather hear it from people that truly understand you. People that know the darkness and can join you in it with a flashlight. Hand in hand with these people I feel like I can do hard things. And I have. I make a conscious choice every day to disregard the “recommended discouragement” of seeing the girls I was in treatment with and that is the right thing for me.

I can also see the other side of the coin. Like I said eating disorders have a tendency to be competitive in nature and some people struggle keeping that in check. Sometimes a friend from treatment falls into a relapse. It happens and it’s possible that instead of trying to support them back onto a recovery focused track, you slip too. At that point the relationship becomes toxic and I believe that is what treatment professionals want to avoid. Everybody is different though and will handle a treatment friend relapsing in a different way. I know that for me personally I would do everything I could to support my friend back into a place of recovery and if things got out of control to the point that I felt I was being triggered that’s when I would need to take a step back in order to honor my recovery. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my friend, I just have to love myself more so I can be healthy enough to support her (or him) whenever they are ready to receive it.

Your brothers and sisters in battle are a vital part of your recovery in a treatment setting and in life if you believe that is what’s best for you. Ultimately the decision is yours to make and as long as you keep your recovery above all else. You are doing the next right thing for you and that is all that matters at the end of the day. To all my brothers and sisters fighting against this disease alongside me, I have nothing but love and respect in my heart for you. Just remember you are never alone. I am with you always.

 

Tay xoxo

Let’s talk about that pesky meal plan

Man oh man it’s been a long ass day but it was full of puppy love which for anyone who knows me knows that is a dream come true. This was second day of training at my new job as a pet care specialist at a doggie daycare/lodging facility and I can already tell I’m going to love it! The shifts are 8 hours with one 15 minute break¬†at some point which doesn’t sound too bad.

Now here is where the dilemma comes in: following my insane meal plan when I only get one 15 minute break. My shift will¬†intersect 2 meals and 1 snack regardless of if I work the AM or PM shift. The snack I can probably get done in 15 minutes, but as a person that still gets overwhelmed by¬†eating in general¬†most of the time a meal in 15 minutes ain’t gonna happen. Honestly no healthy person should be able to eat a meal in 15 minutes but that is beside the point. How is a person supposed meet all these exchanges?!

I know what my dietician from treatment would say, “You could increase your intake at dinner(or breakfast depending on the shift) and your other snacks.” Yes Tori I could do that but as I already said I get overwhelmed by my meals as they are, adding to that would just increase my anxiety. Food is not supposed to do that to a person and I’m not going to put myself through that voluntarily.

Part of me has always thought my meal plan was slightly ridiculous and since I am no longer working with a dietician I can give myself a little more flexibility in the meal plan department. I AM BY NO MEANS CONDONING RESTRICTING OR NOT FOLLOWING YOUR MEAL PLAN. I am simply saying sometimes you have to make due with what you have and do the best you can. There is definitely a difference between blatantly not following your meal plan and knowing what your body needs as well as honoring your hunger/fullness cues.

Be gentle with yourself when it comes to your meal plan because even though eating disorders are about far more than just the food, the meal plan is usually the scariest part. Especially fresh out of the safety bubble of treatment, with meal support and people that understand your struggle.¬† So just show yourself a little grace and lean on your support network at times when the meal plan feels like too much. Chances are that’s your eating disorder voice trying to convince you to restrict or binge/purge or over exercise or abuse laxatives, whatever your behaviors are¬†and when those thoughts creep in you need a little reality check from someone that has a healthier relationship with food than you do. Meal plans are hard. Eating is hard. Recovery is hard. But you know what’s harder? Trying to get through life with an eating disorder because they are inherently unsustainable. And I want you to get through¬†this, I want all of us to get through this. Not just surviving but thriving because we are all worthy of life without ED.

 

Tay xoxo