RheasOfHope

one girl's thoughts on life, eating disorder, and self harm recovery and, above all, hope…with a healthy dose of fun and education on the side

When you must try again August 27, 2014

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My mother grabbed my six-year-old hand and pulled me forward into the Earring Tree (a now defunct Clarie’s-esque store in our local mall), and shouted “Are you sure you’re going to do it this time? I don’t want to have to make any more trips down here to get your ears pierced without you getting them pierced. Are you doing to do it or not?”

 

I look down at my saddle shoes and then back up at her, “Yes. I am going to do it.”

 

“Good, now get in that chair and I will get the lady.”

 

I climbed up in the metal barstool chair, grabbed the purple stuffed hippo (who also had its ears pierced), and waited for what I already knew was coming. This was not my first trip, or even my second or third trip, to the Earring Tree to get my ears pierced. I had seen a girl in my gymnastics class wearing a pair of “diamond” studs a few weeks before, and had become obsessed with getting my ears pierced too. Miraculously, I had convinced my mother that getting my ears pierced as a first-grader was a good idea.

 

Our first trip to get my ears pierced, I saw another girl who was about four or five years older than me getting hers done. She was screaming, crying, and yelling about how much it hurt. I immediately turned my mother around and got the hell out of there. On our second trip, I climbed up in the chair, clutched the stuffed hippo within an inch of its life, and let the piercer put one purple dot on my ear. Nope. That was too scary, and out we went again. By my third trip, I could sense my mother’s irritation, but that did not abate my fear. I got two purple dots on my lobes on that third visit before I bolted out the door. On my fourth trip, I, again, mounted the barstool chair, squeezed the purple hippo, and got two purple dots on my ears. As the piercing gun got close to my ear, I hopped off that chair so fast you would think it was on fire…and that was the end of the fourth trip. On our fifth and final trip, I knew the routine: get on the chair, grab the hippo, get the dots, and leave. However, this time, they were ready for me. Before I could leap out of the chair, they had already pierced one of my ears. I wanted out of there. However, as my mother so kindly pointed out, if I left then, I would look like a pirate with one pierced ear. So, I got the second one pierced. When I was finished, I did not think about the five trips to the mall I had to take to finally get my ears pierced, I thought about how pretty the earrings looked and how cool I was going to be in my gymnastics class now.

 

My recovery has been a lot like my attempts at getting my ears pierced. Admittedly, it has taken me more than five tries to move towards recovery–a lot more, and it will take even more as I continue walking down the road to recovery. However, every time I thought recovery was too hard, too scary, too “out of control”, or too anything-else…I tried again, just like I did with getting my ears pierced.  And, I am here to say, it is not easy. I am not going to sugarcoat it and say every minute I have been on this road to recovery has been great, because it has not always felt that way. I simply remembered that I needed to keep trying, because the alternative to recovery and life is eating disorder and death, and I am choosing life. Any time ED told me I was not worthy of recovery, that I did not even have an eating disorder, or that I just could not do it, I tried again. Any time I fell hard on my ass during a relapse, I tried again. Any time I thought I messed up my recovery so I should not even keep trying, I tried again. There is ALWAYS one more thing to try.  When we think there is no hope for recovery, try again. There are individuals living fully recovered lives every day, so we know it is possible to recover. I know it sounds cliché, but that is because it is true, never never never give up. Never stop believing that there is something inside of us that wants recovery more than an eating disorder, that happiness more than darkness, and that wants life over death. Recovery will take multiple tries, I guarantee it–I am living it. However, all those attempts work to make a stronger recovery voice in our mind. When we feel like giving up, we must fight that voice (because it is ED’s voice) and remember to try again. We will not remember how many tries it took us to achieve recovery when we look back on our life, we will look around, see the beauty in and around us, and be thankful that we tried again, that we never gave up, and that we chose life.

 

 

Psalm 116:1-9

 

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

 

When it’s an anniversary August 15, 2014

Three hundred and sixty-five days…fifty-two weeks…or, as the cast of Rent puts it, “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.” Any way you want to measure it, it all adds up to one year. These numbers all also serve to represent that I have now lived an entire year without self-harm. 

Was it easy to stop? In a word, NO! There is still a very small voice that speaks to me any time I feel I am not in control that tells me it is okay to self-harm. I have learned, however, that that voice does not have to have power over my decisions…I do. In changing my relationship with the voice that tells me to self-harm, I was able to 1) disagree with what it had to say and 2) disobey what it was telling me.

Whenever the voice of self-harm speaks to me, urging me to engage in behaviors, I look for evidence of its truth. Spoiler alert! There is never evidence that the voice of self-harm is telling the truth. No matter what trickery, deceit, false promises or fake love the voice of self-harm uses to lure us into behaviors, it is important to know that it is simply not true. Self-harm is never a solution to problems. In fact, self-harm usually ends up creating bigger problems than the one it used to get us to engage in behaviors. It is important to tell the voice of self-harm, “I hear you. I know what you’re saying. But, I WILL NOT engage in the behaviors you are telling me.” Here is another spoiler alert: that will not be easy either. The voice of self-harm will come back with a million and one reasons that we, advocating for our health, are wrong. It is important to remember that no matter how loud, seductive, alluring, etc that voice is, the voice of health is always stronger, smarter and has our best interests at heart. The key to disagreeing with the voice of self-harm is to practice…and then practice…and when we think we are all practiced-out…practice some more. It may sound silly, but actually writing down a conversation between you and the voice of self-harm is very good practice for disagreeing and disobeying.

Recovery is not an “I tried and it didn’t work” kind of deal. Recovery is an “I tried and it didn’t work, so I tried again and again and again until I found something that did work.” That is the disobeying piece of recovery; telling the voice of self-harm that we will not do what it says. It was helpful for me to make a list of activities I could do when disobeying the voice of self-harm; activities that promoted wellness, health, fun and recovery. My list included: photography, writing, coloring (yes, it is perfectly acceptable for adults to use coloring books), taking a walk in the woods, showering, playing with my cats, reading, calling up a friend, or anything else that sounded better at the moment. When one item on my list did not stop the voice of self-harm, I tried another. If that did not stop the voice, I tried another. The very wise, Julie Merryman taught me that there is always one more thing to try; when you think you have exhausted all options and are tempted to give in, there is always one more thing to try. The list of self-harm alternatives is not concrete; it can expand or contract with recovery, interests, passions or anything. The key is to keep the alternatives recovery, health and wellness related…and not to stop when you think you have tried every alternative (there is always one more).

In disagreeing and disobeying the voice of self-harm, or eating disorders, or addiction or whatever voice in our head that does not promote health, happiness, love or acceptance, we are able to regain our lives. In disagreeing and disobeying we are able to take a stand for our recovery and our life. Recovery itself, to me, means life. In practicing and practicing disagreeing and disobeying, I am learning more about myself and regaining more of my life from the negative voices. You can do this too. It will be hard and you will feel as though there are no more options. I am here to tell you that there are. There are always more healthful and appropriate ways to disagree and disobey the voice of self-harm.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 

When your car gets totaled July 30, 2014

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“Um, Rachel? Can you come up here for a minute please?”

 

I set down the copy of The Velveteen Rabbit I had been reading with her daughter as part of her extended care, and walked cautiously up the carpeted basement steps.

 

“I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think someone hit your car” she said nervously as I stepped into the kitchen.

 

What?! My car was parked on the street in a quiet neighborhood not even ten miles from my house. What kind of a person flies out of their driveway so fast they cannot see my land-cruiser sized red Grand Prix parked on the side of the road? I felt the tears brim my eyes and my throat closing up as I numbly walked out the front door and into the blinding afternoon sun. As I shuffled through the plush grass of the front lawn, I noticed a middle-aged man and his wife were already taking iPhone photos of my, car and had their insurance card in their hand. I had not even seen Little Red yet, but I knew it would not be good. I crouched to my knees and put my hand on her damage; tracing the dent and wondering “why me?” How could he have hit a parked car so hard?

 

Only car on the whole street. How could you not see her?

Only car on the whole street. How could you not see her? Also, can you see her injury from here?

We exchanged information. The man kept saying, “I didn’t see it. I just was getting out of the house and I didn’t see you car sitting there.” I kept reassuring him that mistakes happen. However, inside my mind, I wanted to punch something, to yell at someone, to fix Little Red myself, to scream…and then ED started up (and, trust me, none of her suggestions are fit to print).   

 

After going back inside to finish my work with her daughter, I called the cops (the man and his wife had taken off immediately after we exchanged information…they did not even bother to turn their car off during this whole ordeal). This cop did not want to file a report because there were no injuries, the damage appeared to be less than $1,000, and there were no conflicting stories as to how the accident happened. As the cop pulled away from my still parked car, I got a call from the insurance of the man who hit me. The company assured me that, because the accident was not my fault in any possible way, they would take care of all the repairs to Little Red—and I believed them.

 

I took Little Red to their insurance’s approved body shop for an estimate. Three days later, I got the news that it would cost $1,898 to fix the dent in my door! AND to make matters worse, his insurance wants to total my car because they think the cost of repairs is more than the cost of the car (According to Kelley Blue Book, my car is worth $2,397 thank you very much). After speaking with my insurance agent, gathering all of Little Red’s maintenance records, and learning the laws of “proper indemnification”…I am ready to fight for what I deserve. I did not ask for my car to be hit. I’m not asking for a new one.  I am simply asking for my car to be repaired to the condition it was before the accident; no better, but certainly no worse. The man’s insurance, however, wants it totaled.

 Little Red

So now I am in a place where I constantly find myself; struggling to fight for what is mine.

I cannot believe how many times during my illness and during my recovery, experiences I have had with Little Red have mirrored what I was going through. This accident is no exception.

 

Little Red did not ask to be backed into at 1,000 miles per hour. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but the guy hit her pretty hard; hard enough to leave a Honda Odyssey-sized dent in the back door. Similarly, I did not ask to have a life-long battle with an eating disorder. However, both the accident and the eating disorder have happened, and it is up to me to do the next right thing that would allow for healing in each event—a repair for Little Red and recovery for me.

 

Little Red has survived a lot including: a 55 mile per hour collision with a Ford F-250 (again, not my fault), window motors burning out causing the windows to never come up (all were eventually replaced), break lines snapping, interior flooding, hauling garden equipment and compost, a small collision with my grandmother’s Buick, Ohio winters, Ohio summers and numerous other adventures. However, throughout all of that, I never gave up hope that there was a future for Little Red and continued to work towards repairing her.

 

I have survived many things as well: broken nose and arm, bullying, arthritis, self-harm, depression, more than half of my life with eating disorders, PRAXIS tests, illnesses and a lot of other events I cannot recall at the present. However, instead of treating myself as I did Little Red—repairing and never giving up hope that recuperation can happen—I self-destructed. I used those events as proof that I was unworthy as a human being and deserved everything that happened to me. I put more hope and trust into Little Red than I did myself; how completely backwards is that?

 

Now that I have started the process of recovery, I know that I deserve better than what I am currently doing to myself, and even better than I give Little Red. I deserve life—above all—hope, love, health, healing, friendship, the ability to allow myself to feel emotions, grace and everything else that comes with self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

 

Am I going to stand up and fight this insurance company to fix Little Red? You bet I am! Am I going to stand up and fight ED for my life? You bet your sweet ass I am! No matter what ED tells me, recovery reminds me that I am worthy, I am enough, and I am deserving of a life without her.

 

 

2 Samuel 22

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

 

When you play with magnetic poetry July 8, 2014

As the four kids I nanny were sitting at the kitchen bar eating their lunch, I absent-mindedly moved their magnetic poetry words around their refrigerator door; as I had done countless times before. The words had all come from a magnet from the adoption agency that facilitated their second youngest child’s adoption, so it had words that related to adoption. Between trips to refill milk cups, grab napkins, pushing the dog out of the kitchen, and handing out second helpings, I would move another word into the design. Here is my final product:

my "poem"

my “poem”

I have been struggling with my ed a little as of late, so I started with the phrase “embrace beautiful”; hoping that seeing it on the refrigerator would remind me to embrace my beauty. And I do not mean that in a vain sense. I feel embracing my beauty is more than my appearance; beauty is more than how I look. Beauty can be found in my attitude, how I allow others to treat me, my brain, how I treat others, what I say, how I act, and how I choose to see the world.  But, more so than embracing my beauty, I want to embrace the beauty around me; the dew on my car when I leave for work in the morning, the way the youngest child I nanny curls up in my lap and calls herself “Rachel’s girl”, the way the bats fly out of my neighbor’s trees at night, and so much more. Embracing beauty reminds me to be in the moment, to breathe and be present. We spend so much time going through the motions of life, that I truly do not think we stop to embrace the beauty in and around us as often as we should. It sounds cliché  to say to “stop and smell the roses”, but I think that is something we all need more practice with. 

 

The next words I chose to put into my word collage were love and hope. Hope has always been a favorite word of mine; I have it tattooed in Cherokee on my wrist. I think it was Brené Brown who said that hope is not a passive word, but an active one. We cannot sit around all day just waiting and hoping for things to happen, to get better, to work out, etc. We must put that hope into action; making a plan to accomplish what we hope for. We can have all the hope in the world for something, but until we set out to find it, nothing will ever happen. I chose the word love for multiple reasons. First being, I must remember to love others. I often get to caught up in caring for others and making sure their every need is met, I often forget to show the love that makes me do those things for them. They may know I love them, through the actions I do for them, but I seriously doubt they have ever heard an “I love you” from me. Second, and perhaps most importantly, I chose love to remember to love myself. Lucille Ball once said, “Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” This is probably one of the most accurate statements about love that I have ever heard. A huge part of recovery, for me, has been learning how to love myself and everything that comes with me. 

 

Support became my next word when I realized how huge of a role support has played in my recovery. No one can recover without support. For me, mentoring, therapy and understanding friends have served a key role in my support team. On days when I did not feel like staying on the path to recovery, I would say, “I’m doing recovery for so and so today, until I want it again for myself.” Eventually, “I’m recovering for so and so,” was replaced with, “I’m recovering for me.” Without support from others, there is no way I would be as far along in recovery as I am today. Asking for support takes a lot of strength and courage, but it is 100% worth it.

 

And speaking of worth, my next word in the collage was worth. All too often, my eating disorder convinced me to engage in thoughts and behaviors by telling me I had no worth…that I could never have worth. Ed persuaded me to believe that I could never be worthy because I was not thin enough, smart enough, nice enough, giving enough, tall enough, pretty enough, kind enough; to Ed I was never enough and could never gain worth. She lead me on a path of self-destruction in which she promised the elusive “worth” I wanted so desperately. She claimed I could only gain worth if I followed her every whim and direction; I wanted worthiness so much that I fell for that lie. The truth is, we are all worthy…just the way we are. We are worthy of love, life, good things, beauty, happiness, and everything else we desire. The myth of not being “enough” of something was designed by Ed to steal our worthiness. Don’t let her have it.

 

Wish was chosen for much the same reason as hope. I wish, one day, to be rid of this disease and for others to be free from Ed’s chains as well. Wish, however, is also an active–not passive–word. We can wish upon every star, make a wish at every 11:11, and snap all the wishbones we can find. However, until we put that wish into action using goal-setting, it will remain merely a wish. And while it is good to have wishes, it is also good to have those wishes come true. 

 

The next word moved into my collage was laugh. Laughter, I believe is an important part of recovery…of life.  I realized there is something very therapeutic about laughing. There is no law that states recovery must be this solemn undertaking in which no fun or laughter shall ever take place. In fact, I think not having laughter in our lives only keeps us stuck in Ed’s grasp. While I understand the need to put in hard work and be serious when setting/accomplishing goals, I am also aware of the need to let loose and be silly sometimes.

 

I then noticed the word son…it had been turned upside down by one of the kids. However, when the word son is turned upside down, it reads NOS–as in my diagnosis. I chose to put that on the bottom to show that my Ed has no place in my life; it is under everything else and will get buried by all the recovery-oriented choices I am putting into action.

 

Finally, I chose to put the words I belong at the top of my collage.  For a long time I have failed to believe that I am deserving of recovery (or even a diagnosis). By putting these words at the top of my word collage, I am ready to acknowledge that I do belong in this crazy place we call life; I am worthy, I can have hope, I can love, I can wish, I can laugh, I can ask for support, and I can embrace beauty. I belong, and so do you. 

 

Colossians 3:15-17

 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

  

 

When geocaching mirrors recovery June 6, 2014

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The rain pours as I tramp through the mud and high grass in my polka-dot rain boots; taking extra care to keep my long dress from getting snagged on the thorns surrounding me. As I smash the mosquitoes attempting to feast on my blood, I hear my friend shout, “I found it!” I look over to find her head-first in a honeysuckle bush—only her black boots visible.

Image

My friends braving the tall grass to find the cache

So what, you may ask, were four girls in their mid-twenties looking for in the woods in the pouring rain? We asked ourselves the same question multiple times that morning. With the help of our smart phones, we had set out that morning to go geocaching…in a city that three of us had never even been to. Prior to that morning, I had never experienced geocaching before. And, if you are like me, you will need a brief explanation on geocaching. First, someone with a lot of time on their hands creates, hides and records a “cache” on a geocaching app. A typical cache contains a log sheet (to record who found it) and some small trinkets (like stickers, kid’s toys, pins, etc); although some caches only contain logs. Once the cache creator has logged the coordinates of the cache in the app, people can go out to find it…which is what we were doing in the rain on a Monday morning.

 

As I think back to finding the ten caches we discovered, the fun I had trudging through the mud, the enjoyment I had with friends and the frustration I had at not being able to find the cache…it made me think of how similar geocaching is to recovery.

 

1)      The GPS/smart phone app can take you to the cache, but it cannot find it for you; it can only lead you to the area, you must do the work of finding the cache yourself. I remember standing in frustration in the middle of the woods repeating “It has to be here, the GPS said so” while I moved branches out of my way. But that was when I realized it was not the GPS’ job to find the cache, it was mine. The same is true about recovery. It is not my therapist’s job, my doctor’s job, my medication’s job or even my support people’s job to find my recovery; it’s mine. All of these people can help guide me to recovery, but if I really truly want recovery, I have to work for it. All of those people can want recovery for me, but until I put in the hard work to achieve it, nothing will happen. It is like saying you want to learn to ski, but do not want to be bothered by actually using skis; it will not work. Wanting recovery but not working towards it will not work either.

 

2)      While we are talking about finding caches, it is important to note that some caches are easy to find, some are difficult, and some are downright impossible. One of the caches we found was easy to spot nestled in a log. However, another was hidden inside a real mushroom and much harder to locate; I almost gave up on that one. Recovery is much the same way. Certain thoughts, behaviors, food rituals or other ED-associated actions may seem easy, difficult or impossible to overcome. The important thing is to continue to work hard towards recovery. The work will all be worth it when you are able to a live a life without ED. I cannot even recall the amount of times I told my therapist I could not stop taking laxatives or stop self-harming, but I did. I told her it was impossible for me to eat two meals a day, but I do. Do I still have a long way to go to get to recovery? Yes, but I know that I will get there if I just stay determined to win. Remember the cache I described looking for in the beginning? I was so furious looking for it. I was soaking wet, dodging thorns, muddy, hot and mad. Mad at the person who made it for making it so hard to find, mad at the weather for not cooperating, but I was the maddest at myself for not being able to find it. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have been frustrated in recovery; I do not know if mathematicians have ever made a number that high. But I never gave in, and that is what matters. Recovery is all about hanging on when you feel like giving up. Once you string together a series of hanging ons, you will have recovery.

 

3)      Once you find the cache, it is ok to celebrate; you worked hard to find it. I mean, given the entire surface area of the earth, it is pretty mind-blowing that we can find the exact spot someone hid a cache. In fact, we may be walking past hidden caches every day not even realizing it. It is ok to feel pride, too, when finding a cache. If you are like me, you fought the rain, mud and thorns to find it…so proudly sign your name on the log and show everyone how proud you are of your hard work. In recovery, it is also important to recognize and celebrate achievements. Reward your hard work in recovery in body positive ways like getting a manicure, reading a book you have always wanted to read, take a nature walk, watch a movie, take a nap or do something crafty. Recovery is hard; it is not the butterflies and rainbows that lifetime movies or self-help books will lead you to believe. However, it is WORTH it. All the hard work and frustration will lead to a payoff greater than you would ever imagine…a life without ED.

 

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The abandoned building that was home to a cache

 

           2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

When ED stays at your house May 15, 2014

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In an effort for me to understand and simplify for myself how my eating disorder got me to where I am, I started writing…and writing…and when I had written so many words my head started to spin, it spun into this: my eating disorder is like an unwanted house guest who ended up taking my house. Hear me out on this one…

 

I live in the house of Rhea. It’s a cozy little house with a room for everything that makes me, me. There’s a library, a room for learning, a photography studio, a writing room, and countless other rooms. There is also a turret…because who doesn’t want a house with a turret? Then, one day, when my house was feeling kind of run down and shabby, ED showed up on my doorstep like an unwanted fourth cousin staying for the weekend. I did not really want to let her in, but, because she is distant family and I am a people pleaser, I felt guilted into it. Because she had so much baggage with her (literally and figuratively), I allowed her to put it all in one of the rooms that makes me, me. In a sense, I gave a piece of me to ED so she could come live with me. The ungrateful house guest that she is, ED snatched the Rhea room, took out all semblance of me, replaced it with all the stuff from her baggage, turned out the lights, shut the door, locked it, and hid the key. Suddenly realizing she had nowhere else to go, ED came to me and demanded another room in which to put all her baggage. Being the people pleaser that I am, I obliged and gave ED another room in my house; another piece of me. She repeated the same process of Rhea removal and ED installation in each room I had given her, and demanded she be given a new room. Typical reasons for needing a new room usually revolved around me being fat, stupid, unloveable or unworthy for her to stay in a given room…not that the bed was too comfortable, the reading room was full of too many good book, or the turret was just too awesome. No, her reasons for moving and remodeling rooms were based on her hatred of me. And yet, I still permitted her to stay with me.

 

Before too long, ED had destroyed, shut off, locked and abandoned every room in the Rhea house. However, she still wanted more. And me, being desperate for any sense of love and belonging, wanted to give ED what she wanted, despite there simply not being anything else I could possibly give her. Instead of giving up when I told ED there was nothing else to give, she tried to convince me I hadn’t ever given her any rooms in which to stay in the first place. In fact, she worked tirelessly to convince me she had never even been in my house before; this was the time in which I denied the existence of the disease in my life. Each time I challenged ED’s thoughts/ beliefs/behaviors or talked about recovery, ED labored arduously to persuade me into believing she had never visited my house; let alone that she even knew me. However, in the moments in which I agreed with ED, followed her commands, engaged in her behaviors, she was suddenly the long lost fourth cousin and best friend again…looking at me like I was crazy for not knowing who she was. There was no grey area with ED; only black and white. ED either ruled my life and my house, or denied ever knowing me or visiting my house.

 

But now, now I know she is in my life, in my house. I choose to work on recovery. It is like I am walking around the abandoned house of Rhea that was once controlled and destroyed by ED. I am searching for the hidden keys, unlocking doors, turning on the lights and discovering things once hidden, ignored, forgotten or demolished by ED. With each room I reopen and reclaim, revelations are made, questions are raised and I move closer to recovery. It is not just a recovery from my eating disorder (kicking that bitch out of my house and reclaiming it for me), but also a reclamation and recovery of the once forgotten Rhea that ED had kept in the abandoned house. For better or worse, I am willing to face the Rhea that I uncover as I move through the rooms of my house. I am ready to see myself without ED’s influence and behaviors, without self-harm, without shame and without self-hatred.

 

Are you ready to recover your life from ED? What are you most excited about finding or discovering about yourself?

 

 

1 Samuel 16:7

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height… The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

When you fight the media May 2, 2014

How about this for some scary statistics:

-42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).

-In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively (Smolak, 2011; Wertheim et al., 2009).

-81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).

-46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992).

-Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).

-By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life (Smolak, 2011).

 

But WHY? Why are these shocking statistics becoming more and more commonplace? Why is the million dollar question. While I may not have all the answers, I have a fairly good idea as to where the thoughts that lead to these alarming statistics may originate. The Media. Chances are you, yourself, have been the target of the media’s Thin Ideal. I doubt that any of us would want to wake up pursuing the Thin Ideal on our own; those thoughts have been implanted in our brain by the media from the moment we were born. Had the media decided that “the look” was a purple Mohawk and green skin, we might all fruitlessly chase that media ideal simply because it was forced upon us by the media consciously and unconsciously every single day.

 

After ripping through magazines, pointing out media agendas, and talking about how the Thin Ideal media affects our own eating disorder, the girls in my ED recovery support group, our therapist, and I had had enough. Each of us made a goal for the week on how we aim to ignore, fight or raise awareness on the ill effects of the media. I chose fight! I am going to expose these media messages for what they really are…crap.

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Are these the people we want to look up to?

The above magazine article was attempting to point out how we can be like our favorite celebrities by purchasing his or her favorite iPhone apps. Julianne Moore was quoted about this triggering app, “A makeup artist recommended this [the app] to me. You can log what you ate and how much you exercised. When I get bored on set, I can obsessively track my calorie intake.” Does this quote sound anyone else’s eating disorder alarm? I have heard from so many people in recovery whose eating disorder was able to completely take over their life because of this app; this app gives the illusion that it is normal to obsessively count calories, exercise, track eating trends, seek out smaller caloric intakes, and any other thoughts/behaviors that fuel ED’s fire. While I may not know about Ms. Moore’s personal views on eating disorders, I can say that this quote, could be very misinterpreted as a means to further an eating disorder.

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I found this bag of pita chips at my local Trader Joe’s.

I like pita chips. There I said it. And I actually enjoy eating them. Imagine my surprise when Trader Joe’s offered me a pita chip with “reduced guilt”. Oh, Trader Joe’s, how did you know? (sarcasm). As if ED wasn’t already laying on the guilt when I opened the bag, Trader Joe’s goes and adds some more. “Guilty pleasure” when and why does American culture ALWAYS associate this phrase  with food or use it to put themselves down in some way. Over the years I’ve learned food is food; there are no moral values attached to it (like good, bad, sinful, guilty) and, likewise, no emotional values (food is fuel and should not have the power to manipulate your emotions). Eating food should not lead one to feel guilty. Eating should lead one to feel nourished, alive and ready to face the day. We, as a culture of Americans, have become so accustomed to putting ourselves down at every opportunity, placing more importance on the size of clothes than the size of hearts, and tearing ourselves apart over every little thing that society deems unworthy. My guilty pleasure is allowing myself to feel worthy in a society in which everything else seems to scream I am not.

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Again with the guilt association…this time in the “comics”…as if we should laugh about it and encourage our girlfriends to work towards an ED

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But, if we do fall prey to the “Guilty Pleasure” phenomenon, this food company offers suggestions on how to counteract what we’ve eaten…just like ED does. ED is always worried about our caloric intake versus our exercise output, but now, thanks to this company, this box can serve as an aide to further ED’s message (sarcasm).

 

I will never purchase anything from this company again

I will never purchase anything from this company again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and how about this one that seems to be offering us suggestions on how to better listen to and agree with ED?

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Is this magazine promoting ED thoughts? Yes.

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This magazine is also offering ways to listen to ED. What the hell?

Oh, and lest the males feel that the Thin Ideal is only marketed to women, I present you with this “comic”. It appears to insinuate that the larger man needs to work out and stop eating in order to look like the smaller man…eating disordered thinking anyone?

 

 

 

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So, comics are typically directed to children. Do we want our children to think adults consistently skip meals to lose weight? Do we want them fat shaming others?

And here are some more for good measure

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Also, who sends weight loss encouragement cards with caloric information on them? Why don’t we send cards to each other to support recovery or body acceptance?

weightwatchers

I positively LOATHE this brainwashing company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, instead of letting these messages further ED’s conquest on my life, I am choosing to fight back. I am going to do what is right for me and my recovery. I will not be a pawn in the media’s Thin Ideal game. I encourage you to look through a magazine and destroy the messages that perpetuate ED’s lies. If looking at a magazine is too triggering for you right now, just speak up when people around you say things that promote ED’s lies. Nothing is too small when it comes to fighting the media, and especially when fighting ED.

 

All statistics taken from the National Eating Disorders Association website at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders 

 

Luke 11:33-36

 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Philippians 4:8

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

 
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