one girl's thoughts on life, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, and hope.

When you become vegetarian April 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 7:51 pm
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“You can’t live in this house and not eat meat. It’s just not possible” my mother shouted at me from the couch.


“Can to” I countered as I crossed my arms across my chest like a defiant two-year-old.


“All the cavemen had to eat was meat, and they were just fine,” meaning, of course, discussion over. Rhea loses, mom wins.


Only, here’s the thing, Rhea does not lose. In fact, the only loser here is ED.


            After my EGD procedure, it was suggested that I lessen the amount of meat in my diet; as it is difficult for my body to digest, and, therefore, only contributes to my frequent bouts of rumination. My body is working so hard to digest the meat, that it pushes the rest of the food up my esophagus. Wonderful visual, right?  Well, between my body working so hard to digest the food, it has also been trained, horribly so, by my purging, to involuntarily bring my food back up on its own.


            So, after my mother’s beaming words of encouragement which, I feel, compared me to a hairy, fur-wearing caveman, I became vegetarian. Upon hearing the meatless news, my therapist was just as thrilled as my mother to hear about my decision. Her skepticism, however, was warranted, I suppose. Someone with an eating disorder saying they are omitting an entire food group for “health reasons” sounds a lot like eating disordered behavior. Even I can acknowledge that it could sound that way, because, if there is one thing ED likes, it is altering one’s diet under the guise of health while simultaneously assuring others that there is nothing unusual about their eating. In addition to my therapist’s concern over my vegetarianism being a disguise for ED’s behaviors, she was also worried that the lack of protein would exacerbate my anemia. After many protests, promises to eat more protein-rich foods, and to take iron supplements, she, begrudgingly, accepted the fact that I was going to do it…still skeptical that I was opening the door for ED and inviting her to tea.

            Unfortunately for ED, I did not open the door for her. That is not to say that I have not restricted or purged in the month since becoming a vegetarian—that would be exceedingly hypocritical of me to say—but, I can say that it has compelled me to become more mindful and aware of what I am eating. I live with my parents, who make meat filled dishes, so I am now responsible for making my own meals. I can eat the healthy foods that I want while avoiding the foods that trigger me; at least until I feel ready for them. This accountability for my own meals means that I have to work harder to fight ED when she is telling me that it is ok to engage in behaviors. Due to this, I have had to develop more effective coping strategies and meal planning skills. I feel that this whole rumination/vegetarianism thing has been God’s way of making me learn to develop better methods to fight ED. Without it, I may not have continued down the path to recovery; ED loves complacency. What I am trying to say is this, my health had made me take a more pro-active stance towards recovery. It made me realize that the only way to defeat ED is to take her out before she can convince me of her lies again; easier said than done, I know. The important thing is this; you know that you are worth living and living well. You know ED is not healthy. And you know you are stronger than ED. Keep fighting for your recovery; you are worth it!

Psalms 71:14


When people read your blog…2 April 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 7:45 pm
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I still find it shocking to find out that people 1) read my blog and 2) care about what I have to say. Anyway, here are the details on the Liebster Award.

“Liebster Awards Nominees go to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The origins of this award are unclear and are simply given by fellow award nominees to blogs that inspire them and that they enjoy themselves.  ‘Liebster’ means means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome in German.”

I would like to thank Lindsay at “The Leaking Boob” for the nomination. She writes about everything from changing careers and her adorable daughter to her husband going back to school and recipes…and much more. Check out her blog!

Liebster award

Anyway,here are the conditions of the award

11 Random Facts About Myself

1) I am almost fluent in American Sign Language after taking three years of classes in my high school, having an interpreter as a cousin and having her Deaf boyfriend join our family.

2) I could pretty much live in dresses/skirts and leggings. They are so much cuter than pants, plus I feel more put together when I am dressed nicer…this may be why I only own one pair of sweat pants.

3) I am obsessed with the Cincinnati Reds; I believe it may be a sickness at this point. I went to spring training (when they were still in Sarasota) during my spring break from college, I have been to many Redsfests (think comic con for Reds fans) and more games than I can count.

4) I am a recent convert to vegetarianism. I  would like to say it is because of how animals are treated prior to and during slaughter (which is beyond horrible….tiny cages, no room or ability to move, steroids, hormones, covered in feces, inhumane euthanasia, etc), but really it is because of my rumination and how hard it is for the body to digest meat. More about this in another post.

5) I am a huge klutz. This can be demonstrated by the fact that I have broken my nose, arm, middle finger and numerous toes…not to mention an ill-fated incident with an oven and a frozen pizza that left me with a huge burn scar on top of my left wrist.

6) I am the first in my immediate family to go to/graduate from college.

7) I spent that last two years working for the Americorps VISTA program assisting people in rural Ohio gain knowledge on, build, maintain and harvest from their own gardens.

8) I think I could live at Disneyworld and never get bored.

9) I love to knit and sew, despite the fact I can only knit square and rectangular things.

10) I have never been stung by a bee/wasp/etc, but I have been stung by a jellyfish.

11) I hate am terrified of odd numbers and go to great lengths to avoid them when possible (I realize it is impossible to avoid odd numbered highways/roads…which is why the numbers can add up to be an even number and it is ok then)

11 Questions from Lindsay

1.  Favorite book: Tied between all Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, and my all-time favorite, The Velveteen Rabbit

2.  Favorite online shopping site: I do not do a lot of online shopping, but, when I do, it is usually amazon because I am most likely buying books for my kindle.

3.  Happiest childhood memory: My father would always take me to his friends farm where I got to milk cows by hand, watch the automated milkers, gather eggs, climb around in the hay loft, chase chickens…and anything else I felt like I wanted to do. It was so fun.

4.  Biggest goal on your bucket list: I would like to, someday, adopt a child. I have felt in my heart that adoption was right for me for a long time, and would like to share that with children in need.

5.  One place you’re dying to travel: Due to my immense love of Sherlock Holmes, I have always wanted to go to England.

6.  Biggest inspiration: My friend Meredith. Daily, she shows me how to live a recovered life of grace, humor, intelligence, beauty and gratitude.

7.  Favorite season: Fall; I love the leaves…and when all the restaurants come out with their pumpkin food.

8.  Biggest pet peeve: people who cannot clean up after themselves when they make a mess

9.  One person you would like to meet: my grandfather. He passed away while my mother was pregnant with me. For the first few years of my life everyone called me “little Buck” because, apparently, I look just like him…only a girl.

10.  Age when you got your first cell phone: 15…and I think I am the only 25 year old without a smartphone

11.  3 words to describe yourself: nurturing, humorous, fighter

11 Questions from me, Rhea

1) Are you an early bird or a night owl?

2) What is your favorite vacation spot?

3) What is your favorite color?

4) Who is your favorite writer?

5) What is one thing you know for certain?

6) What was/is your first car?

7) What are your hobbies?

8) Who or what inspires you?

9) What are two (or more) positive traits that you posses?

10) What is your favorite quote?

11) What is your greatest accomplishment?

11 blogger nominees

(here’s the thing, I don’t regularly read or subscribe to 11 different blogs)

1) MK writes about her own brave recovery from an ED, about having grace with herself, loving others and loving herself. Her selfless writing inspires me.


2) Matt is a writer and activist for those who suffered/are suffering with an ED. He speaks to people about the misconceptions about EDs (specifically that they are a women’s disease), lobbies for better mental health practices, and advocates for, not only his recovery, but the recovery of others. He is doing what I aspire to someday do for others, and my recovery.


3) Rachel writes about her path to recovery from her ED while teaching those unfamiliar with EDs more about them. She always gives me something to apply to my own life with her writing and provides her readers with questions to get them started thinking about their own recovery. No to mention we have the same name! Although I go by Rhea instead.


James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father

1 Corinthians 15:10

 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.


When you participate in NEDA walk DC April 18, 2013

I tentatively step onto the sidewalk of the National Mall; the Washington Monument commanding attention on my left, the Capitol in the distance on my right, and the NEDA walk registration table about thirty feet straight ahead. “I do not belong here,” I thought, “This walk is for real sick people. I am not sick enough to be a participant in this walk. I have ED-NOS, not a real ED.” About the moment I realized these were ED’s thoughts and not my own, Kate’s ninety-pound yellow lab, Simba, pulled us into the growing congregation of NEDA walkers. He was going to make sure I followed through with this walk—with my promise. Before the walk, I made a promise to my friend Meredith that I would walk for those who cannot walk for themselves, for her, and for her beloved friend Allyson who battled so bravely against her own ED.

Although still hesitant and feeling as if I did not belong, I followed Kate, Simba, and my cousin, Ashley, to the registration table. On our way, we passed families, friends, therapists, children, dogs (in NEDA bandannas), Miss America ’08, moral supports, those who have overcome, and those who are still fearlessly fighting. In total, there were over five hundred walkers in attendance who raised a combined $50,000 for NEDA’s programming and outreach initiatives.  Before the walk, many of us chose to engage in the pre-walk yoga stretching, creating posters to carry with us along the walk, and communing with others. After some inspirational speeches, we were on our way around the mall. As tourists watched, with some taking photographs, I felt a sense of fulfillment in the fact that I was doing what I always hide behind my computer screen doing semi-anonymously…raising awareness. I was putting my face, my voice and my beliefs on a national stage to show people that EDs are real diseases, encourage discourse on them and let people know that ED will not keep me in the silence of my disease.

During the walk, my cousin asked Kate (her friend from college) and me questions about our EDs. I felt nervous answering the questions in front of Kate as I had just met her less than twenty-four hours prior, and felt like a fraud as an eating disordered person because I was never as sick as her (eating disorders are often competitive in nature. I can never understand why, but I always find myself comparing my illness to those around me…and feeling, in a warped way,  like I am horrible at my ED when I find someone sicker than me…again, one of ED’s favorite thoughts). I always let Kate answer the questions first before giving my own answer because, I felt, that she had more to say than I ever would. It was amazing to find how much our stories had in common despite being so different on the outside. Eventually the nerves subsided, and I became comfortable with both the questioning and with Kate. I feel as thought that is what the NEDA walks are about; educating those unfamiliar with the disease, raising awareness, and addressing misconceptions.  While walking, it was easy to see the impact the event had on the participants. Families came together to support loved ones who suffered/are suffering. Strangers offered comfort and understanding to people they had just met. Friends encouraged one another. Everyone had something to offer.

After the walk, we went to Eastern Market for lunch and shopping. I absolutely love that area; it is so reminiscent of my favorite area in Ohio, Yellow Springs. We grabbed some pizza for lunch at an outdoor café, as Simba was not allowed to join us inside. This time, I did not engage in any ED behaviors while eating with Kate (unlike the day and night before). I felt at ease with the idea that we have both had our struggles and are working to kick ED to the curb. At the artisan booth around the corner from the restaurant, I found a great way to commemorate my first NEDA walk; a new ring. I have gotten a ring for myself at two important milestones in my recovery; one when I first decided to enter into outpatient and another after a year of attempted recovery. I purchased a simple silver band to accompany my other two recovery rings. Every time I look at the ring, I am able to remember the wonderful experience I had at the DC NEDA walk, the friendship I shared with Ashley and Kate, and the gratitude I felt at over five hundred people who helped educate/raise awareness on EDs alongside me. Thank you DC, thank you NEDA, and thank you to everyone who has fought, continues to fight or supports those who do. You are all, truly, an inspiration.


Simba looking regal while raising awareness in his NEDA bandanna


A photo I took of a woman just because I liked the message her sign conveyed


Me, Kate, and my cousin, Ashley, at the DC NEDA walk

Me, Kate, and my cousin, Ashley, at the DC NEDA walk


2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.


When you are lost in DC April 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 11:22 pm
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            The metro lurches forward as I grab frantically for the handlebar that seems way too far above by head. My already death-defying balancing act is made worse by the jostling of the train and my ever present three inch wedges. My wanting to not get too close to the passengers for fear of being touched does not help the situation either. I am alone on the metro on my first ever trip to DC. 

            Above the din of the morning commute, a moment of static over the PA breaks the monotony, “Next stop, Eastern Market!” I glance over my shoulder to the metro map poster like a proclamation on the wall of the train. Eastern Market?! I was attempting to make my way to the airport, how did I get on the wrong train…again? Here I was, laden with luggage, crammed in a train with a mass of suited men on their way to important CEO jobs in the city, and going in the wrong direction. A flood of emotions rush through me: anger at having gotten on the wrong train, worry that this mistake will cause me to miss my plane, embarrassment in the realization that I have to get off of this train, and fear of being judged by my fellow passengers; not to mention ED in my ear chiming in with her thoughts on the situation. Growing up in Cincinnati, I am ill-prepared for public transportation (after all, we have the largest number of vacant and unfinished subway tunnels in America from our first foray into public transportation in the early 1900’s) and this mishap only further proved the point.

            At Eastern Market, the doors parted and a sea of early morning commuters scuttled to fill the empty spaces. With my head down, I gathered my things and forced my way back onto the blue line platform back to Rosslyn hoping no one noticed me. Back to the beginning. Time to start fresh. With a second, third and even fourth glance at the metro map, I started again on my journey to the airport, taking with me what I learned from getting on the wrong train and even the emotions that came with that mistake. I did, eventually, make it to the airport.

            I would like to say that this is the only time during my trip to DC that I found myself lost. Unfortunately, I am, what my father refers to as, directionally challenged. More often than not, in my six days in DC, I found myself taking a wrong turn while walking somewhere, getting on the wrong train or trapped in a pack of loquacious junior high schoolers on their class trip. These misadventures, while frustrating, taught me that it is perfectly acceptable to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and apply this new knowledge to live a happier, healthier life. I could very easily have sat in the metro station wallowing in the self-hate of having made a mistake or cried in the middle of Independence Avenue looking for the NationalMuseum of the American Indian or engaged in ED’s behaviors while she told me how stupid I was for making those mistakes…but I did not. I chose to do the next right thing. This often included asking for help; a concept that, to this day, frightens me.

However, in life, as in recovery, it is not possible to go it alone. No one person knows all the answers; asking for help shows you are willing to grow, learn and seek out new knowledge. I also learned that, after making a mistake, I must begin again anew. When lost on the streets of DC by myself, I traced my way back to the metro station and tried a new route, and tried a new route after that to get to where I needed to be. Just because I had made one mistake, did not mean I needed to keep making mistakes. The same is true with recovery. Just because I used behaviors once, does not mean I need to continue using them. Every minute is an opportunity to begin again with recovery. Do the next right thing. Have grace with yourself. Ask for help. Learn from your mistakes. Never stop seeking recovery. You are worth it.


This is a photo I took during my solo trip to the zoo…which was only slightly more successful than my trip to the airport.


Philippians 3:12-14

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Psalm 37:23-24

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.


When you go to the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parade April 1, 2013

Today I went to see the Opening Day Parade for the best (and FIRST) team in Major League baseball. I spent over three hours in the shade at Fountain Square in 40 degree weather with my little sister and my 8-month pregnant cousin, but it was completely worth it. I love Cincinnati and I love the Reds (I am the dork who spent her Spring Break during college going to Reds Spring Training Games). Here are some of my favorite photos from the day (taken with a Nikon D-5000).

George Foster waves from his car


The “Genius of Water” aka the Tyler Davidson Fountain on Fountain Square


A little too up close and personal with Mr. Red


I hate clowns, but this the greatest clown ever


Nuxhall, one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time.


A sign some wellness group was holding. I ignored most of them because they were about how obesity is ruining America, but this sign was great.