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

When building a gazebo is building your recovery May 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 11:07 pm
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My screw and washer fall with a clang as they break loose from my grip. The washer slipped through the cracks of the porch and my screw rolled under a chair. “It could have been worse” I thought as I started my climb down the ladder. This is how I spent my Memorial Day; helping my 70-year-old grandfather assemble his new gazebo. Unfortunately for me, I went to his house not knowing this chore would await me. I was wearing my usual choice in footwear, three inch heels. Additionally, my grandfather kept conveniently “disappearing”; leaving me to build most of it by myself. Guided by a packet of the vaguest instructions known to man (or woman) and under the hawk-like watch of my mother, I set to work on the gazebo. I am no stranger to construction so I quickly found myself using the electric drill, ratchet set and ladders to piece together the structure. Then it came time to put on the piece that anchors the other pieces together; they keystone, if you will. I wanted to prove to my grandfather that I am helpful and intelligent. Aaaand, that is when the screw hit the ground. I realized, at that moment, how often situations like this present themselves in my everyday life; particularly in my recovery.

It goes like this:

I often start out with these huge, unachievable ideals and ambitions with  no clear path towards achieving them.

     -Thought while building (TWB): I can, single-handedly, build this gazebo. I have a college degree. How hard can it be to read some directions and slap together a gazebo?

     -Thought in recovery (TIR):I can recover right this very moment. I will not make mistakes, and it will last forever without going back


Building in heels…no big deal…I’ve got this





Then, when I realize I am in too deep, I try to figure it out myself.

   -TWB: I will consult my instruction packet. Piece M hooks to D. Screw AA goes with washer BB and into part J…and despite the unclear directions, I am confident of my ability to move forward.

-TIR: I consult with my therapist and Meredith. Maybe I read some of Thom Rutledge’s writings or work in my “Finding Your Voice Through Creativity” recovery workbook or anything else to reset my mind to recovery mode. Again, I have unclear directions, but I am confident in my ability to move forward.


Check out these super clear directions





Then, when I inevitably reach a point where I need additional help, I have to seek other options.

-TWB: Crap, I am not 8-feet-tall (I am barely 5-feet). How in the world am I going to get the roof together? How am I going to get the canopy on the roof? Where is my grandfather?

-TIR: Crap, ED’s back. How am I going to do the next right thing? How am I going to get out of this relapse and back into my recovery?


My grandparents’ dumb chihuahua, Toby, showing how he helps




Then, when I have stopped to assess the situation, addressed my needs, thought of how I am going to achieve those needs as a means to do the next right thing…I have to put a plan into action

-TWB: Ok, I know I need another person to get the canopy on. My mother is shorter than me; so she will not be helpful. I have to get off the ladder and find my grandfather. Ok, he is here now. I need to communicate to him my needs in terms of completing this gazebo. Then we work together to complete what I need.

-TIR: Ok, I know I need to do the next right thing. What is the next right thing in this situation? (For example) I know I need to eat. What can I do to make sure that I eat? I know I can go home and have an apple and peanut butter. What is the first step towards making that happen? I can leave work in X number of minutes and make sure I eat first thing when I get there.


Oh look, my father showed up…and Grandpa reappeared…just in time to help.



Then, when it is all over, I can sit back and look at how it all worked out

 -TWB: Well, that was a lot of work for such a dinky gazebo. But, I am glad I asked my grandfather for help and was able to help him in return by building the gazebo. Am I upset I had to ask for help? Yeah, a little. But I am glad I got the help that I needed and he now has a gazebo under which he can read the paper and drink his coffee.

-TIR: What did I learn in this situation that I can apply towards future situations that will arise in my recovery? Did I do the next right thing? If yes, remember that and keep doing it. If no, what can I try next time to produce a healthier result that promotes recovery? What did I learn? How can I apply what I learned in this situation to continue recovery?

Then I can have a cup of coffee with my grandfather in his new gazebo…and put ED in the empty gazebo box by the curb for Rumpke to take to the landfill


The final gazebo. I forgot to take a picture with my phone, so here is the one off the website


Just for fun

2 Thessalonians 3:3

The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you


When you don’t have a subject… May 24, 2013

Clearly, I am suffering from an acute case of writer’s block. I could not think of anything to write about this week that could be elaborated upon to create a post. Therefore, I have decided to write a few mini-posts based upon some photos I have recently taken.

ImageThis is a sign I colored (yes, like a 6-year-old, I like to color) to hang up at my desk. All too often, I am paralyzed at the thought of making a mistake–letting someone see a chink in the armor of perfection that I wear every day.  I always tell people that making mistakes is the best way to learn; that mistakes are opportunities in disguise. Mistakes are better teachers than perfection ever could be. Example: Do you know why the cleaning product Formula 409 has such a boring name? It is because it took the developers 409 tries to get the product they wanted. What if they had given up after the first, second, two-hundredth or three-hundred-sixty-eighth mistake? The same goes for your recovery. Just because a mistake (although I hate using the word “mistake” in relation to recovery as Thom Rutledge always says, “There is no perfect recovery, and you are not the exception.”) in recovery, does not mean you have to return to ED’s ways. Perceived “mistakes” in recovery are proof that you are trying to live a healthier, happier, ED-free life.


This is a photo I took of my newest nephew Andrew. Andrew was born five weeks early, and spent the first month of his life in the NICU; he has since moved home and has continued thriving. I absolutely love this little fighter. He has had to go through a lot in his young life: c-pap machines, feeding tubes, an IV in his head because his arm veins were too small to support a needle, light therapy for his jaundice, cauterizing of his belly button because his cord fell off too soon, and who knows what else. I spent many hours sitting with him and his mother at his NICU bedside waiting and praying for him to come home.  Andrew is the sweetest, cuddliest, most affectionate baby I have ever met. He reminds me daily that life is immeasurably precious and fragile. In his face I see the wonders of God, life and the love of his parents. I am so blessed to have this sweet baby in my life. He gives me courage to continue fighting for recovery

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.

butterflies at krohn 079

I took this picture at Krohn Conservatory last weekend during their Butterflies of Morocco event. It is my absolute strongest dearest friend attempting to catch a butterfly (who knew those little buggers would be so hard to catch).  The more I thought about butterflies, their beauty and also their fragility, the more I thought of them in terms of recovery. I feel like this quote explains what I think, “Butterflies can’t see their wings. They can’t see how truly beautiful they are, but everyone else can. People are like that as well.” Because of ED, we can no longer see our beautiful lives, bodies and minds for what they are. Other people can see these qualities in us, however, so they DO exist. Through recovery we can rediscover ourselves, our gifts, our strengths, our lives and our genuine selves. I, for one, cannot wait.


When honeysuckle restarts your recovery May 16, 2013

           Honeysuckle. It is more than a scent at Bath and Bodyworks or a pretty flower you dared your friends to eat in grade school recess. To me, at least as of Wednesday, they have become a metaphor for recovery.

            Honeysuckle is an invasive species—particularly here in southwest Ohio—which grows rapidly while, subsequently, strangling the life out of every nearby plant and completely taking over the area. I have spent many hours with a hack saw and shovel removing this aggressor from one of my favorite places—the Lytle Creek Greenway. To say that honeysuckle is extremely hard to remove is an understatement. My volunteer efforts with the Lytle Creek League of Conservators has caused me to lose blood, sweat and my temper.

            Recently, while visiting Wilmington, I went to my private peaceful retreat of the Lytle Creek Greenway to relax and pass the time before meeting my friends for dinner. All too often I get so wrapped up in the busy-ness of daily life that I forget to slow down and simply be in the present moment. Lying on the ground at the greenway, staring through the canopy of a tree more than a hundred feet high, listening to the aria being performed by the robins and feeling the gentle caress of the breeze…I was finally afforded the moment to simply be; to live in the moment. For those few moments ED was silent, my carefully planned schedule did not exist, and all my stress seemed to fade into the emerald of the leaves. Lytle Creek is my Walden.

            “That’s all well and good Rhea,” you may be thinking, “but what does that have to do with honeysuckle and recovery?” Excellent question my dear reader. As is happens, Lytle Creek is overrun with invasive Japanese honeysuckle. It has gotten to the point that the honeysuckle is killing native trees, displacing local animals and taking over the trails built at the greenway. I, along with countless other volunteers, have been working to remove this assassin from our beloved greenway for many years. As I lay in the woods this week, I realized how much the honeysuckle invasion mirrors ED’s hostile takeover in our lives. At first, as with the honeysuckle, ED comes into our lives with beauty and charm; a seemingly innocent addition to our lives. We think, just a little bit of this could be ok, right? Before we know it, both ED and the honeysuckle begin spreading and strangling the life around them; eventually destroying everything with which they come into contact. Everything we care about—our flowers, our trees, our self-worth, our lives—is displaced by our honeysuckle (or ED, if you will). Only through removing ED from our true selves—as we remove the honeysuckle from Lytle Creek Greenway—do we see the beauty that lies within each of us. By removing the invasive ED from our lives, we are able to clearly see the strength and bravery that lies, inherently, within all of us. Only through the path to recovery can we begin to remove the honeysuckle from our lives and rediscover our own lives. Remember, beneath all the honeysuckle that is ED is a wonderful human being with so much to offer the world; you are more beautiful, stronger and more caring than ED gives you credit for. You are worth recovery.


My view from the ground at Lytle Creek Greenway


A re-purposed loading belt from the now defunct DHL shipping that serves as a bridge to my oasis



The following photos of the Lytle Creek Greenway were taken with my cell phone. Therefore, please excuse the graininess and know proper photos will return soon.



Mark 4:30-32

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on                                                                                                       earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”


I had no idea this watershed area even existed until the honeysuckle was cleared out of the area. As you can see, there is beauty under the mess of the honeysuckle that was only exposed and allowed the opportunity to flourish after the invasive honeysuckle was removed. Much like the honeysuckle removal process, you can only discover your beauty and worth when ED has been removed from your precious and worthy life.



When you hem your bridesmaid dress May 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 4:35 pm
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Have you ever stopped and thought to yourself, “I swear my life is like a scene from a movie”? Well, this thought occurs with relative frequency in my life despite my lack of movie viewing. Recently, while standing in my aunt’s parquet kitchen clutching my bridesmaid dress to my chest to have it hemmed, I was reminded of the movie Mean Girls. That’s right. Mean Girls. And just how did I arrive at this odd comparison, you may ask. Well, allow me to refresh your memory of a certain scene from this movie.

Regina is purchasing her Spring Fling dress with the assistance of her three friends and a saleswoman. While the dress is being zipped, the following dialogue takes place:

Karen: It won’t close!

Regina: It’s a five!

Gretchen: It must be marked wrong.

…then some stuff I am choosing to omit…

Karen: Ma’am, do you have this in the next size up?

Saleslady: Sorry. We only carry sizes 1, 3, and, 5.You could try Sears.

If you are good at inferences, you can imagine what happened next. As my aunt maneuvered the zipper to get it secured past my chest, my thought was, “This dress has to fit. It is a size *blank*!” No amount of finagling or coaxing, however, could get the dress to close over my shoulder blades. I panicked. Ed plotted. The dress had fit in December when I had tried on the sample in the salon. Five months later, when I tried my dress on to be hemmed as a means to accommodate my short stature, not so much. I tried to choke back the tears and Ed as my aunt unzipped the dress over my stomach and, finally, my hips. I was faced with the harsh reality. The dress is not going to fit. “Maybe if you lose ten pounds we could get it zipped” my aunt offered. I stood in silence with the purple chiffon dress, again, clutched to my chest before walking upstairs to the bathroom where I had left my clothes.

Alone in the green-tiled bathroom the tears finally escaped their eyelinered dams and cascaded with force down my face in grey rivulets. I looked at my splotchy red face in the mirror; catching the gaze of my green eyes. Ed stared back at me. She spoke to me in the most unkind of voices; using the ill-fitting dress against my recovery. “Lose ten pounds and we can fit into the dress” she hissed. “Follow me, engage in my behaviors, and the dress will zip over your chest” she mocked, “you don’t want to go to the wedding naked, do you?” I could not listen to her any longer. Standing in that bathroom, I knew I had a choice.

I called the bridal store and ordered an even exchange of the next size up. The woman reassured me that “this kind of thing happens all the time. The dresses in the store are stretched out from so many people trying them on.”  I wish I could say, in the days since, that I have not listened to Ed’s taunts and threats, but that would be a lie. Every time I go to my closet and see the place where the dress should be, Ed reminds me of that day. But, then I remember I have a choice. I can choose life or Ed. I can choose life or behaviors. My best friend (also the bride for the wedding for which the dress was purchased) put it this way, the dress not fitting is proof that I am in a healthier place. That is how I choose the see this situation today. I was not in a healthy place when I purchased my dress last Christmas. Now that I am working on recovery, I am in a healthier place. Thus, an explanation as to why the dress no longer fits. Am I bummed the dress no longer fits, yes. Do I wish I did not have to exchange the dress for a larger size, yes. BUT, am I glad that this situation taught me that I have come a long way in my recovery, you bet your ass I am. Every day we have the choice on how we can view our recovery. I could have chosen to use the dress situation as a means to continue the self-destructive dance with Ed. Instead, I chose to see it as a sign of recovery; distancing myself from Ed. I will continue using the dress situation as a mean of telling Ed no. In August, when I walk down the aisle in my beautiful dress with hopefully a handsome man on my arm I will remember what it took to get to that point in my recovery; the choices I made to get to this healthier, happier life. That is how I choose to see this situation. Recovery is beautiful and so are you.

3 John 1:2

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you



When it is your blog anniversary May 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 9:21 pm
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I do not have anything interesting to post, but felt I should at least do something to mark the occasion of my little blog’s one year anniversary. I was hesitant to start this blog 1) because it would be outing myself as having an ED, 2) setting myself up to be judged by others and 3) force me to become more responsible for my recovery. In the end, I am glad I started this blog. Not only have I received an outpouring of support and kindness in my efforts in recovery, I have been able to read the inspiring words of others who are fighting for the ED-free life we can all achieve some day. I am grateful for those who have read, those whose words motivate me to continue the path to recovery and to those who continue to encourage me to never give up hope. You are all my “rheas” of hope. Remember to always do the next right thing for your recovery; YOU are worth it! Take care of yourself.


Here is a wonderful video I found demonstrating the fact that we are all more alike than we seem and can find something to be grateful for in every interaction with another person. It reminds me of Mr. Rodgers saying, “If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” I want to thank you all for reading and being uniquely you. Thanks for a marvelous year wordpress.




1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

 “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


When you consider your name May 5, 2013

Ewe. That’s right. Ewe. Upon my arrival into this world on Elvis’ birthday 1988, my parents looked at their wailing bundle of black hair wrapped in pink and decided to bestow upon me a name that means “female sheep”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my name and I feel it suits me just fine. I just think it odd that I am named after a ruminant (ironic given my current medical issues) farm animal best known for following Mary everywhere she went (as in Mary had a little lamb the nursery rhyme).


As I have gone through life, I have accumulated many names. Most everyone calls me Rhea. Others stick with Rachel. My father calls me Moose. The bullies from my past used to call me Rumpke (due to the fact that my initials are RMK and RuMpKe is a local garbage company). I am still not sure whether they were implying that I am a landfill or that I owned a garbage company. My aunt calls me Rach. I detest being called Rach; it sounds so abrasive. That is why she is the only one I will allow to call me Rach.


In addition to those names mentioned above, ED has given me many choice names as well.  The time I ended up with a B on my transcript for college Spanish, she called me an idiot and took away my food. The time I caused an accident with a Ford F-250, she told me it was because I was useless and convinced me that purging would make everything ok again. The time I wore mismatched socks for half a day without noticing, she told me it was because I was a fat slob and pushed laxatives down my throat…you get the picture. It did not matter what happened, ED was there with an arsenal of demoralizing names; never missing an opportunity to use one or eight of her favorites to hurt me.


Lately ED has been using every name she can think of to get me to return to her ways. This has, again, made me think about the names in my life. Chiefly, how do I know what is one of ED’s names for me versus a name given to me by someone who cares for me? What makes ED’s malicious nicknames different than the ones I call myself? Through a lot of trial and error, I have found that I take more responsibility for my recovery when I happen upon small, tangible reminders throughout the day that refocus my attention on healthful choices and recovery-oriented solutions. The question now becomes: how do I create that gentle reminder without calling myself demeaning names, while still teaching myself how differentiate between healthy names and ED’s names. And how can I turn that into a visual cue?


Answer: name badge stickers. Stick with me here for a minute. “The Princess Bride” has always been one of my favorite movies, and Inigo Montoya’s catchphrase of “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” has always stuck in my mind. Every time I watch the movie, I imagine him writing that phrase on one of those sticker name badges and neatly affixing it to his tunic. What a way to introduce yourself, right? That is when I was inspired to make my gentle reminder in the form of a sticker name badge—ED’s names versus my names. Whenever I hear a name I question, I can refer to the sticker name badges to see if that is ED’s voice, someone else’s voice or my own voice using that name.


My name tags…taken with a cell phone camera

What are some of the names you feel ED calls you on a regular basis? What are some names you feel you should be called or names you want to be called? What makes ED’s names different than your names? And, what names serve better to aid you in your recovery?

Psalms 30:1-5

I will exalt you, Lord,  for you lifted me out of the depths  and did not let my enemies gloat over me.  Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord,  brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.