RheasOfHope

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

When you face ignorance June 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 11:10 pm
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A hand lined and spotted with years of living and wisdom slowly reaches out to grab the quart of strawberries from the display in front of me. I move to the side to allow her room as I continue searching for the perfect quart for myself.

“Expensive,” she seems to say to everyone yet no one at the same time, “they were two for four last week and now it’s $3 each.”

I nod, “Yep, seems like the price goes up every time you turn around.”

“I quit smokin’ twenty years ago ‘cause they kept raisin’ the price of my cigarettes, and I just couldn’t ‘ford it any more. If they keep on a raisin’ the price of food, I’m gonna have ta quit eatin’ too” she laughs as she examines another quart of strawberries through her tortoiseshell glasses. I put the quart I had in my hand in my basket, and walk to another area in the store as Ed yells at me to wait up for her.

Was I really mad at an old lady? Looking back. No. I was not. I could never be mad at an innocent old lady. I was simply upset that her perception of a joke was my every day life. It was at that moment that I remembered I am going to face ignorance of eating disorders on a daily basis. I cannot let it add fuel to Ed’s fire, and I cannot use it to tear myself or others down. The ignorance of others is not an excuse to further my eating disorder. Let’s face it. Eating disorders are a very misunderstood disease which baffles most people. Therefore, many people do not have a working knowledge (or any knowledge, really) on what eating disorders are, what it is like to live with one, or how they effect every aspect of an individual’s life. Sometimes that knowledge even eludes me, and I have been dealing with this for over half of my life.

The thing that we have to remind ourselves, though, is that we cannot let ignorance negatively affect our recovery. People are going to say stupid things. It is inevitable; we cannot change the fact that people will say stupid things out of their own ignorance. I am one hundred percent certain that I, myself, say stupid things out of my own ignorance sometimes. However, what we can change is our reaction to that ignorance. Ed would love for us to use the ignorance of other people to further her corruption of our lives and exert her power over our bodies. She would love to use the ignorance of others to convince us to self-destruct. Recovery wants the opposite. Recovery wants us to use the ignorance of others as an opportunity; an opportunity to educate, to reaffirm our beliefs in our strength, to fight the stigma of eating disorders, to stand up to Ed, to do the next right thing, and any other number of healthful thoughts or actions. Recovery wants change. Recovery wants us to love ourselves. Recovery wants life. And I want life too!

 Psalms 33:18-22

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His Holy name. May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.”

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When you stop to think about your thinking June 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 8:21 pm
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My stomach feels at though the full force of Hurricane Katrina is upon it; I tense my grip on the steering wheel in direct proportion to the pain. My stomach swirls and rolls like the tracks of Space Mountain; I take a few deep breaths and turn off the radio. Finally, the pain gets to to point where ED wants it to be; her favorite mixture of physical, mental and emotional torment.

 

But let me back up a minute. You may be wondering how I got to this point. I had eaten my lunch an hour and a half early than I usually do in order to get to class on time. Halfway through my garden burger, the nausea started…and so did ED.

 

“You don’t have to finish it Rhea. If the sandwich is making you sick, just stop. It’s simple” she hissed seductively in my ear.

“I have to eat this sandwich. Because of my schedule, I will not be free to eat again until 3. My body cannot wait that long to eat again–especially since I slept through breakfast” I countered.

“You’ve done it before. We used to skip meals all the time. It was fun, remember. You have had half the sandwich and I think that’s enough for us. Back away from the burger you cow.”

 

I finished the burger, but the nausea continued.

 

I grabbed my teaching supplies and jumped in the car; ready to spend the next hour commuting to my students. That is when the nausea hit its peak. ED was there to “support” me again.

“Soooo,” she cooed, “looks like you’re feeling pretty sick, huh? Bet you’d like this feeling to go away before you get to school, wouldn’t you? I know what you could do to make this all go away.”

“No. I am not doing that again. I can’t.”

“C’mon Rhea. You did it last week when we were driving to work, and I no longer wanted what you ate. It’s not that hard. We’re in a traffic jam anyway, just pull over and get it over with!” she demanded.

“You are right. I purged last week. But, I’m not going to do it now. There is no need to do this. Eating is natural. Eating is necessary. Eating is not optional. And neither is purging”

“But purging your 10:30 AM lunch–which, by the way, what kind of fat ass eats lunch at 10:30 in the morning–will make the nausea go away. Listen to me. I’ve known you for 15 years; I know what is right for you.”

 

I was torn. ED had made a good argument. Instead of sitting in my car bickering back and forth between myself, I decided to end it. I pulled out my phone (I am all up on technology now), opened up a podcast–Thom Rutledge’s podcast called “Your Shot at Happiness without Ed” to be exact– and finished the drive to school without ED. I taught my students without ED, and I drove back home without ED.

 

I did not write my experience so everyone will see how easy, rosy and fluffy recovery is; because it is not. Recovery is hard work. I will be the first to admit that. I wrote this to show that even when you are in recovery, ED will still try to lure you back into her clutches. Recovery is a very non-linear process. One in which there will be ups, downs, steps forward, slides backwards and everything in between. It requires recognizing old, ineffective eating disordered thoughts, and replacing them with new, healthy recovery- oriented thoughts. As Thom always says, “There is no perfect recovery. There never has been. There never will be. And you are not the exception.” The important thing is to  remember to do the next right thing for you, your recovery, your health and your life. Trust me, the next right thing will never include listening to Ed’s lies.

 

Hebrews 2:17-18

“For this reason He [Jesus] had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”

 

When the Speaker of the House replies to your email… June 21, 2013

About three weeks ago, I sent an e-mail to my local member of the House of Representatives (who also, just so happens to be the Speaker of the House) urging his support for the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act (FREED Act). I did it rather on impulse, really. And trust me when I say, I am not an impulsive person. I have never sent a letter to any government official, let alone the Speaker of the House. I simply spoke from the heart; without regard to how Sen. Boehner may judge my story. I not only told him my history of eating disorders and lack of affordable/effective treatments, but also how the FREED Act would positively affect, not only me, but everyone who suffers from an eating disorder.

 

Well, yesterday, completely out of the blue, I got a response:

Dear Rachel :
Thank you for contacting me regarding eating disorders. It is good to hear from you.
On May 22, 2013, Representative Theodore Deutch (D-FL) introduced the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act of 2013 (H.R. 2101). The legislation would require the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to take certain actions regarding eating disorder research, including: (1) implement a scientifically justified budget for research on eating disorders; (2) coordinate and evaluate NIH research activities and programs on eating disorders; (3) expand NIH research on eating disorders; (4) establish a task force on eating disorder research; and (5) provide for centers of excellence for research on eating disorders. H.R. 2101 would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to: (1) provide for the collection, analysis, and reporting of epidemiological data on eating disorders; (2) establish a Center of Eating Disorders Epidemiology to collect and analyze information on eating disorders; and (3) establish a CDC clearinghouse for the collection and storage of data generated under this bill. Further, the legislation sets forth provisions providing for education and training on eating disorders, including requirements for: (1) developing and implementing a training program for health professionals on eating disorders; (2) establishing the Task Force on Eating Disorders Prevention in Educational Institutions to develop and provide training on eating disorders identification and prevention for students, faculty, coaches, and staff in schools; and (3) conducting public service announcements. H.R. 2101 would also require a group health plan that provides medical and surgical benefits to also provide coverage for eating disorders.
I recognize the devastating impact eating disorders can have on one’s short-term and long-term health, and in other areas such as educational attainment. H.R. 2101 has been referred to the House Committees on Energy & Commerce, Ways & Means, Oversight & Government Reform, and Education & the Workforce for consideration. Rest assured I will keep your thoughts in mind as H.R. 2101 moves through the legislative process.
Thank you again for contacting me with your thoughts. Please don’t hesitate to inform me of your concerns in the future. To sign up for email updates, I invite you to visit my website at http://johnboehner.house.gov .
Sincerely,
John A. Boehner
Member of Congress

 (for some reason, it is impossible to cut and paste the email in here in one piece)

 

I’m glad to see that eating disorders are finally being taking seriously as the horrible, life-threatening disease they are. It is about time for eating disorders to be destigmatized, removed from their stereotype and treated like any other medical condition.  If you would like to contact your state representative about the FREED Act (or any other issue), click here

 

Isaiah 41:10

 “do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you”

 

When you learn about recovery from VBS June 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 3:59 pm
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            Between driving the hour-long (one-way) trek back and forth to class in Wilmington during the day, immediately followed by a return trip to Cincinnati to lead my Vacation Bible School class, one could safely assume I have a lot on my plate. Only, here’s the thing, my plate is only full metaphorically. All too often I find myself using my busy schedule as an excuse to slide back into my eating disorder. I either over-extend myself so as to be busy during meal times, conveniently “forgetting” to pack food when I know I will need it, or not going home during the breaks in my schedule that I do have in order to eat. Ed loves it when I have a busy schedule; she uses every opportunity to prey on my weaknesses and weasel her way back into my life.

            Unfortunately for Ed, I am on to her tricks. I may have fallen for them for a week or two, but I have now jumped back on the recovery train…thanks, in part, to the darling (yet precocious) 3 and 4-year-olds in my VBS classroom. While handing one of my boys his juice box for dinner, he turned his brown eyes up to me and said, “Miss Rachel, how many calories are in my juice box?” I was dumbfounded. I, of course, knew how many calories were in the juice box because Ed told me to look (but, of course, not to partake), but why would a three-year-old boy need to know? I told him how many calories were in the juice as he tilted the box looking for his answer. Keep in mind, however, that, even if he did find the nutrition facts, he is THREE and cannot yet read them. My student’s question was a wake up call of sorts. I realized what Ed was doing and that I had allowed her to do it. I immediately, although with a great amount of hesitance, reached out for the support I knew I needed. I also found comfort in the message of my VBS, Facing Fear Trusting God. There are five main “Dares” accompanying this message that I feel can also be applied to recovery (for those of like mindsets): dare to change, dare to speak up, dare to believe, dare to stand strong and dare to trust.

 

Dare to Change

Ed will convince you to the grave that she is right if you let her. As part of your recovery, you have to dare to change Ed’s destructive thoughts and replace them with your own, healthy, recovery-focused thoughts. You have to dare to challenge Ed’s messages, replace them with recovery oriented thoughts, and do the next right thing for your recovery

 

Dare to Speak Up

This dare could take many forms in your recovery. You could speak up to Ed; challenge her thoughts, disagree with what she tells you, speak up for your recovery. You could speak up to those around you who may be hampering your recovery. You could speak up for your recovery; tell others what you need to make your next right choice, seek out additional help when necessary, whatever it takes to further your recovery. 

 

Dare to Believe

Dare to believe that you are beautiful. Dare to believe that you are worthy. Dare to believe that recovery is possible. Dare to believe that you are strong. Dare to believe that you are more than your eating disorder. Dare to believe that you can live a life free of Ed. Because they are all true.

 

Dare to Stand Strong

You can do this. Ed will try to stop you. Believe in your own strength and will to recover. The stronger the stance you take against Ed, the weaker her influence in your life will become.

 

Dare to Trust

Dare to trust in your own beliefs, your intelligence, your ability to overcome, your ability to regain a life outside of what Ed wants. Dare to trust that you have the power to ask for and accept help. Dare to trust that life is so much more beautiful on the other side of this. But, most of all, dare to trust in yourself.  

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (the verse of this year’s VBS)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline

 

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I came in to work four hours early to help my friend and her mother make rice krispy treats for the 500 plus students who attend VBS.

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I even picked up my bridesmaid dress this week! You can read about my experience with that here: https://rheasofhope.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/when-you-hem-your-bridesmaid-dress/

 

 

When instant gratification inhibits recovery… June 1, 2013

We, as a culture of 21st century world citizens, thrive on instant gratification. Whether it is immediately snatching the camera out of friends hand after they take your photo to see how it turned out or obsessively checking the shipping status of a shirt you ordered at midnight the night before (guilty) or zipping through a drive thru because you want dinner now but do not want to wait for anything to cook. This same idea of instant gratification, I feel, can be applied to eating disorder recovery.

 

All too often I get wrapped up in the thought that I should be further along in my recovery than I am or that I want to eliminate thoughts/behaviors associated with ED without putting in the necessary time or effort to get there. I feel like I should be seeing tangible/visual results of my recovery now; on a time frame I want, not the time frame of God, ED or my even therapist. It is usually when I expect instant gratification in my recovery, that frustration and anger set in; two emotions that ED likes to use to entice me into relapse. There is no perfect, linear timeline for recovery and your recovery will never be at the same pace at anyone else’s. But, the most amazing thing is that that is what is so great about recovery. Each of us will have our own unique time frame and learning experiences during recovery as a means to learn different lessons, assist others or find exactly what we need out of our recovery. Our human nature of instant gratification has to take a back seat to our journey to recovery.

 

Case in point (ok, metaphorically, but it still serves to provide a message, I hope), I currently have a few strawberry plants in my back yard. I pretty much have an opposite of a green thumb, which is peculiar given that I worked with a gardening program for the past two years. Anyway, a farmer friend of mine gifted me these strawberry plants last summer, and said to plant them last fall so that I will have fruit this summer. I went home, dug a small hole next to my porch, and pretty much forgot about the plants until last month when they started blossoming. When my farmer friend had his annual strawberry festival at his farm this year, I was disappointed that he had so many acres of ripe strawberries and I, from the same plant stock as him, only had a few white blossoms. However, as with recovery, my plants had their own time frame in mind. For the past few days, I have been finding one or two ripe berries to pick in the morning. I go outside in my pjs; something I would never have done before I started recovery. I sit on the edge of my porch in the early morning cool, pick a strawberry off the plant, and enjoy it in the peaceful quiet of the morning. It is my moment of calm before beginning my day; a moment where ED, my schedule, my job, nothing is important other than being present in the moment. That is when I remember, my strawberries were not ready at the same time as my farmer friend’s. But, you know what, that just was not the way things were supposed to go. Likewise, my recovery may not be as fast or as slow as the person next to me, but, that is ok. There is no race to the finish line of recovery. There is no prize for having the perfect recovery; mainly because there is no such thing as a perfect recovery. There are no clear set, detailed instructions on how to achieve recovery; if there were, I would put it in book form and give it to you. Recovery is about finding YOURSELF apart from ED. And, as there is no one else like you, your recovery will not be exactly like anyone else’s recovery, and it will take time. It took time for your eating disorder to develop; it makes sense that it will take time to recover your life from it. Embrace your uniqueness. You are worthy of recovery…just do not expect instant gratification and have grace with yourself.

 

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This is my friend Mat and me picking strawberries at said farmer’s farm during his strawberry festival. My friend Kaity was taking the picture…I think I may have ended up consuming more strawberries than I placed in our bin.

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One of my morning harvests. There is nothing more delicious than a strawberry straight from the garden, still warm from the sun (ps, my garden is organic, so I did not have to wash off pesticides or herbicides

Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 11-12

1: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

11-12: He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.