RheasOfHope

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

When you ask for help May 21, 2015

Seated on a borrowed bike, I continued to pedal despite the South Carolina humidity and the fact that I was sweating out of body parts I didn’t know were capable of sweating. What had been described to me as a “quick, easy bike ride to the beach” was turning into the 2012 Tour de Hilton Head, and I was a female Lance Armstrong (minus the steroids). I had followed the signs along the sidewalk that pointed to the beach, but had, somehow, become lost along the way…VERY lost. My sister was behind me asking me to stop; more like pleading for me to ask for directions. However, I continued on; determined to find my way to the beach without asking for help.
Half an hour later, and, as we could come to find out, twelve miles in the wrong direction, I finally stopped at the guard station to an apartment complex to ask for directions. I unceremoniously dumped the bike on the sidewalk and handed the last of our water to my sister before approaching the security guard for directions. I, typically, am able to create a good rapport with elderly people—this man, however, was NOT having it. Before I was able to ask for directions, he barked, “Get that bike off my sidewalk; people walk there.” I went back to move the bike to the grass, then returned to his station.
“Hello…” I looked at his name tag hoping that adding his name to the question would make him nicer, “Albert. My sister and I were looking for the beach when we got really lost, and we…”

“You’re way off girls. Not even close. Just follow those signs back to where you came from” he said as if my mere presence was inconveniencing him; as if he meant to say “Be gone peasants.”
“Sir, I would really just like to rest for a moment. We came all the way from the stables. I would just like to stay here until my cousin can come pick us up.” The old man was unmoved by my statement, but allowed us to stay until my cousin arrived with a pick-up truck to collect me, my sister, and our bikes.
So, why tell a story like this? Because, as I move along in recovery, I recognize how events such as this one mirror my own journey in recovery. Hear me out on this one…
When I was an 8-year-old girl constantly being bullied for my weight, my poverty, my brains, my clothes, and just about anything else kids would find to pick on, food became an escape; somewhere I could go that the pain wouldn’t follow me. I ate to numb, to shove down emotions, to find friendship, to search for love and acceptance…and I ate and I ate and I ate. For, roughly, the next ten years, I continued turning to food to “cope”. I continued on that path, just as I had continued down the bike path, in the wrong direction. What I had originally turned to to alleviate my pain, had only clouded my path; causing me to become lost in an eating disorder. Instead of helping myself, all the eating was only masking and exacerbating the pain. And yet, I continued down that wrong path, insisting to myself that I knew where I was going and what I was doing.

When I entered my first year of college, I was convinced that the only way to help myself was, again, through food…so I began restricting as a means to reach the “right path”. The restricting, again, only served to get me more lost and continue to distance me from the life I desired. However, people began to give me positive attention. I was lauded for my “weight loss”, my “control”, my “dedication”, my “discipline”, and a whole bunch of other adjectives that described my eating disorder, but not Rhea. I thought, though, that maybe these people were on to something; that maybe my eating disorder would be a ticket back to the right path that would get me to where I wanted to be. So I kept restricting. It was then that I realized I had no clue as to what my “right path” was. However, my eating disorder convinced me that my “right path” was towards sickness…and so I followed it miles out of my way; away from my dreams, friends, family, ambitions, happiness, and, most of all, away from health.

After three years of restricting, I got bored with my eating disorder, and felt I was no closer towards finding the right path. Naturally, I returned back to food. “This time will be different,” I told myself, “This time I will be able to find my way out of the muck and onto the right path.” Thus began purging, over-exercise, self-harming, and laxative abuse; as well as seeing a “counselor” who refused to admit I have an eating disorder. I feel this mirrors the point where I asked the old man for directions; it was merely a holding area. I definitely wasn’t going towards recovery or the right path towards health, but I didn’t have any clear signs on how to get there either.

After working with Lindner, my current (amazing) therapist, Thom Rutledge, and doing lots of HARD work, I have a clearer idea of the right path. My “right path” includes: teaching, writing, photography, working for an eating disorder treatment center, treating myself well, and leading a mentally healthier life. It does not include my eating disorder. I no longer self-harm or use laxatives. I am eating more and have drastically reduced the frequency of my purging. Asking for help, in both of these experiences, was the wisest and healthiest thing I could have done. Does that mean it was easy? Hell no! Asking for help is one of the hardest things (aside from recovery itself) that I have ever done. At the same time, asking for help is, singlehandedly, the best thing I have ever done in my recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it may just end up saving your life…I know it did for me.

Psalm 107:28-30

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

 

When you discover what is louder October 17, 2014

“You don’t have to get rid of your eating disorder voice in your head. In fact, you can’t” my head popped up from my fervent note-taking at that point in my Recovery Recharge Retreat with Thom Rutledge and Julie Merryman.

Then my thoughts started swimming, “I can’t get rid of my eating disorder voice?! Why the hell am I even here if I can’t recover? Why did I pay all this money to hear Thom say I can’t get rid of my eating disorder voice?”

But, then (thankfully), Thom explained his previous statement, “You cannot get rid of the voice of the eating disorder, yes. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recover. You must make the voice of recovery louder. When you start recovery and even, sometimes, in continuing recovery, your eating disorder’s voice may be very loud in  your ear trying to get you to engage in behaviors for one reason or another. However, what you need to learn in recovery, is not how to get rid of that voice, but to make the voice of recovery louder so that it drowns out the voice of the eating disorder.”

Thom went on to explain that the brain cannot encode negative; meaning, the more we tell our brains not to focus on our eating-disordered the thoughts, the more we will think eating-disordered thoughts. The example he always uses is not to think of your left hand. Whatever you’re doing right now, don’t think of your left hand, or how it may feel different from your right hand. Don’t image it feeling like its getting lighter and lighter to the point that it’s lifting off the table. Now, don’t think of a pink elephant. How many of us, honestly, thought about our left hand or a pink elephant despite being told not to? I’m willing to bet a majority of us–myself included. This is what Thom means when he says our brains cannot encode negative. By constantly reprimanding ourselves for having eating-disordered thoughts, we are  rehearsing the exact thoughts we want to be rid of. Instead, by acknowledging the eating-disordered thought for what it is, and then replacing it with a louder, recovery-oriented thought, we are rehearsing recovery and implementing recovery-oriented thoughts over the eating-disordered thoughts. The consistent rehearsing of the recovery thoughts will help reinforce the recovery thoughts as our default thoughts, until, eventually, the eating disordered thoughts don’t even come to mind. We do not have to focus on getting rid of the eating-disordered thoughts then; we must focus on adding recovery-oriented thoughts and the eating-disordered thoughts will disappear on their own.

In thinking about what should be louder in my recovery-oriented thoughts, I came up with these:

What is louder than my eating disorder:

Life: I plan to live a life of service, love, teaching, kindness, giving and of Christ-like actions

Hope: I have hope that I can live life ED-free (side note: Hope is my favorite word ie: Cherokee tattoo on my wrist. A word of caution though, Hope is an action word, not a passive word. We can hope and hope for recovery as much as we want, but unless we put the action of recovery-oriented choices behind that hope, nothing will happen)

Writing: With ED’s chokehold loosened on my life, I have been able to rediscover my love of writing. I have been featured on NEDA’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week’s blog roll twice and have recently learned that I have been selected for Melissa Fabello’s MarginalizED Voices Project (where I might actually be part of a published work!)

Photography: Much in the same respect as my writing, my creativity in photography has reemerged as ED has lessened. I’ve photographed weddings, babies, seniors, lots of nature scenes, cityscapes and  my cats

There are a LOT of other things I am discovering that are louder than my eating disorder voice…but, seeing as how I don’t have the time nor the energy to write them all (much like you don’t have the time, energy or desire to read them all), I decided to put my iPhone to work to speak for me.

 

Here are a few more things that are louder than eating disorders:

DREAMS FRIENDSHIP FUN happiness HEALTH HOPE
RECOVERYSELFCOMPASSON

 

LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEACE

 

Philippians 4:8-9

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

When cleaning teaches you about recovery December 18, 2013

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It is always amusing to me the things I can find when cleaning out my grandmother’s basement. This was reaffirmed recently when I helped her clean her basement; it looked a little like the inside of a house featured on Hoarders: Buried Alive. A few of the things we found were interesting, such as: an atlas from her high school days in the 1950’s, the baby blanket she knit for me in 1987, and antique McCoy pottery. But, I also found some really uninteresting things as well: a 20-year-old copy of Women’s World, an entire dust bunny civilization (and I am fairly certain they are staging a coup), and a can of beans that expired in 1998. I also found some downright scary things: a taxidermied duck, an unintentionally dreadlocked Barbie, and photos of me. A newborn Rhea wrapped like a burrito in a pink hand-knitted blanket with a shock of black curls poking out of the top. A three-year-old Rhea dressed in pink OshKosh B’Gosh overalls gnawing on an ear of corn bigger than her head. A nine-year-old Rhea propped up on the 1970’s-style couch proudly showing off her newborn sister. And then…well…then there were a series of shots of me looking progressively sadder, shameful and embarrassed. So what happened? In a word, ED. As I dug further through my grandmother’s basement, I realized just how similar cleaning is to recovery.

 

As my grandmother and I carefully moved through her basement one thing became clear, we were not going to be able to keep all of the things she had accumulated over her 72 years. I quickly cleared out a corner and put up three signs: “Crap”, “Keep” and “Donate”.  While not thrilled with my use of the word crap, my grandmother acquiesced enough to give my system a try. Each time an item was unearthed from its basement tomb, it was inspected and sorted into its proper area of crap, keep or donate. Some items were easy to sort. Other times took her longer because of sentimental attachment, plans for future use, trying to determine what the object actually was, etc. Upon recovery-oriented examination, many of our eating disordered thoughts and behaviors can also be sorted this way. As we look at each belief or action we have about ourselves, the world and our eating disorder, we need to question whether it is: true, useful, purpose-serving, a defense mechanism, or something else entirely. Essentially, what purpose do each of these thoughts and behaviors have in your life, and are those purposes positive or negative? Is there any logic to why you are holding on to ED’s toxic beliefs? I am not saying the answers to these questions will be easy; my grandmother agonized over that 20-year-old magazine thinking she could make a recipe or craft out of it “some day” (note: that magazine ended up in crap, as living for “some day” only holds us back). I am saying, however, that that introspection into ED’s influence is very important towards working towards and sustaining recovery. Into which category (crap, keep or donate) would each of your thoughts and behaviors be sorted?

 

As we continued working, I wondered how my grandmother had amassed so much stuff in her basement. Did she throw it down there and shut the door, refusing to acknowledge it existed? Did she squirrel it away for later hoping to put it to use, but forgot about it? Was it a defense mechanism? I did not have the courage to ask her, but I did have the courage to ask myself.  I will spare you my sometimes rambling thought process and leave you with this: When thinking of how your eating disorder developed, and the purposed it serves/served in your life, what did you find?

 

Finally, my grandmother and I had cleaned out one room of her basement. The transformation was almost unbelievable. I learned the carpet was blue, I found an old ring that she let me keep, and I had a lot of time to think about my own recovery. However, the work did not end there; neither for my grandmother or my recovery. Now that my grandmother had these piles in her corner, she needed to figure out what to do with them. Much in the same way, we have these thoughts we have categorized into crap, keep and donate (although, I would not suggest donating any of ED’s belongings). Now what? It is important to put our newfound knowledge to recovery-oriented use; put your newly unearthed wisdom to work for you. One of Thom Rutledge’s nutshells is appropriate here, “Don’t let your insights live with you rent free. Put them to work.” Meaning, now that we have gained all of this insight into dealing with ED, we need to use it to further our recovery in whatever way we can. What is the use of having this insight if we do not use it?

 

Remember that recovery, like cleaning a basement, takes time. Be kind and gracious with yourself in the process.  You are worthy.

 

 The powder factory by my house reminds me of my grandmother's basement...do not enter (also, I took this photo)


The powder factory by my house reminds me of my grandmother’s basement…do not enter (also, I took this photo)

Ephesians 5:15-16

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity”

 

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

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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 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.

Image

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.

 

An open letter to the nurse at my GP January 15, 2013

Dear nurse with the curly red hair,

I apologize for addressing the letter this way, but I have never asked your name. I intend to do that at my next appointment as it is common politeness to know the names of those around you. Therefore, until I learn your name, I will refer to you as the curly red-headed nurse as you are the only red-head in the office.

First off, I would like to thank you for being you. You are the first nurse I have ever had that understands EDs. When I was embarrassed to tell my Doctor I had been diagnosed with an ED by the Lindner Center of HOPE and my therapist, you told me that you understand what I am going through, and that I should feel safe to address my medical concerns with you as a nurse. When I told you that the doctor refused to believe that I was sick—diagnosing me with an adjustment disorder believing that I was “going through a phase in my life that I couldn’t handle”– because I lied to him about my behaviors, you encouraged me to be honest with him so that I can get the medical tests necessary for living a healthy life. When I started tearing up in the office, you comforted me by telling me that there is nothing you haven’t heard as a nurse and that you’re proud of me for seeking the help that I need. Then, just like the last day of summer before school starting, you were gone. That appointment, in 2012, my doctor finally listened to me. I was honest about my behaviors, but those same behaviors also made me feel ashamed. It was so easy to talk to you about my concerns, but the doctor, in his crocs and khakis, scared me half-to-death. I felt like he was judging me with every behavior revealed. At the end of my appointment, he changed my diagnosis from adjustment disorder to ED. I even had the nerve to have him write in my chart not to allow the nurses to tell me my weight; which was quite an impulsive decision, but one that I was ultimately proud of. I was so appreciative that you listened to me, gave me the confidence to speak to Dr. Khaki Crocs about my ED, and spoke to me with genuine care.

When I came back last November for chest pains, you lead me down the hall of pictures to the SCALE. I tried to stop and look at each picture of Dr. Khaki Crocs climbing this mountain or SCUBA diving to this coral reef or his son smiling in his Air Force uniform next to some shiny aircraft…anything to keep the scale from coming. You knew what I was doing; they must have taught you the art of patient stalling in nursing school. When we got to the scale you asked me if I wanted to get on forwards or backwards. That little bully voice in my said told me to get on forwards so I could watch you slide the little black weights across the slick numbers. You told me that forwards was fine, but that I had to close my eyes. You, again, knew exactly what I was going to do. When I peeked through my heavily mascara-ed eyes, I saw you covering the numbers with my chart. As mad I was that I couldn’t see the numbers, I was thankful that you had not let me see them…it would only allow ED to continue in my life.

When Dr. Khaki Crocs decided that I needed an EKG right then, I panicked. I had no idea what an EKG entailed. However, when he told me that you would be performing the EKG, I was instantly reassured. I knew that you would explain the process to me and understand my concerns. As you placed each electrode on my chest and ankle (PS…I still don’t understand why it had to go on my ankle, but whatever) I kept thinking how naked I was in front of a complete stranger. I don’t like seeing my own body, let alone letting someone else see. When I am nervous I stop breathing and get really quite; something you picked up on straight away. While connecting the electrodes and working on the machine, you talked to me. You asked me how therapy was going. You asked if I liked to read, and, when I said yes, you talked to me about “Life without Ed”. Having read that book, I talked to you about how fond I am of the authors Jenni Scheafer and Thom Rutledge. You spoke about how much that book has defined your life, and of your dream of hearing them speak in Cincinnati. Then I told you about my blog, and how ecstatic I was when Thom actually read and commented on it! Before I knew it, the once awkward test had become totally relaxed. When the test was over, and I learned my heart was beating normally, I was thankful that you had been there to calm me.

I had to go back right before my 25 birthday this January for a routine office visit. I hoped you would be working, because sometimes you’re not there when I go. I positioned myself in the waiting room so that I could see what nurses came to the door to retrieve patients. When I saw your red head pop out of the door I was relieved. When you came to get me, I knew the scale was next. I wasn’t scared this time, though, and didn’t stop to analyze each picture of Dr. Khaki Crocs cross country skiing or diving in the Bahamas or riding a bike up a mountain path . I went straight to the scale. When you noticed I got on facing forwards, you made me laugh when you said, with fake exasperation, “Look at the ceiling.” I wasn’t even tempted to peek that time because I already knew you had put the chart over the numbers. Then you took me back to the exam room. As I heaved myself onto the table (as the table is very tall and I am very short), something creaked. I, in an effort to lessen the embarrassment by making a joke, decided to say that I broke the office. That was when you pointed out that I wasn’t being gentle with myself. I had never thought of it that way before. I had always made jokes at my own expense to protect by self from threats from others I thought to be imminent, but I was really just tearing down my self-worth. I appreciate you for planting that thought in my head, because I do need to be kinder to myself. You then asked me how therapy was going. When I told you I hadn’t purged in two days you shared in my joy of not engaging in behaviors…genuine joy, not “I’m the nurse and I am paid to be here” joy. As I ran into you on my way out of the office, you quietly said, “Take care of yourself” as I walked back to the waiting room. Thank you.

It is not often that you get a nurse with compassion, empathy or understanding. I got all three when you pulled my chart. I also got the bonus of your understanding of EDs. But, most of all, I would like to thank you for kindheartedness. You always know what to say and how to make me think. I appreciate all that you are.

Sincerely,

Rhea

 

The Power of a Mentor December 22, 2012

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”  – Unknown

Fact: I am incredibly stubborn. Fact #2: I will not ask for help when I need it due to fact #1. For a long time I have viewed asking for help as a sign of weakness; that I was incapable of solving my own problems and people would *gasp* know I am not perfect. However, what I know now is that asking for help shows a great deal of strength. Asking for help shows others that you want to better yourself and learn from what they have to offer. Asking for help can be the hardest thing you ever do. However, I believe, asking for help is often the bravest and most beneficial thing you ever do. When it comes to recovery from an ED, Thom Rutledge always says, “No one, which means no one, can recover alone. And you are not the exception to this rule.” This is where the role of a mentor comes into the equation of recovery.

Journaling, drawing, crafting…whatever you do instead of behaviors, well, they can only offer so much. Sometimes you just need another person to talk to you about what you are going through, to calm you down, or to help you think through a situation. Sometimes just the presence of another person sitting with you, without even speaking, can bring great comfort when working through recovery.  A mentor can offer great insight into recovery because they have been there; they understand exactly what you are going through. They can offer insight and wisdom that comes from living in recovery that many other people cannot provide.  A mentor can help you stay motivated to work towards recovery and be there to support you every step of the way. For me, a big part of my recovery is someone holding me accountable for it. If there is no one there for me to be accountable to, odds are I might not work as hard. So, it is very beneficial for me to be able to have a mentor.

EDs are a disease that tries its best to isolate us from others. They cause us to lie and want us to separate from others in order for them to flourish. All the secrecy surrounding EDs causes us to build walls and not allow others in. A mentor will be able to help you reconnect to the world around you, and offer a special bond of compassionate understanding.  Once you are able to see a mentor accepting you even with all the imperfections you feel you have, you begin to start accepting yourself with those same imperfections.  By accepting your perfect imperfections, you can truly begin to heal.  Additionally, mentors are able to help you see the best in yourself. All too often, we have let our ED tell us there are no good qualities in ourselves. A mentor will help you break that thinking and allow you to see the good in yourself (because, like it or not, there is good in you).

This is the point in my blog where I talk about how much I adore my mentor, Meredith. I met her via her wordpress blog over a year ago (September 1, 2011 to be exact). There was a contact section that said something to the affect of, “If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here”. So, in November, I finally shot off a quick email thinking I would get nothing in return. Boy was I surprised. What I got back was a message with such love and support that I honestly started to cry as I read it. Someone finally understood me. Meredith has had her own battles with ED and has been working on recovery for some time now. We emailed back and forth many times since then, and even became Facebook friends. In October 2012, Meredith invited me to her bridal shower and wedding. I was shocked. I knew she meant a lot to me, in my life, but I never thought I had had an impact in hers. When I met her for the first time I was speechless. Here was this woman who knows so much about me, who has helped me through some of my worst times, who has always known exactly what I need to hear (and that doesn’t mean it was always what I wanted to hear), but who I had never even heard speak. How do you even begin to thank somebody for that? What do you say to someone who has been there for you? (for my actual response, visit this post)

To this day, Meredith and I continue our relationship. She is an amazing woman, mentor and, now, friend. I am constantly in awe of her strength, support and the extent of her generous heart. I owe a lot of my efforts in recovery to her. This Christmas, I am grateful for my relationship with Meredith, and wish that you are able to recover from your ED. Remember, together we can do this. You are stronger than you think and more resilient than you believe…you were made for recovery. Perhaps, one day, further on in your recovery, you, too, can become a mentor to someone else.

Ecc. 4:9-12

Ecc. 4:9-12