Crow

IMG_20171230_012656_699This grainy, not the most flattering, post-workout picture fills me with excitement, joy, and a little pride.

My yoga journey in general since returning home from treatment has been difficult. I had to build back strength after a long period of exercise restriction. On top of that, EDS has made the process painful. My joints have been very unstable. That means I have to be careful with yoga or I could dislocate a joint. All of this means it has been a slow process of rebuilding.

I have been working on getting to crow for months. That involves a ton of frustration because of struggles I am facing. Some days I just gave up after one attempt. I couldn’t get the perfect mixture of alignment, focus, and strength. Even a week ago I could barely go a few seconds without falling back down. Today I went a full minute!

Meeting this goal is significant enough to post at 2 am. The way that it’s impacted me means so much more. I am allowing myself to feel a little bit proud of my body for helping me reach it. This has nothing to do with size, weight, or imperfections. I can look at accomplishing crow pose as proof that my body isn’t all bad.

This is what little steps toward recovery look like

EMDR, trauma, and PTSD?

I’ve been avoiding this post like the plague. I’ve sat down at least a dozen times, closing out of the page with a few measly words written. I think what I’ve realized is that there will never be a “right time.” The fear won’t entirely go away. This is me feeling the fear and doing it anyways.

This is one of the hardest posts I have written. It is vulnerability to the extreme. I can count on one hand the number of people who know anything at all about this, yet here I am, sharing it on my blog for who knows how many people to see.

I’ve wavered back and worth whether I should actually post about this. I barely can admit some of what’s going on and happened. I made a pros/cons list and realized that I needed to write about it. This space is my journal and a place where I can hope to impact others. A goal I’ve kept from the very beginning is for this to be the authentic version of myself. That means not hiding behind a facade that all is perfect in my life. It means facing fears head on by being completely honest. It means putting my story out there in the way it truly happens. I don’t want to sugarcoat things. There is no point in calling this a recovery blog if I do that. After all that rambling, I have to take a deep breath and share.

I don’t quite know where to start. Should I begin with the first time I realized something was wrong, talking about in treatment, or even have it begin once I started having specific therapy for it? I think the best solution will be to lay it all out there because I think that’s important to understand.

This all began with my first and only true relationship. I was 14 and he was somewhat older. Right away, we grew very close and probably enmeshed. It seemed like sunshine and rainbows on the outside. Hell, I even believed that it was. Underneath that all was a very unhealthy relationship. No specifics here, but it involved manipulation, pushing boundaries, angry outbursts, an emotional abuse, to name a few. Almost the entire time I was stuck in this cycle of feeling like I needed to be the perfect girlfriend, then guilt and shame when I didn’t do enough. Other core beliefs that began there include: I am defective, I am unlovable, I am not worthy. I knew that something was wrong in our relationship. I never saw the truth or tried to do anything to stop it. I just kept rationalizing and denying. I broke things off after 3.5 years. That was the hardest thing I’d ever done at the time.

This next period, which lasted right around 4 years, involved pushing everything down. I could make a few connections that maybe some of how he treated me affected my mental health. I didn’t focus on it too long, though. Any time I would think of him, our relationship, or things that happened would bring intense shame. I immediately felt disgusting, worthless, and plain wrong. Although I started therapy a few months later, I consistently avoided the topic for over 3 years. Not a soul knew anything bad happened, and I didn’t believe it myself.

The first time it ever came up was around this time last year. We were playing recovery jenga in IOP and the question “what have you not talked about in therapy before but should?” came up. I answered my ex relationship. Naturally, this got back to R and she asked about it the next session. I gave her a very generic answer: it worsened my depression, made me feel isolated, maybe manipulation, self-esteem issues, etc.  can see now that I was minimizing it. We spent maybe 10 minutes on it and then it was never brought up again.

6 months later the truth (well, parts of it) came out. I was with my therapist at CFD, and when something was brought up (during assessment maybe? I don’t remember) I began to open up a little. We then made the goal to write out more details and then read them to her in session. I ended up being able to read it first to my favorite counselor. That was such a God thing. Her response gave me more confidence to open up. The entire time I was terrified, but met with tons and tons of support. For the first time, I had someone fighting against my thoughts and saying none of it was my fault. The way that things happened in residential set up for how  I would continue to open up. I didn’t believe all J said, but it still helped.  [Also the greatest thing ever happened when I was there. I had my mom send me my promise ring and then a nurse helped me break it in half. On my last outing I threw one half in a nasty public toilet and the other in the ocean. It felt SO good.]

PHP was very different. I had one session a week, so we had zero time to talk about it more. I did have a step forward in two ERP’s (exposure response therapy). I wrote in more detail about relationship and then read it to the group. I think that set me up for going home to R again.

The first thing R did (after I read her what I wrote) was suggest EMDR. I was 100% certain I didn’t need it at all. I figured maybe we could talk about it a few sessions and then it would just clear up. That sort of therapy required something extremely terrible to happen, and what I went through didn’t even come close. Eventually she did convince me, and we began the therapy. The first target I set was on some beliefs stemming from childhood. This involved feeling different, not worthy, and others. That target only took a month to work through. In the last week of September we switched to the topic of my past relationship, which was absolutely terrifying to me.

EMDR is hard. There’s no way around that. I’ve had over a dozen sessions for this target, yet I feel like we haven’t gotten all that far. A few weeks in, I began to notice subtle changes. I was having some dreams about him and that something bad would happen. I’m forever anxious walking alone, but it has now exploded so much that I can’t even walk on our campus without looking around me every minute or less. A trip to Meijer isn’t as easy as it used to be. I sometimes will have periods where the memories are so clear and seem closer to reality compared to when I thought about them before. Basically, things have just gotten worse in how the relationship affects me.

Around a month ago, R started using the term trauma when talking about what I’ve been through. That word made me sick. There was no way this was that serious. Everything was my fault because I had a choice, screamed shame. I felt like i could and should snap out of it, but that wasn’t happening. She began explaining how it’s different for everyone and doesn’t have to be the worst possible situation in the world. A few weeks ago she mentioned an acronym I really hated to hear: PTSD. She explained some of the symptoms that I’m showing. I got a good explanation about what the diagnosis actually looks like. Still, I didn’t buy it. I couldn’t. If it were true, that means I id go through something a lot harder than I wanted to admit. It would prove that I do deserve to get help. The thing is, I already knew I had multiple symptoms of PTSD. We finished our trauma/abuse/disorders lectures the week before R talked to me. I saw myself in those symptoms, but I was in denial. I ignored the fact that I may be close to having it.

In the past two weeks I’ve realized that I cannot heal without accepting that I need help. I think maybe this is why EMDR so far has been just a few steps forward. I don’t want to accept the T word or PTSD. I’m not entirely sure how to feel, but I am coming to an acceptance. I hate it more than anything. Still, I am trying my best to look into the truth. I know that I can’t heal if I am stuck in denial. I want to believe I need help and that things will change. I’m not ready to say I have PTSD or talk extensively about having gone through some things that were traumatic to me. Maybe one day it will come. For now, I’m just going to fight like hell.

I have 2 quotes that I connect with right now:

  • The only way out is through
  • No one can have power over you without your control

*I want to add a little note. I am not at all insinuating that PTSD is invalid, you need to be very bad to get help or have it, etc. This is simply how I feel about MYSELF. I would never, ever go tell anyone that their experiences/trauma are invalid. I’m also not saying having PTSD is a bad or shameful thing.

Christmas/Holidays

First off, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays! I hope that this time is filled with love, joy, friends/family, and goodness. I know that is not always the case, especially for those of you who struggle with an eating disorder or mental health in general. It’s okay if this is a hard time for you. Please, take time for yourself and take care of your needs, even if that means leaving a get-together early, avoiding one completely, or retreating to your room when people are over. Treating yourself well and focusing on your needs is so much more important than pleasing others. Know that you aren’t alone.

I’ve found some very good articles that I think are perfect for this time of year. I hope that these will help you ❤

Dear younger me,

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. God made you perfectly imperfect in His image. I know ow hard that is to grasp. All around you, people make comments about their body and other’s, dieting, self-hatred, and just in general tearing themselves down. While it may be the norm to talk negatively about your body, I challenge you to find the positives. This is your home and will be for your entire life. Treating it kindly is essential. Do not get distracted by the world of thin-ideal, diet culture, and discontentment with self. Every moment you spend dwelling on it is getting you closer to self-destructive patterns I truly pray you can avoid. Thin is not everything. You can be thin and get all the compliments in the world but be absolutely miserable. Diet culture is trying to tell you that you will always need fixing. If you only lose X pounds, follow this plan, or get fit, you’ll have everything and (not) a bag of chips. The closer you get to the thin ideal and your goal weight/size, the closer you will be to dying. Wasting away physically, like you wish for, cannot come without also becoming a shell of who you once were. Nothing will make that worth it. Instead, I challenge you to accept and appreciate your body. Loving it is very difficult in our culture, so that isn’t truly realistic yet. That’s okay! When you work hard to accept and appreciate your body, it will lead to treating it kindly and, one day, hopefully, beginning to love it as is. This is all probably hard to imagine or accept right now. I know how caught up you are in the thin ideal, diet culture, and what you’ll learn are ED thoughts and behaviors. Right now, you still have the control and that gives me hope. You can pull yourself out of this. Trust in your supports and believe God’s promises are true. He doesn’t make anything other than beautiful in His eyes. I’m rooting for you!

Love, Emily


This letter was last week’s assignment for a special group I’ve attended called The Body Project. Tonight was the last night and I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s helped me to think more about how our culture influences us, but more importantly what I can do to help change it. Also, my old therapist S led it so that’s a huge plus ❤ I think that every single woman and girl out there would benefit from this group so they can replace lies with truth and begin to fight back against these beliefs

Treading water – recovery update

*Note: this does not mention specific ED behaviors, numbers, etc etc etc. I know how not-helpful that would be to anyone, including myself. It is, however, pretty negative. I think you can tell where my mindset is and that is more in the eating disorder. Proceed with caution if you think this is something that may be triggering, although I’ve tried my best to not make that an issue here

Honesty time: things haven’t been the greatest. I’ve had some slips and am more stuck in eating disorder ways than I was a few months ago.

Right now it feels like I’ve been thrown in the deep end of the pool and can’t swim. I’m able to tread water and stay stable, but I can’t remember how to swim and get myself to safety. It isn’t that I’m sinking or don’t know how to swim at all; it’s a lack of immediate knowledge of how to get from point A to point B. I’m also not really motivated to get to point B anyways, because point A seems like a good place to be. Another important thing to note is that I’m not drowning. I am not in immediate danger, but treading water for too long isn’t good either. I’ll get tired and eventually not be able to keep myself afloat. I may need someone to rescue me and throw in a life preserver.

This metaphor is about as close as you can get to how I’m feeling. I’m not in relapse. I am in the warning stage. On the scale from green to red, I am sitting at around an orange, so about a step above true relapse. The ED is trying to convince me that I can lose a few pounds. I can live off this amount of food. I can continue to use exercise in a negative way. Deep down I don’t believe that as much. K and R always remind me that it’s a slippery slope. What starts as some ED coming into the picture can snowball. It’s not really possible to believe the lie that you can get a little thinner, a little more into Ed’s rules.

My appointments with K and R have gotten.. interesting? Not as tolerable? More serious? Honestly just a mixture of many things. Today I met with both of them and as time goes on they seem more concerned.

K (dietitian)

  • I have a minimum that if I don’t reach I’m *supposed* to drink an Ensure (hahaha yeah not happening), but naturally I haven’t met that and am not forcing myself to drink a nasty bottle of chemicals. Now my maximum has been going down little by little. I stayed relatively stable this week, but it is lower to a point that my new goal doesn’t even include the minimum I’m supposed to follow. Basically it’s not realistic anymore because there’s no way I’ll do that when I haven’t hit it in maybe a month?
  • My other goal is to have more afternoon snacks. As always, my ED means cutting down on eating and morning and afternoon snacks are typically the hardest.
  • As per usual, I’m having a hard time with negativity. I tend to get in a place where I just feel like a complete failure. She had me try to list 2 positives from this week and it was honestly one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in the past week. (Is that sad? Perhaps.)
  • I’ll admit, I have been using yoga in an unhealthy way more and more. This isn’t new to me and I’ve been here before. Actually, the last few times I’ve relapsed with exercising it has consisted at least half the time of yoga. Anything can become maladaptive with an eating disorder, apparently. Given this, K wants me to spend one day doing completely “normal” and gentle yoga. I may or may not be too happy about this.
  • For the first time in a long while, she told me that weight is not even the most important factor at this point. It’s something I’m pretty heavily focused on, but she has other markers. For example: physical symptoms like dizziness, amount of restriction, amount of exercise, type of exercise, level of Ed thoughts, etc. For some reason this surprised me a bit because I tend to judge myself by weight or size.

R (therapist)

  • I am convinced that a certain weight I want to get to is healthy, because BMI-wise it definitely is. I feel like that is reasonable and would make body image better than it is currently. R went back through my weight history since I began coming there a year ago and told me that when I get into x range, I have ended up in treatment. I don’t want to accept that my body would be more comfortable at this higher weight. Note: I don’t actually know my weight (minus when I saw it a couple of weeks ago at the Dr) so all I really am aware of is if I’m losing.
  • I have a ton of distrust in my body and it’s somewhat carried over into not trusting my team. I feel like they could be lying to me and how would I ever know that?
  • She has seen quite a bit of downslide in the last month or so. It hasn’t been super severe and is generally slow, but it’s there. If it continues… (fill in the blank with options I am not too fond of)
  • I may not be able to continue EMDR much longer if… I continue restricting and/or lose weight, since it would lead to a state where I cannot concentrate enough or have the mental energy to work through things. As much as I have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with EMDR, I know that it needs to happen. I can’t be held back by this any longer. It’s frustrating already to feel pretty stuck on this target, but knowing I could be forced to put it all on hold is scary. It feels like I would be giving up entirely.
  • We talked about my goal once school ends (in 10 days!?!?!), which is to maintain how I’m eating and exercising. I don’t really want to challenge everything too much, even if I will be away from much of my stressors. Stability is safer. She is concerned about this, given how my body is reacting, but I think it’s better than alternatives like just giving up the recovery piece.
  • I may be closer to relapse than I really think. Last week she mentioned I may be in the orange, so this past week I wanted to prove that wrong. I checked off every symptom I have currently from each grouping (green, yellow-green, yellow, orange, red, rusty-red aka needs treatment). I have way less in the green and much more in yellow, orange, and even red. I am a little shocked. I get into the mentality of I’m not that bad and just ignore the signs.
  • Every single time I see her (and K somewhat), I end up convincing her and myself (one of us doesn’t quite buy it) that this isn’t anything to worry about. How do I master this? Comparison! I can look back at 2014, 2015 x2, 2016, and 2017 to compare now and when I’ve previously entered treatment. I am not doing as poorly with my mealplan/eating in general, still managing school, at a healthy weight, and not currently slipping at a fast rate (actually I’m relatively stable for the last week or so). No matter how many times I hear differently from them I just can’t buy it for whatever reason. I think the Ed voice is just so strong and convincing that I have a hard time considering the other side of this.

Although I haven’t done so in this long, jumbled mess, I have been making it a point to separate out the Ed voice vs my voice. I figured it may be a tad confusing for it to happen here. I can recognize the unhealthy side, although that’s getting harder. Once of my assignments I find helpful is putting Ed thoughts or rules and reframing them. That starts to give me a new perspective.

Reading this back now, I can tell that things aren’t all great and unicorny and whatnot. I am struggling; I’ll admit it. Treading water has not been a fun thing. When it goes on for over a month, nearing 2, exhaustion sets it. I have slipped some, with the most change coming in the past month (according to R and K). I’m finding it harder to stay afloat at this point. I think I know what happens if I actually begin to sink. I don’t want that at all. I can’t do that again. My goal, then, is to stay enough afloat and manage everything. I’m not truly aiming to get better, but if I at least maintain we won’t have so much to worry about.


That’s a wrap for now (and a long one, holy cow 1500 words). I wanted to get this all off my chest and continue to practice authenticity here. I can’t just sugar coat things. This is a true experience of my struggles. It would be a disservice to myself and anyone who reads my blog if I pretended recovery is always wonderful and the easy decision. It’s messy and that’s okay. Today my version of recovery isn’t where I or my team may hope, but that can all change. I want to document that no matter which way it goes.