300th post!

I cannot believe that my little journal-like blog I started over 3.5 years ago has grown to where it is today. I never would have imagined I would reach 300 posts or have readers who weren’t just my friends. I’m proud of my piece of the internet and all I’ve done here.

Since this is a huge milestone, I want to take a fun post to talk about some different little-known facts about myself, the blog, etc.

What’s in a name? It took me a while to decide what to call my blog. I wanted something that signified I was taking steps in the right direction and that this would be my journey. Rewind to fall off 2013, the first time I ever saw a therapist. She was not trained in eating disorders, but when it was becoming apparent my food struggles were more than she could handle, we began looking for another option. In the interim she recommended a book to me that deals with MH/eating disorders: Reviving Ophelia. I never read the book. I looked up the synopsis on Wikipedia and called it a day. I forgot all about the book, until I realized I LOVED the sound and idea of Reviving Emily. And so my blog was named, inspired by a book I had never even opened.

In the beginning, my blog wasn’t a true blog (in the sense that it is now). I started out on Tumblr, which was a very interesting experience. I liked that you could reblog things and also create your own content. It was there that I began test writing. I quickly noticed that I was happiest when I wrote. I made the switch here and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

My biggest blogging regret doesn’t have anything to do with spelling and grammar errors, posting things I didn’t have passion for, or taking breaks. What I do struggle with is not starting this sooner. My first post was within a couple days of discharging from FV round one (PHP). I wish more than anything that I had physical proof in writing of how things went each day. The little things help me feel normal. At the same time, I was going through a ton in PHP. With it being my first form of ED treatment ever, I was constantly overwhelmed. I probably would have had 0 energy to manage writing anything other than journal entries.

I only know of a few people in my every day life who read my blog. It’s so weird but cool knowing there are people all over the world who visit. I love looking at what countries everyone is from. I’m not attached to the numbers but it does show me that I’m reaching others and a little bit about my readers.


Fun facts about me!

  • my favorite color is teal and a dream is buying a teal colored car because it would be glorious
  • I have slept in my hammock around 50% of nights for the past year
  • I love everything about Michigan and living here (minus the snow/cold/winter as a whole)
  • I am slightly/totally obsessed with baby names
  • I think my love language is probably quality time, but one of my favorite things is to give people close to me little gifts or letters or anything like that
  • Ludington is the only place I’ve ever stayed more than a  week a year outside of my house other than when I was in treatment
  • I like visiting big cities but I don’t think I could live in one
  • I cannot stand American chocolate
  • I’m terrible at updating my story, etc that takes up a TON of time. One day, hopefully. My goal is to do it by June, but we shall see how that goes.
  • I will watch basically any crime show ever – from true crime to SVU
  • I have this great habit of avoiding things simply because I don’t want to deal with the consequences, not because I genuinely would choose the healthier option
  • I dream of owning lots of animals including some exotic/uncommon ones like more chinchillas, a llama or alpaca, prairie dogs, possibly a sulcatta tortoise if I ever live somewhere warm, mini horse, or a large parrot
  • As a kid I was always into bugs, snails, slugs, salamanders, frogs/tadpoles, and any other outdoor critter I could find
  • My favorite yoga pose is warrior 2. Others I like include cobbler’s, crow, plow, all the other warrior poses, boat, and anything that includes some sort of twisting.
  • I have never been to the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) other than crossing the bridge and turning around. It’s definitely on my bucket list!
  • I’ve been writing since I can remember (stories, some poetry, journaling, now blogging). In late elementary school I wrote a short “book” about a woman who got drafted to go to Iraq and had a letter signed by George W. Bush. She was pregnant with twins so he sent another letter saying she could have an extension for a year and I don’t remember the rest haha.
  • I really wish there was some app of something that could keep track of your thoughts somehow. I always nd up getting the greatest ideas while I’m driving and have no way to write them down
  • I can be super sentimental about the weirdest things. I may or may not keep a couple hair nets from residential in my purse/hoodie/recovery corner…
  • I am currently 92% likely to pass the NCLEX based on which sections of prep we’ve learned about!
  • I can’t stand typing notes. My brain remembers so much better if I organize and write down the information myself. I also love taking notes in any treatment groups

And that’s all! I appreciate every single person who has read my blog. I feel pretty honored that I’m reaching others and (hopefully) making some small impact. I’m not sure if I’ll make it to 300 more posts, but either way I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon 🙂

First encounter with anorexia

I was first truly introduced to mental illness as a whole when I was a sophomore in high school. I took a basic psychology course that included probably two weeks about psychopathology. I found all of it incredibly fascinating. While going over generalized anxiety and depression, I wondered if I might struggle with them too (but that part is a story for another day). We had an assignment alone or in pairs to explain the diagnoses we studied to the class in some sort of presentation. I didn’t know it at the time, but one of these still is significant looking back.

Two of my classmates pulled up their PowerPoint. In big letters were the words “anorexia nervosa.” I think I had probably heard of eating disorders at that point, but I knew nothing about them. I intently listened in. I don’t recall many of the details now, but one part has stuck with me. There was an animation with a girl looking at her body in the mirror as larger, then zooming out to find she was actually emaciated. I was somewhat shocked by this. I also understood feeling that way about your reflection.

I was born with pectus excavatum, a deformity of the chest wall where the sternum is sunken in. I began to feel self-conscious about it when I was just around 5 years old. It was the first time I ever hated my body. I had surgery to correct it in 8th grade, but it both semi-helped and hurt me. I gained weight very quickly due to less stress on my heart/body post-surgery. My disgust with my body shifted to the weight I had gained. It felt pretty terrible to be forced to buy new clothes when I was the same size for so long.

All of these feelings and the whole PE experience meant I felt connected to the girl in the video. My thoughts weren’t entirely distorted at that point, though. I would consider them pre-ED thought patterns. I disliked my body. That was the case for over half my life and my “normal,” so it didn’t concern me. I wanted to lose the weight I had gained and go back to the comfort of my old number. I probably spent a little more time staring at my reflection than I should have. In my mind, nothing about this was unhealthy or wrong. Most girls I knew would say things negatively about their appearances sometimes. It was completely the norm.

Even as I compared my struggles to someone with anorexia, I never imagined that would be my life in less than a year after seeing the presentation. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I instead took the class junior year. Would I have recognized the red flags then? I actually did take AP psychology which contained a mental illness unit, but that didn’t give me the same shock/connection to anorexia like before. We glazed over the diagnoses. This only increased the belief that I was fine and an eating disorder definitely can’t be something I struggle with.

If I could go back and talk to 15 year old me, I would tell her to pay attention to mental health and well-being, look for help if she needed it, remember what symptoms can show that it’s not all okay, and share about her body image even if it doesn’t seem as severe as the girl in the video. I would give her a hug and tell her she was loved through the silent struggle. I know that none of this could have prevented me from slipping into anorexia, but I think even the awareness would have changed how long I went without treatment. It’s also a little surreal to realize that around 6 years ago I knew pretty much nothing about eating disorders when it’s now taken over much of my life.

Compliance is an odd thing

In my recent post, I talk about being “that person” and the lengths I’ve gone to in order to make sure my struggle isn’t seen. Thursday, I realized just how much compliance ties into this.

Art every Thursday has followed the exact same pattern for nearly a month now: work on art projects for an hour, be reminded about needing my supplement at 2, pour into glass and show empty container, drink the damn thing, show empty mug. I’m used to it. I expect it. I do it without a peep.

I was pretty surprised last week when the art therapist thanked me for being so compliant with doing my supplements. I really don’t think I deserve recognition for this because I so strongly feel I need to do it. There’s not even the option of refusing for me (related mostly to being “that person” and perfectionism in general). Honestly the fact that I legitimately do have a choice is super foreign.

This wasn’t fully the case when I was first put on weight gain protocol. I argued and wanted to refuse. I would sometimes sit with a supplement in session for nearly the whole hour, not even looking at it. I eventually gave in because being told to leave IOP is slightly scarier than taking a supplement.

I’ve come to a point of acceptance. I know every Tuesday and Thursday will most likely bring a supplement. I can pretend all I want that it won’t happen or give into Ed’s promise that I certainly gained 5 pounds over a couple days. That’s BS and I know it. I hate this more than anything, but I’m starting to think that maybe my team is right. What if this truly isn’t an okay weight for me? What if this magic number in my head Ed has truly is unhealthy? It’s hard to know at this point. That means I have to blindly trust the process and my team (not an easy feat by any means!).

Does all of this mean I’m making progress? In some ways I think not. Compliance isn’t something I’m choosing because I agree with it. I deal with the supplements, even if the only reasons behind it include not being “that person,” putting on a brave face, avoiding being kicked out of IOP, and appearing to be a perfect person in recovery. Still, these reasons aren’t entirely strong enough to make supplementing my only option. I’m not being threatened to go inpatient or something. I could choose to refuse every single one and not care about treatment at all. I do care about my treatment, though. I don’t always feel like working on recovery, but I show up. I do the hard things. Right now, that means supplementing and every time I’m compliant can be seen as a small step in the right direction.

Hair

I’ve been debating typing out this post. I haven’t really talked about it much either, because I feel like I’ll be seen as vain. If not that, maybe that falsely stereotypical perception of people with eating disorders – that we’re all obsessed with our looks in a way that’s self-absorbed. Yet here I am, writing it anyways. My blog is a place of authenticity and vulnerability. I think it’s important that I stretch myself and share how I’m feeling. Maybe it will even help connect to someone else.

The main part of my appearance that I’ve ever liked is my hair. I love how long it has been for the last 7 or 8 years. Mine is unique in my family since it’s much lighter than my parents and brother. It has a nice wave to it. I don’t think it’s the most fabulous hair ever or even close. I certainly don’t like some aspects, like how it won’t hold a curl. I pretty much have no clue how to style it. I still get caught in the comparison game, just like many other aspects of myself and appearance. This is simply one of the few parts I can look in the mirror and feel okay about. That’s changed now.

I want to cry every time I go to put my hair up or brush through it with my fingers. Looking in the mirror is hard for a whole new reason now. My hair is falling out more than it has in my entire time battling an eating disorder. In the mirror I see the thinnest hair. When I make a bun it’s incredibly small considering my hair comes halfway down my back. If I put it up, I watch it separate apart some so you can see my scalp. All of this has truly brought me sorrow lately.

know my hair can and will grow back over time; however, it’s not going to happen until I provide my body with enough nourishment. No amount of biotin or special shampoo is going to fix it. I’ve tried to do damage control this way but it just isn’t working anymore.

This isn’t some easy fix. Replenishing my body could happen in a short amount of time (like in residential), but I won’t see any change for a long while after that. I can’t just eat well for one week and expect it to make this better. That’s terrifying.

Oddly enough, this is a reason to recover. I want to feel good about how I look in one small way. Feeling more disgusted than usual when I look in the mirror is only hurting me. It’s also the one way to like my reflection in the mirror that comes from recovery, not staying in the ED.

Thinking about this situation has given some insight. I tend to ignore many of the physical symptoms most likely associated with the eating disorder, but my hair is not one I can escape. It is proof every single time I see my reflection. It is a reminder that things seriously need to change. I want to be disgusted by it because that means I’ll have motivation to change. Hair may seem trivial compared to everything else I need in recovery, but it counts. At this point, any way possible I can get inspired to fight the ED is a good one.