Mistake/”failure” -> strong emotions -> ED thoughts and behaviors

I’ve noticed this has been a pattern in the past, but yesterday post clinical brought it back to the extreme. I was rushed to grab my things from the locker room to get to post-conference, and I ended up grabbing someone else’s coat that was very similar to mine. I didn’t notice for the almost hour I was there, and only realized after taking the shuttle back to staff parking. This lead to an immediate freak out. Would this person call security? What if they have to wait a long time and aren’t able to go home? Will they accuse me of stealing? Are they going to freak out too? These thoughts kept coming and I began to panic. I ended up calling my professor, which was a second huge mistake. I forgot that she was in some meeting (which is why we ended early), so when she responded with that immediate guilt rushed over me. Suddenly I had screwed up twice and had no way of contacting the floor secretary. Instead, I had to sit in my emotions and wait for the next shuttle. It took over a half hr to get back. I quickly went up to the floor and did my walk of shame as the secretary led me to the locker room. I ended up switching out the coats without anyone noticing, thankfully. It should have been over right then, but that was far from the case.

Pretty much immediately after discovering my first mistake, Ed made up a new rule: no eating lunch until I returned it. This wasn’t so bad in my mind. It was around 12:30 at that point and waiting another half hr wasn’t going to kill me. As the disordered thoughts and emotions strengthened, Ed created more rules. I couldn’t eat until I got home (which would be an hr or so after getting up to the floor). If the person was angry or anything, I wasn’t able to eat at all. I could only hit x exchanges for the day because I didn’t deserve food. Exercise was necessary and needed to be vigorous to make up for my inadequacies. Even after all was fixed and I left the hospital, the guilt/shame, frustration, anxiety, disgust, and intrusive thoughts persisted.

It’s been around 22 hours since everything went down and I am still preoccupied with it all. I can’t get over my mistakes and how that must define me as a person. As much as I truly want to let this go and focus on other things, I don’t think that will be easy at all. It seems a little ridiculous at this point. That doesn’t change how I feel right now.

I want to try to accept where I am instead of beating myself up even more for feeling the way I do. I have to be patient with myself. Today begins the fight. I want to only focus on behaviors for now as a priority, because the thoughts can return later. This cycle can’t continue to snowball and affect my recovery any more than it already has.

Taxes and self-worth

It may see pretty odd that I would group these two things together, but it’s actually a big realization I had following this past weekend. Right now we’re in prime tax filing season in the US. I am no expert on taxes or anything, but the part I do understand is deductions. Whatever deductions you have will lower taxable income and increase taxes you get back. You can itemize deductions and get more back if you have enough over a certain threshold. Examples of deductions include donations to charity, having dependents or children, and medical/dental expenses. The goal then is to find as many areas to qualify for this since you can receive more money back.

My dad was working on our taxes Saturday when he called me into the bedroom. Originally, he wanted to try using medical expenses I paid to get taxes back based on my taxes, but I didn’t make enough income for that.

I knew that medical would be an example of deductions, and we have paid an insane amount of money this past year towards my treatment. I’m talking thousands of dollars (and we still have a dept, but anyways). When I found out that we could possibly get more money based on that amount, I went into overdrive. I spent at least 2 hours pouring through all of my payments towards IOP, the one for PHP, and residential. Once I had that number, I needed to subtract out what we did through insurance so it wasn’t counted twice. It was a super long process, but I had this intense need to do it. Ulltimately, my parents will receive double the refund of what they were supposed to before medical came into the picture.

There was a part of me that wanted to do this only to help them out. More money means more security, less stress, etc. What I’ve realized is that my drive to work so hard wasn’t entirely a healthy thing.

I feel like I need to do something in return for every way I’ve harmed my parents. They had to deal with all of the stress that comes along with loving someone who has mental illness. I tried my best to prevent it, but they did share the burden of medical expenses. Because I wasn’t able to work, I needed help with things like gas and insurance. These situations and many more are proof that I must be a burden. I try to fight those thoughts, but it’s difficult when there’s all of this “evidence right in front of me.

Helping them in this way reduced some of my guilt. I can’t be that bad if they get something back for dealing with me. I still feel terrible, and maybe I always will. Even if it’s not in a healthy way, my contribution here has increased my self-worth in the tiniest way. If I had instead failed to get a deduction after all they do for me, it would have multiplied the opposite.

I don’t want to be defined by how much I can “repay” others. That’s quite obviously not a healthy view of myself and makes my self-worth completely dependent on acts of service. While doing things for others can benefit me in the short-term, it will quickly become an issue. I need to build genuine compassion for myself so I can reduce this guilt and shame I constantly experience.

I loved how I felt after helping out with taxes; however, shortly after I went right back to self-loathing and negativity. My goal (which is far from easy) is to write and look at often reasons why I matter, am a good person, deserve love, etc. I am trying to believe that I deserve this grace, no matter how much I feel like I’ve failed.

Dear Meijer,

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself perusing your store. This is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s rare for me to go a week without shopping at one of my two favorite locations. I truly enjoy spending time there and consider you my #1 go-to for groceries and just about anything else. Yesterday started off normally, until I walked by the kitchen area. I noticed some adorable looking jars and other miscellaneous containers. I just glanced over, until my eye caught one word: calorie. I seem to have laser precision in noticing anything to do with food, exercise, calories, and weight loss. Naturally, I went over to investigate further why this jar had calorie written on it. What I saw makes me sick to my stomach

“Calories (noun): tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night”

I’m sure the fact that you chose to stock this in your stores was harmless. A few people probably got some chuckles out of the definition here. Maybe there were some “oh yes, they’re terrible little things” or “I have to watch myself around them.” No matter how innocent or light-hearted the choice to include this was, it is not a laughing matter.

Perhaps most people won’t be ill-affected by this jar. I would guess that maybe a couple even notice it each day. What I want you to see is someone who would be hurt by it. This woman comes into your store and finds this jar. She doesn’t laugh at it, but instead believes the negative view of calories. She buys the jar and puts her favorite treat, chocolate chip cookies, inside. Every time she wants a cookie, the words on the jar deter her. She stares at that jar every single day, long after the treats inside have gone stale. All she can picture when she thinks of some of her favorite foods are tiny monsters who make her balloon out and gain weight.

The woman above may be hypothetical, but trust me there are many out there with similar thought patterns. I, for one, don’t need a jar to remind me of all the thoughts that takeover my mind much of the day. I don’t need anything to make my views of self, calories, and good any worse than it already is.

Calories are nothing but a unit of energy, just like an amp, volt, or watt. They cannot be inherently bad or good. They are a way to measure the energy in food we eat and activities we do. Why then, does this jar you sell give them such a negative view?

The answer is diet culture. Our society is immensely focused on size, weight, shape, good and bad foods, diets, cleanses, on and on. It causes us to be uncomfortable in our bodies and with ourselves. By stocking this jar in your stores, you are perpetuating diet culture and silently stating that thin is the best way to be.

I am not mad at you specifically, but I am angry at the culture that says this is okay. I know that you’ll probably never see my letter, but if you do, please consider what I’ve laid out here. Stocking this and similar items isn’t a joke. You will never know how many it will negatively affect. I urge you to really sit down and think before another item like this one is chosen for your stores.



February 13th: then and now

One year ago was one of the best days I have ever had. It changed my life and gave me so much hope. I doubted myself entirely and prepared for the absolute worse, as I usually do. Thank God that wasn’t necessary. February 13, 2017 I received my acceptance letter into the nursing program.

That feeling was incredible. I cried tears of joy because finally all my hard work had paid off. Taking off the semester for residential, struggling through strong ED thoughts and behaviors, an extra year of school, depression, and the huge amount of stress I encountered didn’t take my dream away from me. The fact that I could push through all of the barriers showed my strength. I felt proud for all I accomplished just to get there.

One year later brought another amazing, anticipated, life-changing day. Yesterday I was able to have an off-unit experience in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at our children’s hospital. I have been interested in pursuing this field for a long time now. Part of the reason I switched to nursing from PA is because there are NNPs but not neonatal PAs, so if I go to graduate school I could still work there. I’ve read countless blogs, personal stories, and other accounts written by NICU nurses/families, but still had no idea if putting it all into practice would continue to be a good fit. I wanted so badly to experience it hands-on. I cried when I found out that I was one of the people who would go visit for the day (and I get to see the OR, so double fun for me!). I’m honestly surprised I didn’t start bawling right in our clinical meeting, aha. I counted down the days with such excitement. I didn’t even care that I had to wake up at 5am while everyone else in my group got the day off. I thought it would be worth it, and I was so very right.

I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have spent a whole day in the NICU. The nurse I followed was great and did everything possible to maximize my time there. She has worked in the NICU her entire nursing career, over 40 years. We took a tour of the floor, which is HUGE and holds up to 110 babies, and I got to see everything from older babies who just needed a little bit of help to micropreemies  born 27 weeks gestation or less. She had 3 patients, 2 of which were former micropreemies she took care of for a few months and the other an older preemie about to go home. It was really interesting seeing how a g tube works, watching her interaction with parents, observing an ophthalmology exam, and being able to help in any way that I could. I got to feed one baby through his g tube, and despite being super anxious I did well with it. One of my favorite parts, of course, was holding sweet babies. I went back and forth between the two. The one was a little “feisty/drama queen” and didn’t even want me to leave her after I put a binky in. She was teeny while the boy was 2 kilos heavier, even though they were the same gestation born a day apart. It’s pretty crazy how different the growth and development is for each baby. Another part I truly appreciated was how willing she was to explain everything, answer questions, and share her experience as a nurse. She was drawn to NICU nursing for very similar reasons as I am: building a relationship with the family, being able to watch the child grow stronger over time, celebrating when they finally go home, and very involved hands on care. Despite the long hours and craziness, her choice to stay for such a long time proves what a great area this is.

Yesterday has 1000% confirmed how much I would LOVE to work in the NICU one day. It’s one thing loving the idea, but experiencing it in real life just showed that it is what I thought it would be. Of course I may change my mind in the next year and a half before I actually work as an RN, but I am certain that NICU is going to be a top contender no matter what.

I honestly haven’t had this amount of joy in a very long time. I couldn’t stop smiling (at least internally considering some of what I saw was hard). It just feels right. I’m not really sure how else to explain it.

I want nothing more than to return one day, but next time with blue scrubs and a badge that says “RN” 🙂

Get to know me!

I thought this survey would be a fun way for everyone to get to know me a little better 🙂 I haven’t done anything like this is a while, so why not now?

  1. Who is your hero? This one is kinda hard! I think the two people who inspire me most are McCall Manning Dempsey and Jenni Schaefer. They’re both recovered and do amazing things for eating disorder awareness. Also, they’ve given me hope to one day write my story.
  2. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? I love Michigan for a billion and one reasons, but I definitely would choose somewhere with a more moderate climate. I absolutely love San Diego just from what I’ve seen in my time at residential, so that would be great.
  3. What is your biggest fear? Being abandoned by people I love or not being able to have a family one day.
  4. What is your favorite family vacation? Hands down Ludington. We go there twice a summer and this will be our 18th year. It’s the best.
  5. What would you change about yourself if you could? This depends on whether you want the ED’s answer or mine, but I think I would want to have more confidence in myself.
  6. What really makes you angry? I don’t usually have a ton of anger, but I feel anger/hurt when my friends have given up on me due to my mental health.
  7. What motivates you to work hard? Becoming a nurse one day (actually only 1.5 yrs now!).
  8. What is your favorite thing about your career? I’m not a nurse yet, but just from clinicals so far I would say how rewarding it is to impact someone’s life in the little and big ways.
  9. What is your biggest complaint about your job? This time I’ll use my current job as a housekeeper. I can’t stand the people who are completely lazy and don’t listen.
  10. What is your proudest accomplishment? Getting accepted into the nursing program despite everything that was up against me.
  11. What is your child’s proudest accomplishment? No child yet, haha
  12. What is your favorite book to read? I love anything inspirational, memoirs, recovery books, etc.
  13. What makes you laugh the most? Joking around with friends and also funny animal videos.
  14. What was the last movie you went to? What did you think? It was Girl’s Night Out while I was at ERC. It was pretty good.
  15. What did you want to be when you were small? A vet or anything to do with medicine.
  16. What does your child want to be when he/she grows up? Again, no child
  17. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? Spend time outside with friends or family and go on an adventure of some sort.
  18. What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play? Soccer! I played for 10 years and love to watch the US women’s team.
  19. Would you rather ride a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car? Ride a horse!
  20. What would you sing at Karaoke night? Uhh, nothing? I can’t sing, but I would do something with a group.
  21. What two radio stations do you listen to in the car the most? Spotify playlist from residential and a couple adult variety local stations.
  22. Which would you rather do: wash dishes, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or vacuum the house? I actually don’t mind vacuuming at all since I am constantly doing so at work.
  23. If you could hire someone to help you, would it be with cleaning, cooking, or yard work? Yard work because I don’t even know how to work a lawn mower (and I’m slightly terrified of them).
  24. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? That’s a hard one, maybe shrimp, wild rice, and cauliflower? I don’t really have one specific meal I like.
  25. Who is your favorite author? I’ve read all of Jodi Picoult’s books and enjoy them.
  26. Have you ever had a nickname? What is it? Em (most often), Emmenem. Not really sure how the second one came about but I kinda love it, haha.
  27. Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not? I really don’t like them. I’m a planner and I need to micromanage everything.
  28. In the evening, would you rather play a game, visit a relative, watch a movie, or read? If I’m alone, read. Otherwise I love playing games with others.
  29. Would you rather vacation in Alaska or Hawaii, and why? Hawaii! I don’t do well with cold and it sounds amazing to explore the islands.
  30. If money was no object, what would you do all day? I would still want to be a nurse, but I think I’d spend more time doing advocacy for EDs/mental health if I wasn’t forced to work full time.
  31. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to? Hmm, maybe the 80’s. Honestly not sure.
  32. How would your friends describe you? Caring, sometimes goofy, good listener, “the nurse.”
  33. What are your hobbies? Reading, blogging of course <3, and I’ll hopefully get back into photography again soon.
  34. What is the best gift you have been given? Any and all of the gift exchanges with Olivia. She just knows me so well.
  35. What’s the worst gift you have received? Well, my grandparents would get us stocking gifts for someone 5+ years younger than how old we were, so definitely those.
  36. Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without? Yoga!
  37. List too pet peeves. Chewing (misophonia) and people saying things such as “I’m bad for eating ___.”
  38. Where do you see yourself in five years? Strong in recovery, working as a NICU nurse, and have at least 1 child.
  39. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Maybe 10?”
  40. If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? Being able to slow down time would be pretty awesome since I never feel like I have enough of it.
  41. What would you do if you won the lottery? Put most of it away, buy a sensible car, and pay off school. Nothing would change the fact that I’ll be working as a nurse.
  42. What form of transportation do you prefer? (air, boat, train, bus, car, etc). If I’m going far, plane, but otherwise driving is fine.
  43. What’s your favorite zoo animal? I LOVE prairie dogs.
  44. If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be? Meeting then dating my ex.
  45. If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be? Pretty random, but Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres, Jenni Schaefer, and Pastor Mary.
  46. How many pillows do you sleep with? 2, one normal and then my “husband pillow.”
  47. What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep (and why)? 40 some hours because college exam week.
  48. What’s the tallest building you’ve been at the top of? The Willis tower in Chicago
  49.   Would you rather trade intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence? I completely value intelligence more.
  50. How often do you buy clothes? Mostly around Christmas/my birthday and whenever there are good sales, so maybe once a months a couple things?
  51. Have you ever had a secret admirer? Nada
  52. What’s your favorite holiday? I actually love 4th of July because we’re always up in Ludington with some of my favorite people.
  53. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? Dropping out of school halfway through the semester and traveling all the way to the other side of the country to take back my life (aka going to residential the first time).
  54. What was the last thing you recorded on TV? Grey’s Anatomy and about 5 other shows every week.
  55. What was the last book you’ve read? Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult.
  56. What’s your favorite type of foreign food? Mexican!
  57. Are you a clean or messy person? Generally pretty messy.
  58. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? Kristen Bell, because she’s awesome even if she doesn’t look like me.
  59. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? I usually give myself an hour which includes eating, getting dressed, prepping lunch, etc. If needed I can get to class in 10 minutes.
  60. What kitchen appliance do you use everyday? Blender because smoothies are the best ever.
  61. What’s your favorite fast food chain? Chik-fil-a but I really don’t eat fast food often.
  62. What’s your favorite family recipe? My mom’s stromboli.
  63. Do you love of hate rollercoasters? Love, but only if they don’t go upside down.
  64. What’s your favorite family tradition? Does Ludington count? (seeing a theme here?).
  65. What is your favorite childhood memory? Spending the night with other girls for a soccer tournament.
  66. What’s your favorite movie? She’s the Man, probably.
  67. How old were you when you learned Santa wasn’t real? How did you find out? I was maybe 6 or 7? I just kinda figured it out on my own, then my aunt confirmed it.
  68. Is your glass half full or half empty? I would love to say half full, but I waiver back and forth.
  69. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love? Staying with my ex when he did some really terrible things.
  70. What three items would you take with you on a deserted island? My yoga mat, hammock, and camera.
  71. What was your favorite subject in school? It’s a toss up between science and math.
  72. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? I’m really picky and non-adventurous, so maybe sodas from different countries? Not too sure.
  73. Do you collect anything? Shirts from different places I’ve been.
  74. Is there anything you wished would come back into fashion? Not anything in particular.
  75. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Introvert!
  76. Which of the five senses would you say is your strongest? Taste since I’m super sensitive to spices and such.
  77. Have you ever had a surprise party? (that was an actual surprise) My 16th birthday party I wasn’t at all expecting.
  78. Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous? Nope.
  79. What do you do to keep fit? I love yoga.
  80. Does your family have a “motto” – spoken or unspoken? Nada.
  81. If you were ruler of your own country what would be the first law you would introduce? Women and men must have equal pay for equal work because Lord knows that isn’t happening here anytime soon.
  82. Who was your favorite teacher in school and why? My psychology teacher in high school. She is an amazing Christian woman who cares so much.
  83. What three things do you think of the most each day? I’ll give the non-ED answer, because that’s better to focus on :), so school, blogging some days, and planning?
  84. If you had a warning label, what would yours say? Warning: contains large amounts of sarcasm, a variety of facial expressions, and some major awkwardness. Will spew out advice and care without warning.
  85. What song would you say best sums you up? Hmm, right now maybe Rise Up by Andra Day. I’m not quite there yet but this is what I aspire to do
  86. What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee? Demi Lovato
  87. Who was your first crush? I “liked” a boy in 3rdish grade, but my first real crush was a boy I grew up with in Ludington. That lasted from elementary to middle school aha
  88. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window? I’ll go with my kitchen at home. We have a ton of birds and critters outside, and sometimes the occasional stray cat.
  89. On a scale of 1-10 how funny would you say you are? Hmm, maybe a 6? I’m not really sure, but I’m not that funny
  90. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? A mom of 2+ kids, NICU nurse or nurse practitioner, probably still living in Michigan, hopefully in a good place.
  91. What was your first job? I babysat when I was younger, but my first official job is in housekeeping.
  92. If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join? Oh gosh I am a terrible singer and not musical at all. Maybe a backup singer for someone like Pink, Kelly Clarkston, Demi Lovato, etc
  93. How many languages do you speak? Only English and some Spanish. I took an entire year of Spanish but I completely forgot 80% of it
  94. What is your favorite family holiday tradition? We don’t really have many, but I love Christmas Eve candlelight services at church.
  95. Who is the most intelligent person you know? One of the nurses from residential is so knowledgeable in an incredible amount of subjects. She may not be some brilliant biochemist or something, but just talking with her you can see how much she has learned/experience/etc.
  96. If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be? I love this question!! I would specifically be Seemore Antonio the San Diego Snail. He had the top of his shell cracked like he was stepped on, but it grew back and he kept living despite it. I definitely have been broken but I am healing and slowly moving forward.
  97. What is one thing you will never do again? Go on Shivering Timbers rollercoaster. It’s a huge wooden one and the last time I went on it I cut my ear open.
  98. Who knows you best? Hands down Olivia, my person and best friend ❤

The fact that this ended at 98 bothered me, so I added these two:

99. What is one accomplishment you had as a child? Okay, honestly I only picked this question because I have the best random story. I had hamsters growing up and our petstore held hamster ball derbies every year or so. My hamster beat everyone, including this 30 something, insanely competitive woman with 4 different hamsters ever. Thatt was such a proud moment.

100. What was your least favorite vacation? One specific trip up to Traverse City. We went up every year or two to vineyards and such. This one involved my ex boyfriend and it was just generally borind, long, and blah.

Congrats if you made it this far, haha! I hope you enjoyed reading and learning a bit more about me 🙂

I take psychiatric medication and that’s okay

I remember back to the first time I ever went on psychiatric medication. It was shortly after starting therapy. I was at my yearly pediatrician’s appointment and it ended up being really awkward with some different mental health concerns, but in the end he prescribed an antidepressant. I felt very judged by him and that automatically went to shame. If I had to take this medication that even my doctor felt wary of, was I just defective?

Over the years , I’ve grown to be wary of telling anyone I’m on medication. The stigma of being “crazy” or abnormal because you take these drugs is pretty strong. Doctors are especially hard to tell, given my first experience. I would never even share this information with those who are well aware of my mental health struggles. That made me feel more alone and increased the negative belief I had about myself for needing this treatment.

I’m no longer afraid to admit that I take medication for my mental illnesses. In fact, I wanted to write this post because a change in my prescription (and a new psychiatrist) has greatly impacted my life. I have a ton more energy, less “blah” feeling, better mood, and I just feel lighter. My parents can tell a huge difference. Obviously the medication alone doesn’t get rid of my symptoms, but it has lowered the amount of distorted thinking significantly. I’m at a better functioning baseline level. As a whole, the various drugs I’m on have impacted me by significantly reducing sleeping problems, basically removing suicidal thoughts, lowering anxiety, preventing the lowest of lows, and generally making my thinking and functioning better. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to fix my brain chemistry in this way.

It’s okay to take psychiatric medication. Someone with lupus wouldn’t want to avoid autoimmune drugs for any reason. Anything that helps reduce suffering is worth it. You are not alone in this. If you are considering trying out this form of therapy, I want to reiterate how much of a change they can make.

1 in 6 adults are on some form of psychiatric medications. We need to end the stigma that surrounds taking these sometimes life-saving drugs. They do not fix a flaw in character, just the biological brain chemistry imbalances. Everyone should be given support and respect for the brave choice to put their health first in this way.

Top 30 Anorexia blog

I opened my blog email yesterday to something that’s pretty amazing/unexpected/humbling: my blog has been chosen as one of the top 30 anorexia blogs by Feedspot.

I’m still in a little bit of shock. When I set out to blog three and a half years ago, I never imagined it would grow to where I am today. I’m not one to be concerned with numbers in terms of popularity, but knowing that this blog has reached (and hopefully helped) more people than I ever imagined is pretty great. I’m so thankful for each person who has read, commented on, and liked my posts. I love interacting with others and hearing what you think.

I’m so excited to see where this blog will be in another six months, year, two years, etc. I hope to continue regular posting for a long time to come. I truly have found an incredible amount of joy on my little piece of the web.

If you would like to read the other blogs on this list (which I definitely recommend!), the link is here. I also have posted the badge with link on my sidebar.