Ludington 2016!

*written yesterday and it wouldn’t post*

I’ve been MIA for a bit now because I’m up at Vacation Lane. We go home today since I work tomorrow morning (plus Olympic Trials!), so I decided to write about all of the fun things I’ve done. I’ll probably add in some pictures later once I get back to my laptop.

  • Took pictures of gorgeous sunsets every single night
  • Caught a bunch of fish. I named them all after people in the new testament. Meet John the Bass Fish (worked out perfectly, I know) 
  • Went tubing and killed it, as per usual. I stayed on for around five minutes and never fell off, even with huge waves, wind, and my dad doing everything he could for it to happen. 
  • Bought a hammock and spent tons of time in it 
  • Went shopping and purchased a sweatshirt and some super secret surprise gifts
  • Took some senior pictures for my brother. He wasn’t exactly willing, oh well
  • Found a toad who sat on my shoulder (and Abby’s) for a good ten minutes 
  • Spent time with the sweetest 12 year old. We played on the equipment that I grew up with  (see saw, merry-go-round, slide), talked a ton, sat in the hammock, watched sunsets, looked at the stars, etc
  • Watched the night sky two days in a row. I love how we can see everything since there’s not light like where I live. I saw at least 15 shooting stars
  • Studied God’s word, especially while mocking.
  • Bandaged my thumb a thousand times. Blech 
  • Took lots of photos but not as many in past years
  • Slurpees and Wesco popcorn
  • Became pro at making Jiffy Pop
  • Caught Pokémon bahaha
  • Boat rides with laughs, beautiful sights, frigging huge houses, and lots of waves

I was nervous going into vacation, but I really really needed it. Ludington/Vacation Lane is a magical place and always will be.

Life After Residential – 6 months out (!?!?!?)

Holy cow. 6 whole months since I signed papers, hugged the staff and friends, and stepped on a plane to enter back into the real world. It feels like just yesterday and a million years ago. There isn’t a moment where I’m not thankful for all I learned during my time at CFD, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Realizations in the past sis months:

Motivation for recovery lessens when things start to get hard after the “honeymoon phase.” Much like the spiritual high you receive coming back from church camp, the recovery high after residential fades away. Real life doesn’t come with 24/7 support, a ban on any diet/food/calories/exercise talk, distracting table games, lack of mirrors, others who 100% understand you, and therapy every single day. Without the extra push to recover it has been hard to keep at it. I start shifting toward using exercise to cope and believing a little restriction is okay. Thankfully I’ve now learned to keep motivation up by focusing on my goals and doing recovery for me.

I can get out of a relapse. I feel stronger than ever since beating my first relapse. Seeing my weight was a huge trigger, one that could have sent me into a deep pit I couldn’t get out of. Fortunately, I found my strength in myself through Him. I deserve recovery and I have so much life ahead of me. I don’t need to turn to my eating disorder to deal with things. I can fight urges. In previous relapses, I never wanted to or thought I would be able to fight. There was an entire year spent on the edge of being forced into treatment, FV round 2, and residential. I was sick and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. A huge factor now is knowing what recovery is like: freedom, joy, truly living, despite struggles.

I am capable on my own. I have relied on therapists, dietitians, friends and mentors, the entirety of treatment staff. While that was absolutely needed during residential and as I transitioned back to life on the outside, it isn’t at all realistic or healthy long-term. At some point I had to take control and responsibility for myself. I can’t have therapy everyday. Sometimes I have gone two weeks. Sure I have had days where I needed someone to rescue me, and then I did get support from others. As time has gone on that hasn’t been the case. I journal, manage my emotions in a healthy way, fight urges, talk to friends about anything but my eating disorder. Heck, today in therapy we didn’t focus solely on the ED and I was able to work through anxieties and other things. I really can’t explain how amazing and empowering it feels being able to stay healthy mostly on my own.

I can share about my eating disorder in a way that isn’t a sad story that I feel is burdening others. Before, I told others about my ED and MH issues out of necessity. I needed support and for people to avoid diet talk. Some relationships were built and consumed by my sickness. I felt guilty for sharing my story because I was broken. I haven’t actually told anyone new in person about this yet, but I am planning that very soon. I’ve prayed about it, and I am going to tell my favorite from work. She has noticed the difference in me now and I want to let her in. I feel such joy about all I have accomplished. Why wouldn’t I want to share openly how I have become resilient through God’s strength? Instead of “look what I am going through” it is “look at what I’ve conquered that’s made me into the person I am today.” I am blessed by this change.

There is no perfection in recovery; I am a work in progress. This is kind of cliché but also true. I have had countless slip ups, even in the past two months coming back from my relapse. Just like my self harm recovery, I have days where I follow urges and compulsively exercise/restrict. These things are normal. I can’t expect myself to be completely recovery-minded 110% of the time nor allow others expectations to affect me negatively. I have learned to forgive and accept my failures in the same way I celebrate my successes. It isn’t a linear process in the slightest.

I am different from the girl who left treatment 6 months ago. (Not talking about my body here). My dreams have multiplied as I realize how much more I am capable of now. I am working very hard to not let food be the main focus in my life. Sure, I probably think about it more often than the average person, but it in’t anywhere near when I first left treatment. Until a month or so ago I was still counting exchanges and being rigid in my diet.I have conquered many fears since coming home. Some examples: being able to eat a healthy amount around basically everyone without struggling (much), trying former fear foods, openness about my story, looking at my body in the mirror. I feel so much joy. I never expected or dreamed of this. I wake up happy, enjoy my job, talk with people, find happiness everyday. I definitely had more a more positive mood coming out of resi but not like this. I have grown in self-love exponentially. Overall, I have been able to discover who I really am along this journey (not what the ED made me).

He makes recovery possible. I have struggled in my relationship with God, especially during my darkest points in my eating disorder. I felt abandoned and unworthy of His love. I am just now seeing how wrong I was. He has been there since Day 1. My faith and relationship with the Father is my number one now, not my ED. It is such a blessing.

It’s crazy to think of all the progress these 6 months have brought. I learned how to deal with everything in a healthy way and without relying on the ED in residential; however, this time has been applying those things. Each day I continue on my recovery journey which all began at a house in San Diego.

The Future…

Ever since I’ve become stronger in my recovery and feel the need to live, I have thought more and more about the future. I have goals and dreams I never thought possible. Nearly every plan would be squashed by the eating disorder before. I honestly didn’t have many things I am meant to do that I felt I would be able to accomplish. I no longer need to plan everything around my eating disorder, but can reach for all life has to offer me.

I have had strong prompting about the future. God is directing me down paths I could never imagine. I have and will continue to pray over these things, of course, but I hope to listen to them all as I move forward. Some are rather scary and seem very overwhelming now. Many instances I’ve opened my heart to things that were once a “no way.” I trust that God will make a way and calm my fears. Hopes/dreams/promptings lately:

  • I want to get married. Ever since being so mistreated by my ex-boyfriend of 3.5 years I vowed to never marry. It didn’t seem right for me and the fear that I was unlovable and would only be abused paralyzed me. Suddenly I realized I really DO want a life partner and best friend. I truly don’t want to be a single mom and not be able to give my children the attention they deserve. I was planning on that because I want children more than anything and would do it alone. God has opened my heart to marriage and love, partly through a conversation with a friend at work. I trust that I will find a Godly man who will be exactly what I believed I never deserved.
  • I am going to York. Last April, I discovered a study abroad program to York, England through my school. It is held during spring semester. I had been very disappointed in myself with being held back one more year until nursing when I found the opportunity. Immediately I knew this was why I didn’t fast track to start nursing classes. I will probably write another post on it soon, but for now I’ll just end with how blessed I am. I would never be able to do this without the grace of God and recovery.
  • I will write a book (maybe 2 or 3, who knows!). I have a love for writing. My first story, and not the picture book kind, was written in 5th grade. Since then I have had countless ideas turn into drafts turn into chapters. Blogging has also been a way to write in the everyday sense v working on one thing for months. I’m not sure what type of book I will create, but I’m thinking either a spin on the memoir format, fiction based on what I have gone through, maybe even some sort of devotional. Either way I know that whatever I write will be exactly what I need to.
  • Adoption. Joni and Friends was going on at work for the last 2 weeks. The camp brings together those with special needs (physical, mental, emotional, etc) and their families. I have had some thoughts about adoption, and specifically special needs adoption for around two years. I read about an organization that helps place these children from other countries with families. I was horrified and so saddened by the way they are treated simply for having a disability, but that was it. Adoption has been more on my mind in general lately. I believe that God used Joni and Friends to show me that adoption doesn’t have to be for a perfect, healthy baby. These parents that I’ve seen are so strong and do everything for their children. The kids, no matter how “imperfect” or “unwanted” by society’s standards are loved, happy, and thriving. I saw plenty of the hard times too, of course, but regardless it has changed me. I’ve had recurrent dreams about my future daughter, a little girl who happens to have Down syndrome. I realize that is only a dream and reality may be much different and there are so many extenuating circumstances. That doesn’t change how strongly I feel about adopting a child with Down syndrome. I want to be a mother who can change my child’s life with love and opportunities where despair would have been. I pray that God will let that happen.
  • I will share my testimony/story. I’ve done plenty of sharing online, and even somewhat in person. This is something I love and is helping me (hopefully others too). While it is huge that I’m able to be open and honest with my struggles, this now seems pretty easy. I don’t like easy. I want to talk to others about it, but not in the way I have been. Previously, other than really just two people, I have shared about my ED when it was necessary. I told my roommate and RA mostly to have some accountability and warn them. It felt like there is something wrong with me that is a burden to others. I’m in a different place now and even though I do struggle and will in the future, I want to do this in a more positive way. I am in the process of writing my testimony and have rewritten my story. That is what I want to share with people. Here I am, here is what I came from, here is what I’ve gone through, here is what I am working on, here is where I am going to be one day. I have one dear friend in particular I plan on telling soon, and I am nervous and excited. One day, somehow I will do this on a stage or in front of a group. I will not be a burden but living proof that you can overcome.
  • Medical missions. At some point in my life I want to bring my skills as a nurse to a place that is in need. We are Jesus’ hands and feet. Serving others and bringing them healing is what I am called to do. I want to extend that out from where I will serve in a hospital and into an area with little medical care.

TFHR 06/09/16

Thoughts

  • How did I get so lucky with my job? It is the best place I could imagine working. I get to be around great people and it already has nurtured my faith. God put me with these people for a reason last year.
  • Bad body image is sooo gross. I have dealt with it since technically forever, but specifically it grew worse the last few months. For the most part it didn’t affect me really at all. It has now and lead to ED thoughts so that’s fun. I haven’t let that turn into behaviors and I need to trust that a) this will pass and b) what I see in the mirror is not true.
  • The jokes and sarcasm and teasing at work is superb.

Feelings

  • At work: loved, playful, appreciated, supported, needed, wanted, cared for, connected, lighthearted, joyful.
  • Frustrated with various things/people/situations. It isn’t terrible, more so annoying.
  • Proud of myself. I’ve really done well this summer so far. I’m eating enough,enjoying work, taking time for myself, coping with thoughts and behaviors. It has gone much better than I expected and worried about.
  • Tired. My sleep schedule is off still so going to bed anywhere from 12-3am and getting up around 7 most days for a 9am shift, working a 5-7 hr shift, then coming home. Today specifically I tackled the dreaded 6am. I was scheduled 6-12 (everyone else 9-2) but I ended up staying until 1:30 because we had a lot more to service than yesterday. We all love Joni and Friends but it definitely is more work than usual. Perfectly fine because seeing the smiles on their faces is priceless and so so worth it 🙂
  • Happy. My mom and family have noticed, I’ve noticed, J has noticed, coworkers have noticed, even those who had no clue about the ED have noticed. I am smiling and laughing and I really truly mean it. You can tell a huge difference from when it was all a facade to hide my misery.

Happenings

  • Yesterday something amazing happened at work. My boss, J, came up and pulled me aside while we were servicing. Her and M, the assistant manager of housekeeping, had talked and they both want me to lead a crew this summer for turns. I beyond excited! For one, this really shows that all of the work I’ve put in is satisfactory. It also proves that I have earned their respect, and trustworthy, and can be an example to my coworkers. Although I try not to determine my success/failure by others’ approval, I feel like this is an acceptable case. Since coming back to work I was hoping and praying I would have this opportunity, but became discouraged when my brother thought all spots had been filled. I’m grateful and I know this will help me grow as a worker and in general too.
  • My cat Molly almost caught a chippy (chipmunk). This doesn’t seem like a significant event, but she is by far the dumbest animal ever and can barely catch flies. She had her harness and leash on and sat in front of our bird feeder. A chippy was ahead of her so she attempted to run and grab him but she got stopped by the lead and fell backwards. Cat hunter fail
  • Olive currently came and interrupted my late-night blogging by lying on my chest. I don’t mind one bit 🙂
  • Lots and lots of slurpee runs because I was deprived forever. And by slurpee I mean not the 7eleven ones since ours closed years ago. Speedway is my preferred but also Wesco because their popcorn is bomb. If you aren’t in the midwest (Speedway) or West Michigan (Wesco) you are seriously missing out.
  • So our resident ducks may have done the deed in our pool and it was both hilarious and terrifying all at once ahhhh!
  • Today I went 3/4 of the work day with unusually painful feet and blisters from my shoes. Then I realized they were on the wrong feet… #adulting

Ramblings

  • I don’t really talk much about what it’s like living where I do, but I’ve recently realized some things that make me glad I do live here.
    • We are in a very safe area. Besides one very sad abduction case, the worst crimes in my city are speeding tickets, petty robberies (rarely),  and teenagers knocking people’s mailboxes down.
    • The breeze from Lake Michigan is heavenly and unique. Holy cow living in GR for only a few weeks of hot weather was gross. There is no wind at all and it just stays muggy and gross all day. Although sometimes the wind can be pretty strong, its much, much nicer than anywhere more inland. Also, we get a temp drop of 5-10 degrees vs GR!
    • In my county and within ~half hr of driving we have: 3 state parks, at least 10 city parks, huge stretch of beautiful sand beaches, 2 smaller lakes (although Mona Lake is more of a cesspool), 2 Meijer’s (hallelujah), 11+ Wesco’s, tons of yummy restaurants, a few quality school systems, a mall, nice neighborhoods and communities, Michigan’s Adventure (same owners as Cedar Point), and overall just a great place to be. Sure, there are bad parts but I fully believe the good outweighs bad.
    • Maranatha!!!
    • Beautiful nature – lakes, woods, beach, wildlife (deer, turkeys, the occasional fox, small critters, birds, the unfortunate seagulls, lots and lots of fish).

And that’s a wrap!

Feel free to share any thoughts, feelings, happenings, or ramblings you have had lately 🙂

TFHR 5/30/16

Thoughts

  • Lots about work… I am so lucky to work in an awesome Christian environment. My boss is great. I can’t wait for Joni and Friends, finding the weirdest stuff in rooms, having fun with my coworkers, and work being a great part of my summer. Its the best working with my brother Alec, like having “fights” and picking on each other.
  • I have so many things planned for summer, Slightly too ambitious? Perhaps. At the same time, it feels doable and will definitely keep me recovery-minded and busy.
  • I need to go to the beach and parks and take all of the photos.
  • I really seriously hope I can go to Michigan’s adventure this summer. I want to attempt Shivering Timber’s again, ride my favorite coaster 8 zillion times (while NOT sustaining a concussion), burn from going on the logger ride, fly on the trapeze, and pay $4 for one pop.
  • My aunt and her thing are ridiculous. The end.
  • Can my arm stop hurting? Also, can I not get hurt again for the remainder of at least this summer? That’d be a miracle.
  • I love sharing my story. It may be scary but all I’ve gotten is more confidence, the drive to help others, and freedom from guilt and shame.

Feelings

  • Love. For and from my coworkers, Milo, work  in general, brain game apps.
  • Exhausted. 3-4+ days of housekeeping a week. ‘Nuff said.
  • Destressed-ish. I’m still a hot mess who freaks out on the daily, but at least i don’t have school and everything else take more time I don’t have.
  • Excited. I’m really looking forward to have my first healthy summer in so many years.
  • Thankful. There are countless things I am grateful for. I have my job, living in a beautiful place, my family and animals, summer free from school, and being mostly free from ED/MH stuff. I am blessed.

Happenings

  • If you hadn’t guessed it by now, I started back at work. This time if not going to be held back by my eating disorder. I will take care of myself. I will eat enough. I will do my best. I will enjoy doing God’s work and make camps and conferences possible.
  • Our ducks came back to the pool!
  • Milo is super friendly suddenly and I’m pretty sure its because he is a super brat and needed the new huge cage to do so. Speaking of that, we did get him a Ferret Nation that’s only 2.5x the size of his old one. Did I mention he’s spoiled?
  • Milo and I are bonding and considering how snippy and scared he was before, its truly a small miracle. He definitely doesn’t hate me anymore!
  • Doing my summer photo journal has been really cool so far.
  • My sweet psych prof wrote the sweetest message on my life project.

Ramblings

  • If only everyone staying in a hotel room had the decency to clean up after themselves. Yes, we do deep cleaning but that is what we need to focus on, not washing dishes and food guests have left. I think its ridiculous to trash somewhere you’re staying just because. Housekeepers everywhere would seriously appreciate just a simple tidying up when you leave a hotel or cottage.
  • You may be going into nursing if… finding and downloading a medical app is the highlight of your week. I love Figure 1!!! It has images, scans, and descriptions of different case studies. There are also many where you guess what the correct diagnosis is. Its so freaking cool. I spent almost two hours on it last night because its fascinating. I feel like I am already learning more from finding out what different diseases look like.
  • My mom has officially surpassed me this week when it comes to worrying about medical issues. In truth, I haven’t been that way for a long time. I know what may be wrong but I don’t insist on a doctor visit or anything. My mom has had a cold maybe a week and a half. She is constantly asking if it is normal to have achy legs, whether she has pneumonia, why she feels weak, etc. Its pretty funny since she always told me not to be a hypochondriac but I get it :p

Last session with S, first with J

In the midst of crazy exam, I had my last appointment with S until next fall. To say I was an emotional wreck is no exaggeration. It was so much like every other session we’ve had: laughter, honesty, tough love, goals, and some assignment I completely hated but ultimately is good for me. To all of that add tears, and lots of them.

I wrote her a card earlier that day and bawled for an hour cried some writing it. I had trouble even putting to words all she has done for me this year. A quick run down of what I appreciate: her tough love no BS attitude, that she helped me get treatment, pushing me when I dug in my feet, dealing with my constant sass, truly caring, helping me find myself again, being exactly the therapist I needed. She is amazing at her job and I really felt she deserved to know how much she means to me. I wanted her to read it in session, so I had her do that while she forced me to work on the assignment I started the week before. I kept glancing over and saw her crying, then started crying and we were both a mess.

While we weren’t “having allergy issues,” we talked about goals for the summer. She didn’t focus on the ED stuff. Obviously I want to do well and control disordered thoughts as they come, but that being my whole summer would be so sad. Smaller goals include making a bucket list for York (which I shall talk about soon!), spending time with friends, and getting out in nature as much as possible. My favorite thing we talked about is a daily photo journal. My challenge is to take one photo a day that makes me happy, shows God’s blessing in my life, or is a part of beautiful creation that somehow has meaning to me. I also can’t obsess over editing or taking the “perfect” photo and have to limit looking at the screen after snapping and time spent in photoshop. So far, being 6 days in, I absolutely love it. I write a few sentences to go with each day and I can already tell this photo journal will be so special to document my summer. I definitely plan on posting my adventure here soon. At the end I thanked her once again and we hugged/cried some more. Walking out was so very bittersweet. I’m sad to leave her for the summer but I know I’m going to have so many stories and progress to share when I come back.

Today I met with J again for the first time this summer. I hadn’t seen her since the day I got back from residential. I was so nervous (why? I have no clue) walking back into her office! For some reason I feared that we wouldn’t click again or I would be awkward or something otherwise bad would happen. It didn’t feel weird or awkward one bit. Going into her office felt like being home again. Immediately I was so happy to be back.

It was nice to catch her up on everything that’s happened since I last saw her. I loved being able to tell her all of my progress, fun things that happened, and hopes for the future. I also was very open and honest about the struggles I’ve faced, namely my relapse. We talked about what led up to it, how serious/what it entailed, how and why I came out, what we can do to prevent another when things start going bad, and the new hope it has given me. I truly feel like I relapsed so I could learn exactly what I need to fight for. J completely agreed, and in her prayer at the end (our traditional closing) she specifically thanked God for it.

After catching we talked goals and what I need from her. Ever since residential, I’ve really learned what helps and what doesn’t when it comes to therapy. The two most helpful things, even though I HATE it, are tough love/pushing me to do my best and assignments. J said she definitely will do both. Plenty of assignments I fight against but are really for my good and J stretching me to do better are in the near future. I told her about my goals for the summer from S and we also talked about some to add. She loves the photo journal as much as I do and can’t wait to see them, especially since she enjoys my photography (a print I gave her last summer now hangs in her office 🙂 ). My relationship with God still isn’t anywhere near being repaired. I already wanted to do something to grow closer to Him again, but J helped me find specifically how I can make that happen this summer. She gave me the ACTS acronym for prayer/journaling, is having me write to Him daily, wants me to continue my happy journal, and restart the ED devotional I have. I’m looking forward to the spiritual growth I so need. Her promise to me, beyond being her wonderful self as a therapist, is giving me an assignment every week to torture challenge me. I know having J by me this summer as I work toward health and these goals is just what I need. I am excited to see all the growth that is to come.

I am so lucky to have two very different therapists who are equally amazing for me. I thought it would be really hard switching for summer. (Would I miss S too much? Would J do enough? Would I love J too much to ever be okay with S again? Was I going to lose my mind and cry and struggle?) All of my fears have been squashed and I’m looking forward to working with J again. Her more gentle style is going to be perfect for this time where I’m not so stressed with school and everything going on. S and her no BS way is great at helping me through all of the emotions, triggers, and stressors when I’m back at school. God has truly blessed me with giving each of them at the time I need their help the most.

What this year has taught me

My first year at Calvin went nothing like I expected or wanted. Last September I was 100% confident in my recovery after a bandaid week inpatient. I would finish out all of my pre-reqs in one year to enter nursing the next fall. Not long after relapse hit, then worse relapse, and soon I was left with failing grades and really no choice but residential. That was the best choice for me and part of why I am in a good place now, but even after has been a huge rollercoaster. This unexpected year has taught me so much more about myself and what I can do.

  1. I don’t need to be perfect. I’ve struggled with perfectionism since I can remember, but that has been challenged constantly this year. I had to quit halfway through a semester, changed my entire timeline for classes, was late to class, forgot to do assignments, let down friends, and in general messed up a million times. Was I a failure because of it? Not at all. I make mistakes but that’s just part of being human. I can’t spend my life believing it isn’t.
  2. Disappointment is okay. There have been so many areas where I’ve felt disappointed in myself or the situation going on. Its okay to feel sad about the way things have happened but dwelling on it as I have in the past only makes it worse.
  3. My grades aren’t as important as my health. I would never have left college without being pulled out if I didn’t believe this just a little. Ever since coming back from residential I’ve done my best to put my recovery first. If I needed more time to relax or use skills or do yoga, I made time. My grades aren’t what they could have been, had I created more stress for myself and possibly even slipped more into the ED. I would rather never have an A again than cause more harm to my body and mind.
  4. I am strong. I have been through some really hard shit this year. I wanted to give up so many times. I easily could have. I didn’t because my will to fight is stronger than any hopelessness I may face. How else could I come back from my recent relapse on my own?
  5. Others help, but I am the one who makes the changes. I could go to therapy 7 times a week and still not get one step closer to recovery. Anybody else can put in the blood, sweat, and tears to get me better but unless I do, its futile. The progress I’ve made has been possible, in part, due to others but mostly because I took each baby step to get closer to where i want to be.
  6. I determine my progress. I know I’ve said this over and over but it has been an important part of my process. Ever since week two of residential I haven’t allowed anyone else to determine whether I am doing well or not. I know when I’ve made positive change and I can give myself that praise instead of relying on others to do so.
  7. I can feel joy. I never though I would be this happy again. I figured I was meant to be miserable until I died. That isn’t true at all. I’m filled with more joy than I ever thought I could experience. Its all because I’ve been finally working hard enough in recovery to see how beautiful life is and how much I am blessed.
  8. Everything is better when you have good people to do it with. I love having my people at school. We played euchre and other card games, had Survivor nights, ate together, did homework, and enjoyed each other’s presence. Friends have made my day go from terrible to fun and light in just a few minutes. I was always a loner but now some of my happiest moments are with others.
  9. Sharing my story is amazing. I have been completely open about my struggles on social media, here, with my friends, and when people ask questions. I was so ashamed to suffer from mental illness and my ED before. Instead, now I tell my story so I can help others and feel free. Its the bet decision I could have made.
  10. I CAN and should love myself. Self-love has become a part of my daily life. I’ve never felt that before. I can’t really explain how it happened, but at some point I began to accept my flaws and realize I am worthy of love. Now I see no reason why I shouldn’t!
  11. Life is so much better without being held back. I used to avoid so many things and let my ED/MH issues control my life. It was dull, I felt trapped, but now I am free. I can go eat random foods at parties, actually want to hang out with friends, feel confident, and be spontaneous. I can do anything I set my mind to.

I can’t help but smile and cry tears of joy considering all of the positive change I’ve had this year!

Eating recovery day

Its been crazy with projects and papers and tests. Finals week is in two weeks and all the stress is happening. I probably won’t be posting much until after that. Today I decided to write one because its Eating Recovery Day! This is put on/sponsored by Eating Recovery Center. I would definitely recommend going to their facebook page and watching the live stream videos. Candace Cameron and two recovered patients who went to ERC speak on their recoveries, as well as professionals and Jenni Schaefer. I really enjoyed it.

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July 2015 / April 2016

There is a world of difference between these photos. On the left I was in Ludington, my favorite place in the entire world. My family and I were on vacation yet I was too wrapped up in my eating disorder to even enjoy it. I restricted and avoided even my favorite restaurants/meals. I constantly thought of ways to exercise more. I only put my swimsuit on to go tubing and always covered up with shorts and a life vest. I didn’t enjoy much of anything and I was miserable. I don’t even remember much of that vacation. That photo goes beyond just my time during that week. It was my life for years, minus the small bouts of quasi-recovery. Constant fatigue, looking half-dead, putting every ounce of energy into my eating disorder, grey skin, wishing I were dead, body checking and weighing myself, losing interest in everything I love, losing relationships, avoiding foods I once loved, feeling weak, isolation, anxiety, thinning hair, and passing out are only a portion of what I’ve experienced in my eating disorder. I could smile and put on a fake front as much as I wanted to, as seen in this photo, but it never completely hid the illness that was destroying me from the inside out.

The right photo was taken just a few days ago. Mentally, physically, emotionally I am in a place very far from where I have ever been. I cannot remember a time where I’ve felt more alive and hopeful for the future. Recover has helped me gain weight, yes, but also a life worth living. I look healthy. My eyes are bright, my hair is growing back again, my skin has color, my eyes are less sunken (minus the permanent bags under them because I get no sleep), and my smile is REAL. Food and exercise and calories no longer take up my thoughts. I am able to eat alone in the dining hall, follow my meal plan, keep from overexercising, have my once feared foods, let my body grow stronger, enjoy spontaneous pizza or dessert from friends, honor my hunger, exercise in a healthy way, hold conversations, laugh and mean it, concentrate better in class, and put more energy into everything in my life. I am beginning to love myself and my body FINALLY.

Recovery is really, really hard. Although I’ve had a multitude of excuses and fears about entering into it, none of them really came true. I didn’t give up my purpose in life, I’ve only gained new ones. Instead of losing strength by not exercising anywhere near as much I am rebuilding the damage I’ve caused. My body image is slowly getting better than it was when I was deep in my sickness. The weight gain that was one of the main issues I had with recovery doesn’t bother me most days. I no longer have my once coveted “anorexic girl” title but not being defined by this disorder is freeing. All of the setbacks, relapses, tears, and moments where I wanted to give up are worth it. Recovery is more than I ever imagined for myself.

If you are struggling, take my story as proof that things can and will get better. My true self is still evolving and I know I’m going to love who I become. I am so much more than anorexia. The only way to get to a better place is to put your all into this. Invest in yourself, for yourself. Extrinsic motivation is absolutely fine to start recovery, but I’ve found to make it work you have to do it for you. Within the past few weeks I’ve realized this and it has been a huge turning point. Wherever you are and whatever your feelings or fears towards recovery, make those steps. As my friend says, you can always go back to the eating disorder, so why not at least try recovery? I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Writing this all makes me tear up and remember how thankful I am for my recovery. I am so blessed and proud of myself and my progress.

Surprise blessing… x3!

God is constantly blessing me beyond what I deserve. This weekend has been no different. There are three ways in particular I’d like to share, all stemming from situations I felt would go the opposite way.

Friday was a rough day. I woke up late and wasn’t feeling well. I went to my first dietitian appointment (she is fabulous, thankfully!) and had three lectures before finally eating lunch and crashing in my room. I was weak, had a headache, and so exhausted that I decided I couldn’t go to Chaos Night. Immediately I felt a pang of guilt for not going home that day since I only stayed to go to that event. I late got over that because what happened Friday night was so much better. My roommate and I went to dinner with another girl on our floor and then decided to have a study party in her room. Those two hours with them was the first huge blessing. We spent the time worshiping and sharing some of our stories and God’s greatness. Although I wasn’t quite ready to tell either them about the hard parts of my story, I felt God’s urging to do so. I fully believe that without our mini party the next blessing wouldn’t have come at all. My roomie and I headed back to our room where I got a very sweet text from J. I started bawling and headed to the bathroom to hide it. The tears never stopped flowing so she asked what was wrong. I was extremely reluctant. I didn’t know how to start. How can you really explain that you’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, self harm, anorexia, self hatred, etc for most of your life? I decided to just tell a little bit of it and exactly why I was crying that night. I explained that I was thankful for the fact that I was at college because just three weeks prior I checked into FV for eating disorder treatment and wouldn’t have lasted long there without the help. My roommate was so amazing about it all. She wants to help be a support any way she can. I went to bed crying that night because suddenly I was not alone. I had someone who knew, even if I hadn’t yet shared all the details. I had someone who cared and would help lift my spirits and anything else she was willing. God blessed me doubly that night.

Today was my third unexpected blessing. I woke up, terrified of heading to church for many reasons. I won’t get into the why’s of that, but I will tell you my heart was cold and walls were up. I wanted no part in it. I can’t remember the last time I went to a service without truly singing, writing notes, or opening my bible until today. I wanted to go straight home and isolate. Just as my family was leaving the sanctuary, a woman from our church pulled me aside. She’d seen my FB posts along with the small blurb in the prayer chain about me. She knew about the ED and treatment. I was really happy for her asking me how I was doing and all, but then she shared something I never expected: she had an eating disorder too. She mainly struggled in high school and college, but to this day deals with body image/self love/ED thoughts. We hugged and prayed. She even gave me her number if I ever need anything. I am not alone. I am so not alone and I have another support.

God’s plan is glorious, even when I don’t think any good can come of situations like this weekend. He constantly shows me how wrong I am to always expect the worst. He is faithful and He give us blessings where we never thought possible. I am so thankful.

Chance encounter? I think not.

Before I get to what happened today, I have to add the back-story of what the past month has entailed. Trust me, it shows how much a little thing like today can mean a lot more to someone in a depressive/bad state. My thoughts have been terrible. I am not exaggerating when I say this but they are the worst I can remember (depression wise) ever. I honestly can’t remember ever feeling so bad about myself. Something as small as accidentally bumping into someone or having my mom get irritated at me causes crying spells and a flood of bad thoughts. I can’t find things I like about myself. I don’t have confidence in anything I do. I am paranoid about every friendship I have and feel like a burden constantly. I can’t begin to describe how much I hate my body, the things I do, who I am, and myself in general. I will spare the exact thoughts because to be honest I am too ashamed to share them. I’m sure even without them it’s apparent how I’ve been.

That brings us to today. I have had a really crappy day. I didn’t want to wake up or go to school. I skipped Christian Fellowship because I feel like I’m too broken/bad lately and I don’t deserve to have support or love from them. I had lunch Erin and restricted pretty heavily (while tricking her into thinking I am fine). I’ve missed Forest View so much. I wanted to come home and do more self-destructive things. I was going to until my mom and I happened to go into the grocery store.

A lady from our old old church (who I haven’t talked to in gosh like 5 years?) stopped us as we were passing by. I was kind of confused at first when she started thanking me for sharing my stuff on Facebook. Then she started asking about treatment and I realized she was actually talking about all of my posts for NEDA week. I think the rest of the conversation was spent with my jaw dropped because I couldn’t believe any of it. She told me she knew someone who wasn’t doing well and struggles with an eating disorder. I had nothing but praise to give her about Forest View. I have never talked so openly to basically a stranger about this stuff before. I offered to speak with the person she knew if needed. After thanking my mom and I for our help, we went our separate ways.

I have to admit the conversation didn’t suddenly convince me that I’m a good person or anything, but it brightened my day. I helped someone. Sure it’s in a really indirect way and I may never actually know the results of it, but i did it. I shared my story with hundreds of near strangers. I opened up the opportunity for others to come to me about similar issues. I mad a difference in a tiny way.

I’m still dealing with a ton of thoughts I’d rather not have right now. It’s still a hard day. BUT, I know I would be much worse off if I hadn’t had that short encounter today. God knew that I needed to hear something like that today. It wasn’t chance that we crossed paths. He wanted to show me love someway today because I needed it badly. I am so thankful for that.