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

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!

TFHR 5/10/16

So my first TFHR or Thoughts, Feelings, Happenings, and Ramblings. I wanted to have post series where I can just write about what’s going on and how I am and whatever else is on my mind. This will be sporadic and random, but hey so is life 🙂

Holy shoot. I have two days left of classes, a long weekend home, and then exams Monday, Wednesday, and two Thursday. Then I am done(!!!). Whoa.

Thoughts

  • How the heck did my first year at Calvin go by so fast??? Well I guess taking half a semester to go to residential probably helped
  • I can do this!!!! This is part truth but mostly hoping at this point, because there is a ton to do.
  • I cannot wait to get back to work and see all of my favorites again!
  • Olive 24/7 is only 9 days away
  • I have to do ____ (insert studying, packing, exams, projects, etc)
  • About a billion other things I’m too lazy to write :p

Feelings

  • Bittersweet. Its going to be hard leaving school and my new friends/life here, but I’m also really looking forward to being at home again.
  • STRESSED. Does this even need an explanation?
  • Excited. I get to see J, my home therapist in two weeks ❤
  • Sad. This also means I have just 2 appointments with S left until next fall 😦
  • Annoyed. Both times I was at the dining hall they didn’t have protein options for me to eat! For lunch I came back and had an early afternoon snack of a smoothie with greek yogurt. Dinner it was supposed to have mashed potatoes and gravy with turkey, but no turkey was left. I was so done that I just had an ensure back at my dorm.

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Happenings

  • Last Monday I was rock climbing with my friend for an entire hour, no problem. She left for a meeting and I stuck around and joined a group who was bouldering. Basically bouldering is climbing without a rope and the routes go maybe 20-25 ft up highest. I was on a bouldering route with my feet 10-15 ft off the ground, and then I slipped. On my fall down I hit my elbow super hard. Being me, I completely ignored the pain and kept on climbing for another half hour, untill the people I was with freaked out about how swollen my elbow was. I spent the next morning in two doctors offices and found out: a) I didn’t break it, b) it was probably dislocated the day before but popped back in while sleeping, and c) I bruised my bone (basically this means the outer layer of the bones is inflamed/cells are broken and it takes weeks longer to heal than your average bruise). So now I have been wearing a super annoying wrap and have been using my new ice pack and otc pain relief like there’s no tomorrow. Gotta love being injury-prone!

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  • Sunday I went out to lunch with my dad! He was delivering my meds and decided to come for lunch since my brother and mom were at the Tigers game. We went out to Arnie’s and I had a chicken philly sandwich with fries. They also give you a free cupcake! I had it later that day and they never disappoint. I convinced him to go to my favorite exotic pet store and grab me a slurpee before dropping me back off too 🙂

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  • I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the nature preserve the past week and I love it!
  • I went to the last Calvin Improv show of the year last Saturday and it was beyond amazing. They’re a very talented a hilarious group!
  • Random college craziness: a boys floor running outside and playing in the rain; huge dance party in the turnaround outside my window; Star Wars day themed dinners in the dining hall; watching Sid the tailless squirrel videos (he eats out of your hands and will come into the apartment over in upperclassmen housing); stories of campus safety being called when someone couldn’t find their bike in the bike room of their dorm, leading to campus safety finding their bike in said bike room; teaching two kids to play euchre; dorm cookout where 1/5 of my floor awkwardly sat in the middle of the cornhole field because they didn’t have near enough chairs; prayer tent with someone praying all/most of 24 hrs; people “mocking” everywhere, including triple bunks and 20ft up in a tree.

Ramblings

  • I heard “The Nights” by Avicii today and every. single. time. it comes on all I can think of is the dumb dance they made us learn (over and over and over) at freshman orientation. Since we’re the Knights the orientation team thoughts it was SO clever to use this song. Cheesy as can be but admittingly I may or may not start dancing to it when I’m alone.
  • I have gotten so terrible at procrastinating this semester but at the same time I feel like my best work gets done at past midnight the night before. Am I the only one? I always attempt to get at least part of it done (research, outline, etc) but every time it just ends up in the same scenario. Maybe next year I will learn to get to sleep before 2am but also maybe not because I kinda love it.

That’s all folks!

If you have any thoughts, feelings, happenings, or ramblings you’d like to share, I would love to hear them!

Acceptance

For a long time I grappled with my mental health issues. Some were easier to deal with than others, but I still couldn’t stomach it all. I truly believed that somehow, somewhere I had just screwed up or thought too much about different things and that one day, it would be gone. I was embarrassed that I needed to see a therapist, start medication, and later enter into treatment. I’ve felt so many things regarding my diagnoses and tendencies: disgust, shame, disbelief. I’ve wanted them all to go away. In the past month or two that’s all changed.

I no longer wake up and hope or wish to be “normal.” My mental illnesses will always play a part in my life, whether that be big or small. They have shaped my past and will affect my future. I see them as a part of who I am. I can genuinely say that I am okay with all of this.

Now that I have come to full acceptance, I want to be clear on what this doesn’t mean:

  1. I am giving up hope of a better future. I know my mental health will always be clouded with irrational thoughts and behaviors. This does not make me hopeless, but realistic. I do have hope that things will get easier with time and hard work. I so desire that for myself and will do everything I can to get there.
  2. I define myself by my mental health. I am not the anorexic, depressed girl, anxious freak, compulsive exerciser, perfectionist, or self-harmer. I struggle with all of these with varying degrees of severity. They shape my actions and thoughts each day, but I will not be victim bound by labels. I am so much more than my diagnoses. I am Emily the college student, photography lover, girl in recovery, future nurse, etc.
  3. I am helplessly controlled by my disorders. Acknowledging the impact these have on me and that they won’t go away in no way leads to this belief. I have the power to recover and work towards quieting the bad thoughts. At times this may seem grueling and near-impossible, but I am never powerless.
  4. This is all the only/most important part of my story. Of course everything related to my mental health have significantly impacted my life. How could it not when I’ve spent the majority of my days battling irrational thoughts? Significance, however, does not mean governance. Playing soccer, attending the school system I went to, early college, and my faith are just a few influences unrelated to any of my MH struggles. They are important too.
  5. I will let any of this hold me back from my dreams. I will become a mother. I will work as a nurse. I will help support others who have the same struggles I do. I will move away from my family and other physical support one day. I will travel the world. I will create and keep meaningful relationships. I will have a better relationship with food and exercise. I will own prairie dogs, a papillon, an emotional support animal, and whatever other pets to make my heart content (not all at the same time aha). I will grow my faith. I will write a book or two or three. I will earn at least my master’s degree. I will love life. No mental illness, negative thinking patterns, or self-doubt is going to stop me.

Acceptance feels good. Its a starting point of understanding how I can manage all of this for the rest of my life. I feel so much better now. The weight of denial, uncertainty, despair, and shame have lifted. Yes, I struggle with mental health issues. Yes, I am going need constant self-monitoring and then working through each dark time I experience. Yes, I accept myself and how my mental health struggles have shaped me. I am okay with it all.

Not doing so hot.

If “doing cold” were a thing I certainly would be there or very close. This is the worse I’ve been behavior and thought-wise since before I went to treatment. If it continues I could be back there. That’s scary.

Even a few weeks ago I was at a much better place with behaviors, but I can also see that many of my thought patterns began well before my actions changed. My body image has grown worse over time since discharge. That alone is a huge part of my downward slide. My appetite has been wacky and near nonexistent for well over a month now. That’s made me much more prone to guilt and not wanting to eat. Seeing my weight last week really started the behaviors again and multiplied ED thoughts.

I have been restricting heavily. I haven’t met close to what my meal plan is, or even the 75% goal my dietitian gave until my hunger cues normalize. In addition to that I started exercising again in a very compulsive way. Because of these things I feel weak, exhausted, dizzy, and just out of it a good majority of the time.

Its amazing how incredibly addicting my eating disorder is. I feel so high when I’m restricting or exercising, just like before. The ED is enticing. It reminds me of all the reasons I should choose to use behaviors and let thoughts grow. What I see in the mirror is constantly growing closer to something I can be okay with, so long as I continue following the eating disorder’s ways.

I know what happens down this road. It feels great, oh so wonderful, at first. You become delusional and hold on to that feeling while your entire life spirals out of control. I am not going there again but I need help.

I reluctantly emailed my dietitian the truth today. I see her Tuesday but I wanted to hear any suggestions when it comes to food and getting exchanges in somehow. My therapist has been sick. I met with a different one at Broene yesterday briefly. He encouraged me to go back to all of my skills again. I am hoping to meet with S tomorrow. I really need her no-BS push in the right direction. I have been honest with a few people. My last two days at school before the weekend wont be as secretive as it has been.

I have work to do if I’m going to move out of this cold spot. Recovery is never easy in the least bit and its like I’m just now seeing that for the first time.

How do I have an eating disorder?

You’d think that after years of therapy, inpatient, residential, PHP, being told this could kill me, worrying my parents and those around me, support groups, etc, I would no longer ask myself this question. In reality, however, I wonder it just as much or more than when this all started.

Just as is typical with people who struggle with eating disorders, I denied its presence for a very long time. I only wanted to lose some weight so I could feel better about myself. My body image issues were completely normal. The fact that I exercised compulsively and solely to burn calories was fine and everyone did it, right?

Even when I switched therapists to someone who specialized in eating disorders, I knew I didn’t need or deserve to be there. When my psychiatrist mentioned Forest View, I brushed him off. The day my mom cried over my weight loss and restriction then called to send me into treatment, I still couldn’t believe it. I was just taking control of my life, weight, exercise, and size. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it!

It was probably a few days in PHP when I saw that maybe I had a little problem going on. At first I refused to speak it out loud, but finally muttered “I struggle with anorexia” despite not fully believing it.

What started out as typical denial has since transformed into a mixture of guilt, shame, disbelief, and self-criticism (hatred seems too strong). I mull over this all the time. Am I really, truly sick or did I do this on purpose and harm so many people, ruin my life, and cost money/time? Didn’t I want an eating disorder so I got one? Can’t I just snap out of it? How has my life been revolved around this all for so long? If this is all my fault, I must be a terrible person.

I somewhat doubt all of the negative beliefs tied to how/why/if I have an eating disorder will ever go away completely. It really messes with how I view myself and whether I deserve help. Regardless, I’m trying to not get so caught up in finding answers and instead fight for recovery with as much strength as I can.

Spring break bust

I’m not one who really likes to whine and complain about things on and on, especially not when its something I should be enjoying. I just got back to school after a week off for spring break. Honestly, I hated it.

I went home from last Friday-today. I’m somewhat jealous of others who were all over the country having the greatest experiences. I really wish I would have done at least something fun, but I didn’t.

I started off the week sick with a nasty sinus infection that I am still recovering from somewhat. Friday I was dragged to my brother’s high school by my mom to take pictures of costumes for his musical (which I didn’t actually need to do at all because a professional was too). I came home exhausted and basically stayed in the chair with Olive, watching Netflix and sleeping. Monday I was forced again to the school for more pictures although I got about 3. The rest of the week I was mostly home alone and it was also too cold to do much outside. Plus,, sinus infection so I’m not sure I would have wanted to do anything anyways. Friday I went shopping (holy shit bad idea but I needed clothes). Yesterday we went to dinner then the musical and then headed back to GR today.

Break was hard for a few reasons (thank you sinus infection), but I would say my depression and ED take the number one and two spots.

Even before break started I knew I was going to fight a battle with negative/depressive thoughts. I already felt really shoved aside since my family was going to be so focused on my brother and the musical. I feel terrible for that, but I guess its only natural to have some sort of expectations for your only week off from school. More than that, I just felt so worthless and alone and like no one cared that I was alive. I say felt but all of those are here with me now, especially as everyone else is happy and talking and catching up while I sit here alone (of course).

I also knew the ED was going to give me shit as well. I felt overwhelmed the last time I went home for two days, so 9 would be terrible. Anytime I’m off routine it gets so hard to remember eating and fulfilling my meal plan. I’m also still dealing with little to no appetite, which means forcing myself to eat every bite. Without actively trying to restrict I skipped many meals and snacks simply because I can’t remember and don’t feel the least bit hungry. I’m having problems (more than usual) with body image to fuel ED thoughts as well. Overall it plain sucks. There are plenty of moments where going back to behaviors seems better than this, however, I won’t believe that lie.

I don’t want to forever regret and focus on how bad this spring break was. That will only send me into more of a negative spiral. Instead, I will be thankful for the rest, time off school, and time spent with the best cat ever.

Losing the skinny identity

“Skinny Minnie.” “You’re so lucky to eat and never gain weight.” “I wish I was your size.” “You’re so little!” “You have to weigh like 2 pounds.” “If you can keep this up when you get older I’ll be so jealous.” “You have the body of a gymnast.” “You’re SO thin and muscular.”

These comments and more I’ve heard all my life, minus around a year or two after my surgery. Now, other than the occasional “you look healthy/better,” no one says a word about my body and especially not that I’m thin.

Small is not just something I happened to be. It was my whole identity. I hated myself in so many other ways but this was the one thing I could at least somewhat believe. Skinny made me worthy and lovable. If other girls and women said my body was desirable, that must mean I’m not quite as terrible as my thoughts told me.

After my surgery and before eating disorder behaviors was a period of time with the worst body image I had yet experienced. I could hardly handle the ways my body was changing, let alone deal with the lack of any positive reinforcement about my thinness. What would I be if I wasn’t skinny?

Once I finally started losing weight again it was great. I suddenly was getting all of those longed-for compliments and I felt on top of the world. I stared at myself in every mirror or reflective surface I could find. When I received a good comment or restricted/exercised, my body would shrink and I could see bones, less fat, and a smaller me. I would feel more confident. That all went away when I was either forced to eat or unable to exercise. Suddenly I would balloon outward and grow to an impossibly large size. Depression, anxiety, self-hate, and eating disorder thoughts skyrocketed.  The only thing that kept me going was working towards my next “you’re so skinny.”

Fast forward to today. I haven’t received a “skinny comment” since before entering inpatient treatment last August. Honestly, even if I did I know that what I see in the mirror doesn’t match up. Still, most of the time I cry standing in front of the mirror. I half expect that what I see will be thin. Hard doesn’t begin to describe it, but I am working to change the way I view my body and self.

I’ve realized, to at least some extent, that skinny isn’t an identity at all. I hid behind it for a majority of my life. I yearned and still yearn for it to be true. Despite that, I am working each day to lose all honor and pride I put into thinness. Skinny is conditional. It doesn’t make you a good or bad person, determine your worth, make you beautiful, or define you. There are many multitudes of other qualities that make each of us unique.

I may never get called “Skinny Minnie” or thin or any other of the various compliments I received before. I can’t be bothered by that. My identity cannot be based around something I don’t truly want to attain again.  I am not skinny, and skinny isn’t all I ever was. That chapter of my life spent waiting for each new comment on my thinness is over. I’m moving on to better things.

Four things – get to know me!

Four things people call me (other than my real name): Emmy, Em, Emmenem, Emmy Jean

Four jobs I’ve had: housekeeper, babysitter, youth leader (not paid but definitely counts), photographer

Four movies I’ve watched more than once: John Tucker Must Die, She’s the Man, The Veronica Mars Movie, The Blind Side

Four places I’ve lived: Norton Shores, MI; Grand Rapids, MI; San Diego, CA (for 5.5 weeks!); Ludington, MI (my second home)

Four things I’d rather not eat: legumes, cottage cheese, hot cereal, ensure, ensure, ENSURE, ENSURE!!!!

Four people I look up to: my mom, Demi Lovato, K, Mrs H

Four fears: tornadoes, throwing up, being alone forever, not being able to have kids one day

Four accomplishments I’m proud of: completing early college, breaking up with my ex, going to CFD, recovering for ME

Four favorite foods: ice cream, nachos, mashed potatoes, cauliflower

Four TV shows I watch: Grey’s Anatomy, Law and Order: SVU, Survivor, Chicago Med

Four card/board games I love: Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, up and  down the river, euchre

Four favorite US Women’s soccer players: Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Sydney Leroux

Four songs I never get tired of: “I,2,3,4” – Feist, “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten, “Warrior” – Demi Lovato, “On Your Porch” – The Format

Four things I’m looking forward to this year: NEDA conference, impacting more people with my story, rediscovering me, soaking up as much knowledge as I can

Four things I’m always saying: “On a scale of 10 to ensure, that was a ___,” “I did ___ and injured my ___,” “This one time at CFD…” “You have to see this picture of my cat/chinchilla”

Four places I’ve visited: Cocoa Beach, FL; Toronto, Canada; Niagara Falls, Mackinac Island

Four books I’d recommend: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult, If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski, any of Jenni Schaefer’s books

Four places I would like to be: on a California beach, under warm blankets next to a fire, in a hammock on a nice warm day, Ludington in the summer (can you tell I’m sick of the cold?)

Four exotic pets I do own/want to own: chinchillas, prairie dogs, sulcata tortoise or really any tortoise, hedgehog

Four of my favorite people: my mom, Livvy Lou, Lily, my brother Alec

Four places I would like to go: Australia, back to Mackinac Island, California, Grand Canyon

Four hopes for the future: be very solid in my recovery, work to help others with eating disorders and mental illness, have children and be the best mom I can, grow closer to God than I ever have been

Four college classes I’m looking forward to taking: community based mental health nursing,  more psych classes, nutrition, pregnant women/infants/children/adolescents nursing

Four favorite DBT skills: kinetic sand, lentils, frozen orange/clementine, scented play dough

Four creative outlets I use: blogging, photography, journaling, origami

Four affirmations: I am doing the best I can, I am God’s masterpiece, I am worthy, I am not my eating disorder

Four things I love taking photographs of: anything in Ludington, flowers, beach, nature in general

Four core values: learning, compassion, resiliency, honesty

This was fun! 🙂 If anyone else wants to do this you’re able to make as many categories as you’d like. I’d love to read any too so you can put a link in the comments too!

 

I am grateful for…

Hope for a new future. Returning hunger cues. A great support system. My family who have stayed with me even through the hardest times. Center for Discovery. Practicing imperfectionism. The hard days that will mold me. Enjoying food again. Being healthier than I have been in a very long time. The brave souls I’ve met on this journey. My amazing treatment team. Forgiveness. A good kick in the butt when I need it. Being able to share my story. Every single challenge I’ve faced. Rediscovering who I am. God’s grace. My own strength. Good insurance. Ensure when I need it. Finding joy in the simplest things. A new friend and mentor who shows me what recovery can look like, encourages me, and is incredible. The people I have touched and will touch. Lily for walking along with me and being the best big sis. Livvy for being my person, my best friend, and inspiring me every day. Weekly ED support group with some amazing girls. Slowly making peace with my body. Feeling like a semi-normal college student again. Measuring my own progress. Everything that will come in the future because I’ve chosen to recover for real, for me.