Important questions from Cristina Yang

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I’m binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy for the at least the 4th time currently, and I came across an episode that left me thinking about a lot. Cristina Yang poses 3 questions during multiple situations in the episode: Do you know who you are? Do you know what’s happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

Do you know who you are? In the simplest sense, yes. I know my name, where I’m from, social security number, etc, but that doesn’t truly define me. I don’t fully know me yet. How could I when I’ve spent years tearing myself apart? That being said, I am in the process of discovering myself. I want to be authentic and real, but I cannot do that before I dig deeper and explore myself. Not Emily the anorexic/depressed/anxious. While I feel this to be true often, I am NOT my mental illnesses. I have no doubt that I will find myself more each day if I stay in recovery. I hope to find who I am, because I think I may really like her.

Do you know what’s happened to you? Yesish. I say that because I am still learning all that has changed me, for good or bad. For example, I never realized how much my past relationship affected me and what actually happened back then. I am just now (after 6+ years) putting together those pieces. I also recognize many things that lead up to where I am today. I could list out everything that has happened in my life, but this isn’t the type of knowing I yearn for. I want to thoroughly explore – not just the “what” but the why’s too.

Do you want to live this way? NO!!!!!! I thought I should truly emphasize that, aha. If I wanted to, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to spend my entire summer in treatment. Working hard in recovery would never be on my radar. If I want to live this way forever, I will end up dead. I don’t want to die, and especially not from this. This means a change needs to happen. It hasn’t been an easy ride so far. I don’t expect it to be, but I do know that recovery is going to offer me a life worth living. I will keep going for that.

I love how each of these questions are posed because they have been thought-provoking to me. These answers are much different from what they would have been if I were more into my depression, anxiety, and eating disorder (like last semester, for example). That in itself is progress. I want to be able to return to these questions in a few months, a year, or many years down the line to see what has changed. It’s hard to imagine all the progress  I may see.

I am proud of myself this week.

Honestly that feels pretty odd to say/think, but at this moment I believe it. I deserve a freaking gold star for getting through. I want to give myself that kind of recognition. I may wake up tomorrow and have a completely different view, so I am relishing in this moment to explain the “why” behind this amazing feeling.

Way back in residential/afterwards for a little while, I made a list of “weekly accomplishments” to showcase the progress I had made. Sometimes it was painful to come up with two examples, and others I had over a page. No matter what, seeing the positives laid out in front of me gave me a different, perhaps more realistic, view. One of the most common cognitive distortions I engage in is discounting the positives. This is a way to completely turn that around and add up the good rather than all the ways I’ve “failed.”

As R and I were talking through the distortions I frequent, she stressed how much of a concern this is for her and everyone at IOP/my treatment team. I could do something that seems so amazing to them, get a compliment or “wow, that’s progress” but shrug it off and come up with a counter. It is hard to see much progress from when I entered IOP in December to now. That is a long freaking time and too many hours in treatment to count.

As we were coming up with goals on how to change this, I mentioned my accomplishment lists I used during and shortly after residential. She immediately loved the idea and so it became my goal. I got out a beautiful new journal I had been saving for something worthy enough to use it for. Each week (Sun-Sat), I will jot down anything and everything I’ve done that brings me towards the person I hope to become. The hope is that this will slowly chip away at my negative views of my progress/self/recovery/hope/etc.

Just now, I read over everything I wrote down this week. This is why I feel some confidence and pride in how it has gone. Was I perfect? Did I follow my meal plan 100%? Did I complete every single assignment, attend every class? Was it a week free from struggle? Absolutely not! It would be completely wrong to say that I’ve done so outstanding and I am quickly pulling myself out of my struggles. The difference here is how I am looking at all that’s happened. I have spent so much time focusing on the wrong I’ve done, the “should’s,” comparisons, on and on and on. It is beyond time to try something different.

It’s pretty obvious that this is not going to be some easy fix where I suddenly will acknowledge everything they say as true. Even if I come in with the best intentions it is going to take time. These are thought patterns that are automatic, and pulling myself out of them is a challenge. In this moment, however, I will drink in my accomplishments from the past week. I will acknowledge the strength despite some really hard times. I’m going to keep moving forward, with my new journal to (hopefully) help grow confidence in myself and my recovery. This will be a process, one that I am finally ready to embrace.


I haven’t quite decided whether I will make a page on my blog like I did before, or perhaps just share bits and pieces of my journal. For this week, I’ll show everything written down, though.

4/09/17-4/15/17

  • ate dinner Sunday when I didn’t have to/want to
  • honesty in therapy
  • took time to collage and just enjoy
  • tried whipped Greek yogurt and kashi bars
  • bravely did not cancel my dietitian appt
  • attended support group without my two friends
  • made goals for the weekend and took in (although reluctantly) what my dietitian said
  • got housing set up for next year
  • back into blogging again ❤ 🙂
  • spent 2 hours “mocking” and not anything else
  • survived the car accident without allowing negative thoughts to fester, took care of myself, and gave myself GRACE (more on this soon)
  • spent time outside doing yoga
  • no skipped meds all week
  • stayed patient with my mom even though she has been difficult to deal with
  • SURVIVED – it was a rough one!

200 posts!!

Yesterday’s blog was my 200th post! I wish WordPress would tell you that before you reach x number of posts so I could have done this yesterday, but oh well.  That’s crazy to me, that my little blog has turned into a great outlet these past few years. Also, I have people actually reading it! I am thankful for every single person who has read, commented, liked, followed, etc. I hope that I have inspired you along the way. Let’s take a look back at all that has made up my blog experience:

Best things about having my blog

  • sharing my story with others from all over
  • owning all I have been through
  • spreading awareness of eating disorders/MH
  • creative outlet for what I’m feeling
  • fun! I really enjoy writing posts, especially the more positive ones when I can

My favorite posts

  • my story – I am very proud of this, because it is sharing the most intimate details of my struggles, but also some hope for the future
  • all of my TFHR, Pows & Wows, Stuff and things – these have been fun and mostly light-hearted. I also enjoy how they give little insights about how life is going for me in that moment
  • When you leave residential ED treatment – this was exciting, took forever, and is a funny post to read. It’s nice to reminisce about residential in a goofy way with all the memes and gifs
  • My BRAIN is sick. I was angry writing this and I had a right to be. A short post for (what should be) a simple concept: you never know how someone is doing in recovery based on what you see.
  • Anorexia is… I wrote this to help others get inside the mind of anorexia, since it is hard for them to imagine. Now, I turn back to it to remember all the things I am NOT missing.
  • “You look really, really good!” I didn’t take the compliment as “you look fat” and instead embraced who recovery has made me to be.
  • Losing the skinny identity my identity was always tied to things I had or didn’t have, with my skinny identity being the one I put most of my trust into
  • Comparison is the thief of joy I am passionate about breaking the competitive nature of people struggling. We all are sick and it dosn’t matter how your ED masifests
  • all of my ED awareness posts because they give people the truth

Goals for the next while

  • reach 75 posts in 2016. I am currently at 59 including this one and I want to continue at a good pace for the rest of this year. It shouldn’t be super hard considering I have at least 20 drafts/ideas for posts
  • do more awareness posts
  • write about my other illnesses that I really haven’t shared: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), anxiety and depression (more specifically), body dysmorphia, Pectus Excavatum. Those stories affect my life greatly as well.
  • ED bible study/support group
  • morphing of behaviors
  • faith posts
  • inspiring and positive topics regarding recovery
  • mayyyyybe some photography, assuming I actually pursue that passion again :/

 

Fall 2013 v 2014 v 2015 v 2016

*I am considering fall September – early December because this is the first trimester/semester of school*

Fall 2013

  • Senior year of high school, 1/2 time HS classes and 1/2 college classes at the local community college = stress
  • Self harm:
    • doing my best to completely end the addiction after struggling for 6+ years of bruising/hitting and ~1 year of cutting
    • being therapy for the first time because my parents noticed and were angry once they realized I was cutting
    • entered complete recovery on December 3rd and haven’t slipped up majorly since then
  • Depression:
    • worse than I’ve ever experienced before
    • lots of isolation, low self-esteem, internalizing feelings despite therapy
  • Anxiety:
    • extremely high with balancing high school + college classes
    • occasionally suffered from panic attacks (a new symptom I’d never dealt with before)
    • same constant worries I’ve had since I was born. okay probably not but as long as I can remember so basically
  • Therapy:
    • was meh at best
    • went every week and every other sometimes
    • at least I liked her a lot
    • no help at all with the ED
    • literally zero
    • did help some with the rest = good
    • not challenging/hard on me (which I later learned I need)
  •  Perfectionism:
    • HOLY COW
    • I cried and flipped out every time I received anything less than a 90% on basically every assignment
    • A&P was difficult to achieve that level of excellence because all of the body parts and just being a difficult “weeder class”
    • therapy did nothing really
    • everything needs to be perfect->constant feelings of imperfection->depression/anxiety/shame/guilt/self-hatred->taking this out on my body through self-harm and then ED behaviors
  • Eating disorder:
    • behaviors and thoughts multiplied like CRAZY
    • restricting increasing steadily
    • ran on the treadmill everyday and pushed past my limits each time
    • began hiding food, lying to my parents, and skipping meals/snacks
    • I had lunch on the way back from the career tech center or in class
    • lunch this way meant throwing away ~80 percent of grains/meat, eating fruits and vegetables, eating very slowly
    • lying about how I ate said lunch
    • weight loss to a point of hovering between underweight and at the bottom of “normal” BMI (aka bullshit meaningless information not that I viewed it this way at the time)
    • weighed myself at least 3 times a day (morning, after school, before bed) and of course hid this from my parents
    • kinda pertaining, during a urine sample testing at CTC my ketones were +2 which worried my teacher
  • Overall status
    • poopy
    • very entrenched in mental health issues
    • feeling out of control with all of it
    • going down, down, down
  • Other:
    • started on my very first psych med, courtesy of my extremely judgy pediatrician
    • turned 18 yay real adult
    • literally no friends in person except acquaintances in class
    • found the most wonderful online friends ever ❤
    • began to prepare for competing in HOSA for medical math

Fall 2014

  • “13th year” of early college aka finishing up my associate’s degree as a full-time college student
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • celebrated one year free
  • Depression:
    • blech, probably around the same
    • a constant thing, usually just connected to anxiety, perfectionism, and anorexia in one lovely ball of fun
  • Anxiety:
    • pretty darn high with yet another semester of rather difficult classes
    • again, wrapped in the joy with depression, perfectionism, and anorexia
    • revolved also around losing everyone around me
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • new therapist love <333333
    • seriously never imagined therapy being so helpful
    • she actually dealt and specialized in eating disorders
    • came straight out of a month and a half of PHP at Forest View
    • PHP terrified, stabilized, and motivated me
    • I never had felt so connected and understood in my life
    • had a meal plan I somewhat mostly followed
    • saw a dietitian all of once and then gave up with that one
    • was finally challenged in therapy and given homework
    • small amounts of tough love
    • had psych appointments monthly at first, then less frequently
  • Perfectionism:
    • again, grades were a main focus
    • needed perfection in my recovery ?
    • felt the need to do everything right because I almost was forced to quit school
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • spoke aloud “I struggle with anorexia” for the very first time at FV
    • emotional issues became an even larger trigger for ED behaviors
    • referred to anorexia as Ed and personified it
    • lovingly forced to eat challenge foods
    • parents were food police to the extreme and I HATED it
    • I was forced to eat lunch with my early college dean each day I was at college during that time
    • it was nice to have company, but she was oblivious to me using behaviors and restricting
    • eventually began eating by myself more, always facing the wall and if not I wouldn’t eat a thing
  • Overall status:
    • better than the year before, at first anyways
    • still caught up in distorted thought patterns constantly
    • going through the motions
    • a majority of my life was centered around my mental health stuff, mainly the ED
  • Other:
    • started this blog!
    • became a youth leader
    • my girls = a motivation to recover; not a strong one in the end but motivation still
    • Lily and Livvy were my long distance support people
    • was on 2 psych meds, courtesy of scary doctor VH from FV
    • simply skated through slightly below the threshold of “you need more treatment” and “you’re doing all right”
    • had support from a woman in church which I needed at the time
    • other than her basically no physical support
    • relationship with my family was pretty bad still
    • grades were much better, especially considering how I was doing overall

Fall 2015

  • first year at Calvin
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • 2 years clean
  • Depression
    • steadily grew worse each day
    • isolation also increased with that
    • psych meds weren’t fully helping
  • Anxiety:
    • grades, grades, grades
    • stressing out because I “needed” to get into the nursing program fall 2016
    • I had to act normal and make friends
    • always worrying that I would be alone forever
    • catching up after I was gone from my injury
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • spent one week in FV’s inpatient program
    • that ended only one week before school started up
    • IP was a complete bandaid
    • it worked for like a month tops
    • started seeing a new, amazing therapist at school ❤
    • sidenote: I have been blessed with two wonderful therapists since leaving FV
    • saw my first ever dietitian who was pretty good for me
    • once a week therapy and dietitian
    • all the outpatient treatment in the world couldn’t have saved me from myself
    • left school and entered residential treatment at Center for Discovery Del Mar Nov 19th and stayed through Dec 28th
  • Perfectionism:
    • perfection with eating, exercise, meal plan (following and then restricting it)
    • very rigid exercise plan
    • I went rock climbing often and had to get the route down perfectly or I failed
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • began restricting basically straight out of FV
    • had a meal plan that I at least attempted to follow
    • work-out/weight loss yoga became my go-to exercise
    • and it all came crashing down
    • restricted tons during the week and then was forced to eat whenever I came home for the weekend
    • my parents knew nothing, of course
    • I felt 100% powerless
    • obsessed with losing weight, not knowing the number but hearing which direction it was going by my dietitian
    • measured myself by size of clothes and looking in the mirror
  • Overall status:
    • just bad
    • wanted to give up on everything
    • eventually I gave up hope, interest in anything
    • flat emotions and an overall lack of caring
    • my life revolved around my eating disorder
    • most of the fall is pretty hazy because I was in a state of confusion, memory loss, lack of concentration
    • everything completely changed once I entered treatment*
  • Other:
    • fractured my orbital socket, broke my nose, and received a concussion while playing capture the flag at dorm retreat
    • this lead to surgery and 3.5 weeks at home
    • I fell behind in my classes
    • grades slipped to the lowest they have ever been: B’s and C’s
    • felt the need to tell my roommate and RA/suitemate about the ED
    • they somewhat became a food/exercise police
    • my RA seriously would knock on my door when she heard a yoga video and make me stop
    • my relationship with my family was better than before, then dropped off some when they found out I hid my struggling
    • residential was the best/hardest choice I have ever made for myself
    • the immense growth and motivation I gained firmly planted me in recovery
  • note: minus a few points, these are all my status pre-treatment*

Fall 2016

  • 2nd year at Calvin
  • Self-harm:
    • donezo 😀
    • 3 (!!!!) years clean this December
  • Depression:
    • worse than before for who knows why
    • MAJOR isolation
    • hopeless about ever making friends
    • feeling down for no apparent reason
    • occasional passive suicidal ideation “I don’t deserve to live anymore”, “I wish I wasn’t here”, etc
    • it interferes with everyday life – I am not interested in things, somewhat slower in movement/thoughts, flat,
  • Anxiety:
    • stressed in general
    • apathy/procrastination->stress and completing everything last minute
  • Therapy/treatment:
    • seeing my school therapist every other week :/
    • still have psych appointments, probably every month or so
    • dietitian (starting this week with a new one at school, not sure how often that will be)
    • bi-monthly support group held at FV (ohhhh the memories in that lovely room)
    • eating disorder bible study weekly
  • Perfectionism:
    • grades are becoming progressively moreso
    • less than a 90 on tests kills me a little
    • I absolutely cannot show my true emotions and struggles at church
  • Eating disorder (anorexia):
    • I feel the need to be more disciplined in my eating than I have been in recovery
    • taking smallish steps to achieve that
    • body image suddenly improves when I restrict/eat healthier/exercise
    • goal = lose a few pounds and tone
    • ^probably a bad idea
    • fighting urges more than I have any other fall so far
    • eating 80% of my meals in my room (when I’m not home)
    • more fearful of the dining hall, or maybe just the food there?
    • when I compare my body, it’s by size and not weight (except when my psych doctor decides to tell me my BMI)
  • Overall status:
    • faith is improved and I have more hope!
    • general feeling blah about life
    • loss of interest in many of my former passions
    • I am able to focus on school and everything more than I have in years
    • it can be really hard faking happiness when I really want to be honest with others (eg at church)
    • I would say this is better than I have been in years, but by no means have I taken a 180 and suddenly been freed from all of the negative MH stuff in my life
    • on my good days I am generally just content with where I’m at
    • I’m pretty worried about the amount of support I’m getting currently
  • Other
    • attending church 2-3x a week and coming home midweek and on weekends – LOVE
    • I’ve gone out soulwinning a few times and it’ amazing to spread the gospel and invite others to church
    • currently working every weekend around 10-15 hrs
    • I tend to put off things and forget or not care anymore
    • my friends/supports are still long distance
    • making a new friend from work though! we have a ton in common and I’m excited about it
    • playing Sims again 😀
    • team no sleep, typically 5 hrs a night on weekdays
    • building up my relationship with my family
    • they are more trusting finally and not the enemy anymore
    • I have a car and with that more independence
    • driving back and forth is actually pretty nice

I definitely didn’t intend for this post to be so long, but I am inspired and surprised but how much change has come over the years. There’s been growth and setbacks, positive moments and pits of darkness, a variety in levels of ED/depression/anxiety, and more. I have gone through a lot and I honestly believe it’s pretty incredible that I am still here and in a (mostly) better space than before. My hope is that Fall 2016 will be the best one yet!

I’m doing this all on my own.

A few weeks into residential, my therapist and I were discussing discharge plans. She asked whether I would be able to head back to Forest View’s PHP, then step down to IOP, and eventually go to therapy twice a week with a dietitian, etc. Right away I told her none of those things were possible. I started school the week after I left resi. PHP (and IOP) is 45 minutes away from home, and although it’s close to my school, I didn’t have a car at the time. Of course there is also the issue of school. I had to sign papers that I would come back for interim or forfeit enrollment at Calvin. There is no way I could give up my college career. Her concern immediately grew. Instead of having a month or more of step-down care, I went from 24/7 support to therapy once a week, and no dietitian for the first few weeks.

This was a hard pill to swallow. I knew all along that step-down care wouldn’t ever happen, but being so close to discharge it started to sink in more. I changed and grew immensely at residential, more than anyone expected. I was the girl I had never seen before in my sickness. Even so, the real word is scary. You aren’t in a bubble with people to help you through urges, meals, meltdowns. I no longer had groups with others who understood exactly what I’m going through. I dropped from a safe place into a world of triggers and little help.

I tried to be as optimistic as possible as discharge crept closer. There were looming fears I couldn’t shake: dining hall eating, being back at school in general, the food police, being so fat/bigger than before. I was originally going to leave the Monday before Christmas. That caused me the most worry of all. How would I be able to jump right back into a holiday after only four days out of treatment? My therapist pulled me into her office the Wednesday before I was supposed to discharge and gave me the best news possible: insurance approved an extra week. I cried feeling so blessed by this opportunity. We had to share my decision with my parents. That was a difficult conversation and is still full of negative emotions on their part. I mostly ignored it because to me getting the most time at residential as possible was going to add more confidence and motivation to my recovery.

Unfortunately, nothing CFD did to prepare me for the real world could fully do so. Coming home meant uncertainty and outcomes both good and bad. If I gave up or gave into anorexia I would just end up back where I started. On the other hand, finding the strength to fight with all I am meant finding the girl I had lost so many years ago.

Leaving residential and going straight back to completely outpatient has been challenging. I no longer had the cushy protection to help me not use behaviors or restrict. I wasn’t in treatment for 8 or 4 hours each day. No one was there to ensure I ate enough.

The thing is, by much less support (and more of a drastic change because of it) after residential I have had to own my recovery. Sure, I still had people cheering me on and did therapy, but that was only an hour of professional and then the meals I had with my family, as far as physical support goes. I so appreciate everyone who has been there for me; however, it never will be the same as being in residential or treatment in general. I completely am on my own now.

I have grown but also struggled these last almost 10 months post CFD. I miss it, or at least some aspects. Groups definitely top that list. I feel more alone now that I don’t have people to under­­stand me. (Luckily that is changing as I attend 2 support groups now). I’ve looked through my journals and pictures from residential sometimes and just bawl, longing for any part of that program to return. About a month ago I drove to Forest View and sat in the parking lot. I so wanted to have the safety, support, and even the dreaded ensures. Also, and really surprising/confusing/weird, I miss Dr. VH?!? He was a hard ass and somewhat mean but holy cow do I miss him telling it like it is and threatening me. I honestly thought about checking myself into inpatient and just riding it out for a week so I didn’t have to face reality. I know that’s really not how I felt about inpatient at the time and I don’t plan on returning ever. For whatever reason sitting there brought up all of the good things about my time in that building and blocked out anything bad (aka most everything I experienced). More than anything it was be realizing I was so close to what parts of treatment I missed the most: groups, 24/7 care, supervised meals, being with others the same as me.

I am currently taking some steps backwards as the fall goes on. My thoughts are very negative and consumed by ED, depression, and anxiety. I am doing my best to take care of myself by going to support groups, spending time with people I love, taking another try with a dietitian, relaxing some, and eating as well as I can. Realizing all I have and haven’t done since discharge gives me motivation to keep going. I haven’t had any sort of treatment other than therapy/occasional dietitian, and I have done well without it. I haven’t needed to return to treatment. I have had so much more energy and don’t look or feel like a zombie.

I am very proud of myself for this progress. I’m in no way saying that I’m better than someone who has had step-down treatment after residential. I wish sometimes (especially during lapses in recovery) that I would have been fortunate enough to. I felt that was unfair for a long time. Now, my feelings are very different. I am glad that I came right out. I am continuously choosing and working towards recovery each day because I want it.

I was so certain I would end up back inpatient or residential without any good aftercare plan., but I didn’t. I survived each day and made it through on my own. I continue to do this all on my own. Little by little, I am finding strength on the hard days because I came home from residential and went straight back to real life.

Progress is

Measuring progress through my own lens.

Handling urges the best I can even when I so badly want to give up.

Lowering perfectionistic grade standards.

Going out with friends instead of turning them down.

Not needing the “food police” to ensure I eat enough.

Removing outside influences (mainly social media) that are harmful to me.

Being trusted to handle my own medications.

Smiling, laughing, enjoying, loving, socializing, living.

Taking care of my body: resting when it needs rest, fueling it, enjoying movement, keeping it from harm.

Working with my therapist and dietitian instead of fighting them.

Speaking out about what I need.

Asking for help without feeling shame.

Putting my relationship with God above my relationship with self-hatred and the ED.

Seeking out opportunities for fellowship instead of waiting for them to come to me.

Feeling joy and gratitude in the little things.

Work being about serving God not a way to exercise and restrict.

Entering the healthiest summer I have had in at least 5 years.

Trying not to dwell on mistakes I have made.

Feeling so incredibly excited for the future.

Allowing myself to have foods I crave, not only the ever-shrinking safe list.

Approaching clothes shopping in a different way – focusing on what I feel best in, not the sizes.

Calming my anxious thoughts before they become overwhelming.

Coming back stronger from the worst and fastest relapse I have ever experienced.

Others telling me how I look so alive now.

Investing in whatever is helpful for me to continue regulating emotions and negative thoughts.

Plans for the future that are not driven or held back by my eating disorder, anxiety, depression, self-hatred, etc.

Contentment.

Embracing social gatherings with food.

No meticulously planning meals and snacks beforehand.

Moving past the strict meal plan.

Using the energy once taken up by the ED towards everything I love and deserve.

Going a week without therapy and not self-imploding/freaking out/slipping/breaking down.

Trusting that God has this all under control and seeking Him again.

Separating the lies of disordered/irrational thought out from my own.

Sharing my story instead of hiding it from the world.

Choosing spontaneity, not rigidity.

Believing I am more than my problems that weigh me down.

Enjoying and noticing the world around me.

Becoming more passionate about photography.

Coming through so many difficult situations that would have broken me before.

Realizing I am worth so much more than I ever imagined.

 

“You look really, really good!”

Yesterday I finally got to meet with my normal therapist at school, S. I was so excited to see her again. I wanted to share all about residential and the growth I’ve made. The first thing she said once we started talking was “You look really, really good.”

I teared up. She didn’t have to explain herself to me. I didn’t fight it. ED thoughts never took hold to decipher what she really meant by “good.” I knew.

I’m not ready yet to look at my body and be okay with the changes. I feel it all of the time: me taking up more space than I used to, more than the ED would ever allow.

What I am ready to recognize and share is that I DO look good. I smile and radiate the joy that everyone at CFD so hoped I could have. The worn out look I had every single day has disappeared. My skin has a little color to it. I look more alive than I have in years.

My appearance does reflect my recovery in this way. It isn’t about the weight gain. That can happen without any change on the inside. I have put in hard work. My soul, the real Emily, she’d coming back more each day. I may have bad thoughts and sometimes give in to them, but my life is not the ED’s anymore. I am truly living.

Three months ago I would have argued with S. I could never accept that compliment, or any. All I would hear is the ED’s voice telling me how fat I must be for her to say that. I would have left her office feeling down and disgusted. I might have still cried but for a much different reason.

Right now I am thankful, empowered, proud, courageous, and so happy. These tiny changes I’m making are truly paying off. Its easy to forget the amount of change that has taken place until someone points it out. Moments like these affirm how much recovery is worth to me.

For now, I will bask in the fact that I do look really, really good. I’ve earned it!

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