What recovery means to me

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Recovery means finally being present in my own life…and more specifically…being present in new and exotic places. Growing up, I have always had the travel bug. But my desire to explore the world and experience new things was pushed to the backburner during the depth of my eating disorder. I never completely squashed the bug, but I was more likely to turn down opportunities to go on long trips in fear of constantly eating out. Recovery has finally restored this passion of mine. I am no longer concerned with not having “safe” foods available for me on my trips.

During Memorial Day weekend I took a trip to Michigan and enjoyed some fun in the sun. I was finally able to be present in the moment without stressing over what I was going to eat. I enjoyed my share of healthier restaurant foods along with the occasional ice cream and hot dogs.

For those of you who are still deciding whether to recover, or are struggling in recovery now, just keep in mind what you are recovering for. Recover in order to travel again, to enjoy dinners out with friends, or any other desires you may have that your ED voice is holding you back from.

What will you recover for?

 

 

 

 

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The Stair Struggle

She slowly struggles to climb three large flights of stairs, being passed by students who skip their way to the  top. Her heart pounds heavily and her breath is winded as she slowly makes her way. Her knees ache as she climbs. No, she is not an elderly woman.  She is 22 years old and has an eating disorder. She still goes for a 3-mile jog and to the gym later that night.

She is always tired no matter how many cups of coffee she has. And she is always cold, no matter how many layers of clothes she has on. She is anemic/iron deficient due to a lack of nutrients. She feels bloated and constipated constantly because she isn’t ingesting enough to pass through her body. Her hair looses its bounce and becomes dull and  brittle.

She goes to the doctor to have her blood drawn, yet her veins are so small they have to poke her multiple times (and sometimes with multiple people) to obtain a sample. She is always dehydrated, no matter how many bottles of water she consumes to keep herself feeling full. She is always thinking about food, yet she won’t let herself eat more than a salad for lunch.

She was me three years ago.

Take Action on World Eating Disorder Day!

2e41d5_8107e41ea9b942c7aff5da50f4c128c5_jpg_srz_372_354_85_22_0_50_1_20_0Congrats ED community, tomorrow is the first World Eating Disorder Action Day! The goal is to increase eating disorder awareness, eliminate myths, and evoke policy change. In spirit of World ED Action Day, I have decided to take my own form of action…by finally sharing my story with friends and family on Facebook.

Opening up (to what feels like the whole world) is extremely difficult, but equally as important. So for the friends and family who are reading this: yes I know you told me so, your rumors and thoughts were correct. I am finally ready to openly admit I had an eating disorder, and am still in recovery. I am neither proud nor embarrassed. I am who I am and I happen to have a mental illness. All I ask is that you don’t judge me before doing your research and reading more of my blogs to get the full story.

I appreciate those family members and friends who tried to reach out to me, and I am sorry for being too stubborn to admit I had a problem. Denial is a powerful force (just read my previous blog about it). I realize now how much my eating disorder affected my family and relationships. That is why I decided to ask my sister, mother, father, and grandmother to write a letter to me detailing their experience during this time.

Here is the letter from my younger sister: (the other letters will come in time)

 

Dear Ashley,

There’s nothing harder than watching the woman you looked up to for 15 years begin to wither away before your very eyes. Especially when the problem is so easily fixable, and yet you can do nothing to help. I mean, I couldn’t force you to eat and I couldn’t stop you from exercising. I could only watch as you turned away every burger, every chicken leg, every bowl of ice cream, even a single cookie. You were practically just skin on bones. Everyone who saw you would mention how skinny you were. There were times when I could see your rib cage through your chest. For two years I looked away. I pretended there was nothing wrong with you. Acted oblivious to the illness that was ravaging your mind and destroying your body. But I couldn’t ignore the anger I would feel when I would mention wanting to eat healthier and exercise and be told, “You sound just like Ashley” or “You don’t need to, don’t be like Ashley.” Eventually, the family stopped trying to adjust to your new lifestyle, and started trying to help you get better instead. And relationships got pretty tense. You were really stubborn; you ignored comments about your weight, you refused to eat food offered to you, and you would argue with anyone who tried to explain to you that you’re really sick and that you needed to quit this “healthy lifestyle” because it wasn’t healthy at all. You may have found them annoying in these moments, but they were only trying to help you and keep you alive. I started getting extremely nervous when you mentioned you were missing school a lot to take trips to the doctor and the hospital. I hope they told you being under 90 lbs wasn’t healthy for you. I hope they told you that you were exercising too much and not getting enough calories. I don’t know why you had an epiphany or what caused it, but thank God you did, because I don’t know how much longer you would have lasted living like that. I’m glad you finally acknowledged that you had a serious illness, and took steps to overcome it. You turned your life around. You didn’t just survive your anorexia, you beat it.

Love, your little sister,

Brittany

The letter was extremely difficult to read, but it is also powerful and motivational. Being 7 years older than my sister and 11 years older than my brother, I was always the second parent and mediator of all situations. (Especially during and after my parents’ divorce.) I wanted nothing more than to be the best role model for them. I was the quintessential “oldest child”…with a type-A, perfectionist personality. Never would I have thought, that my younger sister would actually become a role model for myself.

I encourage you all to take action in your own way. You can also sign the pledge against eating disorders on http://worldeatingdisordersday.org

The happiest day of my life is the day I got my .

Period!!!!! The one week out of the month that most women (and their significant others) dread. But if my boyfriend wasn’t asleep in the other room I’d be shouting for all my neighbors to hear. I haven’t had my period in three years. Today marks the day that my body is recovered. (Though I know it takes 3 consecutive months to know that it will stick). I cant help but feel overwhelming optimism for full recovery.

If you are struggling to get their menstrual cycle AND you are back to their pre-eating disorder weight (or even slightly heavier)…then I recommend you try the 10-day Provera. It can help jump-start your menstrual cycle if ED caused a hormonal imbalance. You will ONLY get your period if you are back to a weight your body is comfortable with.

At this point I’m not jumping to the conclusion that I am fully recovered. I still have to work on the mental part of recovery, and my ongoing obsession with the gym. But today is a fiet nonetheless.

Today’s word prompt: Fork

I never considered participating in the daily word prompt…until I saw today’s challenge: fork. The word couldn’t be more relevant for what I want to talk about today: mindful eating.


This has been an extremely difficult task for me throughout recovery and is something I have yet to master. Being able to listen to my body and hunger cues, eat what I’m in the mood for, and to actively enjoy and savor each bite symbolizes full recovery to me. (After having maintained a healthy weight).

My challenge for you (and myself) is to be actively engaged with what’s on your fork. For starters, I challenge you to eat with all five senses..listening to the crackling while cooking, smelling the aroma, seeing the colors, tasting each flavor and spice, and feeling the textures. Most importantly, be thankful for what’s on your fork, the nourishment you are giving your body, and the sensational feeling of enjoyment. Food is not solely meant to be nutritious, it’s meant to be enjoyed and to be enjoyed with others. Therefore, I challenge you to also share your fork with someone else.

Keep using that fork.

-Recovery Road