Saturday, July 31, 2010

Closing the door.....forever ♥

Recovering fully from an eating disorder, for me, and I believe anyone, means that you have to close and LOCK that door forever. I do not believe that anyone has to suffer, even just a little bit, for the rest of their life.
I hear people refer to 'always having to deal with it (IT being the eating disorder), as if it will always be a part of them. I don't buy it. I am living proof that this is false.
The concept of full recovery, complete, without 'residual' thoughts, fears or behaviors, is a very difficult one to grasp, especially if you are still in the midst of working recovery.
It's not a fast process, nor an easy one, but I found that once I truly closed the door, and turned my back on it, it is no longer a part of my any way. I continue to be amazed by this, as I live my life in total freedom.
What did I do that finally allowed me to 'close the door'?
I stopped being dishonest..about my feelings, about my behaviors, and about WHO I am.
I embraced my meal plan for as long as necessary, and allowed it to be my anchor. No diet, low fat, or fat free foods are allowed in my house-at least for my consumption.
Now, I make sure that I eat WELL, which protects me from any of the old mindsets. I will NOT allow myself to procrastinate about things. I don't always have to make the prefect decision. I can change my mind, and move on. Life is too short to spend my time on things that I can't control, or that don't matter in the larger scheme of things.
I think more about 'the moment', what I want, what my body and mind need, and then I act on it.
I'm not ashamed to ask for help, to admit that I don't know everything, and I accept that I make mistakes.
Pleasing others is a nice bonus, but pleasing myself first is more important, and more powerful in the long run.
Closing the door to the eating disorder took a lot of hard work and time, but keeping it closed is much easier than I would have thought.
What is holding the door open for you? How can you close it once and for all?
It's not only possible, YOU can do it!!
Without apology...♥

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why Are You Seeking Treatment?

As I've begun to work more closely with people who are seeking treatment to recover from their eating disorders, I realize that the answer to this question can vary greatly.
The reasons that people seek treatment are varied, and not always for their own well being. Some are seeking to make someone else happy. This goal in itself speaks to a dysfunction, whether it be well intentioned or not.
I am not against getting help because of outside pressure, because if you need it, your need it. My concern is that along the way it is vital that the person in treatment, embrace it for themselves, and not for someone else. Also, this points to a deeper need to walk away from the need to always please learn to make your own choices and to be responsible for your own life.
Many people are simply 'tired of doing it'..the eating disorder is not serving them anymore, or they are experiencing the negative and life-threatening affects that the eating disorder is having on them. Fear is also a strong motivator.
Regardless of the reason, and the strength of a person's resolve and determination, recovery is hard. The process is likely the most difficult journey a person will take in their life. It is also the most rewarding. The personal awareness and strengths that one builds along the way is beyond any other.
A person who has recovered from an eating disorder is by far, much healthier in an emotional sense, than the average person walking down the street.
Are you seeking treatment, or working on recovery for yourself? Are you doing it because you want a better future? A family? Or do you want freedom from the rules and the prison that an eating disorder becomes?
What has led you to the point that you are reading this, seeking help, or searching for answers?
Without apology...♥

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is the Treatment for Eating Disorders Specialized?

The following factors have been determined to contribute the most to the quality of treatment provided by therapists treating eating disorders. (Adapted from Rie et al., 2008, International Journal of Eating Disorders, 41, 307-317)

-Being respected
-Learning to take your own responsibility
-Learning how to eat normally
-Focus on recovering weight
-Focus on improving your body image
-Being taken seriously
-Trust in therapist
-Explanation of information on EDs
-Keeping a(n) (eating) diary
-Being able to talk about eating behaviors
-Treatment that addresses the person
-Being able to talk about feelings
-Focus on self esteem
-Being able to talk about thoughts
-Addressing underlying problems
-Being accepted as you are

When these specifics were ranked by both therapists and patients, the results showed that therapists placed the highest priority on behavioral change and eating disorder symptoms, while patients stressed the importance of the therapeutic relationship, and the need to address problems underlying the eating disorder.
I plan to write more about the important 'specialities' of working with eating disordered patients.

(Garner, D.M. & Keiper, C.D. (in press) Eating Disorders. In: J.Thomas & M. Herson (Editors). Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies (volume 3), New York: Springer.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fear of change, or fear of NOT changing?

We all know the intense fear of change and the uncertainty of new situations and routines. When I suffered with an eating disorder, I was immobilized by my fears of taking risks or making changes, even though I was told I would 'feel' better. The uncertainty of life without an eating disorder, seemed worse to me than the perceived safety of the eating disorder.
Even though the eating disorder, and the affects it had on my life frightened me, the idea of changing, and the uncertainty associated with that, prevented me from taking risks to recover for many years.
The changes necessary for recovery will not get any easier by waiting. In fact, they are likely to become more frightening, as the obsessions of the eating disorder grow stronger (and they will). I can now see that my life became more and more 'narrow', the longer I was ill, and the sense of safety seemed stronger.
Becoming less afraid of change required me to walk right into it, to trust that it could not be any worse than my present situation, or what I perceived to be safe. I had gotten to the point where I knew I would die if I continued in the pattern I was caught in.
Very much like 'exposure therapy', the more I risked doing the things that scared me the most, the more safe I felt about change. I realized that change was my only way out, and as time went on, I found that those changes were actually freeing me!
This process is unique for every person recovering from an eating disorder, but I think the fact that doing what you are most afraid of, i.e. eating, not bingeing or purging, not exercising to extreme, or whatever happens to maintain the eating disorder for YOU, is the key to true recovery.
As I began my final treatment (and recovery!) at River Centre, I was certainly more afraid of NOT changing. The eating disorder had already taken more than 35 years of my life. Regardless of the fear I felt, I was ultimately more afraid that I would not change.
Where are YOU in this process?
Without apology....♥

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Juggling the Numbers

The 'balancing act' with numbers, in terms of weight, calories, amount of exercise, etc., is a very confusing and obsessive aspect of nearly any eating disorder. It nearly drove me insane, quite literally, during the long years of my own illness.
I wanted things to 'balance out'. I wanted symmetry in my life, in ALL areas. I wanted control. None of these desires were truly possible nor rational in order to live life as a human being. Life is imperfect, as each of us are, but that 'need' felt real and very overwhelming.
This speaks directly to the common black/white thinking that many people struggle with who also suffer with an eating disorder. Living in the 'gray' area, with any level of uncertainty can literally cause feelings of desperation and doom.
I am speaking from my own experience.
While meticulous meal planning is a vital step in recovery, it will die a natural death as a person continues to practice consistency and balance in their eating, and follow their treatment recommendations. The time it takes is different for everyone, but getting to the point where one can trust their body (and their mind) to be accepting of food and their natural, healthy weight is critical.
The numbers will never 'balance', because in reality, life is not balanced, nor is it possible to balance that 'scale' (no pun intended).
This need speaks to a deeper insecurity and desire for safety and predictability. During my treatment and recovery, I managed some pretty dramatic 'gymnastics' in an effort to beat the natural tightly control. But eventually it all came back to simple honesty, and my ability to trust myself and those around me.
I am not a good juggler when it involves manipulation, which in this case, it did.
The freedom I enjoy now, with numbers not playing a role in how I live my daily life, is truly a miracle to me.
As always, I encourage all to stick to their treatment plan, meal plan as long as necessary, and you will know when you have developed the needed trust to test your 'wings'....always with professional guidance.

Without apology...♥

Monday, July 5, 2010


A very important tool throughout the main part of my recovery, was daily journaling. I was encouraged from the very beginning to write 'stream of thought', and to share my writing. I found over time that this served to 'empty' my mind somewhat of the thoughts that were constantly swirling about. My daily writing also began to help increase my awareness of myself, which was key for my recovery.
I continue to write a lot, but not in the same fashion. I no longer 'journal' as a means for personal growth, however I have learned that verbal expression works nearly as well for me....most of the time.
Today I need to write. I need to get some things 'out'. I need to process.
I am afraid. I have had a weekend of 'moments' and circumstances that have brought my own mortality and that of those whom I love, into very clear view. As a Christian, I don't doubt the afterlife, but I am afraid to die. Does this mean I don't really believe? I don't know. Is it fear of death, or fear of losing the life that I am finally able to live? Am I being too worldly? Do I treasure 'Earthly' things too much? I say no, but.....
Going to my hometown, where I lived the first 45 years of my life, always causes me to mourn my Father and my dear son Timothy, in a more 'real' way. It just does. I see my Mother growing older, slower, and unable to do many of the things she use to do. Time is passing, for her and for me. For all of us. In some ways this frightens me.
This weekend I learned of a tragic boating accident which took the life of a woman I knew in High School, and one of her grandsons (one of a set of triplets). These kinds of tragedies leave me angry, unsettled and fearful. The fear is similar to the feeling that surrounded me for months after Tim was killed. Life is unfair. We don't know what the next day or even hour will bring. We take far too much for granted.
The love of my life, my dear husband, has been struggling with health issues for about six weeks now. Strange symptoms that are not responding to medication, and that continue to worsen. He is not bedridden, and is obviously functioning, but something is wrong, and I am becoming more and more concerned, and yes, fearful.
I no longer have the extreme need to control, or to 'fix' things that I use to. But these situations are ones that are tugging at me, and I am unsettled. I can go on with my routine, laugh, enjoy my life, but I am questioning if I should be more prepared, put my life in order, so to speak, or is this simply the result of being a bit over tired and emotional?
While riding home last night I felt a heaviness. I sobbed through the song, "I Can Only Imagine" (I always do, but it was more intense), with images of myself being taken from this life....and then what?
I know I will get back into my daily routine, laugh, be in the moment, and life will go on, but, I don't want to miss anything. I don't want to lose an opportunity to tell someone I love them.
Thank you for reading.
As always, without apology...♥

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Dark Side of Vegetarianism

I believe this article presents a fair picture of both sides of this issue, especially when we are searching for truths regarding eating disorders.
For what it's worth:

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter by Steven Reinberg

(HealthDay News) -- Despite its proven health benefits, a vegetarian diet might in fact be masking an underlying eating disorder, new research suggests.
The study, in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found that twice as many teens and nearly double the number of young adults who had been vegetarians reported having used unhealthy means to control their weight, compared with those who had never been vegetarians. Those means included using diet pills, laxatives and diuretics and inducing vomiting to control weight.
There's a dark side to vegetarianism, said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. He had no role in the research.
"Adolescent vegetarians [in the study] were more prone to disordered eating and outright eating disorders," Katz said. "This is not due to vegetarianism but the other way around: Adolescents struggling to control their diets and weight might opt for vegetarianism among other, less-healthful efforts."
Vegetarianism, or a mostly plant-based diet, can be recommended to all adolescents, Katz said. "But when adolescents opt for vegetarianism on their own, it is important to find out why because it may signal a cry for help, rather than the pursuit of health," he said.
Katz said he thinks a balanced vegetarian diet is among the most healthful of dietary patterns, and the study suggests some of the benefits.
"Adolescents practicing vegetarianism were less likely to be overweight than their omnivorous counterparts and, were the measures available, would likely have had better blood pressure and cholesterol, too," he said. "Eating mostly plants -- and even only plants -- is good for us, and certainly far better for health than the typical American diet."
The study's lead researcher, Ramona Robinson-O'Brien, an assistant professor in the Nutrition Department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in St. Joseph, Minn., agreed.
"The majority of adolescents and young adults today would benefit from improvements in dietary intake," she said. The study found, for instance, that the vegetarians among the participants generally were less likely to be overweight or obese.
"However, current vegetarians may be at increased risk for binge eating, while former vegetarians may be at increased risk for extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors," she said. "Clinicians and nutrition professionals providing guidance to young vegetarians might consider the potential benefits associated with a healthful vegetarian diet, [but should] recognize the possibility of increased risk of disordered eating behaviors."
The researchers collected data on 2,516 teens and young adults who participated in a study called Project EAT-II: Eating Among Teens. They classified participants as current, former or never vegetarians and divided them into two age groups: teens (15 to 18) and young adults (19-23).
Each participant was questioned about binge eating, whether they felt a loss of control of their eating habits and whether they used any extreme weight-control behaviors.
About 21 percent of teens who had been vegetarians said they used unhealthy weight-control behaviors, compared with 10 percent of teens who had never been vegetarians. Among young adults, more former vegetarians (27 percent) had used such measures than current vegetarians (16 percent) or those who'd never been vegetarians (15 percent), the study found.
In addition, among teenagers, binge eating and loss of control over eating habits was reported by 21 percent of current and 16 percent of former vegetarians but only 4 percent of those who'd never followed a vegetarian diet. For young adults, more vegetarians (18 percent) said they engaged in binge eating with loss of control than did former vegetarians (9 percent) and those who were never vegetarians (5 percent), the study found.
Young adult vegetarians were less likely to be overweight or obese than were those who'd never been vegetarians. Among teens, the study found no statistically significant differences in weight.
"When guiding adolescent and young adult vegetarians in proper nutrition and meal planning, it is important to recognize the potential health benefits and risks associated with a vegetarian diet," Robinson-O'Brien said. "Furthermore, it may be beneficial to investigate an individual's motives for choosing a vegetarian diet and ask about their current and former vegetarian status when assessing risk for disordered eating behaviors."

Without apology....♥