Sunday, December 4, 2011

Goals for the Holidays

"Don't let the past steal your present."
-Terri Guillemets

Who has time to think about setting goals for the Holidays? How many of us are use to simply "getting through" them without having a breakdown, or without others seeing how overwhelmed we are?
The Holiday season can be stressful for almost anyone, but if you are struggling with an eating disorder, or fighting for recovery, you are likely even more worried and stressed about the expectations of the season. I would ask, "whose expectations are you trying to live up to?"
We all have family traditions that we may or may not enjoy, for any number of reasons. I have found that by focusing on the aspects of those experiences that are basic and meaningful, they are much more enjoyable, and I don't spend the three months prior to December, dreading the Holidays. Many of the activities and gatherings during the Holiday season seem to be "all about food", but I don't think that's so true. Anyone who struggles with an eating disorder, in the mindset of fear of eating, fear of not eating, etc., tends to make it all about food by the focus they put on it in their own minds.
Flexibility is a beautiful thing to consider. What are the 'rules' that you have, that prevent you from finding joy and meaning in your Holiday experiences? Which ones can you challenge or let go of for this period of time; or do they even serve you anymore (did they ever?)
Can you identify certain messages that you adhere to that are only self-critical, and that are based on rigidity and perfectionistic expectations?
I wasted many many years and opportunities for joy by dreading the Holidays for reasons that were only related to worry about eating and food. I missed a lot of 'moments' that I can never have back.
At this time of my life there are other memories and recent grief that causes me to feel many painful emotions, but I will never allow myself to miss out of the joy 'in the moment' ever again.
Are your goals for this Holiday season based on joy and experience, or are you full of dread and fear to simply "get through"? What can you do to bring the focus back to what is really important?
Without apology....♥

Monday, November 28, 2011

How much do WE dictate our own experiences?

"When we put a limit on what we can do; we put a limit on what we can do"
-Charles Schwab
Seems simplistic, eh? But how many times in an average day, do your own 'limiting thoughts' predict what you do in that day? How much do we limit our own experiences, yet then blame our unhappiness or negative experiences on others?
We can always find something 'wrong', or something (or someone) we would like to change.
But how much effort is put into that evaluation, and the wish to change someone or something?
For myself, it brings up a lot of 'angst', and I find that my own experience is greatly compromised in the promise.
I have to let some things go. Life isn't fair, and all things will never be as I want them. I can choose to worry and fret (and complain), which takes a lot of my precious energy and joy; OR, I can choose to stop judging everything for it's good/bad status, and be grateful for the amazing things I have in my life! And I have much to be grateful for!!
In the grand scheme of things, may things could be different or better, in terms of what is right. But for today, which is ALL that I have in this moment, what really matters?
I don't like who I am when I focus on balancing it all out. I don't like how I feel, or how I treat other people. And I definitely don't like how it all impacts my daily experience.
The past 6-8 months have been very difficult for me. My own mortality has once again, been clarified for me with my Mother's passing.
Without 'forgetting' my pain or the emotions I feel, I can still choose to be grateful for the wonderful people in my life, my health, my job , and most of all, for my dear husband, who makes my mere existence beautiful ♥.
I already feel more peaceful.
Without apology......♥

Monday, September 5, 2011

Emotional Honesty: The Key to Healthy Relationships

The topic of relationships came up in a group last week, and it became obvious very quickly that this topic is very complex. After thinking about it in relation to planning my topics for the support group, I came to a conclusion.
Emotional Honesty is the key to any healthy relationship.
It is also the key to feeling peace and less fear in your daily life. This, at least, has been my experience.
What is emotional honesty? The meaning is pretty easy; carrying it out is the difficult task.
For myself, learning to be emotionally honest was an involved process. I had to challenge many fears, including the fear of being rejected, unloved, criticized, or WRONG.
But first I had to gain an awareness of my emotions, because I had hidden them and denied them for most of my life.
Ultimately, this goes back to changing the way you cope with life, emotional distress and challenges. Or rather, deciding to face these things instead of running away [in many ways].
Uncovering those deep emotions inside, along with the values that coincide with the thought processes, is probably the most complex, but also the most rewarding aspect of this.
The 'how' of this is unique to every person, but my professional advice is that no one does this without the guidance of a therapist.
Being able to be emotionally honest means that you don't have to tailor your comments or actions to the specific person you are with, or the situation you are in. YOU are YOU, and that never needs to change. It's about trusting the core of who you are, and not shrinking back from what you believe in; regardless of whether others agree.
Emotional honestly pertains to your relationship to yourself as well. Can you accept your imperfections and keep moving forward?
This is not about vanity or over-confidence. There is humility in being emotionally honest as well. Can you admit your mistakes and apologize without beating yourself up?
The opposite of emotional honesty is isolation, paranoia, manipulation and secrets that hold a great deal of pain.
Approaching relationships with an open mind, an open heart, and confidence that you can be YOU without compromising yourself will reap you many rewards.
Without the component of emotional honesty, no one benefits. I learned the hard way.
Without apology.....♥

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Every day is a New Beginning

Some may consider the title to be a bit 'idealistic', but this is how I have learned to live my life. Truly. There are always changes, challenges and frustrations that come with daily life. We cannot avoid them. I am grateful that I no longer feel the need to try to escape the daily ups and downs, and that I actually look forward to learning from those moments that force me to think [outside of the box]
The last four months have presented me with some exceptionally challenging and painful situations. I have had to accept that with the passing of time comes loss, and the resulting situations are painful. My Mother's short illness of seven weeks prior to her death has left me feeling a myriad of emotions.
I regret that I have learned as much if not more about my parents after their death than I did during the entire time that they were living.
As I move through these emotions, I am realizing that this 'ending' is not unlike a beginning.
The phases that come with the passing of time contain both endings and beginnings. I don't have to like the 'plan', or even understand it. What I have chosen to do is to keep moving forward.
I believe that there are opportunities for new beginnings for us all. I have found that with my recovery from an eating disorder, my eyes have been opened more fully.
Life is bigger, brighter and overall more full.
I am currently walking into new opportunities in every phase of my life. The Recovery Support Group is beginning a new session, and I am excited about the new format and topics!
The 'outreach' aspect of my job title continues to grow, and I am noticing a new perspective in my message. I no longer feel the need to define recovery [for myself], as I am simply living my life. The fact that I know what an eating disorder 'feels' like, and I have moved beyond that in all ways, is not my identity, but rather a chapter in my book.
The first meeting of the support group will focus on life goals, and how these relate to the development of personal identity.
Perhaps you would want to ask yourself, "How well do my life goals fit into my plan for recovery, and how well does my recovery fit with my life goals?"
Every day holds new beginnings. Are you keeping your eyes open to see them?
Without apology....♥

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"BAD Body Image";The emotional connection

Because so many people struggle with the aspect of body image and the discomfort of how they 'feel' in their bodies, I thought I would bring this up for discussion.
For myself, coming to terms and putting this aspect of the eating disorder and recovery behind me, definitely took the longest.
Hindsight has been my best teacher, no doubt, and I'd like to share some of things I have come to realize and understand.
The 'fat' feelings and hatred for my body came directly from how I equated myself to how I looked. And how I saw myself was all connected to not believing I was worthy, loveable or even 'nice'....let alone someone who people would accept. Acceptance and fear of rejection, to me, was all centered around how I believed others 'saw' me, quite literally.
My self-confidence and self-esteem were directly entwined with how I saw and felt about my body.
I started challenging my beliefs first by noticing when I 'felt' more uncomfortable, and then I would literally 'tell' myself that it wasn't truly physical, but it was emotional. Then, I asked myself what am I feeling, and what am I holding in, and not expressing? I couldn't always answer that, but interrupting the process helped me to separate my physical discomfort from my thoughts. Eventually, whether I could come to a clear conclusion or not about what was going on, simply reminding myself that my discomfort was emotional in nature, helped me to move on and not engage in symptoms or self-degradation because of it.
I also began challenging my beliefs that people would reject me, which had held me captive for many many years. I expected to be shunned, but the beautiful thing was, I never was! The more I challenged this, and proved my beliefs wrong, the more confident I became.
This increase in self-acceptance and confidence helped me tremendously. I no longer feel the body discomfort. I do not equate my identity to my body or shape. And I approach life and it's experiences with my eyes wide open. If anyone has a problem with that, it's not my concern.
Without apology....♥

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Scales don't 'fit' into Recovery!

If you notice the picture above, you will see one of the creative results of a recent peer-run group. If you look closely, you can see that there are four sections, which, when all fit together, form the shape of the 'Recovery' symbol.
It was a hot day, we went outside with a bathroom scale and a large hammer. One by one, each person took their turn by throwing, hammering, and stomping on the scale. The intention was to destroy it, piece by piece, and to parallel the act of destroying the scale with tearing down the power that the scale has had over so many people who are suffering from an eating disorder (and many people overall, in our society today).
It was interesting to hear how therapeutic this way for many of these people, as a way to get some of their pent up anger released.
Once all of the pieces of the scale were gathered up, we went to another location, split the group as a whole into four sections, each one taking one of the sections to personalize. The idea was to 'picture' how a scale cannot fit into recovery, by gluing pieces of the broken scale around the recovery symbol, while also writing inspirational quotes or phrases inside the symbol itself. Once the pieces were fit together again, some additional things were written inside the symbol that 'fit' into recovery.
The four pieces will be mounted so that the project in it's entirety can be hung inside the River Centre Clinic in a prominent location.
The consensus of those who participated was that physically breaking apart the scale was a very powerful experience, and that being free to express anger toward the eating disorder in a very tangible way was therapeutic. One person mentioned that seeing the 'numbers' as a piece of paper, that could be simply torn apart, helped her to realize how she does not want a piece of paper to determine her worth.
All in all, everyone agreed that this activity held a lot of meaning for them, and they expressed pride in the finished product.
I plan to do this project on a regular basis as the 'community' at the River Centre Clinic constantly changes.
We have a lot of useless scales to smash!
Without apology....♥

Sunday, April 24, 2011


You know how, when you wake in the morning, your brain kicks into high gear, and the 'balancing' game begins?
Before your feet hit the floor, you already have your day's food and activity mapped out in your head. All planned. Even. One balances the other out. Safety....right?
The phone rings. You are asked to help out with your nephew while your sister goes to the doctor...oh no. That means you can't eat 'your' food for lunch. You will probably have to eat something 'unknown' in front of others, unless you can avoid it all together. Just to be sure, safe, all balanced do 5 extra miles on the treadmill or you do 200 extra crunches. again.
What about that doctor's appointment? The nurse is going to weigh you. Can you ask her not to tell you? But she will know, and what will she think? Better not eat breakfast, or drink anything. Maybe an extra hour of exercise or 10 more laxatives will balance it all out. know you have lost weight since your last visit. What to say? You will have to drink 3 glasses of water and try to get by with leaving your shoes on while they weigh you....they are clueless anyway, right?
Yet, maybe they should know you lost weight. Maybe they will think it's a good thing. They certainly don't know how much you are struggling, or that it's a 'real' problem. Maybe you don't really need to see the cancel the appointment until you can figure out how to balance it all out.
It's Wednesday. You know the weekend is full of activity and meals out with others. You know you will be unable to exercise and you will be 'forced' to eat foods that you don't want, and more of it. For the three days prior, you do twice the amount of exercise and take twice the number of laxatives to be sure that the weekend balances things out. You will be 'caught up' before it even starts. In the end, you end up eating less than you would have on your own plan and you exercise those days anyway.
It's never enough. It never balances out. The fear is always there that you won't be 'prepared', and then what?

Is any of this familiar to you? How much time do you spend calculating and balancing your life, your food, your activity, etc., in order to feel 'safe'? What are you missing during that time? The laughter of your child? Watching a hummingbird in your yard? An opportunity to laugh, to feel the sun on your face, or to smile into your elderly Mother's eyes?
I did this for many years...for over 3 decades. I can't even imagine the emotional energy I wasted on trying to make it all 'balance' out. But I can see what I missed. I now know I was running from, or avoiding FEELING the true pain and joy of life. Either end of the spectrum frightened me.
I attempted to meet up to others' expectations, yet I was sacrificing my own identity in the process. I believed that by keeping others happy I would be safe, when in fact, it nearly killed me several times.
Today is Easter Sunday, 2011. I was thinking this morning about how free I am. I began to remember some of the scenarios that I described above, and how imprisoned I was by my own mindset. I cannot remember any day that was not a complicated balancing act in my mind.
Of course I didn't realize at the time just how narrow my life had become.
What changed it for me? It was another kind of fear, at a much greater level.
My 'aha' moment was many combined moments, of pain and fear and grief. When my17yo son was killed, my life was changed forever. These changes led me to search for answers, and in the process I found my life.
What has been, or will be your 'aha' moment?
Think about your 'balancing' act, and is it working for you? What are you sacrificing in the process?
Carry out your experience, and ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that will happen if I don't 'balance' today out?" And....where is my current plan leading?

Without apology....♥

Monday, March 14, 2011

COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS: The Ten Forms of Self Defeating Thoughts

I thought I would share a bit some information that I have found to be very helping in the process of increasing self-awareness, which is critical during recovery from an eating disorder. I'd love to know if any of you can identify with these, and how you have replaced them with healthy and more rational ways of thinking.....

1) All or nothing-thinking (Black/White thinking)
When you see every situation as all or nothing. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.

2) Overgeneralization
You see a single example of rejection or error as a never ending pattern of defeat; using words such as "always" or "never" when you think about it.

3) Mental Filter
When you pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, until your reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water.

4) Discounting the positive
You may reject positive experiences by insisting that they 'don't count'. If you do a good job, you can't accept that it's good enough, and you discount it's value.

5) Jumping to conclusions
You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion.
a)Mind Reading; making conclusions without checking
out the facts.
b)Fortune Telling; predicting that things will turn
out badly.

6) Magnification (Mountains & Mole Hills)
When you exaggerate the importance of yoru problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities. May also be referred to as the
"Binocular trick".

7) Emotional reasoning
When you assume that your negative emotions are reflective of the way things really are. Such as "I feel guilty; I must be a terrible person."

8) "Should statements"
You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. "should" statements that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. If they are directed against other people or the world in general, this can lead to anger and frustration.

9) Labeling
This is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of stating, "I made a mistake", you may say, "I'm a loser". Or you may label yourself as a "failure", a "jerk", etc. This may extend to others as well. You seem them as totally bad.

10) Personalization and blame
When you feel responsible for everything bad or wrong that happens in your world, or even in the world of those around you. However, you don't take credit for the good things that may happen.

Without apology...♥

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I Can Only Imagine

FEELING can be painful, no doubt about it.
I still choose it over the numbness and clouds of being enveloped by an eating disorder.
It's been a very emotional weekend for me. I keep reminding myself that I was never promised
that life would be fair, or that it's meant to be easy.
Of course I would like that. Everyone happy, no injustice. No one dying, and no pain.
Accepting that life is not fair, perfect or always joyful took me a long time, but after Tim was shot dead just three months after his 17th birthday, I realized that I had not choice, really.
Back to this weekend.
Sometimes the 325 mile trip is fairly benign, and other times, memories come flooding, which evolves into a flood of tears.
Just to clarify, I have NO desire to ever live in Bedford again. However, I lived the first [almost] 46 years of my life in that area, so there will always be part of Bedford in me.
I will always have the memories of my own childhood [not so great, but even so...], and the more emotional memories of raising my boys. Being a Mother was the greatest gift I was ever given.
After having Tim taken almost 10 years ago, and now, Matt so lost in his own life, and pulling farther and farther away, the 'Mother' part of me is trembling, withering and simply hurting.
If you are familiar with the song, "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe, you may understand why it touches a very tender place for me. That song was popular at the time of Tim's death. Every time I hear it I cry. No, I sob, and I envision him with my Father, his 'Papaw', dancing in Heaven.
The song came on the radio about 30 minutes North of Bedford as we drove in on Saturday.
I imagined Tim wearing Matt's football jersey "54" [which Matt had buried with Tim], dancing with my Dad.
I miss them both so much.
Death frightens me......or more so, the thought of losing someone I love frightens me.
We visited my Aunt in the Father's older sister. She is 86, almost 87.
Another reminder that none of us lives forever [on this Earth].
This is a complex and painful thought for me.
Our visit to the cemetery brought more tears and an anger....I was struck once again at the unfairness of Tim's death, and I cannot help but wonder, yet again, what would he be like as an adult man? No one will ever know.
My attempt to meet up with Matt was met with angry words and statements of my own lack, what he doesn't have, and somehow, why it's my fault.
Although I have NO doubts that these accusations are false, it's painful to hear, and even more painful to know that Matt does believe them.
I didn't see Matt this weekend. He hung up on me twice.
As we are driving North, I feel an emptiness, like I'm leaving my sons behind. Not by choice, but due to the fact that life is not fair, and I must continue to embrace the life I have been given...and LIVE.
I don't want to be numb again. I won't be.
My daily life as I live it now holds countless opportunities for me. The pace of my life keeps me energized and excited about what I do, and while I may not always feel this sadness, I carry it with me. I am human. I have lost people dear to me, as many have.
I crave a relationship with Matt. I can't force it.
I have the opportunity to be in my grandson's life, and to hopefully enrich his life in some small way.
I will latch onto this and once again look into a small boy's eyes with love.
Thank you for reading.
Without apology....♥

Friday, March 11, 2011

Chasing myself....

It's definitely time to write. I miss having time to share, vent, and release all of the words in my head; and there are many!

Yet, I wouldn't change a thing about my daily life, but I would love it if I could 'gift' myself a few additional hours of sleep each night!! Some days LIVING is certainly tiring!!

This has been a week of errors. No, I don't mean that the week has been a mistake, but that I have made far too many 'missteps' along the way, and even more upsetting has been my realization that I am still not forgiving enough of myself, for simply being human.

The good thing....I can now 'see' that I am beating myself up, almost before it begins, and I am able to interrupt it, or at least take

Sunday, February 6, 2011

So WHO is to Blame?

When working with families and individuals who are seeking treatment for an eating disorder, I try to dispel any blame that any of them may be feeling. Of course, no one can control another person's feelings, but parents, for the most part will feel responsible for their child's eating disorder in some way.
A person who is suffering from an eating disorder also usually believes that it's their own fault, for any number of reasons. But believe me, NO ONE, if they knew the pain and torture of an eating disorder would choose to take that route.
So who IS to blame?
Yes, we are all products of our environment, but that doesn't mean that parents are to blame if their child develops an eating disorder.
There are numerous situations that can play into the development of an eating disorder, and I don't believe that there is ever a clear indication of the exact cause.
Research is now proving that there may be a genetic component related to eating disorders.
Our culture, the media, and social pressures can have an influence.
Personality traits, such as anxiety, perfectionism, obsessionality, a need for order, can also play a part.
Medical conditions that may lead to weight loss are sometimes seen as a distinct precursor to the eating disorder.
Physical or sexual abuse, current or past, often play a part in the development of an eating disorder.
DIETING is the #1 risk factor for the development of an eating disorder, so finding the 'trigger' for dieting may offer answers.
What I tell patients, parents and families is that blame will not help anyone recover. But taking the situation from this moment on, getting good professional treatment, and keeping an open mind as to how everyone can support the person in treatment CAN be very helpful for full recovery.
What can YOU do?

Without apology ♥

Saturday, January 29, 2011

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: February 20-26, 2011

The coming weeks and months will bring another flood of activities and opportunities for outreach and education. I am excited about NEDAW, which is planned for February 20-26, 2011, throughout the US and perhaps other countries (?)
In my little world, combined with the efforts at The River Centre Clinic, that week will be filled with many activities, which hopefully will be helpful in educating and creating more awareness about these devastating disorders.
Many activities are planned internally at RCC, which we hope will encourage hope and positive motivation.
Our community efforts will include two days at the Westfield Franklin Park Mall, offering educational materials and the opportunity for people to take the EAT-26 self-test, with evaluation. We are also making NEDAW ribbons to hand out to those who want to promote this special week.
The Women's Studies group on the campus at BGSU is hosting a brownbag luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 23, from Noon-1:00pm, where myself and my assistant, Anna, will be speaking about the 'truths' about eating disorders and how one can support others who may be suffering.
We are still finalizing possible plans with UT and Lourdes College, with those activities to be announced.
Plans are also just beginning for the 2011 NEDA Walk, to be held once again at Olander Park in Sylvania. The date this year is Sunday, May 22, 2011, with registration beginning at 9:30am.
More details will be forthcoming very soon.
I am excited to be planning a trip to Miami at the end of April to attend the ICED, which is seen as the 'premier' of all ED Conferences. That remains to be seen, but I am excited to once again, have the opportunity to network and gather additional information about things that are happening in the professional field of eating disorders.
My daily work continues to be busy, with no two days ever alike. My responsibilities also continue to change, as changes are made internally with nursing and clinical needs.
It's apparent to anyone who has followed my Blog, that I simply don't have much time to 'journal' anymore, but I also do not feel the need for that type of writing. My updates here will hopefully assist others in taking action and being involved in these opportunities for networking and increasing awareness about eating disorders. Wishing you all well,
Without apology....♥

Sunday, January 9, 2011

If you know what is NOT working....

I can remember years ago while I was still seeing a therapist, I continued to find myself caught up in the wishful thinking, complaining about what wasn't 'good', what I hated about my life, and how tired I was of fighting the eating disorder. I was easily caught up in how awful things still were, and it made it very difficult for me to switch up my thinking and take responsibility for trying some new things...instead of waiting to be forced or until I 'felt' like it. I realized that I might never 'feel' like doing certain things, which was a major part of my problem in the first place. It was never going to be easier or feel better to do things differently, at least not at first.
My therapist pointed out that I had plenty of evidence of what did NOT work. So why did I continue to think that one special day it would...without doing something different?
An eating disorder does not leave your life because YOU wish it away, or because you are aware, day by day, how it is destroying your life.
The only way to leave it behind, to disconnect the eating disorder from your day by day emotions [which we all have], is to take action. Do something different. Follow a meal plan. See a professional. Be proactive in seeking new avenues for your life if that is what you need.
Writing can be a tremendously useful tool to increase self-awareness, but what are you going to do with that awareness?
Each day is a new opportunity to change, to find a new 'tool' that can help you find your way to recovery. Or it can be another day to do nothing, to talk, write and pout about what isn't working and how miserable you are, and how many symptoms you are having as a result.
No one can be expected to be positive and upbeat every day. That is not normal either.
But we all can do something every day towards bettering our life.
What can YOU do differently today to take one more step towards healing and recovery?
Without apology ♥