eating disorder relapse: it’s not your fault

recovery is hard.

let me say that again: recovery is really, really hard.

you’re changing your lifestyle.

you’re changing your eating habits.

you’re changing the way you think about yourself.

you’re essentially changing your entire world.

b1b807a4d05013d57b52c954342d6c59it’s not like flipping a switch where one day you’re making certain choices and the next you can just change your thinking.

maybe that’s what you thought recovery was.

in the beginning, that’s what i thought recovery was.

i thought i would just decide to eat “real meals” three times a day and everything would go back to “normal” without a hitch.

spoiler alert: that’s not how recovery works.

at all.

the first day is hard.

the second day is hard.

but, the hardest day is when you notice your body changing.

the hardest day for me was when i noticed the effects of increasing my caloric intake.

when my ribs weren’t protruding like they used to.

when my stomach wasn’t as flat as before.

when i couldn’t fit into my 00 jeans.

i found myself looking for some tinge of “normal” as my world changed so drastically around me.

doctors and therapists were trying to change my daily routines.

my high school boyfriend of nearly three-years broke up with me out of the blue; for reasons i’ve still never figured out.

i decided to transfer from the university i worked so hard to get into basically on a whim.

i walked away from a career in acting and music theatre.

i had no idea where i was attending school that fall or what my major would be.

and to top it all off: i had relinquished control over the one thing that mattered most, at the time: my appearance.

i was falling fast and felt like my life was completely out of control.

i needed something to help me cope.

i needed to feel like the girl i “used to be” when people invited me places and wanted to be around.

in my helplessness, i decided to take ten steps backwards.

i didn’t care if what i was doing was wrong, i needed to forgot what was happening for a little bit.

i found myself clinging to what was familiar: my anorexia.

i found myself retreating back to the dark.

after only two months, i had my first relapse.

sound familiar?

relapse back to eating disorder or self-harm tendacies is most common within the first three months of beginning a recovery program.

while we’ve all been told “it takes 21 days to create a new habit,” it takes longer than three weeks to undo years of harmful thoughts and habits.

in fact, it takes longer than 90 days.

for me, it’s taken longer than three years.

i’ve relapsed four times in the past 42 months.

the first time was when everything was changing after beginning my personal recovery.

the second time was when i was living by myself in college and was alone with my thoughts.

the third time was when i didn’t think i had lost enough weight or done enough to prove to myself i could be successful in the field of journalism.

the fourth time was when i was in an abusive relationship and was trying to escape the pain.

db224d79dc6626b15ac83aaf67671b95each time was different than the last, but all began in times when i personally felt out of control.

and that’s exactly why a relapse happens: lack of control.

it’s like not knowing how to swim when you’re a little kid and someone give you a pool noodle.

that piece of foam is something tangible to hold onto.

that piece of foam is something you trust to help you survive in the water.

that piece of foam calms you when the waves come, as someone does a cannonball in the deep-end.

that piece of foam is literally, and figuratively, your savior.

that’s what an eating disorder feels like to someone in recovery.

when the going gets tough, it’s always there.

it’s predictable.

it’s familiar.

it’s your life.

when you relapsed, you got upset with yourself and felt like you let people down.

when i relapsed all four times, i got upset with myself and felt like i let people down.

but, you didn’t.

i didn’t either.

we clung to the familiarity of the pool noodle in the swimming pool.

we gravitated to what we knew and made one decision to not jump out on another limb.

and that’s ok.

you heard me, relapsing is ok.

relapsing is normal.

relapsing is expected.

relapsing doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

in order to “relapse,” you have to make enough progress away from a certain behavior to return to it again.

in an adverse way, it means you’ve made tremendous change.

that’s something to be celebrated.

however, it shouldn’t become a habit.

the most important thing is not getting discouraged and trying again; this time striving to be better than ever.

like holding onto a noodle in a pool when you’re learning to swim, it’s normal, but you need to let go.

you need to learn to swim without it.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to keep swimming.

the truth behind body dysmorphic disorder: my daily struggle

you post an instagram picture of you eating an ice cream cone.

it’s summer.

that’s a “normal” thing to do.

you feel guilty for eating it, but you decide to post it anyways.

you don’t feel confident about how you look in your white tank top, but the picture’s already out.

you don’t like how your arms look.

you don’t like how your cheeks look swollen from your smile.

you just don’t like how you look.

minutes later, you receive “likes” and comments from your friends praising you for how “perfect” you are and how “beautiful” you look.

you check the picture again, but only see flaws.

you try and see what they see, but you can’t.

no matter how hard you try, you just can’t.

you don't see what everyone else sees. all you want to do is cut away the imperfections.

you don’t see what everyone else sees. all you want to do is cut away the imperfections.

body dysmorphic disorder, more commonly known as b.d.d., makes everyday a struggle.

while we all have something we don’t like about our appearance, however, b.d.d. is disabling.

b.d.d. has made me cancel plans and literally hide from people.

b.d.d. has caused so many fights with my family.

b.d.d. has distroyed more relationships than i can count.

b.d.d. has caused me to relapse again and again.

but, my b.d.d. does not define me.

i was diagnosed with the disorder during the summer of 2012.

i was entering recovery for anorexia and my doctor noticed some of my behavior was compulsive and irrational.

i would check my stomach multiple times a day and pinch myself if i thought it looked “too fat.”

i would play with my cheeks because i thought they were “too big” and made me look fatter than i was.

i would pull the skin back on my arms because i thought they were flabby and avoided anything sleeveless, fearing i would repulse people.

sometimes i would start crying uncontrollably and claw at my “trouble spots” until i was covered in blood.

i hated my outward appearance and could not understand why people were “lying to my face” by telling me i was beautiful.

because i had an eating disorder, most of these thoughts were tied to my anorexia and self-harm tendencies.

but after looking into my thoughts a little further, i was diagnosed.

finally there was a name for the feelings i had.

finally there was an explanation for why i saw myself the way i did.

one of the common misconceptions about b.d.d. is that a person with the disorder sees herself like a person in a funhouse mirror.

a person with b.d.d. fixates on perceived body imperfections.

for me, this primarily includes my face, my arms and my stomach.

when i look in the mirror, i focus on these areas with an intense tunnel vision.

yes, i can see the rest of my body, but my eyes are drawn, and glued, to those three spots.

on a good day, i can cope and tell myself that the things i believe i see are all in my head.

on a good day, i can post a picture on instagram and not worry too much.

on a good day, i can walk past a mirror and not feel like i need to cry.

but, bad days happen.

and that’s okay.

i’d be lying if i said i never have days where i cry because of what i see in the mirror.

i’d be lying if i said therapy solved all my problems.

i’d be lying if i said i loved myself and what i look like.

i’d be lying if i said one day i’ll look in the mirror and see what everyone else sees when they glance my way.

b.d.d. is real.

b.d.d. affects roughly one percent of the americn population.

b.d.d. is not a death sentence, like i once believed it was.

no, i will never understand what my instagram followers saw in that picture i posted.

i’ve accepted that.

but, i will never give up on loving myself.

i will never give up on trying to see beauty in who i am.

i will never stop speaking out and fighting my disorders everyday.

i am more than my b.d.d.

you are more than your b.d.d.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to believe that.

you are not a fashion week sketch

i live in nyc for about nine months out of the year while i go to school.

while all body types are beautiful, the fashion industry is choosing to only represent one type and that, is dangerous to the other 99% who will never look like this girl.

while all body types are beautiful, the fashion industry is choosing to only represent one type and that, is dangerous to the other 99% who will never look like this girl.

this past week, all anyone could talk about was “fashion week.”

while some people see the week as an opportunity for designers to have their beautiful creations paraded down the runway for the entire world to talk about, i view it as a trigger.

to me, fashion week is dangerous.

to me, fashion week sends the wrong image.

don’t get me wrong, some designers, like carrie hammer, have made history for selecting a wheelchair bound woman to “walk” the runway. last february, dkny had “normal people” walk the runway with high end fashion models.

and that’s what gets me: you’re ether an average person or you’re high end.

you’re either part of the average 99%, or the lucky 1% who is considered beautiful enough to represent designer labels.

recently i came across a public service announcement which told viewers to “say no to anorexia.”

the human woman beside the drawing looks malnourished, sad and weak. the drawing looks confident, sexy and powerful. the real woman looks sad, malnourished and weak.

the human woman beside the drawing looks malnourished, sad and weak.
the drawing looks confident, sexy and powerful. the real woman looks sad, malnourished and weak.

this post is not about how much i hate the idea that one person can simply “say no” to a mental illness, therefore curing herself of those terrible thoughts.

i’m ignoring the written message and focusing on the visual one instead.

in the picture, there is a fashion design for a black miniskirt outfit.

the drawing doesn’t alarm us.

the drawing actually looks terrifyingly acceptable.

however, when the drawing is brought to life by a real woman, it becomes alarming.

the human woman beside the drawing looks malnourished, sad and weak.

the drawing looks confident, sexy and powerful.

so where do we draw the line?

when do we speak up and tell designers to draw their sketches on a variety of body types?

i’m ready for a woman with a pear or apple shaped body to appear confident, sexy and powerful in a sketch.

i’m ready for the fashion industry to realize what a dangerous message it’s sending to millions of people, simply by showing a drawing.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to feel confident, sexy and powerful, regardless of your body shape.

time travel

i was recently looking at some photos of myself for an upcoming “throwback thursday.”

as i was remembering the captured moment, i couldn’t help thinking:

until time travel exists, live each day with no regrets.

until time travel exists, live each day with no regrets.

“wow. i looked so happy.”

happiness is a good thing.

everyone should experience happiness.

but as i got to more recent pictures, i saw the happiness go away and the eating disorder show through.

i noticed how thin i was and how beautiful i looked.

and i continued to remember how miserable i was, in the moment.

i remembered how i wished i was dead and that i would not wake up the next morning.

i remembered the pain i felt.

time travel is a funny thing, that humans have contemplated for centuries.

what if we had the ability to go back and relive events with the knowledge we know now?

as amazing as that would be, it doesn’t exist.

there is no magical invention that will let any of us have a “do over.”

that’s why we have to live in the moment and enjoy everyday.

someday we’ll be older and looking back on right now, maybe on this very day.

do you want to remember the good or be filled with regrets?

maybe science will allow us to time travel in the future.

however, until that day comes, live your life in a way that you’ll be proud of, when you’re looking back.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to have no regrets. 

summer body doesn’t mean summer starving

i love summer.

you love summer.

i think it’s safe to say most people love the extra sunshine and the warmer weather.

b0d6fcaf01821cd7f0498b8e5e5fd379but, summer can be incredibly difficult for someone suffering from, or recovering from, an eating disorder.

the clothes get thinner, the clothes get smaller and swimsuit season is here.

speaking as a woman, bikini season is stressful enough, but throw an eating disorder on there and it gets even more complicated.

like so many with anorexia, bulimia or ednos, i suffer from bdd or body dysmorphic disorder.

bdd magnifies “body imperfections” and mass it difficult to function sometimes because a person becomes obsessed with their “flaws.”

this makes wearing shorts, tank tops and, you guessed it: swimsuits really challenging.

no matter what someone tells me, i still view myself in a way in which everyone else doesn’t.

no matter what people say, i still view myself as very overweight.

it’s not just me, many people feel this way.

you might even feel this way.

it’s because so many people share these thoughts i believed this post was necessary.

over the past few weeks, my twitter feed has been filled with anon accounts challenging each other the fast and achieve a “perfect summer body.”

“summer starving equals a summer body.”

i’ve been there.

i’ve done that.

it doesn’t work.

no matter how much weight you lose, you’ll never be truly happy with your weight.

there will always be “one more pound” to lose.

there will always be “one jean size smaller” to fit into.

love your body; it's already perfect.

love your body; it’s already perfect.

but you’ll never get this summer back.

trust me, i’ve wasted so many summers saying no to bbq’s in the backyard and “maybe another time” to a scoop of ice cream with friends; all because i was afraid to gain weight.

all because i was afraid to not have the “perfect summer body.”

let me tell you something: you already have the perfect beach body.

you already look amazing.

wanna know how i know?

because it’s your body.

you are perfect just the way you are and therefore, your body is perfect just the way it is.

i challenge you to make the most of summer 2014 and enjoy every minute.

everything is fine in moderation, so say yes to your favorite summer treat once in a while.

you already have a “flawless figure.”

you are beautiful.

you deserve to enjoy that ice cream cone.

 

10 examples of positive recovery inspiration

i’ve said this many times before:

i’m a pinterest addict.

while i was browsing recovery boards, i noticed there were some tagged posts that weren’t conducive to a recovering mind.

recovery is a difficult time when you’re trying to set new habits and change old ways of thinking.

you’re there now.

i’m there now.

so, i decided to compile ten of my favorite positive recovery inspirations from pinterest and post them here.

you're amazing. i mean it.

1. “you are a survivor and that is amazing”

you are changing your life.

you are changing your thoughts.

you could have given up, but you’re choosing to stay strong and keep going.

you’re an inspiration.

i mean it.

recovery is amazing and so are you.

 

b1b807a4d05013d57b52c954342d6c592. “one of the hardest things was learning i was worth recovery.” -demi lovato

demi has inspired thousands of people around the world through speaking openly about her struggles with self-harm and her bulimia.

i believe this is truly the hardest concept to accept while changing myself:

everyone is worth life and recovery.

that includes you, promise.

4d5f3d85803528933952ae31a3cfbdf13. “life is to short for self-hatred and celery sticks”

with bikini season right around the corner, summer is a very triggering time to be in recovery.

the urge to restrict and starve is very overwhelming.

sometimes it seems easier to say “no” to the ice cream cone and say “yes” to an empty stomach.

i challenge you to love yourself this summer.

i promise, someone is wishing they could have your body this summer.

411ff9e9a8a211f22c1a15b7907824094. “sometimes what looks like the end is really a wonderful new beginning”

someone told me once:

“you can’t move forward until you hit rock bottom.”

i completely agree, 100 percent.

sometimes hope comes to us in the strangest of ways.

sometimes hope comes to us in the strangest of times.

sometimes just as you’re ready to give up, just as you’re ready to give up hope:

a new beginning is presenting itself to you.

there’s more to life than the checkered flag at the end of the race.

8cbb2561bcb5bbc5cc5b3e2ec955222d5. “i will smile because i am alive another day… and because i’m one step closer to being happy and healthy”

counting calories may seem just as natural as breathing.

starving your body may seem just as familiar as blinking.

today, i challenge you to to feed your body and feed your soul.

fill up your tummy with good nutrients and fill up your mind with kind thoughts.

you’ve been given a gift of a new day; smile and be joyful.

db224d79dc6626b15ac83aaf67671b956. “relapse is not the same thing as failure. the only possible way to fail is to give up”

we all will mess up.

it’s part of being human and learning.

relapse is a very real thing, and each of us will go back to our old ways and thinking at some point.

don’t give up just because you have a bad day.

one bad day doesn’t equal a bad life; try again tomorrow.

7f2dcb988da09d670deb711f4c2744e57. “the moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. don’t give up”

imagine the most difficult moment of your life so far.

got it?

think about what happened later.

*spoiler alert: things got better.*

trust me, i know.

nothing stays bad forever, miracles are right around the corner.

your life is a miracle, so it’s time to start believing in them.

860382171cc862779eae5294951bf50a8. “everyday may not be good… but there is something good in everyday”

we all have bad days.

eating disorder or not, it’s life.

however, it’s about how we view bad days that allow us to change our perspective.

you can’t always choose how things go, but you can choose how you approach life.

maybe it’s raining and you have to wait for the bus.

but maybe there are beautiful tulips planted right next to the bus stop.

there’s good in everything and everyone.

seek and you shall find.

9b0f2d11817f5674ef02eb3c77e0be169. “the enemy does not stand a chance when its victim decides to survive” -rae smith

in this case, the enemy is you mind.

your negative thoughts, your anger and self-hate: they’re all plotted against you.

but recovery is the hero.

you’ve chosen to side with the right side and are proving the enemy wrong everyday.

you’re a survivor.

you’re stronger than negativity.

3784f3b622c4b034216572d5032da72f10. “you think you deserve this pain, but you don’t”

at times we’ve all believed we deserve our disordered thoughts.

that we’ve done something wrong and deserve to be punished.

we haven’t.

the pain of an eating disorder, the pain of depression and the pain of self-harm are not targeted for you.

you deserve to be happy, pain isn’t part of the package.

so what’s the moral of the story, you may ask?

let’s surround ourselves with messages of self-kindness, and positive motivation.

today is a new day, carpe diem.

you are beautiful.

you deserve positive inspiration.

#semicolonproject416

a semicolon is a powerful grammatical tool: it shows there was a potential to quit writing, but the author chose to keep moving forward.

a semicolon is a powerful grammatical tool: it shows there was a potential to quit writing, but the author chose to keep moving forward.

a semicolon is a continuation of a thought, where one could previously ended.

a semicolon is a a symbol that you could have stopped fighting, but you’re still here.

a semicolon is going to unite thousands this week.

last year, the semicolon project was born.

a group of people got together and tweeted out a simple black and white poster, asking anyone who wanted to draw a semicolon on his wrist, to show support.

the responses were overwhelming.

the goal was to have “anyone who self harms, is suicidal, depressed, has anxiety, is unhappy, going through a broken heart, just lost a loved one, etc.” draw a semicolon on her wrist.

one year later, it’s still that simple.

#semicolonproject416

#semicolonproject416

 

on wednesday, april 16th, draw a semicolon on your wrist.

that’s it.

draw a semicolon.

no flash facebook status, no bright colors:

just a little semicolon on the inside of your wrist.

by drawing a semicolon, you’re proving you are the author of your own life and where your sentence could have ended, you decided to keep going.

you decided to keep writing your story.

i decided to keep writing my own story.

the author could have ended, but chose not to. the author is you and the sentence is your life.

the author could have ended, but chose not to. the author is you and the sentence is your life.

by drawing a semicolon on your wrist, this wednesday, you’re showing support for a community larger than yourself.

you’re showing support to the boy in your language class.

you’re showing support to your boss at work.

you’re showing support for yourself.

take a stand with me and participate in the semicolon project this week.

if you do participate, tweet a picture to @RecoveryBeauty, include #semicolonproject416 and i’ll retweet it.

let’s come together on wednesday.

let’s become a stronger community.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to be the author of your life.

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