Monthly Archives: October 2013

wintergirls

“you’re not dead, but you’re not alive, either. you’re a wintergirl. you’re a ghost with a beating heart.”

wintergirlspowerful words.

just let them resonate for a few seconds before you continue to read on.

over the weekend, i read laurie halse anderson’s novel: wintergirls.

now before you click out of this window, stop.

this isn’t a book report.

this isn’t a book review.

i had been a little apprehensive in picking up this particular novel.

it is incredibly popular among my followers and i was honestly very curious what all the hype was about.

before i started reading, i asked my lovely twitter followers what their opinions on the book were and all of them raved about it but warned me of how triggering it was.

yes, the novel is extremely triggering.

yes, the novel made me cry multiple times.

yes, the novel is incredibly accurate and well written.

but beyond the pages, i felt a certain connection with everyone who’s ever suffered from an eating disorder.

in my own experience, having anorexia was something i tried to hide from the world.

through the excuses of “why i’m not hungry” to the “reasons why i’ve been losing weight,” it was a very internal and personal struggle.

wintergirls did exactly the opposite: it melted the ice around such a personal topic and has allowed me to feel not so alone.

after finishing the novel, i was able to understand completely why so many of my followers have fallen in love with this book: for once you feel as if you aren’t alone.

in one scene, the main character, lia, is having an anxiety attack.

her anorexic thoughts have completely taken over, for almost no reason, and she is cutting herself in the bathroom.

the quick pace of the writing allowed me to go back to these exact moments in my life, some of which were as recent as august, and they brought me to tears.

lia's thoughts during her anxiety attack are all too familiar in the mind of someone with an eating disorder.

lia’s thoughts during her anxiety attack are all too familiar in the mind of someone with an eating disorder.

i felt her pain.

i felt her frustration.

i felt the broken pieces of her soul crumble to the floor.

lia looks in the mirror and thinks:

“i am locked in the mirror and there is no door out.”

how many times have you thought this?

often times i allow the mirror to dictate how i feel on any given day.

the mirror is often your worst enemy holding you captive.

the mirror is often my worst enemy holding me captive.

yet, you build a bond with lia, and allow yourself to root for her own recovery.

a monumental step for most of us if you really think about it.

how many times have you tried to not “get better” and continue in your own patterns?

for me, this book allowed me to observe someone struggling with something so personal to myself, and i actually wanted to see her make it out.

wintergirls allowed me to see my disease from a personal, yet outside perspective.

but for me, wintergirls was more than an opportunity for me to feel connected with others battling the same issue:

it was about seeing just how close i came to not writing this post.

i was in the “dangerous” 85 pound zone less than two years ago.

i was starving myself to the point where i didn’t feel safe driving a car.

i remember the feeling of standing next to baked goods and watching everyone else “get fatter” while i displayed self-control.

i remember pledging to myself, just as cassie and lia did, to be the “skinniest girl in school.”

i remember it all.

for months i’ve tried to block out those memories and pretend they didn’t happen.

pretend i was “normal” for all those years.

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for me, wintergirls helped me come to terms with who i was and who i’m learning to be.

if you are interested in purchasing a copy of wintergirls, i’ve provided a link to amazon.

please leave a comment and let me know how this book has impacted your life.

i’d love to know.


like lia says, “i am thawing.”

winter is over.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to melt the ice.

refeeding syndrome: my story

there isn’t a lot about refeeding syndrome on the internet.

sure, websites will tell you about how it was discovered after the holocaust.

sure, websites will tell you how starvation mode, for an extended period of time, will cause this.

sure, websites will tell you that it’s common while recovering from an eating disorder.

but to me that isn’t good enough.

those aren’t answers.

those are facts.

those aren’t stories from real people.

this is me, november 2011. i was about 95 lbs here and truly believed i was disgustingly overweight.

this is me, november 2011. i was about 95 lbs here and truly believed i was disgustingly overweight.

i decided that if i ever made it to recovery, i’d tell my story.

well, here i am.

the pictures are of me.

the story is my own.

and here’s the uncensored truth behind refeeding syndrome.

the summer of 2012 was a living hell for me.

i had decided in february of that same year i was going to kick anorexia’s butt, so i began my own recovery program without the aid of a hospital.

i’m 5’4″ and at my lowest i was 85 lbs.

i knew i needed to eventually weigh more so naturally, i began to eat more.

months later i would learn how incredibly dangerous this was and how i could have potentially died, due to complications.

refeeding syndrome is the long-term effect of starvation mode in which your body stores everything you take in.

if untreated, health risks can range from cardiac arrest, organ failure and even death.

let that sink in, because of the eating disorder you’ve been clinging to for security, you could die.

the eating disorder i clung to for security almost killed me.

but getting back to the story…

i began to notice my physical appearance changing as i tried to increase my caloric intake.

i began to look “puffy.”

this terrified me because i didn’t want to “get fat,” but i knew i needed more food.

i began trying to restrict again and exercise more, but the weight kept piling on.

it scared me.

badly.

my clothes stopped fitting.

my face was getting really full.

the worst part was i was eating less than 400 calories a day and i was still gaining weight fast.

this is me, summer 2012. i had nearly doubled my body weight and was visibly "puffy." i was incredibly depressed and have very few pictures of myself from this time.

this is me, summer 2012. i had nearly doubled my body weight and was visibly “puffy.” i was incredibly depressed and have very few pictures of myself from this time.

some weeks i was gaining over 5 lbs and my doctors couldn’t figure out why.

they told me to eat healthy, but i already was.

they told me to exercise more, but i already was.

nothing was working, so they began to test me for heart, kidney and intestinal problems.

to make matters worse, every time i ate anything i was getting sick.

i seriously couldn’t keep anything down for more than 20 minutes before i would get sick.

the doctors couldn’t figure out why i was so puffy and i became frustrated.

i quickly slipped into depression and stopped seeing my friends.

i sat inside and played on my computer because i was ashamed at my outward appearance.

a few months ago, i was able to control every aspect of my physical appearance and now i couldn’t even if i tried.

i now was tipping the scale at a little over 160 lbs, officially overweight and unable to do anything about it.

i was about to transfer to a new college and i was afraid no one would want to be my friend because i was “the fat girl.”

i wanted to die and cried all the time.

then my doctor suggested one more blood test:

hypothyroidism.

if this was my problem, it meant my metabolism had been so weakened, by my anorexia, that it stopped working all together.

words cannot describe how happy i was to find out that i tested positively for this disease.

by taking one pill a day, i was able to have a functioning metabolism again.

this meant more energy, better moods and natural weight loss.

over the past 20 months, i’ve learned to be patient with my body as i’ve watched to slow change “back to normal.”

this is a photo of myself from last month. i'm slowly making progress towards a healthy and normal life.

this is a photo of myself from last month. i’m slowly making progress towards a healthy and normal life.

currently i’m in the high 120s and have been told by my doctors not to lose anymore weight.

i’m not allowed to diet, but i am encouraged to exercise daily and make healthy choices.

i’d be lying if i told you everyday is easy and i never struggle.

i’d be lying if i didn’t look in the mirror and sometimes wish i had my skeletal frame back again.

but i’d also be lying if i told you i was happier living with anorexia.

these past 20 months have taught me that i may not look like a model but i’m still beautiful.

these past 20 months have taught me i’s ok to eat a reese’s cup.

these past 20 months have taught me that no one is too far gone.

if you would like more information on refeeding syndrome, please read the linked article.

it’s full of really good information that is very accurate.

just remember, you didn’t get to where you are today overnight, recovery takes time.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to know the truth on refeeding syndrome.

1200 calorie diet

you're walking a fine line between life and death.

you’re walking a fine line between life and death.

1200 calories.

divide that number by three and you get 400.

400 calories per meal.

no liquid calories.

no snacking.

you just need to eat 1200 calories.

you just need to lose weight.

sound familiar?

any of this ring a bell?

it looks like a lot when you write it out: 1200 calories.

it’s like receiving a monthly allowance and feeling like you can buy the world.

you have so much control.

you can spend those calories on anything.

wrong.

so wrong.

1200 calories isn’t a magic calorie value to make you lose weight, it’s a dangerously low number which can harm your body in ways you never imagined.

for the average woman, 2000 calories are required for normal life to be carried out.

your body burns calories by just staying alive, so that’s not counting any exercise at all.

so what’s the big deal?

why does counting calories get me in trouble if i’m seeing results?

isn’t that the point?

think of 1200 calories as a magical line:

stay above it and you’re going to feel more energized, your organs will function better.

but fall below it and you’re setting yourself up for some serious damage in the long-run.

so what do i know about any of this anyways?

it’s called starvation mode.

i’ve lived through it and trust me, it’s terrible.

starvation mode is when your body is in a caloric deficit.

basically you haven’t been eating enough so your natural reaction is to retain whatever you let your body have.

ever notice how you’ve been dieting and then give yourself a “cheat day” and you feel bloated by the end of the day and it lasts for the next few days?

that’s the beginning signs of starvation mode.

it’s why all diets fail.

the minute you start restricting, you’re putting your body “in the red” and the only way to make it “to the green” is to start feeding your body correctly.

but what does any of this have to do with me eating 1200 calories a day?

your body needs more than that.

that’s the simple answer.

by letting yourself retain anything less than 1199, you’re just asking for serious health problems.

i didn’t say eat, i said retain less than 1199 calories.

there’s a huge difference.

by starving yourself now, later you could develop problems with your thyroid, menstrual cycle, bone density, vision and even the ability to have children someday.

after battling anorexia for over five years, i already have many of these problems.

it’s terrible.

i’m dependent on a pill to make my metabolism work, my bones have been weakened and when i’m older, it’s going to be very difficult for me to become pregnant.

maybe you’re eating 1200 calories a day now.

maybe you’re eating less than that.

it’s never too late to change.

the human body is insanely strong and can recover from just about anything.

you just have to give it the ability to recover.

strive to eat more than 1200 calories a day.

i know it’s hard.

i know it’s really hard.

but it’s possible.

you’re too smart to believe the lies about calorie restriction.

you are beautiful.

you deserve to not walk the 1200 calorie line.

bad days don’t call for suicide

often times you feel alone and it seems you're the only one that doesn't have a perfect body. have no fear, there are 3 billion other women who might not be "runway ready," but are equally as beautiful.

often times you feel alone and it seems you’re the only one that doesn’t have a perfect body. have no fear, there are 3 billion other women who might not be “runway ready,” but are equally as beautiful.

bad days.

we all have them.

we wish we didn’t.

for any “joe shmoe,” a bad day is just a wrinkle in his shirt.

it’s no fun in the moment but after a good night’s sleep, everything is better.

for someone with an eating disorder, depression or anyone suffering from self-harm: a bad day is more than a day.

a bad day is hating yourself on a deeper level than normal.

a bad day is wishing you were dead. and meaning it.

a bad day is bringing a razor to your skin, purging into the toilet, writing one final letter…

a bad day makes you feel like everyone is against you.

before i go any further, just understand i know how it feels.

i understand the pain you’re feeling.

i know the feelings you can’t put into words.

if today is one of those dark days and you’re feeling alone, i’m talking to you.

you are not alone.

but take heart in the fact that this is only one day.

tomorrow is a new fresh page for you to write a new story on.

this day, or any bad day in the future, is not what defines you.

in my personal struggles with anorexia, i began to look to self harm to cope with my depression.

i would cut myself and then feel so ashamed afterwards.

even this past summer, over a year into recovery, i slipped back into old habits.

my dad saw my wrists and understood.

he just hugged me and let me cry.

sometimes it’s ok to cry and just be upset.

it’s a normal reaction to a very real feeling we all experience.

whether your sadness was triggered by looking in the mirror, seeing a picture of yourself or simply not making it to the gym: you’re allowed to be sad.

so now i know what you’re thinking:

tell me how to “snap out of it.”

tell me how to stop feeling like this.

there unfortunately isn’t a perfect answer.

there isn’t a formula for happiness that you can plug variables into and achieve the desired results.

but there are ways to make yourself smile.

love music?

check out charlie puth, he’s a youtube artist that was on “ellen” and does really great covers of top 40 hits.

love baby animals?

check out bored panda‘s “30 baby animals that will make you go aww.” it’s the perfect amount of adorable to put a smile on your face.

sometimes just trying to distract yourself with something happy can raise your spirits.

but if that doesn’t work, know you’re worth more than a bad day.

you’re worth more than the negative thoughts in your head.

you’re worth more than giving up.

if you, or someone you care about, is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the suicide hotline:

1-800-273-8255

you are beautiful.

you deserve to stay alive.

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