Friday, August 28, 2009

Raising confident children when I lack confidence

As I write this entry, I am thinking about my role as a mother. I want to instill in my children a sense of confidence and teach them to live their lives courageously. How do I do that when I have had such poor self esteem? That has been my concern from the time I got pregnant 16 years ago.

In our house we have tried to stay away from words such as "fat" or "skinny." Teaching my kids that there is so much more to a person than his or her weight.

I have also told them to always ask if they want to do something, even if they think we can't afford it or we might say no. I was afraid to hear the word no, because I felt that if my parents said no, then it was a rejection of me. It doesn't hurt to ask. Hearing the word "no" is not anything against them. We try to give them an explanation as well, not just a "because I said so." Sometimes that is not easy to do, but it helps them to not take the no as a rejection of who they are.

I have also made a decision to let my children try things, even if I think they might have difficulty with it, or it might not be the right fit. I have a son that is hard of hearing, if he decides that he wants to be a singer in his life, I will help him find ways to do that. I won't tell him he is Pavarotti if he struggles (like some of those poor people on those singing competition shows that can't sing but have been told they are amazing by their loved ones), but we will find him a voice coach to help him find the best way for him to accomplish his goals. I don't want to say to him, "you can't do that because you have trouble hearing." I might say, "okay, so you want to sing for a living? What can we do to make that happen?" I want to encourage them in their lives.

I don't believe in constant praise, no matter what a child does. I think that there need to be consequences for behaviors that are unacceptable. That being said, I try not to be negative in my words to my children. I have not always been successful, and I have often asked for my children's forgiveness. I believe that admitting I am wrong, shows them that it is okay to make mistakes and that they are important enough to me that I will apologize when necessary. They are not my "property" and even though they are not adults, they are worthy of respect.

I remember how weird it felt when my mom would come to me after an argument and apologize. It also felt really good. Because I was old enough to know she overreacted, but I also knew my friends' parents didn't apologize to them. It made me feel valued. I only wish that I would have apologized to her more, I know now that I overreacted a lot more than she did! Sorry mom!

These are just a few things that I have used to raise my children to be more confident than me. My boys are 15 & 16 years old, and they are definitely worlds ahead of me! I am so proud of the young men they are becoming.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Banishing Negative Thoughts

I decided when writing this blog that I would not be negative, that I would post all of the positive things happening in my life. I would tell you about how I have overcome so many obstacles to being well. I would "banish all negative thoughts."

It is not easy to do that, and to be totally honest, it is
really difficult right now. I am going through a lot at this time, physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. I am using all of the great coping skills I learned in my recovery process. Both in-patient and out-patient therapies. But I will not lie to you, it is still tough.

I have found this technique helpful as I try to live a life full of positive thoughts and healthy habits.

Challenge Yourself for: 24 Hours

Today, use this simple technique for quieting your negative thoughts. Choose a poem or prayer from one of your favorite books and spend a little time memorizing it. The next time you hear your inner critic, banish the negativity by repeating your favorite poem (or affirmation) instead.

This is one of my affirmations that I like to repeat to myself when I am feeling especially negative

"Every day I choose to let go of a little more negativity, so that I may trust in the goodness of life."


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Words Can Really Hurt

I was surfing the net and found a blog post by the Orlando Sentinel's Becky Williams that really hit home. It is about how we talk about ourselves and the influence that has on others in our lives. Especially children.

How often have I said, "Do I look fat in this?" "Gosh I feel so huge today!"

Those words hang in the air, and stick in the minds of young people. They are so impressionable, and as much as they like to say they don't care what we say, they do. They are watching us, seeing how we approach life, the good, the bad & the ugly.

I vow to use only positive language when speaking about myself and others.

What about you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Numbing my Feelings

My feelings are a blessing.

One thing about eating disorders that I hadn't fully realized until I was in treatment, is that I was numbing out. The way someone might use alcohol or drugs to disconnect from their feelings, I was using Edith. I didn't like feeling sad, angry, scared, anxious, etc.

By starving myself, my body was shutting down all non-vital functions to keep me alive. One of those functions was the ability to acknowledge my feelings and to connect with others around me.

We live in a scary world, there is violence, economic troubles, natural disasters and many other things that make it hard to live. I acknowledge that, but by blocking out all of the bad feelings, I also blocked the good ones. I couldn't feel the joy of watching my sons play baseball, or learn how to ride their bikes. I couldn't enjoy the taste of my favorite foods, or savor the feeling of being in my husband's arms.

This affirmation made me stop and realize that each of my feelings is a blessing, be they "good" or "bad," they are mine. I may still struggle with not wanting to feel those negative emotions, who doesn't? But the bad times make the good times feel so much better. I love watching my kids grow up, I love seeing them accomplish new things. I know I am truly blessed, and that my feelings truly are a blessing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finding Joy in the Little Things

"The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions,—the little, soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of a playful raillery, and the countless other infinitesimals of pleasant thought and feeling."
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I have a bad habit of thinking that I will be better when ______________ happens. It could be anything. I will be better when "I am wealthy." I will be better when "my skin clears up." I will be better when "I lose 5 more pounds." Whatever it is, I believe that it is the magic ingredient that will make all of my problems disappear and make my life complete.

The problem with the magical thinking is that it rarely works. Having the money, clear skin, smaller waistline doesn't make the underlying problems disappear. So I would go in search of something more, or less if we are speaking of weight loss. Each pound that I loss only made me sadder and less able to cope with stress, but I didn't see that while I was in the midst of the struggle. It made me sicker, weaker, more depressed, which only compounded my problems.

I had to learn to find joy in the moment. To be content with where I am. This is still a struggle for me. I worry about this economic crisis, I worry about my kids and their health, I worry about what tomorrow will bring. But life is a mix of good and bad, and by learning to find the joy in the little things makes it easier to get through the big bad ugly things.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I am Perfect Just the Way I am

"Don't worry-it doesn't matter. You don't have to be like anyone else, because you're already perfect. We're all unique, we're all different. And you, too, have something wonderful to share with the world."
~Jennifer Read Hawthorne

I know I am not alone in saying that I have tried to be many different people. I have tried to be the "perfect (fill in the blank)." I had an image in my head of what that should be, what my hair, nails, clothes, shoes, weight should be. I thought I should be a certain way, act a certain way, feel a certain way.

I call this "shoulding" on myself.

Over the years I have been learning that what/who I should really be is...ME.

We have each been given gifts and talents to get us through life. It is as if we are one body, each of us performing our part so that things get accomplished. If I am not doing what I am meant to do, then it throws off the entire body.

I loved it when the SNL character Stuart Smalley said:
"Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!" It was meant to make people laugh, but you know what, it is true just the same!

Daily Affirmations

I am starting something new here on the blog.

When I was admitted to the hospital each time for treatment, (three times total) there were several things that each place had in common. One was affirmations.

Merriam-Webster defines Affirmation as follows:
  • Main Entry: af·fir·ma·tion
  • Pronunciation: \ˌa-fər-ˈmā-shən\
  • Function: noun
  • Date: 15th century
1 a : the act of affirming b : something affirmed : a positive assertion

A positive assertion, I like that. It is believed that stating something positive over and over will re-train the brain to accept the positive message over the negative one that was being used before.

I am a visual person, and I view it like this:

I had a tape player (for you young ones out there, an MP3 player) that was on a continuous loop in my head. It played all kinds of horrible things for me. Ugly things.

By not only repeating a positive statement to myself over and over inside my head, but also stating it aloud, I was re-formatting that tape. I was replacing the ugliness with beauty.

I would tape statements to my mirror and every time I looked in that mirror and wanted to pick my appearance apart, I would read them. Eventually I was able to believe some of them. Some are still more difficult than others, but it does get easier.

Today I am going to give you a quote that I like, it is encouraging me to try and to not give up.

"I faced the woman in the mirror and asked, 'How will you ever know what you can do if you don't try?' "
~Chris Mullins

Friday, August 14, 2009

Do I have an eating disorder, or am I just dieting?

I follow this blog, and she has a lot of great information. I liked this post, responding to an article asking the above question

The misunderstanding that captures it all

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Recovery is a Journey, not a Destination

I was released from the hospital on Monday.

It was not for the eating disorder, but the hospital always brings that up for me. I always have to tell them about Edith, and the questions start. I even had a nurse tell me that he hated his fat self and hated fat people. I had to draw on my coping tools and remember that his opinion had nothing to do for me. I was actually able to let it go and move on. He was really my favorite nurse.

I realized that I had made another turn in my journey. His comments before would have sent me reeling and ready to embrace Edith. It didn't happen.

I have to be honest that I struggle every day with my eating disorder. I sometimes struggle every minute. I have to make a choice to eat and take my meds as directed. I have to remind myself that I am worthy of self-love and self-care.

I did it! I overcame an obstacle and I am proud of myself!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance...Addiction

I am a huge fan of So You Think You Can Dance. I was watching and enjoying it when Kayla and Kupono were given a Mia Michaels routine. I love her routines, even if she is a bit, shall we say flaky? She seems to put her heart and soul into them. This time she tackled the subject of addiction. It pulled me in from start to finish. There were other routines this season that tugged at my heart strings, I mean the Tyce Diorio breast cancer dance? Come on!

But Mia captured my feelings about Edith so well. The struggle to be stronger than the addiction. The way the addiction grabs hold of you and won't let go. It was

Thursday, August 6, 2009

There will never be a more beautiful you

This song is very inspiring to me. It really says everything that I want to say. Please comment and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Everywhere I look there are skinny women

I am an entertainment junkie. I love sitcoms, soaps, dramas, movies, celebrities. Maybe it's because I wanted to be an actress or maybe it is just the times we live in. I love the celebrity gossip, I love to see who's wearing what. I love it all! I used to pour over all of the magazines and I would see these actresses and actors and wanted to know everything about them.


I looked at the magazines and I thought,
"She has it all! She has the career I want, the life I want, the body I want!" I wanted to be just like them.
I thought that if I could look like her, all of my troubles would melt away. I thought that if I was thinner, I could get everything I wanted...a career in show business, love, acceptance from everyone. People would admire me and want to be like me.

I was deluded. I realize now that I was trying to avoid real life. I didn't like the way things were, life seemed so out of control. I had been diagnosed with Diabetes, my husband had to work two jobs to take care of us, both of my children had health struggles as infants, my toddler was diagnosed with a moderately severe hearing loss and so on and so on. I needed something in my life that I had control over. Something that I thought would change my circumstances.

By trying to be "like them" I was avoiding real life. I thought that I had control. I thought that by controlling what went into my body and how much exercise I did would give me power. I also liked the comments I was getting regarding my weight loss. I thought I was getting the life I had always wanted.

I was wrong. I was losing control by the minute. Each time I chose not to eat, or to binge, or to over-exercise, Edith got her claws into me a little deeper. Until finally she totally consumed my every waking thought as well as my nightmares.

I thought about food night and day. I thought about my "disgusting" body at all times. Every time I would be around other people, all I could think was "they must think I am the fattest thing alive. I must disgust them." So I isolated myself.

Trying to be thin and like all of those celebrities I admired was slowly killing me.

I know now that when people meet me, they aren't thinking about my size or what I am wearing or how my hair looks. They are thinking about what I think about them. The majority of people out there have something about themselves that they don't like.

You start out happy that you have no hips or boobs. All of a sudden you get them, and it feels sloppy. Then just when you start liking them, they start drooping.
- Cindy Crawford

I'd kill myself if I was as fat as Marilyn Monroe.
Elizabeth Hurley

I look at myself and pick out the things I don't like. No matter how much I work out, I never get muscle tone in my butt and hip area.
Tyra Banks

It is not a bad thing to like celebrity gossip and watching who's wearing what. The problem comes when it becomes an obsession and a way to completely escape one's life. It is good to remember that even those that we admire have issues of their own. They are, after all, only human. Just like me!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The day they discovered I had an eating disorder

I have type 1 diabetes. I had not been to the doctor in quite awhile. My friend Glynda and my husband encouraged/made me go to a free clinic they were holding at the local hospital. They were checking blood glucose, eyes, feet, blood pressure, etc. I was trucking right along when I got to the blood pressure/heart rate station. Suddenly I was asked to sit down by the nurse, my pulse rate was 183. I didn't know what it was supposed to be but she was concerned enough to call the head of nursing over. I was placed in a wheelchair and taken to the emergency room. The nurse that was taking me had broken her arm, so the head of nursing pushed my chair. Her name was Avis, and meeting her was another turning point in my life. They left me in the ER and the doctors checked me out. A few minutes later while I was waiting for my husband to get there, Avis came back. She said she was worried about my eating. I denied any problem, and it went back and forth for a few minutes until I broke down and admitted I had a problem. It seems that while pushing me down to the ER in the wheelchair she touched my shoulder and knew that I had a problem. Her daughter had recently been released from an eating disorder treatment center. She could tell by the feel of my bony shoulder.

I was admitted to the hospital that day for heart monitoring and for referral to a treatment center. She visited me many times during that stay, and I saw her one other time while I lived there. Her grandkids went to my sons' school. I have never seen her since, but still think of Avis as an angel sent to start me on my road to recovery. I am eternally grateful, but wouldn't have admitted it at the time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How to write a letter to your eating disorder

I was in Baptist Medical Center in Kansas City from Thanksgiving until December 22nd of 2000 for the first treatment of my eating disorder. There were many girls and women there. The youngest was 12 and the oldest was 54. It was good to see I was not alone.

At one group session we were asked to name our eating disorders and to write a letter to "it." I thought this was stupid and a bunch of psycho babble. I was irritated and wanted to leave, but I am a rule follower by nature and started on the journey. Little did I know that in those 30 minutes my life would change. I got angry for the first time in a long time and as the tears flowed, the words came...

December 5, 2000

Dear Edith,

I just spoke with you, but I guess it never hurts to say hi again. I can't seem to get enough of you. You have become my "everything." Consuming my thoughts, my dreams, my hopes and my future. I can't imagine my life without you in the center of it. You are the one true constant in my life. There have been times that I have forsaken you, left you by the side of the road--but you are always where I left you. Waiting with hopen arms for me, saying, "Welcome home friend, I missed you. You couldn't make it without me, could you?" And I run into your outstretched arms and find my comfort there. You taught me so many things. Things that I didn't know before you came, such as:
  • I don't deserve to be healthy
  • It is selfish of me to take care of myself
  • Boys don't like fat girls
  • With you I have control
  • I am a bad girl
  • That everyone will hurt me
  • That everyone will leave me
  • That you will always be there to hold onto
You have never let me forget one of these lessons. You are so good about playing these messages back to me whenever I get too full of pride. You show me all the beautiful people on television, in the movies and on magazine covers. And then tell me how happy I could be if I were like them!

You play old home movies for me so I don't forget the pain of my past. You recorded every event of my life and play back the most painful when I start to enjoy life too much.

Oh how you have worked to keep me in my place. Oh how you have slaved to make sure I know how truly inadequate I am. I haven't given you all the credit you deserve! You are amazing! How could I even think of leaving you behind? You are my all! I am nothing without you!

But...You disgust me!!!! I am sick and tired of being sick and tired! I want to enjoy life! I want to be free! I want you out of my life! I want to have people see ME and not YOU! I want to cherish my time with my husband and children! I want to look like a woman again! I want to think of something, anything but you! I want to go out to eat with my friends and not worry about what they are thinking about me and you. I want to give up--"us!" I want ot break it off! I want you to die! I want to leave you by the side of the road and I want you gone! Don't follow me anymore; don't be waiting for my return--I won't be back! This is the last goodbye! I don't want you! I don't need you! I won't have you!


Saturday, August 1, 2009

A New Journey

My name is Rachel and I am in recovery from an eating disorder. In this blog I will start to tell my story. It is not pretty and sometimes it is very scary, but it is all true.

This blog is called Overtaking Edith because that is the name that I gave my eating disorder. She overtook my life for so long and she is what people saw when they looked at me. I have taken back control and am getting better every day!

I hope that I do not offend anyone in this process, but to get to the truth and to help others, I know that I must tell it all.

Some people reading this know most of the story, no one knows it all, not even me.

Thank you for joining me on this journey...let's dig in!