Sunday, September 20, 2009

Finding a Reason to Live

Every day is a gift, that is why it is called the present.

When someone first asked me why I was trying to kill myself, I was dumbfounded. I didn't understand, yet it made perfect sense. I didn't think anyone understood the aching inside of me, that no one could know how much I wanted the pain to stop. I wasn't actively trying to die, but passively it seemed I was.

Starvation is a death sentence.

I had to really search deep to find that desire to live. I wasn't sure there was a reason. I was so gripped with depression that I didn't think anything good would ever happen to me again.

Then I thought about my children, I thought about my wonderfully supportive husband, I thought about the friends that loved me. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and this time it did not seem like an oncoming train.

These glimpses of light started the journey. I could focus on good things, even the smell of sheets dried on the line, or the beauty of a daisy, the love of my family and friends. These are all good things, but just the beginning.

I had to find the desire within myself to live my life and to live it fully.

It took a long time, it was painful to focus so much attention on me and my needs. It was rough to change my perspective about myself. I had been so negative about myself for so long that thinking positively was so foreign to me.

I found my joy for life deep within myself. I was truly worth love and joy! I want to experience life to its fullest, and I am beginning to do that.

I was put on this earth to fulfill a purpose. I think I may be seeing it come to life right now, to share my story. I hope to inspire you on your journey, wherever it may take you. I hope that you will use my story in whatever way you want, a cautionary tale, a glimpse of a way out of a downward spiral, whatever.

Very soon it will be my 38th birthday, in about half an hour actually. It is a time to celebrate life and what I have accomplished in my life. Thank you for helping me to do that!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to Help Your Friend with an Eating Disorder

So, you think your friend has an eating disorder. What do you do? How can you be supportive? What next? I am hoping this will help you find some ways to help. It is a long journey, and your friend will probably be scared,angry, upset and may not even admit they have a problem. It starts with that first step when they say they have a problem.

I admitted that I had a problem that day in the hospital, but did not want to go in for treatment. I thought of every reason why I shouldn't. I also kept saying, "I'm okay," "I'll change," "I'll stop," etc.

I really had to get to the point where I realized that I was helpless over this disease and that I needed help immediately. I was blessed that there was an opening at the hospital in Kansas City where the physicians in St. Joseph thought I should go. I went in less than a week after admitting that I had a problem with eating.

How do you support your friend? Here is a link that I posted a few days ago, but I liked it Teens Health from Nemours and a little of what they have to say:

Being a supportive friend also means learning how to behave around someone with an eating disorder. Here are some ways to support a friend who is battling an eating problem:

  • Try your best not to talk about food, weight, diets, or body shape (yours, your friend's, or even a popular celebrity's).
  • Try not to be too watchful of your friend's eating habits, food amounts, and choices.
  • Try not to make statements like, "If you'd just eat (or stop working out so much), you'll get better."
  • Focus on your friend's strengths — that he or she has a great smile, is helpful and friendly, or good at math or art.
  • Try to avoid focusing on how your friend looks physically.

Most important, remind your friend that you're there no matter what. You want to help him or her get healthy again. Sometimes you'd be surprised how asking simple questions such as "what can I do to help?" or "what would make you feel better?" can lead to a great conversation about how you can help your friend heal.

Teens Health from Nemours

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How to Tell if Your Friend has an Eating Disorder

After telling people my story, I almost always get the following question:

"How can I help my friend, I think she/he has an eating disorder?"

This is a hard question to answer, because people are so concerned with body image these days. Your friend that is trying to shed a few pounds, may be perfectly okay. Your other friend that is going to the gym for 3 hours at a time may be training for a marathon. I found something that will help you in your determining whether it is harmless, or something you might want to pursue.

Teen's Health from Nemours has listed the following signs that your friend's idea of normal dieting has slipped into the obsessive category of an eating disorder:
  • Your friend has an obsession with weight and food (more than general comments about how many calories he or she eats in a day). It might seem like your friend talks about food, weight and being thin and nothing else.
  • Your friend knows exactly how many calories and fat grams are in everything that he or she eats — and is constantly pointing this out.
  • Your friend feels the need to exercise all the time, even when sick or exhausted.
  • Your friend avoids hanging out with you and other friends during meals. For example, he or she avoids the school cafeteria at lunch or the coffee shop or diner where you usually meet on weekends.
  • Your friend starts to wear big or baggy clothes. Lots of people wear baggy clothes as a fashion statement, but someone who wears baggy clothes to hide their shape might have other issues.
  • Your friend goes on dramatic or very restrictive diets, cuts food into tiny pieces, moves food around on the plate instead of eating it, and is very precise about how food is arranged on the plate.
  • Your friend seems to compete with others about how little they eat. If a friend proudly tells you she only had a diet soda for breakfast and half an apple for lunch, it's a red flag that she could be developing an eating disorder.
  • Your friend goes to the bathroom a lot, especially right after meals, or you've heard your friend vomiting after eating.
  • Despite losing a lot of weight, your friend always talks about how fat he or she is.
  • Your friend appears to be gaining a lot of weight even though you never see him or her eat (people with bulimia often only eat diet food in front of their friends).
  • Your friend is very defensive or sensitive about his or her weight loss or eating habits.
  • Your friend buys or takes laxatives, steroids, or diet pills.
  • Your friend has a tendency to faint, bruises easily, is very pale, or starts complaining of being cold more than usual (cold intolerance can be a symptom of being underweight).
I will write more about how you can help in a later post.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


It has been hard for me to keep friends. I could make friends easily enough, but they didn't last.

I am sure there are many reasons why, the majority of them of my own making.

I have a tendency to wear a mask, and it is funny, witty, smart, caring, etc. I come off as a great person and then things break down. Sometimes it burns out fast, other times it fizzles out slowly.

I can be needy, whining, complaining and demanding. I try not to play the victim role, but old habits are hard to break.I used to think that the only way people would care about me was if they felt sorry for me. I would be so pathetic that they wouldn't leave me because they would feel too guilty. I wanted so badly to be loved. I didn't take good care of myself. I would not eat right, not take my medications correctly, and generally created a mess.

None of this I did consciously. I didn't sit down and say, "Hey, if I get sick, people will love me." It has only been after years of introspection that have I been able to realize why I didn't have any friends that lasted for very long.

We have moved around quite a bit, and I always had the intention of staying in touch, but I rarely did. This is because I thought it would be easier to cut things off before they did. I didn't want to be left. I think this is how I handled ALL of my relationships until my husband came along. I left before they could leave me.

It all comes down to self worth. I did not feel worthy of love. I thought that I was unlovable.

I have since learned otherwise. I have some friends that have not given up on me. I have a husband that loves me unconditionally. These are all such great things, but not enough.

I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn that deep down I was enough. The person that I was born to be was just enough. I don't have to be anything for anyone, other than what I am.

What an amazing revelation that was. That was the key to getting well.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Get Over It!

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing. Comments welcome!

I went through all of the motions of being "OK" with everything. I told just about everyone about the abuse and that I was so over it.


To everyone, but especially to myself.

I thought that if I talked about it enough, I would be okay. That's what the woeld would say...get it all out, don't bottle it up.

I was doing a lot of talking, but not a lot of feeling. I shoved the feelings of shame, abandonment, fear, terror, guilt, pain, anger, suffering, loneliness and trauma (among others) so far down that I didn't even know they were there.

I thought that I was the poster child for "getting over it," and "moving on." I was, however, the queen of stuffed feelings.

I was great at giving advice, speaking in public, and saying what I knew people wanted to hear. I was dying inside.

I wanted someone to see the pain I was in, but I didn't want to say anything. I expected those that loved me to see it, I wanted mind readers. I had very unrealistic requirements of those that saide they loved me.

I often latched on to people that showed me any attention. I clung so tightly that I pushed them away.

If I had a long-distance friend, I would just ignore their calls and letters. I moved on, knowing in my heart that they would drop me if I was too "clingy."

I had some skewed logic, I know. I still don't totally understand it.

Resisting Eating Disorder Relapse

Lately I have been going through a lot. Things are not easy, and I really have to rely on healthy ways of coping with it.

In the past I would have restricted my eating, overate, not taken my meds properly, or a myriad of things. I would have isolated myself from my friends and family and not let them know how stressed and scared I was. I still struggle with these things, but have found other ways of dealing with it.

I have a relapse prevention plan that I filled out each time I left the hospital. I obviously didn't use it very well at least two times, but I am getting better and better at using the plan.

I found one online and it seems to be a good one. It is on and I really like the layout.

By coming up with strategies on how to handle difficult situations or "triggers" it makes it easier to overcome them. This can really apply to anyone, even if you don't have an eating disorder. Do you have a tendency to isolate yourself when you get stressed? Do you have trouble controlling your anger? There can be many things that "set us off" on the road we would rather not take. By filling out this form and coming up with strategies on how to face those difficult decisions, you may be able to find a way to stop the destructive behaviors in your life.

  • I am trying to use all healthy outlets when Edith starts to rear her ugly head.
  • I am using this blog as a way of reaching out to others that struggle.
  • I am writing in a journal.
  • I am talking to my very best friends about how hard things are, and that I need them to keep me stay on track. They cannot do it for me, but they are my support system.
  • I have put my meals and meds on a schedule and stick to it even when I don't feel like it. Until the stressers are gone, I have to maintain this schedule.

There are other things I can do to get me through the tough times. I will blog about those at another time. Take care and take this with you...

I have the power to change myself

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Long for Control

I have written about how much I wanted to fit in and be beautiful. I wanted to be that ideal weight, have the right hair, etc. I became obsessed with looking like those I admired in Hollywood. I have always felt plain at my best, disgusting at my worst. That is true, but it isn't the whole story.

If you read my previous post about my letter to Edith, you might understand this post better. It was about the control. I craved some sort of control in my life and at the time thought that by deciding what did and what did not go into my body was the only way to find that control.

I am a survivor of abuse. I felt that I had little control over what happened to my body. There was someone else that had that control.

I wanted to take back that control.

Once I started losing weight, and people gave me positive feedback about that, the monster known as Edith appeared.

I lied to those I loved. I hid from those that loved me. I embraced the eating disorder as if it were the only thing that mattered.

I could control what did and did not go into my body. I could control what I did and did not do. At least I thought I had that control, but again, it grew and took over my every waking and sleeping moment. At some point I was helpless to fight it.

It took others to see me in pain, and to reach in and pull me out.

Suddenly I had to look at Edith square on and see what was really happening to me, and what I was doing to myself with the choices I made. I was no longer blind to the hell I was putting my body and spirit to. Edith is evil, yes, but she is also "me."

I believe that most people want to have control over what happens to them, and I also believe that we give up that control with choices we make. Sometimes it is mperceptible, sometimes it is obvious.

Maybe you are angry at someone. You can't stop thinking about what they did to hurt you. The thoughts start to consume you. Do you believe that the person you are angry with is actually hurt by your feelings? Do you think they waste a moment worrying about you? That anger has taken over your life.

By recognizing the thing that has control over our lives, we can take steps to take the control back. That is what I am trying to do. Will you join me in this fight?