Hello my friends!

I want to talk about this insidious beast we call depression, at least how it fits in my life. Ordinarily, I joke about it, but it is very serious.

I think about death most of the time. I say this not to alarm you, but to say that this is my experience. I read recently about types of suicidality and realized that I am in the gray area. The area where there is obviously a problem, but it isn’t necessary for emergency services to be called. I still see the line as a line.

I don’t think I really want to miss out on life; I am more tired of life beating the crap out of me. Being sick has ruined my life. I am not expecting pity, just stating how I feel and how the world seems to me.

I have struggled with mental illness issues for years, maybe all the way back to when I was about 11. I interpreted my needs as burdens to my parents. They never said that, but I always felt that I wasn’t quite deserving of all that they did.

As life went on and I experienced sexual abuse and developed an eating disorder and eventually moved to having manic and depressive episodes, all going undiagnosed, I developed deadly coping skills. I tried to kill myself in college, right before graduation. I was 21.

Throughout graduate school, I was in and out of hospitals and had two surgeries for my birth defect, in addition to depositions for the sexual abuse. I spent hours being told that, at thirteen, I seduced a middle-aged man who was supposed to be taking care of me. The depression and eating disorder and self-harm continued.

I was about 26 when I was diagnosed with bipolar. By then, I had racked up (in one month) $30,000 worth of debt, including buying a new car. I was beyond manic. I then crashed horribly and started thinking about death constantly. I stayed alive for my pets. I still stay alive for my dog.

I don’t know if any of you reading this can understand the depth of feeling and frustration that goes into managing mental health symptoms. Combine that with pain and hormonal imbalances and life is beyond difficult. It feels impossible.


Humor doesn’t fix everything

So, I have shifted from limited eating to overeating. I am miserable. I keep hoping to feel better, but with every bite, I hate myself a little bit more. It could be hormones. It could be meds. It could be any number of things, but it isn’t funny.

So, why do I make jokes about it?

I make jokes about a lot of things that make me uncomfortable. It is my way of dealing with things. It’s painting a smiley face on that picture of rain that’s torn in five pieces. It doesn’t fix it.

In this case, it makes me feel worse. I find myself joking about all that I eat, because I am ashamed of my intake. I tell my parents that they would be doing fine financially if I would just put down the fork. If I could just say no to pop tarts, my world would make sense. Then I correct it and say the appropriate thing of “Oh, but they’re so good.” No, they’re not. I have never really cared for pop tarts.

I make fat jokes. I say cutting things to myself like, “With my expanding waistline…” When someone says they lost weight, I comment that I found it. The barista at the hospital asked me right after New Year’s, “Did you get thick over the holidays?” I laughed and agreed and quickly offered my excuse of prednisone. Why did I need an excuse?

You may be asking why I am bothering to write about all of this. I am not sure, except that I feel like I am fatphobic. Not toward others… Funny thing is that nobody else is required to live by my standards. I am accepting of all bodies, just not my own. I sit in public places and read blogs and watch people and how they eat and drink and express themselves. I am jealous of those that seem so self-assured. I do not know their problems, but I envy their drinking a beer before dinner. I envy their enjoyment of tira misu and baklava and cake. I envy their smiles.

When I go out with friends who truly understand my struggles, we drink coffee only. I regularly get mocha lattes to remind me that I deserve good things. But, then I have some friends who want cake and cookies. I go along with it, because my disease makes people uncomfortable and people like to eat. They think I am better if I eat. Why not let them believe the lie? Truth bomb: I don’t like eating around people. I don’t like eating with coffee. I have taken to eating in secret because I am ashamed of my interactions with food. If I eat in front of you, it is because I want you to be happy, not because I want to.

I pretend and make jokes to hide how distressed I am. I cry about these things a lot. I cry a lot. And that’s okay. I would tell anyone else that it is okay to fear the changes in one’s body, but I have to be this stalwart anchor for the world… I am holding everyone else in place while I am hiding below the surface. My smiley face is making me miserable.



My life is an endless montage of things gone awry. Like having a cyst rupture and proceeding to be nauseous for days and finally vomiting my guts out after a day of sitting absolutely still to avoid vomiting. I just wanted some Dr. Pepper. Well, the porcelain god wanted it more.

So, on Monday, I was going to the coffee shop to rev myself up for therapy. Yes, I thought some additional caffeine before the latte that I drink in therapy was necessary. I was walking out to my car when it drove off, squealing its tires, and leaving me standing there in shock. Someone stole my car. Seriously!?!? I ran out back, told my dad and he ran up the hill, got in his truck and tried to pursue. I called the police, filed a report with the sheriff, filed a claim with my auto insurance. All very calmly. I can be calm. I might have had rapid-fire speech at one point. I was trying to get my license plate number and talk to the insurance and I was frustrated. Did you know that you need your license plate number to get your license plate number? Luckily, the sheriff’s office was able to obtain that information, because I could not. Also, the joy of my phone calls came when the adjuster said that the thief took it because he was cold and would likely abandon it once he reached his destination. And my doctors think I am delusional. She then proceeded to tell me to have a “good day.”

It is two days later today and it is still missing. I have given up on being positive and for the people who say, “It’s okay”–it’s not okay. He also took my house keys and we had to change the locks. I jump when I hear a doorknob rattle. I am grateful that I wasn’t hurt and that no violence happened, but this sucked.

I saw my doctors afterward and they want me to consider more therapy. My struggles with reality and stress management are proving to be far more difficult than anticipated. My lack of structure and my weariness are also stressors. I try to think of ways to fill my day, but am overwhelmed by every task. I suppose it sounds as though I am throwing myself a pity party, but truly life is a struggle right now.



Better? or Worse?

This week has been rough. I have had random delusional thoughts (Thanks Bipolar I). I have struggled to take my medicines. Eating has been next to impossible. Then, when I do eat, I have engaged in behaviors. I am not proud of myself for this week.

I was honest with my therapist about my delusions; it was the first time I told him about them and it was very shame producing. Out of curiosity, what is the best way to share with one’s providers that you wonder if they are providing you with placebos? Also, that you think they want you to kill yourself? I don’t think there is a way. Also, no matter how your therapist handles it, whether in jest, kindness, or direct confrontation, you are going to feel like crap. At least, I did. My therapist did all of the above and my logical mind agrees with him; my doctors and pharmacy are not giving me fake pills, but I am frustrated by my lack of progress.

My doctors assure me that it will get better. My therapist says maybe it is the nocebo effect. I think I am beyond help. I smile when people ask how I am. I lie about what I am doing. In truth, I sit around a lot. I am scared to leave my house most of the time. I am overwhelmed by the simplest of things. This is not new to my situation; this has been going on for years. I’m just good at smiling.


Super Powers

I want to be powerful. I want to be a force for change. I want to be an encouragement to others. I am not Supergirl, nor am I Jessica Jones, but I am a combination of dysfunction and belief in the better parts of the world. 

Super heroes are making a comeback. Maybe they have always been here. My friend would argue that they have always been here, I am just oblivious. I was never interested in the super hero scene, probably because I did not identify with any of those men in tights or women with extraordinarily naive beliefs in the good of mankind. Plus, they are so functional. Secret identities. Two lives. Hide-outs. Solid relationships. Exceptional problem-solving skills. LIKE REALLY!?!?!?

A few months ago, I ran across Jessica Jones. She is a heroine I can relate to. Her brooding alcoholic dysfunction makes me believe that I have the possibility of helping others in my own dysfunctional ways. She also doesn’t claim to be a super hero. She doesn’t have a double life. Jessica does the best she can with what she has (super-strength) and whatever alcohol she can find. Her relationships are troubled. She wonders if some people deserve to be saved. She has flaws-human flaws.

So, Jessica started me on my way into super hero land and I am currently watching Supergirl. Supergirl eats. Supergirl has favorite foods. Supergirl loves donuts. She does have a double life and she does follow her heart and she is naive, but she brings something to the tweens who watch her. Like most women and young women, especially… We are trying to find ourselves and learn of our own superpowers. Supergirl pushes her limits and survives even when she should be dead. Women want to be powerful, but seem limited by their humanity.

I want to be powerful. I want to be a force for change. I want to be an encouragement to others. I am not Supergirl, nor am I Jessica Jones, but I am a combination of dysfunction and belief in the better parts of the world.

I cannot stop moving cars or jump from the 5th story of a building and survive. I do not have x-ray vision or frost breath. However, I am alive. My superpower is eating a full meal without crying. My superpower is taking my medicine every day when my alarms go off. My superpower is walking into a grocery store and buying creamer when I am low. These may seem like mediocre tasks, but when one struggles with mental illness, just getting out of bed is a superpower.

To all of my dear readers who do not believe themselves worthwhile or like they do enough: YOU ARE ENOUGH!!!


Practicing Self-Love

I am embracing my own line of fashion: lace, ruffles, flowers, ooh la la… And I am going to embrace the fact that I love walking and yoga, but hate exercise. I am going to embrace my limitations and recognize that I can only do so much physically. I deserve gentle love and care.

So, with an eating disorder, I have all these judgements about my body and about what I deserve. When people tell me what all I have to offer, I have all of these reasons that I am really not worth all that the world says I deserve.

When I was in college, I measured my worth by grades. If I got a 100%, then I deserved a full meal. If I got a 90%, I deserved 5 bites, followed by laxatives. If I got less, the results were not to be mentioned. Now, I consider my reasons for deserving things and it is still really difficult to think of myself as being worthy of anything.

In my last session with my therapist, he challenged me to be nice to myself: say nice things, stop belittling myself, be kind… So, yesterday, I went out and bought some clothes. It may seem that spending money was a bad idea, but with all of my recent weight gain, my wardrobe is too small for me. So, I bought some new clothes, most of which remind me of my college days, but this time with leggings instead of designer jeans. I didn’t try anything on (I know, a mistake in the fashion world where nothing is as it says it is) and I am hoping they all fit.

I have spent the past ten years or so dressing for business. I’ve worn argyle and houndstooth and creased pants and jackets. I’ve worn dresses that are business casual. Really, I have wanted lace and ruffles and flowers. I dressed for the business world when I was made for the arts. I hate t-shirts. I have never liked them. I hate sports jackets. I hate blazers. I hate suits. Yet, this is how I have dressed myself over the past ten years or so.

So, this year, I am embracing my own line of fashion: lace, ruffles, flowers, ooh la la… And I am going to embrace the fact that I love walking and yoga, but hate exercise. I am going to embrace my limitations and recognize that I can only do so much physically. I deserve gentle love and care.



Embracing Change

When it comes to embracing change, I am not ready. I have to think hard about it. I am very depressed about this change and it has taken its toll. I know that quitting my job and focusing on me was the best choice I could have made, but it was still difficult.

I am unsure of what to expect in my life right now. Right before Christmas, I quit my job after trying for months to battle against my illnesses and balance my health with my job. I was unsuccessful.

For now, people advise that I relax and rest and recuperate from the beating I gave my body and mind. I don’t know how to relax. I am resting beyond my norms and feel somewhat lazy, as well as worthless. My family raised me to be productive and I cringe at my inability to accomplish many things these days.

The truth is that I have accomplished very little. I can barely force myself to shower once a week. I sit in front of blank pages and wonder where my mind has gone, if it is lost forever. I still have my wit.

I was reading articles the other night on reasons to be thankful for illness, or the bonuses of illnesses, primarily bipolar. The frustrating thing about all of these articles, in fact most of the articles I read about bipolar is from contributors with bipolar type II. I feel as though type I is its own beast and one that is rarely discussed in the media, except to cast blame and to portray us as entirely cray-cray. Reasons to be thankful are not present.

Gratitude is one of those things that are encouraged in communities fostering wellness. It was one of those things that I encouraged my clients to cultivate in their search for recovery. So, here is my own list:

I am grateful for my sense of humor; may I always be able to provide a snarky response to the most annoying of questions.

I am grateful for my family, who is supporting me as I attempt to find wellness and heal.

I am grateful for coffee, lattes, espresso, chocolate… generally anything with caffeine.

I am grateful for intelligent providers, ones that don’t make me question my beliefs about humanity.

I am grateful for friends, even those who abandoned ship, or feel that I am being too little or too much. It is amazing how friendships get torn asunder by life changes, or personal struggles.

I am grateful for my meds and the amazing 14-16 hours of sleep I get every night from them. Okay. Not really. That pisses me off.

I am grateful for a diagnosis that tells me about my problem and what I can expect.

I recognize this post is not really so much about embracing change, but about a wide array of thoughts and feelings. When it comes to embracing change, I am not ready. I have to think hard about it. I am very depressed about this change and it has taken its toll. I know that quitting my job and focusing on me was the best choice I could have made, but it was still difficult. So, while I should be embracing change and preparing for this phase of my life, I am wanting to give it the middle finger.



Stewardship of the Body

New Year thoughts. Instead of losing weight or becoming this or that or finally being that perfect person, why not take ownership of your body? I am not meaning make it do exactly what you want, but rather taking care of it.

I have been thinking lately about how my body has changed so much in these past few months and have seriously been brainstorming on how to put a stop to the changes. One problem: I can’t. My body is going to do its own thing. Granted there is the whole anorexia thing that tells me calories in versus calories out, but that doesn’t fix my sudden desires for chocolate or eliminate my bingeing on sugar and bread and ice cream and doughnuts… My body is changing and I am trying to learn how to work with it.

Over this holiday, I ended up with a nasty respiratory infection and was on prednisone. I ate everything and more. I have never eaten like that before. My family was alarmed; I was nearly in tears. It was as bad as depakote only my mood wasn’t stabilized. Bright side: no purging. So, I had to deal with hunger cues and I went with them. My body was miserable; I was emotional, but I recovered fairly quickly from the infection. I survived eating all of that food. It surprised me.

So, I have been trying to figure out how to care for my body. I have a tendency of trying to control my body and that is not really what I want. I want to be a caretaker of this vessel of mine. That means feeding it and exercising it and providing it with tenderness and love.

When I am met with the New Year’s resolutions of body management, I say: Self-care. Yesterday, I tried low-carb eating to make up for the excessiveness of the prednisone diet… It didn’t work. By 4 in the afternoon, I was starving for carbs and I ate carbs… more than I probably would have if I had just satisfied my hunger for a little bit of sugar earlier in the day. I learned that I can’t control my body’s needs. However, I can meet them with moderation.

I can also exercise my body in moderation. As one who has exercised obsessively and excessively over my time with anorexia, this will be a challenge, but one that I am ready to face. I have small yoga routines that I intend to do and some walking. Nothing strenuous. All gentle. All things that will be gentle on my body and help me recover.

My main struggle will be food. I am determined that this will be the year that I officially say goodbye anorexia. My therapist explained that it takes about 5 years to really get over it by sticking to a plan and monitoring things, but that it can be done outside of therapy. So, this begins my plan to kick anorexia to the curb.

So, stewardship is caring for the body and all of its needs. Not only food and exercise, but also those things that depression gets in the way of–like showering and getting dressed and getting out of bed…

Happy New Year and Happy Stewardship! How are you going to care for yourself this year?



Holidays are a difficult time for me. About 6 years ago, I spent all of Christmas and New Years in the hospital for a serious depressive episode. The meds were all wrong; everything was started from scratch and I was not even allowed to write for fear of leaving me alone with a pen.

This year is moderately better, but the depression is still there. It hangs like cobwebs amongst the corners of my mind. I clean it out, only for it to return with its suicidality and thoughts of self-loathing a day later. I have struggled with depression since I was young. I did not get treatment until I was in college and I was undiagnosed with Bipolar and Anorexia. The joys of my life came from doctors who prescribed everything to make me up and gave me more when I was down. Rapid cycling, there I was.

Now, I have a doctor who carefully prescribes things. I am in a depressive episode and she recently prescribed lithium to help with the suicidal nature of my depression. It has been a few years since we have added a pill to my cocktail without switching it with something else. In truth, it makes me feel a bit like a failure. I wonder what I could have done to avert this need for more medicine.

Perhaps, if I had eaten right or exercised or walked my dog or drank less coffee… The list of things that I maybe might have done differently extends beyond my knowledge. It sits there in my subconscious telling me what a failure I am and how I did not try hard enough. The side effects are punishing and I feel guilty for having them, as if that too is a reason for me to deserve to feel unhappy. I deserve to feel miserable. I deserve to have side effects. Again, my depression tells me that my misery is my fault.

Logically, this is not true. Logically, my brain is diseased and neurochemicals are firing in ways that they are not supposed to fire. Overcoming this set of obstacles requires balance. Balance requires a separation from the emotional pull of chaos.

What will pull me out of this? Medicine… it will help. Eating… as triggering as it is, yes, it too will help. Talking… Admitting that I am struggling… Yes, that will help too…

So, as I end 2017 in suicidal depression, I also quit my job and started the process for disability. I need time to care for myself and accept my limitations. I once believed that I had no limitations, but that led me to a near death and bankruptcy not only financially, but also spiritually. I am unsure what is coming in 2018, but am determined to meet it with fierceness.


Societal Pressures

I have noticed a few things over the past few weeks. One: nobody has control over my body but me. Two: my body needs care if I am going to be successful in my life. I have also noticed that body image, weight gain, weight loss, food choices, even drink choices, and clothing all make this dynamic impact on how one can expect to be treated. That last one should be bunk.

So, over my years of working in random fields, nothing brings a group of people together more than talking about weight problems. Despite a history of anorexia and 20 years of dysfunctional eating patterns, I think I am actually doing really well. I have dealt with food shaming, body shaming, clothes shaming, and even shoe shaming (I do love my heels). I am still alive.

Needless to say, I have been thinking really hard about all of this and how to respond. It is disgusting-very disgusting-when you think about it. So, how does one change it?

I hate to say it, but I am not sure there is a way to change it. I go to doctor’s appointments and there are magazines about cleanses and eating healthy and how to impress your mate and such. There is so much pressure on people to be these perfect creatures that are so capable of looking ideal and helping the world one perfect encounter at a time.

As my body has changed over these past few months, I have found it increasingly difficult to accept societal pressures. I’ve also started reading more and realizing that I am so much more than a number on the scale. I am so much more than my meal plan. I am so much more than my diagnoses. If I were to be really honest, I like feeling smart again. No, my body isn’t the size I wish it were, but I have a brain.

I have a brain. I am thinking about bigger issues now. My mind isn’t a running scoreboard of calories, carbs, proteins, and sugars. When that is running through your mind, it is incredibly difficult to do anything worthwhile.

So, why does society make it so important to eat and look a certain way?

This is a huge question and one I am not really sure how to answer. Perhaps, it is a return to the ideas of the 20s and 30s where people were judged for their physical attributes. Seriously, eugenics happened. People were imprisoned and sterilized if they did not fit the standards of society.

Let’s think back to the recent past where we are just now starting to recognize different forms of intelligence. I know people who believe themselves to be incredibly stupid if they cannot write or read very well. Let’s ignore their mathematical, engineering, spatial intelligence, and just basic living skills. Why don’t we say that parents are super heroes? Their abilities to manage tiny lives while also taking care of themselves, their jobs, their bills, their house, EVERYTHING… Well, that takes a lot.

I know I am getting off-track. I am just so surprised by society lately. I have been somewhat disgusted by the forceful impetus of society toward a perfect body and person. I know that was not my original fall into the trap, but it does affect me now. I remember the compliments of being size X and people telling me how great that was and how controlled I was. I had a teacher ask how I did it. I just shrugged my shoulders.

You know, I never really believed that I was good enough because I was never thin enough, I wasn’t at the top of my class, I’m not published… The list goes on and on of all these reasons that I am not quite good enough. What does that even mean? Good enough for whom?

I exist and that makes me good enough. I help people. I smile and joke and try to help others smile. I think I would make a great comedian. There are all of these fabulous people in the world that don’t fit the societal ideal and we want to praise them when they lose weight, bash them if they wear the wrong thing, or tear them down simply for being human and having a bad day. Where is our humanity?

How soon is it that we return to a society that will sterilize those that are deemed unfit? How soon is it that we return to a society that completely ignores the issues faced by its individuals? We have the #metoo movement and men are worried that they are going to be accused of some wrongdoing. The movements are made to raise awareness of how big the problems are. What can we do to make a change? How can one person make a difference? When will we realize that we are enough?


Blind Weigh?

I nearly died last year. I am blessed to be alive. I have to recognize that the eating disorder does not help me. I have to recognize that there is more to me than a number on a scale.

I was at the dietitian last week and we opted not to weigh me until I had decided between open or blind weigh. I’ve weighed myself twice since then. I recognize that my weight is not the enemy, but it is difficult to be “okay” with my weight, since it has been the enemy for about twenty years. So, the question remains: open or blind weigh?

I want my life to be about so much more than my weight. Obviously, there is more to life than a number on a scale and my life is not measured by how much I weigh. Unfortunately, my brain says this is a difficult new rhetoric to believe given that my treatment team wants to weigh me every two weeks and recovery involves stabilizing food intake which can be monitored through weight.

So, if I blind weigh, I have to agree and fully commit to not weighing myself between sessions. If I open weigh, I have to agree and fully commit to not adjusting my behaviors between weigh-ins. At this point, I am wondering why I did not try out for the football team in high school and try to suffer a major injury that would make weigh-ins nigh unto impossible? Just saying…

I have to identify what is more important to me: knowing my weight and crying about it every two weeks, or focusing on how I am improving my life and embracing my goals. While this may seem like an easy decision… I really want to know my weight.

I have to take into account, however, that my life has improved so much without the steady knowledge of that number. I am reading, writing, not alienating my friends… I am even thinking about goals beyond losing weight: something I would have thought impossible two years ago. Sure, I had hopes of doing something with my life, but I could do that at (insert impossibly low weight here) pounds, right?

What I have to accept is that I will lose everything if I go full-scale back to my eating disorder. How can I counsel my patients on the importance of choosing life over addiction, if I am addicted to a number falling on a scale? How can I tell them that one time of using can kill them when I am tempting fate by restricting and purging?

I nearly died last year. I am blessed to be alive. I have to recognize that the eating disorder does not help me. I have to recognize that there is more to me than a number on a scale. I have to stop making comparisons between my body as it is now as to how it was number of years ago. That does not help me. It just makes me feel miserable and takes my mind away from my goals.

So, the choice is pretty clear: blind weigh. It scares me, but not as much as death from choosing the lower number. Again, the choice is poetry, not pounds. My life is worth more than a number on the scale. I’ve got things to do.


Faith and Smiles

Recovery is not just a battle of getting better, it is a battle with myself to see myself as worth taking up space and the world being safe enough for me to take up space.

I do not talk much about my faith because it is a private thing. I am liberal; by that, I mean I respect all human rights, not just those of the conservative white upper class. I have had my fair share of being marginalized and that my story doesn’t matter and being told that I am an abomination. I smile and nod. A lot.

I do not like going to church because of the stigma attached to my diseases. Nothing beats hope out of a person like a church member telling you that you don’t believe in God and He is punishing you with Bipolar for your unbelief. Or that you are ungrateful for what you have because you have anorexia. My favorite was that my ovaries are malfunctioning and need to be operated on because God is punishing my lack of love for Him by prohibiting my having children, because I am really too selfish to have them anyway.

I believe in God. I wanted to be a minister or a missionary until I was sexually abused at 13. I prayed and thought God had abandoned me. I know He did not, but with my questions and my lack of adaptability to the Christian status quo, I abandoned my desire to aid others with the aid of a church. My goal has always been to help others and to shine the light of love into the world, especially when I have not felt it.

Lately, I have been an angry person and can barely stand myself. I have been depressed and my only solace comes in the books I read. I do not read my Bible every day, but I do pray every day. Yes, I cuss. I cuss like a British sailor. I am not demure; I am not perfect; I am not acquiescent. God gave me a sharp mind. He gave me an inquisitive mind. While I recognize the importance of blind faith, I don’t think that means that we need to marginalize others to make ourselves feel better.


I have tried really hard in my life to be nice. Lately, it has left me standing still. I have been honest about my life and my needs and I am getting bashed for them. I am more than my disease. I have bad days. Sometimes, like lately, I have really bad days. Lately, I hate men for their ability to make women feel like objects to be owned, or rescued. Both situations leave me feeling dirty.

So many people tell me that I am beautiful, that I have a great body, that I dress nice… Thanks. I like hearing those things. I like to hear that I have good qualities. When I am told that my current weight will attract a man and that being skinny turns men off… I am somewhat at a loss of what to say. In all honesty, it disgusts me.

Anorexia has nothing to do with pleasing a man. It is a matter of control and safety. I did not develop anorexia to be better looking. While that may be the case for some, that was not the case for me. I developed it because I wanted to be invisible. I wanted to be able to fit in my locker and not have to be seen by the pedophile that sought me out at school. The more people talk about how men love my body makes me think that is all that I am and that I will never be safe.

The bulimia got out of hand when I was in college after I was nearly raped in my dorm room. I was asked not to report it until the following fall when it would be counted in the early semester statistics. More money and awareness for the campus. My story was only important in what it would help others achieve. I marched for “Take back the night,” but never told my story because it was unimportant. I was unimportant.

I stopped caring for myself and seeing myself as worthwhile because others saw me as not worthy. Recovery is not just a battle of getting better, it is a battle with myself to see myself as worth taking up space and the world being safe enough for me to take up space.

So, when I see someone struggling with a sense of self and I know that I face that same struggle every day, I smile at them in love and show them graciousness. I may not be a religious person, but I know God loves us all and each of us is worthwhile. Each of us has a right to live in our own way, free of the judgements and ridicule of others, free of the desires that others have of us.



So, while I am gaining weight and dealing with body image issues, it occurred to me that I am thinking more clearly than I have in about eleven years.

I am striving for normal, but it really is just a setting on the dryer. Every day, I hear my patients say that they just want to be normal. I am there too. I want to wake up and be happy with my life. I am tired of struggling. I imagine everyone is tired of struggling. I do not have it worse than anyone else. We all have our own private struggles. God never gives us more than we can handle, but I think God must think I am a super hero, or something, because… SERIOUSLY?

Total transparency…

I have a hormonal issue right now. Basically, my body thinks I am either pregnant or have just given birth. As a result, I am hungrier and a little more emotional than usual. The doctors are stumped. My gynecologist says it’s my medicine; my psychiatrist says it’s not my medicine; my family doctor ruled out pituitary tumor… So, there is nothing that can be done. The medicine used to treat this problem would render my bipolar medicine useless. So, I am stuck with the appetite of a pregnant woman and the weight gain that goes with it. No end to this problem is in sight.

By now, you have realized that I am really struggling. I have been dealing with so much and this lack of solution makes me feel trapped and out of control. The other night, I just laid in bed and sobbed. I feel as though I will just keep gaining weight and will never be happy with my body again.

This is my anorexia talking.

So, while I am gaining weight and dealing with body image issues, it occurred to me that I am thinking more clearly than I have in about eleven years. I have been finishing books and remembering what they are about; I am even reading multiple books at one time. I am writing so much. I have entered two competitions in the past month. I have intentions of entering a third by the end of this month. I feel motivated to change. I have hope for a future outside of my health problems.

When I consider all of these things, my body’s weight gain seems pretty insignificant. It bothers me and bothers me even more that I am limited in exercise by my dietitian. While my anorexia says that I am fat and will never be happy again, I am going to take pleasure in the fact that I never thought I would be reading like this again. I never thought I would be writing again. I actually see a future in literature, or journalism for myself. I am going to make it.

I need to also be thankful that it is not a tumor; it is not breast cancer; it is not some disease that renders me disabled and unable to complete basic tasks. While I struggle with a variety of diseases, my health is not compromised to the point of dysfunction. It was last year, but I am stronger now because of my overcoming that round of anorexia.

I do not know what my life holds for me. I don’t know what today holds for me. I can only greet it with open palms and do my best to be a beacon of hope for others and remind myself that I am worth recovering and have value to the world. I will keep going.


Avoiding Relapse

If I had given in to my action urges, I would have berated myself either for doing it, or not doing it well enough. I would have thought that I had wasted all my hard work and continued my spiral of bad decisions. Black and white thinking at its best. 

Avoiding relapse when you are struggling with strong emotions is difficult. This week has been difficult. I am struggling with so many emotions and trying to stay motivated to keep going. I wanted to quit treatment this week. I wanted to give up fighting for the life that I know I deserve. My eating disorder wants me to believe I am useless and will never amount to anything. My eating disorder tells me the only way I will find freedom is in the porcelain god of the bathroom, or the downward spiral of the scale.

Meaning does not come from dysfunction. Meaning comes from overcoming dysfunction. I like to be validated for my efforts, but I am a private person and really who wants to congratulate you on doing the simple and ordinary task of feeding yourself. With this in mind, I must validate myself. Every time that I do not give in to the voice of my eating disorder, I am achieving victory.

Last night was a struggle. I wanted to give into the eating disorder and wreck myself. I wanted to drink a bottle of wine and stop thinking. I wanted freedom from the voice telling me that I was nothing.

Yet, I knew, as much as I tell my patients, that it would not make me feel any better. As the AA saying goes, “One is too many, a thousand is never enough.” If I had given in to my action urges, I would have berated myself either for doing it, or not doing it well enough. I would have thought that I had wasted all my hard work and continued my spiral of bad decisions. Black and white thinking at its best.

My favorite coffee mug has a quote by Liam Linisong. “A year from now, what will you wish you had done today?” I will wish that I had made the right decisions and stayed focused on my recovery. It is a daily process.

I ran across writings from about ten years ago last night; I was surprised at how much I had changed, how far I had come. I don’t want to give up. If it means that I have to seek a new purpose every day, then I shall do that. If it means that I have to argue with my eating disorder on reasons to stay healthy, then I will do that.

My eating disorder wants me to die. She came to me in a time of fear and self-loathing. She was to be my saving grace, but she made me sick. She made me loathe myself even more. She whispered hurtful words in my ears and pushed me to damage myself.

I never would have believed it, but I am a fighter. The fact that I am still alive means I still have purpose. There is no meaning in dysfunction, only in overcoming it. I want to keep going. I want to provide others with a hope that recovery is a possibility, but has to be taken one day at a time.

Keep looking for poetry. Ignore the eating disorder that measures your worth in pounds. I will never satisfy my eating disorder, but I can seek out satisfaction from a life worth living.

I will keep fighting.


Daily Struggles

Eating disorders are sneaky and they tell you that if you purge or restrict or exercise or abuse laxatives or engage in any behavior that is harmful, then you will feel better. Ha! I feel better for about five minutes and then the guilt sets in. 

One would think that being a therapist for recovery in addiction and having been in my own recovery process for about 2+ years… One would think that I would have a solid coping plan. Such is not always the case.

Okay. If I were to be honest, I have developed a solid coping plan that involves self-soothing and being mindful and so on and so forth. While I preach it to my clients, I am remiss in practicing it. I even at one time had a self-soothe kit. I might have torn it apart and misplaced all the pieces thinking that I was totally okay and didn’t need it anymore. Willfulness is my favorite attitude. Or maybe it is my eating disorder’s favorite attitude.

So, dealing with triggers is important. How you cope will define your recovery or relapse. I am worried that I am about to fall headlong into the rabbit hole and be stuck again. I know that I am not following the plan. I am being willful and lazy and I am terrified of the weight gain. It has not helped to spend time with someone who dismisses my treatment and acts as though my needs are unimportant. However, there are 2 rules that make this thinking obsolete.

Rule #1: You are in charge of your recovery. NO ONE ELSE. People don’t make you relapse, you are the one who relapses. You have the skills to cope. If you are struggling, ask for help and make a plan. Then, buck up buttercup and follow the plan.

Rule #2: You are worth recovering. Do not let anyone belittle you just because they don’t understand. Mental illness is a disease. It is not something you choose, but you can choose to deal with it effectively. If you are sliding back down into the rabbit hole, you are not coping effectively. So, put your thinking hat on and identify what you can be doing better.

While I am being tough, I must admit that I know every day is a struggle sometimes. Lately, for me, every day has been a struggle. Life has knocked me about and I feel as though I am barely holding on. However, I know that I am strong enough to cope. My treatment team knows that I am strong enough to cope. I am giving in to self-pity and feigned helplessness by not coping and wanting to act on dysfunctional action urges.

While I may sound harsh toward myself, I know I will not recover if I do not step up and do what needs done. Eating disorders are sneaky and they tell you that if you purge or restrict or exercise or abuse laxatives or engage in any behavior that is harmful, then you will feel better. Ha! I feel better for about five minutes and then the guilt sets in.

My patients report the same thing: wanting a reprieve from emotions, giving in, and the emotions coming back tenfold because not only are the original ones there, but so are the guilt, anger, and frustrations of giving into the disease.

So, how do we combat this?

We cannot change the past. We can only change the future and that happens by making the decisions to live life to the fullest and not give into the reasonings of our disease. It is easier to give in to the disease, but you will die. I want to live and I want to help others make that decision to keep going.


The Journey of a Thousand Bites

The truth is that I am sick. I have to accept that and it is something that I have to accept sometimes daily. Just because I don’t fit the image of one who is caught in the throes of anorexia, my body is still damaged by it.

I am starting this blog to engage myself and others in the recovery process. My disease is anorexia, with a smidge of bipolar I and a little bit of PTSD… Add a sprinkle of panic disorder and a cup of OCD… That is my mezcla of diagnoses and my things to overcome.

Recovery is an every day process. It is not a straight path from problems to success. It’s more like a roller coaster with ups and downs and twists and turns and you puke halfway through the ride, ruining your favorite sweatshirt… Recovery is like that, only life long.

There are some who argue that you can be fully recovered. I wish that were true. I thought I was. Well, I had decided that I had everything under control and stopped the plan, thinking I didn’t need it anymore, because I was cured. Mental illness no longer had a hold, so I started pantsing life. I didn’t prepare. I didn’t care. I had convinced myself that I had it under control.

Funny thing about mental illness and any addictive behavior: you always think you have it under control until the one morning that you realize it’s controlling you.

I have been back in recovery for about eight months. I have fought that I will just be better when I lose a few pounds. I have argued that I don’t need to eat that much. The fact is, my arguing is getting in the way of recovery. My biggest argument is that I have too high of a BMI to be at risk. As so many people say, “I’m not like those other people who are sick. I’m different.”

We all say that. We are different, but our disease affects us the same. When I see my peers from treatment, I am immediately struck by the idea that they are still super thin and gorgeous and I am just in this category of not really sick. The truth is that I am sick. I have to accept that and it is something that I have to accept sometimes daily. Just because I don’t fit the image of one who is caught in the throes of anorexia, my body is still damaged by it.

I almost died last year.  I knew it was only a matter of time. I was incredibly depressed and was ready to die. On reviewing my labs: I had prolonged QT (my heart could have stopped), I went through refeeding syndrome (It went undiagnosed until I actually started seeing a medical doctor about my health–I was in denial of lasting damage), I lost  two percent bone mass, and my electrolytes are still trying to get in normal ranges.

I tell you these things not to say that I am sick, but to show that I am sick, despite looking well. I am an addictions therapist and I realized today that my recovery is not something for me to get through. It is something that has to be lived. I tell my patients this all the time, but I was caught in this idea that I can follow the plan until I am well and then do my own thing. I did that already and here I am again. It is time for me to own my recovery as what I want, not just what the doctor ordered.

My point of this blog is to focus on living life to the full (poetry), not measured by a scale (pounds).