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.