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The Mountain and The Molehill

Two years ago I was ending my time in intensive treatment and facing outpatient treatment.  I was working hard identifying my triggers, creating a bank of coping skills, and spending more time at treatment-related mental health, medical, and nutritional appointments than I ever thought possible.  My life changed in many ways when I made the decision to finally get serious about getting better, and the mountain I thought I was facing has become nothing more than a molehill.

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Prior to entering treatment I knew I was staring  at a mountain before me.  I was preparing to have my way of life taken away in order to teach me how to face life in a healthy way.  At 28-years old my food was monitored and carefully portioned, followed by being watched by treatment professionals as I ate it all within an allotted time.  If my nutritional needs had not been met during the day I was given a Boost nutritional drink to supplement.  I was prevented from using the bathroom after eating, and told not to exercise.  My life was getting turned upside down, voluntarily, but it was anything other than pleasant.  I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to face life without the close “companionship” the eating disorder provided.  With each new challenge I conquered, I climbed a little higher up the mountain and toward full recovery.  I slipped and stumbled along the way, sliding back down the slope and often feeling like I was starting over.  However, with every slip I was never back at the bottom staring back up at the mountain in its entirety.

Fast-forward to one year ago when I was in outpatient treatment, still working diligently with my therapist and dietician to reach my nutritional and mental health goals.  One year ago I was close to ending my time in therapy while sorting through the remnants of my past trauma and striving to overcome anxiety.  I was struggling to eat in restaurants, sit with my back to the door, and go out in public to crowded areas.  I worked hard with my therapist to identify what made me anxious and how to cope with it when the symptoms of anxiety would arise.  At the same time I was working hard with my dietician to become comfortable eating in public and eating foods that were challenging to been seen eating (i.e.: pasta).  Nothing about recovery has been easy but it has been completely worth it–and the journey isn’t over yet because I am still learning.

Now, nine months discharged from all types treatment, I am still working to stay strong in recovery but these days the challenges don’t look like a mountain but more like a molehill.  While there isn’t a giant mountain for me to climb, I do stumble over the molehills from time to time.  I have to work hard not to fall on my face as a result.  For example, it took me a few months after moving on our boat to realize I wasn’t giving myself the time for self-care that I did prior to moving aboard.  Instead of crafting, journaling, or doing daily yoga and meditation I was constantly rushed with adjusting to life on the water.  As a result, I fell over that molehill and spent a few months on the ground in a relapse state.

My recovery is nowhere near complete, as I believe it is a life-long learning process, but what I have learned about myself is worth the fall.  I thought I didn’t need the amount of self-care and meditation that I once did, but that is the beauty of recovery–I am always evolving and proving myself wrong.  I thought I didn’t need intensive treatment in 2014…I was wrong.  The memory of my therapist and dietician talking on the phone, and coaxing me to call the treatment center while in a therapy session, will forever be burned in my memory.  Only after a month of intensive treatment did I realize I spent so many years of my life trapped in a disease and in need of recovery.  Then, as I continued to meet with my dietician even after ending treatment with my outpatient therapist, did I realize my thoughts surrounding certain foods and my body image still needed work.

Today, I love being in recovery and continuing to learn more about myself and this life.  There are times I wish I could talk to a therapist, but that is when I remember I harbor within me the ability and strength to pick myself up from stumbling over a molehill and learn from it.  I’ve come a long way from the scared woman I was in 2014 when I passed through the doors of the treatment center.  My triggers are fewer than ever before.  I mean, I am sitting here watching the Miss Universe pageant while I type this; something I couldn’t have done even last year.  (Which, by the way, Miss Canada was just interviewed about body shaming and loving who she is in her own skin. LOVE!)

Regardless of stumbling over a molehill a few times this year, I love myself more with each passing day.  I grow stronger with each new revelation about my body, myself, and my life in recovery.  Being confident in my body and who I am as a woman helps me enjoy life with a passion I’ve never before experienced.  My personality has grown and I’ve developed likes, dislikes, and favorites that I never had the opportunity to do before.  I may look vastly different from five or ten years ago (see photo below) but I feel more beautiful than ever.  I don’t often post photos from when I was sick, but in this case I look at the photos in amazement.  My eyes are brighter, my smile is genuinely happy, and I am truly living life instead of existing in it.

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L to R, Top to Bottom: 1. The absolute lowest point in my eating disorder; 2. Two weeks prior to entering treatment in 2014 (my eyes look hollow, sad; 3. June 2016;  4. July 2016–happy, healthy, strong, and confident 

My body is this beautiful, unique instrument with which I get to experience life and nothing, not even the eating disorder, can take that from me.  

With Body Love,
           Lane

Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, God, Journaling, Recovery, Uncategorized

My Demon Has A Name

I’m calling out my current demon for what it is: depression.  While this isn’t directly related to body image, depression can indirectly impact my mood, self-worth, and all other aspects of my life.  Until today I didn’t realize what was happening; until today I didn’t know to call my demon by its name.

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Two years ago at this time, January 2015, I was in treatment at The Center for Balanced Living; chipping away at the emotional baggage that accompanied a 16 year battle with an eating disorder.  I felt safe and surrounded by treatment professionals as I unloaded that baggage, learned my triggers, and exchanged all of it for pieces of my “new” personality and purpose in life.  Two years ago The Center was helping me along by calling out my demons when I couldn’t and walking alongside me as I found my way through the dark.

One year ago, January 2016, I was still in treatment but on an outpatient level.  Each week I drove to Columbus to see my outpatient therapist and dietician; further chipping away and the old and making room the new.  When my demons came calling my team was there to help me call them out and cope with the subsequent feelings and negative thoughts.  The hard work was getting easier and I felt more confident with each trial that came my way.  Support meant steps toward success.

Today, January 2017, I am out and “on my own;” having been completely discharged from treatment since April 2016.  There are times, lately more often that not, that I question whether I was fully prepared to step out on my own when I did.  At the time I felt healthy, strong, and emotionally able to knock down all my demons through positive thinking, coping skills, and Christ.  However, today I am not so sure.  Today, and nearly every day for the last six weeks, my demon has come to call and I’ve answered instead of fighting.  I’ve allowed depression to seep back into my life through the unsecured cracks in my recovery walls.  I stopped using coping skills, convincing myself I no longer needed things like journaling, yoga, or “me” time to decompress.  I threw myself to the wolves and the wolves have been winning–but today I am calling myself out.

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The week before Thanksgiving my husband lost his job.  He was, at that time, the sole provider for our family; working weeks away from home in the oilfield.  Then he lost his job and our world was turned upside down.  I called the marina where we live to explain the situation and see if I could work there to help our family along while he figured out what was next for his career.  Graciously, I was given a job as a dockhand doing physical labor for $10.50 per hour.  Well, it was something, so I agreed in order to help support my family–benefits would not be included.  Despite having two degrees I do not hold a social work license in the state of South Carolina, so finding something in a related field would be nearly impossible; for most other jobs my degrees rendered me “overqualified”.  So now I find myself chipping oysters off cement pilings and washing dock boxes, lost in a sea of depression.

Each day I put on my happy face, staff t-shirt, and walk to work; returning at the end of the day exhausted and on the verge of tears.  Much of my depression can be chalked up to anxiety.  I constantly stress and worry over my much younger co-workers talking about me (doubtful), whether or not I’m making big mistakes (usually I’m not), and how long I can keep up this job before I have a breakdown in the employee bathroom (seriously, not much longer).  I put my headphones in and listen to praise and worship music as I chip away at the oysters, begging God to help me handle this anxiety and depression that, at times, seems almost debilitating.  Over the last few days some revelations have occurred during these oyster-chipping-worship hours, causing me to realize I have to confront my demons head-on and recognize where I am in life.

  1. I took being a stay-at-home-mom for granted, as well as the ability to freely write whenever I wanted and now I’m mourning that loss. For the last three years I’ve been a full-time mother and more often than not I was frustrated by the end of that day that I wasn’t doing “more” with my life.  I would clean up messes and meet up for playdates while wishing I could be doing something else.  At the same time, I had the freedom to write and work on my future (hopefully) Kindle Single but rarely did because I was convinced I had writers’ block or something of the sort.  Now I find myself wishing I could be the one running my daughter to school, dance, or a playdate at the park instead of soaking up the strong scent of bleach into my skin.  Lately I’ve been praying for God to give me a second chance at both of those things, as He is the one who gives and takes away.  I don’t always know His plans but I know He has a purpose for me being where I am in this moment and while I pray He changes it, I know He has me right where He wants me.  Clearly there is a lesson to be learned in all of this.
  2. Self-care and the use of coping skills is not a bunch of bologna.  When we moved aboard our boat I stopped doing yoga every day.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have time or space, we live on a catamaran so space isn’t really an issue; it was because I was convinced I no longer needed yoga to center myself and start each day balanced.  I thought being on the water every day would be life-balancing enough but, until recently, I didn’t realize how wrong I was.  I need daily yoga in my life for balance and mental health.  The same goes for journaling.  While I greatly enjoy writing for BBA and our family sailing blog–McKelveys on the Move–neither one can replace my trusty pen and paper journal for my mental health needs.
  3. Wishing my life and current situation could be different won’t solve anything.  Wishing for circumstances to change is a lot like crying over spilled milk; as you cry the spill seeps everywhere creating a bigger mess than the one with which you started.  Right now my life looks a lot like spilled milk that I’ve been crying over instead of cleaning.  Each day I wish my situation was different, that my husband had a good job again, and I would given back that time to write and play with my daughter every day.  Wishing for all those things doesn’t change where I am but only seeks to further my depression and squander the time that I do have doing the things I love.  So today, I’m going to stop crying over the spilled milk and start cleaning.

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No where in the unfinished, utterly unwritten Book of Life does it say I have to love my job or be thrilled with my current situation.  It also doesn’t say that I have to be happy go-lucky 100 percent of the time.  What I am choosing to write in my Book of Life is this:

Depression comes and goes, the only thing that remains constant is Christ.

My current situation isn’t the most favorable but it is part of the greater plan for my life.  Aside from trusting God I can do my part to ensure the demon of depression stays at bay by committing to doing yoga, journaling, and appreciating each moment and opportunity for what it is.  While that is often easier said than done, choosing to make a commitment to my mental health is important; no one needs to read about the woman who had a mental breakdown in the employee bathroom…but if I do, it won’t be the end of the world because this is my life and so much of it has yet to be written.  This small paragraph in my book won’t last forever but there is always something to learn from every word.

With Body Love,
Lane