Alcohol, Appreciation, Body Appreciation, Body Love, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Faith, Feelings, God, Hope, Journaling, Recovery, Sobriety, Social Media, Triggers, Uncategorized

Seeking Sobriety

Recovery teaches individuals to replace unhealthy behaviors for positive practices, coping mechanisms.  Often that means instead of purging after a meal, the individual is taught to do something such as coloring, knitting, etc. to help take the individual’s mind off the temptation to engage in harmful behavior.  However, there are times when an individual picks up another harmful habit to replace the original harmful habit.  In my case, I was starting to become a closet drinker to replace the emotions the eating disorder attempted to drown out.

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In my family there is a history of addiction.  Without throwing all the people under the bus, I will say my dad was an alcoholic.  He may not have admitted it, but he was; I believe it played a part in killing him.  To some degree, I believe I inherited his addictive personality.  The eating disorder was similar to an addiction in that it gave me a “high” when I restricted food or purged.  I used the eating disorder to cope with stress, loneliness, sadness…well, just about any emotion or feeling possible.  While I have not been using alcohol to fill all those voids, I was using it to cope with loneliness and stress above all else.

Living in a marina, I am surrounded by people who drink on an unhealthy level.  The ship store offers a wide variety of craft beers and wines that are easily accessible.  There are people who drink early in the morning and continue to do so all day long.  Smelling alcohol on someone’s breath at 10am is not abnormal.  I feel into the trap of thinking drinking every night was completely fine for me.  Perhaps for some people having a beer after work stops there, but for me, it became something that made me salivate.  Got in an argument? Grab a beer.  Feeling lonely?  Open up that wine.  Boat troubles got ya down? No worries, a rum cocktail should fix that right up.

Before I knew it, I was having a beer or two nearly every night and drinking them without eating much on top of that.  I had moments where I would want a drink so bad my mouth would water and I was having an all-out craving so I would walk up to the ship store and take care of it.  While I love living on the boat, the availability of alcohol when I lived on land in a house was not like it is now.  On land I would’ve had to drive 10-15 minutes to get to a store, buy the beer, then drive 10-15 minutes home.  By the time it was all said and done I didn’t think it was worth it, and at that time I was still in treatment so utilizing positive coping skills was easy.  Convenience is everything.

Over the years I thought I had found my balance with alcohol.  For example, I realized three years ago that I can’t drink vodka because it makes me incredibly angry and argumentative.  Just ask my old iPhone that got thrown down in a fit of vodka-fueled rage onto the pavement and shattered.  Wine makes my nose stuffy, but I drink it anyway because it is socially common since it “pairs well” with food.  Of course mimosas for breakfast and brunch; especially in the South.  Then there is beer.  Not your run-of-the-mill Anheuser-Busch beers, but the well-crafted, flavorful beers.  They come in all flavors now–cold brew coffee, PB&J, notes of citrus fruits–I could go on and on.  Lets not forget my Caribbean island favorite–rum…or rhum, depending on where it is from.  Just typing that all out makes my mouth water thinking about it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been down this road.  The first time I ever went to therapy for the eating disorder, back in 2008, my therapist was concerned about my drinking.  Of course, at that time, I was a senior in college so drinking a lot and often was not uncommon.  Again, alcohol was and is an accepted societal norm.  I still have the charts from that therapist regarding “how much should you drink” based on your age, weight, and other factors.  At the time I didn’t think anything about drinking; even though I still feel bad about the one time I showed up for my appointment a little tipsy.  My reasoning?  It was St. Patrick’s day so Ann Arbor was full of green beer.

I’ve said the words, “I’m going to quit drinking” several times over the last few months to my husband.  I would try and it would last a few days, maybe a week then I’d be back at it again.  While my husband has been away on business I realized I really don’t think my behaviors toward alcohol are healthy.  My mindset isn’t simply having a drink with dinner, but having a drink to drown something out.  Quite honestly, the prevailing thoughts are similar to what made me want to restrict food to numb out feelings and get a high from it in the first place.  Either way, none of it is healthy.  Therefore, I’m calling myself out and making it public to work toward accountability.  I’ve been living my eating disorder recovery as an open book, so I’m adding this to it.

If you’re reading this and you want to offer me a drink next time you see me, please don’t.  Social drinking is so common and accepted that I struggle to say no.  I don’t want to be the odd duck; which makes me smile a little when you consider in high school I wouldn’t drink at parties, but instead would drink plain orange juice to try to fit in.  Alcohol is a socially accepted drug.  Heck, I studied that in graduate school.  Some people can have a drink and that is that; there is no deeper emotional reasoning behind it.

That person is not me.
I am the person who uses it to replace “my” addition of disordered eating.

Once again I find myself returning to tried and true coping mechanisms I learned in treatment, as it is obvious I still need them.  Finding my center and my ability to cope with loneliness and stressful situations in a healthy manner is of the utmost importance for my recovery and my future; therefore, I must give up alcohol.  I know this is not going to be easy, as I’ve said, it is socially common and acceptable; however, many before me have done it and I know it is what is best for me.

During a phone conversation with a friend and mentor the other day she said, “When you crave it is an opportunity to spiritually connect.  Discontinuation of a behavior is trusting in God’s power.”

If you need me, I’ll be crafting a little memo with that on it to post in my kitchen.

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

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Hope, Journaling, Joy, Love, Motivation, New Year, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

Happy Holidays

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.  Each moment is all we need, nothing more.”
-Mother Teresa

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The holidays are challenging for people struggling with, and in recovery from, eating disorders and I don’t think it really matters how long a person has been in recovery–the holidays can be rough.  Food, and tons of it, at every gathering and family members who are either talking about their own diet and work out regimen or commenting on the progress of the person in recovery.  Sometimes it is difficult to tune out the diet talk or know how to handle comments about recovery, but that is why it is of the utmost importance to be mindful and present at all times.

Christmas is right around the corner, closely followed by New Year’s and those *wonderful* resolutions.  We are about to be spammed more than usual with diets, before and after photos of half naked people praising the latest boot camp style at home workouts, and the pushing of gym memberships.  Not only that, but this year my 30th birthday happens to be sandwiched between the two.  Yep.  The big 3-0 in two weeks.  Talk about time to practice being mindful and present at all times!  It can really be challenging to stay mindful but here are some tips on how I plan to do it and you can always use them too…

  1. Yoga, deep breathing.  These are always my go-to for mindfulness and bringing myself back to the present.  I live on a sailboat in South Carolina where the weather has grown chilly and doing morning yoga outside isn’t really an option and neither is doing yoga in a very small space; therefore I don’t get to do this one as often as I like anymore but even a few simple poses can help.  Take time on the morning of a gathering to do a quick 10-minute sun salutation to start your day and get yourself into the right frame of mind to deal with negativity and diet talk.  Clear your head and throughout the practice remind yourself that you are enough and you are beautiful exactly as you are in this moment.  Find things you appreciate about your body and speak them gently to yourself.  Once you reach the gathering take a few moments before going inside to breathe deeply for five breaths and again remind yourself that you are enough and there are many wonderful things about you.  If you find yourself struggling with anxiety during a gathering take a step back in a quiet room and repeat the deep breathing exercises.
  2. Power Playlist.  I love music.  It is huge motivator and mood changer for me so I have playlists ranging from caribbean/reggae, Christian, to recovery oriented positive playlists.  Depending on my mood I select something to help lift it.  Typically the recovery positive playlist is my go-to when driving to gatherings or places where I know anxiety will automatically increase.  Singing the songs in the car helps immensely to bring myself into the present moment.  Listening to my recovery positive playlist helps me feel empowered, strong, and prepared to deal with any eating disorder thoughts that pop in my head.
  3. Small Reminders.  I have a thin rubber bracelet that says “Beautiful Body Acceptance” on it that I wear often.  Earlier this week I received an e-mail from a treatment professional who said she loaned her BBA bracelet to a client over Thanksgiving to help bring about mindfulness in times of stress.  While not everyone has a BBA bracelet there may be a small piece of jewelry you can look at to remind yourself that you are beautiful, unique, and your body is something to be loved and appreciated.  Maybe it is a small silver wave ring or bangle to remind you to let the emotions roll over you like waves, acknowledging them but not being taken under by them.   The same could be said of an ocean blue colored piece of jewelry or something with sea glass.  However, the sea is not calming to everyone (I love it and practically live on it, as I live on a sailboat) but surely there is something that could help remind you to acknowledge the emotions but not be swept away by them.  Be creative!

There are so many ways to be mindful and bring yourself back to the present during the holidays.  The most important thing is to remind yourself that you need to take time for self care.  Constantly being around others can take a toll on anyone, but especially someone who is trying to recover from an eating disorder.  Anxiety, stress, worry, and the eating disorder voice and take over at any moment which is why it is so very important to remember to take time for mindfulness.  Experience joy this Christmas season by believing that you are worthy, loved, and beautiful just as you are.  Take time to breathe and remember why you are fighting so hard for recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane 

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

Raw Honesty

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.  Be honest and transparent anyway.” 
-Mother Teresa

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In this post I am about to do something I have never done before on this blog.  That is a year of writing for BBA and I’m about to do something new.  While it isn’t mind-blowing and it isn’t anything exciting, it is more honest than anything I’ve ever written before (and I’m honest in every post).  I am going to share real thoughts, with images, from my journal.  My most secret weapon in recovery is about to be opened, unedited, for others to use as a tool for their recovery to realize they are not alone and show some serious radical body acceptance.  It’s about to get real, folks.  Am I a little nervous about being THIS raw and honest?  Yep.  Is it going to stop me?  Nope.  So, here it goes…

Last week I did something that absolutely terrified me and brought me to tears.  I had my body traced by my dietician.  I stood with my back against a wall and let someone trace my body so I could see more accurately the size I am.  I’ve known for quite some time that I don’t see myself accurately when I look in the mirror; my mind plays tricks on me from the remnants of the eating disorder.  Often it is similar to looking into a funhouse mirror.  One second I will think I look pretty good then I will turn to walk way from the mirror (or other reflective surface) only to catch a glimpse and it suddenly looks like I gained 20 pounds.  This is my real-life way of viewing myself when there is a mirror present and I’ve been working SO HARD to change it.  I mean, that’s the whole basis for this blog!

Before the tracing began my dietician handed me a piece of paper with the same images as the photo at the top of this post.  She directed me to circle the figure I thought most accurately represented my body and then set it aside.  Anyway, after the tracing was done I stepped away from the wall but I was afraid to turn around. I was afraid of what the outline would reveal about my body.  I was afraid it would be bigger than what I thought.  I was afraid it would be smaller.  I was just afraid in general.  Why was I so afraid?  Because if the outline of my body was not what I thought I saw then it would show me I still have a lot of work to do toward accepting my body and seeing myself accurately.   A difference in size from what I see in my mind would represent the eating disorder still having a heavy grasp on my body image and I didn’t want that to be the case.  I desperately wanted to see an accurate size portrayal to show myself that I am doing well in recovery and with accepting my body.

However, when I turned around all I could do was stare.

I had no words for the few few minutes.

My eyes darted to the different parts of my body outlined on the brown butcher block paper taped to the wall. 

Finally, I could bring myself to conjure up some words to express what I was thinking and feeling.  Initially I was disappointed.  There were parts that seemed larger than how I see them and shocked at the parts that appeared to be smaller than what I see.  Nothing seemed to be accurate.  My mind was reeling that the eating disorder could still have such a strong grasp on this part of my brain, but as I began to really process what I saw later that night, this is what developed…

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I wrote…a lot.  I thought…a lot.  And I went to the all-mighty Google to find the same images I saw earlier that depicted body sizes.  Once I found the same body size image I printed it.  I stared at it and realized I hadn’t been completely honest earlier in the day.  I knew I saw myself as larger than the image I circled, yet I desperately wanted my dietician to think I was significantly further along with my thoughts regarding my body than I figured I was.  So I decided to get completely honest with myself about what I thought before and after.  This was the result:

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As you can see, I decided by the end of writing that my body couldn’t accurately be depicted by just one figure because I am not made from a cookie cutter. Did ya catch that?  I AM NOT MADE FROM A COOKIE CUTTER. My body is as unique as my fingerprint because I was created in God’s image and He created us all uniquely.  I love it.  That was a pivotal point for me in this body image and body size acceptance journey.  Realizing that my body doesn’t look like any figure on a paper because I am unique hit me pretty hard.

I. Am. Unique.

Say it with me,

“I am unique.”

Yes, I am talking to you.

YOU are unique.

I challenge you to hang on to that.  You are unique.  You aren’t made from a cookie cutter.
You are not a cookie.
(But it is totally okay to eat a cookie.  mmmm….cookies.)

With Body Love,
Lane