Eating Disorder, Emotions, Social Media, Triggers

Unintentional Promotion

To The Bone

My social media newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram have been inundated with posts warning about the triggers, dangers, and how “horrible” this movie could be for those in an active eating disorder and those in recovery.  I, too, jumped on the bandwagon and wrote a few posts about this eating disorder community hot-button issue before I found myself in a place of emotional upheaval.

The truth?

All these posts about the movie are, in themselves, triggering for someone who is trying to protect herself from seeing the movie prematurely.  The posts are unintentionally promoting the film and creating a mass of curiosity.

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While many organizations within the eating disorder community actively oppose the movie’s narrative–the emaciation of the actress, and the triggers by featuring eating disordered behaviors–the countless blog posts about the movie, how to identify red-flags, and determining whether or not you should see To The Bone are only further promoting the film.  In essence, these organizations that are trying to protect their supporters from seeing the film are actually luring them in to watch it.  For anyone with a Netflix account that is trying not to watch this movie until they are in an emotionally healthy place, it is already very difficult to resist the temptation to view it; let alone seeing live discussions on Facebook regarding the film.  This has been my situation.

Every night while my husband is away for work, I watch a show or two on Netflix before I go to bed.  It is a habit I developed to help draw my focus away from our boat bobbing up and down; causing me to worry endlessly about popping a line again (thanks, anxiety).  The film came out while he was still home but we were so busy preparing for his departure that we didn’t get time to watch it together.  So, for two nights I managed to avoid the film, despite it showing up on my Netflix feed as something I might want to watch.  Um…heck yes I want to watch it…but I know I shouldn’t right now.  For two nights I would sigh and resign myself to watching Hawaii Five-0 instead.  Finally, my curiosity got the best of me and, while Vivienne was spending the night with my in-laws, I decided to watch To The Bone while I was home alone.

My thoughts?

I can honestly say I wasn’t triggered by the somewhat graphic images of emaciated bodies on the screen.  This is definitely a first for me, as I once used eating disorder movies as “inspiration” to spur me onward in my self-destruction.  The film displays a “trigger warning” before the movie even starts, which made me question whether or not I was prepared to watch.  My stomach felt heavy, like I had eaten rocks for dinner.  There has been so much hype surrounding this movie that I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Would it be triggering?  Would it bring up unpleasant memories? I had no idea how I would react.

To The Bone Trigger Warning

Several times throughout the film I felt a little apprehensive about how it would play out and what my reactions might be.  In all reality, nothing about seeing eating disorders displayed on the screen, or hearing talk about behaviors, made me long for that life again.  It made me sad that I was once like that–completely consumed by this mental illness.  The movie did, however, bring up a lot of memories that I needed to process.  After the movie ended, I sat motionless in our guest room, my head a cascade of thoughts.  I ended up taking a long walk around the marina docks to sort through was was happening in my head.  It was so much that I struggled to process it and, after returning to the boat to check on the dogs and write a little bit, I went back out for a second walk.

So many thoughts about the person I was when I was living in the eating disorder flooded my brain.  The times I was so dehydrated lifting a glass of water felt like I was picking up a 10 pound dumbbell; the hip injury I suffered from being malnourished and exercising too much; going through the Wendy’s drive thru late at night to get the two things I allowed myself to eat, only to stop on the way home and purge in a random farmer’s field.  The amount of lies I told, the secrets I kept, and the behaviors that waxed and waned with life events were in the forefront of my mind following the film.  Memories from treatment were ever-present, as well.  That drop in my stomach before weigh-in on Saturday mornings, having my food checked to make sure it satisfied my meal plan, wanting to throw up so badly following a meal that it almost made me go crazy…but I survived.  Sixteen years living in an eating disorder, using it as a means of control–a standard of perfection, and some of it still haunts me.

Okay, back to the point…

Overall, I don’t think To The Bone is really all that different from every other eating disorder based movie…ever.  The narrative is the same as it always has been–anorexia: emaciated, near-death, white, and female–which does not fit the majority of eating disorders.  It certainly didn’t fit mine for most of those 16 years.  This movie shows me how important BBA and other blogs like it are in order to bring life to eating disorders other than anorexia.  This movie inspires me to keep sharing my story and being open about what it was like to go to treatment at a time when I wasn’t extremely thin; knowing I was still incredibly sick and killing myself for perceived control.  It was hard and, as much as I appreciate any movie that brings awareness to eating disorders, it concerns me that someone who watches it and who is struggling may not see his/her struggle as valid.  That individual may not believe s/he is “sick enough” for treatment based on the severity of the character in the movie.

That is where I get to keep working.  I get to keep promoting the truth: eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages, etc.  Eating disorders do not discriminate and not everyone who needs treatment is going to be emaciated.  No matter your size, eating disorders are deadly; the deadliest of all mental illnesses.

 Each narrative is valid.  

Every individual struggling with an eating disorder deserves treatment, regardless of what the disease is telling you.

If you watched the film and feel triggered, I encourage you to reach out to a friend, therapist, or someone in your support network.  In the last 48 hours I have received messages from roughly three people wanting to talk about the movie, so feel free to reach out to me, too.  If you watched the film and have never struggled with an eating disorder, I’m glad you took the time to watch it, and I hope you gained some insight.

With Body Love,
Lane

 

Eating Disorder, Emotions, Recovery, Social Media, Triggers

Taking Responsibility

“You are not responsible for your disease.  You are responsible for your behavior.”
-Edgewood Treatment Center

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Something that has been weighing on my mind since the premiere of the “To The Bone” trailer on June 20th, is the reaction from people in the eating disorder/recovery community.  Considering I follow several eating disorder recovery pages on social media, and belong to several recovery-oriented groups, I’ve seen a firestorm of angry emotions aimed at the film, the writer/director, and the recovery-oriented nonprofit organization, Project HEAL.  Quite honestly, it is disheartening and frustrating to see the response it is receiving from those in the community.

I was trilled to see a film is being released that gives viewers a glimpse inside the mind of someone struggling with an eating disorder.  As someone in recovery, it is hard to explain to “outsiders” what it is like to have a second voice that dominates your every thought regarding food, body, weight, and exercise; a voice that has the calorie count of dozens of foods memorized.  A voice that categorizes food into two categories: good and bad (no such thing).  When you tell people you have this almost-audible voice screaming at you to avoid eating and telling you how disgusting, fat, and hated you are; you are generally met with faces full of a lack of understanding.  This film is bringing that voice and the out-of-control nature of eating disorders into the limelight.  It has been a very long time since a movie was made regarding eating disorders and, quite frankly, this one appears to do a better job than any previous movie.  While I haven’t seen the film yet (it is released July 14th on Netflix), I am already thrilled to see from the trailer, the people in the treatment facility are of various sizes, genders, and ethnicities; bringing to light the fact eating disorders do not discriminate and you do not have to “look” a certain way to be sick.  That being said, the director has been accused of glamorizing the disease, as the main character is emaciated and has that stereotypical “anorexic look,” and Project HEAL has been under fire for supporting a film that is triggering to many of its supporters.

This is where I am going to say ENOUGH.  I know all too well how it feels when everything around you seems to be triggering.  A certain song, location, person, or inanimate object can make you want to retreat into the walls of the “comfortable” eating disorder.  Realistically, my biggest trigger to this day is knowing where a scale is in someone’s house; it is the entire reason I get ticked off every time I see the stupid thing in the bathroom at the marina where I live.  Once I see the scale and learn of its location, it is the greatest temptation in the world to want to stand on it and see my weight in a bright digital display; recovery has taught me that will not help me remain in recovery but might lure me back into the “safety” of the eating disorder.  From the moment I know the location, it is triggering every time I go to a place with a scale because I want nothing more than to stand on that stupid thing.  However, I don’t ask the person to move it because I am taking responsibility for my recovery.  I cannot expect people to safeguard me or my recovery from all possible triggers all the time.  I have to do that for myself.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  While somedays are easier than others to say “screw the scale,” there are some days when I have to reach out to my support network and ask for help.  Recovery means responsibility.

We, as individuals in recovery, cannot blame triggers and temptations on those around us.  We cannot ask people to continuously make accommodations for our eating disorder journey.  Life is full of triggers, and we have to learn to navigate the minefield, sometimes while bombs are going off in our minds.  I support Project HEAL’s decision to be involved with promoting the film “To The Bone” because I see the value in giving the general public inside information on the mind of someone struggling with an eating disorder.  While I see where those in the throes of an eating disorder, or in the early states of recovery, will probably find the film triggering; we must accept only we are responsible for our journey.

This film has an opportunity to do some serious good for those in the recovery community by giving us something to which we can direct our support network, friends, and loved ones to show them what even a few minutes in our mind is like.  Stop getting angry over the triggering aspect and applaud the film for its intention–spreading the word about eating disorders and how it is mentally and physically damaging to its victims.  If you know the content will be triggering for you, please, don’t watch it and reach out to your support network (you can even privately message me via social media or e-mail) if that will help you safeguard your recovery.  At some point we have to stop expecting others to protect us from our minds and work to protect ourselves.  It is not–and will not–be easy, but that is why we build support networks of people who we can lean on in triggering times.

With Body Love,
Lane

Challenge, Eating Disorder, Recovery, Social Media, Triggers

When Triggers Are No Longer Triggers

Earlier this evening I read an article on The Mighty criticizing the upcoming Netflix movie To The Bone.  The movie depicts the struggle the writer had with anorexia.  Given the struggle was with anorexia, the star of the movie is extremely thin.  Out of curiosity I followed the link to watch the movie trailer, knowing in the past things like this were known triggers of mine.  For some reason, seeing an emaciated woman would drive my brain to want to look that way as well.  It suddenly became a competition.

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Watching the trailer, I witnessed the emaciated woman talk about counting calories, exercising until she was bruised and exhausted, and finally ending up in treatment.  When she wanted to give up on herself others refused to give in.  I watched the main character watch others having fun, eating, and living life while she sat on the sidelines.  In a way, I felt like I was watching my former life on the screen before me in a manner older movies about eating disorders could never capture.  In that moment I felt sorry for the main character; I did not want to be her.

Instead of feeling triggered to return to that former life, I felt pride and happiness.  I often find it hard to believe that I started this final recovery attempt 2.5 years ago now.  Often, it feels like a lifetime ago that the diseased portion of my brain controlled my every thought, action, and entire life.  Watching the trailer I was reminded of how much better life can be on this side–the recovery side–of things.  Instead of watching my friends eating sushi, laughing about stupid stuff that happened, and deciding to get snow cones at the last minute; I participate.  I go get sushi and eat in front of people while sitting in a crowded restaurant without fear that people are judging my body and the amount of food on my plate.  If someone is judging, it is his/her problem not mine.  I honestly feel a little sorry for said person because, quite possibly, s/he is struggling with body image and food–perhaps without even realizing it.  I’ve learned life is so much better when it is being lived versus when I was living inside myself, hidden by a life-threatening, life-changing disease.

While this film may indeed be triggering for someone in an active eating disorder or in the very first stages of recovery, I think there is going to be a lot of educational insight into the mind of a person struggling with an eating disorder.  In the few moments of the trailer alone, I was really surprised by how spot-on the thoughts, actions, and mannerisms of the woman struggling were to what it was like in my mind during the eating disordered reign.  I am so proud I am in a place where I can see something like To The Bone as educational content instead of using it to trigger my own disease and spiral back to the depths of the disease.  This was a cathartic work for the writer, something I completely understand, we just chose to do it differently.  Typically, I try to protect those in an active eating disorder, and those who are in the early stages of recovery, by not writing anything that could be clearly triggering.  This post is going to be a little different.   

I think the trailer to this movie could be good for those readers who have not struggled with an eating disorder, and even those who are like me and no longer triggered by this material.  It makes me grateful for the place I am in now, strong, healthy, and living life.  Within the few moments presented in the trailer, I felt like I was watching much of the eating disordered dialogue I had with my struggle presented in a movie format.  It brings to life a lot of things I write about.  So, this is where I am choosing to trust my readers and let them explore their boundaries.  While this material isn’t triggering to me, I understand and respect that it may be triggering to others; therefore, this is where I am trusting you to know your limits and the bounds of your struggle with this disease.

 

This is where I am choosing to trust my readers and know I cannot protect everyone from triggers at all times.

 

***TRIGGER WARNING***

 

To The Bone Movie Trailer

 

With Body Love,
Lane

 

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 Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Encouragement, Exercise, Feelings, Friends, Gratitude, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

Challenge to Train

The therapist I saw during my years in graduate school would marvel at how I turned everything into a competition.  It doesn’t matter what, I made it a competition in my mind in order to be the best…to be perfect.  

Here I am, years later, a little–okay, a lot–less competitive.
However, all that has started changing.

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I joined a local gym in the fall and struggled to maintain a healthy focus while getting back into something that was once used as a tool against me by my eating disorder.  My thoughts quickly changed from having a healthy focus to an eating disordered focus rather quickly.  While I wasn’t spending an excessive amount of hours in the gym, I was severely restricting my food intake in combination with exercise; making my sole focus weight-loss.  Within a few weeks of joining the gym my behavior started to raise red flags with those who are close to me.  My track record of easing back into the gym is definitely not good.

Therefore, when I signed up for the Ruck to Remember 60 to 60 event taking place over Memorial Day weekend, I knew I needed to start with my head in the right place.  The event is a 60 mile ruck march where I’ll be carrying 40 pounds on my back.  While it takes place over three days, it will still be physically and mentally demanding.  I had considered signing up for this event for several months, but feared training for it because of the eating disorder’s ability to grab ahold of my brain in the gym.  That, and the last time I did a long ruck march was when I was in the Army very sick with an eating disorder, and ended up stress fracturing my pelvis from overuse and stress on weak bones.  Needless to say that was a less than pleasurable experience.  So, how to tackle training while keeping the eating disordered thoughts at bay?             

Reach out.  I’m training for this with a former Army instructor, turned friend, who will also be participating.  Accountability for training.  This instructor was with me when I got injured during the ruck march before and hung back with me at my painfully (literally) slow pace because I refused to quit.  Next, I e-mailed my former dietician to ask for help and guidance with the nutritional side of things.  I concluded the e-mail with, “I know this sounds like an eating disorder horror story…” Nutritional guidance for endurance training.  Finally, I found a training buddy here in Charleston.  A former Army infantryman has decided to run with me at 0400 in the morning (or in the afternoon, if I’m lucky) before he goes to work.  I’ve surrounded myself with accountability this time around.  Of course, I strive to be honest with TJ about everything, including the moments when the desire to hit the gym may not be motivated by healthy factors.

Instead of turning this into a competition with myself to be perfect or to lose weight and burn calories, I’ve turned this into a competition with myself for something good.  This is a competition to prove when I am healthy I can do more and be better than I ever was when I was sick.  I look back on several occasions when I was in the Army and find myself grateful nothing worse than a stress fractured pelvis happened to me as a result of the eating disorder.  Now I am out to prove to myself that training in a healthy body–a body that is far heavier than it was at any point during my time in service–can serve me better than my sick and broken body ever did.  For once I am taking my need to compete and putting it toward a recovery mindset instead of an illness centered one.

During my two years of treatment for the eating disorder, I learned to embrace mindful, slow exercises such as yoga and slow walking.  While these exercises are fantastic for the mind and my healing body, I appreciate their place and purpose, but there is something deep inside that yearns to leave everything I have on the pavement.  The Army instilled in me the need to compete with myself and I want to train with a purpose for something greater than just me.  Participation in the 60 to 60 event does just that.  It gives me a greater purpose and a reason to, once again, leave it all on the gravel.  My body is healthier and more nourished than ever before, as is my mind.  By the time Memorial Day rolls around I will be ready to participate, and my focus won’t be on calories burned or weight lost, but rather the lives that were lost protecting the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

I can already see a difference in how I treat my training times now versus six months ago.  Having a designated purpose for training makes all the difference to me and my recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane

PS In case you are wondering, yes, the featured image is of me in 2007 during some Army training.   Here is another (that is me in the front):

HMMWV Pull

Appreciation, Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Love, Body Shape, Body Size, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Friends, Hope, Joy, Love, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Social Media, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

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

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 

Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Love, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Encouragement, Faith, Feelings, Forgiveness, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized

The Man Who Set Me Back

To The Man Who Set Me Back:

I don’t know why I allowed you to have so much power over me.

As I posted earlier this week, your judgement of my parenting angered me but also made me feel self-conscious and unworthy.  I let myself feel that way because of your domineering, harassing attitude…and I didn’t need to.  I let you get inside my head and the nasty words you used to describe me, the words you used to put me down, took on their own voice and put me right back into the grasp of the eating disorder.

When you came to my home and got in my face, calling me names and blackmailing me about my parenting, I was so shocked and angry I didn’t know what to say.  In reality anger is a secondary emotion and I realize now that I was afraid.  I was afraid you would call social services on me because you believed your opinion to be greater than mine without giving me the opportunity to discuss it with you.  When I should have told you to get the hell away from my property and to mind your own business I allowed myself to shrink back into myself, as I have always done in the past.  At a time when I’ve already been vulnerable and struggling to keep my food on track you only helped make matters worse.  Your behavior sent me back into an almost full-blown relapse.

While I realize no one can control my behavior but me, you actions did not help.  When I already felt terrible about myself your “confirmation” of that put me over the edge.  Days had passed before I realized I had hardly eaten anything for that amount of time.  Small things here and there dotted my meal plan but it was predominately made up of caffeine and negative energy.  I was volatile and wanted war with you.  I let you tell me how I should feel and that was wrong.

You don’t know me.  You don’t know my story and yet I allowed you to control me.  I allowed your negative opinions to infiltrate my brain and tell me how I should feel about myself and my parenting.   I allowed your words to dominate my thoughts and help control my actions–which meant caloric restriction until I was well into starvation mode for several days.  You don’t get to have that power.  You don’t get to have ANY power over me.

You don’t get to dictate my parenting or my recovery.

I never should’ve given you the time of day and the subsequent hours of worry.  You aren’t worthy of my brain power.  You aren’t worthy of my time.  In my eyes you are almost worthy of nothing but that wouldn’t be correct because everyone is worthy of God’s love. While I am going to struggle to show you that over the next several months while we share a marina, I am going to try.  I am going to show you that while you don’t believe I am worthy of the dirt on your shoes, I believe you are worthy of God’s love.  You don’t get to send me back to the temptations of the devil, instead I will overcome your negative words with the power of Christ.  Just watch me.  Watch me treat you with the respect and dignity you won’t extend to me.  Watch me show you that I can rise above your ridicule and continue to be the bright light I was before you.

I am going to win this war against relapse and I’m going to show you that God wins the war of hate.  His love conquers all–my eating disorder/relapse and your emotional outburst.  I don’t know what from your past has you angered but I hope that God can show you the way out.  I hope God can show you that demeaning others won’t make you feel better but instead alienate you from others.  Rather than be the pariah of the marina why don’t you try treating me with the same respect and courtesy with which you treat the other residents?  I am not a threatening individual and if you would come talk to me like an adult you might even learn about me, my parenting, and my life.  I’m not the bad person you tried to paint me to be and if you would get to know me you would see that I am intelligent, kind, and a fighter.  Why don’t you try it sometime?  Just come by the boat and try learning a little more about me before you pass judgement and try to belittle me.

The body loving fighter across the fairway,
Lane

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Body Acceptance, Body Appreciation, Body Image, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Exercise, Feelings, Friends, Hope, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized

My “Friend” Gym

In the dark of the “Cardio Cinema” at Gold’s Gym I struggled to fight back the tears that started to come to my eyes.  My mind still isn’t healthy enough to do this, I admitted to myself in utter defeat.  The workout seemed easy enough but fighting back the demon that still plagues my mind is another story.    

******

I found a rabbit hole and couldn’t resist the shiny object at the end:
thinness and weight loss. 
Instead of following my recovery mind, I followed the eating disorder right down that hole.  That stupid, big black hole. 

In a matter of weeks I could feel myself slipping and, once again, becoming a woman possessed by workouts, “clean” foods, and my body.  Things I thought were long gone and replaced by more enjoyable life experiences such as happiness, writing for BBA, and health.  I wanted to build my strength and cardio endurance so hoisting the sails on our floating home would be a little less tiring each time I did it; fully acknowledging the risks associated with entering a gym.  In my case the risks are not so much physical as they are mental and emotional, but I thought I put a good support system in place.  I didn’t hide my gym membership from my husband and I even decided to start going with a friend who is in excellent physical condition to help me get back at it.  We set a time limit, and often broke it, but had a plan for our time at the gym nonetheless.  I couldn’t just exercise endlessly without accountability.  That was my plan.  My plan had one major fault: my brain.

By entering the exercise arena again, I opened up a corner in my brain that allowed the eating disorder to slowly creep back into my life.  I could “hear”  it before I wanted to admit it was back.  The voice telling me not to eat because I had done such an excellent workout that I shouldn’t poison my caloric loss with more calories.  Red Flag.  Talking myself into eating over a grumbling stomach; knowing I had only eaten twice but now it was after 7pm so I shouldn’t eat anything more.  Red Flag.  My brain telling me to just make some green tea and sip on it until I am no longer hungry.  Maybe I should.  Maybe then I could actually lose some weight.  Red Flag.   I found myself obsessively looking in mirrors and reflective surfaces with a consistency I haven’t had in months, berating my body and appearance.  It took over my mind every time I saw my reflection with a vengeance for giving it up in the first place.  Red Flag. I found myself utilizing the same old excuses with family and friends who voiced concern over my return to the gym, reassuring them I knew what I was doing and I was ready for this.  Red Flag.

Red Flag.
Red Flag.
Bright, red, you-can’t-freaking-miss-it flag. 

My recovery mind was fading into the background fast; replaced with thoughts dominated by the eating disorder instead of the real me.  But why?  Why now?
I’ve been doing well for so long…

I returned to the gym during a period of high stress.  Mistake número uno.  My sister and the son of my Army Soulmate/BFF were having surgery and I was stressed.  I needed an outlet and I felt my life was too hectic to sit down and write.  Instead of utilizing safe outlets such as yoga, writing, and paddleboarding; I opted for one of my bigger triggers because I thought surely I was ready for a triumphant return.  

I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA to be with my sister and Army Soulmate for the surgeries; requiring I stay at a hotel.  Only I didn’t stay at a hotel.  I stayed at this quaint little place, Family House, for people who have loved ones at local hospitals.  Upon walking into the place it felt eerily like walking into an eating disorder treatment facility; a feeling that made me want to rebel against recovery with every fiber of my being.  The large kitchen with two industrial size refrigerators, large sinks, and multiple microwaves screams community meals.  The environment is meant to feel inviting, like a home, but instead feels like what it is–a place where people stay when something serious happens.  I stood in the oversized kitchen after both surgeries had been completed and I had been up for 18 hours, when my mind flashed back to my time at the Center for Balanced Living.  At least this time my food wasn’t being checked and re-checked for meal plan accountability and I wasn’t going to be watched while I ate.  I suddenly felt devious.  I could sit alone at a table where I could eat as slowly as I wanted and throw out food without the need to hide it first.  What I couldn’t believe was that I was even entertaining this thought.  I sat at the table, playing with my food, and eating it incredibly slowly; pushing the thought out of my mind that I might actually be starting to struggle again.  Despite being very busy while in Pittsburgh, I made time for exercise because I couldn’t “undo” all the hard work I had recently been doing.  

All these red flags and I kept ignoring them.  Excusing them away and dismissing them as paranoia.  I mean, when will I get my life “back” if I don’t start now?  I do enjoy the occasional run and the feeling of  being back in the gym, but I went too hard too fast.  The safeguards weren’t enough because I started out doing too much too soon. I didn’t ease back into the gym, I went at it like my mind and body were fully healed and not susceptible to relapse.

I was wrong.

Healing from an eating disorder doesn’t happen overnight.
Recovery and healing happens over years; marked by struggles, slips, and points of higher learning.
My experience in the gym is a point of learning.  Learning I am not able to exercise daily like I used to because my mind isn’t ready for it.
The trigger to return to the eating disorder is still there, lying in wait, for me to choose it.
I chose it.
I tried to ignore it but thankfully I’m stronger than that now.  My husband is stronger and knows when to call it to my attention.
Together we won’t let the eating disorder retake my life.

******

On a similar, yet slightly different note, I hate myself a little for supporting a business that thinks posting crap like this is appropriate, but it is what it is.  Besides, I haven’t been a “girl” in quite some time…I’m almost 30!   

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I much prefer the cover image I’ve chosen from Women’s Running Magazine that both demonstrates and states that weight doesn’t matter.  Because it doesn’t. 

With Body Love,
Lane

Body Image, Body Shape, Body Size, Challenge, Eating Disorder, Emotions, Postpartum Body, Recovery, Triggers, Uncategorized, Weight

ED, The Sneaky Devil

I found myself standing in the cold plastic surgery center; looking into a full length mirror while a doctor measured and pinched my very pale, saggy, three years postpartum abdomen.  I suddenly felt vulnerable, exposed, and insecure; incredibly aware that the eating disorder had found a small window of opportunity and taken it.

******

If you have been reading my blogs long, you know I start my posts out with a quotation, usually of the inspirational variety.  Today, however, I started it out with my own words and my own experience.  I, Lane McKelvey, went to a plastic surgery center to get a consultation about my stomach; the one part of my body where true body acceptance is often so elusive.  The small eating disordered voice preyed upon that insecurity and in a moment of weakness I made a phone call and scheduled an appointment.  An appointment the healthy, wise-mind, recovery-oriented part of me rescheduled twice before I actually went.

Driving to the surgery center I was nervous, a little anxious even, contemplating whether I could even maintain this blog if I went through with the suggestions from the consultation or if I would be another sellout to society.  I mean, I had already rescheduled twice, wasn’t that proof enough that I wasn’t even certain I should go?  Apparently not. Apparently the eating disorder had the wheel and I was heading for the surgery center regardless of the nagging, healthy voice in the back of my head.

Upon arriving at the surgery center it was pouring down rain; the heavy afternoon rain that comes with the Lowcountry summer heat.  I ran inside and thought I might have been in the wrong place because the waiting room looked and felt more like a spa than a surgery center…except it was cold.  Why are doctor’s offices always so cold?  Glancing around I saw autographed photos from Miss USA contestants, models, and local “celebrities” thanking the good doctor for making them “perfect.”  The receptionist with her very perky breasts and nonexistent wrinkles gave me a nice welcome packet; which included a pamphlet about the services offered, a pen with the doctor’s well-chiseled face on it, a drink koozie bearing the logo and name of the surgery center (in case all my friends want to get some work done), a gift certificate for a free microdermabrasion (still not sure what that is exactly) and a magazine called New Beauty.  I suddenly felt like a fraud and I knew I had been duped.  I mean, the magazine even had an article in it called “Striving for Perfection”.  Yeah, this was not my kind of place.

Frantically I sent my husband a text telling him my insecurities about even being in such a place and contemplated walking out but it felt like it was too late, I had to go to the consultation.  I also conveniently left out the part where I felt like I had been tricked by the eating disorder and tricked him as well by saying I was going in to learn more about taking care of my belly fat, “since it squishes your organs and is so unhealthy” (quotation courtesy of the eating disorder).  I silently cursed myself for not catching it sooner–ED had been really sneaky this time.  Somehow that sly devil found a weak spot in my defenses and preyed upon it until that spot collapsed and I was standing in an office being pinched and told how my body could use some changes to be perfect.  I thought to myself, “Damnit, Allie was right.  This was ED all along and I didn’t believe her.  I thought I knew for sure this was just me trying to make myself a little healthier and it wasn’t all about the aesthetics.  I haven’t even seen myself in a full-length mirror in months, maybe even a year, and now I’m doing it with someone else.  What. The. Hell?” 

“You’re an excellent tummy tuck candidate,” the doctor said, snapping me back to the reality of the situation. “Sagging, excess skin and these pockets of fat could easily be taken care of with a tummy tuck procedure.”  Walking back over to the table filled with “before and after” images of women who have done everything from a tummy tuck to the latest trend of CoolSculpting to rid themselves of fat, the doctor also tells me I would be a great candidate for the hCG weight loss program.  “Oh sh*t, I’m in trouble now. Is it inappropriate to cover my ears?  Weight loss program?”  My healthy brain swirled but the eating disordered part was all ears; “A rapid weight loss program promising no less than 20 pounds lost in 40 days?  COUNT ME IN!”  I finally escaped the consultation with more handouts on the suggested procedures and the hCG weight loss program.  I couldn’t get to my car fast enough.

Sitting in my car in the rain I was extremely sad about what I had just done.  Not only had I been tricked and gone to a consultation with a plastic surgeon–something I am usually adamantly against–but now I felt like I was the worst looking woman in the world.  My body image tanked in a matter of minutes because I listened to ED without even realizing it. Doing the most responsible thing I could do, I drove to the nearest outlet mall and went shoe shopping to try to take my mind off the very tempting weight loss program offer…it didn’t work, but I did end up with some cute (and comfortable) wedges.

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I got back in my car and began researching the hCG diet.  I found the following:

The hCG diet consists of three stages. The hCG Diet stages are:

Loading — 2 days of eating fatty, carb-filled foods.
Burning — 26 to 43 days of a 500-calorie diet, depending on your goal.
Maintenance — 3 weeks of a starch/sugar-free diet.

Record your weight each morning, and if you have gained more than two pounds in any given day, you should skip a meal. This helps your body regulate your appetite and weight.

hCG can be administered as daily injections.

As I drove away I started contemplating what I just read.  A highly restrictive diet of 500 calories a day?  Skip a meal?  Was I really considering spending $600 to open Pandora’s Box and potentially undo the two years of hard work I’ve done?  Finally, my brain kicked in, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?  This is the anti-meal plan.  This is the anti-Anne, anti-CBL, anti-recovery plan.  You just spent two years learning you don’t have to cut out food groups and living on 500 calories is not only stupid, but deadly. DO NOT DO THIS.”   As I was having an internal debate, okay less civilized, an internal battle a song I hadn’t heard in a very long time started playing on my iTunes: Courage by Superchick.

I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like, “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came.”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry

I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Somedays I’m still fighting to walk toward the light

In case you hadn’t noticed by my usual musical background to my blogs, I am a very musically oriented person.  Courage is the song that is playing today.  As soon as the song began playing and the lyrics hit me I started to cry.  This is NOT what I want for my life.  I don’t want to go back to the eating disordered life.  I don’t want to tempt it by further considering this weight loss program as an option.  I have no desire to go back to treatment, to monitor every bite of food I consume, or sit in group therapy trying to figure out how to cope.  I don’t want to have weekly weigh-ins, therapy sessions, and the loss of trust from my family.  The secrets, lies, depression, anxiety, stress, struggle, and darkness that accompany the eating disorder are not what I want.  A 500 calorie diet and daily weigh-ins, even with the promise of hCG as an appetite suppressant, is too much like an eating disorder.

 It is an eating disorder.

Coming “clean” about this is somewhat embarrassing.  I thought I knew all the tricks in ED’s playbook…but I missed this one.  This shows that I am human and recovery is anything but perfect.  While the ED voice is almost nonexistent most of the time I still have to remain diligent to ensure he doesn’t get let back into my life.  Today was a little too close for comfort but this is recovery.  This is the very real struggle people in recovery, even solid, long-term recovery have to fight for life.  In a world where doctors make money preying on the insecurities of people, we must always remain diligent and true to who we are and the people we have become in recovery.

With Body Love,
Lane