Haven’t posted in a hot minute because I’ve been struggling a bit in this transition to Denver (love the city, love my life here – but just having some control issues that OF COURSE manifest into weight loss) and I’m working through them with daily OA meetings. (Post to come on OA soon.)
However, I’m coming out of the woodwork because I am all sorts of emoji red face P.O’ed
Everything in that picture above is what I loathe about the portrayal of eating disorders.
Yesterday, I woke up and these article headlines about me ran on the UK Daily Mail, Sun, and Mirror.
YEP GUYS -there I am – the two-headed eating disorder freak show splattered across UK media.
My agenda every day is to represent recovery in a way that relates to ALL yet time and time again the world has a tendency to portray people with eating disorders as though we are some fictitious character straight outta American Horror Story.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m thankful every single day for the opportunity to write about this shiz. It’s kept me connected with the community as well as find an outlet of accountability, but the problem with this kind of portrayal is that it sends the message to people that you have to be “that” sick to really have an eating disorder.
It discourages people from voicing their struggle because they look at horror headlines like that and think to themselves “Oh, well I’m not vomm’ing blood into a toilet – I guess I’m not really that bad.”
The truth is, am I proud of those articles content? Yes. The journalist was respectful and asked real, human questions about my recovery and ED experience. She does not choose headlines, and I have nothing but kind words to say about our interview process.
However, when I read these headlines, I absolutely bloody cringe. Not only because it’s grossly and salaciously manifesting as cheap click bait, but because the headlines heighten my experience with body dysmorphia and eating disorders in a glorified one-of-a-kind manner.
Did I feel and do all those things? Yes. I did have trouble sitting on a subway. I passed people on the SIDEWALK (not street) and had moments that I panicked. “WHAT IF I RUN INTO THEM WITH MY THIGHS.”
I was very sick. I’d never deny that and I’ve got a whole helluva lot of war stories- we all do in recovery, as I’m learning through my resurgence of OA meetings.
Half of recovery is letting those “war stories” go and moving forward.
I just want to reiterate today that I was still a real person back when I was sick. I went to work like anyone else (albeit not fully present), and I functioned as best as i could. At the end of the day my experience is really no more extreme than anyone else out there struggling with BDD and ED.
PLEASE REMEMBER — You don’t have to have “bloody vomit” and “fear of walking down the street” to quality for an ED or BDD, just as you don’t need to have a salacious bikini pic to qualify as “recovered.”
I hurt myself a lot over the years, and I am still learning what it means to be healthy of mind. However, I want to continue to reiterate that you don’t have to look, act, or be any certain way to suffer from ED.
Ignore those headlines – not everyone’s experience with mental illness has these glorified extremes that they imply.
If you are sick, you know. You know because your life is passing – one day after the other- and you’re missing it, and it’s sad.
I was revamping my resume the other day (for my big ole move to Denver tomorrow! P.S. HIRE ME PLZ) and as I was modifying my skills I actually had a moment ((while eating Greek Yogurt and a handful of almonds)), that I smirked to myself and considered including:
Fluency in Calorie Counting
Sharp cache for all sugar, carb, fat, and sodium grams
Extensive fieldwork into the calorie counts of all processed and baked goods
Well-versed to all sugar in fruit juices, caffeine, and alcohol
Eating disorders are amazing lil boogers. I was completely focused on perfecting the language of my resume and yet as I glanced down at the yogurt, I caught a SMIDGEN of the label and my brain went all “Beautiful Mind” and added the calories of the almonds and yogurt quicker than I could stop myself.
Not to brag, but I am like the Speedy Gonzalez of calorie counting. My brain doesn’t really retain historical info, or anything actually pertinent or useful- but bloody hell, I can count calories on a plate of food about as quick as Kobayashi can choke down a hot dog.
I legit have the Flu people- THE FLU….yet yesterday at around 6pm I still thought as I rode the bus home “Am I sick enough yet to miss a work out?”
Inevitably, mother nature answered for me. In the 45 minutes it took me to ride the bus, get home and eat dinner (which my taste buds were already rejecting) I could feel the fever flame through me.
Ugh, fine- I thought, feeling the weakness fever brings. GUESS I CAN’T WORK OUT.
If felt like failure.
Huddled in my bed last night- teeth chattering- running a 102.3 fever and crying at Undercover Boss (because apparently fever makes me HIGHLY emotional)… I find I still have that little voice in my ear.
…Because, likely, if you have an eating disorder you love Thanksgiving- but hate Thanksgiving food.
Personally, I have no problem admitting I am the scrooge of Thanksgiving (okay, fine. And Halloween… Costumes and Body Dysmorphia just DO NOT fly with me no matter if I dress like a slutty nurse or a Pentecostal nun.)
Give me your pilgrims, your Indians, your Thanksgiving Charlie Brown VHS, The corporate Vacation Days, Family small talk, The sweet smell of doughy rolls-
But my God, keep your stuffing, your pecan pie, your cranberry sides, your corn pudding like 1000 feet away from me.
There are times I wish I could use a get-out-of-jail-free card on my eating disorder; Thanksgiving is one of them.
If it were up to me, I’d sit at the ”kid table” far far away from the buffet of food and play airplane while someone feeds me a spoonful of carrot mash alongside my cousin’s 1-year old.
Alas, recovery- however- doesn’t exactly approve of carrot mash (although it might just be the ONE food item I actually don’t know the calorie count on…)
Anywho, despite my silent protesting- Thanksgiving feast occurs again- as it did last year and the year before etc., etc.
…Because 4 years ago on 11/22/11 I was a lil girl I can no longer recognize, and I’m going to enjoy 3 cookies.
“I’m tired of living like this,” I wrote then. “Can’t stand drowning in food. Just want to be a person; To enjoy a meal. To not rape myself for eating a candy bar. Need help Bradley, where are you? My god come help me. I’m tired and just want to be okay. When I look into a field I don’t see grass anymore. Don’t see the scenery. I just see a long treadmill made to run off what I ate this morning. I’ve made everything I do a way to burn calories, and the joy of life has left me in so many ways. Nothing is interesting if I can’t make it about weight. I’m 22 years old and lived like this for so long I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a meal; the last time I sat down and felt hungry. So far in and don’t know how to get out. Afraid I can’t. Can’t remember what’s enjoyable, only in theory. Was given so much, and am wasting it. Given looks and I cut them away; given a brain and am using it on everything senseless. Given morals and forgot how to abide. Can’t remember how to be apart of anything.”
Your style changes. Maybe not drastically- but it will.
Roll with it.
Go through phases; experiment.
I spent 8 years in over-sized t-shirts and sweatpants. I was like a walking groupie for Iggy Azalea.
Concert t-shirts, college sweatshirts, Fraternity function v-necks-
And the sweatpants. Oh, the pants. Victoria Secret black sweatpants that dragged at the feet. Seen here:
And here (CRINGE):
I loved those thigh-hiding safety nets. I wore them everywhere. Throw on a pair of Sheepskin Boots and at any given point, heat or snow, I had about 10 fingers visible on my whole body.
Hideous in retrospect. I don’t even quite know what I was trying to ”pull off” other than I can remember thinking to myself:
“Oh, you’re just chill- yo. You’re mad chill and you just don’t like dressing up.”
Truthfully, I don’t like dressing up. It doesn’t come naturally for me, but those sweatpants were not an attempt to prove my ”chill” factor, and my style has been a constant source of evolution the past year and a half.
Even when I first exited rehab, I wore leggings and big t-shirts everywhere.
“Hey,” I thought to myself. “At least I’m wearing form-fitting tights.”
That too, has since changed. My career, I imagine, has played a part; New York as well;
But so has just simply rolling with the current of recovery.
I’m still figuring out what I like; what feels flattering to my body. My friends joke, but I feel like at 26 I’m a pubescent teen in terms of figuring out what my “style” actually is.
It often depends on the stage of recovery I’m in that day.
This summer, I’m attempting to wear shorts again and it’s a struggle. I’ve got cut-off, ratty denim shorts, black linen Gap shorts, knee-length cargo shorts- the options are endless and I still can’t decide.
I haven’t worn shorts since my anorexia days so I’m feeling around blindly in the dark.
On another hand, I banned dresses at the end of last year in an attempt to “define” my style, but as the days reach 90-degrees I’m finding that all I yearn for a bit of a breeze on the thighs.
Even in gym clothes- I no longer wear baggy t-shirts to work out in, but still sometimes find myself running in leggings when the weather calls for shorts.
One day, I’ll wear a bikini and rock my version of a ”screw it” attitude- but other days, I’ll feel more self-conscious and wear black-on-black-on-black.
It’s fluid- just as recovery is fluid- and I’m realizing no clothing is “off limits” as I once believed which has opened up doors and windows-
Your waist isn’t too short, your legs aren’t too chubby, your arms aren’t too skinny. Your chest isn’t too flat.
And, hey, if pant suits are what you enjoy, then rock ’em-
2.) Battlefield Wounds:
Consequences are consequences.
And straight up, my feet are foul.
Running ruined my feet. Not just because I’ve never been a fan of spending money on pedicures, but because I didn’t tend to them in the prime of my exercise addiction.
So wrapped up in clocking miles and burning calories, I ignored the hang nails, and the blood blisters. I scoffed at the calluses and the ingrown nail.
“The price you pay,” I reasoned.
Binge-eating, Bulimia, Starving- those choices affect your body outward and inward. Fluctuating weight over the years has left stretch-marks on my thighs (as seen above).
There’s a great social media campaigns going on right now over stretch-marks and thighs. #ThighReading on Twitter. Check it out; it’s comforting (and you can see my blistery little feet)
As I continue on this journey of self-love, I’m realizing even the nail beds of your feet are yours to protect.
I used to run on stress fractures and shin splints. At some point, I was told I had bones of a 70-year old.
What’s beautiful, however, is that often your body is resilient, and wants to fight for you.
I ran last night in Central Park and at some point it dawned on me how strong I felt- gliding up and down the path.
Nothing hurt- and as T-Swift “Bad Blood” kept me revved up, I ran 3 miles appreciating what it feels like to be healthy.
Accept that you’ve put your body through hell- in whatever way ”hell” is to you- and be gentle in the recovery of it.