When Your Eating Disorder Looks Like A Freak Show

UK articles
Feelin’ about 50 shades of WTF.
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. 💛

“Are There, Like, Cals In Gum?”: Life As A Calorie Counter

It should qualify as a skill set.

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.

a-beautiful-mind

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.

hot dog

Continue reading ““Are There, Like, Cals In Gum?”: Life As A Calorie Counter”

When You Have The Flu But Still Have An Eating Disorder

 

everythig hurts

My eating disorder amazes me.

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.

feeling like....
Feelin’ Like.

Continue reading “When You Have The Flu But Still Have An Eating Disorder”

Holidaze: Surviving The #Blessed Season With An Eating Disorder

gifffff tgiving

…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.)

Anyways…

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.

thanksgiving 21

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.

airpline food

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.

Continue reading “Holidaze: Surviving The #Blessed Season With An Eating Disorder”

Eat Dessert For Breakfast Because #Recovery

It’s dat simple.

Dessert for Breakfast:

eating cookie
…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.”

belly button cookie
Belly Button Cookie

The One Sentence You Should Never Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder 

“I can’t even tell that you have one.”

 

This sentence helped take away 8 years and 40lbs of my life.

Such a simple few words. We say it all the time.

“Oh, you’ve gained weight? Couldn’t tell.”

“You’re hungover? Couldn’t tell.”

“Wait, I don’t see any zit on your chin? What are you talking about?”

“You got a haircut? Sorry, didn’t notice.”

We’re human. Our sensors are overloaded by stigma. We don’t always notice much outside of our peripheral.

It’s okay, and likely for the good of mankind… But, to someone with an eating disorder- that sentence is a trap.

That sentence is what continues to breakdown conversation for someone who may need the professional help that our country can provide.

Continue reading “The One Sentence You Should Never Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder “

7 Things People Say About Eating Disorders That You ”Can’t Even”

1. (Said while eating a meal) “It’s such a relief to see you eating again…. (pause)… You look so healthy.”

lay off me im starving gif

*Clammers Fork onto Plate*

…Never eats again.

2. ” Was it the media? IT WAS THE MEDIA.  Don’t believe the media – they’re airbrushed you know?! Those models aren’t even real.” 

colbert facepalm

… Yes thank you, we too know about Photoshop.

3. (Forced smile) “I’d really appreciate if you’d finish {insert food}.”

office gif again

…And I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t speak to me like I’m in a straight-jacket, but good talk.

4. “Oh God, I’m so glad we’re past the eating disorder phase. You were so difficult then.” 


bradley cooper gif

Oh, was it hard for you?

5. “It’s so selfish of you to do this. I don’t understand why you’re doing it.”

leia-what gif

You’re right. I’m cured.

6. “I like you with some meat on your bones, when you got a little junk in your trunk.”.

bridesmaids gif.

Bet you like me draped over your couch with a bearskin rug too, Kanye.

And last but not least:

7. “OMG, I couldn’t even tell you had an eating disorder.”

office gif

…But actually.

7 (Real) Truths About Eating Disorder Recovery

7 (Real) Truths About Eating Disorder Recovery:

(Because there ain’t no sense lying about it)

recoveryis

1.) Pant Suit Is The New Black?:

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:

all black again

And here (CRINGE):

Spring Break
Spring Break

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.

feet
My thighs/feet featured as part of the #thighreading Twitter campaign by @princess_labia

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.

Continue reading “7 (Real) Truths About Eating Disorder Recovery”

“Hey, Don’t Forget to Pack Your Bulimia”: Traveling With An Eating Disorder

Rehab Truth:

Last week, I went on a business trip to Idaho and had a full out ED panic in the airport.

Wednesday- 7am in the morning – JFK Terminal 2-

And there I am pacing the airport halls like an Eating Disorder secret service agent.

WHAT DO I EAT? WHERE?

HOW MUCH?

WHAT TIME IS IT?

7?!?!?! 7:00AM. 7 O’CLOCK.

(I CAN’T EAT YET.)

BUT YES, LINDSEY, YES YOU CAN.

(YOU’LL BE HUNGRY BY 11)

WHO CARES IF YOU’RE HUNGRY BY 11-

(SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR FAILURE)

YOU’RE HUMAN AND YOU HAVE TO EAT.

(NOT TILL 12)

JUST EAT SOMETHING AND MOVE ON.

(UGH.)

Bagel? I thought, peering towards the cafe beside me.

NO- TOO MUCH TOO SOON.

Croissant? I said aloud, feeling my mouth salivating.

BUTTER.

Bagon, egg, and cheese biscuit? I mumbled, pushing forward- past my gate.

GROSS – IT’S NOT EVEN EGG WHITE

Hudson News store? I can grab granola in the bag.

NO- binge food! I corrected, moving past.

Gate 6-7-8

Are you even hungry- or just feeling hungry because you’re awake?

I try hard to feel one with my stomach – and fail.

I turn the halls and start back up the line, past the Hudson store, the croissants, the Sausage, egg, and cheese burritos.

Coffee- I decide- veering towards the Starbucks.

WAIT- NO, I say- veering out.

Coffee just helps me not eat.

I sigh.

Throw my bag on the ground.

Throw a mini emotional tantrum in my head.

I’m a hamster on a wheel.

Go back to my seat- sit down – self-deprecate.

Calm down.

Text my therapist.

Start over.

Start over again.

Start over again and again and again.

One foot in front of the other.

I lop back down the hall.

Sigh for being so difficult.

Sigh because it’s never easy.

Grab a coffee-

“Tall, please” I say.

Find a granola bar. A banana.

A Chobani yogurt.

I walk back towards the gate.

I’m okay, I remind myself.

I think about the hiking I’ll do in Idaho.

You’re fine dude, I think.

I think about how fortunate I am to be in an airport traveling.

I sit down and eat.

I think about all the times I traveled and sipped coffee.

All the views I missed because I was thinking of hunger.

One bite after another, one meal at a time.

I move on with my day.

—-

hiking idaho
Idaho Hikes!

Continue reading ““Hey, Don’t Forget to Pack Your Bulimia”: Traveling With An Eating Disorder”

Check Out My Greatist.com Article On Exercise Addiction!

Running was a love affair that started from a healthy place.

It was March of my senior year of college when I first laced up a pair of running shoes and hopped on the treadmill. This was for me alone, a way to regain control of my life. Days earlier a court-ordered breathalyzer was installed in my car after I’d been arrested for driving under the influence—drinking pinot noir had gone from a casual college habit to three glasses every night when my bartending shift ended.

“Stretch your legs out,” I remember thinking as I reached the treadmill. “Take a deep breath. Turn up the music. Get a hold of your life.”

I pushed “go’’ and ran four miles. Walking out of the gym that day, the fatigue in my legs felt like the kind of self-control I needed to keep me on track. I repeated this the next day and the day after that. Before I knew it, two months had passed, and I was running six miles, four times a week with an almost never-ending runner’s high.

I made it a point to outrun all of the people on the treadmills around me, and for the first time in a while, I felt good about the direction my life was going. All the recklessness and self-hatred lifted when I watched that treadmill turn another mile, music blaring so loud that it felt like I was screaming all the thoughts from my mind.

By month two, my ribs started to poke out, reminding me of what it felt like to be the thinnest girl in the room. It was a badge of honor I enjoyed in elementary and middle school—I was known as “skinny Linny” until I hit my teens and puberty set in. My parents praised my new “regimented” lifestyle while my girlfriends grew jealous. “You’re so tiny, Linds!” they’d say, grabbing my arm. But I’d wave them off. “I just needed to give up the wine,” I’d say with a laugh.

Next thing I knew, I was on the treadmill nearly every day. The more I ran, the less I ate. I’d sit at the table with my fists clenched, secretly congratulating myself on how much self-control running had given me. I’d gloat in the mirror at night as I massaged my thighs with my thumbs and marveled at their definition. Then I’d give myself a big hug to feel the bones in my back. As I got more and more obsessed with my vanity, I knew I could never lose running—that I could never feel this confident without it.

The Tailspin

Three weeks after graduating, I hopped on a plane to Seville, Spain to start my new life as an au pair. I reasoned that moving away from the comforts of home would be good for me (and give me something new to focus on besides my looks). But two days into my stay, the compulsion to find the treadmill consumed me. Instead of exploring this new foreign city, I found myself walking around, map in hand, asking passersby where the local “gimnasio” was in my broken Spanish.

Anxiety mounted to new extremes as I realized I was in a society that was far less obsessed with the latest fad diet, and far more engrossed with the local white bread and sangria. Unable to find the food I deemed healthy, I started throwing up in my host parents’ bathroom to avoid the extra calories. Soon running six miles a day didn’t seem like enough to burn off the calories I ate.

“Eat only the food you can count,” I wrote in my diary. Eat 250 calories in the morning and run five miles. Eat fewer than 10 bites for lunch. Run four miles after. Walk one mile to pick up children from school.

Being thin—and feeling totally in control of my body—gave me the kind of self-gratification high I didn’t want to climb down from.

“You are too thin,’’ my host mother clucked six months in, but I’d just smile my big toothy grin and brush her aside.

“Was I a little too thin?” I wondered as my jeans loosened in the back, or when I woke in the middle of the night, clutching my legs as they cramped. “Maybe,” I thought as I crawled down the marble stairs with tears welling in my eyes from the sharp pain in my back. But the muscle pain, even when it seemed unbearable, couldn’t stop me. Being thin—and feeling totally in control of my body—gave me the kind of self-gratification high I didn’t want to climb down from.

The Breaking Point

After one year in Spain, I moved home to Texas, where my compulsion to exercise escalated to a level I felt both empowered and controlled by. Exercising became my identity. I’d run 16 miles one day then 10 the next. If I took a rest day, I threw up. I had constant pain in both shins that shot through my legs. But the pain dulled when I ran so I pushed ahead, even after doctors told me I had stress fractures in both legs and needed to give up running cold turkey.

My weight sank and the compliments faded. I could see the pity in my friends’ eyes when I hobbled late to a dinner—the perfect excuse to always miss appetizers—but I refused to believe I was sick enough. If I lost five more pounds and got down to what I truly deemed a sickly weight, I told myself I’d let up a bit.

I knew that I was teetering on the edge of something bad, but I only thought about eating disorders as a weight thing. I’d find myself scrolling through Instagram photos of painfully emaciated “pro-ana” women and compare their sickness with my own. Since I didn’t have a thigh gap, I told myself I couldn’t have an eating disorder. Around the same time, I heard about exercise bulimia, but those searches turned up pictures of people with more bulging musles than I knew existed. None of them looked like me.

Another six months passed, and I jumped at the opportunity to move to New York and take my first job in publishing. I thought this would be the move that would help me find a change of pace and something besides running to obsess about. But the pull of the treadmill didn’t let up. My busy work schedule made trips to the gym difficult, yet I’d find myself sneaking out of networking events to head back into the 24-hour Planet Fitness, my teeth stained purple from the free wine.

My behavior became increasingly erratic. More than once, I ran completely intoxicated, my foot slipping off the side of the treadmill, but I’d just laugh it off with the gym employee. Like a hamster on a wheel, I couldn’t stop moving. I’d walk eight miles home from work and then head to the gym to run another 10.

Increasingly bulimic, I’d binge eat a box of cereal at home and then throw it up before forcing myself back to the treadmill. My energy dwindled and I started to wake up with a sore throat, a dry mouth, and a bloated stomach.

I’d find myself sneaking out of networking events to head back into the 24-hour Planet Fitness, my teeth stained purple from the free wine.

If it hadn’t already,body dysmorphiaconsumed my every waking moment. I stopped showering with any kind of consistency because I couldn’t deal with the stress of being naked. Fearful that I took up too much space on the subway, I wouldn’t let myself sit down between people, and instead spent many rides fighting back tears.

At the urging of a therapist, four months after my move to New York, I told my parents that I was struggling. They were willing to do whatever it took to help, but I wasn’t ready to give up my exercise—the only thing I was sure would make me feel better. The final straw came when I went home for Thanksgiving that year. Weary of my eating, my parents counted the cereal boxes in the pantry before we left for a wedding. When I woke up the next day, they confronted me with two empty boxes I’d binged on the night before. Rehab on call, I went without a fight.

The Recovery

Stripped of both running and alcohol, I had to relearn who I wanted to be without the aid of a drug—and yes, exercise was my drug. We live in a society where exercising and focusing on clean eating are the signs of a healthy (and even sought after) lifestyle—and I was able to hide behind that for years. While exercise is important for our health, it can also be used as a coping mechanism.

Growing up with a family that swore by the gym, I thought of exercise as a positive way to blow off steam. When my best friend passed away unexpectedly at the start of college, I found the gym to be a saving grace, the only place to subdue the grief.

Exercise is scientifically proven to boost moods, and it helps many achieve balance in their lives. But exercise is not immune to the same types of dependency and abuse that booze and drugs carry when it’s escalated to a level of obsession.

Fresh out of rehab, I assumed I was mentally capable to go back to a “healthy running” routine, but I quickly found myself sucked back into the hole of calorie counting and compulsion. Running had been my identity for so long that I felt anxious without it. At the advice of my therapist, I turned in the towel and spent all of last year using my old gym time to discover the other things I wanted out of life. I changed jobs. I went to a book club. I finally started a blog. I recently started dating again and instead of shying away from my past, I told him exactly who I was—and much to my surprise, he stuck around.

Running had been my identity for so long that I felt anxious without it.

One year later, I’ve accepted that I will always have a challenging relationship with the gym. I’m still learning how to accept the idea of exercise as something that is an addition to a balanced life, and not thedefinition of a successful one. I’m far more mindful of the fact that running will not fix any discomfort I feel. It’s a Band-Aid, not a stitch. I’ve started working out again, but I stop myself from heading to the treadmill and obsessing over the digital readout of calories burned and miles run. I take classes instead—bootcamp, barre, Zumba—you name it, I’ll try it. I’ve even come to enjoy them. I like the feeling of my body growing stronger, not weaker. And on weekends, I rest. I eat veggie burgers and fries. I lie in bed watching Netflix because sometimes it’s nice to do nothing.

While I’ll can’t go back and change the past, I now know that I can choose to be mindful—thinking in terms of self-love and self-respect—of the way I live from here on out. And as I finish my story, sitting here at my computer, I’m choosing to be mindful of that.