As we wrap up the first month of 2018, the cliche remains: “Where did the time go?”
How are we so shocked when we look down at the screens of our phones and realize we’re 31 days into a new year.
Where were we the last 31 days? Did we go into a mindless Instagram vortex and disappear?
OR… do I just tell myself that because right now, in this moment, I’m feeling that way.
ANYWAY. I detract.
I know it’s “new year, new you” and all that crap, and many of us are off starving ourselves or worshipping new gym memberships or trying to stick to the belief that are bodies “are fine as is” even when we want to act out… regardless where you’re at, there’s an aspect of these “life changes” that doesn’t get acknowledged or valued enough. And that’s the loss.
The loss of the life you were leading. I know we’re supposed to be all like “YAY recovery life. I don’t want that old life back.”
But, as Mark Manson says, you can’t change or grow without losing a part of yourself. And that loss, even when it happens for a good reason, it hurts. It shapes.
And that’s not even getting into losing something or someone for a bad reason.
Out of the hundreds of emails I read each month seeking recovery or ‘what next’ advice, I’d say nearly 50% relate to loss in some way. Loss of an eating disorder. Loss of a relationship. Loss of family. Loss of career. Loss of friendships. Loss of identity. “Who the hell am I without X?”
Truth is, this headline is declarative. I have no idea why you relapse.
As I sit here in a coffee shop – mulling through this post – I got a call from a close friend.
“Have you talked to X lately?”
“No… He dropped off a couple months ago and stopped answering me, so I assume he’s relapsed.”
“Linds, it’s bad. Just feel you should know before you hear from anyone else. His liver and kidneys are failing. Was in ICU for 13 days. Respiratory failure. Got out and got back on the painkillers. Sister found him slumped over a coffee table. He’s going to die if he doesn’t get help… and I don’t know if you want to reach back out – but we’re trying anything.”
I stared at my phone.
Stomach sinks. Not because it’s unexpected – but because it’s so expected and yet, no matter how much you can prepare for anything – you never know when the day will just come.
My ex might very likely die, which is two of my exes that I am waiting for that call.
I received it once already – when my best friend fell out of a tree.
And I know it’s only a matter of time these days, before I get it again.
Being a messy person creates a messy life. And I have always held a love for messy people.
As I stood up there, cold as hell, nervous, adrenaline-infused (as I always am before any public speaking), I had a momentary wave of peace.
There are times that what I do feels like a hashtag blessing. And there are times that I am truly conscious of that blessing. This was one of them – leading a crowd of people , and helping to hold a banner of awareness for a sickness many suffer from in some shape or form.
Stood next to a group of young ladies after the walk. We chatted for a bit; I pet their puppy:
“Your blog helped us,” one of them said. “You make people feel like they can talk about this stuff and it’s not a big deal. Thank you.”
I teared up (my tears likely freezing into icicles cause IT WAS FRIGID): my words may make a momentary impact, sure, but choosing life outside of an ED is a powerful, intimate decision. And having a support group of friends who are doing it with you – how rad. These ladies inspired me.
Cheers to days like this.
How lucky I’ve been to take my experience – and magnify it to the point that it is no longer a shame for me to speak to, and about. How lucky I’ve been to find purpose and meaning in my life at 28-years old.
Thank you to all of you who have ever read a word I’ve posted.
Posted the following message on Instagram, but felt like sharing here:
Had one of those nights last night where I had to sit at my kitchen table, moments before heading to the hot tub, and remind myself that damnit, it’s not your “back fat” you’re worried about – it’s the Denver NEDA walk speech you’re giving on Sunday.
It’s not your lack of working out this week – it’s the expectation that you would, and didn’t.
It’s not that you ate Qdoba for lunch and – OH CHRIST – the calories from a salad bowl () – it’s that my ex read my blog post the other day about relationships, and was hurt. And now I’ve sat here the past 72 hours trying to reconcile the pain I’ve caused him for my misguided – at times – interpretations online. I’m dealing with guilt and a facepalm to my own face.
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.