Seven hours in the life of an eating disorder mind

I talk about self-love a lot.

I write about it a lot.

I instagram about it a lot.

It’s kind of become who I am in my new recovery world..

I’ve been in recovery from my eating disorder for two years now. Naturally, I’m expected to love myself all the time, right? Naturally, I’m expected to not have any more eating disorder thoughts or negative self-talk, right?

No. Wrong and wrong again.

Maybe in our eating disorder minds that are wired for perfection, those things would be true. But in the mind of  a person in recovery, like me, where perfection no longer is an option to strive for, those things cannot be true.

So, let me walk you through just a portion of my day today as someone two years in recovery.

This is hard for me to share and hard for me to write, especially since I just launched my nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those like us who battle eating disorders.

But the truth is, no matter how much recovery we have on our side, we will forever battle and forever fight–and that’s a message that needs to be shared and told with everyone who reads this blog.

It’s important to me that other fighters who might be experiencing the same thing, whether your in recovery or not, know that it’s ok to have hard days. Or hard weeks. Or hard months. Or hard hours.

It’s all ok.

So, let’s start with my day today. Keep in mind that these thoughts are a product of about a week now of struggling with my own body image and self love.

I kept track on my phone of all the thoughts in my head as I went through the day.

I didn’t plan on writing a blog post about it. After seeing a Dove campaign that did something similar, I wanted to do it for myself so I could see the reality of how mean I am to myself in hopes that reading those thoughts out loud to myself later will help me stop.

But then I realized this is something that needs to be shared to show people they are not alone.

5 am: I get up to go to the gym.

“Oh my God, these pants are so much tighter than they were two weeks ago. Really, if my gym pants are getting tighter, what more proof do I need that I am just totally out of control and gaining way too much weight?”.

530 am: Arrive to gym. Look in the mirror when I am working out.

“Wow. Just wow. This is terrible. I wonder if the other people here notice how much bigger I look? But that’s ok. That’s why I am here right? To work on my body. Right. Ok. I am doing a good thing.”

630 am: Get home and shower. Look in the mirror again before going into the shower.

“I have no more waist. Wow. It’s totally gone. Totally gone. And so many love handles. So many. What is happening to me. I always said I would never become this person.”

7 am: Get out of shower and get dressed.

“These pants are so much tighter on me now than they were when I tried them on 6 months ago. I thought I was big then…I wish I knew what I would look like now. I wish I looked now what I looked like then. There is literally no space anywhere on these pants.”

8 am: Get to work.

I talk with my co-worker about how my pants are too tight and how I wish I could learn the balance from “loving myself too much which allows me to eat whatever I want and between having self control and not loving myself too much.” Seriously, I actually said that.

9 am: I am really tired already and want a coffee from Starbucks.

I look up the nutritional facts on every Starbucks skinny drink on their website. I already know them by heart from years and years of looking at them over and over, but why not look again, right?

Then, I calculated my calorie total so far in the day and what it would be with my Starbucks drink and without it. I did that 8 times. Over and over.

When I didn’t like that number, I calculated the food I would need to eat to reach a number of calories I was ok with. I did it so many times I lost track of my totals so I had to do it 4 times.

Reminder: I am at work right now. I should have been working. But instead, I was consumed with ED.

930 am: Go to Starbucks.

Get the drink. A skinny tall one. I feel better it’s a tiny one.

10 am: Get back to the office and have to pee.

Walk into the bathroom at work, where anyone can walk in, and lift my shirt up so I can see my tummy.

“It’s just hanging out everywhere. I just can’t believe it.”

Zipping up pants after I pee and remind myself of how tight they are. Again.

1030 am: We have donuts and muffins in the office.

Of course I want some, but I told myself I wouldn’t. No more office food,  I told myself a million times this week.

But ok, someone brought it for us and I don’t want to be rude so I have a tiny piece.

“Good job Shira. You didn’t even need that piece, but good job on not eating the whole thing.”

12 pm: Which is now as I write this so I have updated you on my entire day so far.

I’m sure you are exhausted by this point in reading.

Because I am exhausted from living it all morning long and for the past week.

It’s exhausting to live it, breathe it, and to write about it.

It’s exhausting to fight it. And that’s what this blog post is : it’s fighting back.

It’s exposing my most inner darkest most negative thoughts about myself so they are no longer in the power of my eating disorder. Once people know about it, ED loses a lot of power. Not all of it, but a lot.

We are only as sick as our deepest secrets.

And for the past week, this negative self talk has been my secret, and even darker of a secret has been acting as if I am ok and letting others who maybe follow this blog not know the true reality of what is really going on.

Everyone fighting this battle together deserves to know we are not alone.

I don’t really have a cookie cutter solution to my negative self talk other than what I am doing right now. Exposing it, acknowledging its there and facing it head on.

What I will do and can do is think about what I am feeling. And fat is not a feeling, although ED wants me to think it is, it’s not. Factually in the dictionary, it’s not.

What am I feeling when I really look into it: defeated and sad and mad at myself.

How will I fix it: Do actions that illicit the opposite feelings.

Opposite of defeated is victorious. What would make feel victorious? Finishing my news story today. I will make sure I do that.

Opposite of sad is happy. What would make me feel happy? Making someone else smile. And I have done that already but I will do it again.

Opposite of mad at yourself is to feel compassion towards yourself. How can I be compassionate towards myself? By leaving these negative thoughts right here on this page. They die here.

On a positive note, this exhausting eating disorder mind and day is the life I lived for years before I started recovery. Every single day, every single minute.

And while I am feeling a little defeated right now that I am back in that temporarily, the good news is that it’s only been for about a week, and not even all day, every day-just a few hours of each day.

It hasn’t been years.

It hasn’t been birthdays over and over.

It hasn’t been sleepless nights.

It’s only been a few days. A few days that I can pick myself up and move on. And for that, I am grateful.

Hello life.

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Three Year Flashback To When Coffee Was Lunch

Happy Thursday beautiful fighters,

I came across this photo today.

brothers

It’s a picture of my three little brothers that I took three years ago today.  I had taken them out for a fun day of lunch and bowling.

Do you see that cup of coffee to the right hand corner on the table? That was my lunch that day–my lunch and breakfast actually.

I remember that day because I specifically remember every single Ed thought that I had that day. I even remember the jeans that I wore. (I remember because I chose them because they were my baggiest pair).

It was a Sunday so that meant that I was going to my then-boyfriend’s mom’s house for dinner that night. How was I possibly going to go out to a lunch and to a dinner? I remember not knowing how it would be possible to do both.

But I wasn’t going to give up my time with my brothers, either.

So, this was my solution: coffee all day and that’s it.  I remember us sitting at that lunch table and I remember all I could think about was the food. I had one tortilla chip and I broke it into several tiny pieces so it would last me as long as it could.

I don’t remember any of the converastions I had with my brothers at that lunch and I don’t remember what we laughed about. But I remember what each of them ordered because I remember wishing I wanted a bite of it so badly.

I remember every ounce of my time being consumed by Ed and that’s what made me so sad today when I saw this photo.

It reminded me of the heavy and overwhelming thoughts I carried around with me for years when I was suffering from my eating disorder.

It reminded me of the thousands of moments that Ed took from me.

It reminded me of the kind of role model I was for my brothers at the time: the sister who didn’t eat.

My heart has felt broken all day thinking back on that day and the many days I had like it with them and with others.

But at the same time, this photo gave me a chance to appreciate where I am now.

Recovery ebbs and flows, and lately, I haven’t been in the happiest place with what I look like, and while I know it will pass, I needed to be reminded today of how far I’ve come and why I choose to live in recovery.

I would rather spend every single day for the rest of my life fighting to learn to love my new healthy self than spend another second back at that lunch table being a prisoner of Ed.

I don’t want to go into the past two years of recovery and how I got here because I’ve told that story already through this blog over the past two years. That’s not what this post is about.

This post is about remembering where we used to be and never forgetting it.

I feel like sometimes it can be easy to forget where we used to be and focus so much on where we are now. Focusing on where we are is great because it shows we are present- but without remembering the pain of where we once were, we forget how special our recovery is.

It’s also a reminder of the pain and suffering other people who are suffering from an eating disorder are going through right now at this exact moment. If you are one of them, please know that you are not alone in that pain.

For me, this picture will always speak emotions of sadness.

It will forever be the day that I was so stuck in my eating disorder that I don’t even remember what I talked about with my three little brothers.

And it will forever serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come and where I never want to be again.

But to put things in perspective, all five of my siblings were visiting me in Washington two weeks ago, and not only do I remember every single tiny thing each one of them ever said, but we all went out to dinner at a steak house to celebrate Hello Life’s second birthday.

We all got steak, including me.

And we all got dessert, definitely including me.

And coffee was no where to be found.

Hello life.

Day 365: Let’s Smash This Thing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYWK0oWuc78&feature=em-upload_owner#action=share

Hello Life.

Day 364: A Goodbye Letter To My Scale

Hi guys,

With tomorrow being the very last day of this one year journey, I have decided that tomorrow will be the day that I smash my scale.

The poll that is up on the website has almost 50 percent of votes saying to smash it, so that’s what will happen.

Throughout my recovery, I have written many letters on this blog. I have written letters to Ed, and I’ve written letters to myself.

And now, I will write a goodbye letter to my scale. I am sorry in advance for it being long, but I just have a lot to say to it.

My letter to Ed was not a goodbye letter, as I don’t think that Ed will ever leave my life forever. However, I can and will and have learned to live above him and to live free of him.

But this letter to my scale, is indeed a goodbye letter, because after tomorrow, when I smash it and then throw it away, it will forever be gone.

I haven’t thought about what I would say yet, so here it goes.

Dear scale,

My precious, only trusted, heavy and white scale.

Where do I begin to start to say goodbye to something that over many years, and pretty much my entire life, (except this one year journey) was such a huge part of my life?

Everyday, and many times, every hour, particularly for the past three years, you specifically were my life.   There were other scales over the years,but you were the one that Ed and I picked for the worst few years of our time together.

I remember standing on you on my 18th birthday, on my 19th birthday, and on my 20th birthday. I remember standing on you the day I had surgery.

I remember standing on you the day my grandpa passed away.

I remember standing on you on my 21st birthday, and my 22nd birthday too.

This year, for my 23rd birthday, you were not around.

Do you remember the many times that I tried to give you up, and yet I always came back?

One time I gave you up for a week. One time it was for a month. And one time, I was even sure I could do without you because I placed you at someone’ else’s house. Only to find myself speeding over to that house once everyone left for work to go stand on you once again.

Do you remember when your batteries ran out, and I was late to my family dinner, because I had to go to the drug store to buy new batteries for you?

Do you remember the times at 3 a.m. when I would pull you out from under my bed and stand on you when everyone around me was asleep? It was like our own little secret. Just you and me.

Do you remember when I came rushing home from my vacation in Big Bear last year just to run and stand on you to see what bad news you would give me?

I’ m sure you remember everywhere I put you; under the bathroom sink, under the bed, and even in the kitchen one time.

I’m sure you remember the way my feet felt when they stood on you, because I sure remember the cold metal parts of you on my feet too.

I remember the clicking sound you make when I had to turn you on.

That sound will haunt me forever. It was the sound I woke up to every single day, and sometimes in the middle of the night, for years.

And no matter how many other scales I stood on at a doctors office or someone else’s house, you, my dear scale, you were the only one I trusted.

You didn’t even start out as my scale.

You started out as someone else’s scale who I lived with. At first, I only took you out of her closet when everyone was asleep.

And then, you moved with me into my new apartment.

And then you moved with me into a new home.

Somehow, along the way, Ed and I made you ours. We didn’t even care that you once belonged to someone else.

But last January 21 of 2013, I gave you up for good.

For the past year, you have resided somewhere with E (my therapist). I don’t know where, and I really don’t care to be honest.

And I know that E does not care about you either. I gave you to her because her strength is far beyond yours and I knew your presence wouldn’t bother her like it would bother me.

I wonder how you feel now that you haven’t been turned on for an entire year?

Do you feel lifeless? Do you feel dead?

Because that’s how I felt every time I stood on you.

Maybe now you can understand my life with you for those years.

And I might add, dear scale, that tomorrow, I will be smashing you.

But before I smash you, I will make sure to remove your batteries.

You will never be alive again.

I am not sure if you will break completely, but I will be using the heaviest hammer that I can hold and I am going to read you this letter, and then I am going to smash you as hard as I possibly can.

And then I am going to throw you away.

Do you know what I’ve accomplished this year without you, scale?

Do you know that I was the top senior reporter for my university newspaper , even without you telling me what number I weighed during it?

Do you know that my brother called me his hero all because I decided to value myself on who I am, not on you or Ed?

Do you know that without you, I graduated college? I graduated college on a day that I have no idea what I weighed that day.And it was at the best day ever. My Facebook status for it got over 140 likes.

Your weight for me could never get that kind of popularity.

Do you know that my family still loved me this year? Even though I wasn’t the number I always wished you would show me?

Yup, they loved me, supported me and carried me through even without your number.

You used to be my only truth; my only definition of who I was.

But I’ve learned over this past year, that I am not a number.

I am not a size. I am not even a definition of anything.

I am me.

And me is no longer a part of you, and you are no longer a part of me.

And therefore, tomorrow, we will officially part ways.

And I am not only smashing you for me.

I am smashing you for every single person who is part of this journey.

I am smashing you for the other birthdays and days and lives of others your’ve ruined; I am smashing you for every single fighter in the support group ,and I am smashing you for the many people who said this blog saved their lives.

Do you remember when I gave you to E, my only words when she asked me if I had anything to say, were “hello life?”

I remember that.

I’ve found that my soul is my new truth, and your number no longer defines me, dear scale.

And because of that, I officially say goodbye to you.

Sincerely,

Shira.

Hello Life.

hammer

Day 357: Closer Than I Was Yesterday

Hi everyone,

I was sitting in E’s office today (E is my therapist) and I was telling her how I felt so chubby today and not good in my body.

I was expecting her to say something like “let’s find out why you are feeling this way,” or something like that, but that’s not what she said.

She just answered one simple statement: “why do you have to be chubby? why do you to look a certain way in your body?”

I didn’t get it at first.

“Um…what do you mean? If I’m not chubby than what am I,” I asked her.

It was a serious question.

“Your Shira. Why can’t you just be Shira?”, she said.

I didn’t know how to answer. I think it was one of the first moments in therapy all year that I actually  had nothing to say for a split second.

Why did I have to define myself as chubby today? Why do I have to define myself by my body checks every single morning?

They are good questions that I don’t totally have the answers to yet.

Why do I think that being Shira means having to tag on a label about my body to that, like chubby or skinny or whatever other word that can be used to describe someones physical being?

I’ve spent pretty much my entire life since I was 8 years old calling myself these labels.

In some parts of my life I labeled myself fat, in other parts I labeled myself chubby, and in other times I labeled myself skinny. Regardless of what time period I was going through, I always used one of those words as my label.

And of course, I used my weight as a label  too.

I still remember how much I weighed the day my grandfather passed away-becasue it wasn’t a good number but I “allowed” myself the extra room because I was so sad, I told myself I could give myself a break.

These numbers and labels have been such a huge part of how I’ve  defined myself for so much of my life, it was honestly mind altering when E asked me why I even had to be any of those things.

Almost one year into being scale free, and I never thought about that.

Who would Shira be, without her being attached to a chubby or to a skinny or to a “I’m sore” today?

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to think about.

I know who I am without my number on my scale for almost a year now; that I know because I’ve been learning that through this year. And I love who I am becoming without that number to define me.

I love the writer in me.

I love the reporter in me.

I love the sister in me.

I love the friend in me.

I love the fighter in me.

But numbers and labels are two different things. A number is  fact, a label is a feeling.

But just Shira. Plain and simple, no extra labels-that’s totally different.

I guess what I walked away with today, because it was a day of much self doubt, also in other areas of my life, is that when this blog is over 8 days from now, I am not going to have all of the answers I thought I would have.

I may still label myself with those names or those words.

Or I may not.

I am learning.

I used to think that after this one year journey, it will have meant I was cured from Ed and cured from all the negative ways I used to view myself.

That is far from the truth.

And I am glad I can be accepting of that.

The closer I get to this blog ending, and the more I start to wrap things up, the more I am learning that this one year was not meant to be a solution or an answer; it was meant to be the beginning of something.

I have a long way to go, far past this one year journey, until I think I can figure out who Shira is-with no labels attached.

But I am ok with that.

I’m not where I thought I would be at the 8 day count down to this one year journey being completed,but then again, how could I ever know where this journey would lead me?

But I do know I am a lot closer to being where I want to be than I was yesterday; I am a lot closer than I was the day before, and I am a lot closer than I was 357 days ago.

Hello life.

Day 334: This Is How We Celebrate One Month Left

Happy one month left of our one year journey lifers,

Before I start today’s post, I just want to say the Facebook forum will be up soon and I am still figuring out how to do it so I need a few days. But please continue to let me know if you want to be part of it =).

Today marks the official one month count down of our one year journey together.

So, how did I celebrate it?

I had a movie date with my 8-year-old brother, the one who said he would like to switch brains with me so he can have all the right answers in school.

Let me explain something about this little boy to you: not only is he funny, but he is warm, loving, and he loves sweets almost as much as me. So there was no one else I would rather spend this day with other than him.

I would like to say that I am the one who took him out, but he had two free movie tickets, so besides the candy and cookie we ate, he actually treated me.

Before we go to a movie, I always take my brothers to this candy store by the theatre so they can pick whatever they want.

Last time we were at this candy store, I remember exactly what I got: a few sugar free chocolate covered almonds and sugar free jelly beans. They were horrible.

Today, each my brother and I got our own bag, and this time, there was nothing sugar free in mine.

We watched the movie together and laughed together and I just kept thinking to myself how lucky I was that out of all the people in the world, he chose me to go watch it with him.

You know the craziest part? He had no idea that I was celebrating the last month count down of my year without a scale today; no one actually knew.

On our way out to the car, we stopped to get some pastries for a friend, and of course for us too, and he said to me, “Shira, if I could make a rule for the world, it would be that everyone loved pastries.”

And then we both laughed and said we both wish it could be true.

The entire way home, we talked about funny lines that we remembered from the movie, and we talked about how the boys bathroom in his school are not as nice as the girls bathroom (he says he only knows this because a girl, who he made very clear to me is not his girlfriend, told him the girls bathroom is nicer).

This is what I am celebrating today.

I am celebrating the world of loving pastries being a rule.

I am celebrating the world of sharing movie lines in the car.

I am celebrating the world where the fact that the boys bathroom is not as nice as the girls bathroom is a major issue.

I am celebrating the world where the girl you talk about when your 8 years old, is a girl, but make bi mistake, but she is not your girlfriend.

I am celebrating the world of things that really matter in life: the small, innocent, touching moments that no number on a scale and no job and no fancy title could ever give you.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my one month count down.

Hello life.

Day 330: Oh My God…I Am A College Graduate

Hi everyone,

I used to imagine how I would write today’s post.

I remember it so clearly.

I was in the beginning stages of writing this blog, and I remember thinking to myself how incredible it would be to write a post about how I graduated college actually being in recovery from my eating disorder; how wonderful it would be to graduate college and not have a number on the scale to ruin my day.

I can’t believe that that post has actually come and that I am actually writing it.

Today, I officially completed my last day of college. I am officially a college graduate.

I mean, I can’t believe I made it to this day while being in recovery.

I had dinner tonight with my best friend and another friend, and we had to end it with Linda.

Lifers, please meet Linda.

She is my chocolate fudge cake at my favorite restaurant (the cake is called Linda’s Fudge Cake) that everyone in my life knows I need to order and have.

Ed and Linda are not friends. There were times where Ed made Linda and I lose connection.

But, through my recovery, Linda and  I have rekindled our spark.

So there are a few things to celebrate today:

I graduated college AND I got to celebrate with my best friend and with Linda. Perfection pretty much.

I thought I had made it through the day without crying, which is what I usually do on any kind of occasion that has some kind of emotion, until I got to my car after dinner.

I had posted a Facebook status about graduating, and one of my family friends wrote “Great job sunshine. Your grandpa would have been very proud.”

Some readers who have been with me since the beginning and who have read my earlier posts about my grandfather, know that he was my heart, my love and my rock and now that he has is no longer physically here, he is my angel.

I tried to not think of him today, because I knew it would make me cry that he’s not here to celebrate with me.

But I also know that my family friend was right; he would have been so proud.

He would have been proud that his first two granddaughters (I have a twin sister who graduated today too) graduated university.

He would have been proud that I shared it with my friends and family.

And he would most definitely had been proud that I shared it with Linda.

On days like today, the power that Ed once had over me is somewhere far away.

Even though he’s here giving me a hard time about Linda, I don’t care.

I finished college while being in recovery today, which means no number on a scale or no calorie count can take away from that accomplishment.

I finished college being able to say that I wrote the best cover stories I ever wrote.

I finished college today and made my grandpa proud.

Actually, I finished college today and made myself proud—and it has nothing to do with what I look like, what I weigh or what I ate.

I am proud.

Period.

No Ed excuses around it.

Oh, and I can’t forget to say that I am proud that Linda and I had a date tonight.

Lastly, I am grateful that I am able to celebrate today with all of the beautiful souls who are part of this journey.

Thank you for letting me share this milestone with you guys and thank you for being with me, supporting me and encouraging me along the way.

Oh my God….I am a college graduate.

Hello life.