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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Day 365: Let’s Smash This Thing

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

Hello Life.

Day 363: How Blessed I Would Be To Spend The Rest Of My Life In This Gray World

Hello everyone,

Today wasn’t the easiest day .

It wasn’t the easiest when it came to eating, since my body was sore and Ed was loud after my incredible dinner and dessert last night that I let myself fully enjoy without him in my way.

It wasn’t the easiest when my dinner plans that I had made got cancelled, which other than feeling kind of lonely also left me to eat with just Ed. An experience that while was hard, I can say I did pretty well and am proud of myself for.

But I’ve learned throughout this year that not everyday or every hour or even every meal for that matter is going to go the way we plan it.

And sometimes it’s ok for things to be canceled, or for feeling to be a little lonely, or for meals to be a little hard.

Maybe a year ago, before I began walking this path to recovery, I would have thought that today was a terrible day.

I would have thought that whoever cancelled on me is a terrible person, and I would have thought that because Ed is loud today it means I really messed up yesterday, and I would have thought that feeling lonely meant that I am alone in this world.

But I sit here tonight, and I truly don’t think any of those things are true today.

The person who cancelled on me had another plan come up, and while it’s not the same thing I would have done, they are just a human being, who like me, deserves some slack.

Just because Ed is loud today doesn’t mean I messed up yesterday, it means I stood up to him yesterday and enjoyed myself with my family. Good for me.

And just because I am feeling lonely at the moment, I know that I am so far from being lonely in life.

If anything, this journey has brought me the closest that I’ve ever been to my loved ones and friends.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that where at the beginning of this one year journey, I was scared to leave my world of black and white, I can now officially say that I’ve learned and embraced how to live in the gray.

I haven’t mastered it by any means, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job of learning how to live in it.

Of learning how to live in a world where canceled plans don’t ruin my day, where Ed being loud doesn’t mean I am a failure, and where feeling lonely is not a finite definition of my life.

I don’t think perfectionism can exist in a gray world.

I don’t even know if a perfectionist can live in a grey world.

With that being said, I don’t know if I can say that I am 100 percent free of my old perfectionist self, but I can say, that I’ve let go of a lot of her throughout this year.

The more I let my perfecionist self go, the more I learn how to master living in the gray.

The grey used to mean unknown weights, unknown calories and unknown foods.

But now it means understanding cancelled plans; it means knowing that feelings do not define us, and it means knowing the difference between Ed’s voice and my own voice.

If I am only seeing this beautiful part of the gray world after one year of recovery, I can only imagine what other beautiful parts of this world are still waiting for me to come discover them.

That’s definitely a journey that will take more than a year, and maybe it might even take a lifetime.

How blessed I would be to spend the rest of my life living and uncovering this gray world, and not another day living in the perfectionist, Ed-dominated world of the black and white.

Hello life.

 

 

 

 

Day 358: Exactly Where I Need To Be

Hello everyone,

I woke up this morning scrolling through Pinterest when I saw this quote.

“We are what we repeatedly do.”

After writing my post yesterday about me thinking that I am not where I wanted to be by this time in my journey to recovery, this quote really stuck out to me.

It made me think about what kinds of actions I do on a daily basis which make me who I am.

After going through those daily actions in my head, I changed my mind about what I wrote yesterday about not being where I want to be right now.

I actually am exactly where I want to be at this point in my journey. And let me tell you why.

If I had to list the things that I repeatedly do every single day and therefore make up who I am, or at least the things that I’ve been doing every single day for this past year since I started recovery, here they are:

I am kind to people, to strangers and to those around me.

I am a sister; a caring, compassionate, selfless and loving sister.

I am a daughter, a grand daughter, cousin, and niece.

I am a best friend.

I help others from the deepest place within my heart because I want to feel their joy with mine.

I am a writer.

I am a reporter.

I read poems to the little girl I tutor off the clock.

I am open about my journey to recovery.

I take care of my body and it’s needs.

I nourish myself.

I proudly wear leggings on most of the days that Ed tells me to wear my now too tight jeans.

I share desserts with my friends and with my loved ones.

I take my brothers to the bakery to get their favorite black and white cookie on a random Monday night.

I cook dinner for myself and for others.

I order chocolate chip pancakes at breakfast sometimes.

I might look in the mirror every morning at how my body looks, but I know my worth is based on what is within.

I practice being mindful.

I practice telling myself I am worthy.

I am kind to myself when Ed is not.

And on the days that I cannot be kind, I am understanding and accepting of what is.

But most of all, every single day for the past year, if I have done one thing repeatedly, it’s that I speak my truth.

My truths may not have all the answers, but they are more than enough to show me that I am indeed where I want to be right now.

I do truth. Every single day, I do truth.

And therefore, I am truth.

I am my own truth; a truth that Ed or anyone or anything else can never take away from me.

This one year journey of giving up my scale meant giving up my old truth. My old truth was only one thing: that number.

My new truth doesn’t have a definition, a number, or a size and it doesn’t have answers.

All it has is me. And for today, that’s exactly where I need to be.

Hello life.

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 348: My Extended Holiday

Hello everyone,

My alarm went off this morning waking me up to go to the gym, and the first thing I felt was that my body was sore from the food I ate yesterday.

Feeling that soreness was Ed’s way of making me feel guilty about whatever amazing food I ate yesterday, and it was his way of telling me to go work it off today.

But I knew I was meeting my friend Anna for lunch today (and I was meeting her for dessert too- Anna and I always need dessert) and I really wanted to dress up and feel really good when I went. I don’t know why I wanted to, but I did.

I only had time for one or the other: go workout and go see Anna sweaty and in yoga pants, or take my time to get ready, do my hair and feel good.

Despite Ed telling me to go to the gym because of the food I knew I would eat with Anna, I decided to stay home and get ready.

Sometimes I think that getting ready and feeling good about ourselves, wether it be the way our hair looks, or the outfit we choose to wear, or the make up we wear, can make us feel even better than some workout at the gym.

And indeed, that was the case for me today.

It was a different kind of self care.

And when the jeans I decided to wear were a little tighter than usual, (which I already knew these pants are kind of tight, and it was a totally Ed based choice to wear them, probably in the hopes I would feel guilty and eat less today or something because of it) I decided to throw on a loose shirt over it and carry on.

The problem was not solved forever, but the problem was temporarily solved.

I looked good. I felt good. I felt comfortable.

I didn’t feel like I just had some great workout, but I felt pretty, and I think that actually felt better than sweating at the gym today.

So on Anna and I went to have our lunch and two desserts.

Two, yes, two.Two amazing desserts.

At first, I left that restaurant thinking “Oh my God, Shira, you’ve been eating so bad for a whole month straight now. Holiday season is over. Stop with these lunches and mid day desserts.”

But then when I really sat and thought about it, and walked myself through my own thoughts, I realized that while it is true that holiday season is over, the birthdays I celebrated this week were not over, and the birthday I am celebrating tomorrow with my other cousin is not over,and my lunch dates with friends are not over either.

So maybe my  holiday food vacation is a little bit extended?

Even though I do feel guilty and anxious right now about this entire month of sweets and big lunches and dinners, part of me is feeling proud and part of me is laughing at Ed that he can’t stop me from enjoying them.

I am in the time of my life right now where I am transitioning from college into the working world, trying to find a career and trying to establish my life.

If in the mean time of doing that, I happen to have time for birthday lunches in the middle of my day with my cousin, dinners with my family during the week, and lunches and dessert for no reason at 2 pm on weekends with my friends, then why not?

Although I might not feel so great right now, I know that there will come a time in my hopefully soon to be career and job oriented busy life, where I am sure that I will miss the days of mid day lunches and desserts, and miss the days of birthday celebrations and dinners in the middle of my week.

So for now, even if Ed trying to ruin it for me, I am going to try to enjoy my extended vacation-delicious food and all.

And it’s really not the food that makes these lunches, birthdays and dinners so special, it’s the freedom that comes with being connected with others that makes it special.

But, if I had to choose between a special meal with loved ones that included Ed approved food, or choose between a meal with loved ones that is down right delicious and yummy, even though it’s not on the safe calorie list, I will take that one.

It’s not that long ago that I let Ed keep me in my house every day and every night away from the world , isolated, deprived and unhealthy.

Now that I am able to go to lunch, dinner and dessert, I think it’s ok that I let these extravagant meals and social gatherings last a little over the one month allocated to holiday eating like other people do.

After all, I have many years that were taken by Ed to make up for.

Hello to my extended holiday and hello life.

 

Day 344: This Was The Year Of Hope

Hello everyone,

Today started out bad. Really, really bad.

The kind of bad that included almost a 30 minute body check, which was more like of a body attack on myself, and pictures of this body check (deleted right away but still) and pretty much just a lot of sadness.

I was sad because I felt like I was letting Ed just swallow me up in his mean and suffocating self and I was feeling stuck in it. I was so mean to myself and to my body in that mirror today.

It was like a 360 from yesterday where I had my first day of no body checks.

I was upset at how my body looked and I was mad at myself for this entire month of eating all this delicious holiday food, and even not holiday food, just eating sweets for fun, and I was mad at myself for not working out this week when I was sick.

Somehow, I found one moment of strength to stop myself, look at my own eyes in the mirror and give myself a pep talk.

At first I might have been embarrassed to say on this blog that I sometimes talk to myself in the mirror, but I’m not anymore, because it is the truth.

“Shira, so what if you don’t love your body right now? You are like every other American in this world who enjoyed the holiday season, give yourself a break.”

That’s the only thing I could manage to say to myself. But it was true.

I don’t own a scale of course, so I can’t tell you how much “holiday weight” I’ve gained (or think I’ve gained), but I figured it’s no more or less than the typical average American person.

And although part of me is still in Ed’s hands at the moment, the healthy recovery part of me is actually really proud of myself after that self talk intervention.

For the first time in years that I can remember, I was like everyone else this year.

For the first time in years, I actually went from Thanksgiving to New Years and ate and enjoyed yummy food and more than that, enjoyed the social gatherings around it.

If a few extra pounds comes with that, the recovery part of me says it is so worth it.

Not only was this the year that I was like every other American and indulged during the holidays but it was also the year that I started living in recovery.

This was the year that I rang in with my now ex-boyfriend, who is no longer in my life. This is the same year that I left our three year relationship to go find my own voice and my own strength, and it’s the year I left him knowing I am deserving of someone to respect my voice.

This was the year that I left his family, who had become my family, back in my past. His family was Ed’s family too. We loved them. I loved them.  It was one of the greatest heartaches I’ve felt this entire year.

This was the year that loneliness and self doubt often kept me company, but it was also the year that I’ve grown closer in my friendships than any other time in my life.

This was the year that 20 days after 2013 started, I decided to give up my scale.

This was the year that I stopped using my weight, my calories and my clothing sizes to define me.

This was the year I was forced to unlearn every truth I ever thought was true about myself, many of which Ed taught me, and the year I was forced to create new truths for myself.

This was the year that my truth now begins with my story. This was the year that my truth begins with my soul, my inner being, and my spirit-not with my physical looks.

This was the year that I not only was the top senior reporter for my university newspaper, but the year I graduated college.

This was the year that someone sent me an email saying this blog saved their life.

This was the year that strangers from all around the world, have now become friends and support systems for one another, through this journey.

This was the year that an online support group was created out of this blog- a support group that will live on so far longer than this blog ever will.

This was the year that my black and white way of thinking turned into gray.

This was the year that I have learned how to finally start showing myself the kind of unconditional love that I have always shown to others.

This was the year that I decided to change my life for no one else other than myself.

This was the year hello life was born.

This was the year of hope.

Hello life.