Warrior: A Recovery Poem

By: Kirsten Danzo Tidwell

I am a warrior built from a million shattered pieces,

I am girl with a dirty and damaged core who clings to the hope of grace.

I am a daughter of laughs and love who cowers at the sounds of anger.

I am a fragile mended soul with just enough glue to hold it together,

But enough cracks that one push could make me crumble.

I am a preacher of forgiveness, believer in forgiveness, seeker of forgiveness.

I am a heart desperate for love but afraid it might leave.

I am a romantic who believes in happy endings but fear I might be naive.

I am a fighter battling demons that you can’t even see;

I run emotional marathons daily while you have the luxury of taking a break.

I believe that I am broken but also believe in healing,

I am fiercely independent, yet don’t want to have to be.

I accept my past and shake off my demons,

Even when others flaunt them in my face.

I am a half-grown, half-healed, half-brave shell of a girl who’s tired of life being a battle.

I dream of a world where I am normal and whole and not tired, but I know this is a fantasy.

But I am a warrior and I will fight on.

About the Author: Throughout my recovery process, writing is how I process my emotions, deal with my demons, and find the strength to keep fighting. I wrote this poem in year 8 of my battle with anorexia. I started writing when I was in a dark place, beaten down and feeling trapped in the narrative of past trauma. Writing it allowed me to remember to forgive myself and fight on.

Celebrating Small Successes

By: Angelica Fei Li

For those of you who don’t know me:

Yes, I am wearing scrubs…

For those of you who do know me:

Yes! I am eating frozen yogurt.

For those of you who really know me:

YESSS! You are SEEING this right. I am ACTUALLY enjoying a FULL cup of yogurt with TOPPINGS and SAVORING all its GUMMY/SUGARY/POPPING yumminess.

And for those of you who are wondering what the BIG occasion is for me to be eating 8 oz of sugar:

I PASSED MY NURSING ASSISTANT CERTIFICATION EXAM AND AM NOW A CERTIFIED HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL. WOOHOO!

Okay, okay.  I know what you’re probably thinking…

  1. “This girl needs to CALM DOWN”
  2. “That’s really awesome,” *sarcastic tone* “but NO ONE cares.”
  3. “Hmphff, nurse aid is, legit, THE bottom of the healthcare chain. She’s making a big deal out of nothing.”
  4. “Alright, I guess it’s cool she’s “celebrating,” but like, I eat frozen yogurt all the time.  What kind of treat is that?”

Well, how did I do?

Did I guess right?

Was I able to read your mind?

If so, let me tell you why, for the first time in my life, I’m choosing to celebrate my small successes–and try to convince you to celebrate your own.

A Perfectionist’s Mind

A common, unhelpful thought pattern of perfectionists is disqualifying the positives.  That is, “discounting the good things that have happened or that you have done for some reason or another” (https://psychologytools.com/unhelpful-thinking-styles-free-en-us.pdf).

You see, it is extremely easy for a perfectionist to fall into this trap of discrediting themselves for small things because of their grandiose nature.  I mean, come on, their title says it all…PERFECTIONISTS, though obsessively detail oriented, do not think in small terms.  Their whole self-endowed “life purpose” is to strive toward and achieve a momentous (often unattainable/unrealistic) goal.  // i.e. to be successful, to be the most successful, to be the wealthiest, to be a genius, to be the most liked person on earth, to be known by all as kind, to be the a generous philanthropist, to be the most adventurous, to be the most attractive. to be perfect in some area or all areas of their life //  The goals I listed, though, are more so character traits that must be quantified by actions and physical concrete achievements.  And thus, perfectionists strive to prove themselves as the most (insert adjective here), by setting out to “win.”  Perfectionists believe that they have not arrived until they achieve the most respected position in their field.  They have not proven themselves until they have received the highest prestige or accolade.  Until then–but quite frankly, NEVER–they will not see all of the small steps leading up to earning that Ph.D./M.D./Nobel Prize/CEO promotion/$1 million salary meaningful.

My Mind

Okay, so thanks for bearing with me while I try to clear things up for you.  I know the last paragraph was very dense and abstract, so I’m going to use my own life now as a concrete example.

From a very young age, I found my identity in academics (more on this and placing self-worth in external things in another blog post).  It was something I excelled at and something I got true joy out of.  Okay, fast-forward to high school/college.  Everyone kept asking me, “So what are you going to be? What’s your major?” And all I heard was, “How are you going to prove yourself? How are you going to make your family proud?”  What I said was, “I’m thinking of being a physician.” And what I said to myself was, “I have to go to medical school.”

Character trait being obsessed over: intelligent

Big goal to prove character trait: medical school –> physician

Motivations to prove character trait: fear, failure, low self-esteem, need for validation, not knowing who I truly am

Got it? It’s a lot to take in.  Basically, on my darkest of perfectionist days, I tell myself I’m not good enough.  And I will never be good enough unless I get into med school and become a physician and have “things” to my name.  Anything else, any other “small” accomplishments until then are just boxes to check off.

  1. Being valedictorian of my high school class
  2. Getting straight A’s in college
  3. Being a member of a research team studying memory and the brain
  4. Volunteering at three world renowned hospitals
  5. Being a University Scholar for the Class of 2018 (top 2% of the junior class when I was only technically a sophomore)
  6. Completing a 168 hour nursing assistant course at community college
  7. Creating a blog and posting really vulnerable content
  8. Writing songs on the piano
  9. Shadowing a physician during an 11 hour shift
  10. Passing nursing assistant certification exam on the first attempt
  11. Buying new running shoes and working out three times a week
  12. Just physically putting one foot into a gym that used to be intimidating

I don’t mean to write some of these things to brag.  I am writing them because I want to be 100% honest about how I’ve viewed my prior accomplishments.  All of these things before recovery meant (or would have meant) absolutely nothing to me.  I’ve taken so much for granted. Perfectionists expect so much of themselves and, what often times makes it worse is, they are able to meet their exceptionally demanding expectations.  But they blow it off as nothing because, again, their optimal performance is expected. Every. Single. Time.  Successes no longer exist when they are the norm.  Instead, failure is the unwelcome/feared occasion that is the motivation to continue operating under the view that “success is normal,” and therefore, positives are disqualified.

Filling in boxes to Living a Full Life

Promise, I’m almost finished! Thank you so, so much for reading this far.  I know I can be wordy, but let me tell you, I appreciate the time you’ve given me.

One of the most life-changing experiences in my recovery was seeing how empty my life was.  Sure.  I was filling boxes, but my life was not full.  That’s because looking toward the sky blinded me from the beauty down here on earth.  What I lacked was gratitude.  I admit it, my goals were selfish.  I wasn’t thinking of other people when I was thinking medical school.  I was thinking about how I can bolster my resume.  And that upset me greatly.  I was embarrassed by my ulterior motives and wanted desperately to remove myself from the situation.  I told myself that I didn’t deserve to be a physician if it was merely a selfish endeavor.  I would instead settle for physician assistant, but that, too, has robbed me of understanding and has shown me how extreme my mindset has manifested itself.  Removing yourself from external temptations does not show growth in character, just as running away from your fears does not make you brave.  The only way I’ve found to remedy selfishness and anxiety is gratitude for the small things, and so I’ve decided to celebrate the small successes.

  1. Waking up in the morning
  2. Breathing
  3. Being able to smile and laugh
  4. Having friends who accept all of my imperfections
  5. Walking on my own
  6. Having the money to buy frozen yogurt
  7. Making my grandma laugh
  8. Being able to make patients lives more comfortable
  9. Being able to afford an education and the teachers who believe in me
  10. The opportunities to fail or succeed
  11. Having my health
  12. Knowing that we were all created in our own, flawed ways for a reason
  13. Second chances
  14. Being alive

Reasons to Celebrate, Reasons to Serve

The question I’m beginning to ask is not, “what is there to celebrate,” but “why aren’t I celebrating?”  And the best way I’ve found to celebrate, is to serve others.  Once you find your reasons, I encourage you to share them with others.  Help them to see that there is always a reason to celebrate because really, what’s a party if it’s only you?

But if you’re feeling stuck, try the exercises that I did in this post.

  1. Reflect on the character trait you’re obsessed over, the big goal you’ve designated to prove the character trait, and your motivations for proving this character trait to yourself and others
  2. Qualify the positives by listing all of the things you achieved this week, no matter how small.  You’re writing straight, objective facts here.  No minimization or negative feelings. (Qualifying: I walked for 10 minutes today.   vs.  Disqualifying: I only walked for 10 minutes today but I should have ran for 20.)
  3. Write down what you are grateful for, what makes you happy, and what you look forward to
  4. Find ways to serve and celebrate with others; Enjoy your favorite food or activity; Create and share!

Alright, friends.  That’s it for this blog post.  I hope it helped convince you to celebrate your small successes, as well as continue to debunk any misconceptions of perfectionism.  Feel free to share this post if you found it enlightening.  And if you feel like you need someone to talk to or still have questions because you think I was completely incoherent, by all means, PLEASE message me!

Until the next post, celebrate!

About the Author: My name is Angelica Fei Li, and I am a recovering perfectionist. In the past, my hobbies included scrutinizing my entire existence and trying to live up to unattainable standards; however, I’ve recently decided that perfection and I just aren’t meant to be. Join me as I strive to become more self-aware and redefine “imperfection” by exploring my insecurities and pushing past my comfort zone…publicly. 

5 Answers to Common Questions From Those Struggling with Anorexia

By: Melissa Gerson, LCSW

Although every client is different, here are the five most frequent things we hear from anorexia patients at Columbus Park, together with our response:

1. “Why can’t I stop thinking about food?”

That’s what happens when your body is starving.

Chronic food deprivation and loss of body weight results in heightened interest in food.   When your body weight drops below a comfortable set point range, the brain switches into starvation mode—metabolism slows and hunger signals pick up.  This focus of the starved mind on food may lead to increased interest in food preparation (often for others, not oneself), obsessive planning of meals, extending eating experiences for long periods, reading about recipes, and/or looking at photos of food.  Many describe this fixation on food as persistent and profoundly distressing.  Weight restoration helps reverse these effects.

2. “My weight isn’t low enough; how can I be starving?”

Your body feels starved long before you look emaciated.

The popular image of anorexia and under-eating is that of someone emaciated. While some people do get to this point, most enter starvation mode at higher weights.  Each of our bodies has a set point range (usually about a 5-7 pound range) it works to maintain.  Set points vary by individual—based on genetics, lifestyle, height and weight as a child, and where the body was prior to the start of the eating disorder.  Once weight falls below your set point, your body enters starvation mode.

3.  “Why can’t I keep exercising a lot? It makes me feel calmer.”

Yes, exercise can be relaxing, but too much can impede your recovery.

Mammals who are in areas of famine show remarkable strength and single-minded focus to migrate to areas where food is more plentiful.  There is some evidence to suggest a similar effect in those with anorexia; a kind of hyper energy even in the absence of adequate food.   Exercise also stimulates the production of neurochemicals which serve as natural soothers.

4.  “Why can’t I limit my diet to just healthy, clean foods?”

Is it really about health?

I’m all for healthy eating – but “healthy and clean” eating often gets taken to unhealthy extremes.  When clients with anorexia frame healthy, clean eating as in the service of health, I remind them that this extreme restriction and rigidity has actually had the opposite impact; it has taken them to a dangerously unhealthy place (hair loss, poor circulation in extremities, slowed heart rate, loss of periods in women, and more).   These clients typically require intensive medical oversight due to their compromised health – hardly a “healthy” place.  It’s not really about a pursuit of health; it’s about taking eating habits that might be considered ideal or even virtuous to an extreme.

5.  “Why can’t I get better without gaining weight?”

It’s not possible.  Your body and mind simply cannot recover if you remain underweight and malnourished.

The consequences of maintaining a low weight include constant thoughts about food, low energy, avoidance of social situations, isolation, poor sleep, inability to focus, and obsessing about the number on the scale. Clients sometimes want to shed those un-pleasantries without actually gaining weight.  It can’t be done; they are inseparable.  Achieving a full and balanced life means restoring health and balance to your body.  Most of our clients with anorexia notice that as they restore weight they feel better, not worse.  Depression and anxiety symptoms remit along with obsessive food and body thoughts.  They develop the kind of flexibility required to re-engage socially.  Physically, they feel stronger, more energetic, and better able to concentrate.

______________________________________________________________________________

Melissa Gerson, LCSW is the Founder and Clinical Director of Columbus Park, Manhattan’s leading outpatient center for the treatment of eating disorders. As a comprehensive outpatient resource for individuals of all ages, they offer individual therapy, targeted groups, daily supported meals and an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Columbus Park uses the most effective, evidence-based treatments like Enhanced CBT and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to treat binge eating, emotional eating, bulimia, anorexia and other food or weight-related struggles. They track patient outcomes closely so they can speak concretely about their success in guiding our patients to recovery.

To learn more about treatments offered at Columbus Park head to www.ColumbusPark.com

Why I Created a Series About People With Depression

By: Shawna

It’s been a while since I have visited this page. It’s been a bit longer that I have been interested in continuing this project. I fell into a pretty dark and deep depression in the midst of this project. I struggled listening to people explain about the confidence they have in themselves or just they way that handle their day to day life. I would sit and absorb the interviews and start to think “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be like that?”

I have dealt with depression before in my life but this one felt different. It wasn’t set off by an event or a loss. This one crept up and swallowed me whole. It was scary. I woke up one morning not too long ago not wanting to get out of bed. Not the, “Oh this is so comfy and I want to just lay in bed” but more like “I never want to get out and live life anymore.”

I didn’t feel suicidal, I just didn’t want to be a part of life anymore. I know that doesn’t make sense to some, but to others, I bet it makes perfect sense. I had been spending my time helping my kids through some tough times in their lives that I neglected my own. I was so wrapped up in keeping things status quo on their side that I didn’t recognize right away that I was slipping….and fast. I started neglecting things in every aspect of my life.

I stopped photographing, I stopped writing, I stopped caring. I just didn’t have the energy to go on with anything anymore. Thankfully, I began to recognize what was going on and knew it wasn’t going to get better until I did something to help myself. I got a psychologist and started the hard work of getting to a better place. I started seeing a psychiatrist when I recognized that I needed more help in the form of medication. I started to reach out to friends that I pushed away during my darkest days. I started to pick up the camera and reach out in my grief and depression and express what I was feeling. Some I have shared, others I have deleted because they were dark. Today, I can say that I am feeling the light. I am starting to laugh again. I am starting to sing, dance, and joke again. I am wanting to go outside and taste the daylight again. It’s getting better. And so it is time to continue to spread the beauty of these men and women that I have interviewed in hopes that someone recognizes themselves in these stories. I hope that everyone sees their own beauty. We all deserve to feel that love.

Absence

 

To Those Who Are Mothers of A Child with an Eating Disorder

By: Valerie Foster
Mother is a single, solitary place to be when one’s daughter stops eating. My daughter’s plummet into the murky world of anorexia hit when she was seventeen. While Jenna was a minor, I could make a lot of the decisions, and early intervention was vitally helpful. But once she turned eighteen, I could not. And that was key to both our recoveries, I believe. I had to learn that while I was doing all of the “dancing” with this demon, the song was hers. In the process, she learned that she sat at the helm of her health. As a writing teacher, I returned to my old practice of journaling, which kept me grounded. My daughter was doing the same, and wrote her way out! During my self-study of this disease, I also learned the importance of drowning out the Negative Mind, and began writing my daughter love letters. Not newsy letters, or discussing the situation, just unconditional letters of love. It was easy. Soon I was getting letters from her. We continue this today. By the way, we can all write these to ourselves, too! An eating disorder is a thinking disorder, and it affects one’s entire family, whether parents, or siblings, or children, or spouses. So, it’s important that their voices be heard, and that they are involved in learning and participating in treatment. My daughter has been fully recovered for over ten years. Neither of us takes that for granted. I know she may be in the minority, but it does happen! There is always, always reason to hope!
_______________________________________________________________________________
Valerie Foster is an educator, public speaker, and author of Dancing with a Demon, her inspiring and hopeful story of fighting to save her daughter from anorexia. You can find more out about her at http://www.valeriebfoster.com

Merry Binge-mas: Why I Wrote A Dark Comedy About My Eating Disorder

By: Angela Gulner

Some may find it odd, insensitive, or tasteless, even, (pun intended) that I (and my teammates at HLG Studios) chose to launch our crowdfunding campaign (https://igg.me/at/binge) to fund Binge, a dark comedy inspired by my decade-long struggle with bulimia, the Monday after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving. The day you’re basically required to have an eating disorder.

Um, no thanks, two pieces of pie were eno–WHAT!!!! What is wrong with you?! It’s Thanksgiving! Why do you hate Thanksgiving? Do you hate America, Angela, is that it? Do you? Do you? No, I don’t hate America, Uncle Pete, I’ll have another piece of pie.

If you don’t feel like vomiting after Thanksgiving Dinner (and dessert, and second dinner, and second dessert) then according to society, you’re just not doing it right. So, by that measure, Thanksgiving should be a great day to be bulimic, right? The entire country is bingeing. Your behaviors, on this day, are normal, glorified, and insisted upon (minus the purging part, that’s still considered ‘effing gross’). But for me, Thanksgiving was one of the most painful days of the year.

I think what so many outsiders don’t understand is that we don’t want to be bulimic. At least, I didn’t want to be bulimic. Bulimia isn’t fun. It’s ugly. It’s embarrassing. It’s animalistic. And bulimia doesn’t usually cause weight loss, so we don’t get the positive social benefits that anorexics get (wow, that’s hella fucked up – anorexia is rough, too). We hate ourselves and we hate our bulimia, even while we’re addicted to it. Like many bulimics, I’d often go into a trance-like frenzy where I couldn’t see clearly. My heart would pound, time would blur, and then a few hours later, I’d realized I’d just consumed my entire kitchen pantry. But I didn’t want to. What I wanted – what so many bulimics want – was to eat nothing at all.

For me, the days leading up to Thanksgiving were filled with crippling anxiety, constant dread, and obsessive planning. Weeks in advice, I’d map the entire day out for myself– what I’d eat, and when, and how slowly. How would I manage to: 1. Eat as little as possible while still 2. Appear totally normal and happy without 3. Triggering a binge so I wouldn’t need to 4. Puke my fucking guts out in the basement toilet. But every year of the ten I struggled, when Thanksgiving day arrived, my well-crafted plan backfired. I’d be 15 minutes in, with a respectable vegetable medley resting on my tiny plate, take a sharp left turn at the cookie tray, and be hunched over the toilet before Halftime.

Bulimia is a vicious cycle. And regardless of how it appears, bulimics are not choosing to partake in it. Now, I’m not a dietician, or a doctor, or a therapist. But I spent ten years, a shit ton of therapy, and two rounds of treatment in that cycle and I have learned a lot. Eating disorders change your brain chemistry and your body’s physiology. With bulimia, despite the massive quantity of food consumed during a binge, purging and frequent starvation between episodes means one is generally malnourished. And when you’re malnourished, you’re depressed. You just are. Your brain doesn’t have what it needs to fire correctly. When you’re malnourished, your body kicks into “survival mode”. It tries to save itself…by eating. By eating a lot, as quickly as it can. Because it doesn’t know when it will next be fed, and it doesn’t know how long it will have that food once it gets it. But when the binge ends, those survival instincts disappear. The bulimic is left alone, physically ill and emotionally devastated. I can’t believe it happened again. I said it would never happen again. I’m a failure. I’m an idiot. I’m a pig. I suck.

The shame and fear is too much. We purge. And the cycle begins again.

Bulimia – and eating disorders in general – are so often thought of, by the general public and by those who suffer, as emotional afflictions. Deficiencies. Vanity gone too far. Maladaptive behavior patterns caused by some trauma, or ineffective coping mechanism. And while that’s definitely (sometimes) part of it, it’s not the whole story. Our bodies are at work here, too. And the longer we’re in the bulimic cycle, the harder it is, emotional and psychologically, to break out of it. Ending the cycle, for many, is beyond what we are capable of without outside interference. Only when the body and brain get steady, uninterrupted nourishment can the cycle be broken (and can the underlying emotional traumas be worked through).

This whole tangent is all to say — there were a shit ton of mechanisms at work for me during my bulimic Thanksgivings. And the self-hate, the shame, and the failure I felt wasn’t fair. My bulimia was beyond my control. I wasn’t weak. I wasn’t selfish. I wasn’t a pig. I was trapped. And it really fucking sucked.

…so if it was all so terrible (honey, it was), then why? Why make BINGE, a webseries about the pain and strife that comes with these afflictions? Why ask for donations to create a show about this illness? Because 30 million people in the US alone suffer from eating disorders. Because in many countries around the world, there is no talk of eating disorders at all, so thousands suffer in silence. Because eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses, and yet there is very little representation of them in the media. Because this community shouldn’t have to feel alone.

We released BINGE (www.bingetheseries.com) a year ago, and over half a million people have seen it, all over the word. We have received thousands of emails from men and women who have been moved by the show, who have learned something about their friends or their loved ones, and who want to fight the stigma surrounded these illnesses. I hopes that the show helps you get you through your struggle.

You’re not alone. You’re not a freak. You’re not a pig. You’re a badass. You’re going to get help, and you’re going to kick this thing. For those of you who don’t struggle in this way, I hope BINGE gives you some understanding of what is going on with those who do. Even if you don’t know it, you know someone who’s hurting in this way. And your compassion can make a shit season a little less shitty.

Keep fighting!

( If you’d like to get involved with our crowdfunding campaign, click here: https://igg.me/at/binge )

_______________________________________________________________________________

Angela Gulner is a writer, actor, producer, and recovering bulimic. She co-created the dark comedy BINGE, inspired by her decade-long struggle with bulimia. She also co-hosts the feminist comedy podcast Welcome to the Clambake. Follow her on Instagram, @gulnatron and Twitter, @angelagulner.

Why the “Freshman Fifteen” Doesn’t Actually Matter

By: Mirjana Villeneuve

“I’ve gained the Freshman Fifteen already…” the girl living down the hall from me in first year residence said to me, her eyes lowered in shame.

“I can’t even tell,” I told her. But, silently, I was relieved that I wasn’t in her place.

In high school, I already knew about the Freshman Fifteen, and vowed not to gain it. In the spring and summer leading up to my first year of University, I vowed to lose weight so that even if I did gain the Freshman Fifteen, it wouldn’t matter

Then I got to University, and on the first day was already confronted with conversations on the topic. In the cafeteria, girls from my residence floor would discuss the ins and outs of their diets to make sure they weren’t gaining these damned fifteen pounds- or at the very least, not gaining it any faster than anyone else.

I was so scared of gaining weight- not just the Freshman Fifteen, but any weight at all.

And simultaneously telling my friends worrying about weight gain that “it’s okay, as long as you’re still eating and maintaining a balanced lifestyle!”

It wasn’t until much later that I realized the irony in this situation.

But as I entered recovery for anorexia that year, I asked myself- why does the Freshman Fifteen matter so much? Does it even matter at all? I didn’t know how it couldn’t matter at the time. But now, further along in recovery and entering my third year of University, I can see it.

The “Freshman Fifteen” is a term coined by a body-shamer. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to the let a body-shamer define my University experience. Worrying about weight gain incessantly prevents us from doing anything else that we could do in these amazing University years, such as:

– Forming new, authentic relationships

– Profiting from our classes

– Trying new activities

– Concentrating in lectures

– Enjoying social functions

– Enjoying anything, really

– Being present

– Being living human beings

– Literally being alive

University is the start of a new chapter of our lives and is supposed to be a time of growth, new experiences, and life-long friendships! The “Freshman Fifteen” doesn’t allow for any of that, as it forces our gaze inward, forces us inward, and locks us in fear.

So, the Freshman Fifteen is more work than it’s worth. Gaining weight is not the end of the world.

In the end, I did gain the Freshman Fifteen. And I have a new, brighter, fuller life to go along with it.

About the Author: When I’m not writing you can find me reading, drinking coffee, or hunting down the places with the most Instagram potential.

A Thank You Letter to My Therapist

By: Ericka Christina

To my therapist,

After almost eight years of working with you, I can say we have established a pretty solid relationship. We’ve worked through so much more than just my eating disorder symptoms, and we have uncovered layers of trauma to reveal a strength I never imagined I could possess. There have been highs and lows, and I’ve lost count of how many times I think you have saved my life.

Today, during my session, we talked about my progress, and the option of coming to therapy less frequently or even stopping all together. While I consider myself stable right now, stopping is not an option. I value the time I have with you, and it is the highest form of self-care for me. As I reflect on the years of work we have done together, I am in awe of the progress and changes in myself. Last year, I didn’t have to schedule an emergency session to figure out how I would cope with a Thanksgiving meal, and I didn’t need to have my phone with me at the dinner table in case I needed to send an SOS text. For this, and so much more, I’d like to say thank you.

Thank you for all of the hard work and dedication you have shown me through the years. There are countless examples that come to mind, but some stick out more. You listened with support when I blamed you for taking away the thing that meant the most to me, and then, you let me grieve that loss (over and over again) before helping me to see that I no longer had a need for the eating disorder. Thank you for having me set a phone alarm to text you daily when I needed encouragement to complete meals. I labeled the alarm as a “reminder that someone cares,” and though it is no longer an active alarm, I’ve kept it on my phone.

Thank you for signing into Recovery Record, reading my food logs and leaving feedback. It made me try harder to “do the next right thing” because I knew there was accountability. Thank you for collecting my scales (yes, plural!), storing them safely away from me and for showing a genuine happiness whenever I had meal victories. For what may seem like little things (but to me, made a world of difference), thank you.

From writing encouraging letters for me to save to read when I needed a boost to preemptively supporting me during holidays and transitional periods by sending a quick text, I appreciate every bit of it. You were never afraid to promise me that I would be OK and because I trusted you more than I trusted myself, I chose to believe that. It became a reality. You relentlessly worked to help me discover my self-worth and reminded me of reasons to recover. Most of all, thank you for giving me the constant reassurance that no matter what, at the end of the day, I have a person in my corner and I’m never alone in this recovery journey. Even though I don’t see you as often right now, you will continue to be the voice in my head that helps me to choose recovery every day. For this, I am forever grateful.

About the Author: Yogini. Social Worker. Avid napper. Recovery Warrior.

I Didn’t Think Recovery Was For Me

By: Anonymous

I never thought I would recover. I wasn’t sure if recovery from an eating disorder was even a real thing. Let alone possible for me. I never thought I would want to recover even if it were a possibility. I remember leaving a clinic that I didn’t want to go to in the first place; I was supposed to go get my things and come back in the morning to start inpatient therapy. I wasn’t ready. Are we ever really ready? I guess that the answer must be yes, or at least that we must kind of want to try, anyway. But not yet. I had to get worse before I got “ready.” Because eventually, I had to decide — did I want to die or not? I wasn’t really sure if I cared anymore. That’s the decision that it ultimately comes down to if you let it. Or it did in my case anyway. I’ve never felt more alone or more ashamed. And I’ve never liked myself less. And my family was worried about me, and I hated myself for making them worry.

Eventually, I started to worry about me too. “Do I have electrolyte imbalance(s)? Am I going to lose consciousness and wake up in a hospital? Do I have osteoporosis? Am I infertile? Does it even matter? I can’t even take care of myself; how could I ever even think about taking care of a child?” I didn’t know what to do. But it seemed I had learned exactly what not to do. For a while, I actually I thought I was in control. I thought had such great willpower. And I guess it did start out that way. If you can deny yourself a basic human need, what can you not do?

But somewhere along the way, I lost that control. I remember seeing a photo of a note on the inside of a toilet lid that said “who’s in control now?” It really stuck with me. Looking back now, I feel confident I will never go back because I see now that there is no winning. No end goal. No staying in control. No being perfect. I would never be “good enough.” I remember setting and reaching weight goals, and I never felt even a little better. Not once.

I never thought I’d be here today. Here, drinking coffee that’s not black, studying so that I can try to figure out how to help others like me (or unlike me). I never would have considered that my thoughts or my story may be worth sharing. I never thought I’d talk or write about this. But what have I got to lose? If it helps anyone, it was worth it. And I like to think it couldn’t have all been just for me. Now I even have a recovery tattoo, for myself, and for anyone else who may need it. To remind myself how far I’ve come. And that there is hope. And to know that I am not alone. None of us are alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. Recovery is possible. You are more than enough.

Eating Disorder Recovery and Forgiveness

By: Jeanine Cardamone, LMSW

My name is Jeanine. I’m a 35 year old female that has lived on Long Island, New York all of my life. I grew up the youngest of three girls with parents that remain married to this day. My sisters are both health professionals and I myself am a Licensed Social Worker. Sounds almost perfect right? What could I have to complain about?

The thing is, no one is perfect and no one has a perfect life. We all struggle. For as long as I can remember I have been depressed and when I was twenty one I turned to bulimia for answers. I thought purging would solve my problems. A few years later anorexia took front stage and I no longer recognized the person I was on the inside. The person I was on the outside however, looked no different to me but definitely did to others. I still felt miserable. I still felt like everyone was judging me for what I looked like and I still felt like I didn’t look good enough. And it hurt! Years of individual, group, and some family therapy was taking place.

My boyfriend (now husband) stood by me every step of the way. I went into inpatient facilities, IOP, etc but it all just turned out the same. I wanted help but I couldn’t escape the voice that continued to tell me that I wasn’t good enough. Over ten years later I still hear that voice today. The one thing that has changed is that I’m beginning to forgive myself. I forgive myself for not understanding that when I was a child I didn’t realize that when my parents needed to be by my ill sisters side while she was hospitalized for months, that it didn’t mean I was not loved then and that I’m not loved now. I forgive myself for isolating myself during my most anxious times when I had to break plans with friends to provide myself with some self love. And most of all I’m working on forgiving myself for hating myself and my body for so long because I didn’t deserve the emotional, physical pain and neglect I put it through. So now, today and the days forward, as difficult as it may be, I will continue to forgive myself and fill myself and those around me with love.