What The ‘R’ Word Means to Me

In February I celebrate three years of making the decision to enter into the relationship with recovery. This means a lot of different things to many people. Some define their recovery status as reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Some, feel that they need to go a year without any disordered thoughts or behaviors before feeling recovered. Some just want to be able to consume a meal without tears and frustration. I commend all of these and consider every journey into recovery a personal and intimate experience that only the person taking it can truly determine their own status.

For me, I define my status as recovering. Sometimes it’s scary to admit that I am struggling with my status. I have definitely relapsed more than I can count, but I always have to remind myself that is part of it. Recovery is the hardest thing I have ever done. Every day I wake up and feel like I have to fight. Fight myself, the world around me, my anorexia and even the people I love. By the end of the day I feel tired and worn out. Even as I write this I can feel myself wanting to hold back, feel the tears in the corner of my eyes. You never really understand how much you have to work just to breath until the words are staring at you on a computer screen. I am not sure what recovered will look like or how I know I have reached it. I still wonder sometimes how I myself define it. I know I want to get my meal plans balanced, to stop having disordered thoughts and behaviors and to love myself the way I deserve to be loved, mostly this.

I am proud that most days when I wake up I choose to fight. That most days I choose myself and my health, and I think that deserves my appreciation.



The All Terrifying Holiday Post

Living with anorexia is a daily struggle. You are constantly battling with your disordered self, with thoughts of self-worth and restriction. But, there is nothing like holidays to really trigger anyone with an eating disorder. It’s many things; the constant stares from family and friends, the expectations that holidays usually revolve around food and or alcohol, or just the pressure to partake in the atmosphere around you when really you know that by pushing yourself to far you might be setting back your recovery. It doesn’t help that holidays tend to come back to back. Seems that you really just cant catch a break.

I have learned something about myself through my time in recovery. I am doing holidays WRONG! I tend to sit out Thanksgiving, or go a little light. It has never been my holiday. I don’t particularly care for the traditions. But, my unhealthy self tells me that if I sit out on Thanksgiving I can indulge on Christmas. And even after almost three years in recovery its hard not to listen to that nagging voice around the holiday season.

Christmas has always been kind of a big deal in my family. We make way too much food, every Italian goodness you can think of and I usually restrict for three days before hand, again setting back my recovery. Its a stressful time for my family because we put so much pressure on being together and there is always some drama. I secretly think we thrive on it, but every family has its dysfunction and I could make an entirely different blog for ours. But, once we sit down to eat I feel so complete. We are all together and we laugh and make the same jokes as we always do every year. I feed off of the tradition. And then….I hate myself. Not for a day, but until New Years.

New Years is always my worst ED day. My mom always tells me that what you eat on that day is what you will eat for the rest of the year, she adores the tradition of eating like kings and celebrating with a huge six course meal. I usually find myself hiding in the bathroom with a bottle of wine, drinking on an empty stomach trying to force myself to vomit counting down until midnight promising that next year will be different.

Holidays are always so much pressure for everyone, but those of us who are battling this disorder I think we get lost in the expectations that surround us. However, these last two New Years I haven’t been home, and though they weren’t the worst they still weren’t what I needed in order to be healthy. There was no vomiting I am happy to report. But, there was still restricting and when I imagine a healthy New Years I picture getting lost in the night and not thinking of food, expectations or forcing myself to promise that I will treat myself better next year because I will already be doing that in the moment.

Guilt is a wasted emotion

What is so complicated about this disorder is that to my core, I am a logical person. Sorting emotions and decisions into categories. Labeling my actions as healthy and unhealthy. However, this disorder makes everything not make sense. I am stuck having a battle with myself each and everyday.  Logical thoughts like “You are killing yourself” “You don’t really want this” are met with “You can live off just water” “Everyone else has the problem, you are fine”.

The worst emotion I struggle with is guilt. Irrational battles on a daily are first triggered with guilt. I have always felt guilty about things I had no personal control over. Guilt for my father’s substance abuse, my mother’s cancer, even my step fathers death. Now logically I know I did not personally contribute to these life events, but guilt still exists and often times it takes over.

I even feel guilty for feeling guilty. But if I am being honest here, my eating disorder feeds off of it, it encourages it. Without guilt I would be closer to recovery. It keeps me unhealthy and unhealthy is safe. I am terrified of letting go. It has been my coping mechanism for years. Logically not a sustainable one, but logic doesn’t silence the voice. I know how guilt feels. I am familiar with its shame. Letting go means I am confronting the unknown.

The best advice I ever received from my therapist was that “Guilt is a wasted emotion”. Hear me out here. Guilt doesn’t build you up or make you a better person. It doesn’t stop you from doing things you shouldn’t. It only holds you back by believing you, unlike everyone else can not make mistakes therefore, when your actions are ill received either by loved ones or society you feel guilt. Guilt for not being perfect, for not being better then even the best version of yourself. Now, I don’t think we should run around making decisions that will hurt people and not feel bad about it, but that feeling bad about something you shouldn’t have done inst guilt. Its empathy. And we should all have empathy.

What my therapists meant was that by allowing yourself to feel guilty and holding on to it your energy is wasted. Instead replace it with empathy, with compassion, for yourself and for others.

I cant control everything, no matter what lies my eating disorder tells me. But what I can control is what I decided to become and how I strengthen myself, letting go of guilt is only the first step.

Relapse and Roller Coasters

You know that moment when the car makes its final clicks at the top? Overlooking the park, your body is tense and filled with adrenaline Your eyes are open and you feel invincible. Nothing can touch you. Then the car drops. Lightning speed, the wind forces your eyes shut, your heart  falls into the pit of your stomach and a scream hides in the back of your throat.

Anorexia is my roller coaster. I slowly and painfully reach the top of this complicated machine. Overlooking the possibilities, falling in love with the lights you can only see up top. Relapse is my fall. Its fast, sometimes so fast you forgot you made it to the top. And you forget just how to get back. When you reach the bottom you can still hear the haunting sounds of the tracks, the clicking.

Now, relapse is just as much part of recovery as meal planning and communication. I would even argue its an important and significant part. I have relapsed more times than I can count, and each time I have learned something new about myself and my Eating Disorder. It reminds me that I am human, that this journey is a lesson and most of all that I am dedicated to being healthy.

But, I want to be honest with you. Sometimes I allow myself to deny it. To close my eyes on the ride down and give into the stomach turning consumption that tingles throughout my body. Its familiar, its scary and its painful. Much like a roller coaster in my own private park. Each loop in relapse has allowed me to learn something new about my Anorexia. It has given me the strength to learn my triggers and to be honest with myself. Each time I find a way to claw myself back up to the top.

I am not sure if there will ever be a point in my recovery where I am not on the verge of relapse. And my biggest fear still is, that I will live with this disorder for the rest of my life. However, being alert and learning about this illness gives me hope that each time the car releases the fall becomes less enticing and the climb back up gets easier.

I really hate Before and After photos

There is this new trend in the EDC, okay maybe it’s not so new because let’s face it I have been living under a rock. During a person’s recovery they will post their ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo. This isn’t just prevalent in the EDC I have also seen it in fitness and dieting posts. I get that to some it can be extremely empowering to see their progress from unhealthy self to healthy self, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from you. But, this is my blog and these are my thoughts on it.

Facebook recently notified me of a memory, it was a photo of me taking a “relaxed” walk on the beach and it was during a time when my eating disorder was not so “relaxed.” You can’t tell  by looking at the picture that I was struggling, but all the pain came rushing back when I saw it. And then I looked at some more and some more and some more. Seeing photos from when I was in denial, in a darkness and engulfed with self hatred was just about as triggering as I could get.

During a low point in my life when I went to a department store and completely broke down in front of the mirror. I was staring at a reflection I didn’t recognize. A body that was broken down, deformed and so very thin. My hair was in patches, my skin a yellowish tint and my eyes clouded and bulgy. I stayed in that dressing room crying for over an hour. When I was in my lowest of lows I hated my body and what I was doing to it. I just couldn’t let go. It has always been about the control. The perfection, restricting, ritualistic self that used weight and stomach pains to measure her self worth.

During my first six months of recovery I gained at least 10lbs. I can remember feeling absolutely sluggish and even bumping into things because I just wasn’t used to my new weight. Though I am not anywhere near a recovered status, I have made progress. I haven’t weighted myself in at least a year, I am a more connected to what I am eating and I don’t spend hours online looking at triggering images. I have come a long way.

But, at this point in my recovery I do not feel empowered by looking at photos of the darkest period in my life. And comparing them with my photos now just makes me woozy. It just seems odd to compare a person I can’t even recognize anymore to the person I am now.

I remember at a therapy session my therapist asked me to bring in a photo of me as a child. I brought in a torn up photo of me at age 5, I was in a white dress and a huge smile on my face. She told me to look at that photo and asked me to explain to the young me how I was treating myself now. It was emotional. But, maybe now during this time in my life that is what I am doing. Looking at that fragile 21 year old and feeling sick at how I let her struggle for so long. Let her sit in her own denial and refused treatment for two years. And maybe… three years from now It will be my present pictures that empower me and I will no longer see a before and after.


Identity and my Eating Disorder

The hardest part of my recovery has been letting go. Finding the separation of who I really am and who my eating disorder makes me believe I am. If you were to ask me a year ago how I would describe myself I would of said; I am withdrawn, un-affectionate, secretive and above all else a person who holds everything in. I refused to show emotion and answered complicated questions with “I’m fine”. I found myself often fighting the desire to be eccentric and outgoing, turning down invitations to social outings because I didn’t want to have to try and be present in what was going on around me while inside my mind was filled with static noise. But, worst of all I carried a self hate around with me that made others uncomfortable. My constant nit picking at every flaw I thought I had became a tiring conversation for those in my life. I was isolating myself. My eating disorder was isolating me.

It convinced me that I wasn’t the one that had to change, it was the world that needed to accept me as I was. When I started recovery, and I mean really began to dedicate myself to being healthy I started to find out who I really am.

I am a person who loves to laugh, who dances like a fool in public and is absolute obsessed with baking. A true hostess to some of the best themed dinner parties you have ever seen and above all else a loyal friend.

For so long I was terrified that by giving up my eating disorder I would be giving up what made me me, what made me special. After all wasn’t it all the suffering that I did what made me a strong person?

Recovery is a process and though I still couldn’t tell you who I am apart from my eating disorder, I can tell you bits and pieces that I have learned along the way. That is what is fantastic about recovery, you learn and grow as you go along. And the healthy version of me, the one that isn’t staring death in the eyes, can finally say I have confidence in the time I have to figure it out.


Communication is key

I had a boyfriend once tell me I was terrible to communicate with because I was “cold” and “closed off”. This bothered me to the core. I didn’t think I was closed off and I certainly was NOT cold! During our relationship I had just started therapy…again, I talk about my complicated relationship with therapists here.  It turned out that trying to get help was just another argument. He felt insecure that I couldn’t talk to him and I felt like I needed to fight my battles alone. Needless to say we were both had our flaws. We ended our relationship in tears. He’s a great guy and even though we were wrong for each other on many levels, I have to admit he was …right.

My eating disorder was doing most of the talking during our relationship which made me complicated to communicate with. I fought him on everything. I was secretive, mopey and worst of all I lied…a lot. Most of the time I had no idea I was doing it, the words would just fall out of my mouth. I would lie mostly about eating, but I would also lie about where I had been, and things I had done throughout the day. This wasn’t because I was cheating or couldn’t tell him the truth, it was because the secretiveness gave me a rush and my eating disorder wanted to isolate me. I would go for runs in the park or to the gym for hours and lie about how long I had spent exercising. Deep down I knew I was pushing myself to hard and I was embarrassed to ask for help. We would argue about how I didn’t have to “report” to him. But, really I was ashamed that I was drowning in my own “failures.”

When we were together I was in denial that I was struggling with an eating disorder. I would call it a “bad relationship with food” in my therapy sessions. My therapist would push me on this and hated how I was denying myself the freedom of expressing my thoughts and feelings on my disorder. Looking back, I see how right she was and can’t thank her enough for her dedication to my recovery, even in the early stages where I was just not having it.

One day I woke up and called my boyfriend to end it. Just like that. After our breakup I walked into my next appointment, looked my therapist in the eyes and said “I think I have an eating disorder….just a little one though.” From there the gates flooded. And I learned it was more serious then I could of imagined.

I began to talk about my disorder with everyone. I discussed my recovery plan, my progress, my triggers, safe foods, healthy outlets, and even my bad days, with anyone who would listen. It helped to just be honest with those around me, “Hey, look I can’t eat dinner out with you guys today because I am just not ready for a social eating event, but I can meet you guys later.” I was surprised to learn that people had been concerned about me for years.  It’s hard watching your loved one suffer, if you suspect someone you care for is struggling with an eating disorder or self harm I encourage you to gently talk to them and let them know you support them on their journey towards recovery.

Once I began to open up I just couldn’t stop. I was taking control back from my eating disorder, it no longer spoke for me or isolated me. For the beginning months of my recovery it was all I talked about. But, that is because it affected every part of my life. I was taking the parts of my life back that my eating disorder had stolen by using my words and because eating disorders affect every aspect of your life I was talking about it…a lot!

So, in the end he was right. There was terrible communication in our relationship on my part, but he was wrong about who was the poor communicator. It turns out it wasn’t me who was secretive, moody, or a liar; it was my eating disorder. And though I am not fully recovered, I am getting better about being open and I must say it’s so nice to hear my own voice.

My complicated history with therapy

*********Trigger warning This post contains weight in pounds as well as information about self harm**********


When I was thirteen my mom caught me cutting myself. She brought me to a therapist and I can still remember how worried she looked. I had been self harming myself for a little over a year. Two months before she found out I can remember her taking me on a long drive and she asked me “Have you ever hurt yourself intentionally?”, I think she was curious about my long sleeves in the middle of summer.  I lied of course and felt so guilt about it I started cutting in places she wouldn’t see. Well at thirteen you have little to no privacy and she walked into my bedroom and caught me in the act. I was emotionless. We have talked about this moment many times, and she has told me the lack of emotion in my face was what scared her the most. I couldn’t agree more.

The first therapist I went too was an older man, he was balding and wore thick glasses. His office had no windows and I hated him immediately. Part of it was my “I don’t give a fuck” teenage attitude but also, part of it was he just wasn’t the right therapist for me. Neither were the next five therapists my mom took me too. After a few visits to a “leading child psychiatrist” I was put on medication for bipolar disorder and anxiety. The medication made me feel terrible. I could only stand to be on them for three months when I told my mom we needed to try something else.

I have to say this here. I am so incredibly lucky that my mother took the time to take me to therapy. I would not be alive if it wasn’t for her determination to see me well.  I am also incredibly lucky that my mom had insurance and a job that allowed her to take time off.

So, for me sixth time was a charm. I found my therapist. She was great. My first visit I stayed completely quite and came out of the office feeling a bit better. My mom was relieved and I was finally able to learn to open up.  I went to her for a year and a half.  In one session I explained my tendency to hide food, skip meals, lie about my intake and my intense fear of chewing. I remember she didn’t bat an eye, she just encouraged me to try and eat one thing I liked everyday and wanted me to start keeping a food log. It was the first time I started to look at my relationship with food as something to be concerned about. Up until that moment I thought this was normal. Didn’t every fourteen year old girl lie about what they ate? Wasn’t it perfectly acceptable to to go a day without eating? And a food log? Was I doing something wrong? I pushed it to the back of my mind and avoided it during our sessions, after all I was there to stop hurting myself….oh if I knew then what I do now about this disorder.

When I was almost 15 my therapist told me that she would be taking maternity leave. I shut down. I had stopped cutting myself but my anorexia was spiraling out of control and I was still trying to hide it from everyone, and myself. My fifteen year old heart felt abandoned, I didn’t quite understand why she would have to leave me for several months. Of course in retrospect I know that seems selfish, but at fifteen all I understood was what was in front of me and I refused to go back.

My mother felt that my time in therapy was a success. I hadn’t cut or burned myself in a year, my grades were outstanding, I had friends, a boyfriend and I was even working part time after school. I was also 88 lbs, constantly fainting at school, my hair was falling out and pounding red-bulls to fill my calorie count. I graduated high school at 91 lbs and I still refused to admit I had a problem.

Something shifted during college. My toxic four year relationship ended and I was re-defining myself. I got a job at the same company as my mother. Working together was great, we would email each other all day and take our lunches together and the pay was great for a eighteen year old! I graduated college early and was ready for the next part of my life. Now, I should mention that just because I felt better and gained weight during this period does in no way mean that I was recovering. I had still refused to admit to myself I had a problem. My diet constantly revolved around restriction and I thought because I went to the gym every week, was a strict vegetarian and meditated I was healthy.

I had decided that I wanted to go to law school. I began studying for the LSAT, enrolled in a course and started my summer excited to be moving on to the next phase. The excitement lasted a month. I threw myself into studying and like an obnoxious relative who you just can’t get rid of, my eating disorder surfaced and surfaced hard. I dropped down from 110 lbs to 84 lbs in just four months. This was the scariest time in my life. There were days I wouldn’t leave my bed, curled up in a tight ball waiting to die. My heart felt weak all the time. I shut myself away from my friends and family, ashamed of how I looked and the whispers they would mutter or the looks they would give each other.

I had an answer for everything “I already ate” “I am just stressed about applying to Law School” “Vegetarians are supposed to be skinny” (how stupid that sounds now).  My best friend really encouraged me to get help. He had saved my life more times than I think he will ever know, just by asking me to dinners, bringing me smoothies or just listening to me lie and smirking, as if he knew before I knew. He’s always knew me better. He mentioned the idea of trying therapy again, after all it couldn’t hurt to talk about my “LSAT stress”. (I should also mention there were other things in my life that really needed to be worked out, which all contribute to my struggle but that is for a different post)

So, I looked into getting a new therapist for my stress. I told myself I would go to a therapist for three months, then it was back to the books! I saw her for two years. The moment I walked into her office I knew she was going to really help me. We talked for over an hour, though she cut off my time at the insurance approved hour and I just cried and cried.  Through our time together she helped me to be honest with myself and the people around me. Once I gained my voice and said the words anorexia out loud it lost a bit of it’s control over me. I began talking about it constantly and every conversation I had where it was mentioned I slowly gained apart of me back.  I was lucky that most of my family and friends where supportive and I had very few comments that were less than favorable.

Even though I am overseas and haven’t been able to keep up with my therapy my therapist and I have remained in contact and I can thank her for the empowering feeling she helped me find in myself.

Everyone needs someone to talk to and through my long and drawn out history with many professionals I can honestly say I would not be alive today if it hadn’t been for my continuous sessions with a therapists. And I have every intention on continuing when I return home or if I happen to find someone here that would be even better.

Six things I am tired of hearing

Here is a short personal list of things that I have heard more than once through my many stages of recovery, and it just really blows! I kept it at six because one hundred just sounded like complaining and five was just too hard. It’s of course in no particular order because they all suck equally. As someone who has been battling themselves for years, it’s always surprising to me when someone can make me feel worse then I make myself feel. But, low and behold there have been times when my loved ones have really knocked the wind right out of me. Now I know they don’t mean it in a malicious way but it still hurts. I hope this list can help those of you who know someone who is struggling, because even though it’s a personal composition I guarantee your loved one has their own list and these just might be on them.

  1. “Don’t you like food?”

To answer your invasive question “um no…” This one bothers me because my answer is almost always challenged or seen as a lie. Sure, sometimes food can be tolerable if not a little enjoyable. But most of the time eating can be a frightening, bland, and extremely painful experience and I don’t need you to make me feel like I am dysfunctional because you can’t understand that. I’d just like you to shut the hell up while I try and eat as fast as I possibly can without getting caught up in the static that is currently filling my head.

  1. “You look so much healthier now”

This just screams “Hey, you look a lot fatter now!” I know you are trying to be supportive. I know that my weight loss scared you, my eating disorder scared you. I know you want to praise me for my hard work and you don’t know how exactly to do that. Unfortunately, I don’t know either. But, what I do know is that when you comment on my weight or how I look, I am going to question it. I am already struggling to carry this new weight and if you notice than in my mind it must be too much. So, just don’t.

  1. “Wow! You must be hungry.”

I eat fast and I mean FAST. It’s kind of like ripping off a band aid. Also, at this stage in my recovery I am finally eating regular sized portions with success and the faster I get through it the more success I will have in finishing it. When you comment on the speed in which I eat, the size of my portion or really anything that happens to be on my plate and none of your business I want to crawl out of my skin and sink deeper into my disorder.

  1. “Just get over it.” Or “It’s time you grew up”

If I could ‘just eat’, ‘get over it’ or ‘grow out of it’, trust me I would. I don’t want to live with this forever and I am trying every day to survive. I have a mental illness. You would never tell someone to just get over cancer, or grow out of epilepsy. Why is it okay for you to think that I chose this, that I can just snap my fingers and be healthy? Maybe it’s you that needs to grow up, and get over yourself….ugh that felt good to type.

  1. Any comment ever about your body, my body or another person’s body.

I can’t stress this enough, STOP BODY SHAMING. I have lost friends because of this argument. When did we become a society where we think it’s okay to try and bond with each other on the things we don’t like about our bodies? It’s not okay! I am already constantly thinking about what I hate in myself I don’t need you to add to these unhealthy thoughts with your viciousness. Also, its unhealthy for you too.

  1. “I wish I could be anorexic”

This one’s a real winner. Believe it or not it has been said to me more times than I can count. Now to be fair some of those times were from people extremely close to me who are in their own struggle with a different eating disorder than anorexia and are at a different stage of their own recovery. Eating disorders are frustrating and relapse is real and nothing to be ashamed of. However, when you tell me that you desire my disorder I…okay I am just going to say it, I hate you a little. It makes me feel like you are diminishing my struggle. In truth some days surviving is all I have. I want to be healthy, I want you to be healthy can’t we say that instead?

Who Even Are You?

So you have stumbled onto my blog and lucky for you into my twisted mind. I guess my first blog post should be who I am, though God knows I am more than new at this and like everything else in life I am winging it!

I am a 20…something… year old who is currently overseas for the completion of my Masters degree in Social Justice and Sustainability. I have been battling anorexia since I was nine years old. I am currently fighting my way to recovered status. I can not claim to be recovered or near recovered, but I can say that I am actively trying everyday to be a healthier and happier person.

Now that the introductions are over let me tell you what this blog is and what this blog isn’t. I would hate for you to fall in love with it only to learn there are things that you just can’t live with, I mean come on we have all been there, am I RIGHT?

This blog is a look into what the road to recovery from an eating disorder looks like, but only from my personal view. It is not a blog that will discuss eating disorders in general, as I believe every person’s struggle is different and though there might be some similarities I would hate to diminish anyone’s battle by trying to compare it to my own. I hope that this blog can help people find peace while also breaking the stigma that has been placed on such a deadly mental illness by putting a voice to a disorder. Another thing that this blog is not is, Perfect. Because, at this point in my journey I am reminding myself that wanting to do something and wanting to do something perfectly do not have to coincide, I can just be me here and that…my new friends is all that you will find.