Tag Archives: eating disorder

Conversations With Myself: Reversing Negative Internal Dialogue

Image source: http://www.mindislife.com/tag/imagination
Image source: http://www.mindislife.com

Consider this for a moment, if you will…

You invite a friend to your home. Upon her arrival, you inform her that her outfit looks terrible and that she could really afford to lose a couple pounds. When she speaks, you let her know her thoughts are silly and invalid. When she says she is hungry, you tell her she doesn’t need to eat and hand her a piece of gum. OR, maybe just give her an entire package of cookies to go ahead and finish off because her weight is already “too far gone.”

You’d never do this, would you?

And yet, many of us treat ourselves in this manner on a daily basis. I confess, I am one of them. I struggle to feel the same love and tenderness for myself that I can easily muster for others.

The reality is, you (and me) are just as deserving. Just as worthy of love.

All of us have a running internal dialogue. Some feelings and thoughts may be so deeply ingrained that we no longer realize when we are silently judging and sabotaging ourselves. My challenge to myself today is to become more aware of that internal dialogue and to turn around the negative thoughts when they arise, to choose to treat myself as I would a friend.

What might this mean for you? In what aspect of your life could you benefit from slowing down and offering yourself that which you would freely give to someone you loved?

A (Very Short) Bedtime Story

A long time ago, in a galaxy much like this one, boys and girls, there lived a very sad girl. The fire in this sad girl’s heart had been nearly snuffed out, and she struggled just to find the strength to make her way through each new day.

Luckily for this very sad girl, there also lived a wise old man. And when the girl cried to this man that she had lost all her hope, he looked her in her very sad eyes and said, “It’s okay, very sad girl, if you cannot have hope in this moment, for I have enough hope for both of us.”

And this, boys and girls, is what I want to share with you tonight, as you drift off into soft pillows and magic dreams. If you have lost your hope, do not fear! For I have enough hope to last us both until you find yours again.

 

Stop the (labeling) madness!

Awhile ago I caught an episode of Dr. Oz (a rare occurrence, as I’m not a fan) where I was informed of a new body-labeling term called the “thut.” According to Dr. Oz, a thut occurs when a person has no real definition between the bottom of her butt and the top of her thigh. I’m not even going to discuss the definition of this thut phenomenon further because the entire thing infuriates me.

When are we going to stop this madness?!

If it isn’t one thing it’s the other–bat wings, muffin top, saddle bags, belly pooch, thunder thighs, back fat, crows feet. I’ve had it up to my “diminuative chin” with the body shaming!

We’ve created a culture in which we tear our bodies apart, piece by piece. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to be healthy, shaming our bodies for imperfections is both unhealthy and joy-stealing.

flaws
See link for image source. I love this girl’s post.

Perhaps, instead of focusing on supposed flaws (and perpetuating body hate), we could start looking at our bodies as one amazing structure. Look at all this body has carried you through–the injuries and illnesses and times of emotional stress (both positive and negative), the misuse, abuse and times of neglect.

Perhaps, rather than picking out our bodies’ perceived shortcomings, we should be thanking them.

The next best thing

Some days simply don’t go as planned.

After not sleeping well last night, I found myself in an emotional slump. My attitude was negative, I (might’ve) cried into my lunch, and I made poor eye contact with the nothing-but-friendly cashier at the health food store. So many times I’ve let bad hours turn into bad days and bad nights, relinquishing any chance for seeing or experiencing beauty. I did not want today to be one of those days.

Though I can’t recall (or even find) the specific quote, I once read something about doing the “next best thing.” This particular quote was in reference to eating disorder slips, but can be easily applied to any number of good-mood-destroying events. The basic idea is that, even if you cannot always prevent something negative from happening, you can do the “next best thing,” the next positive step toward opening yourself up to what could be.

NextBest

For me, today, that involved a hot shower, comfortable clothes, tea, a book and a soft blanket.

 

 

On Self-Harm

I’ve avoided this topic for some time, both because it is especially personal and because I fear someone seeing this an acceptable behavior to try. It is not. Regardless, though self-injury is a thing of my past, my body is a walking testament to the consequences of engaging in this misguided coping mechanism.

Self-harm entered my life during a particularly low and difficult period of young adulthood. Struggling to find my way in the world, I stumbled upon “cutting” quite by accident. To this day I do not know why choosing this course of (in)action even crossed my mind. Once it had, however, self-harm become a bit of an obsession and a mode of dealing with all the painful emotions which bubbled underneath the surface of my psyche.

I’d like to bring some understanding to the reasons why some of us engage(d) in self-harm, though I recognize that everyone’s experiences are different. I can speak only for myself.

Consider a dull headache, then consider a horrific migraine. One hurts more than the other, yes? For me, self-harm was the dull headache. The pain was unpleasant but in no ways comparable to the pain of my depression. And for a few brief moments, hurting myself physically distracted from the strange, frightening firings of my brain. Self-harm was my way to attempt to stay grounded in a world that had lost all meaning and tangibility.

Unfortunately, I was also becoming trapped in a dangerous cycle. Self-injury, in whatever form, tends to induce guilt which furthers negative feelings about oneself, in turn leading to a renewed desire to self-injure. And on and on, the cycle continues. In this way, self-injury is very much a drug and an addiction: the need, the obsession, the craving, the endorphin rush, the crash and the increasing need for more and more in order to achieve the desired level of high.

My recovery from this form of self-harm was long and filled with slips and lapses. Initially, I would go jogging, journal, make collages with magazine clippings, jot poorly-written poetry, anything to keep my hands busy and my mind on task. Eventually, self-harm just didn’t “work” for me the way it had previously. And while I used to hide year-round in long-sleeves, I reached a point of self-acceptance and, in a sense, self-appreciation, which gave me the strength to show the real me.

We all have a past. Mine just happens to be written on my skin.

Looking for more information on self-harm? Go here.

 

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And the Beat Goes On

For as long as I can remember, I have found solace in music. Whether I was throwing myself into piano practice or blasting industrial “noise” as loudly as my eardrums could tolerate, I longed for the sweetness of rhythm and melody, the objectivity of notes and measures and time signatures. Even my first tattoo is a visualization of this feeling–a woman floating, peaceful and untethered, held aloft by nothing more than the gentle pulse of song.

Most recently I’ve had the pleasure of beginning to learn some basic drum skills. (A thanks goes out to my patient and ever-encouraging teacher…you know who you are.) I’d never imagined the drum set an easy instrument to master, though I have to admit I was unaware just how brain-splitting the entire process is! And I’ve not even managed to move beyond the basics (bass, snare, hihat)! Regardless, I am enjoying myself immensely and, given the absence of a set to regularly practice on, find myself occasionally air-drumming in the manner of some beat-obsessed lunatic.

Each time I sit down to play I first must overcome the introvert within, who screams in fear of making a giant ruckus. Once I begin, however, I find that the opposition to making noise lessens to the point of extinction, and I am able to find pleasure in my self-created cacophony.

I suppose the lesson in this, my friends, is: Try something new. Make some noise! Let your spirit run a little wild and to hell with the opposition.

Little life changes and a bit on mindfulness

I have been absent for awhile, as events in my life have forced me to re-examine the way I’ve been living, the way I think and the way I carry out my beliefs on a day-to-day basis. I think it sometimes takes a minor crisis to get my attention. With that being said, I’ve developed a renewed focus on being aware of myself and staying mindful in the individual moments of my day. As a chronic worrier, my mind is often a step ahead in another dimension, so this is a titanic task (oooh, I love accidental alliteration).

In college, I gave a speech about mindful eating. I passed out Hershey’s kisses and asked everyone to look at the chocolate, smell it and finally allow it to melt on their tongues. Eating slowly, using your senses, allows your body to truly grasp what is happening as you nourish yourself. Too often we are in a rush, focused on something else or just too tired to go through this process. And I understand that! I was always eating in front of the television, shoving food into my face without paying attention. The end result? I often felt unsatisfied and reached for more food that I didn’t need.

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” rashaski

One of the newest goals for myself has been to 1) make meals I enjoy 2) arrange them in an attractive manner 3) set the table and 4) turn off the damn television. Without the added distraction, I feel I am able to get more enjoyment out of my meals, leaving me sated and not needing seconds (or triggering a massive binge). I know this is going to be a lengthy process and though I’m not “permitting” slip-ups I’m sure there will be some along the way. Regardless, I feel this is an important aspect of my recovery and of learning that food is not the enemy.

My challenge to everyone is to give mindfulness a chance. Could you sit quietly for even one meal a day? How does doing so change the experience of eating? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more on mindful eating, check out this link. I love these suggestions!

You’re Pretty Good Looking…

I recently attended my first eating disorder recovery support group. I’d searched for groups in the past and been unable to find anything in the city, so as soon as I located this one, I knew I needed to make myself go. The small group met in a cozy basement room of a local university building. Overall, the experience was positive and left me feeling welcomed, warm and hopeful.

Later that night, though, as I lay down to try to sleep, I found my brain swimming with thoughts..

“I don’t know why you went to that group. There’s not even anything wrong with you! Good grief. Your weight is perfectly healthy. No one thinks you look ill, so you obviously aren’t. Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Living with an eating disorder is much like playing host to an evil twin who perches herself on your shoulder incessantly whispering cruel and belittling comments into your ear. You never feel good enough, pretty enough, deserving enough. But though it sometimes feels more comfortable to consider the ED as separate from yourself, I believe this displacement of responsibility could be potentially harmful.

The reality is, all these thoughts are coming from your own brain, not some separate entity. Frustrating? Absolutely. But admitting these thoughts are a part of yourself means returning the power to where it belongs. In you.

Let me say this, as much for myself as for anyone who might be reading: You deserve peace. You deserve joy. And you deserve to not continue to live in a way that leaves you tired, weak, ill and socially-isolated. YOU ARE ENOUGH.

On Emotions

Do you ever have one of those “aha!” moments? The moments when something once obscure and foggy, suddenly becomes clear, precise, tangible? (You know, like when it suddenly occurs to you that AYCE stands for “all you can eat” and isn’t in fact some strange fish in the scrod family. Oh wait, you knew that all along? Nevermind.)

One of these such moments occurred over an incredibly simple idea: Emotions are neutral.

And this changes everything!

When you come to the realization that emotions just are, you no longer experience guilt over feelings of anger, depression, frustration, apathy, etc. It is not the emotions themselves which determine right or wrong. It is how a person chooses to respond to these emotions that is important.

Repeatedly, others apologize to me for what they feel. “I’m sorry for being a downer.” “I’m sorry for venting.” “I’m sorry I don’t feel like hanging out today.” Stop the apologies!

To feel is human and that is a remarkable and beautiful thing! 

On Self-Care and Nurturing

“I like to be surrounded by splendid things.” Freddie Mercury

As children, we are taught not to be prideful, to rid ourselves of ego, not to let our successes “go to our head.” Obviously, this is meant to keep us from becoming conceited, overly self-involved assholes. In some cases, though, I think we lose sight of the importance of taking care of oneself, both physically and mentally. 

As I move down the path toward recovery from my eating disorder, I am continually reminding myself that I am worth the effort. When in the grips of something like anorexia, a voice in your head is incessantly screaming about what a disgusting, low-life piece of shit you are. You feel that you don’t deserve to eat and when you do, you experience intense, irrational guilt. I believe that an enormous aspect of recovery involves learning how to appropriately care for and nurture yourself.

In fact, nearly everyone could use a little bit of self-nurturance. 

Choices of ways to nurture oneself are bound to be a little different for each individual, but the basic idea is to take time to partake in little indulgences and pleasures. I find this is especially important when going through a difficult period of life. When everything feels chaotic, painful or out of control, that is when you need to take a moment to yourself.

My mom always used to say that when I was feeling sad I should take a bath or shower then spread my neck and shoulders with a yummy scented lotion. Such a simple idea! No, this isn’t going to pull you out of an episode of depression or solve a major life dilemma, but something about feeling clean and good-smelling inhabits a person with just the slightest little boost of confidence and the feeling that, “yeah, I really do deserve to be taken care of.”

For me this means: taking the time to use a hair mask or paint my nails, buying my favorite coffee even if it costs a little more, wearing clothes that make me feel pretty, and buying new and flavorful foods.

For more on the topic, I highly recommend a book given to me by my best friend at college, “Transformation Soup: Healing for the Splendidly Imperfect” by Sark.

“…Paint stars on your ceiling; make noises when you eat; put a clown nose on when you drive; wear a flower behind your ear; light candles every night; send yourself (or anyone else) a bouquet of yellow tulips; use your best dishes every day, especially when you eat in front of the refrigerator.” From “When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair” by Geneen Roth