Friday, 28 September 2012

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

I am privileged and blessed to say that one of my blog posts was chosen to be featured on the National Eating Disorder Information Centre of Canada's website (NEDIC). This is amazing - I will be a contributor to this blog on a regular basis (it's updated every 1-2 months, so still come here for my blogs!).Please go to http://www.nedic.ca/blog/ to see it!

NEDIC is an amazing resource for information about eating disorders. They really advocate for people with ED, and they do not favour just one way of treatment. Any way of getting better is good - and NEDIC supports people with ED. I have gained a lot of information from their website.

I can't believe that my writing is being featured online, in an organization that is known worldwide for its influences and advocacy for eating disorders. Having my blog pieces on NEDIC means that I am recognized, worldwide, as a writer. WOW. It is amazing to think that in April, I was dying in the hospital because of ED, thinking that I would not live to see another day. That my life was over. That ED had won. And now, here I am, writing for an organization that fights ED. I am part of this amazing team. I am an advocate. I am a writer. I am an ambassador. I am a survivor.

I feel so blessed to be offered this opportunity - the chance to be an international ambassador in the world of eating disorders. Truly, God is good. And a special thanks all of my wonderful readers who always support me. Keep on reading and commenting - I love you all! I would not have come this far without you - both in my recovery and in my advocacy for ED. God bless you all.

I cannot begin to count my blessings. For once, I feel that words cannot express how happy I am, how blessed I feel, and how wonderful all of you are.

I said it once, and I will say it yet again. My God is so gracious to me. And all of you are wonderful.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Hope

I recently came upon an image that I quite liked. Basically, it said "HOPE. Hold On, Pain Ends".

Wow. Whoever came up with this is a genius. How many times have you felt hopeless? You know...that feelings that nothing is going right, that the world is such a hard place to be in, that your life keeps throwing obstacles at you, and that you just want to SCREAM?!

I think I'm the queen of hopelessness. I've had my share of days that seemed like life was ending. That nothing would ever get better. I remember the days in the hospital when I would ask the doctors when I would be out of there - and they would look at me and stare - we all knew that I did not have a good chance of even getting out alive.

I recall the days in the ICU, when I had the breathing tube and dialysis. I would open my eyes for a few seconds and see darkness all around me - and then I'd feel the soft touch of my mom, dad, or sister next to me. And the next thing I knew, I was out again (the medications they gave me to put me to sleep really worked!).

Those days were painful. I remember thinking that I would never get out of the hospital. That my life, as I knew it, was over. That this was it - I had lived nineteen years of my life, and now it was over. I had no hope...I had lost it as my hospital stay got longer. As my coniditon worsened from being underweight to pneumonia to kidney failure to shortness of breath to breathing tube to blood transfusion...well, I felt that I was going to die. For sure.

But something that my family, friends, and community did for me was amazing. They always came in to visit me and smiled. They told me, 'just pray. God will help you. Be hopeful'.

I admit, at that time, I was praying. But I did not think that God heard me so well. I mean, if He heard me, why on earth was I struggling so much? Why wasn't I getting better?

The truth is, God WAS listening. He listened to me, my family, and my friends. He performed miracles with me that I could not believe. At the time when the entire medical team thought that I would surely die (the days in the ICU with the breathing tube, dialysis, blood transfusions, high blood pressure, heart failure, the NG tube, and multiple IV lines), God heard us. He felt our need and He answered us. He gave us hope. He reminded us that if we just hold on, pain will end.

So, I've learned to have HOPE. Even when everything - to be blunt - 'sucks'. Even when my world is so crazy and I feel sick and tired of living my life. It happens to all of us - but the most imporatnt thing is to have HOPE.

Because pain WILL end. Because "the Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed" (Psalm 34:18).

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Weight Loss or ED?

Many people have asked me about how ED took over. They wonder how I let myself slip down to such a low weight without realizing it. Did I realize it? Did I not see that I was dying and losing weight so quickly? When did I realize that it was ED and not just losing weight for a healthy reason?

And they are all great questions...I hope I can answer them to the best of my ability.

Did I realize that I was losing weight? OF COURSE! I started off trying to lose weight because people teased me for being larger than they were. So, I came up with a great solution: decrease food intake = lose weight. And that is what I did. Eat less, lose weight, see number on scale go down, feel good, repeat.

But then days came where I would just stop losing weight - the body does this because it adjusts itself to the amount of food it is getting. Eventually, my metabolism slowed down to keep my body where it was because it didn't want me to lose anymore. So, I had to come up with a solution. Yes, you guessed right - decrease intake even more. And so the cycle continued - each time that I stopped losing weight, I realized that my body was being stubborn, so I simply ate less.

All the while, I knew that I was losing weight. Well, this was the point. But it felt so 'good' to be thin - just like all the people that teased me were. HA! I thought. Now they can't make fun of me because I am small, just like them.

But I was wrong. My 'thinness' spiraled into an illness that nearly took my life. I did not see it at the time, how sick I was. I saw the tiny number on the scale, but this only meant one thing to me - that I was skinny. The fact that I was being unhealthy or dying was clouded by ED's voice in my head.

You are thin! You are losing weight! But you must keep going. You need to eat less to lose more weight. Rememeber when people made fun of you? You do not want that to happen again. So, you need to keep losing. Do not eat. Keep losing weight.

It might sound silly to others, but ED is very smart. He played on my emotions - he knew how hurt I had been when others teased me because of my weight, so he threatened me with 'fatness' and the bullying that would come along with it. He made me believe that I would do ANYTHING  - even starve myself to death - to avoid this.

But the truth is, you can never make people happy. I was big, and people made fun of me. I became thin, and I nearly lost my life.

The weight loss happened really quickly for me. And I did not feel any symptoms of organ failure (ex. that my kidneys had shrunk, that my diaphragm was so weak that it was becoming nonfuctional, that my lungs had nearly collapsed, that my heart was failing...). So, it was easy to say that I was okay - this weight loss was 'clearly doing more good than bad'. Well, at least that is what ED made me want to believe.

What's my point? I guess I'm trying to show how easily ED sneaks into his victims' lives. And I want to send a message to all people who are trying to lose weight: please, only do it if your doctor (and it has to be a smart doctor who really knows what she or he is saying) tells you to. Unless you are at risk for heart attack or some other illness, you really do not need to lose weight. I know that this is hard to absorb in a society where all the rage is focussed on weight loss. But it is the truth. And if you NEED to lose weight because of a medical reason, it should be done in a healthy way with the care of a competent healthcare team. And once you lose the weight that you need to, you should not continue to lose more. I'm not saying that all diets end up turning into an eating disorder, but it puts people at greater risks. And besides, the truth is that diets simply DO NOT WORK. Live a healthy lifestyle, enjoying all things in moderation.

And that includes food, work, play, obstacles, and joys. Life is too short to waste on 'the small stuff'.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Time for ME!

Yesterday was a really busy day. I had classes all day, with no breaks in between. It was hectic. I was studying my notes for a test, listening to a lecture, and practicing my nursing skills. Once I got home, I had to type an assignment, watch tutorial videos, and print my next lectures.

By eight o'clock at night, I was exhausted. I felt so tired, but I had so much work left to do. I took a peek into my family room and saw my parents sitting, watching a movie. And I really wanted to go sit with them...just to breathe and have some fun.

It was so frustrating - should I go have fun? NO! I couldn't go...I had way too much work to do. But I was SO tired...didn't I deserve a little break?

My mom soon came into the room and told me that I had been studying for too long, and that it was time for a break. I had been working all day long - the least I could do now was to have some fun.

My perfectionism started to kick in. I couldn't just stop working now - I had so much left to do! But I was feeling stressed by this point...I really just wanted to relax.

Finally, I made the decision to go watch the movie with my parents. Part of me was angry that I did this - the perfectionist part. It felt like I was abandoning my duties as a student. But the other part of me realized how tired I was. If I kept studying, I probably wouldn't get too much done anyways. Besides, life has to be a balance between work and play.

Honestly, that felt like it was the hardest thing I have ever done. It may sound silly to you, but ripping myself away from studying feels 'wrong'. But I'm starting to realize that I need to 'chill out' sometimes and take time for me. To play, to read, to watch a movie...anything that I want. But the important thing is that I breathe, relax, and feel that I've done everything that I could've.

I've done my part. The rest is up to God. And I can actually take a break and feel that I have truly done my best. I've worked so hard. It's time for ME!!!

Monday, 17 September 2012

That 'feeling'

I was sitting in my class and listening to my lecture. And I looked at the time because I was just so bored and couldn't wait to finish. Lo and behold, it was time to whip out my lunch and eat.

Then ED started blabbing.

You don't feel hungry now. Why would you eat when you are not hungry?! That would make you a pig. And then you'd gain even more weight! Besides, most people around you skip lunch. Don't eat - who will ever know?
AH!!! In one way, he's right - no one would ever know. No one notices whether you've eaten at school or not. So technically, I could just not eat. Skip lunch or my snack. I did it for many years...why shouldn't I do it now?

But I'm different now. I know that when I don't eat, I give in to ED. I give him a chance to come back into my life and ruin it. And I've felt the benefits of eating - my stomach doesn't growl with hunger pains, my legs aren't weak anymore, and my personality is coming back. As much as ED hates it, eating has been the most important thing I've done in my recovery.

So whenever ED tries to tell me that I'm not hungry and shouldn't eat, I just have to say that while I may not be hungry, I have to eat. As much as I hate the phrase 'food is medicine', sometimes it helps to serve as a reminder of why I'm eating when I don't feel like it. And as much as I know that no one will realize that I haven't eaten, I've chosen to recover and it is my duty to keep my body healthy.

ED will try anything to get me to restrict and become his slave once again. Part of recovery is knowing when he is deceiving me and exposing his lies. Because the more I expose hi terrible ways, the more I realize how corruptive he is.

Friday, 14 September 2012

I just feel...'icky'

Today I had a really hectic day. I had no time to go to the bathroom because I had one class after another. It was crazy. I felt so stressed because of all the work that I had to do.

The good news is that I ate all my meals and snacks, even though I was so busy. I kept watch over the time and I made sure that I did not miss anything. So, kudos to me.

The bad news is that I feel really 'icky'. Simply put, I feel disgusted of myself. I feel that I am such a pig, stuffing myself with food as I work on my assignments. I feel so 'fat' as I am walking to class and munching on my chocolate bar - no, not my snack - my dessert after a meal. It makes me feel so 'weird' when the person nexts to me says that they are 'starving' and then pull out a salad to eat. ARE YOU KIDDING?! A salad? I mean, that is great that they want to be healthy and all. But it is ever so hard to see people hardly eating, and then eating so much food. ED hates it.

Look how much you are eating! You pig! No one eats like you! Why are you eating so much when you KNOW that you can survive on less? You are out of control!

And for a long time today, I really felt that way. I felt disgusted of myself for eating so much food. I felt different than everyone else when I would open my lunch bag and pull out food - even though it seemed as though I had just finished eating. It sucked. I felt the urge to restrict and to just do away with my food because I felt so 'fat'.

But then it hit me: this is totally ED talking. He WANTS me to feel 'icky' because I am eating. He WANTS me to feel 'fat' because I am eating so much. He WANTS to convince me  that I am a pig, that I am eating more than everyone else.

You can guess what I do in response: that's right. I shut him up and eat my food. Yes, it is really hard when I don't see others eating. And it is difficult when I just don't feel hungry. But right now, this is what I need to do. One mistake does mean that I have relapsed, but it can give ED a chance to come back into my life. And I don't want to do that.

So for now, I'll eat. Even when that means I feel icky. Because I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it is not really me that feels disgusted. It is ED. And he is MAD. And when ED is mad, I know that I am on the right track.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Are they staring at me?!

Do you ever have that feeling that people are staring at you? Not in the 'oh I'm so great and people can't stop looking at me' way, but more like 'do I have something on my face?' type of thing.

This feeling is really eerie. I become so self-conscience when this happens because it makes me feel that I look weird to others - and this is why they must be staring at me.

The interesting thing is that people might not even be staring at me! They could be lost somewhere in thought and just looking around, they could be bored an daydreaming, or they might be looking at something behind me. But ED tells me that this isn't true - that others are looking at me because I look fat or ugly.

You stupid girl! People are looking at you and wondering how you managed to get so fat in so short of a time! They are realizing how much weight you gained. It is so obvious. How hideous you look to them!
And it goes on and on. It is so painful to hear these words because they make me feel trapped and alone. As if I'm the only person in the world that looks different from last year. As if I have become so fat that everyone can't help but notice. You can see how distressing this becomes.

The way I've learnt to deal with it is to realize that I'm NOT the object of everyone's attention. People won't be staring at me because I look fat - reality is, although I've gained weight, I don't think I particularly look fat. And if people ARE looking at me, I don't think that they think I'm fat. Sure, maybe they realize that I look healthier...but healthy doesn't mean fat.

ED will keep telling me that I look fat and hideous, and that people just can't fathom how terrible I now appear. But I just have to keep telling him that he's a liar. And a dumb one at that. I'm not fat. My rational mind knows that. Yes, I've gained weight. I can't deny that. But to say that I'm now fat is wrong. So, ED, I've ratted you out. I've showed the world how much you lie to your victims. It's time for everyone to see how hideous and terrible YOU are.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Why Eat?

Something that I've noticed during my recovery is that everyone eats. And they enjoy eating, too.

I know - it sounds obvious, right? Well, when I was deep into ED, I didn't realize how important it was that I eat. I mean - I knew that everyone ELSE has to eat, but of course, ED told me that I was that one special person who could survive without food.

Everyone is weak. They need food to do their work. But now you. No, you do not need to eat. Look how strong you are! Look how you are able to function without food! So why would you eat?!

And for the most part, I'm sad to admit that ED was right - I was able to function. I woke up, did my school work, went to school, and got As on everything. I studied, I read, and I passed all of my courses. So, it sure felt that I could function without food.

But what I neglected what the fact that I was not actually functioning. Sure, I was getting great marks in school. But I lost my personality, my smile, and my sense of humour. I lost touch with all of my friends, and even tried to isolate myself from my own family. My left leg was so thin that I began to limp on it as I walked. My face was so bony that I resembled a skeleton. So, ED, was I REALLY able to function without food? Of course not.

Now, as I am eating, I notice that everyone actually eats naturally. When I'm with my friends, I excuse myself as I take out my food - 'sorry,' I say. 'But I need to eat now'.

And the response I get is amazing. My friends look at me and say, 'yeah. sure. Maybe I'll eat too'. And I'm staring at them. WHAT?! You mean people actually eat if they want to? Because they enjoy food? I eat because the clock tells me to! And this person has no problem with it?

Of course, not everyone I stay with eats at the same times as me. But everyone is so natural around food - they could not care less whether I am eating. And when they eat, they take out their food and just eat - there is nothing else to it. Eating is a normal part of their day, just like waking up and studying is. It is just something they do - no strings attached. On the opposite, I eat because I HAVE to - I don't necessarily feel hungry or am craving something. But then again, it will take my hunger cues some time to readjust. My body still is in shock - it is amazed that it is getting nutrition, but it is also scared that another famine is coming.

This revelation - that people 'just eat' - was a big thing for me. It helped me become more comfortable when I had to take out my food to eat in front of others. After all, I'm 'just eating' - like any other human being. It made me see how ED played with my thoughts, trying to convince me that eating was not necessary - that it was an option. Now I see that eating is NOT an option; it is a necessity for life. And EVERYONE does it.

It's just food. And we just eat. It is that simple. So the next time ED tries to tell me that I don't need to eat to function, I'll remind him that I am human - and just like everyone else - I need to eat.

After all, it is a blessing that my God has given me the opportunity to have food available whenever I need it. And my body appreciates the nutrition. To top it off, it is one more step on my way to recovery.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Reaons to Smile

Have you ever thought about the act of smiling? It sounds silly, right? Why would we THINK about smiling - we just 'smile' and that's that. But why do you smile? Is it because you are happy? Or because something is funny?

Smiling is such a great thing. I'm sure you've heard that smiling actually uses less muscles than frowning. There is a lot of research on emotions and facial expressions. One study showed that when we smile, we tighten some facial muscles. This, in turn, reduces some blood flow to a sinus, which means that cooler blood reaches the brain. Apparently, cooling of the blood to the brain provides us with pleasant feelings (I'm NOT telling you to purposely make your blood cold to feel good - it only happens if it is natural!) - see http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/18/science/a-feel-good-theory-a-smile-affects-mood.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm for details.

Another study found that laughing actually decreases stress hormonse such as cortisol (which is released during stress, causing your body to break down protein in muscles; over prolonged stress, cortisol can cause increased fat deposits, reduced immunity, and cardia wear-and-tear). This study (http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/laughter.htm) also found that laughing increases endorphins (remember these? I talked about them before - they reduce pain sensations!).

So, without going into any more detail, it is already obvious why we SHOULD smile. But, if that is not enough...well, I thought of some reasons why I should smile. Feel free to comment and add your own!

(By the way, you had better be smiling by the end of this post!)

1. I am alive
2. I have wonderful friends and family
3. I am recovering and got a second chance at life
4. I am able to share my experiences with supportive readers
5. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my body, food on my table, shoes on my feet, and a bed to lay in
6. I am able to go to school
7. I have enough money to buy my needs and wants
8. I am able to love others and get their love in return
9. I have an amazing Church community
10. I have a functioning brain, organs, and body
11. I can read and write. I have a chance at getting an education
12. I live in a free country
13. I have a GOD who loves me and guides me
14. I am me. I am special. I am strong. I am living without ED. I am a survivor. I am a fighter.

SMILE! :)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Caught Up!

I've just started school, and already I'm flustered with the amout of work that I have. Well, there's nursing for you. I'm flipping pages back and forth, taking notes on a book, listening to a module, trying to learn how to insert an NG tube into a patient...what am I forgetting?

Oh yes, time for myself.

It is so easy to get caught up in the daily hassles of life. Especially for me - someone who loves to study and enjoys it. And it is great that I love learning, because you really need that if you are in nursing. But it becomes a problem when all you can do is think about school, your homework, the patients you need to care for, and what time you need to be at school.

This is something that I have struggled with all my life, but since ED came along, I have realized tbat I tend to get worried about my work more than I should be. I'm not quite sure what the connection is, but I believe that this is ED's way of making me feel the pressures to be 'perfect'. ED tries to make me feel inferior to the world by telling me that I need to have the perfect body, the perfect face, and perfect marks. In summary, ED wants me to be the impossible.

Lose weight. Be skinny. Look! There is fat all over your body. And if you do not study enough, you`ll be a failure at that too! What a pathetic and useless girl!

And so I end up feeling glum, certain that I AM useless and a failure at everything. I can`t be thin. I can`t get perfect grades in school. In short, I am nothing but pathetic, just as ED says. Right?

WRONG! This is all part of his trap. He gets me so caught up in my school work and makes me feel as though I am nothing if I cannot finish all of my work in one day. He makes me feel as though I cannot be àverage`- I have to strive to achieve perfection in everything. And how realistic is this? Simply put, it isn`t!

So, as I am caught up in my school work, I have to remember to take time for ME. To do the things that I like to do - to read interesting novels, to play games, to chat with my family, or to watch TV. ED will tel me that when I do these things, I am being lazy and unproductive. And do you know what I say?

FINE! If enjoying my life - all things in moderation - means that I am being lazy, then that is what I want to be. I want to study and get good marks, but I also want to do the things that make me happy. And yes, ED hates it when I am happy.

All the more reason to laugh and smile.

Friday, 7 September 2012

This Summer

I saw so many of my peers and classmates at school today. It was great to be back at school. Everyone was waving to others, smiling around, and talking about their summer vacations. And then it hit me: I really had nothing to talk about in terms of my summer.

Everyone - or most people - who know me know that I was ill with ED last summer. So imagine the awkward moment when I've asked them about their summer, and they respond with a huge statement of how it was awesome, how they did so much, etc. And then - as if on cue - they ask, 'and what about you?!'

And just as I am about to open my mouth to remind them of what I did this summer, they say, 'oh. right. I'm sorry. But I'm glad you are better!'. And then I smile and say 'thank you', they smile, and the conversation is over.

AWKWARD. I mean, it is really nice of them to be glad that I am better...but I can just see it in their eyes. Or at least, ED doesn.

They must be thinking that you had such a lousy summer. They are staring at you now, realizing how big your body has become since they last saw you. Even as you walk away, they are shocked about how much weight you have gained. You look so different to them - in a bad way.

Truthfully, I honestly DO feel that I did not have such a great summer. I mean, I was in the hospital - mostly the ICU - for most of it. I did not get to go out and meet friends, visit crazy amusement parks, or even tan in the Sun. Instead, I was hooked to IV machines, dialysis, an NG tube, and a breathing tube. I was poked in my arms everyday for bloodwork. I was on so many medications.

This really bothers me. How would you feel if you felt that summer - the break that you get after you've worked so hard in school or work - just 'passed by'? It feels rotten.

But after a while of thinking about it, I realized that although I did not do much 'fun' things this summer, I did the most important thing of all - I saved my life. I fought for my breath, for my organs, and for myself. I got closer to my God as I learned that my life was in His hands. I saw how wonderful my family and friends were as they visited me and helped me with my needs. I felt the love of everyone around me. And most of all, I emerged out of the experience alive, well and healthy.

How's that for a great and effective summer? It was not your typical summer, I'll give you that. But it was probably the most important summer of my life - one that I will truly NEVER forget. A memorable one, at the least.

So the next time ED tries to make me feel terrible about my summer, I'll remember that although I did not get to do everything that I wanted to do during my break, I got a second chance at life. Because God intervened and safed my life, I will have another summer vacation - and then I can do anything that I want to do.

Summer 2012 was definitely a summer that will never be erased from my memory. And for the better. Because that is the summer that I realized how great my God is, how loving my friends and family are, and how strong I can be.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

'But you don't look anorexic!'

Today I went to school - my first day back. I was heading towards the office for my program, where I was to speak with my academic advisor. When I arrived there, I saw one of my friends who knows about my anorexia. She was standing with one of her freinds who I did not know. After she asked me how I was doing, I continued on my way. As I left, I overheard her friend saying, 'BUT SHE DOESN'T LOOK ANOEXIC!'.

Ouch. Like, really really REALLY ouch.

This threw me off. I did what I needed to do, and then I got home. The entire time, the person's words echoed in my head: she doesn't look anorexic...

What did this person mean? That I didn't look 'thin enough' or 'sick enough' to have anorexia? That I looked fat and could possibly have had an eating disorder? That to have this illness, I have to look emaciated and deathly?

ED, of course, took this to heart. And he made me think about it over and over again.

They said you don't look like you have anorexia. That means you look fat. See how much weight you have gained?! You look hideously fat!

This really bothered me. ED began to put thoughts in my head

...If you still starved yourself and stopped eating like a pig, you would look thin and then people would not say you are fat.

In reality, this person did not actually say that I was fat. They just said that I did not look anorexic. But to ED, the two meant the same thing. If I could not look thin enough to haev anorexia, that must have meant that I looked fat. And this scared me so much.

The more and more I thought about this, the more I got hurt. I had to stop my running thoughts, take a deep breath, and think rationally.

Okay, so maybe this person said that I do not look anorexic. But that does not mean that I look fat. This is a good thing - I do not look sick anymore. I look normal. This means I have triumped over ED. And ED is just too angry that I am no longer an image of his dirty work. So he is trying to pull me back through his deceptive words. But I must not give in. I must stay strong.

This does not mean that what this person said was right. I truly believe that people need to stop labelling 'anorexics' as people who look like they are only stick-and-bones. Nonetheless, it is disrespectful and hurtful to say that someone who was ill with an eating disorder does not look as though they might have once been sick. That is plain wrong.

Now. DEEP BREATHS. I don't look anorexic. Fine, I can learn to live with that. I'd rather look this way than look as though I'm dying. No, ED, I DON'T look fat. I look perfectly healthy. So there.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

'The Small Stuff'

I've noticed that I have a slight tendancy to fret over what might not seem like a big deal to others. For example, before school has begun, I'm already scared that I won't be getting high marks or good grades. I'm becoming conscience of the weight gain and  so I am feeling frightened that it will show to others. I get worried if I arrive five minutes to class because I might have missed something important. I watch the weather with digilence because I want to make sure that I will get to school on time for my classes.

I was reading a few pages from a book a while ago. It is called "Don't sweat the small stuff...and it's all small stuff", by Richard Carlson. I urge you to pick this book up and read it - even if it is just a few pages. Basically, the author talks about how we often worry about things in life when really, it is not that big of a deal. Richard Carlson is really skilled in that he picks relevant topics and explains how in the grand scheme of things, we are making our lives MORE complicated by 'sweating the small stuff'.

As I recover, I am beginning to see that not everything in under my control. And that is really hard to grasp. When I was sick, I could control my hunger pains and ignore them, and I was able to control my weight. It stayed where ED wanted it to - always a low number. However, as I am recovering, I am no longer able to keep the number down. It is like someone has pulled that piece of control away from me. And I hate it.

To others, a pound up or a pound down on the scale is 'small stuff'. To ED, it is BIG STUFF. Gaining one pound is literally a stab in the heart to ED. And he makes me know just how much he hates it.

You GAINED?! NO! You are going the wrong way - you need to be going DOWN. Remember how great it felt when you were losing weight? Now you are not doing this anymore. Soon you will be fat. And then you will lose control over everything else in your life - you will get low grades, lose your friends, become ugly...

See how ED works? It is not just about the weight - he deceptively maniuplates his victims into thinking that if they gain weight, they lose control over their entire lives. Everytime I gain a pound, ED tells me that this also means that I will lose control over how much I study, so I will get low marks. He tells me that I will lose control over how much I socialize, so I will lose my friends.

The best strategy to getting back at ED is doing just what the book says - not sweating the small stuff. YES, I may be gaining now. And NO, I don't especially enjoy it. But soon enough when I am at a healthy weight, it will be over. Then I can maintain. And my weight is irrelevant to my marks and friends. Weight is not something that humans are meant to control - that is what our genes and body do (of  course, if you are underweight then you control it to make it go up; if you are clinically obese then you control it to get to a healthier state).

Today, I'm going to choose NOT to sweat the small stuff. Each day, I have committed myself to letting things go, to not being worried about every tiny detail in life. Because really, I only have one chance to live. And I refuse to let ED control that life by making me sweat the small stuff.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Rain

Today was really rainy where I live. I woke up to cloudy weather, which soon evolved into heavy downpours. I looked out the window and saw that there was not even a hint of sunlight. And it made me feel really tied and sad.

I don't suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD - which is when you feel clinically depressed during certain seasons), but the weather has a huge impact on my mood. I mean, imagine a very sunny day - the light shining into your room and making you feel warm and awake. Now picture a day like today - rainy, cloudy, and wet. Is it any wonder why rainy days are boring?!

ED takes advantage of the fact that the rain makes me sad and gloomy. He tells me that it is going to be a bad day, filled with lots of terrible things. And to ED, having a bad day is the perfect excuse to restrict.

It's rainy. There is no sun, no happiness outside. You should not eat. In fact, since you can't do much because of the rain, you should just mope the entire day and starve. Remember how good it feels when you are empty? Today is your chance!

So I have to take deep breath, sum up my strength, and ignore ED.

Well, ED, you are right - it is raining outside. And there isn't much I can because of the weather. But what I CAN do is shut you out. So what if it is rainy? I still need to eat, regardless of the weather! And I now know your tricks. You are trying to find any reason to bring me down so that I can become your slave again and starve myself to death. You, ED, are so immature. You didn't kill me once, and you are so angry that you are trying to find another way to take my life. You want me dead. Now I am smarter. Now I am stronger. I will no longer succumb to your deceptive lies and words. It IS raining outside - that I cannot change. But what I CAN change is how I feel. I refuse to feel sad and let you tell me not to eat and to feel depressed.

In fact, the rain is a blessing from God to water the grass and plants. Rain is a heavenly gift. So, whenever it rains, I'll take the time to thank God for showing His love and care for the Earth.

Take that, ED!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Insurance Issues

I was really lucky in that I received treatment for ED in Canada - where I am covered under OHIP for hospital stays. So, in my days in treatment, I did not have to pay for anything. Other people around the world are not so lucky.

In some countries (for example, the UK and the US), there is no healthcare like there is in Canada. Thus, people with eating disorders who choose to go into treatment must pay for it - or use their insurance. The problem is that most insurance companies refuse to cover anorexia nervosa treatment.

If you go to http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500265_162-2059820.html and http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/03/06/436763/will-health-reform-provide-coverage-for-eating-disorders/ you'll read about some people's struggles with their insurance companies. What really caught my attention is that some insurance policies do not cover ED treatment because they believe that ED 'is a choice'. You can see why this is unfair and totally incorrect. NO ONE CHOOSES TO HAVE ANOREXIA. It may seem that the victim is choosing, but really, they are controlled by an evil monster who is relentless and makes constant demands. The poor patient is blinded from reality because of changes in the brain and hormones. So, why is insurance not covering this?! It is clearly a mental illness. In fact, anorexia has the highest mortality rate among all psychiatric disorders. There's a fact for insurance companies.

If you read on in the above links, you will also see that some companies do not cover ED because patients do not meet the whole criteria to have an eating disorder. Part of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illnesses) says that to be diagnosed with anorexia, the patient needs to have: (these are just two of the criteria) a refusal to maintain weight at a normal range (85%) and loss of menstruation - also known as amenorrhea. My problem with this criteria is that some people with ED are not severely underweight - in fact, you can have anorexia nervosa and starve yourself, but still not look emaciated. Does that mean you aren't ill?! Of course not! And what about the amenorrhea? Well, some people actually still have their periods at low weights - even when they are starving themselves to death. Does this mean that they are not ill? NO!

My hopes is that these criteria will be eliminated from the next DSM. It is not fair that some companies (or even physicians) are not diagnosing and treating several victims of ED simply because they do not meet these points. This is plain wrong and inhumane. If someone is ill, they should be able to get the treatment that they need in order to live normally and happily. And because treatment is so expensive, it is not right that insurance companies are not covering this. In fact, staying for treatment for anorexia for one month in the US is about $30,000! Wow - that is basically how much a new car can cost you. Now imagine paying that for treatment because your insurance company will not recognize your illness. This is not right.

I pray that these companies will learn and see that having an eating disorder IS a mental illness and IS NOT a choice. I want them to realize that just because someone does not look like a skeleton, it does not mean that they do not have ED. I want them to understand that having a period or not having a period is not a reliable indication of anorexia. I want them to see that patients of anorexia are not just ill - they are VICTIMS.

I was a victim of ED too. And I know how it feels to have my illness downplayed by others who think that I can simply ignore ED or 'just eat'. So, to all those insurance companies who do not cover eating disorders....

YOU NEED TO BECOME INFORMED. YOU MAY BE SAVING SOMEONE"S LIFE IF YOU HELP THEM GET TREATMENT.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

School

Schol starts in four days, and I'm feeling mixed emotions about this. I mean, the great thing is that I will be back at my university, studying what I love best - nursing. The workload is heavy and tough, but I love learning about my future career. I love seeing my friends and having a good laugh. I enjoy practicing my skills on dummies (it actually is pretty fun...!).

So, what could be wrong with this? Well, the first thing is obvious - the heavy workload. I love nursing, so I am always on time with my work. But part of me is staring at my schedule and wondering how on earth I am supposed to have a life when I'm always at school. Balance, I guess, is key.

The problem is that once school starts, I get into full-nerd mode. I study like crazy. Last year, I did this at the expense of my health. But this year, I have to be vigilant not to let ED take control again.

Oh, look at that! It is ten minutes past when you should be eating lunch. Oh well. I guess you'll just have to skip that meal. Don't eat.

People will stare at you because you are eating. They'll call you a pig and mention how you gained weight. Don't eat.

You won't have any physical activity during school so you will gain even MORE weight and get MORE fat. Don't eat.

No one else eats as much as you do. Everyone around you is fit and thin. Do you really want to look like the biggest one and be the outcast? Don't eat.

Do you see a pattern here? That's right - ED's whole intention is to get me not to eat. He'll taunt me, saying that people will be staring at me as I eat. He'll tell me that I will be fat and look hideous. ED screams into my ears, wanting me to succumb into his commands - to stop eating, to ignore any hunger pains, and to smile as if everything is alright.

It gets extremely frustrating when I'm having a bad day, full of problems and homework, and ED is shouting at me, wanting me to restrict. But inside, I know where restricting got me - the ICU, the hospital, and honestly, nowhere pleasant. So - as hard as it is - when school starts, I have to tell ED to back off. I'm not going to listen to him anymore. I'm going to go back to school and do my homework. And eat my food.

And I won't let ED join me. Not today, not tomorrow - or even the day after that. Will he backdown right away? Probably not. But eventually, ED will see that he has no place in my life. And the less attention that he gets, the more he disappears.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Disney Petition

If you read my last post on Disney's characters and their 'new look', you already know just how bad this can be for anyone - at any age. These characters are supposed to be fun - they are not meant to be tall and thin. These images of Disney characters wearing designer clothes are feeding into the stereotype that we need to be tall and very thin in order to wear brand name clothing. I urge you to sign your name below in the comments section (along with any message you may have for Disney - but please be appropriate!). I'm hoping to get as many signatures as possible, so tell anyone you know to come here and sign! I'll send this to the company after. If we make a difference and get the pictures pulled off, great. If we don't and Disney still goes through with it, we will know that we have certainly tried to raise awareness.

I'll start with my name. Please sign and tell others!

_________________________________________________________________________________

By signing below, I am advocating that the Disney characters presented here  http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/fashion/minnie-mouse-daisy-duck-whittled-down-barney-8217-172800382.html are atypical of the normal Disney characters. These images are promoting adherence to the stereotypes that we need to be tall and thin (and fit into the 'ideal weight category' in order to wear brand-name and designer clothes. Children and adults of all ages may be negatively affected by these images. The ideal way to display these characters would be to retain their original images and still have them wear these clothes, thus alluding to the fact that ALL sizes and body shapes are to be encouraged and accepted. 

Numbers, numbers, numbers!

ED is obsessed with numbers. Weight. Clothes sizes. Portions. Calories. Numbers, numbers...and more numbers. He'll tell me that I weigh too much, am eating too much, and have had too many calories for the day.

You weak girl. How could you consume so much food in ONE day? You do not need all of that. What will the scale say? Why did you not eat less food? You must eat less today. Put smaller portions. You want - no, you NEED - the scale to show lower numbers. You need to wear smaller clothes. NUMBERS RULE YOUR LIFE. You are worthless if you cannot maintain a low weight, wear tiny clothes, and eat little amounts of food.

And so, I am left feeling controlled by numbers. ED makes me feel trapped in the world of adding up what I ate, seeing how much weight I have gained, and comparing the labels of my clothing sizes. And ED takes advantage of the fact that I am pretty skilled at math....so numbers and counting comes easy to me. He'll take over my thoughts all day and all night, trying to convince me that I am nothing more than a combination of numbers - amounts of food, sizes of clothes, and digits on the scale.

As I am in recovery, ED gets more and more obsessed with numbers. Each time I get weighed and the scale goes up, ED shouts and screams that I am becoming fat. This has happened a lot lately. He'll link the numbers to my self-worth and esteem, proclaiming that if I cannot succeed at being a low weight, I cannot succeed at anything in life.

What makes it worse is that each time I am weighed and the numbers go up, I must remind myself that this is not an opportunity to decrease my food intake - as ED would simply love this. I have to remind myself that my metabolism will increase as my body makes use of the energy I am consuming. Thus, I will need to continue to eat the same amounts for a while because eventually, I will no longer gain on this amount of food. What does that mean in terms of food? It means that eventually, the starved person's body needs more food than the average human just to maintain weight. So, to INCREASE my weight, I might actually end up having to eat even more (joy!).

(This study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1957930?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=1&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed explains it in more scientific terms!).

So, every time ED fills my head with thoughts about restricting or tries to make me feel fat, I have to block him out. ED says starve, I say EAT. He says lose weight, I say gain - or at least, maintain! He says that I am no good, I say that I am GREAT. He says that I do not deserve to eat, be happy, or to be loved...I say that I deserve all good things.

ED says that I deserve to die. I say that I deserve to LIVE.