Saturday, 30 March 2013

Published! - 10 Things

What a wonderful birthday gift from NEDIC! My blog has once again been published on NEDIC. This post is about ten things that I want patients, parents, and everyone to know about ED. I think it is a helpful post because it really summarizes many key aspects or facts about ED.

Again, I would like to thank everyone for their support, love, and good wishes. I am really blessed to have the chance to raise awareness for this terrible and sad illness. I am so glad that it is helping people learn about ED and get the help they need.

At the same time, I think many of my blog posts and publications (including this one about 10 Things) can apply to many people's lives. If you are struggling with any addiction (alochol, drugs, whatever) this all applies to you too! If you know someone who needs help, maybe you can refer them to this blog - and I pray that they benefit from it. Or, if you just enjoy reading some interesting and fun stuff, continue to come read my blog (I'm not bragging...but seriously. I think my blog posts are kind of entertaining...!).

Thanks again! God bless you all! Stay stromg, stay happy, and stay healthy. And to all those celebrating Easter, Happy Easter. May the joy and hope of this season bring warmth and comfort to your hearts.

PS. Here is the link! http://www.nedic.ca/blog/

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Birthday - and clothes

I want to start by thanking everyone who wished me a happy birthday - those who commented and those who prayed for me. I really had an awesome time!

I did not do anything 'extra special' but it was nonetheless amaszing. My sister, mom, and dad went to great lengths to make me smile, laugh, and be surprised. My dad bought me flowers, my mom got a balloon, and my sister decorated the entire house with banners and birthday confetti.

Apart from that, my family and friends did little things that made a BIG difference. My friends were texting me, counting down until my birthday (and they were good! One of my friends was counting to the minute!). My family sent me TONS of cute greeting cards. They set up candles for me to blow out. They bought me so many wonderful gifts.

All in all, it was a GREAT day. I really enjoyed it. It felt really good to not have to worry about ED or the food. My family is so understanding about ED that food is no longer an issue - I eat when I need to eat, and they do the same. Before, food was hard on celebrations because I never wanted to eat, and they were desperately trying to get me to eat. But now, things are different. We ate. And that's it. No big deal. Just like in any other house without ED. He was NOT invited to my birthday celebrations!

To add to that, I went clothes shopping with my mom. This was HUGE. Ever since I have gained weight, it has been very difficult to go shopping because I feel uncomfortable with my new body. Before ED, I was CRAZY about shopping - I did it all the time. But since ED amd even in recovery, this has been a challenge. It is really hard to accept that now my body is bigger. Even though I know that it is HEALTHIER, it is still hard. I feel fat and even ugly sometimes. My self-esteem and body image are not great. So, they definitely need working on.

Anyways - back to the shopping. My mom took me to the mall and we went into the store. We grabbed a few dresses and I tried them on. And they actually did not look so bad. Granted, it was hard to see myself in these clothes because I felt fat. But the more I stared at myself in the mirror, the easier it became. I still felt (and feel) different, even fat sometimes because of my new body. But I'm starting to come to terms that I do not look fat; I just look different.

Foolish girl! You gained SO much weight and now you wear HUGE sizes. You look terrible. You should not buy new clothes for yourself because you are so ugly that anything you buy will look horrible on your fat, lazy body.

Well, ED, you are right. I gained weight. But that does not mean I am fat. My body is just different. Instead of starving and not being able to wear anything because they were too big, now clothes fit well. Sometimes, ED, I believe you. I believe that I am fat and ugly. But that is part of my illness. And I am starting to see that you often scew the way I look at myself. You make me feel bad, when I really should realize that you nearly killed me. So, I am deciding to disobey you and go shopping. I will go buy new clothes to celebrate the fact that I am no longer dying. I will flatter myself like I used to before I got sick. I will buy new clothes that reflect how healtthy I am now; how far I have come since you decided to invade my life.

I know that this will be hard, but I also know that it is necessary for me to do. Recovery has been hard since the day I started it, but it gets easier each time I disobey ED. It takes practice, patient, faith, hope, and strength. This year on my birthday, I did not let ED or food get in the way of having fun and celebrating. And I bought new clothes. BONUS! I am so thankful to God, all my readers, and my family and friends. I would not have been able to do this without any of you. Thank you.

'Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength'. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Guess who's turning 20...?! YIKES!

It happens to be my birthday next week. I'm turning 20...and I feel so old! I know, I know. I'm not old. 20 is just starting life. But it feels so strange...

I think having ED makes me feel this way. I don't feel as though I really had much of a teen life. I can trace ED back to when I was 13, but it was very weak then. Nevertheless, ED has been on board for a while. So turning 20 is like I'm leaving all my teen years behind...and they weren't without their problems - thanks to ED.

As a teen, I always felt fat. I was the biggest girl in elementary school, and people always made fun of me for it. Then, when ED came along, I felt good. I was losing weight. Good! Things were going to get better...

But they didn't. They got worse. Weight loss became an addiction. I couldn't stop losing weight because I might get fat again. I had to eat less and less each day just to lose more weight. I had to fake eating at home and at school. I had to convince myself that I was full, not hungry. I ignored my stomach pains. If I was losing weight and not fat, that's all that mattered.

And lose weight I did. But I also lost my personality, my laugh, and my happiness. My world became revolved around losing weight. My body image suffered, my self esteem was non-existent. But now I couldn't stop. I could never be too skinny. If I stopped losing I'd be fat, people would tease me again, and I would never live a happy life.

Well, I didn't lead a happy life anyways. I suffered under ED for a long time. Last summer I nearly died in the ICU because of ED. I remember my last birthday - last year. I was so sick that my legs could barely hold my weight. I limped when I walked, hardly able to move. I was barely eating anything. I was very, very sick. My face looked sunken, void of life.

This year, things are different. I'm not starving or weak. I'm eating enough to fuel my body. My face is back to normal, full of smiles and happiness. My personality is back - laughing, joking, sarcasm - the whole package. My body image is still not good, but I'm working on it. At least I'm healthy. This year, my birthday will be different. 20 is a big thing for me - bye bye, teen years. But it's also important because its the first birthday in a long time when I'm actually eating enough, not worrying about how I'll avoid the next meal, etc. I'd by lying if I said that ED is gone, but at least I have control over him now. I'm choosing to eat, to laugh, to smile, and to live life. I'm still recovering, and I know I'll be doing so for a while. But I'm thankful that this year, on my 20th birthday, I have my life back. I'll be with my family and friends and not dead because of ED.

'Thus far the Lord has helped us' (1 Samuel 7:12).

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Thankful

It is funny how we often get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget how blessed we are. Sometimes, we (I'm definitely on the top of this list) forget all fo the postiives in our lives and focus on the negatives.

But taking the time to see the great things about life is one of the most humbling experiences I have had. Among all the crazy work that I have to do, I was blessed to have an amazing weekend with my family. We did not go anywhere or do anything special...but I still felt how blessed and lucky I am.

First, I am lucky to be alive. I am proof that people can recover from ED and live a healthy and happy life afterwards. Next, I am lucky to have a school and an education. I am blessed that God has given me the ability to learn, to see, to hear, to taste, to speak, etc. I am living my life once again, free from ED. This is a milestone that I can never forget.

Then, I have so many people who love and support me. I have an awesome family who takes extra special care of me. I have friends at school who watch out for me, who help me with work, etc. I have teachers who understand me and motivate me to achieve my best potentional. I have a faith community that strengthens me and builds my character. I have an education that will take me to many great places and give me the chance to help others. I have my blog that is being read around the world. I have the NEDIC website that provides me with the chance to reach out to others and to make a difference.

But in times of trouble, I forget about all this. I start to think about only the problems at hand, and I feel so hopeless. I feel that there is nothing good about my life - even though deep down, I KNOW there is a lot to be happy about.

So, the solution? I'm starting to write little notes about what I am thankful for. It could be anything from 'today God made it sunny so the drive to school was clean and safe' to something bigger like 'I got a good mark in a class'. It could even be that today I woke up healthy and alive. Or that I am lucky to have food on my plate, a roof over my head, clothes on my body, and a heart that beats. Anything.

When times are rough, I am going to take a look at this list. I am going to realize that everyday, I was blessed. God was with me everyday. I have a good life. Just because it is not always smooth-sailing, it does not mean that life 'sucks'.

So I'll start with today: today, God blesed me with friends who took notes for me when I was late for lecture. Sounds simple, right? But it is truly a blessing! Yesterday, the sun wasa shining and made me feel so warm and cozy as I sat in my home.

What are YOU thankful for today?

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Portion Distortion

Have you heard of the term 'portion distortion' before? It is often used to describe the 'fact' that many people do not know how to eat appropriate portions; mainly, that they eat too much because they do not know how much food is 'enough'. But recent studies are showing that the TRUE portion distortion occurs in people with ED. (See
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666312005120 for details)

Basically, this study compared anorexic patients with those who did not have any ED. The results are pretty consistent: people with ED (specifically anorexia) are more likely to overestimate food amounts. For example, take a person with anorexia and a person without anorexia. Now give them a plate with one cup of pasta, a piece of chicken, and a cup of vegetables. The person with anorexia is much more likely to estimate that the plate has (for example) double the portion it really has; the other person without ED is more likely to estimate the food correctly.

What does this tell us? To someone with ED like myself, it shows me that what I am doing in recovery is probably the best for me right now - eat by the clock and eat the amounts of food that I have been prescribed. I cannot depend on my intuition to estimate how much food I need to eat; I need to measure it because I KNOW that if I just 'eyeball' it, I will take too little.

Note that for some people with ED, measuring like this is obsessive; it is part of their disorder. For me, I NEED to measure because when I do not, I take simply too little food. If you have an ED and measuring is obsessive for you, it is a different case.

If you struggle with 'portion distortion' in anorexia (in that you always think you are eating more than you really are or always take too little food), a good idea is for you to see someone who can help you. I have heard people learning portions by using their palms instead of measuring cups, or 'eyeballing'. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as you are taking enough food.

I would be really interested in learning from others WITHOUT ED how you 'portion control'. Do you use your hunger cues and stop when you are full? Do you measure your food? Do you even KNOW how much food you are eating (ex. a cup of rice) or do you just take what you want and simply eat it? I am interested because I would like to get an idea of what 'nromal' people do when eating; I know that I personally cannot depend on my hunger cues or eyes to estimate foods.

So for now, I have to depend on measuring my food. And that is okay. As long as I am eating what I need to, that is fine. Maybe one day I will learn to eat without measuring - and eat enough. But for now, I am doing what I need to do to recover. My portion distortion is something that I have learned to deal with. Thank God.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

ED education

Continuing on my soap box about how we need to increase ED awareness, I want to spend a bit of time on this post talking about nutrition and health education in schools.

When I was young, we never got taught about ED. In fact, all we learned about was how too much junk food would make us fat and obese. We also learned how important it was to have a diet that did not have 'junk food' in it. But we never talked about the other end of the spectrum - the ED part. The part about the victims who never eat because of their mental illness. Who can die because they cannot eat.

I think schools need to start educate children and teens about this. Teaching them that overweight is needed, but we also need a balance to include what happens when you don't eat enough. Many people fall into ED and they don't know how this illness can kill them. Others have ED and they constantly hear messages in their schools saying that certain foods should not be eaten. It would me helpful to teach children about the 'moderation' in life - that both extremes are wrong.

I remember in high school gym, we had to weigh ourselves in front of everyone, plot our weight, and then measure again after a month to see what it did. I recall one my friends was so thin. She stood on the scale and people were shocked at how little she weighed. 'Wow! Only xx pounds! You are so skinny! I was I was that small'. That's what everyone said.

I was right after her. My weight was significantly higher than hers. No one said anything. They just looked at the scale, then at me, and said nothing. A few people kept taking about the skinny girl. But inside, I felt terrible. I weighed so much more! In fact, by the end of the class, I realized that I weighed the most. That was a terrible day. I felt fat and ugly. I don't know if this created ED, but it certainly fueled it.

The point of that story was to show that schools don't need to encourage students to track their weight and compare to others. It just reinforces negative ideas about food and weight. Weight is not a competition and should not be focussed on, even in gym class. Teachers need to be sensitive to these issues and realize that students need to be taught about living with food in a healthy way. In a way that promotes healthy eating, body image, food in moderation, and happy living.

Again, society needs to change. We all need to reframe our ideas about what is healthy and what is right. We need to make ourselves aware of the fact that while obesity is an issue, EDs are also problematic. Both extremes are dangerous and both should be taught in schools to educate the public.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Obesity - and EDs

I realize that obesity is a problem - children younger and younger are experiencing problems with their weight. Obesity is a major issue, as there are serious health complications that can occur )hypertension, heart attacks, reproductive issues, joint problems, etc).

But would it not be interesting to see an article or news story about how eating disorders are also on the rise? The past few days have been full of news stories about obesity and how it is constantly increasing, as well as the burden on the healthcare system, the health problems associated with overweight, etc. And it IS a problem. As a nurse, I see many people who are struggling with excess weight. And they need help - even medical attention. They have the right to get treatment or help as they require it.

I just wish people were more aware about EDs as well. EDs, like obesity, have serious health implications as well. Osteoporosis, heart attacks, fainting attacks, decreased immunity, and even death. But we do not see too many news stories telling us about EDs and how they can kill. Or how they can land someone in the hospital for days, even months. And the victim may never make it through to see another day. Why does the media not focus on EDs like obesity?

For one thing, the number of obese people outnumber those with eating disorders - at least, that is what the statistics say. But it is quite easy to see someone who is overweight and to know that they are. But someone may have an ED and you might never know - they might hide their weight, or they might not even be deathly skinny. So, technically speaking, there are many people with EDs who are we unaware of.

Next, let's look at the media. There are commercials for weight loss, excercise programs, low-fat foods, etc. When was the last time you saw an ad telling people to appreciate their bodies and eat all things in moderation? Very rarely. So, the media and society in general tend to focus on obesity and weight loss, not loving your body and staying healthy. So, when the news comes out that obesity is on the rise, it is easy to find a link between this and society: low fat foods, weight loss diets, excercise programs, etc. Society makes it seem that even though you are overweight, there are always solutions. Go on a diet. Excercise. Buy the low-fat foods. There is always a solutuon. But what about for ED treatment? Have you ever seen a commercial telling people to be careful with diets because it can lead to ED? Or to enjoy eating all foods because restricting can cause EDs? I think not.

The problem, really, is with society. We need to realize that BOTH extremes of the weight spectrum are not good. Like all things, too much OR too little is not good. Moderation - the middle - is the best. We need to raise awareness that like obesity, EDs are a problem. And both these groups deserve to get help, treatment, or whatever the support they need on their journey towards health.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

ED or DE?

Do you have ED? An eating disorder? Maybe not. Some people have an ED that is diagnosed and on their medical record. Others have an ED but they have not been diagnosed with it - this was me for about five years of my life. I was losimg weight, restricting, and severly ill. But no doctors actually gave me the diagnosis 'anorexia' until I walked into the emergency room.

My point? There are many people with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating) that may go by unrecognized because they have not seen a doctor, or their doctor is unaware of the signs of ED.

Then there are people with EDNOS, which is harder to diagnose. Many doctors are not aware that EDNOS even exists, so patients might not be diagnosed.

Then there are people with disordered eating (DE). Many people fall into this category...and I am sorry to say that even YOU may fall here. DE is a term used to describe any eating that is not, well, ordered. This includes eating once a day, not eating full meals but always snacking (in such a way that your body does not get enough nutrition), eating only certain types of foods, restricting other types of foods for strange reasons, excessive dieting, etc. Some of us, at one point, have gone through a phase of DE. It is not a diagnosable thing, so I can see how many of us do not notice that we may be doing any of these things. But the point still holds that DE is common. And it should be changed ASAP, as this may lead to eating disorders or otherwise unhealthy lifestyles.

NOTE: I am NOT saying that snacking at mutliple times in the day in wrong, nor am I saying that any of these practices are bad. I am simply saying that if you do not give your body enough energy it needs, it might be time to look at that and fix it. If you snack all day but are eating enough and feel strong and healthy, you are PERFECTLY FINE!

Then, there are people with eating disorders, but they do not fit the categories perfectly. They may be restricting food all day, but they still have not lost enough weight to be considered 'anorexic'. They may be restricting so that they are eating the bare minimum. Or, they may binge. But they do not binge the amount that is 'needed' to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder. Or they may throw up, but not 'enough' to be bulimic. Does this mean they do not have an eating disorder?! NO! NO! NO!

This is one thing I am really passionate about because so many people think that because of these reasons, they are not 'sick enough' or do not deserve any help because perhaps it is 'in their head' or 'not that bad'. Let me make the message clear: IF YOU FEEL THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM, YOU DESERVE HELP. It does not matter if no one believes you. It does not matter if you do 'fit' the categories to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. Maybe you DO have ED. Or maybe you have DE. Whatever it is, there may be a problem. It is not in your head, it is not just you. You need help. And you deserve help.

I am posting this because I convinced myself for so long that nothing was wrong, that it was just me, and that I was not sick enough because I had not lose enough weight, I was still technically eating, etc. But doing this only kept me sick for longer and made my illness worse. ED does not 'go away' by itself; it will evolve into a worse situation.

Please, Please, Please: if there is an issue, seek help. From anyone. You deserve a good life, full of health and happiness. Do not let anyone - even yourself - tell you that you cannot have a problem because you do not look sick/thin, do not fit the diagnostic criteria, etc. You are worth every single treatment option available. So go get it. And do not stop or give up until you have found the help you need. It just might save your life.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Blog Nominated!!!

2013 Canadian Weblog Awards nomineeI could not believe my eyes when I received the email saying that my blog - this website - has been nomiated for a Blog Award (2013) under the 3 categories of Activism/Social Justice, Life, and Health/Wellness. (See http://www.ninjamatics.com/canadian-weblog-awards for details)

WOW! I am so blessed. This is such a HUGE acheivement - I love writing on my blog and I feel tears many days as I read the love, support, and encouargment of all my wonderful readers and their comments.

I started this blog a little less than a year ago after experiencing a life-chaning experience from my illness - anorexia nervosa. I never thought that one day, it would be featured on international organizations such as FEAST amd NEDIC - and now it is nominated for an award!

At this point, I am just thrilled. Winning would mean so much to me, but just being nominated is an amazing achievement. I am - for once - speechless. The awards will be announced in December, and it not a 'voting' award - there are judges who judge the blog based on criteria. But nevertheless, I am excited. Whether or not I win, I am SO blessed and honoured for this recognition.

I want to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who has helped me thus far. I am so thankful for my faith community and to my God who has been by my side always. I also need to thank my family members - the most loving people in my life. They brought me through the hardest times during my illness, and they keep supporting me throughout my recovery. And I cannot forget about  my friends and everyone who reads this blog, comments, and reccomends it to others. Each of you is truly a blessing and I sincerely believe that I would not have made it this far without all of you. God bless each of you. Keep coming and reading this space, keep smiling and staying happy, and know how special and important you are.

Once again, THANK YOU. I am honoured and humbled that my blog has received this amount of recognition. WOW. To anyone suffering from ED or to anyone who feels sad, frustrated, hopeless, or angry (and we ALL feel this way sometimes!), this is proof that when you have a strong support network, hope, and faith, you can accomplish anything you want to. Last April (2012) I was in the ICU, dying because of anorexia. Today, March 2013, I am healthy, recovering from ED, my blog has helped many, and now my work nominated for an award.