Saturday, 27 April 2013

One year ago...

One year ago - exactly one year on April 27, 2012 - I was admitted into the ER because I was dying. I was severely malnourished. My parents drove me to the ER, not knowing what would happen. All they knew was that I was sick and needed help right away. I, on the other hand, was far from pleased. I was angry. How could they take me to the hospital? They hated me, didn't they? They were the worst parents in the world for abandoning me and making me go to the ER.

I got into the ER and sat for about five minutes until I was admited. The nurse weighed me, and stared at the scale. When she told me my weight, I shrugged. So what? I knew that I was skinny. DUH! That was the whole point of starving myself. I was angry to be there. When I got admitted, I just thought that all it would take was a few days to eat, and then the hospital would let me go.

Little did I know how much damage was going on inside of me. Blood work was taken, and my results were horrible. Sodium, potassium, and glucose were low, meaning that I was starving. Urea and creatinine were sky high, indicating kidney failure and dehydration. Hemoglobin was terribly low, meaning that I had very little blood left in me. An ECG was done, and it showed that my heart was failing. I remember the doctor coming in to me in the ER and telling me, 'I'm going to keep you here for a while. You are very sick. I'm also calling in the eating disorder team'.

WHAT?! HOW DARE HE?! I was not sick enough to need hospitalization for ED. This doctor was clearly out of his mind. And my parents? Oh man. I was SO angry with them that I refused to talk to them. I vowed to never forgive them. I hated them for taking me to the hospital.

And so began my journey with ED in the hospital. I won't get into detail, because all of my story is posted in the first few posts on my blog. This post will not review all those terrible events. This post is meant for me to reflect on how far I have come.

One year ago, I was dying. I was starving. I was underweight. I hated my parents for taking me to the hospital.

One year later, today, I am living. I am eating. I am weight restored. I love my parents because they are the strongest people I know. I am eating my meals as scheduled - and enough. I am smiling, singing, studying, and laughing. I am enjoying my time with my family and friends. I am living my life like any other girl should.

A year makes a big difference. I honestly thought I would never get out of the hospital. Especially when I went into the ICU with dialysis, kidney failure, a failing heart, a breathing tube, multiple IVs, pneumonia, etc. But today, I am well and healthy, thank God. All of my organs are miraculously better - no lasting damage. I am home with my loving family. I am able to continue my nursing degree at my university. I am an international writer for NEDIC, and I have my blog that has been recognized by many prestigious organizations. WOW. What a difference a year makes.

I want to take this chance to say 'thank you' to my parents and sister. When they admitted me to the hospital, I said some pretty mean things to them. I was just so scared and angry that they had taken me away from home to the hospital that I told them I hated them. But I did not mean it. I was just so scared and frustrated. The truth is, I love them to death. They never left my side when I was in the hospital. Even when I was in the ICU and unconcious, they still stayed with me. They prayed for me, having faith that God would give me life again. MOM, DAD, and NANSY I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! You guys are the strength and power that kept me going, that gave me life again, that made God look down on me and renew my life. I will forever be in debt to you all for what you have done for me. You three have showed me that pure, unconditional love is a powerful thing.

To me, this one year anniversary marks an important date in my life. I look at myself today and think that I am doing a pretty good job. I may not be free of ED, but I am stronger. I still get thoughts from ED, my body image and self-esteem are not great, but I am eating and healthy. I might not feel hungry, but I can still make myself eat what I need to. No one needs to tell me to eat. ED might still tell me mean things and try to make me fall, but I have the upper hand now. I am not ashamed to tell my story to the world because I believe that God has put me through this experience in order to help others and to show that recovery from ED is possible - no matter how sick one may be.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog, who comments, and who supports me - both here and in life. You are all so wonderful. I cannot say it enough. Without everyone's love and support, I would not be here today. God bless all of you for the service and care you show to me.

To those suffering with ED, I pray that this gives you hope. Recovery is possible. I never thought that I would ever eat again, but here I am! I never thought that I would live, but I survived! I fought, and with the help of my family and the power of God, I am free. I am in recovery. Glory to God!

One year ago, I was starving myself to death. ED was in control. I was dying.
One year later, I am eating my way through life. I am in control. I am alive.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phillipians 4:13).

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

What do YOU want to read about?

I have a LOT to write about: ED, life, feelings, stress, school, friends, God, nursing, health, etc. And thankfully, I love writing! I have been getting a lot of emails and comments about things that people want me to write about or to discuss on the blog.

I wan to make sure that I get all the topics you are interested in. So, please leave a comment below with the topics or things that you want me to write about. I really do not care what it is about - I will try my best to make posts about all the topics you suggest.

So, start suggesting! If you have any topics that you are interested in - about ED or not - leave a comment below. Ideas can include ED, stress, things about me, nursing, medicine, stress .... whatever! I hope this will help you, others, and myself. It is always great to learn something new!

God bless all of you! And thanks again for all the support and love you all show. I am so blessed to have this place to share my thoughts and feelings, as well as so many wonderful readers!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

STRESSED?!

Life sometimes gets so hectic. We become trapped between all the things that we have to do, and it seems impossible that we will be able to finish everything.

I hate feeling stressed. It is so draining, and I am not productive. I've learned some interesting things about stress during my studies...mainly, that stress has many negative impacts on our bodies and functioning.

For example, stress releases cortisol, a hormone that breaks down our muscle to make energy from the protein. Too much cortisol can also causes memory loss, as well as suppress the immune system (so, it becomes easier to get sick). And there is so much more!

I've realized that when I'm stressed, I cannot do much. I moan and compain about how crazy and difficult life is and how much I am struggling. I feel my body getting hot, my blood flowing faster, and a headache coming on (interestingly, these are the effects of epinephrine, another stress hormone).

Soon enough, I'm so stressed that I became exhausted. I feel terrible. Have you ever felt like this? What do you do to help yourself? How do you cope?

When I was really sick, ED was my 'coping' mechanism. Don't get me wrong - the anorexia did not make my stress go away. But for some reason, having ED made it 'easier' to deal with stressors - because I did not think of anything else except for losing weight and avoiding food.

Too much homeowrk? Not a problem, at least you do not have to eat. Problems with friends? It is alright - at least you are losing weight. Feeling lonely? Why should you - you are thin!

See how deceptive ED is? He made me forget all my problems and only focus on him. That I was not eating and losing weight was all that was important - if I could not eat and lose weight, somehow, everything else was 'manageable'.

Now when I'm stressed, I do not have the option of simply losing weight or not eating. Sure, this is what I used to do to avoid dealing with everything else, but I have seen that this is really not helpful. Not eating = losing weight = getting sick = feeling bad = missing out on life = possible death. Not fun. I do not want to go there. But what can I do?

It may sound 'cheesy', but I've found that going to others is really helpful. Seriously. Find someone who cares, who wants to listen to you, and who will not downplay your feelings. Tell them what is on your mind, how you are feeling, and why this moment in your life is difficult. If they are truly caring, they will understand. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear - not necessarily someone who will solve our problems. Or, take time off for YOU. Give yourself a manicure, read a book, play a game, call a friend, watch a good movie, etc. These are examples of positive coping mechanisms.

Of course, ED will always try to get me back. He will tell me that all of these coping skills are not useful. But I know better. I am able to see that ED is tricking me, that he wants me to fall again. But I'm stronger, and I know that this is not right. I have a list of coping mechanisms that I can utilize whenever I feel stressed. And now, ED is not one of them.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Diabulimia

I have had a few people ask me about diabulimia. Interesingly enough, I have just completed a project about this topic, so I'm going to try to address it here. Because I do not have this problem, I am putting this on the spot now: I am not an expert about this topic. I am only addressing it here because people have asked me to do so. (See http://journals.lww.com/dccnjournal/Abstract/2009/07000/Diabulimia)

Diabulimia comes from the words 'diabetes' and 'bulimia', but it basically refers to people with type 1 diabetes (autoimmune) who suffer from ED as well. They misuse their insulin by giving too little (or none at all) in order to lose weight.

I empathize with people with this condition because it is really hard. Diabetes is a complciated condition that NEEDS to be treated, espeically type 1. These people NEED insulin to live because without it, their body cannot get enough nutrition. So, not using their insulin really does make them lose weight, but they also become very sick. Withholding insulin means that theit bodies cannot use glucose for energy, so it begins to break down fats. This leads to ketoacidosis, a lfie-threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention.

I know that having diabulimia is tough - ED alone is hard, even without diabetes. Recovery from this is necessary because again, both conditions are life-threatening. You need good, medical care. Diabetes is totally manageable with a good healthcare team and plan. While ED will not want you to use the insulin, you need to know that you HAVE to use it. It is your medicine. You might gain some weight, but it will stop when your body is healthy. If you are following your treatment and what your healthcare providers say, they will not make you fat. It IS hard having to use insulin when you feel that every inch of you does not want it. Having an insulin pump is hard beccause you feel so angry that you need to use it. But without insulin, you can die.

ED makes life so hard, doesn't he? He will try to hurt these people with diabetes, telling them not to use insulin so that they can lose weight. What he does not say is that this will kill them. He fills their heads with thoughts of gaining weight but he does not tell them that if they follow a meal plan, they will not get fat. I know many people with type 1 diabetes who are healthy and not fat, nor thin. It is POSSIBLE. You just need to follow your treatment plan - whatever that may be. Maybe you need to follow a meal plan, take insulin, or carb count. It seems tedious, I know. But it is what your body needs.

If you suffer from diabulimia, know that you are not alone. There are many people who have the same condition, but because the DSM criteria does not include it, it can be hard getting treatment. But you DESERVE help. I know that getting into a treatment centre is difficult (if not impossible) beucase diabulimia is not considered a true 'eating disorder'. But in my eyes, it IS. And you deserve help. If you cannot get into an ED program, get to the hospital and tell them that you need help. Get to yor doctor and dietitian and get a plan to follow. I do not care what anyone says - any ED, big or small, strong or weak - is a mental illness. Anyone who suffers from any type of ED needs help because they cannot do it alone. They deserve to get treatment. No one can tell you that you do not deserve help. Recovery is possible. But you need to accept that you need treatment, and that for now, insulin and food really are your medicine. They are necesary. ED will not like this. But you need to tell ED to SHUT UP because you deserve to LIVE and be HEALTHY.

Stupid ED. He is such a loser. He tries to make victims fall in any way possible. But we are stronger. You might not feel strong, but know that there are always people here to support you.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Meals/Pictures

This post is about why I DO NOT post information about my weight (numbers), food amounts, or pictures of myself. I have had many people ask me to do so, so I think now is a good time to explain why I do not do this.

First, it will not benefit readers or myself to discuss my weight. My weight is restored, and that is all that is important. I am trying my best not to focus on the number because this just strengthens ED. For those of you who are suffering with ED and want to know my weight, I believe that this will only strengthen your ED as well. When I was very sick, I used to compare my weight with others who were sick. This only made ED more competitive, telling me that I was not thin and thus not as sick as other people - making me only sicker by the second.

Now, the food. It is very hard for me to post about my food because I do not want to focus on it. I'm eating all my meals, and enough. But what I eat is different than what others will need, maybe I need less, or maybe I need more. So, posting my meal plan will not benefit anyone either. If you are ill and need advice on what to eat, please see a dietitian or doctor. They know your body's needs and can help with this. When I was ill, I too wanted to know how others with ED ate. But this made ED worse, as I used to compare how much (less) I ate. If I ate more than others, I felt fat and ED made me feel terrible. If I ate less, ED pushed me to eat even less than others so that I would be the 'stronger' anorexic.

It is pretty clear why I do not post pictures, but I will address this anyways. First, the internet is a public place, and I would never post my own pictures in such an insecure place. That is when problems begin to rise. We need to be smart with what we do on the computer. Next, no one really needs to know how I look now. I am healthy and weight restored. Seeing my pictures will not help anyone ill with ED. When I was sick, I too wanted to see other's recovery pictures. ED told me that this would motivate me. WRONG! The truth was, ED made me compare myself to others. If I was smaller than them, ED told me that I had to keep starving myself so that I would always be the smallest one. If I was bigger, ED told me that I was fat and that I had to restrict even more.

I hope this cleared things up a bit. In no way do I mean to be rude or harsh, but I do not believe any of the above information about me/my recovery will help anyone. Now, if you want to know about my favourite foods, I am more than happy to share. But my intake? No. My pictures? Sorry. My weight? Not happening. Why? Because this only strengthens ED. ED is all about being the SMALLEST one and the one who eats the LEAST and weights the LOWEST. When given a chance, ED makes his victims compare themselves to others, making us think that we want to get better and so are seeking this information for motvation. The truth is (sadly) that ED takes these chances as moments to make us fall deeper into ED.

You can never win with ED.

If you are eating more than others, you are a fat pig. If you are eating less, you need to eat even less so you can be the smallest. If you are bigger than others, you are too fat. If you are thinner, you need to start restricting more or else you will become fatter.

This is why ED is so trickey and cunning. Thankfully, I am out of this phase of ED and am now able to reflect back on my experiences and see that this is what ED is all about. I posted this because I want to help those of you who are ill. I know some sufferers will read this post and think 'No, she is wrong. That is NOT what my ED is telling me'. I thought like that, too. But I was wrong. You never know how sick you are until something terrible happens - like when I nearly died in the ICU. For some, this may be too late. I am lucky and blessed that I had another chance to live. Please, for those of you who are ill, get help. This is coming from someone who suffered severely from ED (my first posts tell my story in detail). For those of you without ED, I hope this post sheds some light on how terrible and deceptive ED is. And so now you all know why I do not post pictures, my meal plan, or my weight/caloric intake. It is simply too triggering for some people. And it does not help me. Or anyone else. The only one it helps is ED - because ED wants to make us all miserable.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Hunger Hormones

I am not kidding when I say that I am nearly always full and never feel hungry. I literally never have the desire to eat; I never feel that I am in need of food ASAP. This seems strange to many people as they wonder how I can never have a desire to eat. Everyone gets hungry, they say. So, why do I not feel this way too? Does this have something to do with ED?

Well, research can help explain some of this. Evidence shows that patients with AN (anorexia nervosa) tend to have different leptin levels than the normal population. Leptin is a hormone that makes us feel full or tells our brains that we have had enough to eat and are satisified. It just so happens that people with AN have abnormally high leptin levels. So, what this means is that they literally DO feel full all the time, or get full very easily.  See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17060920 for details.

So when I say that I am not hungry, it means that my brain and body actually do not feel hungry. My leptin levels are just too high, so my brain feels satisified. It does not feel that it needs food. Some people would think that this is great, as they say that this would help them lose weight and stop pvereating. But, for someone with ED, this is a problem. Eating is already hard, even without feeling full all the time. Now imagine forcing yourself to eat when you absolutely do not feel hungry. Full all the time. No hunger. It is not fun, nor is it easy.

But what I find interesting is that this helps me to learn more about my illness. I already KNOW that I am never hungry, but this helps others understand why eating is so hard for me. Not only am I fighting against ED, I am also kind of fighting agaisnt my messed-up hunger signals as well. It is a double battle, and it isn't easy. But I am doing it. I am eating, regardless of whether or not I am hungry. Because I know that this feeling of fullness, although very real and is occuring in my brain, is a result of my illness. My leptin levels, along with other things, have changed in response to the starvation period. So, when I was restricting before, my body raised leptin levels so that I would not feel hungry or tired. It was my body's way of protecting itself. But now these signals are still faulty, even when in recovery. That means that I am doing the right thing by eating by the clock. I clearly cannot depend on my hunger cues.

I am getting better at it, though. I am trying so hard to not complain when eating, to laugh, to keep myself busy, and to not focus on the food. I hate when food is always the centre of life - because for so long, I wanted to eat but could not. Now, I am eating, and I still do not want to. So, taking focus off the food makes life easier. Time to eat? Okay, grab my meal, sit and read or work, and life moves on. That is it. Five or six times a day, I grab something to eat. But life carries on. No fuss, no big deal. It is just food, and I am just human. Thankfully, I am able to do this. I never thoght that one day, I would get to the point where food would be a normal part of daily life.

So even though my leptin levels are off, this research gives me hope. It tells me that I am not crazy - I really DO feel full all the time. I know I am not faking this. But what makes it even more amazing is that despite this hurdle of having to eat even when full, I am doing it. It also helps others around me understand why eating is so difficult and 'hard work' for me.

It makes me feel strong to know that I'm eating, even when my body does not feel hungry. I am overcoming this. It is still hard, but it gets easier as time goes on. So, my hunger hormones are definitely messed up. But my eating is not. The food goes in. Life goes on.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

PUSH

When I first thought about the title for this post, I was worried that some readers would read it and think I was going to write about a mother pushing to deliver her baby! Nope, that is NOT what this is about!

(Okay, now that we are done joking around, let's get a bit more serious...!)

We all have times when we feel tired, hopeless, scared, worried and tired. You know those days when things just cannot get any worse? When there is simply too much to do, too little time, so many problems, a load of worries and challenges...the list goes on and on!

I had a day like this recently. I had finished working on something only to discover that all my work had somehow been lost by my computer. I freaked out. I was so angry - all that work, gone to waste? WHY?! WHY ME?! It was so frustrating. I did not know what to do but cry, sob, and complain. I was furious.

Thankfully, my mom and sister were by my side to provide support. They calmed me down and told me that although this was terrible, they knew that I could do the work again, and maybe ever better this time. That helped a lot, but I was still angry and sad. I could not imagine sitting down and writing the entire thing all over again!

My mom and sister told me something that really stood out to me: that God has brought me through much worse times. My God is a BIG God. He saved my life when I was dying in the ICU. Could He not strengthen me for a few hours to complete the assignment all over again?

Even if you do not believe in God, this post can still apply to you. It is about hope. It is about knowing that if you got through past times, you can get through this problem as well. PUSH, the title of this post, stands for 'Pray Until Something Happens'. I think so often we get so caught up in life that we forget to pray and thank God for all that He has done. We start to moan and complain and forget all the great things that has happened in our lives. That day when I was furious about my work, I forgot to pray. I did not talk to God and tell Him my frustrations; I was too tired. I did not stop to remember that God saved me from anorexia. He could certainly give me the strength to do this assignment once again.

I wrote a post before about HOPE - Hold On, Pain Ends. It is similar to this one. PUSH. Pray Until Something Happens. Do not despair when things get too tough. You certainly have the right to complain. We are human and having these feelings is normal. In fact, when I experience times like this, complaining is almost necessary! But one thing that I often forget is to remember that I have gotten through worse times. I know that my strength and encouragement comes from my God, in whom I have faith. I know that this is yet another challenge in life that I can overcome if I pray. This is my faith, and it is what keeps me going through each day.

Sometimes the problem in front of us seems way too big for us to handle and we become overwhelmed. In such situations, I encourage those who believe in God to PUSH. God wants to hear you. He knows your problems, but He is waiting for you, His child, to speak to Him. So do it. You will so much better. You just have to PUSH and you will get through your problems. And do not forget to stay hopeful. No matter how terrible the situation may be, try to remain hopeful. If you cannot find hope, ask someone around you to give you hope or encouragement. It is strengthening to feel that things will get better, that life will get easier. Stay hopeful, strong, and faithful. And don;t forget to PUSH.