Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Magazines and media

I watch TV and read maagzines. Who doesn't? The common thing I see these days are 'WOW! Beyonce shows off her hot body on the beach' or 'Jennifer Anniston loses fourty pounds and wows'. Then there things like 'Why did Katy Perry gain weight?'' or 'Kate Middleton packs on the pounds'.

Needless to say, this annoys the life out of me. The media (including magazines, radio, TV, or whatever) is so focussed on people's bodies and how they look. Beyonce lost weight and looks thin? So what? Why is that worthy of news? I mean, that is great for her. But I don't care. Kate Middleton gained weight? So? She still looks healthy to me. And even if she DID gain weight and became a little overweight, why must the world know? Who cares? It is her body and her life. I honestly could not care more about who lost and gained weight.

Maybe this is because of my experience with ED. The obsession with my body and weight made me realize that the world is too focussed on these things. What is saddening is that people (ex. the media) uses this stuff as 'news' and to attract our attention. Honestly, I am sick of seeing stories about celebrities and weight loss/gain. It is not news-worthy. And it is these stories that reinforce our soceity's beleifs about weight, food, and our bodies. For someone struggling with ED, this can make it worse. Everyone around them tries to say 'do not worry about your weight! No one cares!' - but then everywhere this person looks, everyone is talking about weight. This makes it hard to recover, to get better, and to seek help. For someone without ED - and for me in recovery - this just make me disgusted. Is our world so void of anything interesting that we have to write about people's bodies and their weights? Really? You have nothing better to talk about?

The focus on weight and bodies is just too much. Celebrities are often (not surprsingly) hit with eating disorders because of all the pressure to lose weight, to look good, etc. The media definitely does not help.

When someone gains weight, the news is all over the person. Why did they gain? Are they lacking control over themselves? Are they emotionally eating? Are they PREGANNT? If they lost weight, the same happens. Why did they lose? Do they have ED? HOW did they lose the weight? What is the golden secret? How can YOU lose weight just like they did? Who is their cook and trainer?! How much did it cost? How long did it take? How can you do this at home with the same resutls?!

I'm not saying our bodies are not important. They are. And we should take care of them. We should eat in moderation, happily and in a healthy. But the media does not need to let us know everytime a celebrity gains or loses weight. And this really does not matter. Bodies are not meant to be bought and sold on an open market. News should not tell us about who gained how much and how XXX lost this many pounds. It is simply not appropriate. And it is not healthy.

Here's a challenge for you. The next time you go out to a store or mall, look at the first magazine you see. What is the cover about? The stories inside? Is there talk of someone losing or gaining weight? Or something about how 'hot' or 'chubby' this person looks? I guarantee you will see something about this. It just goes to show that the world, unforuantely, has come to put so much attention on weight and our bodies that it fails to realize how deterimental this is.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

'Love your body!'...?

We hear it all the time: 'love your body!'. As much as this SOUNDS wonderful, it really is hard. Especially for someone like me, who has (or still does) suffered from ED. It is strange how society confuses us: one moment we are being told that we are too large and need to lose weight, and the next minute we are encouraged to love our bodies.

I have a confession to make: I do not love my body. There I said it! I DO NOT LOVE IT!

But I'm still living. Loving my body is hard. I still look in the mirror and am not happy. I do not like the way my body looks - my thighs, my stomach, my chest, my behind...etc.

Before you go crazy on me, let me explain. I am recovering from ED. My weight is restored, I am eating enough, and life is getting back to normal. But the body image issue still is there. And it has been with me since I was a little kid. I remember being about six years old and wondering why I had so much fat on my stomach, when other kids did not. So you see, this body image thing has been around for a while. And while I do not love my body, at least I am recovering.

How many people, to be honest, truly love their bodies? I do not know of many people (or anyone, actually) who can look in the mirror and call themselves 'sexy beasts!'. But while we do not all love our bodies, we have learned to appreciate them. What I mean by this is that although I do not adore the way my body looks, I am thankful that I am healthy. I do not have to look in the mirror and love what I see, but I am trying to learn how to accept it. This is my body - my healthy, non-ED body. It does great things for me. My legs help me walk, my hands let me write, my eyes help me see, my brain helps me think, my kidneys remove wastes, my stomach digests food, etc.

While campagins always encourage us to 'love our bodies', I think it is more important that we stop using this cliche. It is such a common phrase that we forget to stop and think about what it really means. It is really possible to, 100% of the time, look at yourself and love everything about it? Likely not. But we can appreciate what our body does for us, or how ir helps us live. We can like certain things about it, like our eyes, our hair, our whatever. Is this wrong? Does this mean we are all ill or have ED or disordered eating? NO! It is reality: we will never love everything about ourselves at once. We are human.

While I am not in love with my body, I have come a long way. I do not love what I see in the mirror, but I do not stare at myself and critcize it, either. I do a quick check in the mirror before leaving to make sure I look presentable, and that is it. No standing in front of my reflection to pick out what I do not like. This has helped me learn that the way I look is only ONE part of life - not the most important thing. As long as I do not have dirt on myself, my reflection is fine.

I guess the point of this post is really to make it clear that recovering from ED does not have to mean that you love your body. Because I do not, and I consider myself to have achieved a lot in recovery. I may not LOVE it, but I appreciate it. I tolerate it. I try not to think about it as often. This helps a lot. Perhaps the key to recovery and success is not necessarily learning to love your body, but maybe it is more of learning to accept or appreciate your body, or to stop focussing so much on it.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

It is an illness

It's often said that eating disorders are options. As if someone would choose to starve him or herself. As though the idea of slowly dying is appealing to anyone. This is why we have organizations (like NEDIC) to inform the public about what ED really is about.
 
Eating disorders are not choices. They are real and very serious illnesses. They are mental illnesses. They need treatment. They take time to fix. They affect your mental, physical, emotional, and social health. They cannot be ignored. They are prominent around the world, even if you don't think so.
 
I think it's time that we begin to understand that ED is a very serious condition. It can rob a person of their life within a short time frame. It changes the person. EDs can creep up on an individual without warning. But once it starts, it needs help.
 
We need to understand that EDs need treatment. Food is a priority. But there are many other things that need 'fixing'. The person may need medications for depression, anxiety, etc. The victim might need therapy to learn coping skills or to get rid of their traumatic experiences. The individual needs a loving, supportive, and caring environment. And then the person needs TIME. Time to heal, to recover. Time to realize that they deserve a better life - a healthier life. Time to make up for all the time that ED took away from their happiness. All I'd this can't be fixed quickly. Nor is it easy. But it is worth it.
 
The public needs to understand that EDs are illnesses, just like cancer. You would not blame someone for having cancer. Nor would you decide that they didn't need treatment to recover. You would give them all the help they need, along with love and support. And you would make sure that they have the chance to heal and recover from what they have suffered. You would ensure that they are strong enough to continue with their treatment. You would help them heal and recover.
 
So the next time you think about ED, try thinking of it like any other disease state or health issue: it needs treatment, the patient deserves help, and recovery IS possible. It will change the way you understand eating disorders.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Disney's reply...

Do you remember a few months back, when I posted about how Disney was going to change some of the characters to look 'thinner and more attractive'? You might also remember that I started a petition on this site, and many people signed it. Well, I sent this to Disney a while ago, but I just got a reply now.

'Dear valued visitor and fan,
Thank you for your concern and interest in Disney's products and media relations. We appreciate your strong devotion and love for our original characters. Due to the review we got from the public regarding this new characters, we have decided to remove them and keep the orignal characters in all their Disney states. We hope you continue to love Disney and get satisfation at all our products and services. Once again, we would like to thank you and orhers who signed your petition. This loyalty is heart-warming.

Sincerely,
The team at Walt Disney'

YAY!!! We did it! I'm not saying that Disney decided to keep the original characters JUST because of the petition that we put otgether on this site, but I know that this made a difference! This is truly something amazing because it shows us just how much we can do if we work together. By signing this petition and voicing our concerns, we truly showed others that we value original beauty and satisfaction, and that distorting images is NOT okay!

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition, who supports me here, and who reads and comments on the blog. I am overwhelemed by the amount of love, support, and honesty that this place has for many readers, as well as for myself. This is a perfect example of how we can make a difference.

So, it is possible. The world is a tough place, and it might seem as though small actions will not make a difference. Sometimes, they will not make an OBVIOUS difference. But this is an example of what happens when many people with the same beliefs and values work together - we can change the world. And to ED, we ARE decreasing his power over victims and his intent to capture more slaves. We are defeating ED, one bite at a time.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Bullying

I was bullied a lot when I was young . I remember being in JK and SK, and some kids were calling me fat. In grade two, a few girls teased me by putting grapes down my back when I was not looking. In elementary school, no one picked me to be on their team for sports or in gym class. In grade seven and eight, my teachers told me that I was going to fail gym because I could not perform as well as the other atheletes. In grade eight, a boy who I had a crush on told me that he could never like me because I had 'too big thighs'.

I hate bullying. Why do people (and kids included) have to be so mean? Honestly, why can't we just mind our own business and let people live their lives, without making fun of others? I cannot stand seeing others get bullied. When I volunteer, I try my best to help kids accept one another and to avoid any teasing. Words really do hurt. Sometimes, all it takes is for a mean person to say one thing - one simple word or phrase - and already, someone is hurt inside. And who knows what this can lead to? Stress, eating disorders, pain, poor academic performance, poor relationships, sadness, depression, anxiety, and even suicide. What is even more concerning is that some people are completely unaware that what they are doing or saying is hurting others.

We need to speak out against bullying. Not only is it wrong, but it is also dangerous and simply unacceptable. This is for kids, but also adults. Adults can be bullies, too. They can bully children - for example, teachers who discourage their students or do not stop bullying in the classroom. Adults can even bully their own children by putting too much expectations on them and not rewarding their kids for being good or special. Adults can also bully other adults. I see this all the time, but it is often not recognized as bullying. Why? Because for some reason, we think that adults are too 'old' or mature to bully. But, let's pretend that you are at work and a co-worker is going for a smoke. You decline because you do not drink or smoke. What happens next? This person teases you and goes around telling others how they cannot believe that you are so 'old-fashioned' or 'cautious'. This is bullying. Or what about being left out of an office conversation because your coworkers think that you are too 'religious' or 'innocent'. That is bullying. And as such, it needs to be recognized and addressed.

I wish I had the ultimate solution to bullying. But I don't. No one does. Sure, we can try educating others, including kids and adults, about why bullying is wrong and why we should not engage in this behaviour. But we also need to target other things. We need to look at WHY bullying happens in the first place. Is the bully insecure in some way? Sometimes people bully because they are unhappy with something in themselves, so they take it out on others who may be better than them in this particulat thing. At other times, people bully because they want to feel strong and powerful, or because they want atttention from others. And lastly, someone might not even know that they are being a bully until someone speaks out! So, if you see bullying, try to step out and say something, it is safe to do so. If not, try to find ways to stop the bullying. And lastly, help the victim. People who are bullied can have a lot of emotions going on - anger, hatred, sadness, stress, frustartion, etc. And they need someone.

When I was bullied, I was thrilled when I found someone there to listen. A friend who came by my side and said, 'don't worry about them. You are fine the way you are and they are being bullies'. That made my day. It might not have stopped the bullies, but it made me feel like I was not alone. It made me realize that not everyone is a mean bully. It made me see that when others are being bullied, I should do the same for them. I have felt the pain of bullying - physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. And it is not a good feeling. So, please, be that one person who helps others deal with bullying. Let this victim know that they are not alone, and that the problem is NOT in them - it is a problem of others, of society, and of the wrold.

Maybe we cannot stop bullying. Maybe we do not have control over the entire world. But we can help to heal the pain that victims feel. We can control the way WE respond to bullies and to others. Because sometimes, all it takes is one stone in the ocean to create a ripple. And that ripple can create other ripples that eventually make waves. And before you know it, that wave has expanded into the entire ocean. Please, be that stone. Start the chain of waves that can change the world. You will be glad you did. And others will too.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy Mothers' Day!

Today is Mothers' Day! Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms, sisters, aunts, grandmas, cousins, etc all over the world! You deserve to be recognized everyday for your work, but today is a special day just for us to tell you how amazing and wonderful you all are!

This day is certainly important for me, because my mom is my best friend. She is everything to me. I want her to know how much she means to me - and how much I appreciate her. Mom, this is for you!

Last year on Mother's Day, I was dying in the ICU and could not breathe. I didn't even have enough breath to tell my mom, 'happy mothers' day'. And she didn't protest or complain. She stayed by my side and prayed, looking into my dull and tired eyes. She told me, 'don't worry, Marina. You will be okay. All I want for Mother's Day is for you to be alive and to come out of this healthy and well. That is the best and only gift I want'.

I cried because I couldn't give her a proper gift - one that she deserved. I promised in my heart that if God allowed me to live, I would make it up to my mother the next year. And God listened. He kept me alive for my mother, so that this year, she could have her gift. I'm alive with her. And thank God, today I can say...

Happy Mother's Day to the best mother in the whole world.

I love you so much mommy. You are my life. You gave me life twice: once when you gave birth to me, and again when you supported me last year during my illness. As a child, you provided me with everything I needed - food, clothes, love, advice, toys, knowledge, and more. As a young adult, you guide me in life and are a perfect example of what Christ intends us to be. Last year, you stayed by my side in the hospital and never left me. You prayed for me and gave me hope whenever I felt down. You wiped my tears, brushed my hair, fed me my food, helped me get dressed, and advocated for my care. You refused to believe that this illness would take away my life. You knew that I would live, and I did. Mommy, I am alive today because of your faith, perseverance, and care. May God bless you and fill you with His peace, love, strength, and joy. You deserve all the blessings in this world because YOU are a blessing to our family. God bless you and keep you for us, my adorable mama ♥

"A faithful woman is far more precious than jewels...she opens her mouth with wisdom...she watches over her home....she surpasses them all" (Proverbs 31:10, 25:30).

That is you, mom. You surpass them all! I love you so much.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Bulimia/Purging

I will do my best to explain these disorders, as was requested by some readers. I have not experienced them first hand, but I work with NEDIC/other organizations to help people with them, and I have researched quite a bit on them. I hope this helps!

Bulimia is an ED in which the victim eats food and then purges. Purging can take many forms, but the most common ways are vomitting, excercising excessively, or using laxatives. I want to make a clear distinction here: there is bulimia, anoerxia nervosa purging, and binge-purge disorder. Bulimia alone is simply the act of eating normal food amunts but then purging. AN purging is when the person eats very little, but still purges. Binge-purge is when the victim eats tremendous amounts of amounts, and then purges.

Purging is extremely harmful to the human body. There are numerous consequences, including teeht problems, throat irritation, stomach cancers, acid reflux, etc. Aside from that, it is a hard habit to break. Just as starvation became the norm for me, so does purging for these victims. The impulse to purge is so strong and hard to resist. For example, someone who has this disorder might eat and then run to the bathroom to throw up. Others will take laxatives in extreme quantities to berid of the food. In treatment centres, bathrooms are often looked for this purpose. This is why someone with a purging disorder needs help: if they are at home or somewhere else, it is easy for them to purge. In treatment, however, they cannot. I do not mean that you cannot recover from purging at home - this is something your medical team can help you determine. However, it requires self-control, discipline, and a lot of strength.

I have worked with people who tell me that purging makes them feel 'clean' after they have just eatena meal. This poor victims have a problem: whenever they eat, they feel fat - just like I used to. They feel so bad for eating that they cannot stand having something in their bodies and stomachs. So, they find a way to make themselves empty. It soon becomes a cycle of eating, purging, eating, purging, etc. Again, this disorder might not be correcrly diagnosed in people for many reasons. First, someone might purge and their weight can still be normal, or they might not look thin. Thus, their disorder might be unrecognized. Next, people will not usually admit to purging, or to having any ED for that matter. Finally, the DSM criteria for diagnosing these disorders is very narrow: you have to purge at least three times a week, eat a lot of food in one sitting, etc. So, if someone who purges twice a week still has this problem, they unfortunately will not get diagnosed. If you can tell by my posts, you will notice that this is a major problem I have with the DSM: it fails to identify many people with EDs because of the strict and exlcusive criteria.

Treatment for purging is hard, just like with any ED. The victim MUST stop purging. Supporters can help the patient by staying with them after meals, or by distracting them. For example, after a meal, play a game, watch a movie, or talk. Victims often will not want to talk about the disorder, unless they feel safe and can trust others. Talking can help this person identify why they purge and how it harms them. Restoration of a healthy weight is also important, along with regular eating patterns.

To all those who struggle with purging, you have my prayers and support. I know that it is hard; anorexia nervosa was the hardest struggle I have encountered in my life. But I also know that recovery is completely possible. It takes so much work, but it can be done. Do not give up. At the same time, do not give in to ED. He is a nasty, cunning, and mean fool who will do anything to have more victims. Do not fall prey to his traps; get help and ensure that you live a healthy, happy life.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Summer plans

I'm done exams now, although I have summer school. I've been waiting for the summer for so long, considering that I didn't have much of a summer vacation last year. Last summer, I was in the hospital and did not have time to read, play, relax, or go out. This summer will be different. This summer, I plan on having fun!

Something that I've noticed about me is that keeping busy is important. I cannot stay at home one day and do nothing. I cannot stay in bed all day either. For one, this makes me feel lazy and it wastes time. It also gives me nothing to do, which means that there might be room for ED to taunt or tease me. This is why I like to keep busy. Thankfully, I have lots to do! I have books to read that I can't wait to start on! I also can't wait to have time to play board games, watch movies, and relax with family and friends. I'm a shopping addict, and I plan on shopping this summer as well! 

What makes this summer different is that I'm healthy and free from ED. I don't have to worry about being too weak to do anything because I'm eating my meals and I have enough energy. I don't have to be anxious about hiding food because I'm eating, just like everyone else. It feels great to look forward to a summer where ED won't bother me. Of course, ED WILL try to plague me. I know that he hates when I'm happy with recovery. He will make me feel fat and ugly. He will tell me that I'm a terrible person for eating regularly. But keeping busy helps me a lot. When I have something to do, I have no time to let ED bother me. Meal times no longer become horrific moments because I make sure that I'm eating while doing an activity - whatever that may be. 

This summer is going to be different. I won't worry about ED making my life terrible. This will be the first summer vacation in about seven years that I won't have to worry about finding ways to restrict. It will also be the first summer in a long time when I can go out and have the energy to do whatever I want - and not have to convince others that I "already hate". I will have actually eaten! I can't wait to spend my first summer free of ED. It's amazing to think how a year ago, I was so sick and never would have accepted eating anything at all. A year later, I'm feeding myself my meals, eating on time, healthy, and happy. A year makes a big difference. This, then, is another major benefit of recovery: being able to look forward to the summer and making fun plans, without worrying about ED wrecking everything. I'm very blessed.