Endings and New Beginnings

–I had written this post before, but it got lost. Here is attempt #2.–

Today is the last day of operation of FxMcRory’s. I am more emotional about it’s closure than I thought I would be.

I worked here many years ago as a food runner during Seattle sports gamedays. Located nearby the stadiums, FxMcRory’s is a popular bar and restaurant with over 40 years of operation. It has a reputation of being the tailgate location before games, especially the Seahawks, where the bar fills up by 9-10am and there are wall-to-wall people.

The years I worked here were very busy and when I was at my most ill. I spent many days struggling to make it through the up to 10-12 hour shifts with few breaks. I was anxious, stressed, and sick most every day I worked. It was some of the roughest years of my life.

But working here and those years in my life were not all bad. Between the stresses of my job and my eating disorder and anxiety, I also entered my recovery. I went from struggling to make it through my days and shifts to thriving and moving forward with the rest of my life.

This place, this bar, is my constant reminder of the struggle of where I started and the joy of where I am going. I look around here at this place and those memories and I am reminded that I have grown so much and I have so much ahead of me. Where I used to barely get by, I now thrive. This was the end of the pain and sadness of my eating disorder and the beginning of my recovery.

As it closes, I too close a chapter in my life. I am transitioning from the beginnings of my recovery into the next stage of my life–going to school again and getting a second Bachelor’s degree. I do not know exactly what is ahead of me, but I am reminded what is behind. I feel grief, relief, sorrow, and triumpth. I know that the past may have been difficult, but my future is here and now and I cannot wait to see what will happen and what I will experience.

A salute to endings and new beginnings! Goodbye FxMcRory’s and hello Washington State University and my future!

Politics: Healthcare

Today is a very difficult day for me.  It is a difficult day for so many people.  We are entering an unknown period of time with a new US president and a GOP controlled congress.  Their goals are not necessarily the goals of the majority of the American people and it is scary.  No one knows what will happen, what the president and congress can or will accomplish, and no one can say that everything will be okay.

And it scares me.

I rely on healthcare and the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.  There are so many people in America who do.  It was a lifesaver covering me because of my mental health pre-existing conditions, erasing lifetime limits, and covering me on my parents health plans until I was 26.  I rely on the mandate that people are required to purchase healthcare to keep costs down for everyone because the more healthy people that purchase healthcare, the cheaper it is for all of us.  These healthy people who use their insurance less, keep costs through paying into the system and not using their health insurance as frequently as others.  When so many healthy people did not buy into this system and instead choose to pay the fine, my premiums and so many other’s rose.

The law is not perfect.  Definitely not.  For instance, with the ACA I qualify for subsidies and plans that would not meet my needs as a person who needs to utilize my plan often.  Therefore, I need to purchase a plan outside of the exchange and usually it means only being able to choose between two companies in the state of Washington.  Neither plan necessarily meets my full needs because I use in-network and out of network care and the deductible for out of network are always ridiculous even on the best plans available.

I am lucky.  I can purchase outside of the exchange.  I have the financial ability to do so when so many do not.  They may have healthcare but these deductibles in the ACA that are too outrageous to make it worthwhile.

The logical thing would be to make the law better or replace it with universal healthcare, which would be a single-payer system.  But the current people in power do not see healthcare as a human right, only a right of the privileged few who can pay.  They will do what they can to destroy what is good about the law, not replace it with something better, and those like me who rely on healthcare will be left wondering what to do next, which is paying for basic needs like housing and gas and our doctors and medication.

And this is what terrifies me.  It is not only that my healthcare is at jeopardy–it is the healthcare of millions.  People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake all in the name of partisan politics and money.  Disproportionately it is the lives and livelihoods of poor and minority households that will be affected by a repeal and already struggle to afford healthcare under the ACA because of huge deductibles and rising premiums.  It is because rich white men in government do not care about people who are not other rich white men and blatantly lie about their true motives to continue to get elected by an electorate that is (sometimes) well-intentioned yet uninformed.

 

7 Goals for 2017 & Update

I cannot believe how quickly 2016 came and went.

There has been so much going on in my life over the past many months since my last entry.  I have tried writing many times, but I have been interrupted or became too busy to finish posts.  While it is not a bad thing to get busy with life, it does make me sad that I have neglected my blog so much recently.

I am going to work in the next couple weeks on making updates on what has been going on in my life since my last entry.  One update in particular is so big that it definitely needs its own blog post.  Keep an eye out for those.

Since it is 2017 and I always like to make goals (whether I achieve them or not) for each new year, here are my 7 goals for 2017:

  1. Write: I always have all of these great ideas in the car, shower, and at work but never can find the time to actually write!  I really want to work on creating more space and time for myself for writing.
  2. Keep working on my issues: I still have things I need to work on, places where I can improve, etc.  I am always a work in progress.
  3. Prepare myself for Fall: There are new beginnings happening in the fall.  I need to prepare myself as much as I can for the changes ahead.
  4. Resources: Ensure I have the resources I need to accomplish what I want to.
  5. Relationships: Continue to invest in the relationships I have and build new ones.
  6. Next step: Keep working towards the next step in my life, whatever that may be–grad school, career, etc.
  7. Stay positive: Re-frame, re-frame, re-frame! #CBT

ICED 2016 Wrap-Up: Advocate/Blogger Perspective

I have never been to ICED before and it was a bit of a shock.  Unlike the NEDA Conference, which I usually go to, this one is a lot more academic and focused on research and clinicians.  It was also a lot bigger with roughly double NEDA’s usual attendance.  As a current non-student and introvert, I felt intimidated and overwhelmed.  I realized over the course of the 4 days I was there that my feelings were not unique (a lot of people have the same feelings) and that really I was in the right place–I belong at ICED and in AED.

Despite my fears, the conference was incredible.  It was everything that I was hoping that it was going to be, but feared expecting of it.  I was able to learn tons and network with the people I needed to.  It was the richest experience from a conference that I have had in a while and it makes me want to attend every ICED.

Plenaries, Workshops, and SIGs Oh My!

From the opening speaker, I knew the conference was going to be controversial.  To open ICED with a speaker formerly employed by Unilever speaking on her experience working for Unilever’s Dove brand and their Self-Esteem Project was bold.  It ended up sounding as positive as one can imagine.  Half the speech was a Unilever advertisement on the awesomeness of the company and the good that they are doing for society and the world (this is the same company that owns a skin-lighting cream and Axe body spray) and the second half was focused on the actual Dove Self-Esteem Project.  It was not a particular hit with the audience or me.  I am not a fan of this company (or any company) co-opting the body-positive movement for sales to begin with and this speech really reminded me of why.

The next day’s opening Plenary was just as controversial with phrases thrown about such as “obesity kills a lot of people” as if it were somehow even a fact or relevant at an eating disorders conference.  The presenters had some interesting things to say in general, but it was hard to listen when their speeches and studies had quite a bit of weight stigma and lacked diversity at all as though every individual with an eating disorder is a cis-gender white female.

Beyond the controversial plenaries and speakers, I went to some absolutely wonderful sessions.  It is those sessions that made my time at ICED so much more meaningful and inspiring.

The SIG Discussion Panel on eating disorder recovery was fascinating and thought-provoking.  Several presenters were questioning the definition of recovery and whether we can or should define it and ways to possibly define it.  It really made me think about how I have defined recovery, how the field defines recovery, and how society defines recovery.

That presentation really stuck with me throughout the weekend and this past week.  I have really been contemplating all the ways recovery is defined by not only myself, but others.  One of the great points brought up in the presentation was if it was actually a good thing to define recovery.  The reason for this was that others would feel as though if their recoveries did not look like those that it was just another way they did not measure up and how they have failed.  That made perfect sense to me.  I have been using the hashtag RecoverED for quite a while and I have used it as a definition for the outside world and others to know that I no longer have eating disorder behaviors and suffer from an eating disorder.  But what kind of message might that send to others who are still suffering?  What is RecoverED?  I think I need to change my message and go back to simply using the word ‘recovery’ and better define how my life is now post-eating disorder.

Another really meaningful session for me was the Trauma, PTSD, and Eating Disorders workshop on Saturday with Dr. Timothy Brewerton, Jenni Schaefer, and June Alexander.  June and Jenny shared their trauma, PTSD, and eating disorders journeys with the group and Dr. Brewerton provided the medical background for the session.  Jenni’s story in particular was one I could relate to and touched me deeply.  This topic of eating disorders and trauma is one of the issues I bring up often at conferences because of how common it seems to be in eating disorders and how deeply it has affected me in my life.  It does not seem to be on many provider’s or treatment center’s radars when it really should be.

I could not end this without discussing how amazing Plenary Session IV was on Saturday morning.  The plenary had a social justice focus and brought together some incredible speakers–Thereasa Fassihi, Chevese Turner, Ilan Meyer, Marcella Raimondo, Sigrun Danielsdottir, and Deb Burgard.  In this plenary, the social justice, marginalized voices, intersectionality, sexual and gender minorities, diversity, etc. topics were front and center.  It was clear from the opening that it was about not just who was in the room, but who was not in the room.  (From the demographics of the conference, that is an important thing to point out.)  The theme centered around who we are missing from the research and treatment and why.  The only thing that would have made this plenary better was if it was not relegated to the last day at 9am.  It should have been an opener for everyone to think about throughout the conference instead of something about half attended.  This topic is too important.

Networking

For me, conferences are not just about going to sessions.  It is a lot about networking.  Connections help me move forward and make what I do feel even more fulfilling.  I think that is why ICED was even more wonderful.  It was almost as though everyone got the same memo–attend ICED!  Nearly everyone who I am connected to went to ICED this year.

It is truly hard to describe what it feels like to be at the same conference with so many people who share your passion and drive with the same kinds of beliefs and desires.  It is a very validating experience and one that I do not get very often since I live in Seattle and far from many other advocates, organizations, conferences, etc.  It really fills up my soul to know that I am not alone not only in my experience but in my desire to make a shift in the conversation surrounding eating disorders.

This conference was special from any of the others that I have ever been to.  Instead of simply another conference experience, it was a culmination of all the conference experiences I have had and all the social networking I have done.  People knew who I was and wanted to connect with me and others who I had connected with wanted to connect even more.  It felt incredibly validating and made me feel happy, as if I had finally made it into this field that I have tried to insert myself into for so long.  I have been searching for that for quite a while and to find it is really hard to describe with words.  It is like finding your best friend you have pretty much everything in common with and you wonder how you never found them until now.  Like being recognized for your work with an award or recognition and everyone is ecstatic for you.  Like finally finding that validation that you needed so badly and feeling that relief that comes afterwards.  Or maybe even like enjoying your favorite dessert with your favorite people.

It was this finding my place and my people about ICED that really touched me and made the conference a success.  It is a big part of what I need to continue to do what I do and hopefully do more in the future.  Definitely not the only part, but a big piece.  I cannot wait to see everyone again and be even more inspired by and vocal about the workshops.

I hope to see you all BEDA 2016 Oct 27-29 in San Francisco (yes, also!), which I will be attending!

My Recovery Journey: Four Years Later

Four years ago today I was returning home following my second stay in residential treatment.  Today I am at the ICED conference preparing to network, learn, and figure out a next step in my life as I navigate working as a professional in this field.  It is incredible to look back each and every year and realize the changes that I have made and the hurdles I have overcome.  None of it was easy, some of it was incredibly painful and hard, but it has all been worth it to get to this point.  If I have made it this far in four years, I can only imagine where I will be in four more.

I hope that you, too, celebrate each and every accomplishment.  You are worth it.

ICED and Other Things

I am on my way to AED’s ICED Conference. I have been looking forward to going to this for an entire year, ever since I heard it would be in San Francisco. I am so excited that it has been hard to contain my excitement. I am also terrified because this conference is a big deal and going is yet another step towards working in this field and moving forward in my life as a whole.

ICED is going to be huge this year. It is double the attendance of NEDA in a usual year. It will be epic to say the least. I have to be on top of my game as well as well versed in who I am and why I am present. It is daunting and overwhelming. But at the same time, I will have so many people there that I know that I know I will be and feel supported. It is those individuals that really help the fear and apprehension that I feel in finally going to this conference.

Outside of going to this conference, I have been busy with family stuff, contemplating graduate school moves and/or future careers, working through important issues in my life, and thinking through plenty of blog topics. Of course whenever I think of blog topics, I am either in the shower, driving, or otherwise engaged, so it is impossible to write down my brilliant ideas. Hopefully I will get to writing some new things in the next few weeks/month or so. I have ideas regarding post-treatment life and some other treatment-related topics. I want to get a bit more academic in these posts since that’s where I am in life.

I cannot wait to update during the conference and post-conference. Don’t forget to follow my Twitter as I will be posting a lot of it there, too, including Donut Quest 2016! See you soon!

6 Goals for 2016

Hello again!  Forgive me for my absence.  The last 8 months or so have been hectic and crazy with a lot of change and transition going on in my life.  Time to get back to some blogging.

It is nearly the end of the year now and that means it is time for me to set some goals for the new year.  It is something I have been doing for many years now and I love doing it.  It keeps me focused on what I want to achieve and the things I am still striving towards.

Since it is about to be 2016, let’s do 6 for ’16!

  1. Write: I am really striving to write more.  I got out of the rhythm of blogging and let other things get in the way of it.  In 2016, I am going to make it a top goal to keep blogging, journaling, and tweeting.
  2. Work through my issues: I have things to work on—everyone does.  As with every year, I really want to keep working as hard as I can to overcome my issues.  I have confidence in myself.  I know I can do this.
  3. Continue and finish re-organizing my space: I finally have some new pieces for my space that I have needed desperately.  Now it is up to me to put it all together.  I really want to accomplish this and make my space even more my own and workable.
  4. Graduate school applications: I am finally going to apply to graduate school in 2016.  It will be a full-year commitment to get everything together to apply.  I have some of it done already, but there is still more to go.  Fingers crossed!
  5. Create a backup plan: If not graduate school, then what?  If I do not get in, what will be my next move?
  6. Keep reaching towards my goals: Sometimes I get really down on myself because I believe that I am not good enough for this or that, but I need to keep in mind that I am.  I need to keep reaching towards the things that I want instead of allowing other things to get in the way.

What are your goals for 2016?

Happy (almost) New Year everyone!

My Recovery Journey: Sharing My Story

Ever since I entered a solid recovery from my eating disorder, I felt a calling to have a voice in the field of eating disorders and mental health.  I felt that in order to reduce shame/stigma, increase awareness, and help spread the message of recovery, I needed to be a voice in the community—no, I had to be.  I knew that staying quiet about what I had experienced would keep me in a place of shame, stigma, and secrecy and I did not want that anymore.  I decided to create this blog and write in order to share my story.

I wanted to make a positive impact.  I wanted to pay-it-forward after receiving so much while I was in the throes of the eating disorder.  It is in sharing my story and doing advocacy that I have tried to do this.  With each positive feedback on my work, I know I am doing the right thing for me, that I have done what I have set out to do.

To not speak out for me would be keeping myself in secrecy and shame.  Instead of putting a face to this illness and a story of how I overcame what I did, I would be another individual in the shadows.  That is not what I wanted for my recovery and my journey.

It is a risk to share my story knowing that anyone can read what I have written.  But I do so unashamed of myself and where I have been and where I am now.  All those experiences–slips, falls, fails, setbacks–made me who I am.  They made me a stronger person.  It is those experiences that shine a light on this disease and the journey past them that give hope.

Not everyone makes the choice I did and not everyone has to.  That is the beauty of recovery–you get to choose what you want to be/do!

I do not regret my decision to speak out and share my story.  It has given me so many opportunities to connect with others, grow as a person, and learn.  It has been an extra push for me in my life to make it to the point in my life where I can now say I am recovered.  It is a constant inspiration to be not only a recovered person but the person who I am meant to become.

This blog is where I have been and where I am going.  And I am unashamed.

My Recovery Journey: RecoverED?

All of the things that have happened in my life over the last year have really been on my mind in the last month. I have been thinking mostly about how far I have come and how much I have overcome.  And it is not just in the last year that there have been huge changes and strides made in my life, it has been a long transition over time since I first tried recovery in 2010.

From 2010 to now, things have changed drastically. I am not fighting daily to stay in recovery. I am not battling every day against an eating disorder voice that will not stop. I am not waging a war against my body and self because I hate them so much. Instead I am living my life, doing what I love, and loving myself more. It is a complete turnaround.

Everyone’s definition of recovery and recovered is different. My definition is living a life outside of the eating disorder. I think I have finally found that life. I think I have finally found recoverED.

15 Goals for 2015

Hello again, readers.  It has been a while.

This past year was a difficult one for me. I went through a lot of change and transition and had just a generally rough time.

It is now a bit into 2015 and I have been thinking hard about the prior and upcoming years. What can I do differently this year that will make an impact so that this can be a better year than the last? What kind of goals do I have that I would like to accomplish this year? I think I have come up with a few. Here are my 15 for 2015:

1. Write.
I have not been writing like I would like to and like I enjoy, so this year I will try to write as much as I wrote previously and maybe more. I will not hold myself to a certain number but simply have a goal to write more. I have plenty to write about so hopefully it will not be a problem.

2. Get a better work/life/etc. balance.
One of the other reasons I have been struggling to write is finding some time in between everything else. I would like to set a goal of making a plan to strike a balance between my activities.

3. Figuring out a “next step”.
In my recovery, it has been a series of steps from one stage to the next. I have been stuck in the same place for a while and I think and feel it is time to move on to the next whatever. I really hope to figure out what that is. And this does not simply encompass recovery but my life.

4. Finish reorganizing/redoing my space.
At the beginning of this new year, I completely tore apart my space and cleaned from top to bottom. Everything that needed to go that was not useful anymore, went. It was a hugely relieving experience. I still have a little bit to go and I know I can get it done!

5. Attend at least one conference this year.
I fell in love with conferences after I attended my first one in 2013. It was so awesome. I hope to at least make it to one this year!

6. Feel more comfortable in my own body.
I am still working very hard on my body image and feeling comfortable with my body. I hope to continue on this path through this year and make strides towards finally being okay with the way I look because in the end I am okay, enough, and lovable at any size.

7. Work through the “deep stuff”.
There are a few big items on my list of things to work through and overcome. I hope to make that list just a bit shorter this year and every year.

8. Get active!
I love being active whether it is hiking, soccer, dance, etc. I have not been as active lately and I miss it terribly. This year I will strive to add more activity and have some more fun!

9. Keep pursuing what I love.
Never give up on my goals, hopes, and dreams just because I may not reach them right now or fail here and there. I am a worthwhile pursuit.

10. Celebrate!
When I get into a down mood, I tend to forget to celebrate the small wins and myself. This year I am going to work on continuing to celebrate every accomplishment, big and small. Also, I am going to celebrate my birthday meaningfully.

11. Be grateful.
One of the things I struggle with quite a bit when I am really down is being grateful for what I do have or in general showing gratitude to those who deserve it in my life. I am going to really try to insert more gratitude in my life.

12. Have fun!
I am generally pretty good at having fun and keeping fun going in my life, but I would like to strive to have more diverse fun in my life and have a more balanced fun. Instead of the same video game over and over, play a new one once in a while. Also, in keeping with having fun in my life, I want to work on still going out or still having fun even when I am done. I tend to cancel plans or be a downer during whatever activity it is because I am not in the best mood and/or think I will not have fun. I want to work on that this year.

13. “Always look on the bright side of life!”
I am a pretty positive person, especially so in public. In private, I can be more of a downer when I am depressed. I want to work on continuing to have that more positive outlook regardless of my emotional state.

14. Re-connect and connect with others.
This one is huge for me. I had a lot of connections in college and afterwards I have not been able to have that again. I am working hard on connecting to new people and continuing to connect with those that I have known. I need to keep up with this and make it a priority. It is very important to me.

15. Keep learning and growing.
I never want to stay static. This year is a year of growth and I look. Forward to what is to come.

What are your goals, hopes, and dreams for 2015?