My OCD and Me

Eating disorder recovery does not end when the behaviors do.  It does not end when the urges stop or subside for some amount of time.  It continues, only it is a different battle.  The battle turns to the emotional.  Recovery becomes about what has fueled the eating disorder for so long and why an eating disorder was used to cope.  It becomes learning about new ways to cope and finally working through all the pain, hurt, despair.

I find myself in that place especially at the moment.  Instead of turning to my eating disorder or having the urge to do so, I am turning to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) instead.  Long before my eating disorder came into my life, I struggled with OCD.  It was my “effective” coping mechanism for as long as I can remember.  In fact, I cannot remember a time in my life without OCD.  It even has strong ties to my eating disorder.  The two have shared an almost symbiotic relationship with each other either working in-tandem or replacing one another as coping mechanisms.  It is only at this point the two are beginning to separate and I find myself more stuck in the OCD more frequently.

For the first time in a long time, I am feeling the weight of attempting recovery.  This one for my OCD.  This is also while still in recovery from my eating disorder, which I still have work to do on and have to work to maintain.  Both while also controlling my anxiety.

One thing that recovery has taught me, however, is that if you do not try, you will never know what could happen.  For the longest time, I went through the motions and waited to see if anything would come of it because I had nothing to lose by at least trying recovery.  I had no idea I had absolutely everything to gain.  I have gained beyond my wildest hopes and dreams.

I think it might be time for me to try OCD recovery.  I have nothing to lose and I have no idea what I have to gain.  The possibilities are endless.  And maybe, just maybe, there is freedom from the obsessions and compulsions out there.  A freedom that I have never known in my entire life.

I encourage all of you to challenge your negative coping mechanisms you may be harboring in recovery outside the eating disorder.  Or have you been successful?  Maybe you are working on more emotional issues right now.  What challenges have you given yourself lately?

Keep fighting the good fight! 🙂

Almost Anorexic Personal Review

I finished reading Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem? last week or so.  I am still really thrilled about it.  The book gives very basic but very meaningful explanations of almost anorexia, which is what the DSM 5 now calls OSFED, but also (sometimes brief) explanations on the other eating disorder categories and some diagnostics behind them.  The first couple chapters gives the reader enough understanding, in my mind, to be informed about almost anorexia.

The book only increasing gets better from there throughout parts 1 and 2.  Dr. Thomas uses stories from her personal patients to further explain examples of symptoms/behaviors of almost anorexia and how the example would be that and not something else.  Along with Jenni Schaefer, the two use their unique voices and background to emphasize important points both from a scientific and from a personal level.  All of it is easily understood and readable.  It felt to me as though the two authors were speaking very genuinely and it definitely came across very meaningful.

Though not all the stories/examples will deal with your particular eating disorder issues, there are a plethora of examples and there will likely be at least one or two you can relate to.  For me, I found Kaitlyn’s and Meredith’s stories were the most meaningful to my personal eating disorder struggles.  But that is just me and my story.  When/if you read the book, or if you have, who do you relate to the most and why?  I think it may just give you some insight into your own eating disorder because there is always more to learn when in recovery.

The book even included “homework”.  If anyone has ever been in any type of eating disorder treatment, I will bet on the fact that you have had homework.  Well, this book has quite a bit of it you could do.  All of it is either accessible from the book or from the web, too.  Not only that but it is pretty damn helpful.  I am working on Table 8: Design a Behavioral Experiment to Test Your Prediction about a Dietary Rule myself at the moment.  (Dietary rules are still my weak point in recovery!)

It is especially in Part 2 of the book that Dr. Thomas and Jenni discuss more recovery-oriented topics such as body image/fat talk and intuitive eating.  This part of the book, along with still containing stories and homework, focuses on how to move into recovery and through recovery.  It also challenges those in recovery not to settle for less than full recovery, which the authors contend is fully possible.

In Part 2 there was also a few humorous moments, which I found especially meaningful because they understood the sometimes humorous nature of the crazy beliefs that eating disorders have us believes.  One of my favorite humorous lines of the book is in the Are You Just Trying to Make Me Fat? section on page 175 that reads: “Many individuals recovering from disordered eating believe that books, clinicians, and others are just trying to make them fat. …This isn’t Hansel and Gretel–where a wicked witch lures children into her candy-decorated house to fatten them up in preparation for eating them.”  I had to laugh at that because I cannot count how many times I have believed that and said that to my treatment team.  And how true is it!  I would venture to guess that a significant portion of eating disorder individuals have felt this and putting it into a real-world and humorous context made the point even better than simply stating it.

Another part in Part 2 I found meaningful for me was Stop Comparing (and Despairing!) on pages 218-220.  It was helpful for me especially to read a couple of studies cited that comparing does lead to despairing and it is more than simply my personal experience.  Other people are out there comparing themselves and I am not alone in that.  Research helps to back up that it is not just me comparing myself and feeling worse for it, especially so feeling worse for because of a personal failing imagined or real.

The last pages of significance for me that I am going to mention are pages 222-225, which discuss body image and clothes.  This especially affects me deeply right now.  I avoid buying new clothes for myself like the plague.  I am stuck on the idea that my weight is going to re-distribute and settle still and that I should not buy new clothes.  I still have some medical issues going on, which has an effect on my weight, and I keep weighting for things to work out.  Those pages really challenged me, as quite a few people in my life do quite often, to rethink things and buy some new clothes.  And maybe it is time..?

Finally, the most significant takeaway from the book beyond the comparing, body image, and Hansel and Gretel, is my own personal reflection on my eating disorder.  So much of the book is spent defining almost anorexia, choosing recovery, and not settling for less than fully recovered and it made me contemplate where I was at in my recovery.  It made me realize that I am not so eating disordered anymore despite still generally defining myself that way.  I still have a pretty big battle with body image, but the behaviors are not really there.  It was a bit of a ah-ha moment for me.

Overall, Almost Anorexic really is the whole package for anyone.  I would recommend it to families/friends of those with eating disorders; those who simply want to know about eating disorders, specifically OSFED; those with almost anorexia; professionals; and anyone else who deals with individuals with OSFED on a day-to-day basis such as schools.  I think what makes the book so powerful is that it has the research to back up the ideas, the personal connections to the ideas, the genuine voice(s) in the writing, and how it touches upon so many behaviors that everyone can find a story to relate to.  Not only that, but it also includes so many helpful ideas for entering recovery and the basics of what it entails.  It could really become a spark for someone out there who is struggling and does not know it or is in denial to finally go seek some help and give them the basics of what will recovery will mean and what exactly recovery looks like.

I was really pleased with this book and I think others will be, too.  I hope that you all consider checking it out.  It is a really fast, easy read and for the “OSFED” individual (I will always say I have (had?) EDNOS–sorrynotsorry DSM5) it can be really meaningful.  There is plenty to relate to and learn from.

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Note: You can find all the homework/exercises in the book here: http://www.jennischaefer.com/books/almost-anorexic/!

Kristin’s Recovery Bucket List

I recently finished reading Almost Anorexic by Dr. Jennifer Thomas and Jenni Schaefer.  In the last chapter it discusses having “a dream big enough to beat Ed”(pg 266) to fill the space in your identity that was falsely taken up by your eating disorder.  It asks and dares you to ask yourself in this phase of your recovery, what are your dreams and are they big enough to overcome your Ed and to the point at which you are no longer in a space of  “almost anorexic” but free from eating disorder behaviors, thoughts, actions, etc—in true recovery.

Ever since I have entered this current phase in my recovery, I have discovered so many possibilities, dreams, and the love of life that I had lost.  I dream now more than ever and I truly believe in these and believe that these dreams can happen.  Before it was more like a fantasy that would never come true.  Something may or may not have come along, but it would have never happened and even if it did, it meant nearly nothing.  Now, there is so much to hope and dream for and actually achieve and feel.

So, for my, as one of Jenny’s patient’s put it, “Recovery Bucket List”, I write the following:

Kristin’s Recovery Bucket List
  • Write, blog, craft, collage, and be the most creative person I can be
  • Meet a guy, get married, and have kids (and live happily-ever-after)
  • Be a Seattle sports super fan with season tickets to both Sounders and Seahawks
  • Whatever I do, do it with my heart and be fulfilled
  • Go to Graduate school and do it again and again (and again?)
  • Have my own apartment/condo/house without financial or parental help
  • Sign up for dance classes, training to run a 5k, and slowly start up soccer again while ensuring I am being healthy
  • Laugh, smile, and find the positive in everything
  • Own a wicked-awesome car because I earned it
  • Travel, especially back to Japan and eat at Jiro’s sushi restaurant and to Dublin to see distant family
  • Go abroad and see an International football game featuring the Azzurri (hopefully in the World Cup) or Manchester United
  • Visit all the historical sites I possibly can before I die across the US and Canada
  • Climb Mt. Rainier and spend the night at Camp Muir
  • Visit the bus where Christopher McCandless slept
  • Visit the Walden cabin and Henry David Thoreau’s grave
  • Visit historical Mozart landmarks
  • To be continued…. 

What if you made your own bucket list?  What would you put on it?  Getting married?  Kids?  Traveling?  Go crazy!  And dream BIG!

Speaking of dreams, if you are brave enough to share your big dream/inspiration for recovery, then I would encourage you to click here.  Jenni Schaefer wants to hear your stories and dreams!  You just might have your dream and story shared!  Go and check it out! 🙂

Kristin’s Self-Care Favorites

Below I compiled a list of my favorite self-care activities.  It is not always easy to figure out what to do for self-care, so I hope this list helps you get started on your new, improved self-care journey.  Remember: this list is my personal favorites list and it may not be right for you.  Compile your own list of self-care activities that you enjoy.  Refer to that the next time you do not know what self-care activity to do or to get started with better self-care.  As always, take good self-care! ❤

Kristin’s Self-Care Favorites
(in no particular order!)
  • Taking breaks, naps, “time-outs”, etc. 
  • Going for a walk, run, or hike (I would recommend Mt. Rainier to anyone looking for a beautiful hike)
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Going on a drive or road trip
  • Reading or writing/blogging/journaling/etc.
  • Listening to music
  • Watching movies (whether at home or in a theatre)
  • The beach or a park (Seattle Center is great)
  • Spending time with Sweetie (my kitty)
  • Sports (playing or watching) namely football (Go Seahawks!), football/soccer (Go Sounders! Forza Azzurri!), and hockey (Go Canucks Go!)
  • Spending time with friends whether in-person or via text/phone
  • Photography
  • Museums (Chihuly is a must-do for Seattle art fans)
  • Dancing
  • Extra long showers/baths
  • Scrapbook- and card-making
  • Getting a nice haircut
  • Other arts and crafts (such as collages)
  • People watching (downtown Seattle is a great place)
  • Sitting outside even at home
  • Swinging on a swing set
  • Video games (WoW, CoD, Halo…)
  • Camping (I<3Outdoors)
  • A treat like froyo, cookie, etc. (Menchie’s anyone?)
  • Going out to eat, fancy or not (Sushi please!)
  • Shopping (no purchase necessary)   
  • Going to fairs, festivals, etc. (The Puyallup Fair in Sept. here is my favorite!)