In Times of Struggle

I must confess something…  At the moment, I am really struggling.  I very much hate to admit it, but I am.  And I feel guilty and ashamed about it.  I feel as though I should be better than this.  It hurts all that much more that I am not the strong, positive person that I usually am.  Right now, I am sad and upset and I am struggling to stay positive.

There are several factors contributing to why I am feeling so down and a few reasons behind it.  I am doing as much self-care as possible to help.  It is definitely not easy to practice good self-care when you lack the energy and motivation, but that is when it is most important.  It is in times like these when despite not being able to feel very much joy that still do what brings you joy regardless, still participate in life as much as possible, and take good self-care.  It brings you back from the depths of whatever it is you are lost in.  That is exactly the place where I am now—pulling myself back up.

It is also in times like these that self-compassion is so incredibly important even if you do not believe it is.  Instead of engaging in self-punishment in any form, engaging in kindness and compassion towards yourself.  Tell yourself it is going to be okay, validate how you feel.  Try as hard as possible to stop being upset and angry at yourself for alleged transgressions you commit.  Like right now, I need to let myself know that everyone struggles and there is no reason to be ashamed or feel guilty.

I am reaching out as much as I can right now as well.  Having a support system is essential, especially one that is trustworthy and reliable.  (Otherwise it would not be a support system!)  I am very grateful and fortunate to have an amazing support system around me including my family, friends, and team members.  I have been open and honest with them about what is going on and have been trying to work through what is going on.

This down-swing is temporary.  It will not last forever.  I will overcome this and smile again.  It may take some time and a lot of effort, but it is worth it.  Recovery is always worth it. ❤

BEDA’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2013

This week is the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s (BEDA) Weight Stigma Awareness Week.  I am so grateful to be included in this event amongst some of the most amazing people as a Featured Blogger.  I encourage all of you to check out all of the posts and events throughout this week and the Keynote Speaker, Brian Cuban, tonight.  It is a fantastic lineup of posts and events that I know will touch, inspire, and fascinate everyone.  I cannot express to you how excited I am!

Here is the schedule for the week:

Owly Images

Weight Stigma is such an important topic to discuss.  So many people are affected by weight stigma every day through judgements or stereotypes, bullying, biases, and discrimination.  It is a very real problem with very real consequences.  Words are not simply words and we must all be mindful of the way we treat each other, fat or thin or “average sized”.  In the end, a person’s weight or size means absolutely nothing about who a person is, how healthy they are, how smart they are, or anything.  It is simply the body in which a person inhabits.

Weight Stigma is also not necessarily an external thing.  One of the things in my personal journal, which I wrote about and will be posted on Thursday, is that weight stigma can be an internal stigma.  After years of feeling external weight stigma, I internalized the negative things that were being said to me and the overwhelmingly negative messages I was hearing about being “fat”.  That internalization still affects me today.

I very much encourage all of you to read the posts, participate in the events and talks, and whatnot.  It is/will be an amazing and inspiring week.

To check out the entire event and all the posts visit this link: BEDA.

Do not forget my post will be posted on Thursday.  I will put up a link on that day.  Until then, take good self-care! 🙂

Kristin’s Reasons to Recover

With everything that has been happening in my life lately, my future and my reasons to recover have been especially on my mind.  I am particularly motivated and inspired by those big reasons for recovery.  It seems as though in this moment in time things are more possible than ever.

Up until this point, my reasons for recovery have been comprised of positive aspects of my life and changeable goals.  Although those still exist for my reasons, I can feel these things within my grasp.  No longer are they simply reasons to keep me motivated hour to hour, day to day, but very achievable, very tangible things and emotions.

I am already experiencing many of my reasons for recovery.  With more and more of these positive experiences, I am more motivated to continue in recovery towards the goals and other positive things that I have yet to achieve in my recovery.  I cannot wait for the day when I can finally go to graduate school, love my body, fully love myself, and be a self-sufficient adult (to name a few).  Every day I am closer to achieving these and I know one day I will.

Here is my list of my reasons to recover.  It is not perfect, exhaustive, or in any kind of order.  I challenge everyone to make their own list.  What are your reasons to recover?  What positive things in your life do you fight for?  If you do not struggle with an eating disorder or mental illness, I still challenge you to make a list.  What positive things keep you going in your life?  What changeable goals to you have in the short-term or long-term?  Ready?  Go!

Kristin’s Reasons to Recover

  • To be able to write and create (my blog, stories, poetry, cards, collages, scrapbook pages, etc.)
  • To go to graduate school and study in a field of psychology
  • To be a self-sufficient adult
  • To fully enjoy and be present in sports–football, football/soccer, hockey, etc.
  • To be able to play sports myself
  • To never be without my Sweetie kitty
  • To be able to eat my favorite foods ever
  • To be able to bake in peace
  • To feel the rain and watch a storm
  • To be present at family gatherings
  • To never miss a moment, especially holidays
  • To have a family and be the mother I wish to be
  • To have meaningful, fulfilling relationships with those around me
  • To be active including going camping and hiking, which is simply essential to happiness
  • To freely drink coffee and caffeine!
  • To enjoy my clothes and have a few designer pieces
  • To be an example not a statistic
  • To love the person I am
  • To love my body
  • To be able to go to the beach every day (if I want to!)

“Sick Clothes”: Clothing Struggles in Eating Disorder Recovery

I have a confession to make.  I have a problem with clothes.

When I was younger, my issue with clothes was usually having way too many of them.  Even as I gained weight as I grew older, I still wanted to go out and buy more and more clothes and kept a lot of the smaller ones I had around.  It was always just in case in my mind.

It was only when I was nearing my heaviest weight that I began not buying myself clothes anymore.  I had stopped enjoying it.  After going to store after store and not being able to find any clothes, I started to give up.  I felt awful about myself already and not being able to buy clothes that really fit, were nice, or were in any stores that other kids were buying clothes in was really tough.  There was a lot of crying and breakdowns in fitting rooms during this period.

As I started losing weight (in a healthy way at first), I once again indulged in clothes.  I picked up right where I left off when I determined in my head I deserved to start buying clothes again.  I had some really awesome retail therapy and some really pretty clothes.  Clothes that fit my body.

Even when I was sick with my eating disorder, I still bought myself clothes.  I needed new clothes that fit, but also I was so obsessed with perfection because of my OCD that nothing but the absolute best would do for me.  My clothes had to be designer and only from certain select upscale stores.

Now in recovery I treat myself as I did when I was heavier.  I have stopped buying clothes.  I keep around smaller clothes—just in case.  I gave my therapist two pairs of jeans that would never ever fit me again, but those are the only things I have parted with.

And what is this doing to me?  It sure is not positive!  My dresser and closet is filled with clothes and only about half fit me.  I hang on to them believing that one day I will fit into them again instead of buying myself clothing items that will fit my body now.  I keep believing that I do not deserve new or nice clothes because I do not feel that great about myself very often.

What would it be like if I gave up the one pair of jeans I am still holding on to that will never fit me again?  What would it be like if I bought myself another pair of jeans?  Or a few new shirts?  What if I spent just a little bit of money on myself for once?

I think it is about time.  It is about time to have more than a few items of clothing that fit my body.  Time to have more than one pair of jeans.  Time to spend money on the body that I have now because this is my body.  This is where it wants to be.

As my little mantra says, “If it is comfortable, wear it.”

It is also about time I give my therapist those last pair of jeans I am holding on to.  I do not need them anymore.  They will never fit again.  I am not going back to being sick with my eating disorder.  Ever.

I challenge the rest of you to look at what clothes you are hanging on to.  Do you have your eating disorder clothes or clothes that are too small still in your closet/dresser?  I challenge you to see if you can give them away.  I also challenge you to buy yourself clothes that fit your body regardless of the size.  Remember: be comfortable!

Meal Support: Triumphs and Goals

As a part of my recovery from my eating disorder, I see a dietician on a weekly basis.  I have been seeing mine now for just about 3 years now.  Every week we have lunch together for our appointment.  We have been doing this since nearly the beginning.  Over that time, we have been able to increase the variety of food I eat and try new food while receiving some much needed meal support.

This week she asked me what has been the most helpful about our meals together, what I have accomplished, and what are still my goals overall.  Whew!  Big questions!  It has taken me a few days, but I think I have some ideas and I want to share some of them with you.

So what has been the most helpful?  One of the biggest things is the meal support.  Each week with each meal we are working on creating a positive experience with food whether it is a “safe” food or not-so-“safe” food.  Not only has it increased my variety of foods, which is potentially associated with more positive outcomes in recovery (En Route to R.D. Land), but also made meals all around easier to do.  Practice makes perfect!

Another aspect of meal support is that it has helped in teaching me how to eat when I am upset, which has always been impossible for me to do.  It is the repeated practice of eating a meal regardless of emotions, changing the tone of my mealtime (my favorite is listening to Mumford and Sons), and avoiding too challenging of a meal depending on how upset I am.  It is one more way to take good self-care of myself.

Even when we are not working on challenging foods or situations, we are still practicing important skills.  For example, every few weeks or so we go out for sushi at a sushi bar that has a line of plates that circles the room just like in Japan.  (This is how we roll in Seattle.)  While sushi is one of the easiest meals for me, the challenge in this meal is knowing when to stop and listening to my internal cues.  It is a safe environment with safe food to practice being able to be in a family-style or buffet restaurant in the future, which is one of my goals.

My accomplishments so far are pretty epic.  I am eating foods that I have loved my whole life once again.  I can eat more freely than I have in years.  More and more frequently I can allow myself to have what I want to have and allow myself a treat if I want because it is okay.  The best part?  Each week is an improvement from the last or at least a learning experience to help in the future.

And what of the future?  There are still foods to work on.  I have a list of specific foods and types of foods that I would like to feel more safe about.  There are also challenges I want to do such as be able to go to a family-style or buffet restaurant.  Another challenge I want to accomplish is being able to cook for myself, which has the added challenge of my OCD of germs/contamination to contend with.  That challenge requires work with my RD and my therapist as I work simultaneously on my eating disorder and my OCD since the two go hand-in-hand.

I am truly grateful that I am able to do this work with such a wonderful dietician.  Our work week-in and week-out has been invaluable to my recovery.  It is wonderful to look back over the past few years and be able to look at all the meals and fear-foods I have conquered.

I pose these questions to you: What are your goals if you are in recovery?  What have you accomplished so far?  Try writing some of it out and see what you come up with.  Remind yourself as much as you can about how far you have come.  No matter where you are in recovery, you have accomplishments, so be proud!  And, if you are so adventurous, maybe even share them with your dietician.