BEDA Inspirations and Future Posts

It has been a crazy couple of weeks since the Binge Eating Disorder Conference!  I arrived home with a ton of exhaustion, but a whole bunch of new ideas to contemplate and soak in.  It has been over these past couple weeks that I have been thinking about everything that I learned, re-learned, and was inspired by.  Here are my favorites:

1. Graduate school. This seems to pop up a lot in my post-academic life and this conference reminded me how much I love learning.  I want so much to be able to go back to school, stay in the Seattle area (?!), and get a graduate degree in psychology.  I know what my passion is, but I do not quite know what it looks like just yet.  (If anyone does, please let me know!)

2. Exercise for enjoyment. One of the topics presented on was exercise and having a positive relationship with it.  It was reassuring to hear from more individuals (other than my providers) about the importance of shifting my focus from compulsive overexercising and punishing myself to the activities I love to do such as dance and football/soccer.  It inspires me to continue to fight my urges to overexercise and engage in the activities I love within the limits I am able.

3. We are not alone. I had an incredible heart-to-heart with another woman there who is a mother of a son who suffers from BED.  In her past, she similarly suffered as I did with weight stigmatizing remarks and bullying because of her weight.  It was so meaningful to share that experience with another person knowing that I was not alone.  In fact, there were plenty of other individuals there who had similar experiences.  It reminds me that none of us are alone in our suffering or in our recoveries.  There are others out there who know and who understand and that connection is out there.

I am also inspired to write a couple of posts.  I simply have not found the time… yet!  On my agenda is to write a post about the upcoming Seattle National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk.  I know last year’s Walk was less than desirable and I want to touch on that as well as discuss openly what is going to happen this year because it will be so, so much better.  Also I have a very personal post coming up that I have yet to talk about and pretty much you will have to wait and see about that one.

Thanks for reading.  Remember: Recovery is possible!

 

My Recovery Journey: From Self-Hate to Self-Love

When I was younger, I was bullied for my weight and mental health issues.  My peers poked fun at my body and openly harassed me during some of my classes.  It almost felt acceptable because no one ever really got into any real trouble for any of it.  That feeling of acceptability that was relayed to me through a lack of concern and action and a frequency of attacks, lead me to internalize all of it and turn it into a narrative about myself that still defines who I am.

Out of the bullying built the narrative that I am only defined by two things–my body and my mental illnesses.  I wholeheartedly believed that I was not good enough, unlovable, disgusting, fat, and crazy among other things.  I thought that this would be how my life would be for the rest of my life.  Things, however, changed when all the self-hatred, other issues, and a seemingly innocent diet collided.

It was in college that I decided that I was going to lose weight.  I no longer wanted to be all those horrible things that I defined myself by and I figured that losing weight would fix it for me.  Of course I was completely wrong and losing weight would not fix how I felt about myself, but I started to lose the weight regardless.

The changes I made were small, gradual, and healthy at first.  It was after losing enough weight that people started to notice my weight loss that I started to take notice myself of the progressive increase in compliments, friends, and life experiences I enjoyed.  With each pound I lost, a new narrative started in my mind that I was actually good enough, lovable, etc. if I was thin enough.  This change in my narrative shifted my behavioral changes from healthy to disordered and soon into a full-blown eating disorder.

I have spent years recovering from my eating disorder and it has only been within the last two that I have finally been able to stay behavior free.  But what about that narrative I had about myself that I was only good enough, lovable, etc. if I was thin?  I am still fighting it.  Nearly every day.  It is probably one of the most ingrained thoughts in my head, more-so than the eating disorder behaviors themselves.

I think about why I am still so stuck on believing I am only good enough if I am thin and it makes me reflect on how as a culture we have made fat shameful, unacceptable, disgusting, and something to avoid at all costs.  We have taught children to start hating themselves at younger and younger ages and believing that they have to diet and be thin.  It makes me so incredibly sad to hear children start believing what I believe about myself knowing what I did to myself to try to achieve an ideal that was never achievable.

But it also inspires me to fight.  It inspires me to fight against the self-hatred for my body that I have had nearly all of my life.  It inspires me to love my recovery body that I fought so hard for.  It inspires me to get involved and let people know that diets, disordered eating, and eating disorders do not fix your problems or change how you feel about yourself for the positive.

My journey has inspired to become involved in organizations such as the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), and the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness Campaign (PEDAW).  I believe wholeheartedly in loving the person you are and being able to recover from an eating disorder is absolutely possible.  I am incredibly fortunate to work/have worked with these organizations and spread that message.

The next step in my journey and involvement is next week when I attend the BEDA Conference in Denver, CO.  I cannot express how excited I am to attend this conference with some of the greats in the field.  It is another step towards learning more self-love and acceptance and getting more involved.  I look forward to immersing myself in topics on self-care, self-acceptance, health at every size, and weight stigma.

I hope you will all join me next week as I live-tweet (@kristinseattle) from the BEDA Conference and blog on my experiences there.  I know that there will be lots to learn and grow from as I continue to learn how to love my recovery body and believe for myself that my worth, goodness, lovableness, etc. is not tied to my weight.

My Life of Recovery

My life feels like a hurricane with mostly controlled chaos.  There is a lot to get done at the moment, but I am not shying away from what I have to get done.  Everything I am working on is dedicated to recovery and advocacy and it is the most fulfilling work of my life.  It is worth some of the extra chaos of figuring out how to get it all done!

If someone would have told me several years ago that my life would be the way it is today, I would have never believed them.  Throughout my childhood and in the early stages of recovery, I believed that I was simply not good enough, would not amount to anything, and that I would never be able to do what I truly wanted to do.  It is incredible the power of recovery and the drive that it gives you to persevere and work towards the things in life that truly matter to you.  Recovery allows you to discover that true part of yourself that you have denied or forgotten and believe in yourself again in order to achieve the things you want in life.

I am so grateful every day that I gave recovery a chance and I fought for it every minute, every hour, and every day.  Recovery has given me the ability to go to the NEDA Conference last October; go to the BEDA Conference this spring (April 24-26th); work on the Seattle NEDA Walk, which I promise will be so incredible; write in this blog; and finally have the chance to write for others including BEDA and PEDAW (so far…!).  Recovery has also given me the chance to heal, start to love myself, read and write again, have the ability to be active again (I love to dance!), and participate in my life!

If you are struggling, give recovery a chance because you never know what kind of things you can achieve with recovery.  Believe in yourself, fight for yourself, and know that recovery is possible.  You can recover.

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To support me in the Seattle NEDA Walk and help me eliminate eating disorders, please follow this link: Kristin’s NEDA Walk Page.

NEDAwareness Week

Welcome (a little late) to National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!

Usually I am on top of and prepared for awareness week every year, but this year it snuck up on me.  This year I have been busy with recovery, which feels very fitting for this week.

Every week I am attempting new challenges, taking better care of myself, and doing more and more healing.  I feel strong in my recovery, stronger than I have ever been.  And it continues to improve the more effort and hard work I put into it.  The hopelessness I used to feel was the farthest thing from the truth.  There is hope in recovery and I have continuously been finding it in the challenges I overcome, the strength I gain every day, and the more healing I do.

Last week I was so proud of myself for yet another successful year of celebrating my birthday.  It may seem insignificant to most people, but after so many years of believing that I was undeserving and too worthless to have a birthday, especially over the last 5 years having it be within 10 days of the anniversary being raped, it is a huge accomplishment.  This year especially with the anniversary being so big and choosing one of my favorite yet most feared fear-foods for my birthday dinner.  I enjoyed my dinner.  I did not fear it.  I enjoyed my Seahawks cake, too.  And that is huge!

This awareness week, I can remember these things and be especially proud.  Recovery is possible and full recovery is closer and closer.

To read what I wrote for Provincial Eating Disorder Awareness Week, go here!

Last (But Not Least) Day: NEDA Conference 2013

It was the last day of the Conference today.  And another wonderful day at that.  How amazing is it to be amongst some of the most incredible people in the field and people in recovery and their family.  I am so incredibly fortunate and grateful to have had this opportunity to learn and connect throughout the entire weekend and connect with these individuals and organizations.  I am a better, stronger person for it.

I was especially moved today by the first general session of the day, which was a family panel.  Each of the speakers discussed how an eating disorder has personally affected them whether it has been their eating disorder, their daughter’s, or their partner’s.  It was so amazing to hear from a range of people and stories and know the likeness between them that connect us and the differences that are unique to everyone’s eating disorder experience that we can all learn from and grow from.  It was moving to me to hear those aspects of similarity that I could relate to as well as reflect on the differences.  It was also so helpful to hear the perspectives of a father and a significant other of a sufferer despite not knowing what it is to be either.  I could find hope in knowing the continued love and support in their voices and talks.

It is such a weird feeling that the conference is over.  It seems surreal as if the whole thing was a dream and that the conference will be on tomorrow, too.  I wish it were true.  I am, however, ready for next year or for the next conference I may attend.

This conference has made such an impact on my life.  I have grown so much because of it.  I am sincerely, incredibly, deeply grateful to NEDA for this opportunity to grow, learn, and connect.  This was so much more than I could have ever imagined and hoped for.

Writing, Advocacy, and Networking–Oh My!: NEDA Conference 2013

Once again I am at a loss for words.  This conference has been so incredibly amazing and inspiring for me.  I simply cannot express how excited, happy, and grateful I am for all the connections, opportunities, people, etc. here.  It has been one of the most incredible, awesome, amazing, inspiring, hopeful experiences of my life.  How awesome is it that I am here and in recovery to experience this!

I have connected with former treatment centers and providers, various organizations, people from Twitter, and quite a few people from the NEDA organization.  I am blown away by the response I have received and the people I have been able to meet.  I never thought I would ever make it to this place and meet these people/organizations, but I have.  And I have been able to say how wonderful and in recovery I am.  How incredible is that!  I am able to share my story and the joys of experiencing recovery and what it is to tell others about it.

No words can truly express how amazing I feel at this moment or how deeply I feel it.  No words can express how much I have enjoyed my time here and connecting with all of these people and organizations.  The connections and networks that I am starting to build are absolutely astounding and beyond what I imagined.  I am so grateful and excited to see where each of them take me in the future.

One thing that touches me so much is re-connecting with my former treatment center, Eating Recovery Center.  I have been able to speak with my former doctors, share with them how well I have been doing in recovery, and let them know how much ERC has meant to me in my recovery.  That is truly one of the most amazing aspects of this conference–connecting with former providers.  It means so much to be able to look at them from a place of recovery and joy and say thank you.  It is so incredibly meaningful and simply happy.  I am eternally grateful to these doctors and to ERC for helping me on my path to recovery.

I am so grateful to NEDA for this opportunity.  It has truly been life-changing and inspiring in so many ways.  I could never say thank you enough.

Lobbying and Orientation and the Best Day Ever: NEDA Conference 2013

Today has been unbelievable.  I am blown away by the incredible, amazing people I am surrounded by and the absolutely astounding things that I have done and it is only day one.  This is even more than I had expected.  These people are much more than I expected.

Our day today was focused on lobbying congress for eating disorders.  It was truly an incredible experience.  I shared my story with five staff members of my congressmen/women/senator and even was able to meet two (the senator and a congresswoman).  How amazing!  I even discovered I knew one of the staffers, which went to my high school and graduated with my brother!

Not only that, but, while on the hill, I managed to run into Charlie Rangel from New York and, more importantly, the Al Franken!  Regardless of politics, meeting the man from SNL is beyond amazing.  He was so gracious despite us being on the “senator-only” elevator.  I think me freaking out over meeting him helped that situation!

I have met so many amazing individuals and professionals here as well.  I have networked with so incredible people that I have only dreamed of meeting.  I cannot wait to see where these connections may lead in the future.  There is so much hope in so many of those relationships.

No matter what, I am touched by each person.  Everyone and their stories are so helpful.  It is amazing the feedback and the exchange of ideas I have received from simply speaking at random to others.  There is so much to learn and so much to understand.  I want to consume all that I can.

I have also been so incredibly touched to see former treatment team members from both of the treatment centers I have been to.  It was incredible to see someone from the treatment center I attended for a mere 26 days over 3 years ago remember me and ask me how I was.  I am so happy to be able to say how well I am doing and what I am doing with my recovery.  I also saw once again one of my treatment providers from my most recent treatment center.  I adore this person.  I am so happy to be able to see them once more and share how well I am doing and be able to say once again that I have improved.  Not only that, but I am in the place in recovery I am now and doing the things that I am doing at this time.  It makes me feel so good inside to be able to say, without lying or stretching the truth, that, yes, I am doing very well and I am solid in recovery.

Tomorrow we start with the sessions and the conference really gets going.  I am so incredibly excited.  I cannot wait to continue to see and meet people I know and do not know and learn more and more.  I am so excited to be here and to be in the place I am at in my life and that has never been more true than in this moment right now.  I know I am doing the right thing with my life by writing this blog and sharing my recovery.  There is no doubt in my heart that I am meant to be doing this and that this is what I am supposed to be doing.  I feel it so deeply right now.

I am so very happy I cannot express it any other way except through this and an incredible amount of adjectives!  I hope you all are well, too.

Leaving on a Jet Plane: NEDA Conference 2013

Today is the day I leave for the NEDA Conference 2013.  I can hardly believe that the day is finally here.  I have been preparing and packing for weeks now both mentally and physically.  It has taken up a lot of my time, which is why I have been so occupied and away from both my blog and Twitter.

For me, a trip is not simply a matter of packing a day or two beforehand and flying off to my destination.  It takes planning and preparation that is caused by my eating disorder history, my current OCD behaviors, and a lack of clothing that needed to be purchased.  All those things are time consuming especially considering I cannot always accomplish everything on my own.

But I have made it.  Through help, extra work during therapy and dietitian appointments, and several shopping trips reassuring myself on wearing what is comfortable, I have made it.  I managed to overcome necessary hurdles such as meal, packing, and clothes shopping stress; giving myself permission to nap, snack, etc. while on my trip; keeping my expectations in-check; and accepting that there is only so much I can plan and prepare for and knowing I did enough.

None of it was easy.  At times it was quite hard.  My OCD screamed and fought.  I know, however, that it will be okay.  I have the tools I need—I mostly did already.  I need to continue to reassure myself in my ability to cope and the strength I already possess.  I need to belief that I can do great things because I can.

It is amazing all the things that I have overcome to get to this point in my life.  I have gone through so much and have come out on the “other side”.  If I can fight so hard for recovery through all those things that I have faced, then going on an amazing trip to the NEDA Conference is easy.  And, in the end, I was not chosen for a scholarship for the conference for nothing.  I am not going for nothing.  I am going because of my recovery.  The recovery I fought for.  The recovery I still fight for.  The recovery I believe in so much.  The recovery I hope everyone can have themselves.

I can do this.  I can always do this.

See you at the NEDA Conference!

My Week: Coping with the Stress

It has been far too long since my last post.  I have been so busy lately with Weight Stigma Awareness Week, my job, therapy, getting prepared both mentally and physically for my trip to DC for the NEDA Conference that is now less than a week away, and various family obligations.  I have had little time to breathe or take a break.

These last few weeks have definitely tested my ability to cope with stress and anxiety, especially without turning to my eating disorder or my OCD.  Although I have managed to stave off the eating disorder, it is so much harder with my OCD at the moment.  It is without the eating disorder that my OCD is so much louder.  I am grateful, however, that at least I am doing better with a few OCD behaviors.

One thing that has especially been on my mind as of late is what I wrote for Weight Stigma Awareness Week.  It has brought up a lot of emotions and memories for me that are not particularly pleasant.  It reminds me of my childhood and all the comments that were made (even the ones I failed to mention) and of the time before and during my eating disorder.  It reminds me of all those times of pain, sadness, loneliness, and isolation and only those few brief moments of some happiness and acceptance by my peers.

Of course, that is not the whole story, but my emotional mind goes straight to that as all the story is–sadness and pain versus happiness and how my weight must be a factor in it.  It is hard for my logical brain to interrupt these thoughts and remind my self that this is not the truth and that my weight has nothing to do with me as a person and there were other things going on that effected my emotional state such as my bipolar disorder, which played a huge factor at the time.  I wish it were as easy as knowing it in my heart and emotional mind as it is logically.

The memories, too, have challenged me.  I have put some to rest, but others I have not.  It is a work in progress to overcome the bullying as a child/adolescent and the ruined relationships as an adult in college.  It is not as easy as “sticks and stones”.  It is learning to trust others again; building new, healthy, and healthier relationships; and working through the pain of the past to move on to the now.  None of it is easy.

I have a lot to work on at the moment, a lot on my mind.  I can do it though.  Always! 🙂

NEDA Walk in a Bikini: Seattle NEDA Walk Spectacle (2013)

Before you read this post, I would like you to remember that this occurred in 2013 and it was an isolated incident. I have spent the better part of the last year in contact and working with NEDA on making this year’s Seattle Walk and all walks better. Our Walk in Seattle this year will be awesome!

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Yesterday I participated in this year’s Seattle National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk.  This year’s Walk was different from previous Walks and, sadly, mostly in not very good ways.  The Walk this year featured a group called Vulure Couture.

Vulure is a bathing suit company that specializes in bathing suits for small-chested women.  The entire group showed up in their line of bikinis, which  ranged from fashionable to scantly and sexy.  To add to the awkwardness, their documentary photographers and videographers were also present to capture the day.  This company had recently completed or is in the process of completing a documentary about two women wearing bikinis for 30-days for Eating Disorder awareness.

The Vulure group and a local nutrition counseling office group partnering with them made the Walk a spectacle and a condoned one at that.  The Walk coordinator on the board of NEDA mentioned the company and the swim line as if it were an advertisement.  This is not far-fetched though seeing how all three had been partnering together prior to the Walk even appearing on a radio talk show.  Each seemed to have an advertisement and an agenda and this Walk was their stage.  They even held up the entire Walk start time to be able to do it.

The overall feelings within myself and amongst my group and family was awkward and upsetting.  The Walk is relatively ‘safe’ environment where there are not triggers around.  Walk coordinators usually make sure the atmosphere allows for this type of environment as well as those people who attend this type of event.  We are all pretty well-aware that at eating disorder gatherings certain behaviors, clothing, talk, etc. should be avoided.  These two groups apparently did not receive the memo nor did the NEDA board member.  The bikini attire, especially the scantly, sexy nature of the bikinis was triggering and a spectacle.  At this type of event it is completely inappropriate.  Many of the Walk participants are still struggling with either behaviors and/or body image and to be bombarded at what should be a safer event is unacceptable.  This is not the time or the place to be promoting your company/business, swimsuits, or bodies.

I hope that there are others that were at the Seattle NEDA Walk that speak up if they felt the same.

Regardless of this happening at the Seattle Walk this year, I had a really good time.  The Walk is not about commercial crap, bodies, triggers, who raises the most (though my competitive demon would say otherwise..), the entertainment, etc.  The Walk is about coming together for a cause, raising awareness, and raising funds.  It is spending time with those you love and that love you for the morning or afternoon and enjoying their company.  Sometimes you have not seen these people in such a long time!  That is what it is about.  Everything else, whatever.  We do not even have to literally walk.