Gratitude: Change/Transition

I am regaining my ground.  I am connecting with others.  I have joined a group.  I have even cut my hair and styled it ever so slightly differently.  It is an all-around change to my life.

I was inspired after my last post at the ocean to begin keeping busier and start changing with the change instead of against it.  Amazing how much better that has worked!  I am actually enjoying some of the change (especially my hair) rather than dreading the lot.

Nothing is perfect, nothing ever is, but it is better.  Things are better.  For that I am grateful.  Grateful to be able to spend time with friends.  Grateful to not be sick.  Grateful that I have such an amazing support system.  Grateful that I am coping okay with these changes and transitioning better than I was.  Grateful that with change I am learning I can do anything and overcome anything.  Grateful that I am in recovery, for which I am always grateful.

Hopefully soon I will write a proper post with an update on what I have been up to.  Until then, remember that change is not the end of the world.  Change is hard and it really sucks sometimes, but it also can be good and you never know what it can bring.  Give change a chance?

Keep up recovery, warriors!

Recovery Resources: Rise Up+Recover App

imageI believe in helping others in recovery through sharing resources and positive tools rather than triggering/negative tips. In that spirit, I would like to share with all of you a great resource that I discovered recently which I absolutely love.

I want to introduce you to the Rise Up+Recover App.

I am a big proponent of apps and technology. I think that they are really easy and convenient to use. Instead of relying on paper, you can simply use your phone or tablet. How much more simple is that?!image(1)

Rise Up is a meal and mood recording app for your phone. It records snacks, meals, and associated moods with meals. It also doubles as a mood record app with a separate place to record your moods throughout the entire day outside of meals. Other features include meal reminders, coping strategies, journal topics, and a link to the Recovery Warriors resources.

One of the reasons why I love this app so much is the ease of use. It is basic yet in depth enough to function great. You can record all your meals and an unlimited amount of snacks easily and quickly while also identifying a wide variety of emotions. If you happen to mess up, you can simply click on it again and go back to edit it. It is QED!image(3)

image(4)With the stand alone mood section piece, it is the same idea as the mood section on the meals but it is for your day, which is especially helpful if meals tend to be especially stressful on their own and not due to your daily activities or any mood disorders you may experience such as Bipolar disorder (like me).

The extra resources are awesome. There are several coping skills, activities, and journal activities/topics. You can also access the Recovery Warriors resources such as the blog and podcast from the app. I think my favorite extra resources are the Body Image coping skills and Journal Activities topics for my private journal. I still struggle with my body image and it is great to do activities that remind me of the true definition of beauty or not to image(2)compare myself to anyone else. The journal topics are incredible, too, for my private journal so I can explore for myself more things that I have yet to write about and continue to explore them later as they change such as the perfectionism tendency, which I still fight. I can even mark my favorite topics and easily come back to them later!

Rise Up+Recover is a great resource to use while in recovery. I hope you consider using it or another app in your journey as apps can be incredibly helpful tools for recovery. They are a resource to go to for support, an aid in therapy, and can help you visualize your own recovery progress.

I encourage everyone to consider using tools such as this app if this sounds like a helpful resource for you in your life and recovery.

The Uncertainty of the Ocean

I was at the beach today.  It was an ocean beach at the Puget Sound.  Usually at the ocean I might put my feet in enough to walk in the sand and water and down the beach, but I never venture far into the water.  I am fearful of what may be in the ocean.  I am afraid of what could be lurking in the waters, especially and specifically because it is not clear.  There could be jellyfish or crab, sharp shells or seaweed, or maybe even a shark!  It is a complete unknown at times what could truly be beneath your feet.  And that frightens me.  Enough to keep me mostly on land.

But today, I walked into the water and kept walking.  I looked at my feet and could hardly catch a glimpse, but I kept walking.  Despite not knowing what was beneath me, I continued walking.  I decided that my desire to be in the ocean amongst the beauty, solitude, and joyfulness was greater than my fear of the unknown and uncertain.

I realized at that moment that I do not know what is in front of me now either.  My world is in a great transition and I am attempting to cope with a low point without turning to my eating disorder again.  This moment and what is before me is a huge unknown and very uncertain.  But I am going to keep walking.  The unknown/uncertain is scary and unnerving but I can face it and overcome it.  Just like the ocean, I can walk through all this scariness and be okay.  I will be okay.

My Recovery Journey: Depression

I have not written much in my blog recently, which makes me sad and disappointed.  I had hoped that I would write in this blog at least every week and continue on the same journey I was on only nine months ago.  A journey of continuous growth, positivity, and possibilities.  As it happened, my life did not end up that way.  The months continued on and I struggled to write and to participate in every day life.  I tried to pretend that things were not as bad as they were as I struggled daily.IMG_2014[1]

Things finally reached a breaking point recently.  After seven months of being ill every day from my past eating disorder and other issues and being depressed for nearly as long, I decided things needed to change.  I have been working to change the things that I can change while working to accept the things that I cannot.  It is an on-going process.

Over the last seven months, I have lost a lot of hope, connection, and ability to participate in things I used to, but in the last several weeks, I have been slowly gaining it back.  I have realized that no matter what depths I may enter or complications in my path, my world continues on and so will I.  I will overcome what obstacle is before me, I will feel better, and I will be okay.  This is not the end of my life, but simply a change in direction or a bump in the road.IMG_0011

This last week I have a new strategy for combating all of this grief and depression I am going through.  Keep busy and keep going!  I have been doing art projects on things like why I want recovery and who I am.  It has been so healing as well as occupying.  I have something to be proud of, something to do, and something that gives me some healing.  How wondrous!  I feel a little better with each project.

All of this will pass.  It is all a part of being Bipolar and the cycles that I experience and it will end as they all do.  And the being sick?  It hopefully is already gone.  I have not felt sick for over two weeks now thanks to a new approach.

There is always hope.  If you are struggling, continue to hang in there.  It shall pass and the sun shall shine again!

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!

 

BEDA 2014: Opening Night

I have been anxious for days over what to expect coming here. What was this conference going to be like? How would it differ from the NEDA one? Would I “fit” in? All the anxiety brought me to a pretty steady tremor and by the time I went up the elevator to the conference, I thought I would burst into an anxiety attack!

But then I saw the people I knew, the people I care about and that care about me, and I took a deep breath and slowly dove in. I am so glad I did because it was such a rewarding start to this conference!

It is incredible to meet all these individuals and see those I already know. It feels so fulfilling and deeply satisfying to be able to share my story and what I am passionate about as well as discuss what others are passionate about. The collaboration and networking fulfills this need that I have that I do not often get to fill at home when I am writing by myself.

I look forward to tomorrow and what more I will learn and who else I will meet. I feel so hopeful and filled with possibilities.

Keep checking my Twitter (@kristinseattle) all day for tweets on the BEDA Conference presentations and what I am up to!

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.

——

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

On Accomplishing a Milestone in Recovery

The last few days I have felt a keen sense of accomplishment.  It feels as though I have past a milestone that I have had for myself for years, or at least I am coming close to passing it.  I had feared for the last two years that I would never recover or at least would have to repeat inpatient/residential treatment every two years.  I did not want to make that a pattern.  I wanted that to be simply a span of time between my first and my second times in treatment.  And it has been.

It has been a long two years of tough work to make it to this point.  I was not always on the path of recovery.  I struggled and strayed for a while after treatment.  It was once I made that decision and the reasons why I wanted to recover were clear and present that I stuck with recovery.  I was going to recover.  Period.

That is one of the reasons why going back to Denver to the Binge Eating Disorder Conference feels so incredible and rife with so much emotion.  It is going back to same place where I was two years prior but now as a professional, not a patient.  Logo - ColorInstead of arriving at the airport, staying at the hotel for a night, then checking in to treatment the next day, I will be at this conference networking, learning, and growing.  It is the mere difference that two years can make and it is simply incredible, which seems to be the only word I can use to describe it.

It makes me acutely aware that recovery is possible.  It may take time, effort, a ton of hard work, and some slips along the way, but it is completely and wholly possible.  It is possible to heal from those things that have held you back for so long.  It is possible to overcome obstacles that have been in your way.  It is possible to achieve the things in life you never believed were possible.

Two years ago, I went to Denver to recover.  This April, I go to Denver to follow my dreams.  Recovery and healing is possible.

Two Years of Recovery

Two years today.  That is how long it has been since I checked myself into treatment at Eating Recovery Center (ERC) in Denver, CO.  It is strange and also wonderful to think that it has been that long.  It makes me reflect on how far I have come in that span of time and all the improvement I have made.  It is incredible to think of just how far I have actually come and the accomplishments I have made considering even four years ago entering inpatient/residential treatment the first time around I believed that I had little to no hope and even at ERC I had days where still felt there were things that I did not believe I could overcome.

In two years I have changed my life for the better…

Today I am back to doing what I love, which is writing.  I am able to write and read, which is something I was worried that I had lost forever.  In the throes of my eating disorder, I was unable to do either because of my lack of concentration.

Today I am able to participate in life again and not miss out on the things that I love most.  I am able to go to football and soccer games, watch them at home, feel the joy of fanaticism that I have always had in my heart.  ercThere is nothing like finding that joy again and embracing that part of myself that I love.

Today I am able to have relationships with people.  I have the kind of friendships that I want and deserve and that my friends deserve.  I am not so caught up in my eating disorder that I am unable to have any other relationship but with my eating disorder.  I am not alone and isolated, losing relationships because I would rather have my eating disorder instead.

Today I am overcoming and have overcome many issues that have plagued me for many years.  My fear foods list is now down to a very small number of items when I used to have a huge list of fears and only a small list of safe foods.  My eating disorder is nearly faded away.  The thoughts linger, especially in tough times, and haunt me sometimes, but behaviors are nowhere to be found.  Slowly, but surely, I am working on my body image and it is always improving.  I constantly work on trauma and rape and I have gone from not even being able to really mention it four years ago, barely talking about it two years ago, still blaming myself a year ago, to today and within the last six months finally not blaming myself and working through what happened.  The OCD will be next on my list to tackle though I have worked through quite a bit already.

Next month I will be returning to Denver, CO.  I will return to the area where I truly began my recovery journey.  I will return as a professional, not a patient.  I will return to attend the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s 5th Annual Conference.  There are few words to express the joy that I feel at this moment.  My life has shifted from illness to wellness, from existing to living.  Two years from now, I can only imagine what I will have accomplished, what will have changed in my life.  I am only too excited to find out and to go on that journey!