Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top 10 myths about Anorexia

Living with an eating disorder is hard enough, but one of the things I can't stand the most is when people make comments about how if I just ate and stop paying so much attention in the mirror, then I could be free of it. I wish that was the case. Generally, people don't understand the dynamics of an eating disorder and when it's brought up, they use what the media has told them about eating disorders to talk to the person suffering with one. I'm here to tell you the top 10 myths on Anorexia and my personal experience with it.
Myth #1: "Individuals with anorexia are just trying to get attention."  Truth is, for so long I was quiet about my eating disorder that most of the people in my life didn't know. And the more people that do know about it now, I find myself getting irritated when that's all they can talk to me about. I didn't develop an eating disorder to get attention, I developed one because I was unhappy with myself. Most of the individuals that I've met with eating disorders don't like the attention they get from having one. For me, when I got to my lowest weight of 84lbs, I was embarrassed of the way I looked and I constantly wondered if people who passed by me in public could tell if I had an eating disorder and all the negative thoughts they were probably thinking about it. If you know someone with an eating disorder, don't make it the main focus in your relationship with them because more than likely, they feel uncomfortable talking about it with you all the time.
Myth #2: "Anorexia is about vanity. If a person with Anorexia says, 'I feel fat,' it is just to get compliments. I can't tell you how many times I have heard that one. "You're not fat. You're only saying it because you like the responses that you get from it." If an individual with an eating disorder says they feel fat, it's because in their mind, they really do. I know that I still find myself looking at myself in the mirror and really do believe that I am overweight. My logical brain knows I'm not overweight, but my eating disorder mind tells me I am. If you do compliment an individual with anorexia or bulimia or BED (binge eating disorder,) they will most likely not believe it, so why would they say things just to get compliments? I know for me, it just makes me uncomfortable most of the time.
Myth #3: "People choose to develop anorexia." An eating disorder is not a choice. One of the things I learned in treatment was that some people are just born with the disease and all it takes is a small diet or the mean comment from a peer at school that can trigger the eating disorder, or even trauma in that person's life. It was a combination for me. Kids at school picked on me because I hit puberty sooner than anyone else in my grade, and by the time I was 10, I had been molested by my older brother for 2 years and raped by my uncle. I found a documentary on TV about eating disorders and the more I thought about the subject, the more I kept thinking about how it would help with my problems. As I've learned since the beginning of treatment, an eating disorder is the coping mechanism for a deeper problem. And I have learned that to be true. The more stressed I am about something, the more eating disorder thoughts I have. It's the only thing I could control. Or so I thought. Anorexia is a mental illness that chooses us, we don't choose them.
Myth #4: "Eating disorders are mainly about food and weight." Like I said in #3, eating disorders are a way of coping with other issues. Restricting, binging, and purging are all ways of you to be able to control something in your life if you live with an eating disorder. I could control when I ate, when I purged and how much I wanted to eat. When my life was out of control with external forces, I still had my eating disorder and it was all mine. No one else could control it the way I could. Individuals with eating disorders use them for control. Control over calories. Control over the number on the scale. Most people with eating disorders don't even realize how sick they are despite what the numbers say. All they was is to have control. That's how it was and sometimes still is for me.
Myth #5: "Anorexia is a young, rich, white woman's problem."  Oh my God, where do I even start with this one? Being in treatment, I met all kinds of people with different kinds of eating disorders. I met 3 men, one with anorexia, one with bulimia and one with BED. I met girls that came from a home with money, I met girls who's family had enough money to get by. I met girls that came with a background of trauma and girls that didn't have a tough upbringing. I admit that the majority of people I know with eating disorders have a rough past. I know that I do. But usually it's a combination of things that cause the eating disorder. Movies and celebrity gossip shows have always spotlighted eating disorders on rich, white woman. They don't focus on men, or women with tough pasts.
Myth #6: "People with anorexia don't engage in binge eating."  Me personally, I'm not a binge eater. I think I've only partook in it a few times through all my years of living with my eating disorder. Generally if a person with anorexia does binge eat, they generally feel so guilty and angry with themselves, that they partake in bulimia behaviors; purging, using laxatives, or working out too much. For me, I engaged in these behaviors because of the type of eating disorder I have. I am is what's considered a "purging anorexic." A lot of people that don't know too much about eating disorders often generalize them into one category. There are so many different types of eating disorders and often there is a combination of a couple different ones within an individual. So what I'm saying is if you know someone with anorexia, they most likely have other eating disorder behaviors that they engage in.
Myth #7: "A person cannot have anorexia if they eat three meals a day."  Food restriction is not the only factor in anorexia. With me, it varies on the day. Some days I can go all day eating what's considered "normal" and other days I will still eat my 3 meals but restrict what I consume. I will restrict maybe calories or a type of food because it scares me. I have my "safe foods" that I can go days eating it in a row because I can control the amount of calories in it. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a safe food for me. Red meat is something that I just can't do. An individual with an eating disorder may find foods that healthy to be unsafe foods. I know that with my eating disorder, I am terrified of eating apples, even though I know how good they are for me. The amount of calories in them scare me. Same with orange juice. So just because you see a friend or family member eating their 3 meals a day, doesn't mean that they aren't restricting what they eat in other ways. If you know someone with an eating disorder that is working towards recovery and they are restricting in different ways, approach them kindly and let them know that you've noticed. That works for me sometimes.
Myth #8: "You cannot die from anorexia if you exercise to keep your heart and body strong." Exercising is one of the most popular ways of "purging" when a person has an eating disorder. I learned when I was at my smallest weight that I couldn't even exercise because I was too weak. The people who mostly believe this myth is the individual with the eating disorder. They tell themselves that they are "not sick enough" to die from this disease. Normally their perception of themselves is so distorted that they don't see how skinny they are or how sick they look. I know that this was the case for me. It wasn't until I got back from treatment and I looked at my pictures from this summer that I realized how sick I really was. And it wasn't until my doctor told me that I had less than a year left to live if I continued with my eating disorder behaviors, that I realized that I really am going to die from my eating disorder. I had one leg in my grave and I was doing enough to get through each day. I couldn't stand up on my own. I couldn't go for a walks with my kids. If I would have gotten meningitis before I went to treatment, my doctor said there's a good chance I wouldn't have lived through it. It's divine intervention that I didn't get sick until I put some weight on and I was in a healthier state of mind.
Myth #9: "People with eating disorders always look underweight." Media often only shows the extreme cases of anorexia where the individual looks like they are on their death bed. Sometimes that is the case. Like I said above, I looked sick. I looked like I was on the verge of losing everything. When I was in my active bulimia, my cheeks appeared chunky because of the constant purging I was doing. Often when a person is purging, they are still not "getting rid of" every single calorie they consumed. If an individual partakes in binge eating, they will overeat because they know that there will be some sort of purging involved. For me, I would eat either a normal amount of calories or under eat, then I would purge or use laxatives anyway. Then there are people with BED which is a quite serious eating disorder because of the different health risks it brings that you might not get with anorexia or bulimia. Living with an eating disorder for over half of my life, I found myself judging overweight people at some point. Until I met girls with BED and how their eating disorder thoughts are so much like mine, but they just have a different way of coping with it. Don't assume that a person doesn't have an eating disorder just because they are not rail thin.
Myth #10: "Anorexia is just a phase." I've heard many parents, teachers and counselors say this when I was younger. Sometimes the individual will say it to themselves. Convincing themselves that they will use these behaviors just long enough to get to a "goal weight" only to learn that it's not that simple. Those eating disorder thoughts worm their way to your very core and it consumes you faster than you could imagine. Often parents who suspect that their child has eating disorder behaviors tell themselves and others that it's just a phase and don't take it seriously. Truth is that eating disorders can start as young as age 8 and that parents should look for any signs that their child could possible be developing an eating disorder. Below I've listed signs that someone you love is suffering or develping an eating disorder:
The following symptoms and behaviors are common in people with anorexia:
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Wearing loose, bulky clothes to hide weight loss
  • Preoccupation with food, dieting, counting calories, etc.
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, such as carbs or fats
  • Avoiding mealtimes or eating in front of others
  • Preparing elaborate meals for others but refusing to eat them
  • Exercising excessively
  • Making comments about being “fat”
  • Stopping menstruating
  • Complaining about constipation or stomach pain
  • Denying that extreme thinness is a problem
The following are common signs of bulimia:
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in a short time, or finding lots of empty food wrappers or containers
  • Evidence of purging, including trips to the bathroom after meals, sounds or smells of vomiting, or packages of laxatives or diuretics
  • Skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others, or eating very small portions
  • Exercising excessively
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the body
  • Complaining about being “fat”
  • Using gum, mouthwash, or mints excessively
  • Constantly dieting
  • Scarred knuckles from repeatedly inducing vomiting
Common signs of binge eating disorder include:
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in a short time, or finding lots of empty food wrappers or containers
  • Hoarding food, or hiding large quantities of food in strange places
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the body
  • Skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others
  • Constantly dieting, but rarely losing weight
   *Courtesy of WebMd

I hope that this gave you a better perspective and more information on eating disorders than you had at the beginning. Eating disorders are a serious disease that has the highest mortality of any mental illness. It's something that 24 million people of any race, religion, background, age and sex deal with in the US alone. Only 1 in 10 men and women receive treatment for their eating disorders. I got to be that lucky 1 that got the opportunity and blessing to experience treatment first hand and it gave me such a better outlook on my life and other people's lives with eating disorders. Please feel free to share this and get the word out about eating disorders. Much love.
XOXO Katie

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Living with migraines

I swear this is the worse pain I've ever had to deal with. As most of you know, I was admitted to the hospital a couple weeks ago for them and they thought that it was meningitis, but the migraines are continuing. T thinks it's stress. I'm not even sure anymore. Even today, when I've had a good day, my head is killing me. Last night it was as bad as it was the day I went to the hospital. With the migraines, it makes it difficult to do anything. It makes it hard to eat. Which in turn triggers my eating disorder. I've done good since my last post and I've at all 3 meals each day. I haven't been able to journal in awhile. I haven't taken any time to myself. I'm just trying to stay busy all the time so I'm not concentrating on my eating disorder thoughts. I have an ultrasound tomorrow to find out how large my cyst is this time. It's causing me a lot of pain and I'm so over it. I'm over being drug down by pain all the time. I have decided that I am going to go back through my binder from EDC and read some of the stuff I worked on during treatment. And go through my recovery toolbox and utilize what I have in there to help with how I'm feeling lately. I am going to read my Relapse Prevention Plan and focus on the things that I've gained since being in treatment. I can't lose sight of what's important. I talked to a friend of mine today that I haven't talked to in quite awhile and she told me that she thought a couple months ago that she would be attending my funeral next year with the way I was going. This breaks my heart that I never took notice to how many people actually cared about me and wanted me to fight. Now I see that. I see all the supportive people I have in my life and my reasons to live. My boys, my family, T, and my life is a reason for me to keep fighting. I've also realized that I am not going to get what I want from people who don't want me in their life. I've been trying to connect with my dad again. Trying to get together so we can discuss our fight and whether or not we are going to get past all of this, but he's not showing interest. I've made the first calls, I've made the suggestion we get together, but it's going unheard. And I'm working on accepting that. I can't make him love me. I can't make anyone want me in their life. So I am going to embrace myself and work on what I need to do to be successful for my needs, not his. I'm not making anymore phone calls. I'm not making anymore suggestions. It's in his hands now, and I need to accept that. I've always strived for his love and wanted him to love me like a father is supposed to, but I need to realize that I've got so many people around me that love me and need me in their lives. This is going to take awhile, but I know I will get there eventually. I'm talking to my doctor again this week about my migraines and explain to him how they're not getting better. And I'm going to a support group as well this weekend. So I'm moving in the right direction. I will see the brighter side of all of this. Much love.
XOXO Katie

Friday, October 26, 2012

Recovery is hard

I guess I didn't anticipate recovery being so difficult. This past week has been particularly hard. I can't seem to figure out why I'm having such a hard time. I feel uncomfortable in my body. I feel uncomfortable eating. Last week when I went to the doctor, I was up 3lbs since I've left treatment. I was so proud of myself. But my ED has been loud and telling me that I'm just getting fatter each day. I went to the OB today and got weighed... I lost a pound from last week. I'm back down to 97lbs. I am so disappointed in myself. How can I let this happen when I've been doing so good? I haven't been purging or using laxies, but I've been cutting back at meals and skipping my snacks. I just feel out of my body. Like I'm watching myself get bigger and bigger. The last time I weighed close to this was at the beginning of June when I discontinued my other blog. I still have people commenting on that blog, but I don't go and read the posts because I find them too triggering. Looking back and realizing that I would go an entire day eating only 300 calories is hard to comprehend. I know that I eat way more than that in a day now, and it doesn't affect me like it used to, but certain things do still scare me when it comes to calories. Last night we went to the buffet for T's dad's birthday and I feel like I overdid it. Well my eating disorder tells me that I ate too much. In reality, I probably ate what I'm supposed to at dinner. I know one of the things that is steering me a bit away from recovery is going back to old routine with the kids and appointments. I have 3-5 appointments for me a week and 1-2 appointments for my oldest a week. His dad is being very absent in his life, so I've been working on his behavioral problems by myself. But I am loving having him in Kindergarten. He has been learning so much and so fast since the start of the year. Since parent/teacher conferences happened while I was in treatment, I had one with his teacher today where we went over his testing from the beginning of the year, and all the progress he has made. She is already talking about moving him up a reading level. And his math level is that of a 1st grader. It makes me proud of him and proud of myself that the work I've been doing with him since I got back is working out well. He is a big stress in my life, but I know that at the end of my recovery, I will be able to be fully aware of my surroundings and how to help those around me. I know the my ED voice is stressing T out as well, so I've been trying to keep it to myself. Some days are easier than others. He still continues to call me beautiful several times a day, and when my ED talks to him, he makes me aware of it. After my appointment this morning, I made sure that I ate lunch and my afternoon snack. I just have to pull my head out of my ass and realize what I have to live for. I am going to finish dinner. Much love.
XOXO Katie

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time to refocus

Ever since I have been back from treatment, I feel like I have been a walking zombie. It's no doubt all the medication I am on. My heart is happy, my life is happy, but on the outside, people keep wondering if there is something wrong with me. I don't like being in this state of mind. Plus lately, all I can think about is failure. What if I mess up? What if I end up losing weight instead of putting it back on? In reality, I know that isn't true. Me jeans are getting tighter and my face is filling out a lot more. Normally, this would have made me happy. To show me that I am moving in the right direction. But the last few days, all I can think about is me getting fatter. I need to refocus right now before I slip back into my eating disorder. I've decided that I am slowly going to start taking myself off of one of my anti anxiety medications since I know that was a huge difference they made while I was in treatment. I see my doctor tomorrow, and of course I will talk to him about it. But I just feel like I'm falling backwards. I can't let that happen. I am no doubt over 100lbs by now. But why does this number freak me out all of a sudden? Just a few weeks ago, I was ready for 110lbs. I just feel like Ana's voice is getting louder again. I need it to stop. I'm still eating well and according to my meal plan, but now it just feels like an obligation for me. I don't really feel like eating, but I do it because I know that my body needs it. But that isn't enough. I have to want this. I think taking myself off of some of my medications and taking time to myself each day is what I need. I also want to take time to spend with God more. Even if it's 20 minutes a day in prayer, or reading a chapter out of the Bible, I feel like my relationship with God needs to grow. I feel He is the one who will help pull me out of the rubble of my eating disorder and put me back on top. I haven't had any relapses, or any slips, minus that small one in the hospital, but I can't help but think about whether or not I am going to fail. There is so much I could lose if I slip back into my eating disorder. Right now I feel like I need to be on my best behavior seeing as I just got out of treatment. I feel like everyone expects me to be doing awesome and totally recovered. But right now, I feel like I'm still living with it. Maybe I always will too? I know that body image is one of the last things to go, but I'm so ready to be happy with the way I look and not always worry about whether a picture of me came out looking good or not. I'm beautiful in my own way, and to many people, so maybe I should just focus on that. I am not like anyone else. I am my own individual and I am beautiful in the way God made me. Yep, that's going to be my mantra for the day. Sorry for the long rant. Much love.
XOXO Katie

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Menigitis and a slip

Well at 3:30am on Wednesday morning, I ended up in the hospital with the worst headache I have ever experienced. I couldn't understand why it was so bad. After a spinal tap, a CT scan and blood work, they told me that I had meningitis. I spent 3 days in the hospital and was released last night. While in the hospital, after many bags of fluids in me, they decided to weigh me. That was a horrible idea. According to their scale, I had gained 11 pounds in 5 days. I had a major freak out and didn't want to eat. My discharge weight from the EDC was 95lbs. My weight on Wednesday was 106lbs. I freaked out, started crying, and my eating disorder was extremely loud. Telling me that I was eating too much and that I was gaining weight too fast. So after talking to my dietitian, we decided that I wasn't going to weigh myself until my appointment with her next week. This is a great idea. She told me that each bag of fluid that they put into me is 2.5lbs and there is no way that all that water weight will just go away, so weighing myself within this next week would just backtrack me into a relapse. So this morning I woke up, did laundry, dishes, picked up the house, made some coffee and had a pep talk with myself. I kept reminding myself that food is not an option for me and that I must eat if I want to recover from this eating disorder. So I ate breakfast and I didn't hate myself afterwards, so I am hoping I am back on track from this slip that I had. I get both my boys back finally after being in treatment and the hospital stay. I'm pretty excited, but kinda nervous at the same time. I know my life is going to go back to being chaos but I'm hoping that I can handle it better now that I have my head on straight and my priorities in a row. I'm sorry for the lack of blogging, but I hope to get back on track real soon. Thank you all for the supportive comments. Much love.
XOXO Katie

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 23

So tomorrow is my last day. Tonight's my last night in the house with all the girls. I feel a sense of relief, but also sadness. I have gotten to know so many of these wonderful girls, and have created friendships with all of them. But I am so happy that I have this chance to move forward with my life. My treatment team was sceptical about me leaving too early, but I am very confident in where I'm at in my recovery. I know that my eating disorder hasn't completely gone away, because I still struggle everyday with little thoughts here and there. But the difference now than before is that I am well aware of my thoughts and not turning them into behaviors. I have found so much meaning in life. I can't wait til a month from now and see how much more I've improved. I still find certain things triggering, but for the most part, I avoid them. I now know that I don't have less than a year to live and I can move on and see my boys grow up. I am excited to know that I can have my hobbies back. Hobbies that I have avoided for the past two years because of my eating disorder. Even though I have lived with Ana for 12 long years, I know that I am stronger and I WILL overcome this. I will beat statistics, and I will prove people wrong, and I will show them all that I have the willpower to fight back. I am getting more energy. I'm reconnecting with old friends. Everything seems to be looking up from here. I know that there might be slips every now and then, but I know now that if I have a slip, that I can turn it around and not go back into a relapse. I always used to think that I could do this on my own. That I didn't need to come to treatment, and even though I've had moments since I got here where I thought I didn't belong in such an intensive program, I'm so thankful that I've stuck with it. I have gathered so many skills that will be extremely helpful for me in the future. I've made friendships that I hope will last a life time. Being in a structured environment has been so beneficial for me. But now I can use that structure that I've had here, and transfer it into my everyday life. I have meals planned out, I have a grocery list that I will use when I go to the store this weekend. I've made all my appointments with my therapist, doctor, and dietitian for the next two weeks. I'm moving forward with my life. Another thing that I am going to do within the next week is take all of my "skinny" clothes, and cut them all up. Or maybe start a fire with them lol. I honestly can't believe how much these past 3 weeks have changed my perspective on every aspect of my life. I can finally see my future without Ana in it. She's not in charge anymore. I am. This is MY life and I deserve to live it to it's full potential. I know that some friendships may not survive my recovery, but for the most part, I believe everyone is on board for me to recover. I will most definitely miss this place, and the wonderful treatment team I had, and the friendships I've made. But I know that I have a purpose to serve for God and I need to fulfill that. And I WILL fulfill that. I'm not even sure what that purpose is at the moment, but I will when the time comes. I want to thank all of you who have been following my blog and all the love and support I've gotten from everyone. Having the extra support does help. Much love.
XOXO Katie