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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Learning to Love your Body: A work in progress

Poor self-esteem, negative body image, self-hatred....Unfortunately, these are phrases commonly connected with eating disorders.  Learning how to love yourself and appreciate your body beyond your appearance may be one of the most difficult aspects of recovery from an eating disorder.  The hazy spectacles worn when struggling with an eating disorder can give a distorted perception of reality.  The beauty of recovery is seen in healing from within.  When this process begins to occur, many individuals begin to see themselves clearly for the first time, in a light that extinguishes the dark shadows of despair and helplessness.

An important part of building a positive body image is surrounding yourself with support and people who love and care about you.  Another crucial aspect is learning to radiate optimism through your words and actions.  It is easy to fall victim to a negative attitude or be bogged down with unnecessary baggage created from pessimism.  This can easily lead to self-destructive behaviors and beliefs.  There are many ways you can celebrate the wonder of you.  Even if you cannot believe that you are beautiful or worthy, you can take small steps towards a better body image, self-appreciate, and self-care.  Your body is beautifully and wonderfully make, unique and amazing in every way.

For more encouragement, read the Top 10 Tips for Eating Disorder Recovery.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guest Blogger Shares Observations on Random Acts of Kindness

Who Does That? 

Recently, I sat in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. The door opened; I assumed I would be ushered to the exam room. But no, it was a woman I had never met. She explained she worked in the back office, but had seen me from time to time. She said to me, “I just wanted to come out and tell you what a pretty smile you have.” 

Later, I was with a friend in a local store that specialized in beads of all shapes and sizes, textures and colors. As my friend discussed her needs with the owner, I chatted with another employee, a young woman named Kara. She wore a beaded bracelet, an intricate masterpiece that had taken her 80 to 90 hours to create. My friend and I both admired the amazing piece of art. Several days later, my husband and I had occasion to be in the same store. Kara approached us. I introduced her to my husband and encouraged him to appreciate the bracelet. Clearly, she wore it every day. The following moment, she took the bracelet off and said, “Here, I want you to have it. “ She placed it on my wrist, and though I protested, she remained resolute. 

These two independent interactions ultimately begged the same question:  “Who does that?” Who takes the time to leave their office to extend a compliment to a woman she does not know? Who bestows a painstakingly crafted item of jewelry upon a relative stranger?
Seriously … Who does that? 

The question does have an answer. People with lovely, generous hearts, and kind, thoughtful  spirits do such things. They turn good thoughts into meaningful action. They take the extra step, go the additional mile, with only one thing in mind: doing something nice for someone else with no thought of personal gain.  

So … question asked, question answered. Case closed. 

No. It is not enough to simply pose a question and then content myself with the obvious answer.  I know experiencing these two significant interactions demands a more deliberate response. I decided it was incumbent upon me to revise the answer to the question.
Who does that? I DO THAT. 

I want to be one of those generous, thoughtful people. I prayed for help. I asked the Holy Spirit to quicken my heart, whisper softly in my ear, whenever the occasion to extend love to one of His children presented itself. He heard my prayer and as already answered it, allowing me to pass His beautiful heart on to another.  

Perhaps others might do likewise. Imagine a world where many people said, “I do that. At every opportunity, I selflessly offer love and kindness to others through my words and actions.” Imagine how much joy that could bring, how many lives might be changed, if even just a little.

Imagine how God, creator of the entire universe, would smile.
And speaking of God smiling 

I have worked in the eating disorder field for many years.  I know the hardship, struggle, and pain associated with these terrible diseases.  I recognize and respect how difficult it is to achieve recovery.  But eating disorders inhabit the darkness; we serve a God of light.  If you let Him, He will help you throw off those dark shackles and enter the light where you can live free.  Additionally, he will pull the scales from your own eyes and allow you to focus on the needs of the world around  you, instead of the ever-escalating demands of an eating disorder.  As you grow into  the type of person who says “I do that,” God will smile on you, in you, and through you. 

Submitted by Guest Blogger, Debra Cooper, Expert writer on eating disorders

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Parity Act

  When someone is suffering from an eating disorder one of the most difficult tasks in recovery is to simply admit to having a problem and asking for help. When one conquers this step, the next battle is against the insurance company. According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder will receive treatment, and of those in treatment, at least half will recover; however, insurance companies are not required to cover eating disorder treatment. This article features Danielle, a 32 year old nurse who had battled an eating disorder for 15 years. She will testify at a congressional hearing in Chicago in favor of the Parity Act which is proposed to help increase mental health insurance coverage. In her own personal struggle, she received three months of treatment in an inpatient residential facility and it cost her $90,000 because her insurance company was unwilling to pay.  Though eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, the adequate treatment for those wanting to recover is quite often unaffordable. To read further about Danielle's journey and the congressional hearing happening on August 6th, click here.

Hannah, intern with Eating Disorder Hope

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hometown Hero: San Ramon woman helps parents of kids with eating disorders

  According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 24 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder. Included in this statistic are the various types of disorders, anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, and EDNOS, all of which are associated with major health risks. An eating disorder doesn't solely affect the singular person who has the disease. Families are constantly riding an emotional roller coaster and walking on eggshells amongst their loved one. An article published in the San Jose Mercury News, titled Hometown Hero: San Ramon woman helps parents of kids with eating disorders, discusses the lack of resources for parents and families. Nancy Clarkson is the mother featured in the article and she is quite honest about the difficulties she had while her daughter, at the age of 14, began suffering from anorexia. In 2007, Nancy attended a NEDA conference and found support through other parents who were experiencing the same situations. Nancy started a support group for parents in November of 2007 and parents talk about a variety of topics including the intense emotions, depression and obsessiveness their child exhibits, as well as the conflict and turmoil which may divide a family. Thankfully, Nancy's daughter is fully recovered and Nancy continues to provide support for the community and paying it forward.

Hannah, intern with Eating Disorder Hope

Monday, August 6, 2012

Being Stronger Than The ED In Your Head

  This past week I ran across a blog titled, I Love To Eat: A Former Anorexic's Wisdom, and of course it caught my eye immediately. The author is Jennifer Pastiloff who has been featured on Good Morning America. She is a motivational teacher, yoga instructor and an advocate for children with special needs.  In this blog post she writes about a recent trip to Trader Joe's and a comment made by an elderly man, "You sure like to eat!". I related so much to this, that I had to share this blog post with all of you because I am sure you have come across situations such as these as well. When I first came out of treatment I was still on a high caloric plan and people would stare at me or even make comments, though I knew I was doing what I needed to do. When someone from the external world makes any sort of comment about our weight, image, or food, the "ED in our head" becomes large and in charge. This is when it is up to us to take charge and take the power away from ED. Whatever we are eating, however much it may be, we are the only honest judge. Please read Jennifer's article, and her other articles as well about her recovery with overcoming anorexia. Her story gives me inspiration and I hope it will inspire you as well.

Hannah, intern with Eating Disorder Hope

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Own Olympic Trials

   The Olympics are vastly approaching and the excitement surrounding the games is abundant throughout the media and conversations across the globe. I too have found myself on an emotional roller coaster whenever the opening ceremonies are mentioned or coverage of the Beijing Olympics are played. You’re probably brainstorming the specific reason as to why I, an obvious non-Olympian, would have any sort of emotion attached to this event. Considering I am not an elite athlete, nor do I know any personally, the turmoil that I have been feeling is not associated with the actual event; however, it is based on the events of what happened in my life four years ago during this same week previous to the Beijing Olympics and during the Olympics itself. Four years ago this week I took one ginormous step and admitted to needing help and told my mom that if I didn’t check into treatment I knew I wasn’t going to survive. Because I was an adult, compared to the first time I went to treatment and was forced at age 17, I had to admit my internal destruction and recognize that I was the only one who would be able to save myself. After much deliberation, praying, and research, I found a treatment center and the process began. I had an on the phone interview with the owner of the facility and once I was ‘accepted’ I had to make an appointment for a wellness check to make sure I was medically stable. Because the treatment center was not hospital based, there was a multitude of health standards of which I needed a doctor to inspect and sign off on. I knew I wasn’t well, but the “I’m not that sick compared to...” was in the back of mind and of course, as someone who suffers from an eating disorder, our goals are never reached and we seem to never be satisfied. I was dealing with enough internal emotions due to my treatment decision, leaving home and school, being away from family, etc. that this doctor appointment was just a simple task which needed to be done. Little did I know, within two hours of being at the doctor appointment, my life would change and I would have my first stay in the hospital. The doctor did an abundance of welfare checks and it was after I was hooked up to the EKG and my blood pressure was taken that the doctor left the room and returned with a nurse and another doctor. I was having a difficult enough time during this difficult time without the physical support of my mother (she was in Michigan), that when the doctor told me I had to decide whether I would take an ambulance or have someone drive me to the hospital my mind raced and my heart dropped. Thankfully my sister-in-law had generously took me to the doctor and was sitting in the waiting room, and I asked for her right away. She, being a doctor herself, was able to decipher what the medical professionals were trying to tell me... I was truly sick, and needed help as soon as possible. My heart rate was at hospitalization level.
My family took me to the hospital, and graciously stayed and visited with me as much as they could. And, what was on television all during those four days? The Olympics. It was a life changing series of events which had shocked me, as well as my family. The days I spent in the hospital were tough. I was left alone with my thoughts, and had never been away from my mom when a significant event in my life had occurred. My sister-in-law, Carissa, really took on a motherly role and my nephew, Brodie, spent long hours hanging out with me in my hospital bed. The hospitalization was purely to monitor my heart and to make sure I could be cleared to go to treatment the following week. When I fell asleep, my heart rate would sink even lower and the bells and whistles of my heart rate monitor would ring throughout the night. The tangled attachments and sticky pads placed all over my body as well as the IV made for an uncomfortable stay, as well as the interesting and unhelpful hospital staff.
In the four years since my hospital stay and entering treatment, I have come a long way in my recovery; however, I still have a long way to go. Though I may not have become an Olympian in the past four years, I have become a survivor of my own race-- life. Looking back it seems surreal, but the lessons I learned during this difficult time in my life will never leave me. The commitment which my sister-in-law, brother and nephew made to visit me in the hospital, as well as every Sunday in treatment, will remain in my heart forever. I never thought I would have endured the various obstacles which surfaced the past four years, but I am more than thankful that I did. In the past four years I have moved away from home, lived in my own apartment, worked three different jobs (one of which I was at for two years), met great friends, been a witness to my nephew Brodie’s entire life as well as the beginning of my nephew Crosby’s, grown closer to my family, dealt with a devastating breakup to only fall in love with an amazing man who has moved across the country to be with me, and remained a 4.0 student at The University of Arizona with hopes to graduate in the spring. I am blessed to have been able to spend six months in residential treatment and the memories, friends, and staff will reside in my heart forever. 
I may not have trained to conquer The Olympics in the past four years, but I have trained in this bout with recovery. Do not ever set limits on yourself, recovery is possible,  you are loved and lovable-- God will grant you the serenity, one day at a time!

Hannah, Intern with Eating Disorder Hope

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Recovery Role Model

Jenni Schaefer is the author of “Goodbye ED, Hello Me”, “Life Without ED”, a regular guest on various television and radio shows, contributor to popular magazines as well as the Chicken Soup series, a speaker at schools, conferences. Jenni is a member of the ambassador council of the National Eating Disorder Association and her work has been recognized in Cosmopolitan, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and Woman’s World. She is honest about her journey with her eating disorder and her recovery which she relates to as, her divorce from ED. She, in my eyes and many others, is an inspiration. She posted a blog on the Huffington Post website titled, ‘The Eating Disorder Time Suck’, which I believe is synonymous to this blog subject, anorexic hope. I think this post is important because she writes about the societal ED versus the eating disorder ED and the fact that many women are dissatisfied with their appearance and when taken to the extreme this is when an eating disorder occurs. Also, Jenni shares how she believes she is recovered, which can be a controversial topic in the eating disorder world and her take on it is quite optimistic and intriguing. If you are looking for inspiration and/or a recovery role model, please check out the attached links.
Hannah, intern with Eating Disorder Hope