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This one’s to you, anorexia

For you continue to change my life.

The last time I saw my best friend alive, it was 9:00pm at a house party at The University of Arkansas, and I stood there, in the front yard of someone’s house, backing away from him because I wanted to finish a run.

18 years old – our first week of college – he was visiting on his way to a Mississippi school.

Linds, he pleaded, reaching out for my shoulder. Just stay. Christ, don’t run.

I’ll be back, I’d laughed – shorts whipping my legs in the night breeze. I’ll run and I’ll change and I’ll come back.

It’s my only night here, he sputtered– yelling down the lawn with a red solo cup in his hand– his plaid shorts hanging at the knee. Promise you’ll come back?

Yeah, I’d waved, smiling as I turned.

And I was gone before he could say more – running. Running because I’d eaten bowls of cereal. Running because the ED voice was screeching – and would be for years to come.

Your voice that whispered, so strongly then: “You can’t go back. You run.”

So, I ran. And I didn’t go back.

Later, I texted him.

Goodnight, I wrote. Have fun with the boys.

I’ll see him soon, I thought. I’ll make it up.

And then my best friend, who carried me to bed as kids when I fell asleep on the couch –

One month later – that pretty little boy fell from a tree, and he died.

For years afterwards, and maybe more years to come, I have found myself faced with the lingering consequence of that choice: “was a run worth it that night? Is anything about an eating disorder ever… worth it?”

Of course it wasn’t, one might say.

But, I believe, maybe, it was.

Sheesh, Linds, you’re probably thinking. Heavy stuff.

And maybe this should be the point that I take a backseat here. Speak only to the brightness in recovery – or how much more beautiful the world looks through my rose-tinted #recovery glasses. 

And hey, the world is beautiful.

But, I don’t think that’s the point.

I am here, like many others, to speak to the realities of life with – and after – an eating disorder. And the consequences and choices amidst all of it.

At the end of the day, my story is no different than most.

I have been in recovery for 5 years from a life-long love affair with anorexia, exercise bulimia and binge eating. I’ve been to treatment – been to outpatient – relapsed – and survived.

And, like many others, I still live in a reality where I sometimes have to remind myself what makes life in recovery meaningful enough to go on living in it.

While an eating disorder can provide instant gratification, recovery can admittedly feel like such a thankless task some days, I complained once to a therapist: a burden to feel so much without an escape.

7 years after my best friend passed, I found myself in treatment grieving his death as deeply as I did the day after I was told he was gone (because no one really grieves the first day. They merely survive.)

Is this how it’s supposed to be, I asked a counselor one night – snot running down my nose, as I laid in the grass. How do I bear it? Why?

Because it won’t always be this way, she said.

And I chose, then, to believe her.

Why? I’ll never know.

But, 5 years (and a whole heap of sobs) later, perhaps I’m writing this from a rickety coffee shop table tonight to pass along that message – and represent proof that we are capable of living through the “hard stuff” and still recover, and even be content.

Regardless of which eating disorder, how long you’ve struggled, or how many moments you look back at your life and hold grief because of it –

You are capable of facing it – and I know firsthand that there is a day that you stop counting calories– and start comparing the differences between your “eating disorder world” and your “recovery” world, and acknowledge that the two seem incomparable.

I write this letter on behalf of my eating disorder and my best friend tonight, because without that pain in my life – how would I have ever known that grief, guilt, sentiment, and joy are all quite capable of living hand-in-hand; intertwined even – and still make for a full, rounded life.

No matter what you’ve done in your eating disorder, or the back tracks in recovery – or the sheer amount of times you’ve wondered “is this worth it?” and decided ‘no’, only to then again decide ‘yes’ – these are all merely choices. And you have the power to make a different one, tomorrow.

Sitting here, making edits and backspace taps to this letter, I know that all I can ever hope to do as a writer is make a momentary impact with sentences. I am certainly not arrogant enough to think I can change the intimate, personal world of someone’s eating disorder. I know its grasp all too well.

However, what I hope to do through these words is remind all of us struggling or learning to recover – that we as humans are simply a series of choices. And no one choice has to define us.

The sheer number of choices – and the unpredictable outcome of each of them, makes recovery inherently difficult at times. Anyone who says differently is, truly, selling you something.

So because of this reality, we are always going to be faced with a choice to go back to the perceived comfort (and control) of our eating disorder.

And there will be hard days where it feels inherently impossible not to.

So, I think what recovery is at the end of the day, is learning how to live flexibly within a life filled with choices and uncontrollable consequences.

In it, we learn how and what to think about again – how to navigate our thoughts in spite of the ED voice and the shame – and how to look at the multifaceted angles of our eating disorder, and stay on the outside of it instead of being hypnotized by its constant monologue inside our heads.

What we learn, overtime, is not only how rewarding the world can be when we are untethered from the eating disorder grip, but how unpredictable and spontaneous and intimate life is as well – and how to think and stay conscious and alert to the triggers our world pushes at us.

Ultimately, my hope is that everyone in recovery finds their version of flexible recovery –

And that we will claim our successes on the days we wrestle with the hard stuff –

And be gentle to ourselves on the days we forgot how – as I continue to do, when I think of my best friend standing there that night, as I ran.

So to you, anorexia, always, I remain grateful that you were part of my life.

You remind me – as I knock coffee out of the cup, and onto my lap:

I still want to be here.

I want to be right here.

Bradley, circa 2007

Special thanks to Eating Recovery Center for this letter!

The post A Letter To You, Anorexia appeared first on I Haven't Shaved In 6 Weeks.

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In December 2013, I was gearing up to go to treatment in Florida after 8 years of living in the eating disorder cycle.

In my mind, I had this notion that rehab was gonna be this all-knowing descent into radical self realization.

More or less, I expected to come out of it being Basic B*tch Gandhi… or at the very least, Mother Teresa’s sinful pseudo-daughter. Meditating on the reg – zen-like in feeling, and – of course – still thin because in my jacked up head I thought the weight I felt was “extra” was only there because I binge ate about as much as I starved.

L-O-L.

I’m not laughing. This disease seizes your brain.

But needless to say, that was not the outcome of my six weeks in residential rehab.

What treatment gave me, ultimately, was a frame of reference to start figuring out just what the hell I wanted this “recovery” lifestyle to be. That’s all.

It didn’t give me a whole new world – or any form of enlightenment (in fact, it ultimately left me predominately enraged at insurance, and the way we treat mental health in this country). But, treatment gave me light at the end of the tunnel – to motivate me to start actually climbing outta the hole I’d been buried in.

And, alongside a take-no-sh*t therapist, family and friends, and a community online, I’ve found my own way because, while cliche, it’s true that no one can really “save” you except for you. (p.s. shameless plug but if you’d like to try couching with me or at the very least – guidance, my offer is here!)

If you want to know what rehab or treatment is like, read my experiences on my front page, Rehab Truths 1-9, which basically translate to short stories about life in rehab.

The whole reason I started this blog was to document those days in the treatment center, cattle-called into single filed lines and force-fed Boost (ah, bliss), and it’s from those days that this blog began. Mostly, I was trying to process what I went through in there.

Fast forward five years later, and I’ve had time to mull, contemplate and needle.

Below are 5 lessons that rehab never taught me, and perhaps I wish – it had.

If you have more to offer – feel free, as always, to comment below:

1.) You will grieve the fantasy life and body your eating disorder promised far longer than the eating disorder itself.

There is a subtle, but distinct difference here. You don’t miss anorexia – you miss what you looked like in anorexia. You don’t miss binge eating – you miss the comfort food gave. You don’t miss your eating disorder – you miss the fantasy you created around what blessed tidings would happen in your life once you were at that dream weight or body.

This is not to be glazed over. It will take a lot more time to understand what you’re feeling if you don’t take the time to deconstruct these feelings.

2.) Dating will be hard; that’s why they say not to.

Navigating when to tell someone, how much to tell, and getting a grip on any shame you still carry — is tricky.

I’d know. I continued to date half of mankind after I got out of treatment, falling into a 9-month relationship with the wrong person almost immediately.

Let me clarify: he’s a great guy. He’s now engaged to the right girl in Arkansas, and I graciously double-clicked the Instagram pic when I saw it.

BUT, that’s not the point. The point is that I went through a rough ‘who am I?’ period after treatment and I went to what felt stable: a relationship.

I ignored that we were different in almost every way, conveniently escaped that we each did not want to live in the others home (me in Brooklyn, he in Arkansas) and I feigned enjoying golf when I actually find that sport the bane of sporting existence.

Ultimately, we realized we were not suited.

Soooo naturally, I went the opposite way and burrowed down with a Brooklyn manbun in a band, who couldn’t be arsed to call me back for weeks after a date.

I’m generalizing, sure. There were co-workers and clients and Bumble dates and other outrageous stories of New York City dating, but the point is that I just had no idea what the hell I wanted from a relationship because I didn’t know who the hell I wanted to even be.

It’s like that Runaway Bride movie with Julia Roberts from the early 2000s. “You don’t even know if you like your eggs scrambled or egg whites only!”

That’s probably a good metaphor for my mid-20s. I dated scrambled eggs and egg whites with no idea of which I preferred.

3.) Depending on facility, treatment can usually feel dehumanizing – especially when coming out.

Stripped of many choices, like when and where you can pee, means it’ll take a hot second to adjust back into the idea that you are 100% responsible for you.

I got out of treatment with all these CHOICES again.

Naturally, I immediately went on a X-mile run, strained a muscle, and pouted on the couch while my parents scratched their chins in concern. “Does she really already need to go back?” they likely wondered.

It’s a lot – the responsibility of caring for yourself again. You weren’t doing it before treatment and you sure as hell weren’t really doing it in there.

Everything in residential treatment is programmed, timed, and monitored. I mean literally down to when you pee. Sure, they give you more ‘freedom of choice’ as it goes on – but you still have some version of a counselor ‘stink eye’ on you at all times.

4.) Calorie counting sticks far longer than you plan for it.

This is REALLY something I wish I had understood. Just because you spend however many weeks in a treatment facility, or in therapy, does not mean you will unlearn calorie counting so quickly. 

It’ll take years to unlearn, but the brightside of this is that I know it’s possible.

I have written many times about calorie counting. It has been the bane of my recovery existence over the last five years.

But, as I recently noted, it dawned on me that over this past year – I’ve stopped counting with any sort of regularity.

AND I CAN WRITE THAT AND ACTUALLY MEAN IT WAHOO!

I have no bloody idea how many calories I take in every day. I could take an educated guess, sure, but why bother?

So, I tell you this not to defeat you – but to beg you to just keep moving forward through the automatic calorie counts.

It’ll fade. It just takes awhile to unlearn.

5.) Watch out for sneaky Orthorexia

Eating, but only eating under prescribed ‘rules’, is not the freedom you’re looking for.

That is simply Orthorexia.

I don’t have much else to say to that.

Ultimately, the simple truth here is that you will spend a lot of time putting faith into a process you’re not sure is worth it.

You’ll fight it. Think how you’re doing it is ‘wrong’. Step back into what you think is ‘right’ and be no better off.

Eventually, you’ll get tired of fighting it. Or you’ll see your life evolving and think “oh okay. So, this is the life I was meant to have before all this.”

Or you’ll be walking around one day, and it’ll dawn on you:

Oh sh*t, being not anorexic has its perks. And, in fact, I’m getting stuff done in my life that I thought I would only ever achieve with an eating disorder.

So, I promise you — I absolutely promise you —

All this hell, is worth it.

The post Sh*t Rehab Never Taught Me: Part One appeared first on I Haven't Shaved In 6 Weeks.

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I’ve been a slacker on the blog this past month and some. Tis’ true.

I’d love to make 100 different excuses as to why (and will totally take this as an opp to shamelessly plug the fact that my partner and I are engaged as of a week ago!) but the truth is I have really just allowed myself to overextend commitments.

Whether it’s recovery meet n’ greet coffees or planning recovery speeches or my 9-5 job or traveling for my 9-5 (and recently for a recovery speech) I am at the point where I can no longer give a present (and meaningful) amount of time to any one email, Instagram direct message, or phone call.

Someone told me once that I needed to create boundaries in my advocacy work or I would get burned out and be of no help to anyone, least of all myself. I ignored this for another two years.

Of course I can, I told myself. I cherish ALL conversations and emails. (I do.)

But, it’s dawned on me since that that person had a point.

While I cherish all connection, I also cherish the privilege to show up and genuinely give my invested time, energy and presence.

I simply cannot do that in unstructured ways.

Over the last year, I have received daily emails that range in various needs: from assistance in finding local resources to treat eating disorders, to starting a personal recovery blog, to general recovery coaching, to parents asking about how to talk to their children.

Simply put, I want to help. I like to think that I’m the friend you never knew you wanted – and you’re likely the friend I didn’t know I needed. So, let’s talk.

I am not an clinician of eating disorders – but I write research articles with people who are. I am not a magical healer of eating disorders – but I know how to spot them, and get you headed in a better direction that whatever you’re doing now. I am not cured of eating disorders – but I have them, and I know how to live in spite of it.

In order to assist as many people as I can, my rates are negotiable in the hopes that those of you who cannot afford clinical help have other options. However, while negotiable, these rates must be adhered to so that I can help in a way that is the most invested use of both of our times.

As of today, I offer the following services:

  • MeetUp Group: Boulder/Denver
    • Become a member here.
    • All I ask is that everyone donate on a sliding scale here so I can cover MeetUp monthly costs.
  • Skype or Phone Coaching (30 minutes or 1 hour)
    • Initial Intake: Free
    • Individual Sessions: $60
  • Speaking Engagements
    • Workshop: $750
    • Organizations: $500
    • Classrooms: $200
    • College: $250
    • Panels: $150
  • Article or Byline 
    • Pieces under 1,000 words: $125
    • Pieces over 1,000 words: $175
  • Content Editing for Personal Blog/Article/Writing
    • Pieces under 700 words: $30
    • Pieces under 1400: $40
    • Pieces under 2000: $50

To set up a time to talk, please schedule here.

If you’d prefer to email first – I gotchu. Email me at lindseyhallblog@gmail.com.

Look forward to hearing from you! <3

Engaged wahoo!

The post CURRENTLY SCHEDULING: Interested In Receiving Recovery Coaching 1×1? Or Tips on Blogging? Let’s Talk! appeared first on I Haven't Shaved In 6 Weeks.

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2011 vs 2018

I’m having a moment y’all.

I have something that I’m itching to write.

PRAISE BE!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I could figure out how to insert emoji prayer hands in this post, I would.

But instead, I’ll just use an excessive amount of exclamation points and hope that you choose to keep reading and forgive me.

It’s been over a month since I wrote anything that just “came to me.” Sometimes, I sit in front of these WordPress blank posts and stare and stare…. and then stare for another hour and switch between tabs. Then, I come back to it.

Feed my dog a biscuit.

Pour more coffee.

Eat an apple.

And give up.

But, tonight, I’m having feelings and all I want to type them out.

It’s NEDA week 2019 this week. This morning, I had a podcast interview with the lovely “The Wellness Hustle“. One of the questions she asked me was “What do you hustle for?”

And naturally, my response was strained and probably something inherently lame. But, I said something about how I hustle for connection. Hustle for memories. Hustle for presence. And hustle to feel alive.

Later, while reflecting, I think what I really wanted to say was:

“I hustle for a life where I don’t create a lot more regret for myself.”

Which brings me to these thoughts.

I think it’s bullshit – the phrase “No Regrets.” The philosophy of CHARGE FORWARD, MOVE AHEAD. FORGET YOUR PAST CHOICES.

Like, piss off. What a simple sentiment that absolutely encompasses no thought of how difficult that can be.

Like, okay bud, then you try living with the last memory I have of my best friend before he passed.

10pm on a college campus lawn. “Please don’t go,” he said – hands on my shoulder. That big grin that made you feel seen. “Don’t go work out.”

Sweat pouring down his brow in the late August Arkansas heat.

“I’m only in town one night,” he said – passing through Arkansas to start his college life in Mississippi. We were with friends that night that were at Arkansas with me.

I thought I’d have more time.

“I’ll come back,” I’d smiled – bigger – to compensate. Make him feel seen. “I’ll come back babe. Just gotta get my run in.”

I didn’t go back, man. I was too tired. I was hungry. I binge ate Special K in my dorm room.

I was scared of the “college life.” And scared of being liked. And scared of not being pretty. And scared of who I was.

Bradley, I’m sorry I never went back.

I should’ve stayed with you. I should’ve spent moments with you. I should’ve – should’ve – should’ve.

And I didn’t that night. Nor that summer before.

And now, I’ll never have you back in front of me – shaking my shoulders.

Don’t tell me “No Regrets” on some marketing slogan.

Don’t tell me to forget it. “Let it go.”

Naw.

How about I live with it? And in turn, I live better because I did it.

Here’s my thought tonight – as I sit here at a table by myself, inhaling brussels sprouts and falafel (SIDE NOTE: WHY IS IT SO IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE BRUSSELS SPROUTS THE WAY RESTAURANTS DO THEM WHYYYY OH WHYYYY. WHAT MAGIC FURNACE DOES THOU USETH!!!)

Anyway.

Point is: I think you can live with regret without forgetting it – you just gotta be careful not to use that festering pity to allow yourself to stay stuck in an eating disorder – or return to it.

You know what I’m talking about: that whole cycle of “Well, eff it. I’ve already messed up so much. This is who I am. Destined to be stuck in this forever. Destined to be in the lifestyle for as long as I live.”

That shit is dangerous. And I think it’s why people use the most basic of basic phrases like “FORGET YOUR REGRET GUUUURL.”

As though it’s that easy, first of all, and secondly: I don’t know that I want to.

Because the truth is I don’t want to forget the twist in my stomach when I think about the last time I saw my best friend alive.

I don’t want to forget what it felt like to be arrested on an empty stomach in 2011 for a DWI.

I don’t want to forget the feeling that I missed the only year in my 20s that was ever truly unencumbered by responsibility and “adulthood.” I lived in Spain that year, and spent most of it running on a stupid treadmill at a grimy, dusty ass gym. Too afraid to travel and leave the gym. Wrapped up in learning how to calorie count biscuit cookies.

Instead, I want to remember that when I’m hiking.

And I don’t want to forget about the relationships I didn’t even destroy – but let drift out of sight. I was too preoccupied by the gym. Too anxious about food to catch up at a dinner. I’ve had to heal a lot of friendships – but there are some that are gone. They moved on from me.

And I don’t blame them then.

I don’t wanna lose friendships. Connection. Intimacy.

What else is the point?

This post is a quick one (for me anyway – hell I kept it under 1000 characters) but I wanted to kick off this big week of “awareness” with the thought that maybe we aren’t supposed to forge ahead like William Wallace in Braveheart.

Maybe we’re not meant to eat up our regret and pretend it didn’t define some part of our life.

Regret does eat at me. Sometimes, when I’m cold and shivering in my bed – feeling alone when my partner isn’t there (probably in the next room watching some documentary).

Sometimes, I feel it when I speak to one of you and see the pain you go through in the cycle.

Sometimes, I feel it when I’m home – at my parents house – and I walk into my childhood closet and see those pictures of myself as a teen, and wish I could taste that moment again – if only for a minute.

How much I’d like to whisper: “live your life, lil one. It’s all you got. And this will all end.”

Some of those people will stay. Some will go.

You will love. And it will hurt. And you will love. And it will feel right.

And love, apparently, is feeling both anyway.

As I wrap this post up tonight, paying the bill.

I get a text from my college ex: “Washington county jail really did you dirty with those ears.”

I grin.

I hate you, you.

Love you too.

Call my partner. “I’ll meet ya in a second.”

“Did you happen to get avocados today?”

“Ah shit I forgot.”

“I thought so. So I got one for tomorrow in case.”

Smile.

How well people can know you – when you let them.

And on I keep going in my life, staying present if I can.

Trying to love people while I have them.

Hi, love. This week in NYC <3

The post Why I Hope I Always Remember To Regret My Eating Disorder appeared first on I Haven't Shaved In 6 Weeks.

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We are 6 days into 2019, and here I am – brimming with possibility, opportunity, a new job, dreams:

And, like clockwork, a post-holiday body image crisis steaming Titanic-force ahead.

#Bliss.

via GIPHY

Maybe it’s the fitness Instagram ads peppering my feed, or the insidious amount of leftover sweets positioned as a shrine on our kitchen counter, haunting my waking hours.

Or the return to schedule after 15 days of nonstop travel and eating out.

Or maybe I’m just basking in the blooming guilt of what I ate over the holidays.

Whatever the reason, it happens almost every January.

And last night, as I dressed to go over to eat at my partner’s mom’s house – and Friday, as I dressed to go out to eat – a familiar pattern occurred:

A series of endless (and mentally draining) “retries” to find a suitable outfit to fit what feels like a bulging sensation in my thighs, ass, and stomach. This year, even the arms weren’t granted mercy.

In other words, I left my closet a tornado site, and the living room a hurricane’s debris of clothes, pants (mostly black), and a limp, wet towel I didn’t bother to hang back in the shower.

 

via GIPHY

It’s times like these that drain my recovery mantras.

I know that it happens, but that doesn’t seem to matter when I’m sunken into this shitstorm of body image plaguing.

I knew it’d come too. While celebrating the holidays, I ate effortlessly. Indulged effortlessly – and all the while, the thought crossing my mind:

Oh god, when I get back to real life this could all bite me in the ass.

I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t.

But alas, three days home in Boulder and I’m standing in front of the full length mirror – irritable, uncomfortable, poking at skin, and adorning a uniform of black slouch pants and over-sized sweaters, which my partner relishes (sarcasm).

Sometimes my eating disorder brain feels like a Viking attack. (I only just wrote that because I’m obsessed with Vikings TV show, and Ragnar, played by the immensely sexy Travis Fimmel.)

LOOK AT THAT HAIR! MARRY ME.

I think I got this shit on lockdown, have victories like the realization that I no longer calorie count. Have literally zero idea how many calories I eat per meal:

And then I’m humbled as always, by the body image standard that fucking plagues our culture.

The interesting part is that even while I have some realistic understanding that my Body Dysmorphic brain cannot always see my body the way that it is, I still – STILL – to this day, develop obsessive thoughts of:

NOPE, I HAVEN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION.

EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.

MY BODY COMPOSITION HAS CHANGED.

OH GOD THINK OF ALL THE MONEY I’LL HAVE TO SPEND ON NEW CLOTHES THAT FIT.

THAT’S IT, THIS IS IT. MY BODY IS ATTACKING ME NOW. MY THYROID PROBABLY STOPPED WORKING.

MY FAT IS STORING DIFFERENTLY.

THIS IS THE END OF ALL ENDS. SOON, I WON’T BE ABLE TO WALK.

…. I know. It’s outrageous.

But, in that moment, I cannot find the will to redirect it.

Yesterday, in a fit of trying to move past this slump, I shopped.

Spent $300 on “tighter, sexier” clothes – and then promptly came home and was like OH MY GOD I HATE THIS. ALL OF IT.

Even my partner was like “you look great babe… but the leather skirt? I’ve never seen you in a skirt.”

 

via GIPHY

He’s right. After I chewed his head off, I immediately was like “Ya, I’m literally never going to wear this.”

I am a girl that feels best in black jeans and a denim pearl snap. (Yes, I know, I’m akin to a hipster Brooklyn male, trying too hard to show people he’s a writer.)

Also, I don’t have $300 to spend. So, I have to now take it back. I’m THAT girl today, who is going to have to slink sheepishly back into the store to be like TEEHEE JK. THANKS FOR HELPING ME FOR AN HOUR YESTERDAY.

And look, here’s the thing:

I’m not going to act on the urge to restrict or puke. It doesn’t do shit and I’m too far past the era of anorexia to go back just over the feeling of having indulged over the holidays.

BUT, it heightens the tension in my brain.

WELL, IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GO BACK TO YOUR EATING DISORDER, THEN YOU BETTER JUST KEEP ON HIDING YOURSELF VIA MASSIVE SWEATERS AND LEGGINGS.

I’m in a catch-22 in this war zone. Eat normally and feel like shit about my body. Don’t eat and feel like shit about myself.

I choose the former, because I can’t go back to the latter.

But, I’m tired.

And “humphy” as my partner likes to point out when I stomp around the kitchen, clanking pans, heaving forks into the sink, and oblivious to the amount of sighing I do.

via GIPHY

As I sit here and write this this morning, my partner appears:

I’m thinking French Toast and scrambled eggs, he says.

We are in our house; “Blues Run The Game” by Jackson Frank drifting into the kitchen.

My partner sleeps later than I do. He wishes I’d relax next to him, swaddled together in sheets and limbs. I wish he’d get up earlier to enjoy coffee with me at the oak table, footsie under the table, plotting our day.

We begrudgingly accept the other’s process. For me, a culturally infused feeling of “must-be-productive-from-start-to-finish” an ever present belief in my subconscious.

There’s coffee next to me; dog curled at my feet, and the weather is beautiful. A balmy 50+ Fahrenheit in Boulder, offsetting a brutal cold front we faced last week. Snow rains off the roof.

I hope to shake this melancholy feeling that lingers today. We have a birthday party tonight, and I am already dreading the choosing-an-outfit show.

I’m not interested in eating, I mumble back, half joking, because who can ever *really* be joking about anorexia.

He closes the fridge, egg carton in hand. Great, he deadpans. Just today – or forever?

I smirk, and lower my head back to this post.

Our brains are an interesting vessel, aren’t they? And this morning, my heart is here in this kitchen – but my thoughts are elsewhere.

I notice that in times of this eating disorder melancholy (which I purposely define vs standard life melancholy), there’s a sadistic trend that develops:

My dreams.

((P.S. I’m totally about to subject change for a second – but hang with me.))

I don’t know what it is about my eating disorder brain when it lights up –

But everything I have ever lost in my life – mostly, humans – start to reappear in my dreams almost simultaneously as to when I start to have a bout of eating disorder “flu”:

Blanketing me when I wake with the feel of someone I once knew so near to me, but now even farther. Last night, a boy I used to love.

Come back, I plead in these dreams. I miss you. Tell me how you are.

Tell me you’re okay.

Tell me we mattered. That all of it meant something.

But, they never do.

And when it’s gone, I am left knowing that this punch in the gut is un-reciprocated, and they, wherever they may be, are moving about their same day, unencumbered by the memory of me.

The dreams replicate each other. A person I loved loyally, at one time:

We face each other.

I’m sorry, I say. I’m sorry, they say. Sometimes, we say nothing;

An embrace. In the forest. In a crowded street.

In a bed.

They are so real to me in those moments, these people I once knew. Their mannerisms. Their clothes. Their hair. Their acne or moles or birthmarks or limbs.

I wake, wondering how it could’ve been a dream – ache to return. And ache because it’s not real.

Ache to tell that person “I miss you, still.”

Last night, it was my German ex. 12 years later: I wonder, of all the people in my life since high school, how does he still invade that part of me so deeply?

Maybe it’s a distraction – these dreams, maybe they are a doctored metaphor for that aching pain I feel when I miss the bones and hunger of anorexia. Maybe anorexia is what kept me from grieving them.

I’ll never be quite sure – but it’s interesting to write about anyway.

So, I sit here this morning – in an oversized grey sweater – and I think of him, and the way we hugged in this dream;

Wondering if he still pronounces “freckle” the same. If he remembers that in English “mole” and “freckle” are different, not just “points on your face.”

I wonder if his dad is okay. If they work well together when they travel throughout Berlin and Munich. I wonder if he still smokes, and if he does – what it has done to his damaged lung; born 2/3 the size when he forced himself into this world too quickly.

I wonder if his shoulder healed after a snowboard accident. I wonder if his knees still ache under the jumps and the flips. Mostly, I wonder if his dreams of professional snowboarding are still alive somewhere in the back of consciousness, and if they are, how painful that likely is for him. Knowing, now, that he is not pursuing them.

I wonder, still, why he chose to come to New York all those years ago – and not tell me til he was on the flight home.

How he circled the front steps where I worked, the letter I’d sent a year prior in his hand, and why he chose to sit in that Starbucks down the street on 2nd and 54th, take one last look at the building I sat in – and leave.

I wonder often, if we will ever hug again – or if we’ll both go on, and die. And that’ll be it.

Two people that could’ve made different choices over the eight years intertwined around continents and countries, but didn’t.

I tried to write you out, I wrote him not too long ago when a book publisher approached and wanted confirmation that I wouldn’t be sued by former lovers.

I tried to write you out, but nothing works.

So all I can do, is try and write myself out.

He never responded;

And I knew, then, that this chapter, for him, was closed.

Partner and I at Christmas in Texas!

I know you’re probably thinking right now: Jesus, Linds, talk about a subject change.

But it’s just interesting to me how the sparks of my eating disorder cause sparks to my grief.

Rendered to manage them both simultaneously.

For years, I thought I loved my eating disorder. I grieve it still, too.

And I grieve it presently when simple tasks like trying on clothes – feel daunting.

I miss the ease I had, in the final years, when clothes felt flattering (well, sometimes at least – cause in an eating disorder, you never feel great about yourself) and I felt controlled and elitist for not eating.

I wish recovery people like me opened up more about the grief:

Maybe we don’t because people find it too triggering. And if I trigger you here today, I’m sorry.

I am just a girl writing out her life.

Living, despite it all –

I read this post the other day:

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought.  Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird.  There is no time for anything else.”

And those perspectives resonate – so I thought I’d pass it along.

Usually, I try to end these things with some big glob of perspective about why recovery is a beacon in a dark place.

But, I don’t really have anything like that today – and I suppose, in a sense, I’m proud that I can admit that. It’s easy to feel a push to tie life up with a pretty little bow.

But, how awfully bland.

As I’m reminded again in moments like these:

I’m just a human, messy:

Becoming who I am not by mistake – but by carrying on anyway.

And hopefully you relate, and maybe feel less alone.

If you do – tell me, cause I’d like to feel less alone too. Thank you always for your years of reading.

As I sit here, french toast and scrambled eggs and bacon headed my way:

I know I will eat them; carry on despite.

To the boy I loved once before:

Maybe one day I’ll have the chance to say:

Look how we’ve grown –

Into two completely different souls of our own.

Germany – many, many lil years ago

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Every time I sit down to write about eating disorders, I ask myself “what needs to be said, that most are unwilling to share?”

Sometimes, that leads me down a rabbit hole with an unclear end. Occasionally, a seed of perspective develops.

More frequently, a truth emerges (or reemerges) that I’m conveniently escaping.

This share is one of those, and took me two months to write.

{Also, conveniently as I write this, an aptly titled “Drunk And I Miss You” song is drifting thru my headphones.}

Oh, 2019 music. So deep. So lyrical.

Anyway, here I am – and I haven’t posted in a couple months.

Partly because I’ve got my head in 100 different places – a new {remote} job beginning soon, adapting to Boulder, CO, living with a partner, plans for a converted van, stuff at home –

And mostly because I’m experimenting (again) with alcohol, and finding that I’m intimidated to clank at the keys of this laptop, and share my truth.

Even just writing these first few sentences, I edited repeatedly (a writer’s addiction).

It’s one of those fears that feeds into itself when the articulations don’t form quickly. You wonder if maybe you lost the pathway to voice your shit. Or that you’ve voiced it all out and now you’re just dead inside and NOTHING WILL EVER COME AGAIN. I’M ALL WRITTEN OUT.

I WON’T SAY IT RIGHT AND PEOPLE WILL HATE ME AND GIVE ME SHIT ALL OVER THE INTERNET!

Dramatic?

It happens  – and as I sit here sober writing this in a coffee shop (for the THIRD attempt), I’m brought to attention (yet again) that I’ve spent a lot of my “writer life” drinking wine while pounding out my thoughts, which makes this even more difficult.

Something about that red wine – makes the emotions flow and causes me to feel more confident to hit ‘publish.’

Also makes me slightly erratic and unpredictably moody and edgy and impulsive –

But, it most certainly helps to get the words out, particularly the vulnerable ones.

So, here I am, stumbling over thoughts in what feels like a rigid format and currently having less confidence in my writing.

Alas, tis’ life – I bang on. And today, I forge ahead to talk about eating disorders, drinking, and “flexible sobriety.” (Yes, coined from the “flexible okay” and “flexible recovery” I like to blabber on about.)

In early October, I came home from one of many “mandatory” drinking events:

I promptly cried on the couch. And turned to yogurt covered pretzels.

I am sick of being tipsy, I said aloud – and then to Instagram. I am so bored by my life revolving around one long-stemmed (red) wine glass.

This realization hits me ever so often. Notably, back in 2015 when I gave up drinking in New York for a couple months.

But it doesn’t stick. Too many parties, too many social gatherings, too many bad days, too many this or that and this and this.

So, I pushed away the sober months, a “great learning experience that helped me ultimately make the decision to move to Colorado,” and slowly faded back into the norm of our culture.

Besides, Colorado is the capital of craft beer – and who wants to miss out on a hoppy IPA?

In the last three years, I’ve cared periodically about my daily consumption of Pinot Noir – but mostly not because 1.) I’m healthy physically and test results indicate no detection of my nighttime wine so WOO – I’m TOTES FINE.

2.) I stick to two and feel satisfied, which of course leads me to believe I don’t have a negative habit.

And 3.) I enjoy feeling moderately tipsy and didn’t want to try to quell it.

But, something hit me hard this time around.

How can I continue to write about eating disorder recovery – when I so clearly use alcohol as just another means to escape discomfort, grief, complacency, presence, or fear? The very qualities that brought me to an eating disorder in the first place.

When I took a second to look at my life, all I could see was the reemerging existence of wine in every single activity I’d once said in rehab that I wanted to be present for.

Wine has long felt like the only true hobby I have, but I mask it as “socializing” and refer back to my extrovert personality. IT’S NOT THE WINE, I justify, IT’S ME I’M JUST SUPER SOCIAL AND WINE GOES ALONG WITH SOCIALIZING.

It’s been in my hand for every single memorable – joyful – event over the last 3 (okay like 10) years – from friends baby showers, to weddings, to dates, to long hikes, to camping, to office gatherings to eating disorder meetings with followers from Instagram.

Taking a step back, I also noticed it as a factor in every area of my life that I was not enjoying as well:

Namely, late night arguments with my partner, often me waking up not really sure why I was so emotionally charged 8 hours prior, before heading to sleep.

Or sitting on the couch on a Wednesday night tipsy and not doing an assignment for eating disorder advocacy because I’m too loopy to give a shit enough to do it.

Or leaving my crap on a plane (like a laptop, last year) and spending over 72 hours tracking it down via Frontier Airlines.

Or causing political argument mayhem with family because I’m wine-charged and despise Trump and couldn’t see that me babbling on about immigration policy isn’t going to do shit to change the mind of my conservative, agriculture, small business-minded extended family.

I also see it subtly creep into my eating disorder, still. In the way that I eat less when I’m out to dinner, and sip the wine instead. Drunkorexia, we call it – and again and again I write about it.

Drunkorexia. I have a glass of wine – I don’t care about the food as much.

Have a couple glasses – socialize freely, focus on the validation of socializing, forego eating enough.

I know that I do it. But, I have a way of putting a “eh – it’s not a big deal” spin on it because I’m a healthy weight and not actively engaging in the eating disorder cycle, so it hasn’t been enough to take a step back.

Until now.

CBS Interview on Drunkorexia – circa 2016

Now, don’t get me wrong here.

Plot twist: but I’m not about to dive into an elaborate story about rock bottom and how I like burned my mother’s house down because I was drunk and left the stove on or left my kid in the car while I boozed at a bar and passed out on the table.

There is no rock bottom here. Nothing in particular “happened” that made me take a step back.

Truth is, no rock bottom would probably ever be rock bottom enough for me because I have that way of conveniently justifying everything, if I want. Like my DWI at 21. NOT MY FAULT, I WASN’T EVEN IN THE CAR DRIVING!!!!!!! I WAS BARELY OVER .08!!! THIS IS INJUSTICE!

(True story, but in 2011 “intent to drive under the influence” translates to a DWI charge in Arkansas – and naturally I had every indication of driving.)

Simply stated, I just know that there’s more to recovery than what I’m doing – and after four years, I wanted to try it on for size (again) – but without the “black and white” thinking that gets me in deep shit.

Hence, the idea of existing in a flexible sobriety state.

DOESN’T #VANLIFE SUIT ME?!

Here’s the thing:

My life is headed in productive directions. But, I wasn’t seeing that so clearly when I was drinking two staple glasses of wine a night on the couch and crying at This Is Us re-runs.

I was feeling listless, restless, complacent, and stuck.

Four emotions that make my skin crawl, and there I was feeding all of them via a wine habit I was too absorbed in to see how it negatively contributed.

So, that night, I said “I’m going to change it – and I’m going to change it the same way I’ve evolved in my eating disorder – with flexibility.”

Part of me wants to asterisk that statement: this is NOT my recommendation for everyone.

The behaviors we associate with alcoholism are scary ass mother effing characteristics – and for a lot of people, stone cold sober is the only way to go.

If that’s what you wanna read today, find another blog.

For me, I don’t disagree with it – but that black and white lifestyle doesn’t work for me. And it didn’t work for me when I was in the depths of my 8-year eating disorder. Constantly ping-ponging between “I’LL NEVER BINGE AGAIN” to “I’M ONLY GOING TO X CALORIES PER DAY” to “I’M GOING TO BE IN RECOVERY AND PERFECT AT IT!”

I’m not going to spend a ton of time here justifying my approach, but here’s how it’s gone so far:

I made the commitment and I cut alcohol from home life. No more couch wines. No more wine while cooking dinner. No more dinner wine.

Two months in, that is becoming a new habit. I’ve realized I can’t stand drinking on the couch alone or with my partner, but I only understood how much I didn’t like it when I cut it.

I took it farther when I noticed how great I was feeling after a week or two sober, and experimented with socializing sober again. I went out the forth weekend with friends from Texas and stayed sober as a bird. I hated it for about four hours, but by midnight I was thankful for it as I watched friends take another scotch shot, and I was able to have real conversations that I remembered clearly the following day.

I went home for a weekend in Texas and stayed sober when I would typically drink wine past the 1-2 mark to avoid the grief I feel at home, the pain I can feel at memories, and the discomfort and insecurity I can feel when I see my friends settling down with kids and shit, and I’m just over here looking for vans online on Craigslist.

It was hard. But, I was thankful for it when I left for the airport Sunday and realized I hadn’t had one drunken emotionally-wrecked breakdown in my childhood closet. I felt clear-headed instead, and able to deal with the passing emotions as it came.

Slowly, I’ve incorporated sobriety as a bigger part of my lifestyle. I’m working to make it a habit.

I’m noticing when I want it – and for what purpose. Do I want to drink because I’m unhappy and restless?

Or do I want a glass of wine with a friend because it sounds good and won’t come with the terrible after-effect of emotional chaos?

In turn, I’m evolving.

I’ve noted lately, two months in, that there are a couple instances I’ve said “sure” to a beer, only to take one sip, look at my partner and ultimately be like “I dunno why I have this. I don’t want it.” And hand it over to him, or another friend.

I think about the cause and effect. Do I want to feel slightly hungover the next day? Do I want to test the waters and see if I’ll be calm or … emotionally chaotic?

Am I willing to risk the negative side effects that can ensue from wine?

It’s no longer becoming auto pilot to pour a glass after work.

For me, I’m a kid that wants another kids toy just because I don’t have it. And, in turn, I’m recognizing that in alcohol.

I don’t want to carry around the weight of “YOU CAN’T DO IT BUT EVERYONE ELSE CAN” or “YOU’LL BE OUT OF CONTROL IF YOU TAKE EVEN A SIP!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Instead, I started on this journey to evolve – take notice. Watch myself.

I don’t have any desire to look at one glass of wine as a relapse, or a failure. If I do, I’ll end up running down the failure road, and probably like go binge drink at a college frat bar – take shots with the bartender. FUCK IT, I’LL THINK. I’VE ALREADY FAILED!!!!!!!

I want to see how my life evolves with tweaks.

So far, it’s been pretty notable.

In the past two months, I’ve taken the steps to change my life circumstances because, hey, I have more time on the couch – and more presence – to actually bloody do it.

I pursued a remote position with a PR agency – and got it. I start January 2.

In turn, my dreams for a converted van have moved up the timeline. And because I’m saving money by not going to happy hour wine, it feels more attainable.

I reached out to a van company in Denver called Native Campervans. In exchange for content, they gave me a free trial on one of their converted vans, which was HEAVEN. If you’re interested in a discount on one, I can get it for you. Just email me.

My partner and I have notably had less massive midnight blow out arguments – over seemingly NOTHING – that I get worked up about in the haze of wine. Instead, we’re discussing true relationship issues, which couples have, and we are finally acknowledging and working on.

I feel better about eating than I have in years. I mean that. I’m eating more than I have in years, and I’m enjoying watching the alcohol bloat leave my face, and the desire to cook emerge.

I don’t mind eating fully. I trust my body.

I’m watching it react. I haven’t lost weight, and yet my body is changing form. I can feel it due to work outs (with weights – not just cardio finally!) and eating nourishing shit that I know my body needs.

Mostly, I’m calmer. Less erratic. Less emotionally ravaging. And have the energy to make connections and partnerships with other advocacy in the country (namely, Project Heal – have a meeting with their COO next week!)

I feel good, and I am not 100% black and white sober.

I’ve had two instances where I had one glass of wine, and later realized I didn’t want it and did it out of the habit.

I’ve had another instance where I drank half and threw it away.

I’ve had a glass of wine with a friend that lasted four hours, and another time where I had a glass of wine with my dad that I later pushed over to him to finish.

I recently had two glasses of wine and came home and felt emotional. I realized I drank to feel the shit that I could’ve felt sober, and hadn’t wanted to.

In total, I’ve had somewhere around 12 glasses of wine in two months and three days.

This is coming from – no joke – 12-14 glasses of wine a week.

It’s working for me, and if it stops – I’ll let you know.

Van life breakfast!

At the end of the day,..

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“Wonder how many carbs are in that?” “I overate – gonna need to work out for a week.” “What are the average amount of calories an American eats on Thanksgiving?”

^ Some of the mindless chatter that many of you hear today.

Please remember it’s not an attack. Just because we have eating disorders does not mean our families are out to get us today. They just simply don’t realize that what they’re saying has a negative impact because it’s the same shit that has been said for SO MANY YEARS.

It’s as predictable as talking about that recent snow storm in a business meeting, or the “how was your weekend” class starter.

It’s ultimately a boring, mindless convo starter — and you get the choice to pave it differently.

People talk about food today because they’re really insecure too.

Insecure about what to say socially – or insecure about their weight, or insecure about gaining weight or insecure that others are judging them, so they qualify eating with words about future work outs or runs.

It has nothing to do with you.

You don’t have to like it — but you do have to choose how you see it, and what you choose to feel about it.

I don’t like Thanksgiving — and I know that I choose to feel that way. And I will also choose to accept that no food comment today has anything to do with my eating disorder.

You can feel triggered — but you have to choose whether or not to still eat.

Change the subject – ask about anything more interesting. Feel compassion. See what happens.

Went on a run today, prepared my no-granola breakfasts I’ve been doing the past couple months.

Started the day off with clarity and a full belly.

Cause I refuse to be the woman binge eating stuffing in the bathroom because I chose to starve until 4.

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Standard cheese, nature, computer pic

First things first – I think I’ve coined this whole “leftover anorexia” term and I’m feeling called to take a moment here to chuckle at my own irony. (Is it irony? Leftover? Like … leftovers. Like, food. Get it? Oh God, I know. Lame. Possibly insensitive.)

But, it’s another one of those eating disorder topics that seems to be difficult to acknowledge – though my guess is quite a few of us struggle with it.

Thought about it yesterday at the Eating Recovery Center conference and again on a hike a couple weekends ago.

There we were –  camping in the mountains of Yampa, Colorado. Moseying around the mountains as I listened to my partner belt the most ear-shattering ‘elk bugle-ing’ whistle in recorded human history.

To be clear: I don’t hunt. Nor do I have any desire to own a gun. I can hardly kill a spider without whimpering over its corpse. I’M SORRY HECTOR – YOU HAD TO GO. YOU WERE MULTIPLYING YOUR BRETHREN IN MY BATHROOM SHOWER.

My partner, however, in his caveman primitive dreams – has a passion for the bow & arrow, which in turn has led to a passion for hunting in its truest state.

Need I say more?

… I’ll never understand. I support anyway.

He promises me that if he does bring back an elk, one of these days, we’ll use all parts of it in order to make the sacrifice worth it. I eyed him suspiciously, and announced we better be robing ourselves in its fur and utilizing its kidneys for medicine….

Or some shit.

I don’t know. You get the point. I’ve been watching a lot of Vikings.

ANYWAY, there we were, right? On top of plains, gazing for elk doo-doo (riveting) and we’d been going at it for something like 5 hours.

I’m hungry, he said – as we sat down for a water break.

HUH, I yelled back over the lip-chapping wind.

I’M HUNGRY, he said. Let’s get off the summit and go to that lake we passed.

I agreed pleasantly enough.

But, as we start to descend – I had that thought.

The one that tends to appear in its sneaky ways.

The immediate question “is it time to eat?

Judged on nothing but my anorexia “can only eat X in X hours and X times” mentality.

I looked at my watch.

Hmm, I pondered. Okay yeah I can eat. It’s been enough time between meals.

It’s then I thought of this “leftover anorexia” post.

Do you still struggle with the leftovers of an eating disorder? 

Some thoughts here. A calorie count there. A fear food avoidance that you know is irrational after months (or years) of treatment – but yet you still tend to say “ehhhh – not for me.”

You’re not alone. I struggle with it, too.

At Eating Recovery Conference in Denver, CO

Happened again yesterday as we drove to the conference. 7:30am. Partner and I exit the highway to pick up some breakfast burritos. Dr. Colleen Reichmann and I spoke together on the “not sick enough” concept in eating disorders – and how clinicians and medical professionals can play a role in that narrative. (More on this in a later post)

Anyway, I was nervous. Goes without saying. So I’m siting there in the car, knee bouncin’ and sipping/glorifying my latte (side note: I realized I was spending an EXCESSIVE amount of money on vanilla lattes per week so I’ve forced myself to take a step back and only have one on the weekends … sigh. Money.)

“Babe,” my partner motioned down at my lap. “Eat.”

“I-AM-GO-TO-HELL-YOU-HIPPY-PONYTAILED-FOOL,” I said.

That’s a lie. I only thought it.

“I’m FINE,” I snapped. “I’m just nervous so gimme some space.”

“You can’t go to an eating disorder conference – and not eat,” he said – half joking.

“Yeah yeah,” I said. “I know. I just have the jitters and don’t wanna be too full.”

He sighed.

I ignored him.

Leftover anorexia remains. I ate lunch and dinner following it, and was fine.

Recently, on our camping trip <3

Yesterday, while speaking to my personal story, I said that I think there’s a tendency to overstate recovery once we’re in it. Goes back to that all-or-nothing mentality we hold onto so tightly.

I HAD an eating disorder. I’m recovered now.

Well, that’s dandy – but give me your grey area. ‘Cuz there ain’t a person in this world that develops a full blown eating disorder and then is miraculously cured by a couple months of treatment – or an inspirational quote.

And I have a hard time believing people when they tell me they don’t exhibit any eating disorder “leftover” tendencies.

In my two cent opinion, it doesn’t happen because our brain doesn’t rewire that quickly. And also, culture. We’re embedded in a beauty paradigm of marketing and advertising and constant diet subliminal messaging.

So, I just want to take a second today to say – I’m with you.

I get it.

“Leftover anorexia” flares in the oddest of ways.

It’s interesting where I’m at in my for-lack-of-better-word “journey.” I don’t count calories anymore – have little to no idea (other than the embedded, unyielding memory I have for certain food items) what I eat on any given day. That’s a substantial amount of progress – and took a couple years to get there in itself.

And I’ve noticed that the past year, I find myself letting go of my own “beauty narrative.”

I’ll be 30 soon. The belief that being thin or being some version of a blown out Mila Kunis dies a bit more with every new wrinkle and age mark.

Channeling 90s Dad

I am letting go. I feel it in the way I eat without concern about what I have or haven’t had.

There are actually days I think to myself “I’m craving a french fry.” Or a salad. Or an ice cream cone or a green leaf or chocolate covered pretzels – and I just eat them. Because I simply just want that thing.

And I don’t binge it.

In fact, I haven’t binged in probably 2 years – maybe 3 at this point. I 100% cannot remember anymore – and that in itself feels like moving on.

… But, still, this “leftover eating disorder” is a part of me. And I know that it is real.

Why don’t we talk about it?

We’re so scared of seeming unrecovered that we end up just masking over all the shit that got us there in the first place.

But, I’m not your counselor – and I’m not a therapist.

So, I’m here, I guess, to tell you that I know it’s still real. And I know that you can be doing really well – and still have leftovers.

Went on a hike this past weekend with my best friend’s little sister.

She came to visit. Its been years since we spent time alone.

The last time – the Christmas after he died.

I don’t much like to talk about that year it seems, only the day he died. Somehow it seems easier to talk about that – than the world after he was no longer in it.

Matching BMJ Tattoos

Woke up last Saturday, after I’d picked her up from the airport –

Tried outfits for over an hour.

I am not joking.

Like from 7:30 – 8:25am I was peeling and putting clothes on my back.

I don’t know what it is about grief – I cannot seem to find a better coping skill to subside the innate disposition towards turning it on my body.

But, on I did.

Finally, recognizing it and being like “OK just pick something ’cause you aren’t gonna change this.”

Settled on leggings and some Athleta shirt I thought was “flowy” without being “baggy.”

Marketing, man. It gets you.

Spent the rest of the day with her.

Noticing that every time he was brought up – every time I didn’t know what to say – every time a painful moment arose – within minutes, so did my body image woes.

It’s interesting how the two coincide.

Also, predictable.

It’s laughably easy to connect the dots once you’re self-aware enough (and present) enough to notice them. This only can happen when some of your eating disorder thoughts subside enough to let in new ones.

I think that’s really the strategy in recovery, ultimately. It’s what we spend $1000s in rehab and counseling trying to solve.

The self awareness (and presence) to acknowledge the thoughts we’re having – and where they derived from without having to “do anything” to fix the pain.

Spent an hour and a half talking with Colleen yesterday about the “not sick enough” cognition – and why it’s so dangerous.

Asked the clinicians to have their patients write out the following:

A day /event/year/trip that you envisioned one way – and actually went another due to an eating disorder.

I spoke to my year in Spain when I was 22-23. How I thought moving would somehow save my ass from my own ass. Had all these dreams, that year, to travel freely. Without whim.

Flock from place to place – see the world. Uninhibited by food or exercise. Talk to the locals in my new-native Spanish tongue.

Of course it didn’t happen.

I spent a better half of that year running excessive amounts of times a day. Treating stress fractures and shin splints.

And mostly getting hammered to forget that I hated myself and body.

I also did not become fluent in Spanish.

Tra-la-la-la-la.

Spanish Au Pair Days 2012

Ultimately, it’s the memory and awareness of that kind of event that reminds me of where I was vs where I am now.

And regardless of how difficult its been to get to even this awkward place of “leftover anorexia” behaviors – I know, standing up there yesterday, that it’s a helluva lot more meaningful of a place to be than at 22.

Got up this morning, didn’t feel like making breakfast. I’ve been on this shift lately – trying to steer away from granola bars and bananas – the “safety” breakfast food I’ve eaten for over 10 years.

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Yo, hold up. Put down the pitch forks, please.

I write headlines to get your attention.

This is one of them.

… And, it’s Tuesday, so my PR small talk skills are lacking.

Maybe it’s the 3 hours of sleep last night. Maybe it’s the constant traveling. Maybe it’s just a bloody Tuesday and I’d rather be cascading mountain tops – van dwelling – or sleeping – than working at a desk.

Who knows? But, I’m in a blunt-typa mood. Would ya have me any other way?

((And yes… I realize my whining is simply that. A whine.))

LET ME HAVE IT.

ANYWHO.

My girlz

Went back to Texas – my hometown – this past weekend. Quick trip – 36 hours. Hosted my best friend’s baby shower and attended my other best friend’s engagement party.

Felt the nostalgia that comes with friends you’ve known since you were 5 years old and sucking off lollipops.

Wondered, briefly: “are we really here now – no longer belting Vanessa Carlton’s ‘White Houses’ in our parents minivans – but ourselves now mothers, daughters, and wives?”

Best friend with my other best friend’s kiddo <3

Sat on the plane home Sunday. It was also the 11- year anniversary of my best friend’s passing. 09/16/07 – 18 years old. A tree branch broke. He fell.

People wrote about him in the media. “He was drunk.”

“Stupid frat boy.”

“Entitled kids deserve it.”

You don’t forget cruelty.

Years pass. I have known happiness since then. Joy – laughter.

All the crap grief therapists tell you to manifest.

But, it seems on this day, forever, there is a “get out of jail free” card to grieve my friend.

A dark hole that still begs:

Could I have loved you forever? As I did then?

I’ll never know.

But, in that day, in that point of life:

You were certainly a love of my life, Bradley.

So, prefacing this post with the see-saw emotion swirling behind it today.

Came home last night, away from my partner. Hauled up in our living room with my grief and my “LIFE IS MEANINGLESS EVERYTHING DIES AND LEAVES YOU ANYWAY WOE IS ME” mentality.

It is then, I remembered:

MOTHER EFFER.

I have a powerpoint due for a national eating disorder conference.

Sighed.

Turned on a rather savage episode of Vikings. Spears clashing in the background.

Put on my headphones.

Oh fine, Bradley, I’ll watch your memorial video – snot nosed – later.

Mourn you again in a bit. I suppose I’ve got all the time in the world.

For now, I need to make a moment’s worth of meaning in the world I still exist in.

So, to really preface this, Dr. Colleen Reichmann and I have been collecting stories from y’all over the past few months over the “not sick enough” mentality, and subsequent cause.

We plan to present at the Eating Recovery Center conference in October.

Ultimately, it’s been unsurprising in how surprising its been that so many of you have had an experience with a doctor or nurse or therapist who has more or less told you that what you’re experiencing with your eating is not, in fact, “sick enough.”

… I’ve got a secret for you today.

((Lolz. It’s not really a secret. But, did you like that dun dun dun transition?))

Basically, it’s just that I’ve got my own “not sick enough” story too.

Because the truth is – we’ve all been invalidated in our eating disorders at some point.

Whether it’s our parents, lovers, or medical clinicians.

Sitting back here today, in one of my self-righteous moods –

To tell you that this reality – this inevitable invalidation – is not enough to continue to wallow in your eating disorder.

Or you’ll continue to find a reason to wallow in it forever.

(Like how I say this as I wallow in my own 11-year grief? Ahhh hypocrisy.)

… You’re harsh, Linds. Quit being an asshole.

But, let’s break this down – because I wish someone had told me then, what I know to be true now.

And that’s that for so many of you:

you will likely never be told you’re “sick enough.”

It’s a reality.

Those that are – they’re dead and they’re dying.

Every 62 minutes.

Your insurance won’t want to pay. Your friends aren’t sure what to say.

Your partner may not notice because they see you every day, and aren’t magical experts on ED behavior.

Your parents may very well be from a generation that doesn’t “talk about it.”

And you may not have a salacious, media-approved skeletal pic (which it the only picture the media showcases. I’d know. I’ve worked and been in PR and the media for years. See below.)

When I was 24, in Brooklyn, my parents had just caught me the week prior binge eating two boxes of cereal.

Ah – those Special K brands. Get ya every time.

Blurry-eyed, drunk and somber, over their coffee table I used to play chess on as a kid, my dad made the statement “We’re getting you help. Now.”

A week unfolded.

He didn’t want to tell me, but to this day – I know insurance was a pain in the ass.

They didn’t want to take me on.

“Get her a physical,” they said. Prove her sickness is what they really meant.

To this day, all these years later, there’s not a glitch in memory that doesn’t recall what it was like to walk into that New York hospital and fill out the paperwork for a physical.

Palms sweaty in the waiting room.

I believe I had “Do You Realize” by The Flaming Lips on my headphones at the time.

Got into the physical, that awkward paper sheet they make you cover with.

A doctor, a man of middle age, came in. Bored and listless. As I suppose we all get in unfulfilling careers.

He took my stats and my EKG and all the other crap I don’t recall now.

Isn’t it strange how eating disorders are?

The whole time he did that, thinking to myself “I hope it’s bad.”

I hope it’s bad. I hope something negative comes out of this so that I “deserve” help.

Ultimately, my wish was not met with reward.

“You’re fine,” he said – flipping through charts.

He looked up. “This is a requirement from your insurance?”

I nodded.

Why.

I’m going to treatment for an eating disorder next week.

He looked me up and down.

You’re small, he said nonchalantly. Not that small. Meat on your thighs.

I stared at him.

I need it, I said, not believing it myself.

He frowned. Okay.

Okay.

Good luck, he said. Your blood pressure is low. But, it’ll shoot back up when you eat more.

He left the room.

Forever, isolated in my memory.

A week or so before treatment 

It’s funny what we carry with us throughout the years.

Read your stories – doctors telling you that you “aren’t sick enough” to deserve a life without the burden of an eating disorder.

I wonder, sitting here on a Tuesday afternoon:

At a desk table in the far corner of an outside patio.

Brussels Sprouts and Falafel by my side.

What will it take to change our culture?

At some point, eating disorders aren’t about your weight.

I mean they are, sure.

They derive out of negative coping skills. Negative adaptions to life.

They evolve from our culture telling us that to look a certain way implies this meaning or that.

Eating disorders are an epidemic because we are told by marketing and advertisements to hate ourselves – just that little bit more – so that we will “try” their product and their brand.

But, at some point, eating disorders are more about the moments in your life you lose.

They are about the times you don’t show up to bat for your own life.

They become about the events in your life you wish you could have back – and can’t.

No one is perfectly anorexic – just as they are not perfectly binge eating.

In turn, your weight will often not reflect your pain.

The fact of the matter is that if you’re “not sick enough” eating disorder prognosis is solely about weight – You are looking at this from a very microscopic view.

So is your doctor.

Finish up this post this afternoon:

My partner texts me:

“Grabbing hummus and crackers for the board meeting,” he says. “Want some?”

I just ate, I think. I ate at 8:30 and then again at 10:30, and now at 12.

I shouldn’t eat again, the little ED voice whispers – because that voice has never fully left me.

And I doubt ever will.

You..

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I had a few witty one-liners I planned for this opening – but thought I’d instead spare you my subpar comedic timing and roll right into the big question here:

Do you ever feel like Instagram is the cause of a particularly shitty self-esteem day?

This morning, I was out on my deck right? It was barely 70 degrees in Boulder this AM – the sun duckin’ between clouds.

I had Johnny Lee Hooker, Muddy Water, Emmylou Harris on a Spotify playlist – blaring out into the field in front of me. A coffee mug. Sausage breakfast burrito.

Backyard dinner a couple nights ago

My partner was snoozing. We were out late at a wedding, but unfortunately I haven’t “slept in” since like 1999. The downside of a sensitive personality is that it seems to manifest in unfortunate ways like sensitive sleeper.

I’m a person who wakes up the second my dog stirs.

Open my eyes and immediately run through a checklist of 1000 things I “need” or “should” do today as though any of it is really that important. Mind starts tumbling over itself. Isn’t it funny how we place meaning on our lives by how much we have “to do”?

Anyway, so I’m up this morning. Mosying around – recovering from wine last night, which made me realize early on that it was gonna be a low key day.

Maybe I’d paint my toes.

Maybe I’d work on a freelance project.

Maybe, maybe, maybe –

No real agenda on the docket –

No real responsibility…

No real plan…

Ah, one of those days.

The perfect Instagram storm.

Ya’ll know what I’m talking about. Sunday mornings, sprawled out on the couch or slouched at the kitchen table. Your bed maybe, cushioned in between the decorative pillows that “bring the room together.”

“What’s going on in the rest of my world?” You wonder, pulling out your phone.

Did{insert ex or ex friend here} see my post last night?

Any interesting follows?

For me: “who got married?” “Who popped out another kid?”

The rabbit hole begins.

Starts innocently enough. A couple scrolls through the news feed.

Ah shit, that baby is already one?

THEY’RE engaged?! When did they get together? {clicks over to girl’s page to see general timeline of when they got together judging by Instagram post dates.)

Awww, X is doing so well with his music. Good for him.

Oh jeez, another girl I know with another fashion blog on my feed. {clicks heart anyway because “women should support women.”) …. ((They should. I just don’t always need to see your $800 Neiman Marcus dress on my feed, reminding me I’m poor and you’re not.))

The downward descent is in full swing.

Read a couple recovery influencers posts.

Damn, that’s brilliant – I think. Wish I had thought of that first.

WAIT, no, RE CORRECT. IT SHOULDN’T MATTER. THIS ISN’T A COMPETITION.

((But… it kinda is…))

NAW. STOP. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN PATH LINDSEY YOU’RE FINE. SHUT UP.

Clicks over to another person. “DAMN. They’re doing van life??? Touring Europe in extravagant style??”

God, that dude is good at climbing.

Oh jeez, she finished yet another triathlon.

Next pic:

YES, I SEE YOUR ASS EVERY DAY. I KNOW IT’S HARD AND YOU LOVE YOUR GLUTEN FREE SWEETS. YES, I KNOW YOU LIKE TO SHOW US THAT YOU DO, IN FACT, EAT WHEN YOU WANT AND STILL ROCK THAT AMAZING BODY.

PISS OFF.

*Scrolls past bikini pic*

HOW DOES HER BODY NOT AGE.

Scroll past influencer picture of some blonde girl posing all over the world.

Her life is so much more interesting than mine. And she just gets paid to sit around on a glacier. WTF is that.

An ex lover shows up. Damn. He’s back on tour with Bo? {sighs. His life was so interesting when we dated. Too bad he wasn’t that into me.}

Come across a picture of three of my college friends together for a brunch.

Maybe if I lived closer….. I’d still be as close to them.

Like it. Comment “Love ya’ll!”

*Scroll past couple laughing at one another “candidly” on a trip to San Fran*

That’s cute.  Eye roll. Always thought I might end up with him… but they’re definitely 2 steps away from the alter.

Look around my newly furnished living room.

Lindsey, you’re living with a man. You weren’t gonna end up with *said Instagram crush* anyway.

That was high school.

Guess we’re getting old.

… an hour goes by.

And here I am, still on the couch – with my chipped nail polish. Smelly wedding arm pits. Melting iced coffee.

Feeling around on my PCOS chin acne.

And depressingly far into the Instagram hole.

… sound familiar?

I think a lot about social media – and what it does for mental health.

On the one hand, I’ve kept in touch with people because of it.

On the other side of that, I’ve had a tougher time letting people and memories go.

On the one side, I’ve connected with tons of people.

On the other, I feel constantly bombarded by opinions, snippets, images.

Always wrapped up in the moments of other lives.

Throw in the eating disorder vs recovery aspect and it’s a landfill of mental chaos.

How do we survive it?

We don’t so long as we choose to stay on social media. Let’s just make that clear.

But, what are ways we can begin to cope with social media and still keep our sanity?

We become watchdogs. For ourselves.

Lolz. Get it. Watchdogs. (P.S. That’s my black pooch and our roomies pooch-)

Because what else can we do?

In turn, that means:

1.) Filtering who and what I follow: celebs, #FitFam & other influencers

I know Kim K and Beyonce and the entire cast of Real Housewives is enthralling to scroll past – but one of the most beneficial mental habits I made for myself when Instagram started to become the phenomenon that it is – was to only follow celebrities that weren’t going to make me feel like my life is less interesting, less beautiful, less meaningful.

It’s made a world of difference.

I don’t need to know what Kim K is doing every day. Nor if she lost the baby weight. Frankly, I don’t care. If something big happens in celeb world, I’m sure I’ll hear about it when I listen to morning news.

I’ll never understand why it’s so ingrained in humans to follow people/pages that leave us feeling like shit.

Does following #FitFam influencers with rock hard bods claiming that they “like eat {insert sugary food} all the time and totally just work out moderately” really make us feel better? Or does it ultimately just remind us that our bodies are all different? And in turn make us compare our bodies with theirs?

Does seeing someone eat one bite of a doughnut and claim to be in recovery, but still post questionably insensitive statements about weight – really help me in my own recovery?

I’m cynical, sure, but I question recovery influencers. I question me. I am human and I don’t always say things thoughtfully.

Just the other day I posted something about “lady tribes” then realized how inherently inappropriate that is and how I’m culturally appropriating.

Am I following people who stir up anger inside of me? Am I following people who rant and slur and complain about other groups of people to the point I’m mentally exhausted?

Are the people I’m following helping me to become a better, more thoughtful and considerate person?

Or are they leaving me on the couch, staring at the ceiling – feeling FOMO wondering “is my life meaningful?” “Why can’t I have a life like hers or his?”

I think, to some degree, we will always feel a little bit of the latter because that’s what social media is almost inherently meant to do – but I went through this morning, and I decided it was time to wave goodbye to any remaining fitness influencers that leave me staring harder at myself in the mirror after a shower.

2.) Conceptualizing what we see

Everything we see is a moment. Usually a staged one.

When we see cute snippets of a persons life – that is because they are choosing to share that snippet. Likely, because they know it’s cute and enticing.

Nothing wrong with it in my 2-cent opinion – but I also have to consider the reality that I’m not seeing that baby shriek at 3am. I don’t see the mundane of a relationship, like loading the dishwasher, documented on Instagram. And I don’t know what really is truly going on in anyone else’s life unless I ask them directly.

When someone is preaching at us about how to feel, how to work out, how to exist – I have to constantly remind myself ”this person takes shits too.”

When I see female friends of mine who are fashion bloggers, and constantly posting about bags I’ll never afford – I take a second, when that jealousy rears its ugly head, and I say “yeah yeah alright, Novalight (or some other name inserted here), you take shits just the same.”

And I frankly don’t need an expensive bag.

3.) Monitoring how long and what we’re scrolling.

Had this realization again today – “I am spending too much time on this for one morning.”

I also noticed that I always feel worse once I go off into the land of the “Explore” page.

My God, what a bloody witch trap.

I end up just seeing all these people living their big, snippet-size lives and I have this intense feeling of “I SHOULD BE DOING MORE. I SHOULD START MY BUSINESS NOW. WHY DON’T I HAVE MORE THINGS GOING ON FOR ME.”

That’s the point of our posts, right? To make others feel like we’re doing some cool shit in our lives.

So, instead of mindlessly scrolling the rest of today – I’ve stayed off. Read a book.

Checked for notifications and didn’t look at peoples stories.

I don’t need to know so and so ate at brunch, and I don’t need to see mimosas clinking together in a boomerang.

Most of the stuff we see – we really don’t need to see.

If it’s important – you’ll hear about it.

At the end of the day, we have to advocate for ourselves in our recovery as we meander through the shithole that is our online world.

I post only as honestly as one can when they share snippets of themselves online. But, in turn, even this little bit of honesty is often matched with other honesty, and helps me understand that people fret a lot like me.

They feel the same anxiety and FOMO and insecurity online as they scroll.

We’re all just humans here. Trying to make our lives matter.

So, in the spirit of transparency:

^My partner and I dressed up for a wedding last night.

What you wouldn’t know is that we argued for 20 minutes prior to going about his stupid suit (I hate it.)

I have a massive PCOS chin acne bump right now that I tried to reduce swelling with a washcloth before we left.

And lastly, while we enjoyed ourselves ultimately, I wore heels that were WAY too high for me and I tripped repeatedly as we hiked down to the wedding ceremony. (LOLZ. VANITY.)

Tis life. A series of mishaps and fortune and pain and beauty.

Just gotta figure how to navigate it – one day at a time.

Please feel free to post your own helpful tips on surviving social media. Would love to hear.

The post #FitFam: Surviving Instagram With An Eating Disorder appeared first on I Haven't Shaved In 6 Weeks.

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